Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trailer for Small Crimes

Small Crimes, based on my 2008 novel of the same name, is premiering March 11th at the SWSX festival, and will be available through Netflix starting April 28th.

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Publishing day for DERANGED

Other news, the latest Julius Katz mystery story 'Cramer in Trouble' is in the current March/April issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My one and only reading/signing event for DERANGED

 “A fascinating and exciting blend of misdirection, topsy-turvy, and violence.” —Reed Farrel Coleman
“A dark and different serial killer novel that will haunt the reader long after the book is closed.” —John Lutz
“Los Angeles has seldom seen such grisly fun. It’s James Ellroy meets Alfred Hitchcock on the psychotic side of the street.” —Paul Levine

“One of the most compelling, thrilling, and truth be told, at times look-away-from-page-frightening serial killer novels I've read in a long, long time.” —Vincent Zandri

Where: Brookline Booksmith (Brookline MA)
When: March 7th, 7 PM

This will be my one and only reading/signing event for DERANGED. I hope folks can make it--I'll also be talking about seeing my book SMALL CRIMES made into a movie (and which will be premiering at SXSW Festival).

If you can't make it, but would like a signed copy, you can order it in advance by contacting Brookline Booksmith.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Building an author's website using Wordpress

Like a lot of people 10 years ago I had built my html website using FrontPage and then later Microsoft Expression, but with a movie (Small Crimes) and a new thriller series coming out next year, I bit the bullet and built a new website using Wordpress. The advantages of using Wordpress are signficant:

1) Building a more professional and attractive looking website
2) using Wordpress's free resources to make your site SEO compliant.
3) Building a site that is also mobile friendly.
4) Building a site that is FAR easier to maintain and change!
5) Easily integrating a blog into your site.

There is so much more more you can do with Wordpress than that, such as integrate with MailChimp and build an Internet store. What I mention above is just the tip of the iceberg, and what I've focused on so far.

I was able to learn Wordpress in about a week by using the following resources:

Wordpress for Beginners--Master Wordpress Quickly -- this is a 20 hour online course I found on The instructor, Andrew Williams, is very good, and he covers all the nuts and bolts of building a website from scratch, including a lot of useful plugins, and other very useful information. Using Wordpress is very different than using a tool like FrontPage, very much a paradigm shift, and an online course like this one should be a prerequisite. I really like's platform.

One you learn the basics, there are two major pieces that you want to dive into -- Visual Composer and Revolution Slider.

Visual Composer is a tool for building your website pages, and once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use. There are a lot of free youtube video tutorials for it, and I recommend finding tutorials from WPTuts -- here's a good one to start with:

Revolution Slider is what you use to build those cool animated slideshows for your website. This is a pretty good 2-hour tutorial:

This should give you most of the training you need to start working with Wordpress. Before you start building your website, you should make sure your hosting company provides necessary Wordpress support, including getting Wordpress free. Sitelock, protection is something you're going to want. Also you're going to want a security certificate for your site (around $39 a year). And you want to make sure that they have trained Wordpress support people, because unlike FrontPage sites that use html files, Wordpress uses a database, and things can get messed up easily, especially when moving a site.

Wordpress sites are based on themes--these are both free and commercial. The themes give your Wordpress site a certain look and feel. It's probably very possible to build a good Wordpress site using a free theme, but the commercial ones are not very expensive (most under $100) and they're slick. I chose the Creativo theme ($59), and it comes bundled with Visual Composer + Slider Revolution.  Both of rhese can be bought independently as plugins, but the Creativo theme adds some nice bells and whistles to both.

There are free plugins for caching (W3 Total Cache), security, image compression (Compress JPEG & PNG images), fixing your website after adding a security certificate (Really Simple SSL -- a must!), and building an SEO Sitemap (Yoast SEO). There are many other free + commercial plugins for doing a lot of cool and necessary stuff, such as database backups, spammer protection, etc., and Andrew's course will point you to several of these.

One of several valuable resources Andrew's course pointed me to was This is a site for buying low cost ($1 - $5)  royalty-free photos, and they have a massive collection. This is where I got the police car and LA night scene photo for my home page slider, and the bull terrier for my about Jacob Stone page. An excellent resource for getting custom images designed is, which is a site where you solicit bids from professionals around the world. The image of my books as row houses, which is shown on my home page, was done by Mihaela Voicu, an extremely talented graphic artist from Romania, whom I connected with from One of the reasons I chose Mihaela was because of the stunning book covers she has designed (which are shown in her portfolio)--so I heartily recommend Mihaela not only for custom images, but any authors looking for book cover design.

After my crash course, it took me about 3 1/2 days to build my website https// , and it probably would've taken me 1 1/2 days if I didn't get hung up on stupid stuff.


1) When you buy a Wordpress theme, you might be offered an additional charge to have it installed on your website. I found that it was easy enough to do it myself.

2) Another added charge that was offered was to build the demo website that the theme shows. I don't see any point to that, and am guessing it would be far more work to take down all those pages than anything you'd get from it. Again, Wordpress is a different paradigm than FrontPage/HTML, and you probably won't get anything out of looking at those demo pages until you take the course and online tutorials that I mention above, and at that point, those demo pages would be unnecessary.

3) You'll need a security certificate so that your site runs over https. Your Wordpress site will show up malformed on some percentage of browsers out there without it. And once the certificate is installed you want to install and run the Really Simple SSL plugin to fix up your database.

4) Revolution Slider is not only very powerful, but incredibly easy to use once you learn it. One of the things I got hung up on was how to control the height of the slider because I kept missing the easy control that was provided. This is one of the things that each theme will do differently.

5) Mojo Marketplace suggested I build my Wordpress site under a temporary director and move it to my home site when ready. If possible, build it under your home site, otherwise you're going to have link issues once it's moved that are going to need a Wordpress expert to fix.

6) gives your all the steps needed to build a 3D book cover, like the one I show for Small Crimes on my home page slider.

I hope this helps authors (and others) to migrate from html and o the world of Wordpress,

Friday, September 9, 2016

A new Julius Katz story!

Well, really, a new Archie story.

I'm going to be transitioning from this blog, at least as far as writing news goes, and using the blog I created for my new website. You read more about this new story at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Who is this Jacob Stone guy?

Here is the first of my Morris Brick thrillers that Kensington Books will be publishing under my Jacob Stone pseudonym. The book will by out 3/7/2017, and here's some advanced praise:

“A fascinating and exciting blend of misdirection, topsy-turvy, and violence.” —Reed Farrel Coleman

“A dark and different serial killer novel that will haunt the reader long after the book is closed.” —John Lutz

“Los Angeles has seldom seen such grisly fun. It’s James Ellroy meets Alfred Hitchcock on the psychotic side of the street.” —Paul Levine

“One of the most compelling, thrilling, and truth be told, at times look-away-from-page-frightening serial killer novels I've read in a long, long time.” —Vincent Zandri

Advanced copies can be ordered now at Amazon and BN.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Small Crimes filming!

From Deadline Hollywood:

EXCLUSIVE: Two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom), Oscar nominee Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) along with Emmy nominees Gary Cole (Veep) and Molly Parker (House of Cards) have joined Game of Thrones’ actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in director E.L. Katz’s crime thriller, Small Crimes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My new crime thriller series, and how I got the deal

Last week I signed a contract with Kensington Publishing for a 3-book crime thriller series, the first of which will be titled DERANGED, published under the pseudonym Jacob Stone, and will be released 3/17. I'm thrilled to have Kensington publishing these books, and I'm especially proud of how I got this deal. Like a lot of writers (and for a number of reasons) I found myself in a position after having my 11th book published where it was going to be almost impossible to get any future books published unless a film got made. Now that SMALL CRIMES is being filmed this July hopefully I'll be able to get my best noir novel, MURDER CLUB published--a book that so far will only be published in Germany and which a Little Brown editor told me was the best crime novel he'd read in years but wouldn't be able to buy unless I had a movie made, as well a several other offstream horror books I've written that I feel rank up there with THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD.

So how did I get this deal with Kensington? Pretty much by deciding it was time I looked at it more as being a professional writer and writing what a publisher wanted as opposed to writing only the books I wanted to write. In 2012 at the Bouchercon conference in Cleveland, I got into a conversation with Michaela Hamilton, who is Editor in Chief at Kensington's Citadel line, and Michaela expressed an interest in publishing me. At the time I'd just had Monster published by Overlook Press, with The Boy Who Killed Demons to follow, and I also didn't know if I wanted to (or could) write a thriller series. All my books had so far been standalones, and I think you'd have to stretch the definition of what a thriller is to call any of my books thrillers. They were crime noir novels, horror novels, dark mixes of crime and horror, and even one allegorical fable. Still, though, I appreciated Michaela's interest, and I stored it away. 

So fast forward to 2015. It was looking more likely that I needed a film to go into production before I'd be able to sell any of the offstream standalone books I was writing. I had three books under film option, and while the film companies were working hard to get them made it wasn't something I could count on. So I had a choice--figure out a way to get published or give it up and go back to software development. I was also feeling better thanks to my Julius Katz mystery stories (most of them really novellas) that Ellery Queen was publishing (8 so far published, 4 more in the pipeline) that I could both write a series, and enjoy doing so. 

So I contacted Michaela to see if she was still interested in publishing me. She was, and I worked on a plot outline for the first book of a thriller series, something pretty wild involving a hunt by a number of spy agencies for missing Tesla papers that had a lot of action and some mindbending scifi elements to it, and Michaela explained the reality of the situation to me--that any thriller I write for them can't merge into other genres. So then it was a matter of nailing down which genre they publish that I should focus on. There wasn't much chance I was going to write cozies (my Julius Katz mysteries might be mostly bloodless and have a good amount humor, but there's a hard edge to them, and they're certainly not cozies!), so we narrowed it down to either a horror or crime thrillers. When I asked Michaela for a list of their books she thought I should read, her list was made up only of serial killer thrillers, so I took the hint. One of the books she recommended was Slaughter by John Lutz, and I quickly fell in love with the wit, humor, and quickness of his style and plotting. I read it in one long afternoon and night (400 something pages), read two more of his Frank Quinn series, and realized I could enjoy writing these types of books. Not a copy of his Frank Quinn series, but fun crime thrillers with a dark edge, lots of surprises and twists, dark humor and rapid-paced plots. So now that I knew what type of book and series I wanted to write, I worked on a profile for a detective/investigator that I would want to spend a series with (as well as his family, associates, and friends), an overarching theme for the series (Hollywood & the desire for stardom/notoriety will lurk under the surface for all the books), and a detailed outline for the first book.

Once I had all this done, I sent it to Michaela. She had some suggestions, but liked it a lot, and told me that this would be the kind of book she'd like to publish. While I couldn't get any more of a commitment than that, I set about writing this first book, and 3 months later had it written (roughly 90,000 words), and a 3-book deal quickly followed!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Small Crimes Film!

This is all very exciting. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau will be starring in Small Crimes, which will be filming this summer.

Variety announcing Small Crimes