Never underestimate the value of a good editor.

I was speaking with friend tonight, and he mentioned that one of my editors had helped him look smart. I cannot agree more. My editors make me look like a (relative, given what they have to work with) genius. There is no amount of praise you can give your editors that is not deserved (given even marginal skill on their part).

My book, Into the Fire would not be anything like as good as it is without the help of both my editors. I give them credit for this in the book, but it was brought to mind again this evening. And bears repeating (and they are both well above marginal skill).

If you don’t use a good editor, you should. And you should pretty much accept what they tell you. They want to make your book better as much as you do. And they will. If you listen.

I have come to believe that to have a best seller, you have to have luck. But, without a good book, all the luck in the world won’t help much. How do you get a good book? Well, practice, certainly, and a good idea, sure, and understanding of your genre, of course. But really, a good cover for many of those things (and a way to achieve some of those things): a good editor.

Can’t afford one? Really? Can you afford not to have one?


No, not the little things you add to a salad or have with anchovies.

I thought I would give some thoughts on what a Caper is. Some of my friends have convinced me my books would more properly be categorized as capers, so, what does that mean?

I’ll start with some examples (like a picture for the mind; worth a thousand words)

Mission Impossible (the TV series, not the movies) is built around the caper.

Leverage (the TV series) is based on a series of capers.

Burn Notice (again, a TV series) is based on the team doing capers.

Older versions of the the theme include (TV Shows like) Switch, It Takes a Thief (though, arguably, the movie is as well), The Thomas Crown Affair (though you might be able to debate either movie).

I note that many (most, but not quite all) of the things I reference are television shows. I guess that shows how my mind works, and what kinds of things have influenced me. Maybe it also shows that books more rarely delve into this genre.

Movies do though. The Thomas Crown Affair is not a solo here. I would include Ocean’s Eleven (and the subsequent movies) in this genre.

Now, definitionally, I would say a caper shares elements with a mystery or a thriller. For example, Where Eagles Dare, Force 10 from Navarone, and maybe Ice Station Zebra (all books by Alistair Maclean) would nominally be classed as thrillers. However, if they all shared the same characters doing the tasks listed, they might be classed capers.

The central thing to a caper story is some plot element where the group of heroes (and I think it is necessary for it to be a group) take on some odd task to deal with a bad guy (or agency, or corporation, or whatever) in some interesting and clever way in which the “mystery” part has to do with the way the lion will be bearded in its den rather than not knowing who the bad guy (or whatever) is.

The Odd Jobs Mysteries are somewhat like Mission Impossible, but with less meaningful glances.

They are a bit like Leverage, but less zany.

They are something like Burn Notice, but with less guns and bombs.

So, there it is. Capers.


More updates

Put this on amazon’s facebook, but not here yet.

My plan for this year is to write 2 more in the odd jobs mysteries series. I am about 20,000 words (60+ pages) into the first. The title is A Dollar Short. It is a continuation from the first book, Into The Fire, and continues with many of the characters, from the point of view of Cameron.

The third book is as yet untitled, and I hope to be working on it by mid-year.

At the suggestion of a friend, I may also try my hand at at short story this year, for more traditional publication (maybe Analog, maybe Ellery Queen, maybe Hitchcocks, maybe somewhere else). We’ll see. He had a great story idea that really caught my imagination.

Anyway (which, BTW, means something like “bullshit”).