Meet Harry Seaburn, Thief, Romantic & Run Out of Luck

Yeah!  The Harry Seaburn Thriller Series debuted in January 2015 with The Feathered Virgin, Harry Seaburn 01b - Hight Resolutionthe first of seven books telling the wild and mordantly comic story of a thief who is tough, brash, running on empty and wants a good woman, anybody’s good woman, but he tends to kill people and what good woman would want him?   A new novel follows every month until Harry’s final caper, The Cracker Kingdom, in July 2015.

It’s hard to know where to begin in telling the story of the stories about Harry.  Except toHarry Seaburn 02 - Hight Resolution say Harry is a hard-nosed thief and hopeless romantic who has no money despite the millions he manages to steal, no woman to call his own and half the criminal world wants to kill him, for good reason.

He operates around the edges of two great criminal syndicates that would happily crush him as irritating competition.  He makes money out of crazy, taking on gigs no other crook Harry Seaburn 03 - Hight Resolutionwould dare.  He believes there is no real life outside of his personal thief’s paradise in a circus town between the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades.  And he couldn’t manage to stay alive or survive his mismatched loves without the help of his stripper landlady and a hippie throwback swamp woman.  And a guy named Bitter Bob (you’ll find out) and a mega supergeek who hates all humans but Harry.

(You can see what Harry has to say about all this below.)Harry Seaburn 04 - Hight Resolution

          Click the cover images to order from Amazon

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 The Joy of Crime(writing)

by Harry Seaburn

Harry Seaburn 05 - Hight ResolutionI’ve been told that in the pages of some of the better magazines I have been accused of encouraging criminality by my thrillers making it all seem like great fun. Yeah, well, it is. Great fun, I mean.

Also hard, hard work. I’m like most crooks – a happy, lazy man. I don’t like work, hard or any other kind. I prefer the quiet life with a beautiful, intelligent woman – your woman, perhaps? – than to be out grubbing around for a living. If you call rough work like rescuing maidens from burning yachts and stealing million-dollar paintings from museums floating inHarry Seaburn 06 - Hight Resolution shark-infested seas fun (that’s in The Feathered Virgin), well, you need a shrink more than I.

On the other hand, and at the risk of offending my readers’ well-known sensibilities – of course, if you had any of those you wouldn’t be reading my life story, you’d be wallowing in tea cozy mysteries or over-educated police procedurals. Whoa, back to the point: people read about me because crooks are attractive. We are fun. We let our emotions run away. We feel a compulsion and we compulse.

Harry Seaburn 07b - Hight ResolutionMost of all, we don’t care about consequences. If I want to throw a man down the stairs in a restaurant, I do. Then I sit down to lunch. If I want to make a pass at the prettiest girl within seven leagues when her husband turns away, I do, and take the slapping or the punching if I’m not fast enough to run for it.

People like me do what we want. What can be more appealing than that? We have so much fun being bad you just can’t resist us. Go ahead, read The Feathered Virgin and just try to resist me. Ha!

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What Comes Next in Thrillers?

Once Harry’s comic crime caper series is done, I plan to concentrate on continuing two other projects.Runing in Heels - High Resolution  Runaway Man - High ResolutionFirst, The Dirty Wars Novels that began with The Runaway Man and are hard core thrillers featuring men and women who find themselves where they never wanted to be and must fight their way out.  The next book in the series is called Soldiers of Misfortune, and that tells a lot about the story.  Second, the sequel (not yet named) to Running in Heels telling the second, and tougher, half of the story of woman sucked into a bizarre crime who has to fight her way deeper into crime to fight her way out.

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What’s Next in War Novels?

WarFinalAfter the first three novels in The Vietnam War CollectionGhost Soldiers, poisoned_hearts-641x1024 - CopyWar Lover and Saigon Blues comes War and  the Newby  about how young soldiers become Soldier and Poisoned Hearts  about the harsh aftermath of a harsh war.  With luck, I’ll have both of these ready by the end of 2015 just in time for your Christmas gift-giving, if you really want to give your giftees something that bites and won’t let go.

 

 For more war stories, check out my blog Forgotten War Stories by clicking this image:

 FWS SCRN

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What’s Next in Other Writing?

Plenty.  In fact, too much.  I’ve been writing all my life, mostly for others but as often as I could for myself, until I discovered indie publishing.

Oh, I had a novel published in hardback in the traditional way, and published again in paperback a few years later.  Magazines bought some of my short stories.  But mostly I piled up manuscripts that I thought one day would allow me to break into traditional publishing.

Then I discovered ebooks.  Once I realized I could publish ebooks on my own and find and build an audience without interference and at better royalties, I quit my day job and indie writing and indie publishing are what I do full time.

The downside is it’s all so much fun and I have so much freedom to do whatever writing I want that I’m piling up projects faster than I can complete them.

So what comes next for my other kinds of writing?  A “pre-post apocalytic” noir thriller set in the moment of change from one world to another.  A war novel that tells the story of the most colossal mini-battle in the Vietnam war.  An Arthurian romance told in a bizarre new way.  Some more comic space opera.  And a spin-off thriller trilogy based on a character in the Harry Seaburn series.  Also a children’s comedy about a winged dog.

All this, if I survive my current project list, is set for 2016.

Cheers and thanks for asking!

Talking Writing: An occasional one-sided conversation on writing, indie publishing & very bad grammar, #1

Knew I was ready to go all-indie when I was told I was ready. Got laid off from my job, never thought I could find another (gray beard). Began writing full time. When my company called me back to work after 6 months, I stuck it out at the job for a year before I realized the layoff had taught me a good (if financially punishing) lesson about the joys of independence as a full time writer and that I really could survive without a traditional paycheck. So I quit to write full time. Very happy I did.

I have a soft spot for Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine because they bought (and paid for, even better) the first short story I ever published. A hundred rejections later, I managed a few more sales, some of which were never paid, including from a major mystery magazine and a leading sci-fi fan fiction mag that folded the month each published one of my shorts (but I refuse to see any cause and effect).

Finally coming out of the 3-4 days of downer that always seems to follow completion of a manuscript. This time the 7th and last novel in the Harry Seaburn thriller series. Feels like an epoch has ended and the dinosaurs no longer roam. But new light flickers on another horizon and it’s time to get started on another series. After I let this ms age in the bottom drawer a couple of months and give it a vigorous edit/rewrite, I’ll have it ready as an ebook in July.

3.75 K words written this morning and riddled with anxiety these aren’t the right 3.75 K. Wrote them constantly interrupted by gekkos running across my tabletop here in the backyard under the bamboo fronds. Not as cuddly as kittens but they have sharp opinions on grammar.

Would be terrific to know the comic crime series I’m finishing up now attracts more tourists to Florida but, as I describe my ideal and heroically screwy version of the place, those tourists are likely to be wilder than anything the real place allows out on Miami streets or slogging through the Everglades.

I have a hate-love relationship with my story characters – I hate them until they do something that surprises me then I love them. They don’t arrive on the page fully formed or thought out but as people in a cloud I’m trying to bat away to see what they’re up to. Writing about them doesn’t help me find them. I discover them in the editing, where they can’t hide.

There’s a mad grammarian buried deep inside me and I agree with everyone who says “alright” ain’t all right. But we also have to admit that clear, direct communication is more important than grammar rules. And if that means breaking a rule or two, then we must. (Yii, do I see torchbearing or torch-dash-bearing grammarians coming after me?)

The plot twists I prefer are those that grow out of the character of the protagonist – as in the old BBC TV series “A Touch of Frost” in which Detective Inspector Frost tends to jump to conclusions and wander off in all the wrong directions (pretty much as the reader might) before he focuses on the route to a solution. Each misdirection increases suspense and produces a kind of anxious frustration that keeps a reader/viewer glued to the story.

I admire people who can stick to a writing schedule – their production has to be fatter than mine. My daily plan is to write until my eyes refuse to focus, then go to the beach. Average 4K per day. Not much of a plan; word count isn’t huge. But I’m into the stride and it keeps the stress manageable, which is important to me.

Despite all their excellent counter arguments to pantsing (seat-of-the-pants writers), I feel a deep sadness for plotters. Pantsers run laughing and dancing up the mountain. Plotters laboriously build a road and plod (plot) their way to the summit. Where the pantsers, prizes, popularity and riches in hand, greet them with the plotters’ favorite veggie juice and much-needed energy bar. Before the pantsers race off once again to conquer the next mountain, the plotters plodding on behind. Poor things.

Spent a lot of years working with some of the toughest good guys on the planet. They make Lee Child’s Jack Reacher look like a wimp. The best advice they gave me was never go into a fist fight without a .38 in your hand. So I write fight scenes one word long – “Bang!”

I write with a view to editing. For me, a book is made in its editing. First draft is best I can do at the moment, followed by multiple edits that could take months, even years. Editing is more fun than writing.

“The Murder of My Aunt” by Richard Hull (orig published 1934) – manically (ie, not belly laugh) funny, like P. G. Wodehouse writing an inverted detective story. I’ll be sorry to finish reading it. Wish I had written it.

Yep, that’s a fab feeling when you key the last period on an ms but the trouble comes the day after. When you realize all those great, scary, amusing characters with whom you’d been partying through all those thousands of words have gone away. You feel abandoned. The world has suddenly gone very dull. Only one cure – get back to hammering the keyboard.

 

(c) 2015 Steven Hardesty

Life is a Wild and Crazy Thing, eh?

 

Harry Seaburn’s comic crime caper novel series had just been born – with publication of The Feathered Virgin on Amazon – and the author (me) almost got unborn. Life, as the old Greek said, is a wild and scary thing.LADYCORPSE

Or maybe just very Dortmunder. (You Donald E. Westlake fans will know what that means.)

I’d just pushed the “publish” button for Amazon and begun preps to follow up immediately with publishing books two and three in the series – The Dimpled Python and The Laughing Camel – when I had this sudden urge to climb a ladder to grab a fresh tube of toothpaste on a high shelf.

Yeah, well, it would’ve happened to John Dortmunder, too. I sort of fell off the ladder and sort of landed in the shower and sort of banged my head against the tile wall and sort of began to bleed.

Splash blood, I mean.

My wife, expert at solving problems I create, wrapped my head in beach towels (we live by the beach so we have lots of them to spare for occasions like this) and called an ambulance.

The ER jabbed me and wrapped me in wires and made me do bizarre arm exercises. Shoved me into a CAT scan machine (not as scary as an MRI, which feels to me like being shoved into my own coffin without the benefit of being dead). And decided I would survive. Or maybe that I wasn’t worth much more of their trouble.

So they stapled six quite pretty metal staples into my head to close up the tear and sent me home. My wife took a photo of my head to show me the staples – they look like some office loony went berserk on my scalp with a desk stapler.

Have to admit, though, I felt instantly better with the staples in. Something like having that “closure” you hear about (hooray for puns!). If they were stapling me and not admitting me, then I was going to be all right.

Further, the ambulance man said he would check Amazon to buy a copy of The Feathered Virgin, so my misadventure was not entirely a waste.

After five hours in the ER and early to bed, I expected to be re-energized today and ready to get back to publishing those next two books. Trouble is, the ER gave me this long list of “Symptoms Indicating Your Concussed Head is About to Explode and You Will Die” and I discovered I have all of them. Except the one that says you have come to realize you are more handsome than George Clooney.

To fight off those symptoms, I spent the afternoon puttering around in the yard in the fresh air and sunshine. But the sun heated up the staples in my scalp and I had to flee indoors.

Then I recalled from the BBC’s “Doc Martin” series that the Doc revived a man dying from concussion by using a common or garden variety household drill to bore a hole in the skull to relieve the building pressure. I asked my wife to keep our drill handy in case I want any more holes drilled in my head.

She scoffed and went out back to inflame our oak-fired barbecue to cook up fresh fish for dinner with friends this evening. I’m sure their good company will cure all my symptoms. If not, I’m ready with the drill.

Cheers!

© 2015 Steven Hardesty

Confessions of a Writer #3701

I’m not so sure I was inspired to write the thriller Running in Heels  so much as badgered into it. It’s the story of a lonely and self-hating woman named Kathryn Teal who is adrift in life but discovers that stealing a fortune (by accident) is all too easy while keeping it (on purpose) is tough, tough, tough.

Runing-in-Heels-High-Resolution-187x300The thing is, Kathryn wasn’t supposed to be in the book at all. I planned the story for a male protagonist. But when I’d written the first line, there she was, staring back at me and daring me to cut her out of her  story.

Kathryn took over the novel, lock, stock and down to the last exclamation mark, and believe me I was making a lot of exclamations by the time I keyed the last words.

Thing is, I came to see her as pretty terrific – a coward who becomes a hero, a wimp turned into a dynamo, and a woman too dangerous to cross. If you want to take a good look at Kathryn Teal to see for yourself, she’s right here in the Kindle version on Amazon. The last paragraphs of the story suggest a sequel. Knowing Kathryn as I do now, that scares me.

Gone Indie

What’s the point of indie publishing when the traditional houses do publishing so very well?  Especially when paper-and-ink book publishers are so inventive, inclusive, far-sighted and generous?

Then, too, “Real Books” made of ink, paper and leather with lots of gold leaf lettering have that romantic smell and feel we all love.  Who can love the smell of an ebook reader?  It’s just another throwaway commodity, like a refrigerator or a Ferrari.

And you can stack your shelves prettily with Real Books to add intellectual decoration to your otherwise paltry interior design (all puns intended).  But how do you show off to your friends that you’ve downloaded a thousand ebooks? (more…)

Writing “The Mandarin’s Sleeve”

I confess!  “The Mandarin’s Sleeve,” just published on Kindle, isn’t really a short story about the great machines that drive history.  It’s about mankind’s grim and comic inability to control those machines when they drive us down the wrong road.  Or maybe to control ourselves.

The Mongol invasions that swept across Asia and into Europe in the 13th century were the great driving force that began the creation of our modern world.  By re-invigorating the cultures of Europe, India, Persia, the Middle East and North Africa.

But why did those invasions stall outside Vienna and then recede?  Historians blame the death of Genghis Khan.  But I think there is a larger reason – sometimes things just get too big for us.

I wrote “Mandarin’s Sleeve” when I was working in the Middle East in an organization of 50,000 people.  Our chief had a dozen direct-report subordinates.  Each of those subordinates had a dozen reporting to him/her. (more…)

Finding Brigid O’Shaughnessy (and the Maltese Falcon)

I know a guy who knew Brigid O’Shaughnessy.  His name was Joe Gores.  And she was real.  It’s a great story. 

Brigid, as you know, was the seductive murderess who drove Sam Spade to hunt down The Maltese Falcon in Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece of hard-boiled detective fiction.  Hammett had been a Pinkerton agent in San Francisco in the 1920s.  Joe Gores, who died last year, was a repo man in San Francisco.  That’s where this story begins.

Way back in the last century, I met Gores, author of the great DKA Files mystery series.  I invited him to my ratty flat in Berkeley for coffee and to talk fiction.  Evening drew on.  Shadow came into the room.  The conversation turned noirish.  He began to tell me about Brigid O’Shaughnessy. (more…)

Teaching War to the Kids

The number of university and high school reading lists that include Ghost Soldiers for teaching the GHOSTSOLDIERSFINALVietnam war and the 1960s got me thinking about the sort of syllabus I’d advise for students if I were a teacher. Then  it hit me – there are plenty of good books and a few good movies about the war but only two I’d recommend, and one isn’t “about” Vietnam at all.

Because ours is an increasingly visual culture for transmitting information between generations, first on my list is Burt Lancaster’s 1978 film Go Tell the Spartans based on the novel Incident at Muc Wa. It’s the only honest Vietnam war movie made. It feels like the war. It looks like the war. And I can’t laugh when the intel officer installs his stoplight graphic over the door to measure the war’s local progress. The ending is sappy, of course, but Americans have a hard time making movies that end tough. (more…)

Burning My Library One Book at a Time

There comes a time in every man’s life when his thoughts lightly turn to setting his library on fire.  To burn away the jungle to let him find the books that most matter to him.  It requires re-reading the whole library, lit match in hand…

Self Portraits:  Fictions 

by Frederic Tuten

Take the first book from the shelf.  Find a match.  Cover is by Roy Lichtenstein.  Hardback.  I wonder if I will need to break the spine before lighting its fire?

I have not opened this book in a long while.  Skim through the short stories.  I like the physical structure of the narrative and the dreamy quality of the stories.  But only one strikes me like a hot stabbing blade.  The first, the opening door to the others.  “Voyagers.”  My memory is the title is “Voyages” but now I read the word clearly and it says voyagers.  That extra bit of alphabet makes all the difference.  Voyagers, yes.

It tells of a writer’s mind not always on the present planet.  A story of those who dream and act on their dreams.  I act on my dream memory of the story and re-read it here in the bright sunlight streaming past my bookshelf.  I read it again.  I let Frederic Tuten tell it to me a third time and that hardly seems enough.

Here is the price of admission to the book’s strange ordinary world.  Here is a story that makes a story-telling career a triumph.  A story that deserves vast prizes.  I read it one more time, sitting in the brightest sunlight so I am sure to see every bit of alphabet in every word, make no mistakes.  But the glare of words makes me move the book into the shadow cast by the curtain half across my window. (more…)