What’s this about bicycle noir?

Someone asked me what this picture is about. A not-so-subtle clue to that little mystery is in the photo caption.

From a customer review of North of Grand: A Detective Red Shaw Novel.

It also has to do with writing what you know, something I’ll be talking about November 16 at Inkberry Books in Niwot.

See you there?

B.J.

Let’s talk crime fiction: November in Niwot

Let’s talk crime fiction!

Join me at Inkberry Books in Niwot, Colorado, at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 16. What to expect: some words about writing what you know, a little reading, some Q&A, some book signing, and an author reception.

FYI, Niwot is a cool little place with friendly people who love music and serve some great food, coffee and craft beer. It’s conveniently located about halfway between Longmont, where I live, and Boulder, where I work. I stopped in at this independent bookstore recently while riding my gravel bike on the LoBo Trail and I’m looking forward to being there again soon.

If you’re in or near Boulder County on November 16, let’s meet at Inkberry Books.

Read on, my friends. Read on.

B.J.

Read a book today or any day

Friday was #NationalReadABookDay, as I found out this morning. From my POV, every day should be #InternationalReadABookDay. This could keep us out of so much trouble, assuming we made good reading choices.

sculpture
Pixabay image: Sculpture in a real park setting from Blood Solutions: A Detective Red Shaw Novel

Not coincidentally, I’ve arranged to have both of my Detective Red Shaw novels on sale – $1.99 each for the Kindle eBook editions – for today and Sunday. Maybe a little longer…

Today would be a great day to get yours, right here: SALE SALE SALE!

Read on, my friends. Read on.

B.J.

Rare*: Free crime novel from me

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Doing crossword puzzles will never be the same once you read Blood Solutions: A Detective Red Shaw Novel.

Not that I want to wreck your crossword experience, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I was addicted for a while.) It’s more of a heads-up that you will look at crossword puzzle clues a little differently after this.

To see for yourself, get the ebook FREE* today or Sunday (August 24-25) right here on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/521746

Let me know what you think!


* I rarely do this, for a couple of reasons. 1. The world is cluttered with too many free ebooks that are just plain crappy and I worry that it reflects poorly on the book. 2. I make my living as a writer and prefer to get paid for what I do. Both Red Shaw novels are worth a few bucks. 🙂

Writing what you know – from experience

Writing advice is easy to come by. What to do with it can be a mystery.

Take a look around the internet and you’ll find plenty of free advice, and more than enough takes on this bit, which is frequently attributed to Mark Twain:

Write what you know.

Some people write about themselves because that’s what they know best. Others write about rock climbing, or travel, or science, or whatever subject they know well.

The concept is complicated when it comes to writing fiction, as this piece on Literary Hub illustrates.

I think I’ve led an interesting life so far, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to buy a book about it. Most of my writing has been nonfiction based on research and interviews on various topics. Still, I’ve made use of what I know from experience in my Detective Red Shaw novels. The following excerpt from North of Grand is one example, which draws on my love of bicycling as well as other lived experience. It’s my favorite way of writing what I know.


In which Detective Red Shaw visits a bike shop…

…while investigating the murder of a cyclist.

Half an hour later he was parked outside the place watching a middle-aged couple load two new bicycles on a brand-new rack on the back of a shiny, black SUV. They chatted with a young blonde woman who he guessed had just made the sale. The scene took him back to the time he and Sally bought new bicycles at a discount store and rode them three times one summer. He wasn’t sure where they’d ended up.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Inside the store he took a few minutes to browse, inspecting the lines of sleek, pricey road bikes and rugged, shock-equipped mountain bikes. He wondered how many of them ever actually saw a mountain. Assorted helmets hung on one wall near displays of water bottles and gloves and seat bags and other paraphernalia. There were hard, narrow saddles that weighed nothing or close to it. He could buy balm and padded shorts for his butt to ward off pain and chafing, then spend more bucks on tight, techno-wonder jerseys to keep him cool as he sped down some road in the sun. He picked up a coffee-can-size container of powder from a nearby display. The label claimed it would keep his electrolytes in balance and help him stave off dehydration if only he would mix it properly and drink the proper amount every hour during a long ride, then mix and drink more later to make sure he’d gotten enough.

The only employee in sight was adjusting the brakes on a bicycle in the shop area. A surly type with long, graying hair, he looked over once then turned back to the brake job without saying a word. He seemed to assume that Shaw wasn’t going to buy anything. He was right.

“Can I help you with something, sir?” The young woman from the parking lot appeared beside him. Up close, he guessed she’d be in her thirties, a little older than she looked outside. Attractive and obviously fit. Tess, her ID tag said.

“Thanks, but I’m just kind of looking around. Some people I work with swear that riding a bike has been all kinds of good for their health, mental and otherwise.”

She smiled at that. “I’m sure it has. It’s a great way to spend some time, get some exercise, get to work, whatever. I ride here every day, eight miles each way, unless there’s snow and ice.”

“You’re kidding,” Shaw said. “That’s a long way, isn’t it?”

“Not really,” she said. “If I wasn’t working I’d be out with my club for about fifty miles, and we’re doing a metric century tomorrow.”

“A metric century?”

“A hundred kilometers. Sixty-two miles or so.”

Shaw grimaced. “That doesn’t sound like all that much fun.”

Continue reading “Writing what you know – from experience”

Mini-mystery in a phone call

Last week at a Meet the Author event, I read some excerpts from North of Grand, my second Detective Red Shaw novel. What follows is one of my favorites, in which Shaw gets a phone call that ends in a little extra mystery.


The sun was still up but Shaw turned in early after dining on what remained of a four-day-old pepperoni pizza and downing a Leinenkugel. He lay awake in bed for an hour, appreciating the AC, replaying the day in his mind, then trying to shut his brain down so he could sleep. The phone rang. Cheryl. Again already? He answered.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

“Hello, Detective,” she said. Her voice was a bit deeper, sexier than in her voicemail or how she had sounded in person.

“Hello, Ms. Massey.”

“Cheryl, please.”

“Okay, hello, Cheryl. What can I do for you?”

“Can I call you Ed?”

Shaw hesitated. “Is this about police business?”

“No … I hope not.”

“Well I hope not, too. Ed is fine, please.”

“How about Red?” Her voice was lighter, playful. He had to laugh.

“You can call me whatever you like.”

When she didn’t respond, he tried to wait her out, as he had with countless suspects. He broke first, and quickly. “I’ve thought about calling you.”

“So why didn’t you?”

“Well, I guess I assumed you’re married or otherwise involved, and I didn’t have your number … until a few hours ago.”

“The detective couldn’t find my phone number?”

“Well, I suppose I could have, but I hadn’t yet. Besides, there’s that thing about not knowing if you were married … or otherwise involved.”

She laughed, and he imagined her reaching out to touch his arm.

“You’re funny,” she said. “I like that. Otherwise involved.”

“It covers a lot of possibilities,” Shaw said. Again, she fell silent. He broke, again. “So … which is it, Cheryl?”

He heard a voice, faint in the background.

“Otherwise involved,” she said. “I have to go, Red.”

And then she was gone.


Read the book on Kindle or Nook!

Get the first Red Shaw crime novel free (read on for how)

My bad. I just noticed that I have some Kindle ebooks that I have neglected to give away, the first crime novel featuring Detective Edward “Red” Shaw.

Blood Solutions

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

From a few reviews on Amazon:

Each twist and turn in the story line kept me eagerly turning pages, fascinated by the thoroughly and expertly developed plot points.

This engaging whodunit is worthy of a PBS show like all those British detective series, especially Inspector Morse! 

I am recommending this book for my book club. It will appeal to both the men and women in the group.

Crossword puzzles will never be the same.

Hit me up on Twitter @bjsmith and mention #RedShaw – or leave a comment here. Offer good while supplies last!