Saturday, December 22, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

How I'm Spending Summer Vacation

Writing is an interesting game, and I’m still new enough at it to observe and track my methods, keeping an eye out for what works. It’s about 60 days since my JHOP (Johns Hopkins for Old People) classes ended in May, and I began to ease into my Daily Writing Habit. I have long felt that I write best and most productively when I write daily.
I figure writing six days a week would be a good target—51 days the last two months, but I have managed only 34. That is about 67 percent of what I should have done, so I guess I get a C- or D+, but it has felt more like B or B+ work. 

I’ve been working on novels, by the seat of the pants. Although I don’t believe it’s wise to work on multiple projects at one time, but I have shifted back and forth between two novels. My goal when I sit down to write is 500 words, which is a good day’s work, but the session generally ends when it’s time for me to put on my toque and prepare dinner for my wife and myself. I’ve averaged 569 words per day those 34 days, and I've passed 1,000 words three times since June 30.

The seat of the pants thing is working well. I start with a character or characters and a scene I might want to write. I try to describe the characters and put them in motion, then follow their leads. For instance the bulk of the writing, 19,000 words, has been The Fall of the Biarritz, in which my series private eye, Frank Swiver, agrees to fill in as house dick at the posh Biarritz Hotel for two weeks for his friend who’s recovering from an appendicitis attack. I think of it as a bit of an ensemble adventure, bringing together a cast of disparate villains and schemers and a taste of international intrigue. I’m really happy with how I’ve started with just a character and situation—p.i. fills in as acting house dick—and the plot ideas just keep coming.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Virtual Book Tour

It's a good thing this is a virtual tour, or we might have been virtually snowed in!

Here's an interview I did at the Dark Phantom Review on my book tour this month.


here's my guest post on reasons to commit murder most foul at Lori's Reading Corner.

I hope you enjoy these. There's still time to comment on the original sites, or if you have any questions, you can use the comment feature here, at From the Spitbucket.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Here's today's stop on my virtual book tour. I thought I'd post this one because it's, well, different. A Blue Million Books: FEATURED AUTHOR: HARLEY MAZUK: ABOUT THE BOOK 
 During the Spanish Civil War Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro . . .
Here's an interview I did at The Writer's Life . . .
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Harley: I heard a story, probably a feature on National Public Radio, about the old cigar factories of Havana and Tampa. Each factory employed a lector—a person who read to the workers as they hand-rolled cigars. Imagine, a factory so quiet that you could read aloud to the employees. I pictured a beautiful woman with dark eyes and dark hair, rolling cigars on a tawny, bare thigh. I knew I wanted to write that scene and put it in my book. Read more . . .

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Girl: Guest Post: The Story behind Last Puffs

Here's a guest post I did for The Girl Who Loved Books blog:

Book Girl: Guest Post: The Story behind Last Puffs: The Story behind Last Puffs (450 words) by Harley Mazuk Last Puffs is a pulp fiction tale of war, love, betrayal, revenge,...

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Deal with New Pulp

After dithering about the contract for an excessive amount of time, I accepted today New Pulp Press’s offer to publish my second Frank Swiver novel, tentatively titled, Last Puffs. Chuck Newman at New Pulp was very patient with me, and yesterday put my mind enough at ease to sign the contract. It helped that he seemed genuinely enthused about publishing Last Puffs, and that makes an author feel good.

Last Puffs is not a sequel to White with Fish, Red withMurder, in that it doesn’t pursue the story line of Vera Peregrino and Frank. Vera doesn’t make an appearance in Last Puffs, though she was in an early draft. Frank is responsible for two daughters, and though he and Vera were on the outs, she was the only friend he could think of to ask if she could watch the girls for two weeks. But I wrote her out when Bimla, one of the working girls from the Lotus House moved in with Frank at the end of Part II.

During the year or two I worked on Last Puffs, I was discovering that some of my favorite Raymond Chandler short stories were long by today’s standards—”Red Wind,” “Goldfish”—about 15,000 words each. I learned that The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest were serialized in Black Mask magazine. Each appeared in 15,000-word segments over four issues. The Dain Curse was another novel that could be divided into four linked stories. I decided to write Last Puffs on the model of The Dain Curse, admittedly not Hammett’s best work, but I like the structure.

We open the book in "Aragón" in 1938. Frank and his best friend Max Rabinowitz are fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic. They meet and both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, a beautiful and courageous Republican guerilla.

Part II is “The Girls from Nanking.” It is now late 1948. Frank is trying his hand at being a private eye. Max is a successful criminal attorney. Frank takes a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. He resolves it, though client Joan ends up in jail on suspicion of murder. In the spring, Max abruptly abandons his practice and moves to . . . Fresno.

And in “We’ll always Have Fresno,” (Part III), the boys are reunited with Amanda who was working in a Fresno cigar factory, plotting revenge against the fascists from her home village that she has tracked to California.

It all comes together (or comes apart for Frank) in Part IV, “Last Puffs.” Will Frank be a good father to the ten-year-old boy Amanda says he fathered? Why does the lad look like Max? Who shot Max in Fresno? Will spy Joan Spring escape to Red China? Can Frank help Amanda on her mission to avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega who seeks to eliminate any witness to the murder of her husband?

Join Frank Swiver and me for Last Puffs, from New Pulp Press.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jo Nesbo's Snowman

Hei, there, (“hei” is Norwegian for hello).

I read The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo (Yo Nesboo) a Harry Hole (Hari HEU-leha) novel. Not my normal cup of tea, but it was the summer reading in my new Hopkins class, “Detectives at Home.” Nordic noir is not my cup of tea because there are too many serial killers, crimes are brutal and graphically described, the landscape seems bleak (to me) and there always seems to be this underlying tension of misogyny and violence against women. But once you get past all that, Nesbo seemed to be a good writer, certainly a few cuts above Stieg Larsson, and this was a clever multi-level police procedural.

The book did a good job incorporating the Scandinavian setting and environment into everything—plot, characters, theme. Harry Hole (depressed, alcoholic, and alone), and a couple other principle characters were well-drawn and developed, though many of the victims were just flat types. I liked Harry, and a female detective on his team, found them interesting and cared about them. I disliked every chapter starting out in another character’s point of view—usually the next victim who only live until the end of the chapter.

There were some clever oddities—murders occurred on the evening of the first snowfall, but by coincidence the ones described were on the nights of U.S. presidential elections. The writing was generally straightforward, plain and unadorned, but occasionally there were effective images and allusions, and weird, unexplained metaphors, the weirdest being that Harry’s house was being treated for a severe case of mold. The Mold Thing is probably worth a whole blog post in itself, but I don't understand it, so I'll leave that to someone else to write. 

I don’t know that I’d read another Jo Nesbo, but he’s a good writer worth a try if you’ve not read any or if you enjoy serial killer police procedurals.