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I’m heading to China soon to do some research for my next Sky Wilder novel, THE BONE HOARDE, the follow up to my just-released REVISED EDITION e-book, UNSEEN FORCES . I’ll have to make good use of my time, and since I’m only bringing a carry-on bag, I need to pack strategically. Meaning I need to have the right tools with me. And that reminds me of this piece I recently wrote for The Hit List: My career as a thriller novelist has taken me conduct research in some pretty sketchy locations, from rebel jungles in Asia, to gang hangouts in East LA, to bunkers brimming with weapons in the Middle East—and then there was the dangerous stuff… Since I usually need to get in and out of a place quickly, having the right tools makes all the difference: Camcorder Watch: Sometimes I need to take clandestine video. Being obvious […]

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Five Writing Lessons I’ve Learned as a Private Security Contractor

Being deployed to sublime places like the French Riviera, or to unpleasant places in countries ending in “-stan,” taught me a lot about writing. As a thriller novelist, a new security deployment is like an unexplored gold mine of impressions that await transformation into a dramatic storyline. 1. Use the right tools: an unlocked smartphone or tablet computer with a SIM card for phone and data is your best friend. Aside from being a virtual office, it’s a camera (my Goggle phone has a 13 megapixel camera), camcorder, voice recorder, translator, GPS, digital notebook, and more. Authors need tools and the smartphone makes research and note-taking—even book promotion on social media—much easier to do on the road. 2. Take notes now: describing sights, sounds, and smells can help bring scenes to life. Memories fade; first impressions are often more vivid, so I try to document my initial thoughts about people […]

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Springing Forward

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The promise of Spring has been fulfilled today; a gentle breeze carries temps in the sixties under a clean blue sky dotted with pure white clouds.  And with the advent of Spring came the publication of my latest novel a few days ago, an espionage thriller called The Russian Bride. It’s ironic that I’m unable to promote the new book back in the States because I’m on a deployment in Eastern Europe in a country formerly controlled by the Russians—a country that hopes the Russians will never come back. Today I find myself posted in a windowless room with steel walls and floors.  Cell phones don’t work here.  I’m on a U.S. military facility inside a friendly foreign military base.  No photographs are allowed.  The no photos rules goes against the grain of this digital social media age we live in where we post pictures of all aspects of out […]

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PRESSING THE FLESH

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A very successful, wise, and kind bookseller once told me, “Nobody goes to book signings in December.” It was an offhand comment that took me aback, essentially because all of my books, up until now, have been released in December. Had I been wasting my time and money making winter-time in-store appearances in support of my novels? There’s another issue relating to December book releases. Are books released at the end of the year less likely to be included on a reviewer’s “Best of the Year” list? Those lists are often compiled in October and published in November. While it’s true that ARCs, or Advance Reader’s Copies, go out before October, I suspect reviewers are more swayed by material (and the buzz surrounding it) that appears well before the end of the year. Hence, I began to feel somewhat handicapped to be stuck with December release dates. I mentioned this […]

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THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

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Halloween is almost here and that means it will be New Year’s Day before we know it. At least that’s the way it sometimes seems as we approach the end-of-the-year holiday months. Is it the old saw about time flying because we’re having too much fun? The end of the year always seems to be stuck on fast forward. For me as an author, October means a whole new set of tasks and responsibilities beckon (and during the World Series, darn it!), since my last three novels have all been published at the ends of their respective years. And with novel number four, BURNT BLACK, being released on November 19, well, there’s a helluva lot of stuff I need to be doing. I like doing bookstore appearances in support of a new book, but most authors today spend a lot of time doing new book promotion online. So I’m busy […]

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Q & A with Ed

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I’ve been doing a bit of guest blogging around the Web to help promote the release of my thriller novel, GOOD JUNK, the second in the Cliff St. James series.  Some of the questions thrown at me are provocative, some mundane. And just as there are no small parts, only small actors, I’d say there are no dumb questions for writers, but maybe dumb answers from some writers.   Personally, I feel privileged to be published by a major New York publisher and to have gotten such good reviews for my books.  So I don’t mind answering any and all questions that readers throw my way. I thought I would share a few queries that I have gotten since GOOD JUNK was released in December, 2012. What is the message in GOOD JUNK? One of the things I wanted to do was riff on aspects of lethal force.  What are the […]

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Reviews for Good Junk

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Well, we’re in that slack-off week between Christmas and New Year when I get to slack-off from my security gig here in Crapistan, Central Asia, and devote some time to writing.  And to promoting my new thriller novel, GOOD JUNK, which has been out for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been very fortunate to get some terrific reviews.  And well, hell, let me share a few with you: Good Junk received the rare honor of a *Starred,* boxed review from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY:  “Kovacs outstanding second Cliff St. James novel…powerful prose that evokes a city still struggling to recover its infrastructure and identity elevates this well beyond most other contemporary PI novels.” ~Publisher’s Weekly “The scenes of New Orleans are rich and real. Kovacs hopeless, elegiac vision of the city is touching, and his quick studies of hidden landmarks like the outré bar in the French Quarter that calls itself […]

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Update from Central Asia

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The cold is descending upon Central Asia, where I am currently deployed, like an icy blanket. Soon it will be seriously cold, with wind chill factors that could make Eskimos shiver. But I have plenty of extreme- cold-weather gear and today I am off duty and am warm and fuzzy with a Cuban cigar and a bottle of red from Moldova that is almost drinkable as I sit in the foyer of our quarters. For the 7th time in the last eight years I will be deployed away from home for the holidays, and for the second year in a row I will miss the release of a new novel. This year, it’s GOOD JUNK (Cliff St. James #2) that comes out on December 11, 2012, released by St. Martin’s Press. The advance reviews have been great (Publisher’s Weekly gave me a *starred*, boxed review, a rare honor) and for […]

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NOLA 44 — Forty-four hours in New Orleans without ever entering the French Quarter

A maxed-out weekend in America’s favorite party town without ever entering the French Quarter. A person could spend one weekend a month for an entire year in New Orleans without ever leaving the French Quarter, and still not patronize all of the hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and other activities on offer. Quite frankly, the Quarter is the bomb. And while nothing says New Orleans like the French Quarter, the city has such a “deep bench” of gastronomic and hedonistic delights, you could skip that venerable historic district on your next trip and not even miss it. So forget the Quarter and explore the real New Orleans; you’ve got forty-four hours. FRIDAY 6PM, COCKTAILS: Swizzle Stick Bar 300 Poydras on lobby level of Loews Hotel, 504-595-3300 Want to ease into your NOLA weekend while still jumping in with both feet? Kick things off with a couple of Sidecars at this […]

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DOUBLE DOWN MICRO TOUR WINDS DOWN

It’s been a fun ride; exhausting at times, but then I’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost seven years now. George Clooney a Road Warrior? Ha! I’ve pushed so far past that envelope it amazes me. Strange to feel “at home” in so many foriegn and domestic cities. Discussing and signing STORM DAMAGE has not only been a learning experience, but I got to meet a lot of interesting folks along the way. Some terrific book store owners and staff, of course, not to mention the book buying attendees. I really enjoy the store appearances, if not the hurried travel from city to city. I want to spend more time everywhere I go, but there’s always a plane to catch. STORM DAMAGE continues to get good reviews http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/review.html?id=9079 and for that and other blessings I am very grateful. San Diego and Thousand Oaks signings coming soon, so if […]

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