Thursday, October 24, 2013


The "Original Sin City Sampler" has been ranking in Amazon's Top 10 of the Mystery Best Seller Free list for the last two days! It's been as high as #4 on the Noir list!

There's just one day late to this giveaway!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Starting today, October 23rd and through October 25th, samples of our hard boiled crime fiction ebook novels are available on Amazon for FREE!

"Original Sin City 20,000 Word Sampler" contains the first 9 chapters of our Barry Award Nominated novel "Little Mexico" and the first 3 chapters of its sequel "In the Name of the Father." 

We hope that if you enjoy having a taste of our storytelling, you will buy the complete novels. Only $3.99 each.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


John, here. I am hundreds of miles away from my home in Kentucky, working at an animation studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the job that is paying most of our bills. For the past 14 months, I have been working away from home for stretches of six weeks at a time.

This separation from Cathie puts a damper on our daily collaboration. No matter how much time we spend on the phone or Skype, it's not the same as being next to a warm body. We work best when we are together in one room, bouncing ideas off each other...challenging one another...and then, kissing and making up.

Fortunately, we are at the stage on our present writing project where I concentrate on the basic structure of the story. Our Original Sin City novels each have a basic historical event, theme, and major plot through which multiple character story arcs are woven. This enables us to present a textured reading experience.

In essence, our novels are multiple novellas that are interwoven.

For the past week, I've been pulling together the first novella's three act structure. I'll use this structure for all the novellas. It enables us to control the pacing of the novel's overall story arc.

This is exactly how I plan my animation—I plant guideposts to hit. I then time my actions and create my individual drawings/words/sentences.

In both cases, I give the characters (drawn and verbally created) room to organically grow. Hopefully, the result will surprise the audience with the reality of the world we've created.

Check out our 3 Act Structure Outline.

Act One
Setup: Location/Relationships
1) What character wants/goals:
a) Start in the middle of struggle
b) Emotional need/want: hate, love, jealousy, respect from others
c) Physical need/want: hunger for sex, money, food, shelter

2) What's in the way:
a) Other person(s)
b) Self--lack of talent, knowledge, common sense, impatience, arrogance, self delusion
c) Confrontation

Act Two
3) Tries to overcome obstacles
a) Initiates personal actions towards goal(s)
b) Family members attempt to thwart success--ratchets up the negative feelings--feeds the desire for revenge
c) Outside opportunity from 3rd party appears
d) Tries to grab for it

Act Three
4) Climax
a) Confrontation between all involved
5) Resolution: Success/Failure
Points to future conflicts (both external and external)

For those who want to see how we interweave several story arcs, check out our "Original Sin City Sampler". Only $0.99 on Amazon.  

Friday, October 11, 2013


We reached #1 on Amazon's Free Best Sellers List of Noir novels, and #28 on the Free Hardboiled novels.
The giveaway is over, but the price of the sampler is only $.99! (We would make it permanently free, but Amazon wouldn't allow us to so at this time.)

We produced this large sampler because we didn't feel what Amazon is providing gives potential readers enough to judge before making a purchase.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


It's 20 hours into the 2-day long Amazon giveaway and the "Original Sin City 20,000 Word Sampler" has hit #3 on Amazon's Noir List and #38 on the Hardboiled Mystery List!

Great! Please pass the word around and tell your friends about this free offer! Our novels are very cinematic in content!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


From Today, October 9th to October 10, ebook samples of our hard boiled crime fiction novels are available on Amazon for FREE!

"Original Sin City 20,000 Word Sampler" contains the first 9 chapters of our Barry Award Nominated novel "Little Mexico" and the first 3 chapters of its sequel "In the Name of the Father." 

We hope that if you enjoy having a taste of our storytelling, you will buy the complete novels. Only $3.99 each.

Friday, October 4, 2013

We've just released this 20,000 Word Sampler on Amazon of both "Little Mexico" and "In the Name of the Father." It's DRM free, so anyone can buy it once and pass it on as many times as you want. We wanted to make it permanently free, but Amazon does not allow normal pricing below $0.99


In a past post, we told you we'd parse through some of our first (but no cigar) versions of our logline for our novel "Little Mexico".

So here goes. When we first tried our hands at this, we thought we had to really paint a full picture of what the story was all about. Our tenth attempt gave us this (of which we were very proud—didn't think we could do better).

"In a gritty Kentucky river town, Carl and Pearl Jules fight to keep their glamorous supper-club casino from falling into the hands of the Cleveland Syndicate. Bullets fly and bodies are dumped into the Ohio River in a 25 year long battle until, finally, the rules of coexistence between the mobsters and independents are hammered out and written in blood, giving birth to the Las Vegas casinos of the swinging Rat Pack era."

Yep, our chests were bursting with pride at having given verbal birth to our "little darlings"…each squawking and shouting out "Aren't I picturesque?" We thought it was a little long, but justifiable. The first sentence focuses specifically on the "small KY family-owned business versus major crime syndicate" aspect of the series. The second sentence describes the scope and length of that battle/war and reveals the little-known historical result and significance of its outcome.

Well after a day of letting that logline lay around, it became obvious to us that it was too verbally fat and needed to be trimmed.

We are both very passionate about our ideas and what would normally take a single writer an hour to rewrite, takes us two or three as we argue and defend what the other is trying to chop out. But we get over the emotional attachment to our words, put on our professional hats and get on with the process of pruning, which is the necessary thing to do—all part of the process.

So, we whacked away at the log line. Thought we'd done a solid butcher job of trimming the fat. When the dust settled, we had:
“In the gritty Northern Kentucky town of Newport, where bullets fly and bodies are dumped into the Ohio River, one family is determined to hold on to the glamorous Oasis casino as all the major mob families wage a bloody war to take over.”

Once again, our chests were puffed up! A few weeks later, we realized the knives had to come out again!

Let's go through this phrase-by-phrase, word-by-word. Really look at each element of the log line: The Opening Set-Up, the Protagonist(s), the Action of the story, the Antagonist(s), the Goal, the Antagonist(s) Action.

The opening set-up:
John's little darling was “In the gritty Northern Kentucky town of Newport…"
Cathie's darling: "where bullets fly and bodies are dumped into the Ohio River…” (she is very verbose)

This setup is cumbersome. It gets in the way of telling the story. Diverts the focus.

We agreed to sacrifice each our darlings for the sake of the project and came up with the alternative: “In the premier gambling hotspot before Las Vegas…” This sets up a unique locale without specifically naming it, but definitely states this is not Las Vegas. It should pique one’s curiosity as to where the story is taking place.

The protagonist(s): "one family" is too vague and not focused enough, should be a person(s). The word “family” is also confusing as it implies a smaller "mob family" as compared to "major mob families".

The alternative is: “a determined husband and wife”.

The action of the story: “hold on to” is not proactive enough. We can use it later in the log line as the goal.

Remember, a logline must convey the action of the story and carefully chosen words must be used to give the logline momentum.

Let's use the word “struggle” because it presents the goal (and scope) of the story and conveys drama. Conflict is the basis of drama. The word "struggle" implies both external and internal conflicts.

So, we use the words “struggle against”.

The antagonist(s): “major mob families”. This stays as is.

The goal: “to hold on to the(ir) glamorous Oasis casino” stays.

The mob’s action: "wag bloody war to take over" is unnecessary to the logline. OUT!

Putting all this together, we come up with:

“In the premier gambling hot spot before Las Vegas, a determined husband and wife struggle against the major mob families to hold on to their glamorous casino.”

The final change came with the focusing on Pearl as the spark that is the catalyst for the entire premise. We hadn't really taken into account that her husband Carl is in a coma for the major part of the book, and our logline wasn't spotlighting what was really unique about this story: a woman is leading the battle against the mob.

“In the premier gambling hot spot before Las Vegas, a determined woman struggles against the major mob families to hold on to her glamorous casino.”

And that's it! A lot of red ink was spilled carving out those words…but rewriting is a part of the creative process…much like Michelangelo chipping away all that wasn't David in that block of raw marble.