Friday, July 29, 2011

Love for The Last Witness

Many thanks to Robert Carraher for the love he gives to The Last Witness in this review on

Here's part of what Rob has to say.

With prose that is as precise as the workings of a slot machine and dialog that is quick, biting, hardboiled and smart, Joel Goldman has crafted a masterpiece in this, the second Lou Mason book. The pace is unrelenting, the plot perfect as it twists through the frozen streets. The characters are realistic and excellently developed, and the story will pull you in like a gambling addiction. I warn you, don’t miss this book, newly rereleased in eBook format. But if you do get it you might as well preorder Cold Truth, the third book in the series.

Only my false modesty prevents me from including more. For that, you'll have to read the entire review!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rogue Elephants

David Barash is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who studies, among other things, conflict, aggression and revenge. He wrote a fascinating piece for the New York Times Op Ed page yesterday titled Washington's Rogue Elephants.

In his article, Barash talks about playing chicken, a classic game theory exercise in which two people drive their cars headlong at one another until one turns chicken and swerves away at the last instant. The winner is the one who didn't blink. The game works because at least one party plays by the rules, i.e., self-preservation is better than mutual destruction. The underlying assumption is that people are generally not crazy and that they will ultimately behave in a rational, predictable manner.

The game gets more interesting, and unpredictable, when one or both parties refuse to play by the rules by, for example, throwing the steering wheel out the window thereby ensuring that they cannot change course.

That's the rogue elephant, a term coined to refer to a male elephant in mating season that is in a state of must (heat). Driven crazy by his hormones, the elephant will go nuclear and all the other males know that they better let him have his way.

What to do when one party refuses to play by the rules, especially when the "crazy" party is willing to accept mutual destruction? Barash says that's when it's time for the other party to quit playing by the rules.

Barash couched his article in the context of the current debate in Washington on raising the debt limit but I think it applies equally well to writing fiction, particularly thriller fiction.

Characters that play by the rules are not nearly as compelling as those who refuse to do so. What villain is worth her salt if you aren't convinced she won't pull the trigger? How many times have you watched a TV crime drama play out and the bad guy drops the gun? No surprise in that. Hannibal Lector was so fascinating precisely because he violated one of the most basic rules of human civilization - Thou Shalt Not Eat Thy Neighbor!

The gate swings both ways. Good guys who break and bend the rules earn our admiration more easily than those who check all the boxes. Think Lee Child's protagonist, Jack Reacher. Here's a guy who roams the country with only the clothes on his back and a collapsing toothbrush in his back pocket. He'll do whatever it takes to whomever it needs to be done. Rules are for everyone else. Well, not all the rules. Doing the right thing is always Reacher's first rule. But the harder the way he does it, the better we like it.

So let's hear it for the Rogue Elephants we find between the pages. As for the ones in D.C. - not so much.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Motion To Kill just hit #19 on Amazon's Kindle Bestseller List for Legal Thrillers! Thanks for all your support! Let's keep it moving on up!

Now I know you may need a microscope to read this screenshot but it's worth the effort. Of course these numbers can jump around as if they had ants in their pants but I'm loving this!

Latest Newsletter Giveaway

Hey! I sent out my latest newsletter today announcing, among other things, the winners of my monthly giveaway. That's right! I'm giving stuff away!

Every month, I give one $15 Amazon gift card and two $5 Amazon gift cards to people who sign up to receive my newsletter. Too good to pass up? You bet it is so click here to sign up and here to read the newsletter.

And grab your copies of Motion To Kill and The Last Witness! In ancient times, I would have added get them while they last! But one of the great things about ebooks is that they never go out of print! Ain't life grand!


I'm fairly new to blogging and am always looking for ways to attract readers. And there's no shortage of people offering their advice. In fact, if you search on Google for "how to make your blog popular", you will, in 0.24 seconds, get 168,000,000 results.

I've been thinking that I should dip into some of those links because my traffic, while steady, hasn't threatened to crash any servers. But those 168,000,000 experts overwhelmed me, paralyzing me with too much information. I wasn't worried, though, because I was certain that the universe would speak and show me the way.

And that's what happened. Onl
y it wasn't the universe. It was a spammer who inundated my Facebook page, tagging me with photos of stilettos - the shoes, not the knives. After awhile, friends and family began whispering. What the hell is up with that? What's Joel doing at home when no one is looking?

When I finally realized what was going on, I deleted and blocked the posts and reported them to Facebook as spam. I also posted on Facebook that I'd been spammed. And that ignited a flurry of responses, most of them from people relieved that I wasn't hawking or wearing stilettos, though, in fairness, a few seemed disappointed. All of a sudden, I had more traffic than ever before!

So here's what I learned. Blogging about writing, publishing, movement disorders and other things that are shaking up my world will only get me so far in the blogosphere. If I want to hit the big time, I've got to do more than put my best foot forward. I've got to put my best shoes forward. So here there are!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I'm thrilled to announce the launch of the ebook edition of The Last Witness, the second book in the Lou Mason Legal Thriller Series!

Lou is back and this time it's personal when his surrogate father, Homicide Detective Harry Ryman, arrests his best friend, Wilson "Blues" Bluestone, Jr., for murder. Mason unearths secrets someone will do anything to keep as he closes in on a desperate killer, setting himself up as the next target.

Lee Child and Michael Connelly recommend The Last Witness and they aren't alone. Here's what some more of my favorite writers said about the book when it was first released in print.

"Fast, furious and thoroughly enjoyable, The Last Witness is classic and classy noir for our time, filled with great characters and sharp, stylish writing."
-- Jeffery Deaver, author of The Vanished Man and The Stone Monkey

"The Last Witness is an old fashioned, '40s, tough guy detective story set in modern times. There's a lot of action, loads of suspects and plenty of snappy dialogue. It's a fun read from beginning to end."
--Phillip Margolin, author of The Associate and Wild Justice

"Joel Goldman has written another fast-paced legal thriller. Find a comfortable chair and plan to stay up late."
--Sheldon Seigel, author of The Special Circumstances and Criminal Intent

"The Last Witness is a legal thriller written the way criminal law should be practiced: from the of the premier crime novels of the year."
--Jeremiah Healy, author of Turnabout and Spiral

If you'd like a thriller recommended by the best writers in the business, grab The Last Witness!

And don't miss the first book in this series, Motion To Kill!

It's been a little more than a month since I launched Motion To Kill and the response has been terrific with rave reviews and sales driving it up Amazon's list of bestselling Kindle legal thrillers. Thanks for all your support!

Hope you love The Last Witness just as much!

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Get Your Yuks Time!

Christopher Walken is one of my favorite actors. Catch him in this 1993 interpretation of The Three Little Pigs - and check out his sweater.

Should I Write or Tweet?

I've mentioned Seth Godin on this blog several times. He's a bestselling author who made the jump from traditional publishing to self-publishing, redefining what it means to be a publisher with the Domino Project. Though he writes non-fiction about the business world, a lot of what he says is relevant to fiction writers.

In his July 17 on the Domino Project he highlights a couple of important issues:

"If you're going to make a business of your art, you need to be responsible for the monetization - you can't wait to be picked."


"On the other hand, if the lizard brain is happier having you tweet instead of write, you've got a serious creation problem, one that you need to address before you're going to be able to make more great work."

Seth doesn't provide an answer to this dilemma but he does shine a necessary light on it. Social media is an important tool for raising a profile, helping to establish a brand and generally creating awareness of an author and his/her books.

BUT IT WON'T SELL MANY BOOKS unless you get hit by some Amanda Hocking lightning and, like all random phenomena, that doesn't happen very often. Worse yet, when it does happen, it deludes many authors into believing that it will happen to them. All they have to do is upload their books to Amazon and leave the light on for the Brinks armored car when they drop off the first million bucks.

What will sell books? The same thing that sells every other product and service known to mankind - advertising. I'm using Google Adwords to promote my first ebook, Motion To Kill on Amazon. After the first month, I'm in the black, taking in more revenue than I've spent on advertising and averaging in the last week a 2:1 ratio of revenue to expense. Motion To Kill has made it to #29 on the Kindle top 100 bestseller list for legal thrillers and to #54 on the Amazon books top 100 bestseller list for legal thrillers.

I've limited my promotion of Motion To Kill on to social media and managed to sell 4 copies and achieved a sales rank of 177,452.

I can't prove that Adwords generated every sale on Amazon but I can't attribute this incredible disparity exclusively to Amazon's greater market share. All I can do is look at the numbers and be glad my Adwords campaign appears to be working so well, even if the sample size is limited to one month's data.

If these trends continue, I'll stick to Adwords as my primary sales and marketing tool. I won't abandon social media - as the blog demonstrates. But I won't let social media get in the way of my job - which is to write great books people will want to buy.

I'll keep you posted in the coming months and let you know how my grand experiment is going.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Rave for Motion To Kill

Thanks to Robert Carraher for letting me know that his rave review of Motion To Kill was picked up by EzineArticles!

And, I'm thrilled to share with you the cover for the next book in the Lou Mason series, The Last Witness. Look for it on Amazon at the end of next week!

The Center Of The Universe

It's official! The Center Of The Universe has been located at the intersection of 119th & Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS 66209! As of 8 a.m. this morning, Trader Joe's has opened on the southeast corner where the Apple store is one of its neighbors. Dean & DeLuca, located across the street on the northwest corner of the intersection, completes the terrific triangle.

Best of all, the COTU is only 0.8 miles from my house, not even 5 minutes. And, just in case that long journey proves too much, I can always stop at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt on my way home.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Look What I Forgot!

Earlier today I posted about all the places where you could find Motion To Kill but I left out those of you who want a print version.

You know who you are. You like the feel of a book in your hand, the smell of the paper and turning the pages. And you like leaving your book on your nightstand in the mistaken belief that you can wait until tomorrow to finish it. Yes, that's you.

So don't wait! Get your trade paperback edition at Createspace.

P.S. - You can also get the print edition on Amazon.

Hope you love it! Be sure to let me know!

I Didn't Know That!

Amazon isn't the only place you can buy Motion To Kill, the first ebook in my Lou Mason series.

Motion To Kill is also available as an ebook on and Smashwords.

Want to hold the book in your hand, turn the pages and put it on your nightstand, hoping you can get to sleep without finishing it? Who can blame you? So get the trade paperback edition on Amazon!

And get ready for the second book in the series, The Last Witness! The ebook and POD editions are coming soon! What's it about? Well....

Lou Mason is back and this time it's personal when his surrogate father, Homicide detective Harry Ryman, arrests his best friend, Wilson "Blues" Bluestone, Jr. for murder! Mason unearths secrets someone will do anything to keep as he closes in on a desperate killer, setting himself up as the next target!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Seth Godin is a bestselling author who has made the jump to self-publishing with The Domino Project. He has a post today about something he calls Bookstrapping.

I interpret that word to be a play on picking yourself up by your bootstraps, a phrase that means improve your situation by your own efforts. The site I linked to this phrase adds: "Some early computers used a process called bootstrapping which alludes to this phrase. This involved loading a small amount of code which was then used to progressively load more complex code until the machine was ready for use. This has led to use of the term 'booting' to mean starting up a computer."

Seth coined "Bookstrapping" to mean self-publishing to get your message out. He applies it to entrepreneurs seeking to use their non-fiction books to stake out a place in the business marketplace.

I think it applies equally well to indie fiction writers. Rather than waiting for a traditional publisher to publish and market our books so we can sit back, cash royalty checks and wait for an invitation to the National Book Award ceremony, we can, and should, self-publish and make it happen ourselves.

Good News!

A lot of people have chronic disorders, including movement disorders (that's me), chronic pain and other conditions for which traditional treatments (i.e., drugs) are either not effective or can cause side effects as bad or worse than the condition for which they are taken (that's me again).

Meditation may be one effective alternative, as reported by Jonah Lehrer. He reports on a study at Wake Forest University in which, after only a few days of meditation training - teaching people to better focus their attention, concentrating less on their discomfort and more on a soothing stimulus - subjects reported a 57% reduction in the "unplesantness" of their pain, roughly equivalent to the use of morphine.

A couple of years ago, I learned how to meditate using Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. It's been a huge help to me in dealing with both the chronic discomfort caused by my spasms and shaking but also in moderating those symptoms.

This has been a great lesson in understanding how much power we have to heal ourselves.

Sizzling Summer Reads

Get 'em while they're hot! Sizzling Summer Reads from Top Suspense Group - check out our blog today and over the next three weeks as we feature books that are the only thing hotter than the July weather!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fire In The Sky

I'm thrilled to announce the release of my Amazon Single, Fire In The Sky. Hope you love it!

Two teenage boys on the make, looking for love and a quick score, cross paths with a desperate woman on the run. A blazing inferno and a shootout change their lives forever in Fire In the Sky!

Here's what reviewers are saying.

"Fire In The Sky", Joel Goldman's Depression era tale intertwines stories of love, luck, larceny and hope centered around a hauntingly beautiful girl who appears every night in a pageant set in a park fountain.
D.H. Williams "CluesSister"

"Fire In The Sky" by Joel Goldman is a very nice period piece that's flawlessly written. You get much of the same richness you'd find in a novel in this short story.
David M. North-Martino

"Fire In The Sky" by Joel Goldman - a quick Depression era tale that almost feels like a Bonnie and Clyde origin story
Mike Donohue

"Fire In The Sky" by Joel Goldman. A great story about a small town, with a twist, of course.
Jamie Anastasiow

Friday, July 8, 2011

You Can't Make That Up

People ask me a lot of questions about being a writer. The most common one is where do I get my ideas. My usual response is that I steal them because that's a lot easier than coming up with them on my own. Like a lot of jokes, there's a kernel of truth in that.

I steal a lot of my ideas from real life, from the amazing, incredible, you-did-not-just-do-that stuff we witness every day of the world. I pay attention to what's happening and ask myself "what if" questions.

Real life is a lot more interesting than fiction precisely because the people and the plots are real, the consequences matter and, too often too many people don't live happily ever after.

The Casey Anthony case proves the point. Even if a clever, creative writer came up with that story (and plenty have in one version or another - check out Michael Connelly's The Fifth Witness), it would never be as compelling as what happened in that courtroom.

As a writer, the challenge lies in the last chapter. Was she really guilty? If she was, do you leave it at that or make certain justice is done some other way? How does her life turn out? Is there a sequel?

The temptation is to make it nice and neat and provide the reader with closure. That's a rare commodity in real life and one that I think is overrated. Life is loose ends and I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Need Dough? Crowd Source It!

Raising money through crowd sourcing is really taking off. The latest entry is Here's what they do - straight from their website.

Phundraiser is an innovative way to fund endeavors that require money. Through crowdfunding, or getting a large number of interested individuals to each pledge a small amount of money for a common goal, Phundraiser allows Promoters to raise the money they need to make their ideas actually happen. Using Phundraiser’s all-or-nothing functionality, Pledgers can rest comfortably because their pledge is truly a pledge that is contingent upon the Promoter raising enough funds to make their ideas a success.

So if you've got a project to fund, Phundraise it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's Going On!

Bunch of stuff going on today -

Motion To Kill is available at, so if you're a Nook reader, snap it up!

The Last Witness is the next book in the series. Let me know if you'd like to have a free pdf Advance Reader Copy. Email me at for details.

Over at Inside Top Suspense you can find out everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask about writing sex and suspense.

Blood Mesa, the 5th installment in The Dead Man series, is out today. Written by James Reasoner, it's already garnering rave reviews so grab it, settle in and enjoy a great read.

That's enough for one day! So what are you waiting for? Get busy and have some fun!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our Thin Veneer

The news broke around 11:30 this morning that an order had been issued to boil our water at least until 5 p.m. tomorrow due to a water main break. Suddenly, our water was good enough to wash and clean with but not good enough to drink - unless you boil it.

Boil it? You mean like for pasta or corn on the cob only drink it? Maybe in Olathe or Lenexa but not in my town, not in Leawood. Not a chance! After all, Costco is only 5 minutes from my house.

The first chilling tendrils of panic seeped into my brain as I calculated that there was no better than a 97% chance that the case of water we already had would last for the remaining 29 hours of the boil order. The dogs gave me a look their wolverine ancestors would have loved, convincing me that once they had a taste of Ozarka, they'd demand that my wife and I split the case with them.

The Costco parking lot was jammed, people streaming in as if fifty gallon tubs of Miracle Whip had been marked down for clearance. Inside, people jockeyed for position, using their smartphone GPS apps to calculate the best route to the bottled water at the back of the store.

Rules of the road went out the window as a convoy of geriatric water hogs wielded their canes like jousting lances, leaving kidney-punched baby boomers gasping in the aisles.

I sideswiped a Cub Scout troop packed into a Pinewood Derby SUV, cut off a Mothers-Day-Out minivan and rear ended a Hell's Angel on a Harley sending him pinwheeling through the air and into a pallet loaded with 100-bushel bags of Honey Nut Cheerios.

But I made it! And not an instant too soon. In seconds, I was surrounded by demonic hordes swarming around me like beetles escaping a rotting sarcophagus in a remake of The Mummy.

After hoisting enough cases of water into my cart to replicate my double hernia, I barreled through the self-service checkout, blew past the woman waiting to check my receipt at the door and didn't stop until I was back in the safety of my cul-de-sac.

That's when it hit me! Holy crap, I forgot the ice! Well, at least we still had cable.



Nook News!

Motion To Kill is now available on the Nook! It will light up your 4th without setting your house on fire!