If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interview Schedule
8/7 Rhys Bowen Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
8/14 Heather Gilbert Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
8/21 Lynn Chandler Willis Tell Me No Secrets
8/28 Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice
8/31 Bernard Schaffer An Unsettled Grave

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/3 M. S. Spencer, 8/10 Zaida Alfaro

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

James Montgomery Jackson

This winter, I interviewed all WWK bloggers about their WIPs. A former WWK blogger and a bridge master, James Montgomery Jackson’s book was released last month by Master Point Press, titled One Trick At A Time : How to Start Winning at Bridge. Jim, of course, is also a mystery writer. I wanted to interview him about the publication of his bridge book and his fiction. Please welcome Jim back to WWK. E.B. Davis 

Welcome back, Jim. Master Point Press released your first bridge book last month. It took a little over a year from when you received notice of its acceptance. How did the publishing process go?

Actually, it was over a year and a half between signing the contract and publication! I was originally scheduled for Fall 2011, but it got pushed back to Spring 2012. While the delay was a bit frustrating because I had planned some bridge tournaments to go with an autumnal launch, I am very pleased with the final result, which was much improved by the editing process.

The process of nonfiction publishing is different than it is for fiction. Had you submitted a proposal for your book to publishers? Did you have a detailed outline? Or had you finished the book before submitting proposals to publishers?

Normally for nonfiction you submit a proposal that includes a synopsis, table of contents, target audience analysis, marketing plan and a sample chapter. I waited until I had a complete book before I put together my proposal. I checked all my bridge books to see who the publishers were and Master Point Press kept coming up. I sent the proposal by mail and a few days later received an email request for the rest of the manuscript.

Does Master Point Press help authors promote their books? Do you think that nonfiction promotion is any different than it is for fiction?

The key to any creative promotion is platform. Nonfiction has an advantage over fiction, or art for that matter, in that the subject matter helps define the platform. In my case, since I am not one of the Grand Poobahs of bridge, my platform is essentially that I wrote the book I wished I had read when I was an Intermediate/Novice bridge player. The fact that I am now a Silver Life Master demonstrates I moved past the I/N ranks.
Master Point Press takes care of getting reviews and placing ads in the American Contract Bridge League’s monthly magazine. (I was pleased to see my book advertised on the inside front cover of the March magazine.)

Will you promote your book at tournaments in which you compete?

There are two audiences for promoting One Trick at a Time. The first is to bridge players directly. I’ve arranged to be a speaker at several upcoming tournaments. Before the evening games, tournaments often offer a 20-30 minute mini-lesson by a “celebrity.” I have several lessons I have developed, and I use them to teach something useful and also to illustrate my self-deprecating sense of humor. If they like the lesson, they’ll like the book.

The other important group of influencers is bridge teachers who recommend books for their students. I was scheduled to attend the American Bridge Teachers Association meeting in March, but my wife was hospitalized, so I had to cancel. Maybe next year.

You are obviously a game player. Has using strategy helped you in life? Has it helped in writing mystery?

Those are interesting questions. There is a branch of mathematics based on game theory that I would love to say helped me have a successful business career, but that would be something of a large stretch. I think the proverb that “all work and no play makes Jack(son) a dull boy” has been useful for me to keep in mind in both life and in my writing. When I have come to a problem (work, life or writing) taking a break and playing a game allows my brain to mull things over without pressure and come up with a solution on its own.

The other thing I should mention is that early on, playing games taught me that regardless of innate talent, the taxicab driver’s line about the way to Carnegie Hall being “practice, practice, practice,” applies to anything I want to do well, and that includes writing.

BAD POLICY, for which you won the Evan Marshall Fiction Makeover Contest last year, is the first in your Seamus McCree series. What is the hook of this series?

Each book has a mystery/suspense as its plot line, but I wrote the Seamus McCree novels to explore values. Seamus McCree is a decent and nonviolent person, albeit a bit odd. In Bad Policy Seamus must wrestle with his inner demons when his family is threatened.

Is Seamus a game player?

Yes, but more as backstory than as a major character trait. It comes up from time-to-time in repartee between Seamus and his son, Paddy.

And about that setting…is there any reason you chose it?

Bad Policy has two main sets: The greater Cincinnati area and Boston. Boston gave roots to the man (and the story) and Cincinnati reflects his maturity (staid Midwesterner). Oh, and I happened to live in Cincinnati at the time I started writing the Seamus McCree novels.

Have you queried the BAD POLICY manuscript?

I spent over a year trying to find an agent. I am ramping up to try small presses.

What is the sequel to BAD POLICY?

Cabin Fever is the next Seamus McCree novel. It is set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seamus is a Good Samaritan and it naturally goes downhill from there until he solves the mystery. It is just about ready to query agents.

Any other books in your future, fiction or nonfiction?

I started a dystopian novel set in the late 21st century that explores a world in which corporations are the government. I had about 30,000 words written when I realized I had started the story in the wrong place and that I needed to understand the world I was creating a bit better before going back to it. I’m looking forward to working on that this summer.

I also started an “over-the-shoulder” book of bridge problems for Intermediates. I’ve been teaching a lot of classes and enjoy that more than writing the book, so it’s on hold for now.

And I have a large file of short story ideas…

I’m hoping reincarnation is feasible…


E. B. Davis said...

I have to admit, Jim, when I first wrote questions for this interview I thought the bridge book was actually your second published on this subject since I thought your first book had been released. What took so long?

Warren Bull said...

Welcome back James,

I've started your book and I find it logical, easy to follow for the weekend player, and helpful. It's gets right to the point.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Welcome back, James. Your books sound fascinating!

Gloria Alden said...

Your mysteries sound quite interesting. Although, I've always enjoyed playing cards, bridge is a game I've never played. Maybe someday.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

EB, Master Point Press is the world's largest publisher of bridge books, but even so, they only publish three times a year and usually three books each time--so 9 or 10 books a year.

Consequently, they plan well in advance so originally my target was about 15 months from when I signed the contract. That later got pushed one publication date for reasons that Master Point Press didn't share with me.

These days with self-published books becoming more common, we often forget the long lead times of traditional publishers.

~ Jim

James Montgomery Jackson said...


Glad you are enjoying the book. So far I've gotten all good comments from the folks who have let me know what they think.

That may have a statistical bias since if someone thinks it sucks, they may not take the time to tell me!

~ Jim

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Linda & Gloria,

Thanks for your comments on my mysteries. I've just started sending Bad Policy to publishers this week so we'll see what happens there.

Gloria -- there are lots of bridge clubs that teach beginning bridge should you ever decide to dip your toe into those waters.

~ Jim