Monthly Archives: November 2021


Several people have told me that part of the storyline for the new DEXTER series reminded them of my 1st Cain/Harper thriller SKIN IN THE GAME. I see it, too.



The Cain/Harper Thriller Series SKIN IN THE GAME #1 and PRIOR BAD ACTS #2 are bundled for Kindle. Only $10.94

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Posted by on November 27, 2021 in Writing


Talking Thriller Writing with Kevin O’Brien and Thorne & Cross

I Had a Great Time Talking Thriller Writing on Thorne and Cross: Carnival Macabre

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Thrilling Thrillers with Thriller Writers DP Lyle and Kevin O’Brien

Authors on the Air Network

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Posted by on November 18, 2021 in Writing


Jake Gets Around: The Importance of Setting in Fiction

Jake Gets Around

Location, location, location.

True in real estate, true in storytelling. Where you set your story dictates everything. The area’s geography, weather, and local populace, will alter buildings, businesses, traffic, and the sophistication of police and medical services, as well as the dress, occupations, leisure activities, and, perhaps most importantly, the dialog and speech patterns of the characters. And so many other aspects of your story. 

Can you image The Godfather being anywhere but New York? Jaws not being in a beach town? Or the Star Wars’ characters running, or flying, around anywhere but deep space? 

In case you don’t already know Jake Longly, let me introduce him. Jake’s an ex-professional baseball pitcher who now owns Captain Rocky’s, his bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama. His life goals are running his bar, hanging out with friends, and chasing bikinis. Well, until Nicole came along. For Jake, life is good. He’s content. 

Ray, his father, who has a murky military history, feels otherwise. He simply doesn’t understand why Jake won’t work for him. A real job is Ray’s take. Jake believes that running Captain Rocky’s is as real as a job needs to be. I mean, he has to show up most days. Isn’t that the definition of a job?

Though Jake fights to avoid entering Ray’s world, he constantly finds himself exactly there. To further complicate things, Jake isn’t well-suited for the P.I. life and not all that good at it. In each story, things quickly get quirky. Therein lies the comedy.

But these unsolicited adventures repeatedly lead Jake far from his home and bar in Gulf Shores. Only DEEP SIX occurred in and around his home, while A-LIST took him to New Orleans.

From A-LIST:

She pulled into the Monteleone parking structure and we jumped out. A valet materialized, slid in, and the SL spun away up the ramp. We walked the block over to Bourbon Street and turned toward Jackson Square.

Many U.S. cities have iconic streets. Peachtree in Atlanta. The Sunset Strip in L.A. Broadway and Madison Avenue in New York. None of them were even remotely like Bourbon.

Bourbon Street actually has three personalities, depending on the time of day. The one most folks equate with it is nighttime when it becomes one big street party. Stretching from Canal Street to Jackson Square, the neon blazes, the alcohol flows, and some of the best music in the world spills out of bar after bar. Not to mention the strip clubs. Ones that cater to any and all persuasions. Short of murder, few things are off limits. Of course, the Quarter sees more than its share of homicides, too.

During the day, Bourbon is an altogether different experience. For sure, you don’t want to see it around sunrise. It smells of garbage and stale alcohol, the detritus of the previous night. Like a decaying corpse. Refuse crews and street cleaners do yeoman’s work to prep it for a new onslaught. 

But by noon, the trash is hauled away, the pavement dries from the hosing it has received, and the stench magically evaporates. People appear, street performers take up their stations, and music begins to crank up at some venues. 

Circle of life in the Big Easy.

We did a lap of Jackson Square, checking out the art work that hung on the fence that embraced it, stopping to listen to the various street musicians. A five-piece Dixieland band, a stringy-haired guy in a forward-tilted cowboy hat beating out acoustic blues from a worn Gibson, and my favorite, a lanky black kid, couldn’t have been more than sixteen, with dreds to his mid back, who huffed out some great jazz on a clarinet. I dropped a five in the cigar box at his feet. He nodded, never missing a note. He could play the stick for sure.

In SUNSHINE STATE I created an imaginary town in Florida’s panhandle, while RIGGED is set the very real and wonderful town of Fairhope, on Mobile Bay. 


Fairhope, Alabama is considered the jewel of Mobile Bay. Seated on the east side, facing west, its water-reflected sunsets are spectacular. The permanent population is around twenty thousand, but the tourists who roam the streets each year dwarf that. Downtown is small, quaint, artsy, and loaded with fun coffee shops and restaurants. To the north is the equally quaint town of Daphne and to the south Point Clear, home to another bayside jewel, the Grand Hotel.

Only thirty miles separates Fairhope from Gulf Shores. But, getting there could take anywhere from forty minutes to an hour and half. Such is Gulf Coast summertime traffic. Probably why I hadn’t been there in years though that seemed like a flimsy excuse. Nicole had never seen the town.

And now comes THE OC, which brings Jake, Nicole, Ray, and Pancake to the Left Coast.

Though Nicole spends most of her time on the Gulf Coast, she owns a condo in Newport Beach, specifically on Balboa Peninsula in Cannery Village. In the story, Jake and Nicole travel there for a few days of fun before the filming of Nicole’s screenplay kicks off in LA. Under the tutelage of her uncle Charles Balfour, an a-list producer. The area offers settings that infuse the story with the cash and glamor of Orange County (The OC), and SoCal in general.

Some locations are real, others imagined. Rothschilds Restaurant is real, and probably the best restaurant in Orange County. So is The Cannery, an old canning company turned bar/restaurant. Once funky and cool, now upscale and cool. It was once the local drinking hole favored by Dick Dale, the creator of surf music, who lived on the peninsula. The Blue Water Grill sits on the water in Newport Harbor only a lob wedge away. Charlie’s Chili has been around longer than anyone can remember. It holds a prime location at the foot of Newport Pier. The chili cheese omelet, Nicole’s favorite, is indeed a featured menu item. Locals and tourists pack Charlie’s old-school booths for breakfast and really all day.

The condo project where Nicole lives does exist, but with a few story alterations.

From THE OC:

I did, then dressed, and walked out on the deck while Nicole made her calls. Her condo, top floor, the third, in a fairly large cluster, hung along a narrow boardwalk and looked down on a line of Newport Harbor boat slips. The late-day sun glinted the water and cast long mast shadows over its surface. Down a few slips a couple seemed to be prepping their sailboat for a sunset cruise. Popular around here. The guy lifted a blue cooler over the gunwale and settled it on the stern seat. That reminded me I was hungry. Made me wonder what the boaters had on the menu. Sandwiches and beer would be fine with me but I suspected Nicole would have wanted lobster, some sort of cheese I couldn’t pronounce—Frenchy and nasty-tasting—and Champagne. Toss in some Avacado and quinoa and it would be like so California. Not that Nicole was all that high-maintenance, actually far from it, but out on the ocean in a cool-looking sailboat, she’d likely want to climb up the cuisine food chain. 

Well before five, Nicole was all spiffed up and ready to go. Didn’t take long because she didn’t need much spiffing. 

Took all of three minutes to walk to The Cannery, a Newport Beach institution. It was an old fish canning facility built a century ago that nearly fifty years ago evolved into a popular restaurant/bar. Even had its own boat slips so folks could sail or motor up and have lunch, dinner, drinks, whatever.

The Ortega Highway plays a critical role in the story. It’s a nasty, narrow, treacherous two-lane black top, always in various stages of disrepair, that connects San Juan Capistrano with the Lake Elsinore area. Known as one of the most dangerous roads in the country, people roll along its twisting and tilted surface at break-neck speed. Particularly motorcyclists who use it to test their machines and skills. Often with catastrophic results. Wrecked vehicles can be found in many of the Ortega’s deep ravines.


I top-gunned it through the broad sweep of the connecting ramp and onto I-5. Once I merged, I accelerated to eight-five. Which basically matched the rest of the traffic. Speed limits on California freeways were similar to stop signs in Italy—merely suggestions. 

Fifteen minutes later—seemed much longer—I could sense Nicole willing the Rover to go faster—we reached the exit to Highway 74, the Ortega Highway. To the right was downtown San Juan Capistrano and the famous San Juan Mission, where the swallows returned every year. Sort of. They had been a bit sparse in recent years from what I had read. I turned left. Two miles later the traffic and signs of civilization faded and the road became narrow and serpentine.

The Ortega Highway was one of the most dangerous roads in California, actually the nation. Once you left the residents of San Juan Capistrano behind, the highway—that was being generous—narrowed to a two-line blacktop. It rose, fell, twisted, and tilted through scrub brush-covered hills with rocky hillocks and often deep ravines on either side. Fatal accidents, head-ons, and tumbles down hillsides weren’t rare. Add the fact that people liked to test their driving skills as if it was Le Mans, and dudes hurled rocket bikes along the road like it was a video game, often reaching triple digit speeds. 

To me, it also looked a good area to dump a body.

“Take the next right,” Pancake said.

The road, also a generous description, was called Tenaja Truck Trail. An apt name as it looked more like a trail than a road and a truck was definitely the vehicle of choice. Ratty, rutted, and poorly maintained it wound up hill, then down, then back up, and so on. 

I was getting motion sickness.

Some story locations are total fabrications. Megan’s TV studio and her condo in Costa Mesa, Uncle Charles’s gazillion-dollar home in the Malibu Colony, which definitely exists, are creations. But not out of place. Each were created to fit the reality of the locale.

The point is that story creates setting and setting creates story. The two must be in lock step. If the author isn’t true to the location, credibility is lost and the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief evaporates. 

The setting can serve as a powerful counterpoint to certain characters. To say that Jake isn’t a “Hollywood guy” is much more than an understatement. He doesn’t get the purpose of the glam and self-absorption. So when he and Nicole attend a pre-production party at Uncle Charles’ Malibu Colony home, Jake must swim among the Hollywood elites who are constantly glad-handing and making deals. Oh, and looking beautiful. Not a comfort zone for Jake, but he manages to navigate it for the most part. But, it’s a case where setting can create character tension and discomfort.

In short, where you decide to place your story will alter everything—-character, plot, dialog, everything. Choose wisely.

Original Post on Kings River Life:

All Five Jake Longly Comedic Thrillers are Kindle Monthly Deals for November. Only $1.99 each.

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Posted by on November 16, 2021 in Writing


Two Live Events For THE OC, Jake Longly #5


Join me for two live events where I discuss THE OC, Jake Long #5.

Book Carnival ZOOM Event

Sunday, November 14, 2021, 5 pm PST

Join on ZOOM:

The Inner Enlightenment Show with Lauri Schoenfeld

Monday, November 15, 2021, Noon Pacific

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Posted by on November 12, 2021 in Writing


Who is Jake Longly?


Who is Jake Longly?

Jake Longly is the protagonist of my comedic thriller series (DEEP SIX, A-LIST, SUNSHINE STATE, RIGGED, THE OC). He’s an ex-pro baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball until a rotator cuff injury ended his career. He then purchased Captain Rocky’s, a bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

His major life goals now are running his bar and chasing bikinis. Worthy goals for Jake. His father Ray feels otherwise. Ray has some murky background in the US military world of black ops and now runs a P.I. firm in Gulf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him and is constantly trying to drag Jake into his world.


Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks.

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment.

Jake has an ex-wife. who he affectionately calls Tammy The Insane. We met her at the beginning of DEEP SIX, Jake #1. Jake has been roped into doing a stake-out of an adulterous woman who happens to live a few doors down from Tammy and her now husband attorney Walter Horton. Tammy takes issue with Jake being near her home.


I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day. 

She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.

Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.

But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

Jake has a girlfriend. Nicole Jamison. Insanely beautiful, but no bubble-headed bleach blonde. Not even close. Smart, clever, tough, and she doesn’t suffer fools well. They met the same night Tammy The Insane shattered Jake’s Mustang window.


I raised one hand to shield my eyes from the headlamp glare. The car, a shiny new red SL Mercedes, rolled to a stop. The deeply-tinted window slid down, revealing a young woman. Her straight blond hair hung like silk curtains to her shoulders and framed a face that could grace the cover of Vogue. Definitely not what I expected.

“That was interesting,” she said.

“You saw that, huh?”

She laughed. Soft, almost musical. “Hard to miss a woman beating the hell out of a classic Mustang with a golf club.”

I looked back up the street, from where she had come. “You live around here I take it?”

She brushed a wayward strand of her from her face. “Just back around the bend.”

“You on a beer run or something?”

Another soft laugh. “Heading out to see a friend.”

“A little late, isn’t it?”

“He’s a bartender. Doesn’t close up until one. But he’s not nearly as interesting as this.”

“Bet he’d be happy to hear that.”

She shrugged. “He’d get over it.”

I reeled in my first response—that a woman as beautiful as her probably didn’t have to worry too much about pissing him off. No one would put her on the road for being late. Instead, I smiled.

“So what was that about?” she asked.

“My ex. She’s insane.”


“I’m Jake,”


Jake has a best friend—-Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Big doesn’t cover it. He’s six-five and 275, with unruly red hair and crazy computer skills. He also knows how to handle any confrontation.

From A-LIST:

“Good day gentlemen,” he said, smiling. A true salesman. Probably would do well with aluminum siding. Or as a midway barker.

We introduced ourselves, Ray saying we were P.I.s and needed to ask a few questions to which Rag Man said, ““I don’t got to talk to you.” His head swiveled up and down the street. Like he didn’t want to be seen talking to us. 

“No, you don’t,” I said. “But we’d appreciate it.”

“Go appreciate something else,” he said. 

“It’s about your business,” Ray said.

“I ain’t got no business.” Another glance up the street. “I suggest you move along. Get out of my face. Might not be healthy for you white boys to hang around here. Know what I’m saying?”

I love watching Pancake work. It’s a true work of art. Mostly he’s a gentle giant, wouldn’t hurt anyone. Even go out of his way to avoid trouble. Then there were times he did stuff that made you stare in disbelief. Even if you’d seen it before.

This time, he simply grabbed Rag Man’s arm and tossed him into the alley. Just like that. Like a kid having a tantrum and tossing a doll across the room. Rag Man rolled and bounced a couple of times but to his credit quickly scrambled to his feet. Pancake was on him. He poked his chest with a finger. “No, I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Hey dude, you can’t do that.”

“I’m just getting started.” Pancake palmed his chest, pressing him against the wall.

And now we come to the 5th in the series: THE OC.

Jake and Nicole are headed to Orange County, CA for a little R&R. Of course, it doesn’t work out that way.

From THE OC:

“She likes you.”

“Everybody likes me.”

“Yeah, but she likes you in that I-want-to-sit-on-your-lap way.”

“So do you.”

“Hmmm. Sounds like a plan.”

“These seats aren’t that big.”

Okay, a little perspective here. I’m Jake Longly, ex-pro baseball player, restaurant/bar owner, and lover of women. Well, the one sitting next to me anyway. That would be Nicole Jamison. Funny, smart, and insanely beautiful. Sometimes annoying. Actually, she excels at that.

We were seated in first class, Row 5, Seats A and B, on an American Airlines flight into Orange County, California’s John Wayne Airport. The OC, baby.

We had started out early this morning in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where my restaurant Captain Rocky’s sits on the sand, and where we both live. This trip was in part a vacation from—I’m not sure from what. I work very little. My manager Carla Martinez runs the joint so I have essentially zero to do. Except hang out with Nicole and Pancake. Nicole is my girlfriend, or whatever. We haven’t yet decided what we are. Let’s say, she likes me. See? I told you everybody likes me. Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers is my best friend. All the way back to when we terrorized the neighborhood as kids. He likes hanging out at Captain Rocky’s too. Mainly because the food and drink are free. My god, that boy can eat. Gnaws on my profits. If there are any. I’m never very sure since Carla rarely tells me. I don’t worry too much about it since the place is always packed. Also, I share the profits with her, so I figured that if we were bleeding out she’d let me know.

 Nicole, besides being smart and hot, and at times snarky, also writes screenplays. That’s the other reason for our trip to the left coast. Her new film was teed up to begin shooting in three weeks. Her other two screenplays had been minimalist productions, indies that made it to a couple of small film festivals. This one was on an entirely different level. It would be shepherded by her uncle Charles Balfour, the A-list producer and CEO of Regency Global Productions, RPG for short. He’s the driving force behind the multi-billion dollar Space Quest series. Yeah, billion with a B.

Me and Uncle Charles go way back. I’ve never actually met him but I’ve spent many a night in the home he owns near Gulf Shores. That’s where Nicole lives. Or hangs out anyway.

Nicole also lives in The OC, in a Newport Beach condo, but she’s rarely there. For the past year or so, that’s how long we’ve been together, she’s mostly stayed in Uncle Charles’s mega-mansion very near my Gulf Shores home. 

“These seats aren’t that small,” Nicole said.

“There’s no leg room.”

“That’s because you have long legs.”

“You don’t?”

She laughed. “If memory serves, you do pretty well in tight spaces.”

I looked at her “I’ll let that one slide by.”

The flight attendant returned, smiling, saying, “Can I get you anything?” Her gaze locked on me for a beat too long. Her name tag said she was Maryanne.

“I think we’re good.” I smiled back.

She moved on down the row.

Nicole elbowed my ribs. “See? What’d I tell you?”

“Maybe she’s using me to get to you?”

“Could be. Maybe I should be glad you have the aisle seat,” Nicole said.

“Pancake’s better at running interference. He’s built for it.”

“In this situation, I think you’ll do fine.”

I invite you to jump into Jake’s world. Lot’s of crime, craziness, and fun.

Original Post on Mysteries & My Musings:

All 5 Jake Longly comedic thrillers are Kindle Monthly Deals for November. Only $1.99 each.

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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Writing


All 5 Jake Longly Comedic Thrillers Are Kindle Monthly Deals for November.

A good time to catch up with Jake, Nicole, Ray, and, of course, Pancake. All 5 books in the series are Kindle Monthly Deals for November—Only $1.99 each.


Ex-professional baseball player Jake Longly adamantly refuses to work for Ray, his PI father, preferring to hang out at his beach-front bar/restaurant and chase bikinis along the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. But Ray could be persuasive so Jake finds himself staking-out a suspected adulteress who gets murdered right under Jake’s nose. Aided by new girlfriend Nicole Jamison, Jake’s homicide investigation quickly runs afoul of Ukrainian mobster Victor Borkov and his henchmen. Was Borkov behind the murder? If so, why? As the intrepid couple peel away the layers of the crime, more murders pile up, and ultimately they must somehow escape being deep-sixed from Borkov’s massive yacht.




Jake Longly and girlfriend Nicole head to New Orleans after Nicole’s producer/uncle Charles Balfour’s mega-star, A-list actor Kirk Ford, awakens with a dead co-ed in his hotel bed. Worse, the girl is the niece of local mafioso Tony Guidry.

But something isn’t right. The facts don’t fit. Who would want Kristi Guidry dead, or Kirk framed? And why?

Nothing’s easy in the Big Easy




Bizarre doesn’t quite cover it. In SUNSHINE STATE, Jake Longly and girlfriend Nicole Jamison are hired, through an anonymous benefactor, by serial killer Billy Wayne Baker to prove that two of the seven murders weren’t actually his work. Yet, he confessed to all seven and his DNA turned up at each scene. Is Billy Wayne simply trying to tweak the system, garner another fifteen minutes of fame? Or is there a killer out there getting away with murder? If so, who, why, and, most importantly, how? Nothing is as it seems in the Sunshine State.




First loves are never forgotten. Ever. Certainly not for Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. His first-kiss, sixth-grade love Emily, who he has not seen since grammar school, is sliding toward divorce in the artsy Gulf Coast town of Fairhope. Alabama. Longly Investigations has been charged with looking into the finances involved. But, when Emily doesn’t appear for their nervously anticipated meeting, Pancake’s radar goes on high alert. When her body, along with that of Jason, one of two guys she has been dating, are found murdered, Pancake calls in Jake, Nicole, and Ray and the pursuit begins. Who would have done this? The soon-to-be ex, who has an ironclad alibi, the other guy Emily is seeing—jealousy being a motive for harm, or do the drugs found in Jason’s pocket indicate a drug-related hit? That world yields a host of suspects. As they peel back the layers of this idyllic community, dark secrets come to light and convoluted motives and methods of murder are revealed.




Jake Longly is hoping for a few weeks of fun with Nicole in the warm Orange County, CA sun—The OC, baby. But they discover that Nicole’s friend Megan Weatherly, a local TV reporter, has picked up an anonymous stalker. As the shadowy man escalates his harassment, Ray and Pancake arrive.

The stalker is no fool, likely has past experience, and manages to cover his trail completely. Suddenly the sunshine and safety of The OC seem more facade than reality. Jake and crew must punch through that facade and dig into the dark world of celebrity stalking. The clock is ticking.



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Posted by on November 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

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