The Year of the Rat (we’re clever, and 2020 is our year!)

Okay, cyberpunk is WAY out of my comfort zone.  I’ve been known to read a dystopian now and then, but when too much science is involved, I usually shy away.  BUT, I’m a fan of C. S. Boyack, and his latest book is…cyberpunk.  I’m reading it, and I’m enjoying it!  I’m still not sure I’m a true cyberpunk fan, but I sure am a C.S. Boyack fan.  This book is fun!  So I invited Craig here to tell you about it himself.

Thanks for inviting me over today, Judy. It’s an honor to be promoting my new book, Grinders, on your space.

I have something special for everyone today because Judy and I were both born in the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Every twelve years our year comes along, and 2020 is our year. Believe it or not, it has a tie to the story.

Grinders is a bit of cyberpunk set in a future version of San Francisco. One of the things San Francisco is famous for is its Chinatown. Before we get there, I need to return to the rats.

Grinders are people who perform illegal surgeries that are technologically related. It’s like plastic surgery, but involving microchips and radio antennae, that kind of thing. Grinder tech is illegal, and the surgeries are performed in basements and garages.

My antagonist is trying to research a new bit of grinder tech. Because this is illegal, he can’t just buy lab animals to experiment on. The authorities would trace the purchases back to him. He uses a shady street gang to make connections to various trappers who can provide him with research animals. Prior to the start of the story, he’s gone through a lot of various rodents, with limited success.

The lone success is in the form of a muskrat his young son named Daisy. She has fiber optic whiskers installed in her face. They light up and change colors to reflect her mood. Daisy was a stepping stone to Subject Forty-Three who is a white rat. Forty-Three is the only survivor of a string of rodents my antagonist tried to install functioning gills into. He can breathe underwater, but isn’t necessarily inclined to do so.

This poses some problems for the antagonist, because he needs the rats to infiltrate the sewer system to retrieve some abandoned intellectual property. Is Daisy too big to fit through all the tight spaces? Will Forty-Three be willing to complete the mission? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

That’s when I had one of those writer’s epiphanies. This is the Year of the Rat. The story is set in San Francisco. I have rat characters in the story. I was born in the Year of the Rat. With cyberpunk being all about flashy environments, the annual parade was the perfect place to have the major event of the story go down. Since I was on a roll by that time, it’s also Year of the Rat in the story, so there are people dressed as rat mascots in the parade, and I tried to take it way over the top.

This is a little behind the scenes peek at my writer’s brain. One other thing that I find cool for authors is Pinterest. I don’t promote there, but I started keeping a pin-board for each of my recent books and series. I’m a pretty visual guy and some of you might be, too. If you’d like some inspirational images for Grinders, you can check them out here. It will give you some of that cyberpunk esthetic, maybe a case study for some main characters, there are even muskrats and rats in a few images.

It’s time for me to drop a blurb and cover along with that all important purchase link. I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to check out this cool story. Thanks again to Judy for inviting me over today.



Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

Purchase link:

cover for Grinders, C.S. Boyack

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

Blog My Novels  Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

Happy Book Birthday to THE BODY IN THE APARTMENT!

Sorry.  I can’t help it.  It’s too exciting when one of my books finally comes out.  So I have to share that The Body in the Apartment is officially on sale today.  Hooray and Happy Dance!  And for the first time ever, the audible for the book came out on the same day as the ebook.  A first for me.  On top of that, I’m getting good reviews.  I might float all day.

THE-BODY-IN-THE-APARTMENT-1--(can share AFTER it comes out in March)

Here’s the cover for the audiobook.  Pretty cool, huh?

The-Body-in-the-apartment_--audio cover

Thanks for sharing in my celebration.  And hope you have a happy, wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

More TV, No Reading

My grandson’s on leave, and he stayed with us all last week.  Awesome!  This week, he’s staying in Indy to see his mom and his brother and his wife.  We’ll probably drive down to see him one more time before he flies back to California, but we sure loved seeing him while it was our turn.

Reading is pretty much a solitary endeavor, so I didn’t do any of it while he was here.  He’s not a voracious reader, even though he still manages now and then.  Like HH, he likes nonfiction more than fiction.  But during his stay, since TV and movies are more social, that’s what we did in the evenings.  He brought most of the shows on his laptop for us to watch, but on Thursday, we waffled about what to try, and I talked him into watching Ford vs. Ferrari.  He and HH weren’t sure they could trust me (I’ve talked them into one English mystery too many), but they got even more into the movie than I did–and I really enjoyed it.

I’m not a car person, and I usually have to make myself sit through movies about racing, but the characters in the movie were so well done–and the small mindedness and pettiness of the Ford executives so irritating–that the tension between men who love cars and men who focus on selling them to climb the corporate ladder drew me in.  Wonderful acting.  Wonderful story.

HH and I, somehow, have gotten out of the habit of watching movies.  I didn’t realize how much I miss them until Nate’s visit.  HH and I have made a pinkie pledge to start renting one every weekend–IF there’s one that looks good.  But we’re so far behind, if every new movie is a bust, we have hundreds of old ones we missed.  At least, that’s our intention.  For now.  But you know how life goes.  Pretty soon, it will be warm outside, and we’ll sit on our favorite couches later than usual.  So it might be easy to slip into plop fanny on sofa and read mode.  We’ll see.

Hope you find the time to read a good book, watch a good movie, or write a great scene.  So, for now, happy writing!

Fishing for Plots #Plotting #StoryEmpire #WIPs

What kinds of plots do you hook? A great comparison by Mae Clair.

Story Empire

Hi, SEers! It’s Mae Day on Story Empire, and I’m here to talk plotting—and fishing. 

Early in our marriage, my husband introduced me to flounder fishing. That attachment eventually evolved into crabbing, clamming, and a long stretch of boat ownership, but in the beginning, it was all about catching the coveted flounder.

I quickly learned there were several types of fish and sea critters attracted by the bait I dangled in the water and not all were desirable. Kind of like plots.  Sound crazy? Let me put it in perspective:

SeaRobin_LongIslandSound1 This is a Sea Robin
Photo courtesy of Versageek via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re fishing for flounder, just about everything else falls into the category of “junk fish.” The most common junk fish we’d hook were sea robins. These guys will never win a beauty contest. If you don’t believe me, take a gander at the…

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Each of my Muddy River books is on sale for 99 cents for the rest of this month.  This is a snippet from BLACK MAGIC CAN BACKFIRE:

A waxing moon etched tall grasses leading to the tree line with silver. The humid air clung to my skin. Raven was standing behind a line of cars parked at the end of the asphalt, his strong body silhouetted by a few tall, overhead street lights. Not much effort went into making the parking lot safe, but shape shifters and vampires could see in the dark. Only witches needed flashlights to follow the path to the woods.

As I joined him, I noticed thirteen humps that dotted the ground from the asphalt to the forest. Bodies. He nodded at them. “Looks like someone picked them off on their way back to their cars. What can you tell me about them?”

I walked to the nearest girl, stared down at her. “Belladonna, she recently started a new coven of young witches. She was their leader.” The girl’s face and skin were unnaturally pale, her body shriveled. She was only eighteen. Too young to die. She’d just recently graduated from my school of magic.

Raven’s black brows furrowed into a deep V. “I met her, didn’t like her much. She convinced twelve other girls to follow her?”

I hadn’t like her much either, but she was only in her teens. She had centuries ahead of her to grow and mature. “She was smart and vicious. When I taught her, she took pleasure in embarrassing anyone she considered beneath her. If she was halfway nice to someone, they considered themselves lucky and joined her clique.”

He grimaced. “Weaklings. I’ve seen that happen.”

I couldn’t disagree. “A few of the other girls grew to be as nasty as she was.”

He motioned to the other dead bodies. “Would this be her coven?”

I walked to the next girl and the next, then nodded. All pale with sunken cheeks and loose skin hanging from their bones.


True Detective

My grandson is here on leave, staying with us this week.  We love watching TV together at the end of the day.  And this time, he came with his lap top so that we could watch the first season of True Detective together.  He’s been wanting me to see it for a long time, but it’s a lot more fun watching it when he’s here, because we’re those awful people who pause shows and yak about plot points and characters while we watch.  We’d never do that at a movie theater.  It annoys me when I pay to see a movie and people talk during it.  But at home, hey, it’s a whole different story.

We haven’t finished the series yet, but we started it last night and even HH got so hooked on it that we binge watched four episodes in a row until we were too tired to watch anymore.  The first thing I noticed was the show’s opening.  The music and images reminded me of the opening for True Blood.  Moody music.  Moody images that flash on screen.  You know, for sure, that you’re not going to watch a Hallmark movie.  And I don’t mean that as a put-down of either.  I happen to enjoy both.

The Long Bright Dark begins with the first body the detectives, Matthew McConaughey and Wood Harrelson, find.  And of course, the victim is staged.  Her naked body is kneeling and bent over with antlers tied to the top of her head and a “devil’s cage” made of twigs hanging over it.  She has stab wounds on her abdomen.  It looks like a ritualistic killing.  And after examining it, McConaughey declares that she isn’t the killer’s first victim.  There had to be more leading up to it.  Woody Harrelson doesn’t believe him but soon learns that his new partner might be odd, but he’s brilliant…and obsessive.

The combination of the new detective–an outsider–and the detective at home in his station and his home town–is used often, because it works.  It creates conflict between the protagonists to add to the conflict of the story’s plot.  And The Long Bright Dark does a great job of both.  Both characters are flawed but view life from really different angles.  McConaughey doesn’t believe in anything–religion, institutions, relationships; whereas, Harrelson is a married man who believes in family values, even though he rationalizes what that means so that he can sleep with someone else.  After all, gritty detective stories can’t have protagonists that are too happy, right?

Just like in the series True Blood, the story is set in Louisiana, and the poverty of many of the settings sets the tone for the serial killer who preys on women and children.  There’s a gritty texture that runs through every episode.  Our grandson keeps reassuring me that I’m going to like the ending of the show, and I hope he’s right, because it’s hard to tell how the protagonists are going to fare from one episode to the next.  And that’s a pretty awesome achievement, in and of itself.  The Long Bright Dark is done well.


New Release: In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair #buddyfic #humor #comedyoferrors

I love Mae Clair’s writing, and she’s trying something new this time. Can’t wait to read it. If you need a little humor, you might want to give it a try.

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Hi, friends. I’m super excited! Instead of sharing a book review today, I’m sharing news of my own release! I had originally intended to do a cover reveal before publishing In Search of McDoogal, but then decided to go all in.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you already know McDoogal is a different type of story for me. Not only can you read it in ninety minutes or less, but it’s light-hearted in tone. No creatures or beasties, no dark or brooding mystery to solve. Just two guys on a day trip, trying to recover a…well…I’ll let the excerpt explain.

Banner ad for In Search of McDoogal by author, Mae Clair shows cover on e-reader and smart phone, artist's paint brushes in cup to the right side

In the excerpt below, Brady Conrad has just arrived at the house of his friend, Declan Fitzgerald. These two have known each other since high school and are colleagues at an institute dedicated to marine and environmental research. After dragging Declan from bed with a rude…

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