The Next Big Thing

December 15, 2012

My thanks to Susan Shea, brilliant mystery writer who tagged me for the “Next Big Thing” blog project.
Susan is the author of the Danielle O’Rourke series including Murder in the Abstract and her new book coming this spring, The King’s Jar. Susan and I worked with a wonderful group of talented writers in our Marin County writing group.

The “Next Best Thing” concept allows each writer in turn to answer the same list of questions for blog readers who may not know us. Readers are passed along by the person who invited us to participate. I’m grateful that Susan decided to select me as I’ve yet to become an “Author.” Soon, I hope.

Allison Landa has elected to join in the party, and I have some other friends to include later on. Allison was a star in the MFA program at St. Mary’s College. She will offer answers to these same questions and I can promise you wit, irreverence and an informative glimpse at a writer from behind the scenes.
So- here are the questions and my answers. Looking forward to reading my fellow writers’ entries.

What is the working title of your book?
For the first of my Tommy Finnegan mysteries: Shades of New York. It is currently being edited by Molly Woodward. The sequel is the almost completed Igorot. Another book, a stand-alone, is aching for a new moniker (currently Mendocino Coast) and Ramona DeFelice Long has already done a fabulous edit. Revision time! So much fun!!

Where did the idea come from for this book?

Mendocino morphed from a fly-fishing short story I work-shopped through Saint Mary’s MFA program. Somehow it flew from Montana to California, dropping the remains of the short story somewhere over Idaho. In Shades, Finnegan’s travails began as a revisit to my old Wall Street business.

What genre does your book fall under?
Shades of New York is a thriller/mystery- could never really discern much difference- while Mendocino Coast, although pegged in mystery genre could also be labeled with a Family Drama/Paranormal Tasting/Romantic Leaning/Mystery confluence.

How long did it take to write the first draft?
So many versions !! Shades and Mendocino (and the screenplay which became a finalist in a Hollywood contest) probably came into being about seven years ago. Igorot is three years so far in the making.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
Okay- so I actually thought of that! I am a huge Ed Harris fan- I believe he is grossly underrated as both an actor and a producer/director. And he’s from Jersey, played football (maybe he is a NY Giants fan as I have been for centuries) and he also moved to California. We’re practically neighbors! He would be my William Butler from Mendocino– sure to win an Oscar. Back-up plan would use Tommy Lee Jones- he is also fabulous.
As for the Finnegan stories, I could see Patrick Dempsey, Will Smith, David Boreanaz, or maybe Clive Owen (I dub him as our current-day Richard Burton- brilliant) in the lead.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Shades of New York: Tommy Finnegan, ex-cop, gets roped into Wall Street murder, crosses the local mob boss, and confronts an international assassin.
Igorot: Finnegan follows the trail of an improbable suicide, shady politics, and murder to the west coast where he finds love and friendship caught up in a mystery connected to the 18th century headhunters of the Luzon Province in the Philippines.
Mendocino Coast: A grisly murder rocks this quiet coastal town embroiling a dysfunctional family in drug dealing amid interfering ghosts of the past.

Will it be self-published or represented by an agency?
Good question. My wife says it’s about time to send everything out including my kids’ stories. There were over 200 plus rejections for Jack London, so she says I should expect 400 ! What message is that? I’ll start sending out to agents after I finish revisions, and also continue to research self- publishing. I happen to be working on the publication of a centennial book, so I am learning the ins-and-outs.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Shades of New York– all my friends and their weird stories from my old banking business.
Mendocino Coast– The loss of my three close friends after battling cancer, Mike, Timmy and JD.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Mendocino has tastes of a family drama, so I would think of John Casey’s Spartina, maybe Empire Falls or The Family Stone with a bit of Jo Nesbø’s tales thrown in.
Shades and Igorot: I read a lot of James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Patricia Cornwell, Cormac McCarthy among many others, so I suppose each has had an influence.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I believe that setting greatly influences life’s choices, so my plots/situational events and characters tend to roam around the globe. I hope to entertain while immersing a reader in another world, one that I hope they carry with them.



November 17, 2012


King’s Creek- Stimulator 18 inches above a maroon hair’s ear emerger size 16. Got lucky and caught 10 fish out of one pool. All 6-12 inches

Tommy Finnegan Mysteries

November 13, 2012

In Shades of New York, Tommy Finnegan,
a hard-nosed ex-police detective, is tough,
edgy and resilient. Finnegan faces a
renegade niece of a mafia crime boss
before being dragged into Wall Street’s
hidden world of the multi-trillion-dollar Fixed
Income and Investment Banking markets.


In The Igorot, Finnegan must connect the Bontoc Igorot headhunters from the 18th century to the suicide death of his close friend while trying to save his relationship with Allison Whitney.


Mendocino Coast

November 13, 2012

Mendocino Coast

So much beauty- hard to believe murder could happen here !

This is a life drama dressed in mystery, romance, the paranormal, and loyalties amidst greed, murder and abuse.
The novel pits female against male, a dramatic division of extremes with one man caught between three worlds: a man’s,  women’s and that of haunting ghosts. A murder Mystery with a touch of the paranormal set along the dramatic Northern California Coast.

The Screenplay has been selected as a finalist in the Golden Brad Awards.
When a vicious murder traumatizes this quiet California town, policewoman Laura Hronek attempts to solve the crime. Meanwhile, her father, William Butler,  haunted by his ghostly wife Ellie, must decide if quality of life should supersede issues of love, friendship and guardianship. Should he choose the final ride into the western sun, or fight for survival and the painful struggle it promises?

Ed De Avila- New Memoir

September 25, 2012

Eddie DeAvila’s memoir, Spread Thin and Moving Fast; An Unlikely Story, covers his formative years in the voices of the growing child and then that of a young man just heading off to Cal Berkeley. He relates a dark, abusive childhood, from beatings to familial separation on a physical and psychological front, to exposures with a pedophile, golf and pool hustlers, druggies and the taste of the fairer sex. Told in an objective and pragmatic fashion the story unveils an age of the “Beat” jazz music scene amongst the freedoms of sex (fully exposed without restraint or soppy emotion) and rampant drug-use centered in Los Angeles. Perhaps some editing would have elevated the textual writing, but the tale proves more dramatic and heart-rending than the fictional (some say biographical) account of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

In this sometimes melancholy recounting Mr. DeAvila states, “I avoided feeling bad, guilty, worthless, or angry by feeling nothing, by becoming the observer and not the actor, a bystander, almost as if nothing in my life had anything to do with me, emotionally detached.”

Yet somehow, somewhere, a light flares on. He first discovers music, novelists, and philosophers, and then resorts to living through his books. He discovers the draw and excitement of learning and finds in college, despite never graduating from a flawed high school system, the path to enlightenment. He’d found a world of “friends waiting for me who were ready to help me, ready to guide me, and who would never ridicule, scold, or berate me.”

Well done. An excellent self-published memoir!

Maureen and Mike

September 23, 2012

Timing- it’s all about timing!

Maureen and Mike Clemente made their 2nd annual trip to the coast this past week. What perfect weather! Simply does not get any prettier than last week. We drove through Sausalito, Marin Headlands, had a fashionable beer or two at Liverpool Lil’s and then headed to Izzy’s for a wonderful steak dinner. Following day we ate lunch at Barney’s in the city, drove to the Cal Berkeley campus, rode to the top of the Campanile- fabulous views-


and then had a couple of beers at Henry’s and a few at home before enjoying Nuevo-style German food at Speisekammer in Alameda.

Finished the night off little Italy for some Italian pastries.

I really enjoy seeing my old St. Michael’s buddy and her husband Mike. He and I are kindred spirits. Come to think of it- we enjoyed lots of Spirits, actually !!

We’re hoping to see them again real soon.