Advance Praise for 24 Minutes

My first novel, Living the Dream, was released in August, 2009 – since then I have released at least one novel each year along with a couple of novellas, a collection of short stories and a co-written collection of motorcycle memoirs, bringing my total number of releases to fourteen in eight-and-a-half years.

Some people find that impressive, I just look at it as doing what I do.

Regardless…the streak has been broken.

I didn’t release a book in 2017 – even though I fully intended to. And naturally the reason for my apparent slacking comes with a story. I’m not making excuses, mind you…I’m just keeping you in the loop.

After Blood in the Water was released in late 2016 I was ready to begin work on my next novel. It was going to be another story set in Flagler Beach, involving Ike and some poor, innocent guy or girl being victimized by a less-than-scrupulous ne’er-do-well.

I had barely begun writing it when, as part of my day job (do you believe I still have to work?) I had to take a class called “Active Shooter Training.”  It was four hours of training on what to do, and what not to do, in the event a gunman should come into the building with a grudge.

It’s a very sad commentary on our society that this class was necessary, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

So there I am…sitting in the class learning the best ways to increase my chances of surviving an unimaginable event when the instructor said something that caught the attention of the writer in me.

He said that the average duration of a mass shooting situation was about fifteen minutes – with many lasting seven minutes or less.

The first thought through my mind was Wow! Those have got to be the longest fifteen minutes imaginable.

Sometime before the class ended I decided that this would be the subject of my next book, and that it would take place entirely within that fifteen minute time span.

Shortly after I began writing I realized that it would be nearly impossible to fill an entire novel with fifteen minutes worth of story…so I increased the time span to twenty-four minutes. I also thought “24 Minutes” had a catchy ring to it as the title of the story.

Work began in December of 2016, but progress was very slow – partly due to the holidays and partly due to my own lack of confidence in the story. I was concerned that the whole idea was ill-conceived…that the subject matter was inappropriate, and that it was taking the art-imitates-life concept a bit too far.

Nevertheless I continued writing.

Then in April I had a major setback…I was involved in a motorcycle accident (read the two part story on that here and here if you’d like) and I was unable to write for two full months.

Once I was fully mended I got back to work on the story, but it took me a while to get back in the groove. Then, just when I was getting up to speed again my girlfriend and I bought a house – which, thanks to some needed cosmetic renovations, consumed every free minute of my time for a couple more months.

Finally, somewhere in the beginning of August I had a finished first draft.

From there it went to my beta readers and, after some revisions, was sent to my editor in the beginning of December.

I have gotten the first round of editor’s comments back and have been going through the story again. The way things are going I am very confident that release should be in the middle of February.

In the meantime I shared some advance copies to a few trusted colleagues for review.

It is with great pride – and lots of relief – that I share some of their comments. They have dispelled my concerns about releasing it.

Here are portions (without spoilers!) of what they had to say

Author Susan M. Toy had this to Say:

In a departure from his popular “Ike” novels, Tim Baker has proven himself to be a multi-faceted and talented writer by handily taking on the very important, serious, and timely topic of what happens when someone who believes himself to have been wronged takes his revenge. I found 24 Minutes to be riveting reading that I could not put down. Baker’s characters are individuals, each of them very human, and just like those people we know as neighbors, co-workers, friends, family—which makes this tragic story all too believable, and heart-wrenchingly personal. Excellent writing, an engaging story, and an all-too-real situation – a story that needed to be told, from an author who I know is getting better with every novel he writes!

Author Rebecca Heishman wrote:

The ‘Ike books’ are wonderful entertaining, fun, and great reads. This book has the potential of becoming important to people because of the honesty, the vulnerability, and by Tim’s putting it all out there for readers to see. It was a little bit breathtaking for me. It’s a chunk of blatant reality playing out. It’s powerful. The reader can feel the passion that went into writing it.

From Author Susan Nicholls:

The tension throughout the book was incredible.

The multi-layered stories of each character drew me in and made me care, yet I sensed a tragedy unfolding. All of the characters were interesting in their own right, and I became emotionally bound to them whether I liked them or not. The writing was superb.

Throughout the book, (Tim’s) characteristic subtle, yet wicked, humor colored the pages. I was really glad to see that. It made for a great read. It’s the sort of thing that draws me in and keeps me reading because it gives me a light breathing moment to break the tension.

Author/book reviewer Kaye Lynne Booth:

Tim Baker addresses social issues which are prominent in our society today, offering an inside view illustrating the many sides of human nature which reveal themselves under pressure. A fast paced slowed to a readable tempo for maximum enjoyment. (Kaye’s entire review can be read here)

Author/book reviewer Carolann Padgett:  

How much could 24 Minutes mean in the course of our lives? Could events take place that change the trajectories of those who hold us dear? In the amount of time it takes to watch a network sitcom lives are lost, found, and forever changed. 

Through masterful characterization techniques, readers are introduced to highly unlikeable individuals including the bigot, the miser, the convict, and the shrew. Kind, thoughtful, and polite characters are presented, as well. 

As the tale unfolds the theme “perception is not necessarily reality” is repeatedly visited. Are the characters solely good or evil? In the midst of crisis do true natures rise to the top? In life or death gambles is survival of the fittest the status quo? Or are sacrifices made for the good of others? 

 

Now it’s time to get back to doing what I do…

I’ll be sending the book back to the editor this weekend for round two. I am hopeful that work should be complete in the next week or two so it can be released before the end of February – and who knows…maybe I’ll get another book out this year to make up for missing a year!

As always – thank you for reading

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Dear Mr. President – A Response to the “Shithole Countries” Comment

Sadly – not only will the cheeto in the White House never see this…but even if he does – it would be largely ignored.

worldgeochat

Dear Mr. President,

I have so many thoughts right now, but I’ll try to keep this simple for you.

My school has students from 38 nations. It is hard enough for them to adjust to life in a new country as an adolescent without someone calling their homeland a “shithole country.” As a geography teacher, I’ve spent the better part of two decades trying to get students to see that ALL countries have problems, and ALL countries have cultures to be proud of. I’ve had hundred of students watch the TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.” You should consider watching it, it would serve you well.

What 12-13 year olds understand, but you clearly don’t, is that we cannot, and should not judge an entire group of people by that actions of some. You have done this repeatedly with respect to Muslims, Mexicans, and anti-Nazi protesters…

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Good News, Bad News – Which Do You Want First?

If somebody says to you “I’ve got good news and bad news” it’s perfectly understandable to brace yourself for the bad news, regardless of their claim that it will be accompanied by good news. I mean, let’s face it, if the bad news wasn’t really all that bad, they wouldn’t need to give you good news to wash it down…

Right?

Well, I hate to do this to you, but…

I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

Now – before you brace yourself too much, let me say this in my defense, my bad news is offset by several pieces of good news.

Its A Trap GIF by Star Wars - Find & Share on GIPHY

I know…it still sounds like a trap, but I’m hoping it won’t be as bad as all that.

So let’s rip the band off right away and get to the bad news…

As you may know, I’ve been working on my tenth novel, 24 Minutes, for a while now.

The goal was to have it released in the beginning of December.

Here it comes – brace yourself.

The release of 24 Minutes will be delayed, possibly by several weeks.

Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to make this announcement, but in the past six months my writing time often had to be put on the back burner (beginning with two months without the use of my right arm back in April).

Oh, and I almost forgot…another piece of bad news for some of you, 24 Minutes has no Ike.

I know – blasphemy!

Lemme ‘splain…

24 Minutes is a complete departure from my previous works. There’s no tongue-in-cheek caper threatening to rob Flagler Beach’s tourists of their peaceful piece of Nirvana, which means there’s no need for Ike to save the day.

In fact, in 24 Minutes there is no hero to save the day, per se. It’s a story dealing with a very intense situation we hear about all too often these days – but that’s all I’m going to say about that.

So, now for all that good news I promised;

First, according to my awesome group of beta readers, 24 Minutes is my best work yet.

One reader said – “It was a little bit breathtaking for me. It’s a chunk of blatant reality playing out. It’s powerful. The reader can feel the passion that went into writing it.”

Needless to say, that was extremely flattering, and also a bit of a relief, because the entire time I’ve been working on it I’ve wondered if I was making a mistake by veering away from my bread and butter, Ike. That being said, hopefully it will be worth the wait for you.

That’s all well and good, but No Ike?

I know – it just doesn’t seem fair, which brings me to more “good news”…

I already have the “what if” idea for my next Ike story, so I’ll be getting to work on that as soon as 24 Minutes is released. My goal will be to have that released during the summer of 2018.

Still not enough good news? Well, try this on for size…

Ike, being the iconic hero he is, has found his way into a book I didn’t write!

That’s right – Ike will be gracing the pages of the soon-to-be-released action novel Blood Dawn, by California author Chris DiBella.

Blood Dawn is DiBella’s third novel and is scheduled for release on December 14th.

Check out this synopsis:

Four Russian submariners wash up on a Florida Beach in 1989, seemingly the survivors of a sunken vessel. The reason for their being in such close proximity to the American shoreline soon becomes evident, as an elderly couple overhears a conversation that leads them to believe there’s much more to the story than just a malfunction at sea. For over thirty years, the fabricated account of the soldiers’ tale remains a mystery. Sean Mercer and his partner, Pat Vigil, are in Colorado conducting research at Rocky Flats when they inadvertently stumble upon a massive tunnel system lying beneath an old nuclear facility. The discovery leads to questions about an unsolved mystery from decades earlier, but finding the answers they seek could lead them down a path from which they might not return. Upon ascertaining information about a Russian plot to smuggle a nuclear bomb into the United States, Mercer realizes there may be a link to the current conspiracy and the discovery about the past. The race is on to find the nuclear weapon and bring the madman responsible for the threat to justice, but will time run out before he and his partner can thwart the attempt to detonate a nuclear weapon on U.S. soil? Blood Dawn is the third installment in the NESA Files series featuring Sean Mercer and the rest of the NESA team.

Fair is fair, Mercer and Vigil were featured in my short story Jungle Boogie, part of the anthology Path of a Bullet. As for the specifics of how Ike fits in to Blood Dawn, well – you’ll have to read it to find out, but, if you like Ike, I think it will be worth your time.

For more information on Chris, and Blood Dawn – go to www.chrisdibella.com.

Finally, I won’t say this fits into the category of good news, but it’s certainly kind of cool…in Blood Dawn there is a character named Tim Baker. (Undoubtedly a suave, sophisticated, James Bond type whose feathers are never ruffled, even while he’s saving the world.)And, from what I’ve been told, he’s not just a throw-away character, he has a fairly significant part in the story.

So there you have it. I really don’t like sharing bad news of any kind, but hopefully this batch came with enough good news to offset it.

Stay tuned for further updates on the release of 24 Minutes

 

As always, thank you for reading

 

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One Woman’s Island – print edition now available!

At long last…the latest novel from Bequia author Susan Toy…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!

Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.

Here’s a complete list of where to purchase

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Let’s Talk About Taking a Knee

One thing I’ve never been accused of is shying away from an argument – and judging by my six siblings (four brothers and two sisters) it’s a family trait.

However, I got some advice from a fellow author a few years back about engaging in hot-button arguments on social media. His tip was simple, and it made perfect sense…

To paraphrase; If you argue something really controversial you run the risk of alienating potential readers.

This was (is) good advice for an author trying really hard to increase his fan base – so I heeded his advice. Regardless of the topic (and let’s face it…there have been some whoppers on social media in the past few years) I kept my distance. I posted cute pictures of puppies, funny memes, useless trivia and the occasional “save the shark” comment – but I steered clear of the big three – religion, sex and politics.

Until now.

I just can’t keep quiet anymore…

One of the prime directives issued by my mother when I was growing up was to treat people the way I wanted to be treated.

Simply put…respect people…ALL people.

As a white male I have been very fortunate to have avoided being mistreated because of my ethnicity. This does not mean that I don’t know it happens to others. It offends me greatly that people of color are treated as “less thans” in this country. The fact that I do not engage in racism is very little comfort when I see it happening every day.

America is supposed to be the place where “all men are created equal” and where there is “liberty and justice for all”, but it really doesn’t work that way…does it?

What makes it worse is when minorities attempt to protest the fact (that’s right – it’s a fact) that they are victimized – white America gets highly offended.

The most recent example is the whole “take a knee” protest.

It started (as most protests do) with one man choosing to make a statement.

He didn’t go out and shoot up a church or fill a car with explosives and drive it into a building or assassinate a political figure…he did it by sitting down quietly during the playing of the national anthem before a football game. When asked why he was not standing and “honoring America” he said that (paraphrasing again) he wouldn’t stand for the anthem until people acknowledged the poor treatment of blacks in America. Eventually he was told by an Army veteran (who happened to be white) who sympathized with his cause that it might be better to kneel rather than sit. So kneel he did.

He was black balled (interesting phrase, don’t you think?) almost immediately.

Labeled as a treasonous, spoiled millionaire.

And why?

Because he wanted to start a dialogue about the way law enforcement treats minorities in this country.

Unfortunately, the only thing people wanted to talk about was his “disrespect for the flag”.

This, to me, is the saddest, and most ironic point in the entire debate…

A man exercises his Constitutionally Protected Right of Free Speech and Peaceful Protest and he is vilified because he is “disrespecting the flag”, and by extension, the men and women who fought to give him that very right.

It’s a conundrum, wrapped in a paradox, inside an oxymoron.

Edmund Burke once said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 

So – with that in mind, I want to go on record as saying I am taking a knee (albeit a symbolic one) to show my support for those who are only asking to be heard.

I accept that I may lose current readers and also potential ones.

So be it.

The optimist in me says I might make some new ones in the process…so I got that going for me.

If you are reading this and I have offended you, it was not my intent…I am merely saying there is a bigger issue here that is being swept under the rug in the name of patriotism…

…let’s talk about that.

 

As always – thank you for reading.

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Anatomy of a Bad Review

I haven’t read this book, and I don’t know this author, but his analysis of a bad review is spot on. Every author expects an occasional tanking, but it seems this guy likes to torpedo books for fun.

Author Don Massenzio

online-reviewers Thumb up and down buttons

I’ve been blessed. I’ve written a number of books. I’ve been very fortunate. Readers that I don’t know have given my work reviews that have, in the vast majority, earned four or five stars.

That’s why, when I receive a bad review, I like to study it and figure out if there is something I can learn to improve my work.

Let Me Be Frank - CoverWhen I signed onto the Amazon author’s site, I saw this review for my second book, Let Me Be Frank:

bad review

I’ve redacted the name in this review. I didn’t want to make this post about the person who submitted the review, I wanted to make it a teaching moment.

First, I looked at the review. It’s titled ‘Boring’ and starts out with the words ‘too slow’. This is valid criticism for a book and sometimes, in a detective novel, the pacing can be…

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Shut the Front Door…There’s a Draft in Here!

Merriam-Webster.com lists thirteen definitions for the word draft.

Before I looked, I would have been hard pressed to come up with five or six. I mean who knew that “the force required to pull a plow or other implement” is called the draft?

Not me.

Plow pulling aside…In today’s post we will be focusing on definition 5-C – “a preliminary sketch, outline or version”.

Yes…the first draft, which, according to Ernest Hemingway, is always shit. (He really said it, look it up!).

Many first-time authors have trouble accepting this particular truth, but the smart ones come to terms with it quickly. It’s a matter of survival, really. Either you accept that your first draft is nothing more than a glorified outline or you’ll sit around wondering why nobody is reading it.

The trick for authors, at every level, is getting the draft from trash to smash.

Some of you have heard my process before – if you haven’t you can read about it here.

If you don’t know my process – and you didn’t click the link to read about it –  it involves a group of trusted beta readers who tell me, in their opinion, whether my latest work is any good or not – and why.

Naturally, without the first draft there is no novel, so the initial writing of the story is fairly important, but I am of the opinion that the beta-reading phase is the make-it or break-it part of the operation.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, this post is my annual announcement of the completion of another first draft.

My latest work is entitled 24 Minutes, and it is a vast departure from anything I have written before.

Without giving too much away, there is no Ike, no beach-side caper, no picturesque scenes along the ocean and no (or at least very little) humor.

I didn’t plan it that way, it just sort of happened.

For the sake of clarity…I didn’t drift over to writing sci-fi, fantasy, or chic-lit (not that there’s anything wrong with any of them). 24 Minutes is still a crime-fiction story, but it has nothing in common with my previous nine novels (except for the “crime” part). The story revolves around a group of people trying to survive a situation most of us couldn’t even comprehend – and that’s as much of a spoiler I’m going to give you.

To be honest – writing something so different was, for me, a bit intimidating.

We can all identify with the secure feeling from always doing the thing we’re most comfortable with, but as a good friend once told me – life begins outside your comfort zone.

Several times during the course of creating this story I told myself “if you stop now, you can still write an Ike story and have it released before Christmas.”  For better or worse, I didn’t give in to that temptation. I kept going because, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I felt that this story was overdue. It has needed to be written for several years, by anybody. I just happened to be the one to do it.

Now it’s in the hands of my beta readers, and the nervousness is coming back.

I feel a little like Marty McFly… “What if they say I’m no good?”…but I’m a bit thick headed, so I’ll move forward, release it anyway and let the chips fall where they may.

I mean, even The Beatles had a couple of songs they probably wished they hadn’t released.

Naturally, I hope it is well-received, but what’s the worst that can happen? People don’t like it and I go back to writing Ike stories. I don’t have a problem with that.

In the meantime, the dice have been rolled on 24 Minutes…let’s hope it isn’t crap!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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