Tom Fowler

Mystery and Thriller Writer

Category: Things I Wrote

My Series is Open-Ended

I’ve had a couple readers reach out to me and ask why the C.T. Ferguson mystery series is ending.

Short answer: it’s not.

Longer answer: it’s an open-ended series. I just released the fifth book, Daughters and Sons. Amazon displays this is “book 5 of 5.”

The reason is because Amazon only knows about five books.

D&S Cover
It’s 5 of 5 and 5 of x.

I recently sent the draft for the sixth book to my editor. And I have at least plots for the following three. This gets us to nine in the series, and this is only counting novels. I also have a plot for another novella, which would be the fourth.

Not counting box sets (and the subscriber-only prequel Hong Kong Dangerous), that’s thirteen titles in the series. Like I said, though, it’s open-ended. So long as people enjoy the books and want to read them, I plan to keep writing them.

C.T. has many adventures ahead of him. The series isn’t ending anytime soon. If you enjoy the books, I hope you’ll stick around.

Writing a Novella

Not every idea germinating in a writer’s mind is a novel. Some are short stories. One that gets trapped between those two is a novella.

Novellas don’t get a lot of love. Everyone wants to write novels. Readers want to read novels. Some writers will put out a collection of short stories (which I’ve done). Not many will write novellas. I think there’s some unexplored space here.

I think part of the reason we don’t get a lot of novellas is pricing. A lot of traditionally published paperbacks are $9.99. Where do you price a novella? Many are about half the length of full novels, but will the publisher and author make money on a $4.99 book? Probably not. What about $6.99? Would readers think that price is too high for half a novel? This is another advantage for independent authors, in my opinion. If a full novel is $3.99 or $4.99, it’s easy to price a novella at $2.99. The author still makes money, and readers don’t feel like they’re paying too much.

A few days ago, I finished a novella. My goal was 30,000 words, and it checks in just under that. What’s that? You’d like to see the cover? Sure thing!

Confessional novella cover

This novella began its life as a short story. In fact, it was the first short story I wrote featuring my private investigator protagonist C.T. Ferguson. I’ll be honest: the story wasn’t very good. What it did, however, was start me on the road to finding C.T.’s voice, both as a character and a narrator. This novella is a lot different than the original short story, and I think it’s a lot better.

My process was similar to writing a full novel. I start with the story idea, usually know who did it, and know how I want the book to begin and end. Then I make a brief outline, setting out my expected number of chapter and how I think the story will progress over them. It never works out the way I outline it, but my system (if we can call it that) is flexible enough to add, remove, and shift events around. My full mystery novels check in somewhere in the 70,000-75,000 word range. The Confessional is around 29,000 words.

Here’s something that may surprise you: I’m not selling this book. It’s a giveaway, exclusively to readers who have signed up for my mailing list. I’m going to keep doing novellas this way. Each will be set between novels, so this one takes place between The Reluctant Detective and the still-unnamed second novel. Spoiler alert: C.T. survives the first novel, but because this is a series, you probably figured he would.

Now I’m on the hunt for ideas that are compelling but wouldn’t make a full novel. A writer’s work is never done, and we prefer it that way.

What do you think about novellas? Their pricing? Hit me up with questions or comments.

To get your free copy of The Confessional, in your ebook format of choice, sign up here.

-Tom

Pro Bono is Now on Amazon!

A couple weeks ago, I started circulating a set of three short stories to introduce prospective readers to C.T. Ferguson, my private investigator protagonist. Two days ago, I put it up on Amazon. It’s in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s free if you have that. Here’s the cover (it looks better in higher resolution, I promise):

Pro Bono cover

The Amazon US link is right here.

I had been giving away Pro Bono to anyone who signed up for my mailing list. Now, with the stories on Amazon, I’m giving something else away. Today, I started offering the first chapter of the upcoming novel The Reluctant Detective, plus bios of the major and minor characters. You can preview the book and learn about the characters before it goes for sale. If you’re interested in this, click the “Get Free Stuff” link near the top of the home page.

The Reluctant Detective is now in editing. I expect to release it to the electronic world around late June to early July. The inexact timeframe is due to a complicating factor: we expect to be moving. Pending good inspections and appraisals, we’ll settle on a new house in a month and move in over the next couple weeks. If my wife follows the pattern of our wedding, she will give me the hairy eyeball if I sit down and work on something other than The Task. So, in the interests of hairy eyeball avoidance, I can’t say exactly when the book will come out. But figure sometime in six to eight weeks.

In the coming weeks, I have some interesting blog posts coming, including looking at great first lines of mystery/thriller writers, and writeups on interesting detective characters from TV. And I might throw in a book review or two. If you have a favorite first line from a mystery or thriller novel, email it to me or tweet it at me.

Happy writing (and reading).

Free Short Stories!

Years ago, Guns n’ Roses said, “I put the pen to the paper ’cause it’s all a part of me.” We’ve moved on from pen and paper in the intervening years, but I did the 21st-Century equivalent and put electronic words onto a screen. I kept up the modernity and assembled those words into a short story set. It contains three short stories, designed to introduce you to the world of unconventional private investigator C.T. Ferguson.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Pro Bono cover

The cover looks a lot better in high-resolution. Shrinking it to make it not dominate this post reduced the quality a little. Anyway, the set of short stories is free, and is now available for download in .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats. You can go HERE to find out how to snag your copy.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Self, what makes C.T. Ferguson an unconventional PI?” It’s a few things, really. First, as you may have deduced from the cover image, C.T. is more of a hacker than a detective. He thinks he can do most of his work in the pale glow of a computer screen. Most of his cases will prove him wrong (to varying degrees). Another thing that sets C.T. apart from his PI brethren is that he doesn’t charge his clients. How does he make his living? You can read the answers to those and other questions in the short stories, and in the upcoming novel The Reluctant Detective. Right now, it’s being professionally edited. Look for it sometime toward the end of June, on Amazon and other popular ebook sellers.

This story set will be available on Amazon soon. Right now, you can get it for free. Here’s the download link again: right here.

When it’s available, I hope you’ll go and leave a review. And I hope you enjoy C.T.’s cases.

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