Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Storm Killer by Mike Jastrzebski

The Storm Killer Reviewed

Thriller and Suspense $2.99 79,000 words

For my first review, I chose a book I’d wanted to read since I heard about it at the Mystery Writers of America Sleuthfest this year. The Storm Killer is a book you should get to know if you love Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and those great black and white movies like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. Set in 1935, you get a good shot of noir in chapter one, with the narrator finding out not only that sister is dead, but the crooked detective investigating thinks he might have had something to do with it. Throw in his bootlegger buddy, and a guilty conscience about his brother-in-law’s suicide years earlier, and you’ve got the classic tough-guy crime story. By chapter two, with a funeral in the rain, an ex-flame, and his sister’s shrink hinting at unseen problems, you can almost hear Bogie, or John Garfield, telling you the story as he exhales the smoke of his Lucky Strike, and downs a shot of the hard stuff.

Mike Jastrzebski lives in Florida. His website, and a site shared with other nautical authors,, feature his input on writing eBooks, marketing, and living to sail. “So you want to quit your job, move onto a boat, and write” is the site’s byline. His second novel, Key Lime Blues, is now available at Smashwords for $2.99, and shows this thriller writer is no one-shot wonder.

I asked Mike some questions:

You use a 1935 setting, and characters like Ernest Hemingway appear. Who is the main character and what happens to him in this setting?

Mike: The main character is Jim Locke, a newspaper reporter whose sister is murdered. When he becomes the prime suspect, Jim begins his own investigation, which tales him from the bawdy barrooms of Manhattan to laid-back Key West.

How long did you work on this novel and what help were you able to get?

Mike: Two years. I did four or five rewrites, and my writers group was extremely helpful. All the members are published writers. They are Christine Kling, Neil Plakcy, Miriam Auerbach, and Sharon Potts.

Your blog and website feature sailing and the sea. Tell us about that.

Mike: My wife and I live on a sailboat which we sailed down the inland river system from Minnesota seven years ago. We’ve lived aboard in Mobile, Alabama and Key West and now in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Next year we plan to take the boat on an extended cruise of the Caribbean.

For someone looking to publish at Smashwords, what would you advise, now that you have two books out?

Mike: Write the best book you can, find some reliable readers to vet the book, and then go through it again and again looking for spelling and grammatical errors. Also, if you want sales, you need to be prepared to market your book. If you just put it out there and do nothing, you can expect nothing.

It seems like Indie authors are able to get by with smaller goals than traditional NYC print authors. A book’s success is not determined by gigantic numbers. What do you think?

Mike: I agree but I think all writers hope to have a bestseller. I want people to read my books---the more who read them, the better I feel about my work.

I don’t use a 5-star system or anything like that. I appreciate books I can read beginning to end and feel good about, and dislike books that make it seem like the writer has wasted my time. I truly enjoyed The Storm Killers, and found myself thinking of it last night as I watched Treasure of Sierra Madre on PBS. There’s something about a gritty black and white crime story, and what can be better than a good eBook for less than three bucks?

I recommend everyone buy The Storm Killers by Mike Jastrzebski and start following the rise of this Smashwords writer. You are welcome to comment. And please, remember to put up your own review on the book’s Smashwords page.

Neil Crabtree


The Winner

Kristen Tsetsi was the only one to spot the error in the earlier post, so she wins today's Grand Prize. She will be the first guest reviewer to Smashwords Books Reviewed. Check out her website:
and see all the great things this lady has going on.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What Smashwords Authors Need To Do

To get your Smashwords book reviewed, do this: email me the manuscript as a Word doc or PDF. Include in the body of your email a bio and anything cool about yourself or your work. Tell me the genre, the plot, whether or not it's a series or single, what you want me to be sure to notice, what books you feel are similar, and anything else that will help me convey to our readers what makes your book special. Ordinary reviews don't do this, but I know how hard it is to market your own product. When you take out a full page ad in the Sunday Times Book Review, you'll end up doing the same thing.

Tell me your websites and blogs and provide links. Give me the link to your book and your author profile at Smashwords. If you have multiple books, let me know how they relate to the one we'll review.

Use my email: to send all this. If you have other reviews, send the links to those as well. I don't mean the Amazon links. I mean from other blogs, mags, newspapers, etc. The problem I've seen with some books is they have great reviews that Smashwords doesn't allow because they're not from buyers.
We will work with Smashwords to make sure your review is available. Smashwords is very good about helping its authors, so I see no problem there.

Go over the list: manuscript, bio, website links, Smashwords page links, plot summary, word count, selling price, author's other books, maybe a photo, anything else that will help.

I don't guarantee I'll like your book. But for some genres, I will ask for guest reviewers with more experience. The readers are the best reviewers, the folks that buy the books. Let's work together to get them to share this experience.

And at some point, the reviewed get to be the reviewer, and put me through the process. Telling the truth will make us both laugh.

Get to it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Smashword Authors

Every day dozens of new titles appear at by emerging indie authors as well as established writers looking for a new venue. Mark Coker and his team have created a website that truly revolutionizes publishing, offering a free and easy way to reach readers who need digital books for their Apple, Sony, Barnes&Noble, Droid and other mobile eReaders. Smashwords even allows downloads to PCs in RTF, PDF or Plain Text formats, giving home readers a way to increase font size and accessibility.

I publish at Smashwords and have been very happy with the service and response. What I see a serious need for is this: a blog that reviews books the way several blogs review Kindle books.
I will offer the author a chance to display the cover art, answer questions about the book, give the link to purchase and the price point. I will provide a brief review of the book itself, which will include genre, target audience, and quality of writing and formatting.

If you have a book published at and would like it reviewed here, email me at It will remain private, and will not be open to the public.