Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Jim Stevens. He is the author of the A Richard Sherlock Whodunit series. Jim writes Humorous Mysteries and Crime Fiction novels.
Humor and Comedy, Mystery, Crime
This Writer’s Life
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Jim Stevens was born in the East, grew up in the West, schooled in the Northwest and spent twenty-three winters in the Midwest. Jim Stevens has been writing for over thirty years. Usually without much success, but for some reason he keeps writing. Jim started writing TV series specs in the 1970’s and starved. He segued into spec movie scripts and really starved. He went into the corporate world for a twenty-five year career in broadcasting and advertising, but just couldn’t drop his pencil. He found time to write plays in the Chicago theater scene, wrote, produced, and directed numerous short films, videos, and TV commercials, created TV pilots, and even optioned a few movie scripts that never saw the glare of the Klieg lights.
Jim has been writing novels for the past four years. His Richard Sherlock Whodunit series has ranked him in the top 10% of Amazon authors. He is also the author of WHUPPED, a reverse romantic comedy from many different points of view. His latest novel, Hell No, We Won’t Go A Novel of Peace, Love, War, and Football is his first writing of a ‘serious’ nature.
Jim loves to hear from his readers, especially the ones who enjoy his books.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Whupped Too. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
WHUPPED TOO will be launched in May. It is the sequel to WHUPPED, which was published four years ago. I have to warn you that both WHUPPED and WHUPPED TOO are in the R-rated category, but I assure you one great story and one heck of a lot of laughs.
As WHUPPED explored the questions concerning the limits of love, WHUPPED TOO delves into just how far we’ll go to achieve the love we want and believe we deserve.
The stories begin with Jake’s career trashed, Kay’s new business picking up, Gideon’s going legit, and Conrad becoming the Beverly Hills Surgeon of the Year. Plus, Farrin is exploring her creative side, LaRue is going broke, and Alyssa’s star is rising with the help of her new agent, Buck.
And as their paths crisscross and collide, each in their own way, shape, and form, find themselves getting WHUPPED TOO.
What could go wrong with all these scenarios? Most everything.
And if you haven’t had the chance to read WHUPPED, it will be offered as a free download during the launch of WHUPPED TOO. Twice the laughs for half the cost.
Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?
Social media is one of the toughest challenges for any self-published writer. I have tried everything and, to be honest, I haven’t found the magic formula. I post, tweet, and twitter around so much, that some days I get dizzy thinking about it. It takes an inordinate amount of time and basically makes me crazy, but most writers are a little crazy anyway; so maybe social media is speeding up the process of all of us getting committed.
Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I just got through the Tucson Festival of Books, which is by far the best book show in the country. For years, I’d join with as many as eight other writers, pool our money, and buy a booth at the LA TIMES Festival of Books. But the cost of a booth at the show has become so expensive, I’m not sure if even John Grisham could afford it anymore. I think it is a crying shame the LA Times people don’t make concessions on price for all the struggling authors out there with good books, but have difficulty getting their work in front of the reading public.
I love to talk in front of an audience, (I used to do stand-up comedy), so let me say here anyone who has a group and would like some entertainment, contact me and we’ll see about getting together (at no charge I might add).
You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
Covers, yes covers are important.
What I do is come up with the concept myself, find stock photos that fit, and forward them to the same designer I’ve used since starting. I won’t tell you her name here because she went out of the business. The only reason she still does mine is I am very adept at begging.
Besides the Bay Area Writer's Group, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
Writers support groups, have I got a story to tell there. Please go to my website, JimStevensWriter.com or to my YouTube Channel Jim Stevens Writer, and find the video titled “Jim Joins a Writer’s Group.
I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
I write four hours each day, seven days a week, beginning early and ending before lunch, but only at home at my computer. My brain works best in the morning, I hate carrying laptops around, familiar surroundings are comforting, my bathroom is close, and my kitchen is fully stocked. Mostly, four hours is enough; my brain starts to go soft after four hours of anything.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I do giveaways on the average of one every six weeks. I have found that 85% of the people who read my Sherlock books give them 4-5 stars, and if I can find enough to these readers to read one, I know it will be only a matter of time before they read them all. A freebie can be a very viable selling tool.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
A reader list is the most important tool for any author. I wish mine was much, much longer. I push ‘getting on my list’ in my books, by giving away short stories, advertising on Facebook, posting videos on You Tube, all with the goal of adding to my list.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing information about yourself. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
My goal is to entertain people. Whether it is through my books, YouTube Channel, website, blog, videos, mailing list, tweets, or posts I want people to know what Jim has to say is fun and worthwhile.
The Tucson Festival of Books 2017 was a great event, enjoyed by thousands. A Book festival is a unique selling situation. How did you prepare for the festival? Did it meet your goals? If you had to do something different next year, what would that be?
(Jim Stevens – The Richard Sherlock Whodunit Comic Mystery Series – best post card award)
Teresa Burrell, a fellow author and I share a booth at festivals. She kids me that as soon as the first attendee passes by our booth, I become Jim Stevens Carnival Barker. My theory is sometimes you have to do a little more to bring someone to the table. I try to make it fun because people come to these events to experience something different and new. So, that’s what I try and give them. Some people laugh, some don’t. It’s kind of like writing humor, which Mark Twain so wisely put “There’s only two kinds of writing, humor and everything else.”
Thanks so much for including me in your blog!
Author's Book List
The Case of the Missing Milk Money
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 6
In the Sixth Richard Sherlock Whodunit, there’s a Confluence of Challenging, Concurrent Cases.
First, Sherlock is summoned into the principal’s office to help investigate a caper in the cafeteria. There’s enough missing milk money for the school to buy its own cow. At the same time he’s trying to sniff out insurance malfeasance as thousands of dollars of premium cigars go up in smoke. And if those aren’t enough to keep him busy, there’s a cancerous, crime going down in Chicago’s Chinatown that’s completely confusing.
To complicate matters in all of the above, there’s gambling, illegal aliens, Tiffany testing for admission to Harvard, Kelly and Care going undercover as students at their school, a Peking duck, and Herman, the heavyweight hacker, about to say “I do.”
Three cases, all of which are based on recent, true-life crimes, have Sherlock up to his ears in milk, smoke, cancer cures, and duties as the best man. What’s a reluctant detective to do?
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The Case of the Woebegone Widow
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 5
It seems only fitting that Sherlock is hot on the trail of insurance malfeasance in the middle of a miserable Chicago winter. It is all quite an undertaking dealing with a grief-stricken widow living in Catatonia, Russian mobsters, Silly Putty smugglers, and a dead suspect, who shows up dead for a second time frozen solid in a 7-11 dumpster.
Toss in Tiffany meeting her match in a fight for affection, snow days, sniffling daughters, and an afternoon being whisked in a communal bathhouse, and you have the fifth Richard Sherlock Whodunit,The Case of the Woebegon Widow.
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The Case of Mr. Wonderful
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 4
Richard Sherlock would rather be on the receiving end of a wealthy charity instead of in the middle of investigating the missing millions from one wealthy donor, but, as usual, he has no choice. The last thing Richmond Insurance wants to do is pay out on a six-million-dollar claim.
Sherlock is thrown knee-deep into oodles of free money, but can’t seem to pick up a dime for himself. Complicating matters are cutthroat, corporate conniving, his daughter dating, a new career calling, a botched burglary, Tiffany’s terrible tryst, and how to use used food.
In the end, charity case Sherlock figures out the charity case.
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Hell No, We Won't Go
- A Novel of Peace, Love, War, and Football
The 1970 college football season is coming to a close and Touchdown Tony McIntyre couldn’t be riding higher. He’s in the running for the Heisman Trophy, on the cover of Sports Illustrated as “The next Joe Namath,” and about to be drafted into the NFL. He’s two wins away from taking his team to the Rose Bowl, when receives a letter from the Selective Service, “Greetings,”
This must be a mistake. Tony can’t get drafted, he’s about to get the biggest signing bonus in NFL history. Tony has to find a way out.
As anti-Vietnam war protestors make their voices heard on campus, Tony finds himself caught in the crossfire of one of the most decisive issues Americans have ever faced. All he ever wanted to do is play football, but he discovers he’s now in a much bigger arena. It all comes down to one Saturday in November, when Touchdown Tony McIntyre is thrust into a game where the stakes are life and death.
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The Case of Tiffany's Epiphany
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 3
Richard Sherlock is back on the case when his attractive, blonde assistant, Tiffany Richmond, takes a sip of a loaded cocktail putting her life into a complete tailspin. This sets off a chain reaction of twists, turns, and troubles, which only Sherlock, can untangle.
Along the way, Sherlock discovers dirty money being laundered, drug deals going down, shots fired, an exploding club scene, and a kidnapping, where Sherlock is forced to go to McDonald’s for lunch. Add in a dead bartender, buffed bodybuilders, body-buddy bouncers, a Behemoth, a very bad basketball team, and Tiffany’s tipsy torment, and Sherlock not only has to figure out whodunit, but why they did it.
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The Case of Moomah's Moolah
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 2
Richard Sherlock is back on the case of Moomah’s Moolah.
It starts with a simple kidnapping, proceeds to a botched ransom drop, escalates to a safe deposit box theft, and culminates in a missing four-million- dollar diamond necklace.
The timing is awful. It all goes down during Sherlock’s two summer weeks with his daughters, Kelly and Care. The suspects are worse; Tiffany’s half-uncles, half-aunts, and other half-wit relatives. And, Moomah is the worst possible victim, because the Grande Dame of the insurance fortune now exists in an Oz state of mind.
In order to solve the case, Sherlock enlists the help of an odd group of associates, including Phoebe the Forger, Freddy the Fencer, Second Story Man, Shervy, and the Mona Lisa.
Sherlock will reluctantly figure out whodunit, but it won’t be easy.
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The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader
- A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 1
A despicable stock trader is found buried under an avalanche of his own garden rocks, causing fired-from-the force- Richard Sherlock to be yanked off the bowling alley and whisked to the crime scene by his pampered protegee Tiffany Richmond. He must prove murder and stop payment of the twelve-million-dollar Richmond Insurance policy.
Nothing makes sense. Crime scene is a mess. There is no money trail. There are too many motives from too many suspects who have too many alibis. Worst of all Sherlock's bad back is acting up, his ex-wife wants more money and the murder investigation is putting a serious dent in his parenting schedule of his two daughters.
Richard Sherlock hates his job, and may be a reluctant dick, but he is better at finding the WHO in WHODUNIT than anyone else.
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Alyssa Walworth is young, polished, wealthy and drop dead gorgeous; and Jake Dombrowski couldn't be more in love with her. So much in love, she's got him going every-which--way in her quest to have the Beverly Hills wedding of the year.
Jake's best friends, Gideon and Conrad, see the marriage as nothing more than the first step toward divorce. They try to convince Jake in the conventional manner, but Jake won't listen, he's too much in love. Stronger methods are needed, so Conrad and Gideon kidnap Jake on the night of his bachelor party, and leave him chained to the radiator in the apartment of adult film star, Jailbait Jordan. There they do all in their power to convince Jake that Alyssa, the woman of his dreams, will be nothing less than a nightmare.
It all doesn't work out in any way anybody ever expected.
WHUPPED is a funny, sardonic, R-rated, romantic comedy in reverse. It explores the nature and limits of friendship, love's expectations, marriage, what we want, and what we are willing to give up to get it. It will leave you laughing, thinking and maybe crying.
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