Thursday, February 26, 2015


That's the ISBN number, just issued, for Tracking the Beast, No. 5 in the Steve Martinez series.

That may not be earthshaking news, but it is evidence that things are progressing normally at the publisher, Five Star Mysteries. December is still the pub date.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Steve Martinez No. 6 off to the publisher

Yesterday I emailed off to my agent the electronic manuscript of the sixth novel in the Steve Martinez series, The Riddle of Billy Gibbs.

It begins with the discovery of a black veteran hanging from a tree in the forest, the victim of an apparent hate crime.

Yes, the novel treats the subject of racism, and it also has a subtext about chicanery in the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. There is also a terrible winter and a violent summer storm, a church soup supper and a citizen complaint involving chocolate chip cookies. And more.

Send your best good thoughts that the publisher will like the novel and accept it for publication some time in 2016.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Copyedited MS. under my belt

Today the copyedited manuscript of Tracking the Beast arrived in the morning email. Four hours later I'd looked over the edits, commented on a few of them, and returned the file to Five Star Mysteries.

Seems that I got off easy. There were no snarky comments from the editor about spellings, sentences, or plots. Mostly the fixes had to do with conformation to house style. Five Star believes in the serial, or Oxford, comma. As a longtime newspaper copy editor I'm used to the other kind. Also, Five Star lower cases the names of the military services, while as the son of a Navy officer and the father of one, I habitually upper-case them without thinking.

I did get caught in one minor mistake and caught the editor in one minor mistake, so that was a wash.

Now to wait for page proofs and the jacket art, and my job will be done . . . until publication day in December, when I'll have to go out and promote the thing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Updating "Zephyr"

In a few weeks the Lady Friend and I will embark on a ten-day trip to the West Coast aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr, subject of my 1994 book Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America, updated as an e-book in 2012.

The journey is in the service of still another update to see what has happened to the train and its environs in the last three years. I lost exact count some years ago, but this seems to be about the 25th or 26th trip I've taken on that train. I have yet to grow weary of the sameness.

This time I think that instead of adding still another epilogue to the book, I'll write a complete trip report in travel-writer fashion, and append that to the end.

We'll be staying overnight in Denver, where a new hotel has opened inside the grand old Denver Union Station, and in Glenwood Springs, where we will once again Take the Waters in the Hot Springs pool. We'll also stay a night in Emeryville before returning on the eastbound Zephyr.

It ought to be a nice break in the routine of mystery writing.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Some days are better than others, especially when an email praising an old book—something that does not often happen—arrives. Yesterday the following came in from Oklahoma City:

"This brief note brings you a word of thanks for sharing your cross country flying adventure in Flight of the Gin Fizz.

"I first read the book in 1999 when as a new pilot I was grounded throughout a harsh winter in the upper mid-west. Again the following year, I borrowed it once more from the local library and soothed my winter-imprisoned aviation soul.  This past summer, I came across a copy being sold by one of the aviation booksellers at Oshkosh.  I immediately snatched it up, and have again traveled with you in your beautiful C-150.

"Thank you, Henry, for documenting the great joy that comes only from flying, and for sharing your wonderful journey. May one ask, do you still have the Gin Fizz?

"Here's wishing you tailwinds!

"With appreciation,

"Scott Dorsey"

My Cessna 150, named Gin Fizz in honor of Cal Rodgers' Vin Fiz, the first airplane to fly across the United States in 1911, was sold in 2009 after I had a heart attack, but there's still a photograph of her on my office wall.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pub date now fixed . . .

. . . for Tracking the Beast. Its publisher, Five Star Mysteries, informs me that the novel's publication date is December, 2015. That might mean books will be available in late November, just in time for Christmas a year from now.

Meanwhile, here's a recent Mention in Dispatches. (The pub dates given in the last paragraph are incorrect and were my mistake during the interview.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Second draft finished and sent out

To my considerable surprise I wound up the second draft of The Riddle of Billy Gibbs yesterday, only a week after finishing the first iteration. Usually it takes me six weeks to two months of rewriting between drafts. In this case, however, it seems that the first draft was pretty close to what presumably will be the complete novel. That's a first at my house. At least I think so.

The small corps of reader-critics to whom I send my second drafts, however, probably will have different ideas (including objections) that I'll have to address in the third and final draft.

It would be nice to think that after six novels I'm finally getting the hang of mystery writing.

But . . .