Thursday, August 30, 2018

Not The Only Game In Town

Mention 19th century U.S. detective agencies, and Pinkerton is generally the first to be called to mind.
This isn't surprising since the agency established by Allan Pinkerton in 1850 is widely known because of its role in protecting President Lincoln during the Civil War, smashing the Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coal region, and tracking down western outlaws like Jesse James. By the 1890s, the Pinkerton Detective Agency had more operatives than the U.S. Army had soldiers.
But, Pinkerton wasn't the only detective agency operating in the wild west in the 1890s.
One of Pinkerton's major competitors was the Thiel Detective Service Agency. The firm was founded by George H. Thiel, a former Civil War spy and Pinkerton employee.
I decided to give my character Sam Blake a job with the firm after research turned up the firm's work in Colorado in the period of Blake's Rule. One of Thiel's first employees was John F. Farley, a former U.S. Cavalry trooper, who became manager of the Denver office. He hires Blake in the novel.
A major task of the Thiel agency was infiltrating labor organizations and breaking up strikes, work that had agents reviled by many as mercenaries and musclemen. This reputation causes an initial conflict between Blake and Sheriff Fremont before they become allies in Blake's Rule. Here's a blurb for the novel:
Blake’s rule has always been to do what’s right…not what’s easy.

Range detective Sam Blake is after cattle rustlers—but when a beautiful woman is accused of murdering her employer, he has to step in and see justice done. Miriam had her reasons for the brutal killing, and though she’s not talking, Blake understands there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

When the local sheriff, James Fremont, asks Blake to spirit Miriam and her two children out of town before a lynch mob comes for her, he agrees. But Cyrus Diebler, the influential rancher who is intent on seeing her pay for her crime, is not about to be stopped. He will go to whatever lengths he must to see her dead, though it means putting his own family in harm’s way.

As Blake and Miriam stay one step ahead of the relentless Diebler and his deadly henchmen, a relationship begins to build between them. When Blake learns the real story behind the murder, and the dark secrets of Diebler’s motivation to see Miriam dead, he vows he will protect her and her children at all costs—even if it means his own life.

Blake's Rule is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major booksellers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

On Writing Multiple Series

(Amy Reade is my guest today. The floor is yours, my friend:)

            Last week I was in a pickle (not literally, of course). I’m working on three series right now and moving seamlessly from one to another was not happening. When I worked on the first project, I would be fine. But when it came time to shift gears for the second project and then the third, I found I had no energy, no ideas left in the well.
            I know plenty of writers who write more than one series. And if they can do it, so can I. 
            It’s hard work writing one book, let alone two or three at the same time. I’ve imposed deadlines on myself to stay on track and on pace, but deadlines only work when you have ideas and can immerse yourself in a book to get those ideas down in edit-able form. Hence, I’m meeting the deadlines on the first book; not so much on the second and third.
            I knew I had to figure out a way to make three series work, and I think I’ve hit on a three-part solution.
            First, I limit myself to working on two books per day. On Day One, I work on the first and second books. On Day Two, I work on the second and third books. And on Day Three (you guessed it), I work on the third and first books. Then I start the cycle again.
            I know there are some writers who think it’s necessary to work on the same book day after day in order to stay in the flow of the story, but this is what’s working for me right now. If there comes a time when it’s not working, I’ll have to come up with a different solution (and another blog post about it).
            Second, I have found it helpful to take a break between projects every day. And I’m talking about a physical break—one where I get up and move around, do something vigorous. It may be taking my dog for a walk or getting on the spin bike or cleaning a bathroom. It can be anything, as long as it isn’t just eating lunch or (gasp) taking a nap. There’s truth to the rumor that getting the blood moving also gets the brain moving.
            And third, each project I’m working on is at a different stage of the writing-editing-publishing process. My first project is deep in the rewrite stages. My second project is in the soggy middle. My third project is at the very beginning of the rewrites. Once I’m ready to send the first book off to the editor, I’ll have just one book in the rewrite stage and I’ll start something new. I find that it helps not to be actively drafting three books at the same time.
            Do you work on more than one project at a time? How do you keep yourself sane and the creative juices flowing? I hope you’ll share your ideas with us.
 Author bio:

Amy M. Reade is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malice Series, consisting of The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross, all of which are set in the United Kingdom. She has also written a cozy mystery, The Worst Noel, and three standalone novels of gothic suspense: Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade.
Amy is a recovering attorney living in Southern New Jersey. She is active in community organizations and loves reading, cooking, and traveling when she’s not writing. She is currently working on a second cozy mystery and a historical mystery set in Cape May County, New Jersey.
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