Sunday, March 25, 2012



Los Angeles is the real Magic Kingdom. It’s a special place where millions of dreams are crushed, but thousands of dreams come wildly true. It’s that ratio that keeps them coming here from Bumchuck, Indiana and Ball Gag, Iowa. And when they get here, they’re in for a rude awakening. Rock legend W. Axl Rose, born William Bailey in Indiana, said it best: Welcome to the Jungle, baby! You gonna die!

I don’t need to tell you my name just yet. All you need to know is that I was born of this soil. Raised right here on a quiet working class street called Lesser Street in blue-collar Norwalk, California a suburb between Los Angeles and Long Beach.

I despise those who come here and ruin my city, my Los Angeles. They blaspheme by calling it L.A. instead of its proper name: Los Angeles.

They’re weak. Dreamers. Losers.

They were not raised on these streets where scary monsters came out a night. They didn’t hear stories of the Boogie Man, or the Mexican kids talking about a bruja, a witch, named La Llorona who moaned all night crying for her murdered children. Plus, it was never completely dark because of the glow from the Golden West oil refinery three miles away in Santa Fe Springs, The sky was a pulsating orange color, and the air smelled of sulfur, of cow manure from Dairy Valley, of honeysuckle, and night-blooming jasmine.

They are invaders and leeches.

I will prey on them. I am their master.

I am the Magician and tonight will be my fourth kill.

As a self-proclaimed writer of badass Crime Fiction, I've run across a few others whom you must read. Most of these authors, and auteurs, are not household names yet, but they should be, cats and kittens. They should be.

First off, if you dig badass crime fiction with a sense of humor, a whole lotta noir, some scintillating sexiness, and enough badassery to shake an RPG at, here's your man:


Embrack is the author of the immensely entertaining Peter Surf PI novels. The Surf books owe more to the exxagerated noir ethos of the movie "Sin City" than they do to Chandler or Hammett, but that's a good thing.

Embrack writes like James Ellroy would write while on an ether and mescaline binge with Hunter S Thompson. Embrack is that good.

Nowhere is Embrack's raw power and skill as a storyteller more evident than in the non-Surf novel, and in my humble opinion, his masterpiece... "The Black Opera." Imagine Ellroy's American Tabloid series condensed into one book and put on a diet of steroids, whiskey, and raw beef.

This book is so good, it needs to be put out as a mass-market supermarket paperback so everybody can read it. It's too bad that literary agents don't read, because Embrack deserves his place with writers such as Stephen King, John Grisham, and Jeffrey Deaver.

Embrack is evidence that self-proclaimed "Utterly self-published" e-book authors need not be talentless hacks. Embrack is a better writer than half the people with "real" book deals who populate the New York Times bestseller list.

Do yourself a favor... go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.Com NOW and download The Black Opera. Then remember your old Uncle Chris at Christmas with a bottle o' something.

Good reading, kids!

Look for Pt 2 soon...

Sunday, December 04, 2011


I come by my addiction to crime fiction... um... honestly. As the son of two 1950's era ex-heroin addicts and ex-cons from Los Angeles, crime is in my blood. My dad did a bounce in Soledad for Forgery, and mom was in Norco for Possession of Narcotics. I also had a grandpa in San Quentin, an uncle in Chino, my sister was also in Norco, just like dear ole Ma. One of my childhood friends became a serial killer. That's California for ya!

Because of our upbringing, my older brother is a lawyer. I'm a former skip tracer, journalist, gravedigger, and Hollywood stand-up comic... which was all just prep for my becoming a writer of crime fiction.

I've been writing mystery/crime fiction on and off since 1982. I also wrote a few western stories and some science fiction. I submitted all of these stories to magazines such as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, as well as mags that don't exist any more like Twilight Zone, Asimov's, Espionage, Louis L'Amour's Western Magazine, Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine, and others whose names I can't remember.

During all this, I apprenticed by reading everything I could get my hands on, even old Fawcett Gold Medal paperbacks from the 1950's that I'd find in junk shops. Among the writers I "studied under," if you will: Hammett, Chandler, Carroll John Daly, James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich, Horace McCoy, Howard Browne, William Campbell Gault, Ross Macdonald, W.R. Burnett, Earle Stanley Gardner, Jim Thompson, Larry Block, Elmore Leonard, Bill Pronzini, Ed Gorman, and the incomparable James Ellroy.

In all of my youthful churning out of stories and collecting of rejection slips, I never sold a single story. I gave up for awhile, gained some life experience, had some small successes in other genres such as journalism, playwriting, and as a comedy writer. In 1995 I graduated from the Writer's Digest School, where I had been mentored by veteran crime writer Josh Pachter. One of the 2 stories I wrote during that course was actually kept by AHMM for a full 6 months before I received a personal rejection letter from editor Kathleen Jordan. It was the nicest no-sale ever. I quickly sent off the OTHER story I'd written with Pachter's mentoring. This time I quickly received a form rejection slip.

Then I wrote my first novel. I started planning the novel, and the series it was to be part of, in 1995. I wrote the first draft in the Winter of 2005-2006. After several attempts to get an agent, Then I stuck the novel in a drawer, but I'd drag it out every once in awhile to revise it.

I'd pretty much given up on publishing the thing, 'til I read about a guy named John Locke, who writes the Donovan Creed novels, and who had sold over a million copies of his Creed books and his Emmett Love westerns in e-book form. In doing so, Locke had landed on the New York Times Bestseller list... for E-BOOKS but who cares, he can still call himself NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR JOHN LOCKE... even on the covers of his paperbacks.

I dragged my novel out of the drawer and revised it one more time. In July 2011 I published "Death in the Fast Lane," the 1st King Leary novel, on Kindle/Amazon. In early September I pulled it to fix some formatting errors, and then I republished it, for Kindle, Nook, and for other formats. A paperback version is available on Amazon.

What Locke, Chris Culver, J.A. Konrath and others have shown me is that e-publishing is the new Pulp Fiction, the new Fawcett Gold Medal Edition mass-paperback, if you will. I can write about whatever I want, however I want and no one can tell me to do otherwise. This gives me a chance to experiment with my next few books, the King Leary novels and maybe a few one-offs. I can go as dark as I want or as silly as I want, and, since I'm selling these things for 99 Cents, there will be readers willing to take a chance on me.

If you haven't had the chance, please read "Death in the Fast Lane," available on Kindle or on the free Kindle app for iPhone, Android, PC, or Mac.

Once again, the Kindle  apps are FREE. So this will only cost you 99 Cents.

Here's the blurb:

When a Rock legend dies mysteriously, it's up to LAPD Det. King Leary, and his partner Det. Millionaire Adler, investigate. On the way, they meet crazed music biz types,the Mayflower Mafia, and a serial killer known as the Angel. On top of all that, Leary has a secret... he sees dead people.

Here are the links:


Sunday, November 13, 2011


When it was recent announced that the veteran trio of Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, and make-up artist Dick Smith will be honored with special Oscars, most of the attention focused on Oprah (do we really even need to say her last name anymore?) I believe that Oprah IS deserving of the special Oscar for the humanitarian work she does, so I'm going to move on and focus on James Earl Jones.

There is no denying the man's talent as an actor. He was first nominated for the Academy Award in 1971 for the Great White Hope; he has won dozens of Emmys and Golden Globes. He is the voice of Darth Vader and of Mufasa from Disney's The Lion King.

When discussing Jones, it all comes down to The Voice. That big, booming, basso profundo voice that is so deep and powerful and resonant that it makes Barry White seem like a soprano.

My favorite films featuring Jones have included The Great White Hope, the Sandlot, Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, and his memorable turn as reclusive author Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams (a character which, in the original book, Shoeless Joe, was actually real-life reclusive author J.D. Salinger.)

Any discussion, though of Jones' work, and of The Voice, simply make his story more incredible. Why? James Earl Jones was functionally mute from childhood through his freshman year of High School.

Born in Mississippi, Jones was raised by his maternal grandparents, farmers Maggie and John Henry Connolly, in Jackson, Michigan from the age of five. The adoption was traumatic. He developed a stutter, and refused to speak aloud. When he moved to Brethren, Michigan in later years, a teacher at the Brethren schools started to help him with his stutter. He remained functionally mute for eight years until he reached high school.

"I was a stutterer. I couldn't talk. So my first year of school was my first mute year, and then those mute years continued until I got to high school." Jones recalls.

Jones credits teacher Donald Crouch, who discovered young Jones' gift for writing poetry, with helping him regain his voice. Crouch believed public speaking would help Jones gain confidence and insisted Jones recite a poem in class each day.

In my King Leary novel, "Death in the Fast Lane," LAPD detective T.S. 'King' Leary shows his compassion for working with victims of crime, and with those on the margins of society... Leary himself is working through the recent suicide of his wife, and he is emotionally hamstrung as he tries to carry on, and to build future relationships. But, like James Earl Jones beloved Prince Hamlet, Leary sees ghosts. A homicide cop who "Sees dead people."

This is a dynamic, which James Earl Jones would appreciate, I believe. So much of The Voice's resonance seems to come from those long-ago places, which are, like Hamlet's Elsinore Castle, haunted by ghosts on a mission, ghosts with a message. Even the most famous words ever spoken on film by Jones, Darth Vader's revelation: "Luke! I am your father!" is haunted by ghosts of the past... the ghost of the Anakin Skywalker who COULD have been.

Jones is also noted for his robust sense of humor, as was Shakespeare's Hamlet. I've tried to carry on that tradition with Det II King Leary in "Death in the Fast Lane."

As James Earl Jones knows, life is about thing like: love, loss, humor, regrets, ghosts, and overcoming one's fears and shortcomings to make the world a better place for ourselves and for all mankind.

Three cheers for 2011 OSCAR WINNER James Earl Jones.

Your Oscar is long overdue!

Eccentric LAPD Detective King Leary and his partner Millionaire Adler investigate the death of semi-legendary Punk Rocker Buzzy Motorola. On the way, they encounter crazed musicians, and a serial killer who calls himself the Angel of Righteousness. On top of that, sometimes Leary sees dead people.