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becke_davis
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Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

[ Edited ]

This week's featured author, BRAD PARKS, is one of the funniest authors I know. His books aren't all sweetness and light, but they are witty. The trademark Parks wit is everpresent in his newsletters, which always include tales of his hapless interns. Here's an example:

 


 

 

It started with Star Wars.

 

Peter, the slothful intern, was supposed to be sending Brad effusively worded fake fan mail (don't knock it: crafting replies keeps the boss too busy to notice when the interns take three-hour lunches).

 

Instead, Peter was huddled over his laptop, watching "Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace." He was mesmerized by the scene where Obi-Wan slices Darth Maul in halfwhen Brad walked up behind him.

 

"Peter, what are you doing?" Brad asked.

 

Peter's hands flew to the keyboard and he blurted, "I stayed up all night reading it... I loved the cat... I laughed, I cried, it was better thanThe Maltese Falcon."

 

But Brad didn't appear to be listening. He was suddenly looking off into the distance.

 

"A prequel!" Brad said, dreamily. "Yes! Of course!"

 

And then he disappeared.

 

"Wait, where did he go?" said Sarah, the smart intern. "We've got a book coming out! He's got work to do!"

 

"Whatever," said Zach, the silly intern. "It's almost 10:30. Lunchtime!"

 

The interns didn't see Brad for a few days after that. Peter spent the time watching all six Star Wars movies in a loop, in the hopes he could learn how to make small objects levitate—and thus never again have to leave his chair to get a snack.

 

When Brad finally returned, he had written a new Carter Ross short story, "The Nightgown," a prequel that tells how 24-year-old Carter got his job at The Eagle-Examiner. You can download it for free here (registration required) or pay a whopping .99 to get it on your electronic reading device.

 

The Nightgown  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news, it is T-minus one week until the official release of The Girl Next Door (Carter Ross Series #3)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The advance reviews are in, and it looks like a hit:

 

  • Booklist gave it a starred review, calling it "... a masterpiece."
  • Library Journal cheered, "This series (is) a refreshing tonic for the mystery soul." (Zach was drinking gin and tonics out of his coffee mug for a week after that one).
  • Shelf Awareness said, "THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is perfect for the reader who loves an LOL moment but wants a mystery that's more than empty calories."
  • Publishers Weekly called it "a Sopranos-worthy ragout of high drama and low comedy." ("What the heck is a rag out?" asked Maggie, the clueless intern. Sarah shook her head and said, "it's pronounced ra-GOO").
  • RT Book Reviews raved, "Parks' prodigious gifts for the written word, characterization and plot development are all evident in his third Carter Ross offering... Reading will be compulsive." (Sarah had to explain to Zach that, in this context, "prodigious" was a good thing).

 

Meanwhile, the interns have been putting the final touches on The Tangled Up in Khaki Tour, which will take Brad across 11 states and three time zones and, more importantly, keep him out of the office for a while.

 

And, of course, it is the interns' fiduciary responsibility to remind you that you can still pre-order THE GIRL NEXT DOOR wherever fine books are sold.

 

May the Force Be With You,

 

The BradParksBooks.com Interns

 

FaceBook Twitter goodreads

 

 

Some of you may remember Brad - he visited with us when his debut book came out back in 2010: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Mystery/Please-Welcome-Author-BRAD-PARKS/m-p/610447/highlight...

 

 

And, BTW, I can't wait to ask Brad about his new Twitter profile picture:

 

 

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Bookname

 

Bio (Brief Version) 

Brad Parks' debut, Faces of the Gone, won the Nero Award for Best American Mystery and the Shamus Award for Best First Mystery. In doing so, Parks became the first author in the combined 60-year history of the Nero and the Shamus to win both awards for the same book.Library Journal called Faces of the Gone "the most hilariously funny and deadly serious mystery debut since Janet Evanovich's One for the Money."

 

Yahoo.com called Brad "the literary love child of (Janet) Evanovich and (Harlan) Coben." The book launched the career of Brad's fictional investigative reporter Carter Ross, who readers voted "The World's Favorite Amateur Sleuth" in a 64 sleuth, tournament-style bracket, beating out Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the finals.

 

Carter has since appeared in Eyes of the Innocent (Feb. 2011), whichLibrary Journal called "as good if not better (than) his acclaimed debut." The third Carter Ross adventure, The Girl Next Door, is due out March 13, 2012. Parks is a Dartmouth College graduate who spent a dozen years as a reporter for The Washington Post and The Newark Star-Ledger and is now a full-time novelist. He lives with his wife and two small children in Virginia.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Bio (Slightly Verbose Version) 

Brad Parks started writing professionally at 14, when he discovered two important things about his hometown newspaper, The Ridgefield (Conn.) Press: One, it paid freelancers 50 cents a column inch for articles about local high school sports; and, two, it ran most submissions at their original length.

 

For Brad, that meant he could make more money writing than babysitting. For the parents of the girls' basketball players at Ridgefield High, that meant glowing accounts of their daughters' games that ran on for no less than 40 inches. 

This launched Brad on a 20-year journalism career, one that continued at Dartmouth College—where he founded a weekly sports newspaper—and included stops at The Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. A sportswriter who later switched to news, he covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Masters, from small-town pizza wars to Hurricane Katrina. 

His work was recognized by, among others, the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Headliner Awards, the National Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association, which gave its top award for enterprise reporting to Brad's 40-year retrospective on the Newark riots. He also covered a quadruple homicide in Newark, which provided the real-life launching point for the fictional manuscript now known as Faces of the Gone

Brad left the newspaper industry in 2008 to become a full-time author. He and his wife, Melissa, now live in Virginia, where he is currently working on the next Carter Ross mystery.

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!




charactersCarter Ross
Vitals: 6-1, 185, brown hair, blue eyes
Our hero, the sometimes-dashing investigative reporter. Born and raised in well-to-do Millburn, Carter attended some of New Jersey's finest prep schools then spent four years at Amherst College. Still in his early 30's, he has landed a plum gig: Investigative reporter at The Newark Eagle-Examiner, a job that plunges this white-shoe WASP into some of the seamiest places the city has to offer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersTommy Hernandez
Vitals: 5-7, 130, straight brown hair, brown eyes
What every hero needs: A gay Cuban sidekick. Although still an intern, Tommy is a gifted natural reporter, blessed with the ability to hit the streets and find the story. And Carter often finds himself relying on Tommy's assistance—and receiving his sartorial critiques—as they tackle the tough stories together.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersTina Thompson
Vitals: 5-8, 135, brown curly hair, brown eyes
The smoking hot city editor and Carter's not-quite lover. Tina is pure Type-A: a career-driven, yoga-obsessed, jogging enthusiast who gets what she wants by force of personality. And she's recently decided she wants to become a mother—and, fortunately and/or unfortunately for Carter, she's got the father all picked out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersSal Szanto
Vitals: 5-11, 245, salt-and-pepper hair, brown eyes
The grumpy managing editor. Szanto is Carter's boss, which is only one of several headaches in his life. He medicates these pains with a combination of caffeine, nicotine and antacid—most of which only exacerbate his occasional inability to pronounce vowels.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersHarold Brodie
Vitals: 5-9, 150, silver hair, blue eyes
The legendary executive editor. Brodie has ruled overThe Newark Eagle-Examiner newsroom for the last quarter century. With wild eyebrow hair and a grandfatherly falsetto, he is a mostly benign dictator—though he is nothing if not persistent when he wants a story.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersReginald "Tee" Williams
Vitals: 5-10, 250, black braided hair, brown eyes
The source on the streets. Tee owns a custom T-shirt shop in Newark and looks like a bad-ass: One-eighth of a ton of muscle, braids and tattoos. But he's also afraid of his wife and cries at car commercials. Tee explains the ways of the 'hood to Carter, who reciprocates by translating white people for Tee.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersBuster Hays
Vitals: 6-0, 210, gray curly hair, brown eyes
The newsroom crank. Hays comes from da Bronx, roughly the neighborhood of 133rd street. An old-time newsman, he's always riding Carter for the silver spoon in his mouth. Still, he's got a massive rolodex of sources from three decades in the business and he'll (grudgingly) share them with Carter.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


charactersDeadline the Cat
Vitals: 25 inches, 13 pounds, black and white coat
The indolent domestic shorthair. Deadline gets very cranky if he doesn't get his sleep—about 22 hours a day will usually do the trick. His other hobbies are eating and pooping. 
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Faces of the Gone (Carter Ross Series #1)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FACES OF THE GONE
A Carter Ross Mystery 

WINNER of the Shamus Award!
WINNER of the Nero Award!
 

A shooting can rattle a city, even if it's gun-choked Newark. Investigative reporter Carter Ross finds himself with gruesome front-page news: four bodies in a vacant lot, each with a single bullet hole in the back of the head. In a haste to calm residents, local police leak a story to Carter's colleagues at theNewark Eagle-Examiner, calling the murders revenge for a bar stick-up.

 

But while Carter may not come from the streets, he knows a few things about Newark's ghettos. And he knows the story the police are pushing just doesn't make sense. The paper prints the police's version anyway—under the journalistic theory that it's better to be first than factual—leaving Carter all but alone to find the real story.

 

He enlists the aide of Tina Thompson, the paper's smoking hot city editor, to run interference for him at the office; Tommy Hernandez, the paper's gay Cuban intern, to help him with legwork on the street; and Tynesha Dales, a local stripper, to take him to Newark's underside.

 

Soon, Carter learns the four victims have one connection after all, and this knowledge puts him in the path of one very ambitious killer. 

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!




Faces of the GoneFACES OF THE GONE
Chapter 1 

If there had only been one dead body that day, I never would have heard about it. From a news standpoint, one dead body in Newark, New Jersey is only slightly more interesting than planes landing safely at the airport. Assuming it's some anonymous gangbanger—and in Newark it's almost always an anonymous gangbanger—it's a four-paragraph story written by an intern whose primary concern is finishing quickly so he can return to inventing witty status updates on Facebook. 

Two bodies is slightly more interesting. The intern has to come up with eight paragraphs and maybe, if there's someone unfortunate enough to be hanging out in the photo department when an editor wanders by, a picture will run with the story. Three bodies is worth a headline and a picture, even a follow-up or two, though the interest peters out quickly enough. 

But four? Four means real news. Four gets a town buzzing, even a town as blood-jaded as Newark. And four bodies is what I was contemplating that Monday morning in early December as I arrived at the offices of the Newark Eagle-Examiner and opened up the paper. 

We had managed to cram a quick story about it in our late edition. It was done by our nightshift re-write guy, a man named Peterson who delighted in hyperbolizing gritty crime stories. He quoted a Newark police spokesman saying four victims, each with a single bullet wound in the back of the head, had been found in a vacant lot next to a church on Ludlow Street. 

The police spokesman didn't provide much color, so Peterson created his own, describing the "brazen execution-style slayings" as having "rocked an otherwise quiet Newark neighborhood." The bodies, he wrote, had been "stacked like cordwood in a weed-choked plot." The Newark police had not released the names of the victims, because next-of-kin had not been notified, so Peterson referred to them as "four John Does" with every chance he got. 

I was making it through the last of Peterson's compositional flourishes when I heard my editor, Sal Szanto. 

"Crrttrr Rssss," Szanto growled. From experience, I knew he was at least attempting to say my name, Carter Ross. 

"What's going on, boss?" I said, lurking in his doorway. 

Now in his early 50's, Szanto often had trouble with vowels until his voice warmed up a bit. No one could say which of his vices—coffee, cigarettes or antacid tablets—had taken the letters away. 

"Ssttddnn." 

Sit down. I think. As I entered the office and took the chair across from his desk, Szanto turned away and held up his left hand while coughing forcefully into his right, his jowls jiggling at the effort. He stopped for moment, started to speak, then hacked a few more times until he finally dislodged the morning phlegm that had rendered him all but unintelligible. 

"Ah, that's better," he said. "Anyway, Brodie is really pitching a tent over this Ludlow Street thing." 

As far as anyone knew, Harold Brodie—the legendary Eagle-Examiner Executive Editor who was now pushing 70—had not gotten an actual hard-on in years. He got stiffies for stories and, sadly for Mrs. Brodie, nothing else. And although they were erections only in the figurative sense, the impact they had on the rest of us was very real. When you heard the phrase, "Brodie has a real hard-on for this one"—or any number of colorful derivations on that theme—you knew it was trouble. Once turned on to a story it could take days for the old man to tire of it. And, in the meantime, he was going to harass everyone in the newsroom on a half-hourly basis until he got the story he imagined existed. 

"I've already sent Whitlow and Hays down there. They're going to do the daily stuff," Szanto said, then aimed a stubby finger at me. "You're going to get to the bottom of what the hell happened down there." 

"And how am I going to do that?" 

"I don't know. You're my investigative reporter. Figure it out yourself." 

I enjoy the title "investigative reporter" because it impresses women in bars. And I was proud to have earned the job at an age, 31, when some of my peers were still slaving away on backwater municipal beats in far-away bureaus. But it's just a line on a business card. It's not like there are files marked "for investigative reporters only." It certainly hasn't made me any smarter. 

"So what do we know, besides 'four John Does stacked like cordwood in a weed-choked plot?'" I said, mimicking Peterson's style. 

"That one of the John Does is actually a Jane." 

"Whoops." 

"Yeah," Szanto said, wincing as he sipped his still-too-hot coffee. "The police already called to bitch about that this morning." 

"So what do you think Brodie wants from this?" I asked. 

"You know exactly what he wants: A fascinating story with great art that gives us all piercing insight into the woes of New Jersey's largest city. And he wants it tomorrow." 

"How about you give me a week and I'll try to turn in something that doesn't read like it was written by a lumberjack?" 

"Hey, if it gets Brodie off my ass, you can rewrite Tuesdays With Morrie for all I care," Szanto said. 

"Yeah, maybe I'll do that," I said as I departed his office. 

"Tk Hrrrndzzz," Szanto hollered after me. 

"Hear that?" I asked Tommy Hernandez, the aforementioned Facebook-obsessed intern. 

"Yeah, it sounds like a lawnmower that won't start," he said, then looked at me with something far beyond disdain. 

"How many times do I have to tell you that a wristwatch is an accessory and it should match your belt?" he demanded. 

Tommy is only 22, but he's blessed with the great reporter's instinct of noticing every small detail. He's handy to have on the streets, because he's second generation Cuban-American and speaks flawless Spanish. He's also gay as the Mardi Gras parade. 

"Come on, Tommy," I said. "Let's go embrace another beautiful day in Newark." 

© Brad Parks
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Eyes of the Innocent (Carter Ross Series #2)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EYES OF THE INNOCENT
A Carter Ross Mystery 

The follow-up to Brad Parks' Shamus- and Nero-Award-winning debut 

A house fire in Newark, New Jersey kills two young boys left home alone, and investigative reporter Carter Ross is dispatched to write a follow-up. With the help of the paper's newest intern, Lauren "Sweet Thang" McMillan, Carter discovers the fire isn't what is seems. Soon, he's plunged into a murky world of urban house-flipping and political corruption, and an ever-deepening mystery...

 


PRAISE
 

"The novel reads like a bit of investigative journalism: told in reporter's prose, with dollops of humor, suspense, and violence. Like his creator, Ross is aware of the pain in the things he writes about. He's also aware that makes for darned good reporting."
   —Booklist 

"An enjoyable second mystery featuring a street-smart investigative reporter (after 2009's Faces of the Gone)... Once again, Parks, a former Washington Post reporter, deftly brings the personalities and dynamics of a modern-day city newsroom to life."
   —Publishers Weekly 

"Who says white men can't jump? ... Street-smart Carter, appearances notwithstanding, has all the moves he needs to stay one step ahead. Or one jump. A breezy, entertaining sequel to Parks' well-received debut."
   —Kirkus Reviews 

"Zany characters, witty dialog, and a plot that races to a bang-up finish are guaranteed to have readers cheering for the good guys. Parks's sequel to his acclaimed debut, Faces of the Gone, is as good if not better. Think Lisa Scottoline meets Richard Yancey."
   —Library Journal (Starred Review) 

"A capable follow-up to this author's award-winning debut mystery... Mr. Parks, himself a former newspaperman, knows this turf well. In the course of showing Ross nailing down the story, he has a lot of fun with office politics, Ross's love life, and the desire that a put-upon reporter may sometimes feel to have a conversation with a sympathetic Coke machine." 
   —The Wall Street Journal (read the full review

"Fast-paced, thoroughly satisfying... Carter Ross is not only a first-rate investigative reporter; he's also a first-rate comic. It's a rare mystery that provides a good laugh on almost every page. One can only hope that Brad Parks has more mysteries for Carter Ross to solve in future books."
   —The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger (read the full review

"Imagine a book that melds the style of a Bob Woodward and a Janet Evanovich—and you have the flavor of Eyes of the Innocent by Brad Parks...Eyes of the Innocent is a funny, irreverent, yet intense murder thriller. Readers will find this one gritty and realistic, but tender and humorous."
   —Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star (read the full review

"Brad Parks—aka the author—presents a banner-headline-worthy take on newsrooms and the struggling newspaper industry in this story of arson, political kickbacks, and murder, all fueled by the burst of the subprime-mortgage bubble. His scathing humor supplies the kicker to the many layers of his social and political critiques. Those sharp observations, always laced with a sense of humor, are going to help propel the author to the Top Ten bestseller lists, sooner than later."
   —Yahoo.com's Shine Magazine (read the full review

"While some authors are known to fall into a bit of a sophomore slump on their second books, Parks has gained momentum. Eyes of the Innocent ignites the suspense on page one that grips the reader to the last page, to the final brilliant sentence... And when you think you have the mystery figured out, you discover that wasn't the actual mystery after all. Where the heck is Parks going with this? I predict he's going straight to another award-winning novel."
   —Jen Forbus, Jen's Book Thoughts (read the full review

"Parks' second novel featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross deals with the timely topics of subprime mortgages and house-flipping, intensified by the criminal mind. Readers will meet colorful characters from the newsroom and the shady side of Newark in this fast-paced, suspenseful story. Parks' writing is clever and witty in this entertaining read."
   —RT Book Reviews 

"Eyes of the Innocent is the complete package. With wonderful prose, witty observations and a relentless drive, this book held me hostage until the last page. Well done, Brad Parks!"
   —Michael Connelly 

"The narrative, told in the first-person voice of Ross, is informed with a streetwise dry wit balanced with compassion and humanity. Faces of the Gonewon the Nero and Shamus awards; if anything, Eyes of the Innocent is a better book than its predecessor, one that will firmly ensconce Parks's name on many must-read lists."
   —Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com (read the full review

"Though Brad Parks had Shamus and Nero awards thrown at his Faces—his debut novel, Faces of the Gone, that is—there's no sign of the sophomore slump in his follow-up, Eyes of the Innocent, which is even better than its predecessor."
   —Elyse Dinh, PopCultureNerd.com 

"With Ross' keen editorial observations, his self-deprecating humor and his supporting cast of characters, "Eyes" is a welcome addition to my shelves of newspaper noir."
   —Carole Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (read the full review

"An engaging and exciting crime novel series... Brad Parks is another wonderful modern New Jersey noir novelist to go on the shelf next to Harlan Coben."
   —Joe Meyers, Connecticut Post (read the full review

"Eyes of the Innocent (is) even better than his Nero and Shamus award-winning mystery, Faces of the Gone... It's time for readers to discover Newark, New Jersey through Carter Ross' eyes, and with his sense of humor. Once you've seen his world, it will be the last time you can view newspapers, city government, or Newark through the Eyes of the Innocent."
   —Lesa Holstine, Lesa's Book Critiques (read the full review

"Parks has a real gift for taking dark subject matter, lightening it up with humor, and turning it into a hell of a page turner. Looking forward to the next book for sure."
   —Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch 

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!




Eyes of the Innocent

EYES OF THE INNOCENT
Chapter 1

I made at least four mistakes that Monday morning, the first of which was going into the office in the first place. There's an old saying among newspaper reporters that news never breaks in the newsroom. So if you're not currently working on a story, you ought to be out finding one. If you hang around the newsroom with nothing to do, you put yourself at extreme risk of being assigned something to do by an editor. And—ask any writer, anywhere—editors are approximately 98 percent full of stupid ideas.

Which leads to my second mistake: wandering by the open office door of my editor, Sal Szanto. I'm an investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner, New Jersey's largest newspaper. My last story had been what we in the business call BBI. Boring But Important. It was a piece about patronage hiring in a nearby county government. (My suggested headline, "County Keeps Nepotism in the Family" was rejected as being too cheeky). The thirteen people who actually bothered to read it—the same thirteen people who read all our BBI's—were very impressed. To everyone else who picked up our Sunday paper, I suspect it were merely an impediment on the way to Sudoku.

Either way, it was now yesterday's news, making me an investigative reporter momentarily lacking anything to investigate.

And so we arrive at my third mistake: not feigning deafness when Szanto croaked out my name.

"Crrrtrrsss!"

That's "Carter Ross," for those who don't understand the peculiar dialect of my fifty-something, chain-smoking, antacid-devouring, coffee-guzzling editor. Szanto has difficulty pronouncing vowels when he's upset, stressed or tired—which, with the way newspapers have been going the last few years, is most of the time. It usually takes him a couple of sentences to lift his vocal chords out of the gravel and start speaking coherently.

"Hvvsstt."

I took that to mean, "Have a seat." So I did. Szanto cleared his throat.

"You read the fire story this morning?" he growled. "The thing with the two kids?"

A fast-moving fire at about nine o'clock the night before swept through a house on Littleton Avenue in Newark, killing two little boys, Alonzo and Antoine Harris, ages four and six. The Newark Fire Department was offering no theories about what started it. The whereabouts of the mother, Akilah Harris, were unknown as of press time—which did not exactly speak well of her custodial abilities.

We had given the story the usual tragedy treatment, with a large photo of the blackened house along with smaller headshots of the little boys—smiling school portraits—along with a story gang-written by the herd of semi-supervised interns we have working on the weekends. During my eight years at the paper, we had probably written variations of the story fifty times—albeit with changed names, dates and places—so maybe I should be more calloused to it by now. But it still rips my guts out.

"Yeah, I read it," I said. "What about it?"

Szanto had this look on his face I couldn't quite place. Just like Eskimos have fifty different words for snow, Szanto has at least that many pained expressions. Parsing them takes a certain amount of expertise. The difference between "I'm pained because an intern just handed me a story that might as well be in Farsi" and "I'm pained because I ate hot wings for lunch" could be as subtle as a slight lowering of the lip or an extra furrowing of the brow.

I this case, it was neither.

"Brodie wants a spaceheater story," he said.

Now it was my turn for a pained expression. Brodie is Harold Brodie, a living newspaper legend who had presided over our newsroom as executive editor for the last quarter century. Now in his late sixties, he was basically a nice man, with a high-pitched voice and eyebrows that could use some serious manscaping. He was small and fragile in a way that sort of reminded everyone of their grandfather. As a leader, he was the most benign of dictators. And more or less everyone loved him.

But he was still an editor, and as such he was as prone to stupid ideas as any other editor. Plus, he had this tendency to get fixated on certain subjects.

Spaceheaters was one of them. Like many of the nation's more depressed cities, Newark had its share of unimaginably horrid slum buildings where the heat may or may not be working—thanks busted boilers, pilfered pipes or landlords who decided the best way to combat the high cost of heating oil was to abstain from buying any.

One of the ways tenants survive this injustice is to plug spaceheaters into their already overloaded electrical sockets and leave them on 24-7. Fire safety-wise, you'd do just as well tossing an unsupervised ten-year-old into room with oily rags, lighter fluid and matches.

As a result, we had written about the perils of spaceheaters at least once every winter since I started at the paper eight years ago—and probably for many years before that. The only surprise was that December and January had been so mild we made it all the way to February without running one.

"Did a spaceheater have anything to do with it?" I asked.

"How the hell should I know?"

"But..." I started.

"I don't care," Szanto snapped. "Brodie asked for a spaceheater story, so write him a damn spaceheater story. You know how he gets."

I did. Some editors cajoled writers into doing stories with threats or loud demands. Brodie went more for the Chinese water torture approach, drip-dropping in on you until you just gave in. Sometimes, when he approached you from behind, he jingled the change in his pocket just so you knew he was there. Most longtime Eagle-Examiner reporters, trained by years of Brodie jingling, stiffened reflexively when they heard nickels and quarters banging together.

"Can't we just re-print one of the old spaceheater stories?" I asked. "I seem to recall from the archives the eighty-eight spaceheater story was a classic—fruity yet full-bodied, with hints of singed circuit breaker."

Szanto hit me with pained look No. 28—upturned lip, creased forehead—and I gave in.

"Fine," I huffed. "A spaceheater story."

I went to lift myself out of the chair.

"I want you to work with Sweet Thang," he said.

I sat back down. Sweet Thang was what Szanto—and most of the other cave-dwelling editors in the building—called our newest intern, a honey-haired twenty-two-year-old Vanderbilt graduate whose real name was Lauren Somethingorother.

Between her button nose, bright blue eyes and a torso that rather nicely filled out a sweater set, she hadn't lacked for mentoring from some of the men in the office.

The only problem was, there was a rumor out she had gotten the job because her father and Brodie golfed together at their country club. So while working with her would improve the scenery, it did come with certain dangers.

"Do I have to?" I asked.

"Just make her feel like she's doing something important, then when it comes time to write, make sure she's in a different county from your keyboard," Szanto said.

"Fine. Whatever."

It was only a stupid spaceheater story. I could knock it off in a few hours and then move back to real journalism. As I left Szanto's office, I told myself it would be simple enough.

That, it turns out, was my fourth mistake.

© Brad Parks

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

The Girl Next Door (Carter Ross Series #3)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
A Carter Ross Mystery 

Available March 13th! 

Reading his own newspaper's obituaries, veteran reporter Carter Ross comes across that of a woman named Nancy Marino, who was the victim of a hit-and-run while she was on the job delivering copies of that very paper, theEagle-Examiner. Struck by the opportunity to write a heroic piece about an everyday woman killed too young, he heads to her wake to gather tributes and anecdotes. It's the last place Ross expects to find controversy—which is exactly what happens when one of Nancy's sisters convinces him that the accident might not have been accidental at all. 

It turns out that the kind and generous Nancy may have made a few enemies, starting with her boss at the diner where she was a part-time waitress, and even including the publisher of the Eagle-Examiner. Carter's investigation of this seemingly simple story soon has him in big trouble with his full-time editor and sometime girlfriend, Tina Thompson, not to mention the rest of his bosses at the paper, but he can't let it goj—he story is just too good, and it keeps getting better. But will his nose for trouble finally take him too far? 

 


PRAISE
 

"Darkly humorous... Parks hits home with this installment of quirky characters, convincing color, and a Sopranos-worthy ragout of high drama and low comedy."
   —Publishers Weekly 

"Reporter as detective hero isn't anything new, but few have been as convincing in the dual role as inkstained wage slave Carter Ross, the fearsomely articulate hero of Parks' fine new novel... Ross believes that the mark of a life well lived is the caliber of stories you tell in your last days. From the evidence here, he's living a masterpiece."
   —Booklist (Starred) 

"Parks' prodigious gifts for the written word, characterization and plot development are all evident in his third Carter Ross offering... Reading will be compulsive."
   —RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) 

"Award-winning Parks's third Carter Ross mystery has all the elements for a fun escape read—to New Jersey. His chatty style, quick pace, and trademark team efforts make this series a refreshing tonic for the mystery soul."
   —Library Journal 

"Through his portrayal of newsroom culture and the ailing (if once-mighty) American independent paper, Parks ascends the more pulpy shallows of the genre. The Girl Next Door is perfect for the reader who loves an LOL moment but wants a mystery that's more than empty calories."
   —Shelf Awareness (read the full review

"America's favorite crime-fighting newspaper reporter, Carter Ross, has returned for more hilarious hijinks... Regardless of whether you enjoy noir or cozies, The Girl Next Door is highly recommended reading for all mystery fans."
   —The Gumshoe Review (read the full review

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!




The Girl Next Door

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
Chapter 1

To anyone who says newspapers only print bad news, I say: read the obituaries.

For the most part, obits are the uplifting stories of people who led long and full lives, enriched communities with their accomplishments, died at peace with the world and left behind many loving relatives. And, sure, the subjects of these articles have to be more than just slightly dead in order to appear in our pages—that part is, admittedly, a bit of a buzz-kill. But otherwise, obits are some of the happiest news we print.

My paper, The Newark Eagle-Examiner—New Jersey's largest and most respected news-gathering and content-producing agency—organizes its obits alphabetically, last name first, followed by the deceased's town and age. And I defy anyone, even the most jaded cynic, to read one day's worth of obits without feeling at least a little bit better about the state of the world.

Sometimes all you have to do is read one letter's worth—like, say, the M's. You start with a guy like Milazzo, Vincent of Elizabeth, 92, the high school football star who served his country in World War II then worked his way up to foreman at a lawnmower parts manufacturer before enjoying a long retirement. You work your way to Monastyrly, Jane C. of Wharton, 81, the beloved mother of four, grandmother of ten and great grandmother of eight who was an avid gardener and won the Wharton Elks Club pie-baking contest five times. Then you finish with Muster, Edward L. of Maplewood, 77, the son of South Carolina sharecroppers who earned scholarships to college and law school, set up his own practice and became the first black treasurer of the Essex County Bar Association.

All the wrinkles of their days on this planet have been smoothed away and turned into one seamless narrative. All their trials and struggles have taken on the aura of parable. All their successes have been magnified while their failures have been forgotten.

And by the time they "passed on"—or "made their transition" or "entered into eternal rest" or any of those other wonderful euphemisms for the Long Dirt Nap—they seemed to have achieved some kind of understanding of why they walked this planet in the first place.

Or at least that's how I like to imagine it.

There's also something about obits that, as an unrepentant newspaperman, I find comforting. Over the past dozen years or so, my business has ceded its dominance in any number of areas—classified advertising, national and international news, sports scores and so on—to the Internet. But we still have a monopoly on obits. So while you can go anywhere to find out if the Yankees won, you have to come to us to learn if your neighbor is still breathing. It makes the obit pages a throwback to a better day for newspapers, one part of a crumbling industry that has somehow held strong. For me, it's just one more reason to love them.

Some folks, especially the older ones, scan the obits each day to see if anyone they know has died. Me? I'm only thirty-two. So hopefully it will be a good fifty years or so until anyone has to read about Ross, Carter of Bloomfield. And it will probably be forty years until my high school classmates start popping up with any regularity.

In the meantime, I read them strictly for the inspiration.

So there I was one Monday morning in July, sitting at my desk against the far wall of The Eagle-Examiner newsroom in Newark, getting my daily dose of good news—once again, from the M's—when my eyes began scanning the entry for Marino, Nancy B. of Bloomfield, 42.

I read on:

Nancy B. Marino, 42, of Bloomfield died suddenly on Friday, July 8.

Born in Newark, Nancy was raised in Belleville and graduated from Belleville High School. She was a popular mid-day waitress at the State Street Grill in Bloomfield. Nancy also had one of the largest delivery routes in The Newark Eagle-Examiner circulation area and was proud to serve as a shop steward in the International Federation of Information Workers, Local 117.

She is survived by her mother, Mrs. Anthony J. Marino of Belleville; two older sisters, Anne Marino McCaffrey of Maplewood and Jeanne Nygard of Berkeley, Calif.; and many other friends and relatives.

Visitation will be held today from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Johnson-Eberle Funeral Home, 332 State Street, Bloomfield. A Funeral Mass will be offered Thursday at 10 a.m. at St. Peter RC Church, Belleville. Interment will be at St. Peter Parish Cemetery following the service.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Nancy's name to the IFIW-Local 117 Scholarship Fund, 744 Broad St., Newark, N.J. 07102.

 

Even though we were employed by the same newspaper, I didn't know Nancy Marino. The Eagle-Examiner has hundreds of carriers, all of whom work at a time of day when I try to keep my eyelids shuttered.

But I have enormous respect for the work she and her colleagues do. The fact is, I could spend months uncovering the most dastardly wrongdoing then write the most brilliant story possible, but we still rely on the yeoman paper carrier to get it to the bulk of our readers. That's right: even in this supposedly all-digit era, our circulation numbers tell us the majority of our daily readers still digest their Eagle-Examiner in analog form.

So every morning when I stumble to my door and get that day's edition—always one of life's small pleasures, especially when it contains one of those stories I busted a spleen to get—I get a little reminder that someone else at the paper, someone like Nancy Marino, takes her job just as seriously as I do.

I leaned back in my chair and considered what I had just read. In obit parlance, "died suddenly" was usually code for "heart attack." But that didn't seem to fit. A just-barely-middle-aged woman who delivered newspapers and waited tables was probably in fairly good shape. Something had taken Nancy Marino before her time and the nosy reporter in me was curious as to what.

By the time I was done reading her obit a second time, I had concluded that the newspaper she had once faithfully delivered ought to do something more to memorialize her passing. Most of our obits are relatively short items, written by funeral home directors, who are following an established formula. But each day, our newspaper picks one person and expounds on their living and dying in a full-length article. Sometimes it's a distinguished citizen. Sometimes it's a person who achieved local fame at some point, for reasons good or ill.

Sometimes it's a Nancy Marino, an ordinary person who spent her life serving others—whether it was with newspapers or coffee refills—and whose presence had graced the world for far too brief a time.

© Brad Parks

 

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

2 0 1 2 Author Appearances 

 

For the full list visit Brad's website here: http://www.bradparksbooks.com/events.php

Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 pm
World Premier Party with Friends of the Essex Public Library
Hobbs Hole Restaurant
Tappahannock, VA
$35 per person with wine pairing and hors d'oeuvres
Reservations required: (804) 443-4451 

Wednesday, March 14, 7 pm
Barnes & Noble
Clifton, NJ 

 

Sunday, March 18, 2 pm
Barnes & Noble
Springfield, NJ 

 

Wednesday, March 21, 4 pm
Carrot Tree Restaurant
Yorktown, VA
Reservations required: (757) 988-1999 

 

March 23-24
Virginia Festival of the Book
Charlottesville, VA 

Sunday, March 25
Barnes & Noble
Reston, VA 

March 29-April 1
Left Coast Crime
Sacramento, CA 

 

Tuesday, April 3
Janet Rudolph's Literary Salon
San Francisco, CA
Special appearance with Hilary Davidson
For directions contact: janet@mysteryreaders.org 

Thursday, April 5, 2 pm
Velma Teague Library
Glendale, AZ 

 

Tuesday, April 10, 7 pm
Barnes & Noble
Newport News, VA 

 

April 14-15
Murder 203
Easton Public Library
Easton, CT 

 

Wednesday, April 18, 7 pm
Barnes & Noble
Ithaca, NY 

Wednesday, April 25, noon
New Jersey State Library
Trenton, NJ 

Saturday, April 28, 1 pm
Atlee Library
Mechanicsville, VA 

Friday, May 4, TBD
Rappahannock Community Library
Warsaw, VA 

 

Saturday, May 19
Gaithersburg Book Festival
Gaithersburg, MD 

Tuesday, May 22, 7 pm
Books Alive!
Northumberland Library
Heathsville, VA 

June 22-24
Crested Butte Writers Conference
Crested Butte, CO 

Monday, Sept. 24
Ridgefield Park Library
Ridgefield Park, NJ 

Oct. 4-7
Bouchercon 2012
Cleveland, OH 

 

Nov. 9-11
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego
Muskego Public Library Muskego, WI 

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

[ Edited ]

 

The Scoop is the Official Newsletter of The Carter Ross Fan Club. Due to plunging advertising revenues and rising production costs, the majority of the staff has been laid off and replaced by the underpaid, overworked interns atBradParksBooks.com. They do their best to provide updates on the comings and goings of author Brad Parks and his fictional hero, Carter Ross. But they also spend a lot of time watching YouTube, so we can't vouch for the quality. 

Sign up here! 

 Read the latest newsletters: 

Vol. 1, No. 1 (5/09)
Vol. 1, No. 2 (7/09)
Vol. 1, No. 3 (9/09)
Vol. 1, No. 4 (11/09)
Vol. 1, No. 5 (12/09)
Vol. 1, No. 6 #2 (12/09)
Vol. 1, No. 7 (1/10)
Vol. 1, No. 8 (4/10)
Vol. 1, No. 9 (6/10)
Vol. 1, No. 10 (8/10)
Vol. 1, No. 11 (10/10)
Vol. 1, No. 12 (12/10)
Vol. 2, No. 1 (1/11)
Vol. 2, No. 2 (2/11)
Vol. 2, No. 3 (3/11)
Vol. 2, No. 4 (4/11)
Vol. 2, No. 5 (10/11)
Vol. 2, No. 6 (11/11)

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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

[ Edited ]
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

[ Edited ]

A recent blog visit:

 

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2012/03/brad-parksthe-uhgirl-next-door.html

 

Jungle Red

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 2012

Brad Parks...the, uh...girl next door

 
ROSEMARY HARRIS: It takes a very confident man to send to the internet for publication all over the known universe a picture of himself wearing a tiara and what can only be described - kindly - as a childlike grin. But that's Brad Parks, chick magnet, charm personified. Women want him and men want to be him. (Or do women want to be him?) We decided - for the sake of his children that we wouldn't post the picture of him in his tutu. Take it away, Brad!

BRAD PARKS: This is normally the place in a guest blog where the writer expresses his thanks for having been invited, but I gotta be honest: You JungleRed chicks ought to be thanking me. Because today I am going to share with you and your readers my hard-earned secrets about book marketing and promotion.1
I call it: How to Make The New York Times Bestseller List Without Even Trying.2 It includes tips and techniques that people like that Julio Spicer-Flemmish girl will never be able to tell you about, because she just doesn’t “get it” like I do.3
Being as I don’t want to slow down my genius by having to “show my work,” I have tasked my interns, those hard-working kids at BradParksBooks.com, to do my “footnoting” for me.4
Now, why should you trust my instincts on this subject? Well, for one, pre-orders for my
forthcoming work, The Girl Next Door, are approaching 100 million, making it the bestselling mystery novel of all time.5 And, hell, just look at me: I’m a privileged white male who always wears a nice blazer.6 I’m like a Republican Presidential candidate. And everyone trusts them, right?
 
Okay, so now that you realize my advice is beyond reproach, let’s begin with the good news: If you’re just starting out in this game, you’ll find it’s easy to get people to plunk down $24.99 for an author they’ve never heard of, because it’s sort of like gambling, which everyone likes.
What reader wants to be safe and buy great Hank Phillippi Ryan novel when they can play the slot machines instead?7
Pull that lever, baby!
Still, you have to get yourself out there – for those odd moments when your publisher is between major media buys for your latest book – and when you do, all you have to remember is to BUZZ Your Book8, where BUZZ stands for:

B. As in BE late for book-signings! After all, authors are cool. And there’s nothing like a fashionably late arrival to make you look like the coolest author in the history of ever.9 Also, it shows booksellers how little you need them. It’ll make them try harder to win your affections.10

U. As in UNDERRATE libraries. That guy who called library users the welfare bums of the literary world? Right on, brother! I mean, seriously, they buy one book and then they let all those people read it for free?!? What good is that?11

Z. As in ZUSE, Konrad. This German engineer created the world’s first programmable automated binary computing device.12 And you know exactly why Konrad Zuse invented the computer: So people could post buy-my-book Amazon links on the Facebook walls of everyone they know at least once a month!13

Z. As in ZETA, as in blow most of your marketing budget to hire Catherine Zeta-Jones to star in your over-produced book trailer.14

These and other concepts are given further rumination in a book I wrote called Market or Lye15, the main point of which is that authors should use homemade soap to carve figurines of their main characters, and then give them away as swag at Malice Domestic. It also gives helpful hints about Twitter (which good for long-form narratives and essays); Skyping with book clubs (they can’t see you, so you don’t have to wear clothes!); blatant self-promotion (it’s what the MWA listserv was invented for, right?); and how to find your niche (Earth to Rosemary Harris: why do you keep trying to market your books to garden clubs, babe?16).
 
As a bonus, the book’s appendix includes templates for dirty limericks that will make your next novel a sure-fire winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award! I think you’re beginning to understand why Patterson and Grisham begged me to be in a club with them called The Three Marketeers – we wear feathers in our hair and everything17 – and why my books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List for a record 390 consecutive weeks.18
I also give seminars in guest blogging, which I’m super good at. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask that Julio girl. She’ll tell you.19



NOTES:

1. Brad suffered a severe blow to the head this morning. He has been talking nonsensically ever since. We’d take him to the hospital but this is more fun.

2. This from a guy who hasn’t made the bestseller list. And, trust us, it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

3. It’s Julia Spencer-Fleming. And unlike Brad, she actually has made the New York Times Bestseller List.

4. We have no idea why Brad is suddenly putting so many things in quotes. But hopefully we’ll get him to “stop.”

5. Brad has his book confused with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

6. Yes, and the local prep school wants its jacket back.

7. It’s Phillippi. And did we mention it was a severe blow to the head?

8. Oh, God. M.J. Rose is gonna sue.

9. This is also a great way to get people to want to burn your book before you ever get a chance to sign it.

10. When they’re not throwing darts at the author photo on your dust jacket.

11. It’s called building an audience and it’s… oh, never mind. Maybe someone should
get him some Tylenol?

12. This may be the one sentence in this entire post that isn’t, in some way, deeply flawed.

13. Better yet, get us some Tylenol.

14. And the moral of the story: Never try to build an acronym with two Z’s in it.

15. Jennifer Fusco: Please accept our most sincere apologies.

16. Because the main character is a gar… ahh, forget it.

17. Patterson and Grisham would die first.

18. And now he has himself confused with Danielle Steel.

19. We’re putting Brad to bed. Feel free to, uh, “comment” on his post (damnit! Now we’re over-using quotation marks!). 
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Please welcome BRAD PARKS!


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ReadingPatti
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Welcome, Brad, I hope that your visit here is a great one. I am going to look into reading some of your books. I am intrigued by the titles. They caught my attention.

 

How to your come up with them and what do you like about writing mysteries?

 

Again, welcome and have a great visit.

 

ReadingPatti

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eadieburke
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Welcome back Brad!

 

I've read FACES OF THE GONE and THE EYES OF THE INNOCENT and enjoyed them both! I will definitely have to check out THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and THE NIGHTGOWN!

 

Checked out your guest appearances. The closest to me would be Trenton NJ. Have to check out my schedule and see if I can make it.

 

Thanks again for visiting!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!


eadieburke wrote:

Welcome back Brad!

 

I've read FACES OF THE GONE and THE EYES OF THE INNOCENT and enjoyed them both! I will definitely have to check out THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and THE NIGHTGOWN!

 

Checked out your guest appearances. The closest to me would be Trenton NJ. Have to check out my schedule and see if I can make it.

 

Thanks again for visiting!


I've got The Nightgown on my Nook and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is on preorder. It comes out tomorrow so hopefully I'll have it before the end of the week!

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BradParks
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Re: Please Welcome Author BRAD PARKS!

Hey everyone! Good to be here.

 

Let's dive right in and, oh, ReadingPatti, can I tell you how much I struggle with titles? I think it's because, as a former newspaper reporter, I never had to think of the headlines (the copy desk always did that part).

 

Anyhow, I like to have my titles describe the victim (in this case "the girl next door" is the paper girl/waitress who gets killed in the first scene -- she is later described as "pretty in a girl next door kind of way"). So I send a long list of such titles to my editor at St. Martin's Press. She then throws it past the cabal of editors and marketing people who decide what they think sounds cool. And, voila, title. I'm mostly just relieved when the deciding part is over. I've very bad at cool. (I mean, just look how I dress).

 

As to what I like about writing mysteries? Gosh. What don't I like? I guess start with the obvious: I love storytelling. It's what got me into the journalism business long ago. And I've often thought that stories with crime in them are compelling -- they're certainly what I like to read, so it seemed natural to write them.

 

Brad