Tag Archives: Kept

Stickers Have Arrived!

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And who does not like stickers? From your first gold star in kindergarten, a sticker on your work signified something really special. And so it is with the Reader Views Literary Award, which “Kept” has won for 2017 (for books published in 2016) in the Gay/Lesbian/Erotica category.

KEPT and Award Stickers!

Kept is available at amazon here.

If you’d like a copy with a sticker, please contact me here: Email Jim Arnold Communications

KEPT wins Reader Views Literary Award

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Hey blog readers and book readers! I’m thrilled to announce that my novel KEPT has won First Place in the 2016 Reader Views Literary Awards, for the Gay/Lesbian/Erotica category.

Here’s a link to the list. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. It’s quite the chore to be the one-stop shop for all in the world of self-publishing, and I have great respect for all who entered into the award contest, too. OK, now back to writing the sequel to Benediction.

KEPT, by Jim Arnold

Why KEPT? The Inspiration and the Notes. . .

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I had the pleasure of re-watching the 1946 version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” again last night. This wonderful example of early post-war film noir stars the luminous Lana Turner (how does one get that silky platinum hair?)  and the quite studly John Garfield, (as well as Hume Cronyn, Cecil Kellaway and Leon Ames in supporting roles) in the James Cain story.

postman-always-rings-twice-3

The Postman Always Rings Twice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like in his “Double Indemnity,” this story involves getting rid of an inconvenient third wheel who happens to have some money. These two stories, as well as Cain’s fabulous “Mildred Pierce,” are all basically about greed and our susceptibility to letting it drive our actions. This is usually at the hands of someone who uses sex as a convincing argument, if you have or had any scruples to begin with. Traditionally, this role was played by a woman, who became known as the femme fatale.

So these Cain movies/books and the additional “After Dark, My Sweet” – a similar type of noir story, set in the SoCal desert of around 1990 and from a book by Jim Thompson, are the inspiration for the screenplay I wrote of “Kept,” which I turned into this novel.

Having spent so much time in Palm Springs myself, I wanted to set a crime story there. Also, I wanted to remake the femme fatale role into an homme fatale, and make male-male gay attraction the driving force behind the greed this time around.

I’d often felt that the Palm Springs area was a crucible – where people from many backgrounds mixed. You had your gays, your old white Republican retirees, retired movie stars, Mexican immigrants, Marines from 29 Palms, the Native American Tribes, tourists from all over, real estate speculators, and everyone else as well. I thought there’d be lots of stories and potential for dramatic conflict in them.

And there is! It’s all in KEPT.

KEPT: The story of the cover art

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When you self-publish a book, one of the crucial decisions you make is approving the cover art and design. For most writers, this is counterintuitive, as our strengths generally (at least we hope) lie in the realms of words and storytelling, not so much in imagery.

Which makes this process even more nerve wracking.

Because – there’s this thing out there called the Internet now. Where everybody goes for books. And usually they’re bombarded with a screenful of pixellated book covers, all of them vying for the opportunity to catch the browser’s eye. Decisions are made on the basis of interest in the cover. There’s no table full of books to flip through. There’s no physical shelf showing all the new books in the genre. It’s a much bigger and confusing landscape and of course, it’s all virtual.

And what is it that catches the browser’s eye? Color, for one thing. Red is more eye-catchy, than say, brown or yellow. Hello stop signs! Also strong graphics, I think, especially considering small screens.

And of course, naked men, for this genre, which is a gay mystery/suspense/thriller. The one action the cover is designed to elicit is a click further – basically that’s it, stop and find out some more.

So I did have an image in mind, which I gave to the cover designer at that point — it’s this:

2365800428_0cc260e6a8 I found it on the internet, on Flickr. I didn’t take the photo and I don’t know who the subject is. But I do know it’s an image of the desert near Palm Springs, and also has a hot looking half-naked guy who looks vaguely Latin as the subject.

One of the main characters in KEPT, if not the main character, is a guy named Jorge who anglicizes his name to George. This would be my cover image.

The cover designer at CreateSpace (the company Eureka Street Press uses for actual book and ebook publication) came up with this image based on the idea of a man in the desert:

KEPTcover1

 

So, a different desert (it looks more like Joshua Tree to me, and well, it’s close enough) and a different man, obviously, someone from their bank of usable images. Yeah, he’s got better abs, too, that never hurts, right?

Simple typography for a very simple title, and my name as the author. I think it sticks out on a page full of busier titles (though I was unable to get much red in this image). What do you think?

Character Biography: Sy Greco from “Kept”

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Adding to the list of Character Bios from Kept, others are here (George), here (Connor) and here (Nancy Argento).

So here we have Sy Greco, one half of the pair Greco & Greco, along with his wife, Pilar. A criminal, a real estate agent, a remodeler, a civic booster. There’s a lot to like, there’s a lot to hate. I purposely made him about 60 – my age when the book was finished, last year, as my own subtle protest of ageism in the arts. Sy is anything but “done.” If there ever was a movie, I’d imagine guys like Bruce Willis, Bryan Cranston, even Travolta in this role. Or, how about Gus Fring himself? (Giancarlo Esposito) They’re all about the right age.

Bruce-Willis

Mr. Willis

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Mr. Cranston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sy Greco (I picture: a Scott Glenn type, a classy-looking 60-ish type of man)

Sex: Male, 60, 5-11, 175, gray hair, blue eyes, lightly tanned skin – looks rich.

Appearance: regal. Still very handsome and must have been knockout when younger. Very fashionable; doesn’t scrimp on details. Goes to the expensive stores. Would not be caught dead at Wal-Mart or Target.

Physical Defects: has a mole somewhere on his face. Makes him look a little evil. Bad eyesight, he wears glasses or contacts. Usually contacts since he’s so vain.

Heredity: at risk for prostate cancer. Otherwise, relatives have longevity.

Sy’s personal car: Lexus SUV – not sure which model, just know it’s expensive and pristine. We usually see him driving the Greco company trucks or SUVs, however.

Socio: Sy’s a middle-class person who has done very well in recent years, both legitimately and illegally.

Occupation: real estate/developer. Mastermind of scams to convince elderly homeowners to sell their properties at a low price rather than make needed repairs. He buys them then flips them. The repairs he or his team require are all bogus or concocted. Preys on little old ladies! Might also have his hand in some meth lab stuff.

THEY LIVE IN DEEPWELL in Palm Springs. On OCOTILLO ROAD, near MANZANITA. GRECO & GRECO office is on N. Palm Canyon. Near Tamarisk or Tachevah. GRECO OFFICE IN LAGUNA is on OCEAN AVENUE, Between Beach and Pacific Coast Highway. You can walk to the beach from there. There’s a one room apartment in back, with a little fridge and a hot plate microwave. He remodeled all that himself on weekends.

Education: State college grad, business administration. He’s very good at that. Also plays piano, not well though.

Home Life: Married to Pilar. They had one child, a boy, Angel, who died as a teenager in a car/skateboard accident. His parentage: He’s from a middle class Los Angeles family. Valley. He was born into that first baby boom wave in the southern California post WWII generation. So this guy is classic Beach Boys, car-centered, California Dreamin’ kind of life that the rest of the world idolized. Sherman Oaks? Parents were kind of boring, had cocktail parties and all that. Sy always wanted a more interesting life. Now he has it.

Religion: Sy’s a non-practicing reform Jew.

Nationality: Italian, but this is several generations. He’s thoroughly American and doesn’t speak a word of Italian.

Community: He’s a well-known businessman, active in the Chamber of Commerce or local realtor group. Film Festival Board. Member of a country club where golf is a focus.

PS Chamber of Commerce - where Sy would hang out.

PS Chamber of Commerce – where Sy would hang out.

Politics: moderate Democrat who doesn’t vote much, except for president. Would be a Clinton supporter, not Sanders. But he’s too selfish to vote, anyway. He lies about it to whoever he needs to. Conservative “Democrat.”

Amusements, hobbies. He golfs, He does play tennis. He swims. Out of all the characters in “Kept,” he’s the one who makes most use of the incredible climate of Palm Springs.

Psychological:

Sex life: he’s bisexual. He is married to Pilar, and has an affair going on with Connor. He’s really not more one way than the other, though he is male-oriented in many ways. He is very conventional so if push comes to shove would ALWAYS choose Pilar over a man.

Personal Premise, ambition: Wants money AND power. Power is very important, he likes the control. The money seems to naturally flow to him, infuriatingly.

Frustrations, disappointments: Frustrated with the LAW, which constrains him. Hugely disappointed that his son died. Probably hasn’t suitably grieved. Connor is somewhat a substitute, as well as are the other workers.

Temperament: Explosive temper. Don’t cross him. He can be really mean and nasty and entitled. Also, he can be a charmer. But more the former. Employees are wary.

Attitude toward life: He feels he has the power to control it.

Complexes: Phobias: snakes. Is freaked out by car accidents because of what happened to his son, the light of his life.

Extrovert: he’s an ambivert – can be outgoing when necessary, for business or social reasons. Otherwise, he’s more plotting and internal.

Abilities: Speaks Spanish fluently. Knows how to work a gun.

Qualities: Devious. Plotting. Exquisite taste in furniture, houses, clothes, cars. In this way he’s somewhat of a god to George and Connor.

IQ: Also high. A very smart man.
KEPTcover1

 

 

Hey Buddy, Wanna Free Book: Goodreads Giveaway for KEPT

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GIVEAWAY FINISHED. Never fear, there will likely be a Kindle free day coming up. Stay tuned.

Hey, from today till February 21, you can enter to win one of 10 paperbacks of “Kept” (my novel to be released March 20) on Goodreads. Just click on the enter button! There’s no catch. It’s all free.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Kept by Jim Arnold

Kept

by Jim Arnold

Giveaway ends February 21, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Kept Teaser Trailer!

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Here’s a little teaser trailer for the book, “Kept,” which is still scheduled to debut March 20. I used some shots of Palm Springs that figure heavily in the narrative — the tram to Mt. San Jacinto, windmill farms, palm trees and washes, etc., along with themes from the book.

Over the top and oh-so-dramatic! That’s the point, right? Hope you enjoy this 45 seconds. You can order/pre-order KEPT here.

“Kept” Self-Publishing Update #5

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569844438_5b6491464f_mHere’s some new info on the book, on the process —

I actually bought and paid for the CreateSpace process. For me, this time, it includes a cover design, cover images, and an interior layout. I also bought the conversion to e-book package, as that is needed.

Many self-pub authors are now eschewing paper books entirely; it’s true that most of the sales of my other two books (Benediction and The Forest Dark) have been e-books. Call me old fashioned. Call me a guy who wants to enter the occasional writing contest (which usually require actual paper books). Call me someone who wants to present one of these books on occasion to others — and there’s nothing like a book with your name on it.

This process could go as fast as one month, or even less I suppose, though that’s not an issue with me and “Kept.” Because – I’ve settled on a launch date, which is (drumroll) March 20, 2016.

Why that date? I need about 4 months to put marketing to good use, and that date just happens to be my birthday, so I figured, why not choose that day? Worse things could happen.

So in buying these services I did finalize the book’s copy and sent it off. I also gave my thoughts on the cover design to one of their designers; hoping they come back with something that I love that can also sell books.

The final piece of the plan for this week is putting together the actual detailed marketing calendar, so that all tasks are done well in advance of the launch in March. That’s an unwieldy mess at the moment – the marketing, that is – so I’m looking for ways to make it easier on myself. Our digital world is great, but I find I like things like wall calendars and bulletin boards where I can really visualize a process – so “Kept” marketing might well become a design feature in my Valley Village living room.

Oh and one other thing —  trying to figure out when to write Book #4, which is a sequel to Benediction. I think I need a nap before Thanksgiving!