Saturday, March 25, 2017

The VERY BIG 1/2 Price Novel Sale

I've never done this before -- and I don't know whether I'll regret it or not. ;-)  But I'm putting all the digital novels through my JustJoshin Publishing, Inc. imprint on sale at half price for one week only.

Starting tomorrow (actually, I think the prices are already changed on Smashwords) all my novel-length stories are $3.99. That includes Stranger Things Have Happened and Man Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction.


The books included in this are:

The Hell You Say
Death of a Pirate King
The Dark Tide
Stranger Things Have Happened
Man Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction
Murder in Pastel
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
Winter Kill
The Mermaid Murders
The Curse of the Blue Scarab
Somebody Killed His Editor
All She Wrote
The Boy with the Painful Tattoo
Come Unto These Yellow Sands

That's...a lot of books! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

As someone of what the old folks used to call "Scotch-Irish" descent, St. Paddy's has always been a big deal in my family. For years it was a grueling marathon of a day -- gig after gig after gig (usually in pubs that grew more and more rowdy as the day wore on) -- but these days it's more likely to be relatively quiet, spent with family or close friends. The SO will cook corned beef and colcannon, maybe fix up a couple of Irish Mists...we'll listen to our favorite Irish bands and perhaps watch an Irish film (anything from The Commitments -- if you've ever been in a band, that is the film for you -- or something as nutty as The Quiet Man).

Not everyone makes a big deal of cultural heritage and ancestry--and that's absolutely all right (why focus on the past when you're headed toward the future?) but in my family, we don't forget. ANYTHING. EVER. You remember those stories about the Scots dumping Campbell soup into the sea during World War 2 relief efforts? Yeah. Where I come from, that was considered the right move. :-D

Anyway, is there a holiday that is special to you or your family? How do you celebrate your family ancestry or cultural heritage?

OR do you?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New Release - FAIR CHANCE

Fair Chance, the final installment in the All's Fair trilogy is out today in print, ebook and audio.

The Blurb:
Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Chance from bestselling author Josh Lanyon

One final game of cat and mouse...

Ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again--from a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.

The Excerpt:
“Excellent choices, gentlemen.” The petite brunette waitress dropped her ticket pad in the pocket of her teeny tiny black skirt and bestowed a dazzling and impartial smile on both of them. “I’ll be right back with your cocktails.”
They were seated at Stanley & Seafort’s Steak, Chop & Fish House, one of their favorite places in town to dine on the evenings they weren’t in a hurry to get back to Goose Island. The food was fine. The bar was excellent. But more to the point, it gave them a chance to talk about the case on neutral ground. When Elliot had finally acceded to SAC Montgomery’s request that he visit Corian, one of Tucker’s stipulations had been that they not take the case home with them. From the point they boarded the ferry at Steilacoom, the topic of the Sculptor was officially shelved.
That was the goal anyway.
Tonight there was more to talk about than could be covered in the drive to the ferry.
Tucker sighed, loosened his tie and leaned back in the sofa-sized booth. Elliot gazed out the picture window at the stunning view of Tacoma and the blue waters of Commencement Bay Harbor beyond. He massaged his knee, which had started to ache.
Tucker glanced at Elliot. “If I seemed…harsh back there,” he began gruffly.
Elliot brushed the apology aside. “It’s all right. I get it.” He didn’t expect—or need—Tucker to pull his punches when they were working.
“You’re my priority. That doesn’t change. I genuinely believe your involvement is not critical, but even if I did think we needed your help, I wouldn’t be happy with this because I don’t think this is good for you. Or us.”
Well, hell. That was Tucker for you. No beating around the bush. And an unnerving ability to say aloud the things most guys, including Elliot, were not comfortable saying outside the privacy of their own bedroom.
“I know, Tucker. Like I said, I get it.” This ground was so well trod it was practically mud beneath Tucker’s handmade Italian shoes. “But just once I’d like to discuss the case without a preface from you on how much you didn’t—and don’t—want me involved.”
Tucker grimaced. Nodded.

They were silent for a few minutes. That was mostly weariness, though a small amount of irritation factored in. They were both too opinionated and strong-willed not to bump heads now and again. They’d learned over the past months that simply taking a deep breath and a step back usually took care of things.
The waitress appeared with their drinks. Whisky and soda for Tucker and a glass of California merlot for Elliot. He needed a drink after the day he’d had, but he would be taking pain meds that night for sure. He must have twisted his knee when he’d raced across Corian’s property to see who had opened fire.
Tucker’s expression was somber as he sipped his whisky.
Watching him, Elliot asked, “Do you want me to share my thoughts on my visit to Corian’s place?”
“If you think it’s relevant.”
Elliot let his head fall back, summoning patience.
“Sorry,” Tucker muttered. “It’s not pleasant watching a psychopath threaten your partner.” He threw the rest of his drink back.
Fair enough. Elliot would be struggling with that too, were the shoe on the other foot. There was nothing he could say to comfort Tucker, so he related his trip to Black Diamond and his encounter with Corian’s former neighbor.
Tucker mulled it over. “Do you think Corian was working with an accomplice?”
“I don’t know. My first instinct was no. Except…I’m not sure that was instinct so much as rejection of something I didn’t want to hear.”
“I watched the interview twice. I still can’t make up my mind.”
Tucker was looking at his empty glass like he didn’t know what had happened to his drink. He caught the waitress’s eye and she nodded. He turned back to Elliot. “What I am sure of is there’s nothing he won’t do to wreck you.”
“Of course,” Elliot said. “We already knew that.”
Tucker’s expression drew a faint smile from him. “Come on, Tucker. We already know I’m the bad guy in Corian’s movie. He didn’t invite me over there because he thinks I’m the one person who can appreciate his artistic genius or have a civilized conversation with him, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. He wants me there so that he can dump his horror stories all over me and hopefully cause maximum mental distress.”
“That’s right,” Tucker said grimly. “He’ll try to get to you any way he can. Including physically, so don’t ever turn your back on him.”
“Is that literally or figuratively? Do you want me to shuffle backwards out of the room at the end of each visit?”
“I’m not joking about this.”
“I know. He’ll continue to be handcuffed and wear ankle restraints during our interviews. I’m not about to forget what he’s capable of.”

The Launch Party -- and you're invited! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Epic Fail

I was reading an article the other day about how writing "short" will maximize profits--this was right after I'd watched a webinar on writing to market, which was right after I'd watched another webinar on understanding Amazon's algorithms.

Now I do enjoy writing short stories. They're excellent for exploring theme or a particular character dynamic--and I'm good at them! So I had no objection to that article. I thought it was interesting. And I think in this publishing environment, authors do need to think in practical, i.e., businesslike terms. There's nothing wrong with identifying and analyzing your target audience. Nor is there anything wrong with understanding Amazon's algorithms.

But yet I still felt a little depressed after an afternoon of...authorial self-improvement.

Which is probably illogical because writing is a business, and I'm the first one to get impatient with people who don't conduct themselves like professionals. But writing is also an art, and lately everything seems to be about the business of fiction writing and very little, if anything, about the art.

Even the rare posts that are ostensibly about writing, are usually thinly disguised promotion.

And I get it. This is an insanely competitive market. And by "this" I mean any genre you can think of.  There is no sub-genre of commercial fiction that it isn't swamped with new books and new authors, so it's only natural that we're all looking for an edge. It's like the Olympics. Now days winning is determined by a fraction of a fraction of a second. Your sunscreen can make a difference.

It makes perfect sense that we're all studying formulas and algorithms and trends like we're searching for a cure for cancer. I don't care how good you are, when the market gets this crowded and this competitive, you have to run a lot faster just to stay in one place.

But writing is also still an art.

I don't care how many of these marketing courses tell you it's not about writing, it's about productivity...if you consider yourself to be a real writer, if you take pride in the idea of being a writer, then you need to care about the work. You need to care about the words.

And that means you need to have the courage to experiment. To, yes, fail. Because it's through trial and error that you get better. That you get to the goal--at least, I think it should be a goal--of excellence. Excellence doesn't happen through copying what everyone else is doing. It doesn't happen through homogenization.

I mean, think for a moment about the numbing sameness of what's being published in this genre alone. The same covers, the same blurbs, the same promo tactics--and yes, even the characters and plots all sound the same. For. The. Love. Of. God.

Last year I wanted to experiment. I wanted to try something new. I was eager to push myself to try something new. So I put out two books that had some readers scratching their heads. Murder Between the Pages was a semi-satirical take on classic locked room mysteries. Some readers got it -- but a disconcerting number of readers did not get it. Were actively hostile to the very idea of it. HATED it.

It was one of my least successful titles -- joining the ranks of other not terribly successful experiments like Blood-Red Butterfly.

The other experiment was a monster mash-up. The Curse of the Blue Scarab. An Edwardian murder mystery with supernatural overtones. Some readers got it -- some did not. It too was not as successful as my contemporary crime thrillers. Several one or two star reviews. Genuine grievance at the idea that I would turn out something like that.


:-D :-D :-D

(It's okay, by the way. I don't expect everything to be a huge hit with every single reader. Hell, even the most enormously successful of my books have a few people screaming they can't understand why anyone ever reads me.)

The point of writing is not to never get a bad review. The point of writing is not for every story to be a huge financial--or even critical--success.

What is the point of writing?

This is not rhetorical.

Why do you write? If you don't know the answer, ask yourself: why do you read?

What is the point, the purpose of all this literary exercise?

 If the answer make a lot of money fast...well, okay. Whatever. This is not the post for you. But if you actually care about the work, care about what it means to be a writer--versus just another author--you can't be afraid to experiment, to try new things, to push yourself a little further. You must not be afraid to fail. 

Don't sacrifice art for the algorithms.

Friday, March 3, 2017

And Then My Puppy Ate My Homework

I'm not exactly sure what happened to February.

Well, true, the first part of the month I did have a couple of days of vacation. The annual island retreat with my sibs--I LIVE for those sisterly retreats.

And of course, February IS a short month (and every day counts in this biz).

That said, the month started out really well. Very productive, lots of writing -- particularly on The Monet Murders and the surprise, secret project Writing Killer M/M Suspense and Mystery. (Nice cover, eh? He seems very relaxed about the possibility of having to shoot someone.)

But I'm not just an author. (Is anybody "just an author" these days?) I also run my own publishing empire, so there were also contracts to read and sign (specifically two Thai and one German publisher), print collections to arrange (trying to do a holiday collection...waiting to hear from Carina Press on a couple of titles there) translations to arrange (Italian -- the good news is So This is Christmas will be released by Triskell Edizioni in December and The Monet Murders will be published through my own imprint in the summer), audio to arrange (and then files to listen to because I Trust No One).

Oh, and then Samhain announced that, Oopsie! Yes, they were actually closing as previously announced at the same time last year. Which meant scrambling to prepare those 6 titles for re-release: cover art, formatting for print and ebooks... Although, given Samhain's vagueness on when the titles will actually officially revert, I'm wondering if we really did need to scramble. But the point is...TIME. Precious time being gobbled up in chunks of minutes.

So...all those Samhain titles are pretty much ready to go, we're just waiting on the word. I will give readers a heads up: I'm not re-releasing The Dickens With Love until the holiday season--and I might not release Mummy Dearest until I have Bite Club ready to go. But all the other titles will be immediately available, once Samhain releases them to me.

Tick. Tock.

Big, big time suck there.

And there is this First Ever Mini Writer's Retreat, which also took up some time. If that should turn out to be a fun and productive thing, we might even do it again. Every couple of years. Maybe you would want to come?

Oh, and then of course I have a book release this month. Fair Chance, the final book in the All's Fair trilogy, is being released on March 13th.

And there is a blog tour! For which I had to write a LOT of posts. :-D

Here's the line-up:
Tour Schedule: 

Monday, March 6th - Tome Tender - Guest Posts
Tuesday, March 7th - Alpha Book Club - Guest Posts
Wednesday, March 8th - Books,Dreams,Life - Interview (Author or Character)
Thursday, March 9th - Rainy Days and Pajamas - Guest Posts
Friday, March 10th - Gay Book Reviews - Guest Posts
- -
Monday, March 13th - Joyfully Jay -
Tuesday, March 13th - The Silver Dagger Scriptorium - Guest Posts
Wednesday, March 15th - Bayou Book Junkie - Guest Post
Thursday, March 16th - - Interview (Author or Character)
Friday, March 17th - Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post

I won't be live and in person at any of these blogs because--as I mentioned--I'll be at my first ever writer's retreat. (Meaning first ever that I was "responsible" for--usually I am privileged to be the person asking everybody where my hotel is.) But I did write posts and offer a few giveaways. That said, most of the giveaways will be occurring at the Launch Party on my own Fan Page.  I don't want people just showing up to win stuff, but I have to admit, my mods give some seriously cool gifties away. So if you are a fan or do genuinely like to read M/M, you are very welcome to the party. Come! You'll have fun.

I'm hoping that you're seeing a pattern here, and that pattern is...there were a lot of interruptions to the writing. And then came the biggest interruption of laptop died. know, I still have a desktop, so I'm not sure why this felt like the end of the line (aside from the fact that I lost all the initial chapters of the writing book--and maybe some other files too) but the truth is I don't "create" at my desktop. I create on a laptop while sitting in a giant, comfy chair in front of a fireplace in my bedroom. :-D My desktop is on a desk in my downstairs office and I have to sit on a yoga ball and be sensible. That is really not what writing fiction is about.

When we come back from the writing retreat, we will have house-guests (beloved house-guests) for a couple of days, and then I have a concert (coz that's a thing in my life) and then, then, THEN I will finally be able to get back to writing The Monet Murders.

You see what I'm getting at.

I had promised to deliver The Monet Murders ahead of schedule--because at one point that looked very doable--and even Blind Side ahead of schedule. But that is not looking realistic now.

Now it looks like I will need to put out a short story in the interim. Plenty of Fish. Because I love short stories, short stories take me about a week to write and I need money.

Yes! I admit freely that as a professional writer, money is the fuel that keeps the engine cranking.

I read the funniest comment in a review a while back. Something to the effect that Josh Lanyon put this book out simply to earn money.


Uh...why yes. You are correct, little person. I put all my books out to earn money. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. I publish to earn money. I can write for my own pleasure. I need not involve anyone else in that alarming process. To make the hassle and stress of publishing worth it, I need to earn money. That's how I earn my living.

This is not a comment on people who choose to live in their mom's basement. Just saying I have to earn a living. Or why the hell would I go to the exhausting and stressful extreme of publishing my work?! Nobody publishes who doesn't hope to earn money. End of story.


But I digress.

This is a very long explanation of why I'm having to recalibrate my previously stated plans. I'm genuinely disappointed at having to delay The Monet Murders and Blind Side.

The Monet Murders is being shoved back to its original April release date. Blind Side...should come out about six weeks later. But. Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

So I hope no one is too disappointed. Or at least no more disappointed than me. The books are coming. And I do genuinely believe that it's better they come a little bit late than that I try to shove them through at top speed. I think you would rather I take my time and deliver the best possible product, right?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly UNsuccessful Writers

I discovered a new writing biz tool last week and FOR ONCE it's actually worth every penny. It's called Amazon Book Report and you can discover more about it here. It's perfect for writers like me who have a pretty good idea of the math, but rarely sit down and actually DO it.

Anyway, I was inspired to then go and do the math on my audio backlist, and that's a different story. A sad story if you love audio books--and my audio books in particular.

But I'll save that post for another day. In the meantime, I can't help noticing that my FB feed (and Twitter) is full of people handing out writing and/or marketing advice OR people in despair over their writing careers. Okay, and also people gloating about their writing careers, but there are fewer of them and they haven't been at it long enough to know how seriously to take that gloating.

I've been around a while and I'm reasonably successful, so I thought I would share some of my observations with those who feel they are not getting the success they deserve.


1 - You never submit anything because you're convinced it's "not good enough yet." You started what you believe will be your greatest work five years ago, and so far you have written the finest three chapters known to man. But they do need a little more work before you move on to Chapter Four...

2 - You submit everything -- or you self-publish and you don't have time or money for editing, cover art, formatting or even another re-read. You are terrified that the gold rush will be over before you can partake of the shiny. You firmly believe that "good enough" is all it takes these days to be successful -- especially when combined with aggressive advertising and marketing.

3 - Instead of analyzing your target audience, you spend hours writing ranty posts in which you attempt to redefine genre or sub-genre and offer guidelines as to who should be allowed to play in the sandbox. You are sure that if you just keep ranting, you will ultimately part the waves and convince readers they don't like what they do.

4 - You write hostile reviews of other writers under a sooper-sekret name on Amazon and elsewhere. Don't worry, you're not going to be found out. The danger lies not in being unmasked. The danger lies in the fact you've let your jealousy and insecurity get the better of you. Instead of focusing on YOUR career, you're busy worrying about someone else's. This is not a winning mindset. Or a sign of mental health.

5 - You believe everything you hear about writing not mattering-- that's it's all about social
networking, your mailing list numbers, marketing and advertising. Here's a tip. The "writing" may not matter, but the "storytelling" sure as heck does. You need to write stories that a lot of people can't wait to read.

6 - You believe your reviews. The good ones, anyway.

7 - You think because you've had some success, you now know all there is to know and you don't have to keep trying new things, pushing yourself, reading, honing your don't have to pay attention to the market or your readers (you don't even know who your core readership is) or what's happening in the world around you. You believe that success is a stable thing and once you've reached it, you're set.

Agree? Disagree? Pretty basic stuff, right? Feel free to offer your thoughts below!  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Author! Editor! Author! Nicole Kimberling

This week I'm interviewing the madly multitalented Nicole Kimberling who happens to be the Editor in Chief of Blind Eye Books in addition to being one of my favorite writers. That's not a combination you stumble across every day. (Or at least I don't.)

In addition to being an excellent writer, Nicole has the gift of talking both knowledgably and accessibly about writing. She's witty, wise and can cook. Which is pretty much all one can ask for in both an editor and a friend.

So without further adieu, Nicole Kimberling.

JL - Tell us--at the risk of getting slammed with submissions--about Blind Eye Book's mysterious new imprint One Block Empire.

NK - So our original line, Blind Eye Books is all about science-fiction and fantasy.

One Block Empire is devoted to mystery and other kinds of contemporary stories. Basically, I decided it would be neat to expand our brand into stories set in the real world.

The first book in the line is Dal Maclean’s Bitter Legacy, a police procedural set in London’s Metropolitan Police Service (which the author assures me is a real place.)


JL - As you know, I'm a big, big fan of your Bellingham Mystery series. What attracts you to the mystery genre -- this is not the rhetorical question some might imagine because you started out in spec fiction. In fact, didn't Turnskin win a Lambda? So what drew you to these mean streets?

NK - Aw… how sweet you are.
What I love about mystery—especially the classic cozy mystery—is that it is an absolutely perfect vehicle for observational humor. You have the sleuth, who is basically a nosy outsider, going into these different subcultures as a newcomer and reporting on what he or she sees.
So you can write a mystery set at, oh, let’s say Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. And you’ve got this incredibly serious thing—decapitation—happening in a place where the witnessess are showgirls dressed in bikinis that look like they’re made of 3 slices of pizza. And you can make the murder weapon a huge scimitar-shaped mezza luna knife that looks like its from the middle ages.
And the juxtaposition of these images—between the horrifying and the absurd—creates this awesome cognitive dissonance that drives the sleuth (and by extension the reader) to keep trying to solve the mystery. I feel like the best mysteries take the sleuth to a place of true discomfort. Then when the sleuth restores order to the chaos there is this sense of massive relief.
JL - Pentimento Blues is the sixth and final novella in the Bellingham Mysteries series. What did it feel like writing that final chapter? Was it a relief? Bittersweet? Where are Peter and Nick twenty years from now?

NK - Yeah, I did feel a little melancholy. Peter was such fun to write and the city of Bellingham still has so many quirky people and places… But I felt like I’d covered most of the big areas of conflict between Peter and Nick and didn’t want to be that writer who starts inserting the “crisis of the week” just to keep the series going.
I did actually think about where Peter and Nick would be a couple of decades down the road. I feel like they probably acquire some children somehow. Like Peter would agree to watch his itinerant crack-head cousin’s kids for the weekend and then she might never come back. Something like that. Nothing planned or premeditated. Just Peter’s impulsiveness combined with Nick’s deep-down kindness leading to accidental parenthood.
Or instead of children they could accidentally acquire a bunch of alpacas. That’s also possible.

JL - You're Blind Eye Books' Editor in Chef. (HA! Little cooking joke there -- bet you never heard that one before) How do you balance your own creative needs -- heck, how do you even find time to write? -- with the needs of your authors and your publishing house? Do you find it difficult to switch back and forth?

NK - Yes, the transition can be rocky. For me writing fiction requires entering a relaxed, associative, expansive state. And that’s exactly the opposite of the critical, winnowing attitude required of an editor. And both of those are different from the strategic “We’re gonna take that hill, then go to sleep get up and take the next one,” mind-frame necessary to performing the duties of a publisher.
So I try to pick one job every week and just do that, reserving longer blocks of 2-3 weeks to make progress on a piece of my own fiction or to do my final edit another author’s novel.
JL  - What do you like best about editing?
NK I truly love helping authors develop their style and work their manuscripts up to their full capacity. Because one person writing alone can do a good book, but probably not an excellent one. Novel-length prose just has too many moving parts for one person to keep track of them all.

JL - If you had to pick, perhaps for the purposes of a blog interview, what would you say was the one thing lacking in the majority of manuscripts you end up rejecting?
NK - Originality. Do you remember that famous meme from The Player? “It’s like Goodnight, Moon meets Lord of the Flies!” Most of the manuscripts I get are more like, “It’s like X only gay!”
Except “X” is usually just some TV show like Charmed,*  or whatever movie was popular that summer. Even if the writing and voice are both good, a derivative story is always boring to me.

JL -  What do you like best about writing?

NK - I really enjoy immortalizing the unique people and quirky situations that pop up in everyday life—or at least in my everyday life. For the sake of fiction—and certain friendships—I disguise them. But most of the characters in my books, and even some conversations, were inspired by real people.
JL - What do you have planned for us in the way of more mystery or suspense? I know you're partial to decapitations--and they're admittedly infrequent in the cozy subgenre--but I think you're a natural for a cozy series with edgy, even black humor. Plus you like cats. So.
NK - Actually I tried to get a decapitation into Pentimento Blues but my writer’s group told me it was unnecessary, cartoonish and detracted from the story’s main crisis. So I took it out.
But in terms of a new mystery: I’m very slowly slogging away at a new book featuring a chef solving a murder that occurs in the cellar of the restaurant where he works. I have no idea when I will finish it but I figure as long as I keep going I will probably manage to get to the last page before I drop dead.
But I’m nearing the end of writing the third Special Agent Keith Curry novella, which is a crossover fantasy/mystery.

 JL - Name three favorite mystery tropes that may or may not be found in your stories past, present or future.

NK - The Intrepid Reporter
The Red Herring
The Evidence Dungeon
JL  - I know you don't have the time, but do you think you would make a good sleuth?

NK - Well, I am exceptionally nosy but I don’t exactly have the attention span for surveillance. I feel like I’d have all the good intentions of solving the murder but get distracted by some other, lesser curiosity (“What ARE the neighbors remodeling anyway?”) and miss some major clues allowing the murderer to slip past me. But I’d absolutely know what color of bathroom tile just went into the house next door.
Plus it’s hard for me to pay attention to anyone telling a boring story, which I think must be pretty common in RL detecting. So, on the whole it’s probably best if I leave actual sleuthing to others. J


*Full disclosure: Charmed is my least-favorite TV show, by far.

You can learn more about Nicole and her work on her website. Or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter.