Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Empty Promises by James M. Jackson - Book Tour and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If you love the suspense and plot twists of domestic thrillers, this page-turner will be for you. Seamus McCree’s first solo bodyguard assignment goes from bad to worse. His client disappears. His granddog finds a buried human bone. Police find a fresh human body.

His client is to testify in a Chicago money laundering trial. He’s paranoid that with a price on his head, if the police know where he’s staying, the information will leak. Seamus promised his business partner and lover, Abigail Hancock, that he’d keep the witness safe at the McCree family camp located deep in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s woods.

Abigail is furious at his incompetence and their relationship flounders. Even his often-helpful son, Paddy, must put family safety ahead of helping his father. Seamus risks his own safety and freedom to turn amateur sleuth in hopes he can solve the crimes, fulfill his promise of protection, and win back Abigail. Wit and grit are on his side, but the clock is ticking . . . and the hit man is on his way.


“Silver-tongued even as a kid. Comin back, he wore his money loud. Rentin a million-dollar spread on Chicaugon Lake. Sportin an Amasa bumper sticker on his brandy-new Escalade SUV was kinda rubbin everyone’s nose in it, wouldn’t you say? I know he tried callin some of the folks he knew, and they wasn’t much interested in seein him, ’cept a few of the guys who thought maybe they could hit him up for a job. My daughter, Jenny, and her husband turned down his offer to buy them dinner. You got me talkin, Seamus, and I don’t remember what your question was. I didn’t get my nap this afternoon, and I’m feelin beat.”

“I’m not even sure I had one, and I don’t have the excuse of having a piano key for every birthday either. You want to stay here tonight rather than drive to town?”

“Oh, hell no. I woulda kept drinkin if I was gonna do that. I’m off. You give me a call first thing if Elliot shows. Otherwise, I’ll give Pete Bjork a holler, let him decide whether to call the sheriff.”

“Can I ask one more favor? Can you drop me near where I left my other ATV? I’ll walk in the rest of the way and bring it home.”

Owen produced a large yawn. “Roger Wilco that.”

What, Patrick wondered, did Owen mean using the name of the main character of the Space Quest science-fiction computer games he had discovered twenty years ago at a church rummage sale? A janitor with a quest for “truth, justice and really clean floors” didn’t seem to fit at all.

Guest Post

Tightening a Manuscript

In the writers’ class I teach on revision and self-editing, I encourage students to start with the largest issues (plot, characters, points of view) and only when those are finished work to polish the language. If you worry about the small stuff first, the time spent polishing may be wasted when that scene or character ends on the cutting room floor.

Once we think we are done polishing a manuscript, but before the final proofread, you should check for author’s blind spot word usage.

Blind spot words

Blind spot words are ones we have missed in our earlier rewriting. Some we read through without noticing they are duplicative (shrugging her shoulders—try shrugging a knee). We need to take the ax to flabby modifiers (almost, nearly, completely, finally, totally, absolutely, literally). Filler words (just, so, of course, as you know [then why am I telling you?]) must be excised when they have no real purpose. The list goes on, but they have one thing in common: I find them difficult to spot in my own writing without taking extraordinary measures. (These same issues often stick out in someone else’s manuscript.)

Compile your unique list of potential issues

I started with a generic list of words and phrases. With more than a decade of experience, I’ve personalized the list to incorporate my bugaboos. Every novel generates a few additions to my list. The good news is that over the years, I’ve learned to spot some of the problems much earlier and am no longer troubled by them.

If you would like to have a copy of my current bugaboos, shoot me an email [] and I’ll send it to you.

Stage directions

Doing a search on words like began, started, turned, and finally is a shortcut way for me to catch stage directions in the form of a series of sentences that began when the point-of-view (POV) character started walking onto the scene, turned a corner, and then marched down a long hallway filled with description and no action before finally entering a room where (hopefully) something interesting happens.

Telling, not showing

Other phrases suggest my writing is telling rather than showing: I felt, I looked, I watched, I heard, I saw, I listened (replace “I” with “he,” which also catches “she” for third person POVs).

Indirect action

Phrases such as going to, planning to, and trying to are often indicative of two-step processes in which only the later one counts. Here’s a made-up example: “After trying to call Abigail and having to leave a message, I planned to give my son, Paddy, a call and see what he knew.

When I called him I discovered that. . . “I called Abigail, was forced to leave a message, but had better luck getting my son, Paddy, on the phone. “What do you know about . . .” [Thirty-two wandering-in-the-woods-waiting-to-spot-a-bear words become twenty-five direct words.]

How much of a difference can this make? For me, a lot. Working though my list for one of my novels allowed me to eliminate more than four percent of the words. For perspective, that means a 300-page book shrinks to 288 pages. Twelve pages of bloat no longer slowing down the story.

I realize many authors and their copy editors must not think that process is necessary. Reading published books, I find numerous examples of characters who nod their heads (again, try nodding a knee), kneel down (kneel up anyone?), tell me in paragraph one what they plan to do and then do it in paragraph two. It drives me crazy.

What about you, what excess verbiage takes you out of a story?

About the Author

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series consisting of five novels and one novella. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s Lowcountry. He claims the moves between locations are weather-related, but others suggest they may have more to do with not overstaying his welcome. He is the past president of the 700+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. You can find information about Jim and his books at You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and/or Amazon.

James M. Jackson will be awarding the chance to name a character who will appear in FALSE BOTTOM (Seamus McCree #6) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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