JWC 2016 – Another Great Year!

I’m just back from the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference in Houma, LA and, as usual, I had a great time. I can’t say enough good things about Lauren Bordelon and how hard she worked to make this event such a great success. She’s a wonderful host and a joy to be around. I want to extend my sincerest thanks to her for all she did and for inviting us to speak at the conference. It was a rewarding experience.

As for our sessions, Amanda and I partnered up to teach a class together in the morning and then I did a second class at lunch.


During our combined session, I presented a lesson titled “Inside the Mind of a Police Sniper” and Amanda presented “Trauma and PTSD Symptoms”. I kicked off the presentation by describing the role of a police sniper and detailing the various types of training snipers undergo, with a strong emphasis on mental preparation. Amanda then wrapped it up by defining trauma and PTSD, and she provided information designed to help writers develop believable characters who have endured traumatic situations.


For the lunch hour, I presented a class titled “Demystifying Murder Investigations”, which was designed as a roadmap to help writers move their detectives through the entire investigative process–from the crime scene to the successful conclusion of the case. I detailed the seven basic steps of any murder investigation–complete with real world examples and techniques–and I wrapped up the presentation by explaining how that information could be translated to fiction.

Demystifying Murder Investigations

Afterward, there was the usual book signing event hosted by Molly and company from Bent Pages, and I was able to meet and speak with some nice people. I’m humbled every time someone decides to trade their hard-earned money for one of my books, and I always hope they’ll find it was worth the purchase.


Later in the afternoon, I attended a great session by Literary Agent Carly Watters, who is the VP and a senior agent for P.S. Literary Agency. I recognized her name and the name of her agency, because I’d queried her in 2012 when I was shopping THE MISSING SIX, which later became THE SEVENTH TAKING. As you might imagine, I was very interested in hearing what she had to say.

Carly gave a very detailed rundown of her role as an agent and my (our) role as a writer, and she described what I needed to know before querying agents. I had previously discontinued my search for an agent and decided to seek out publishers directly. This has worked out for me to a small extent, but her presentation made me reconsider my path going forward. She made me realize I need an agent to handle the business end of things, as this would allow me to concentrate solely on writing and marketing.

I was able to shoot the breeze with Carly later on the rooftop deck during the Sunset Social, and I found her to be very likable. During our conversation, she mentioned that she loves country music and, well, that makes her more than okay in my book. She’s down-to-earth, extremely knowledgeable in her field, and appears very passionate about her work. Any author would be lucky to have her as an agent.

Well, that’s all for now. More than once during her presentation, Carly said that “writers need to write”. So, I’m going write…right after I cut the grass and take Amanda out for a run.

Thanks for reading.

Re-Release of Mystery Novels

In just fifteen short days, on March 31, 2016, I’ll be re-releasing my three novels that were previously published by the soon-to-be defunct Amber Quill Press, LLC. That means they will once again be available on Amazon in Kindle format, as well as in print format. The stories are the same, but the covers are new and (hopefully) improved, and the prices will be more reasonable.

Here are the cover images and blurbs:

Cover for James 516 eBook

The Magnolia Parish Sheriff’s Office is on high alert after a deadly sniper begins executing high-ranking cops. Sheriff Burke puts his best sniper, London Carter, and his internal affairs officer, Bethany Riggs, on the case. Pressure mounts and panic sets in as the body count rises and the killer becomes more embolden. London and Bethany find themselves sifting through evidence, lies, and feelings for each other in their quest to stop the deadly attacks. A mysterious note at the crime scenes might offer a clue to the killer’s motive, but will they decipher it before the sheriff’s entire staff is wiped out?

“…compelling and intense from start to finish…one heck of a read.”
   –Kevin R. Tipple, Reviewer at Kevin’s Corner

Seventh Taking eBook Cover

THE SEVENTH TAKING is the chilling tale of a young man’s journey through harsh mountain country in his search for the girl he loves, and the two friends who dare to brave the dangerous elements—both human and natural—to support a friend.

When Joy Vincent disappears in the Blue Summit Mountains of Tennessee while vacationing with her family, park rangers begin an intensive search for the Louisiana high school junior. Seven weeks later, the search is abandoned and authorities conclude that Joy voluntarily ran away because of a fight with her father.

Unwilling to believe it, Abraham Wilson makes the long drive to the mountains and sets off on a journey that will change his life–and the lives of his friends, Brett Lester and Charlie Rickman–forever. Will they discover the secret behind Joy’s disappearance, or will they meet with the same fate?

Cover for Amazon Kindle

Two years after Clint Wolf’s life has been disrupted forever, he’s asked to serve as police chief for a quiet little town deep in the swamps of Louisiana. But the tranquility of the town is shattered when a severed arm is found in the jowls of an alligator.

With the aid of Sergeant Susan Wilson, Clint investigates and it isn’t long before they realize someone has been murdered. As the investigation ensues, Clint battles secret demons from his past as he befriends a local reporter named Chloe, who proves to be an asset to the case when she shares information from a source who says the murder was part of a larger plot.

Will Clint and Susan unveil and foil the larger plot before it’s too late, or will the citizens of Louisiana awaken to a horror worse than any in their state’s history?

“Great imagery, bigger than life characters, and true sounding law enforcement scenes made this a romp of a read. It was fast moving and kept me guessing up to the very end.”
   –Cheryl Stout, an Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer

“This author has a real talent for keeping me gripped and wanting to know what was going to happen next.”
   –Liz H, Through The Booking Glass

Hanging with the Bayou Writers’ Group

We stay busy as a family, but Amanda and I have remained true to taking at least one date night each month. Sometimes it’s planned and sometimes it’s spontaneous, but we always manage to squeeze some alone time into our hectic schedule. When I write “squeeze”, I mean just that–we oftentimes only have an hour, or so, to squeeze between responsibilities. However, we were able to spoil ourselves these past two weekends with a couple of “date-aways” in a row.


It started in New Orleans last Saturday when we rolled into town for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K. We checked into the Marriott on Canal Street, picked up our race packets at the Convention Center, and then ordered some dinner from a little restaurant next door to the hotel. We then retired to our room for a picnic that consisted of shrimp poboys, French fries, and Great American double-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.


Early Sunday morning we ate (more) cookies and milk for breakfast and walked to the starting line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K, which was a few blocks away. The weather was great and the crowd large. We ran the 6.2 miles through the city–enjoying some great views along the way–and finished at City Park. After collecting our medals and eating everything we could find at the finish line, we took the shuttle back to the hotel and relaxed before heading back home. We both had things to do later on Sunday, so it was back to our busy schedule.

I have to give a shout-out to my grandfather, who turned 94 that Sunday. A man of few words and a hard worker, he’s the most honorable man I know. Here’s to many more birthdays!

Andrew Verdin 94


This weekend found us in Lake Charles visiting with members of the Bayou Writers’ Group. The group’s vice president, David Chang, invited me to speak at their monthly meeting and I readily accepted. I last visited with the BWG back in September of 2007 and I was looking very much forward to seeing the members I already knew again, meeting some new members, and introducing them to Amanda.

(Before giving me credit for having such a great memory, you should know that I had to look up the pictures from the last time I was there to figure out the date.)

We checked into the SpringHill Suites on West Prien Lake Road Friday night, took a scenic drive downtown and along the lake, and then grabbed dinner. As is our custom on date-aways, we picked up some take-out and retired to our room for a picnic. This picnic consisted of a pile of food from Ichiban Japanese Grill and Yeung’s Lotus Express, along with–of course–some Great American double-stuffed chocolate chip cookies and a half gallon of milk.


The real treat was Saturday morning when we met with the BWG at the Carnegie Memorial Library on Pujo Street. It was immediately apparent to me how much the rectangle of tables had grown, and it was great to see that the group was expanding.

Here’s a photograph showing the size of the rectangle of tables in 2007:


And here’s present day:


After Cliff Seiber, the group’s president, held the official meeting, I gave the little speech I’d prepared. (It actually went much longer than I’d anticipated–oops!) I talked about mysteries, explained why I couldn’t write erotic romances, offered some ideas on researching, and provided a list of resources I thought might be helpful to all writers who needed a cop, a gun, or a law in their stories. The members were engaging and asked some great questions.

They then treated Amanda and me to lunch and we got to visit with them a little longer. I can’t say enough how welcoming they are and how much of a great time we had with them. I look forward to going back to Lake Charles and visiting with them again in the future. It was definitely a very rewarding experience and just being around them energized me.

Unfortunately, Amanda and I had to leave the restaurant at about 1:15 PM to quickly return to our room and check out before 1:30 PM. As it turned out, the hotel had already deactivated our room keys and we couldn’t get in to grab our stuff. Thankfully, a nice lady who was cleaning rooms down the hall let us in and we reclaimed our clothes and–most importantly–the rest of the Great American cookies.

In closing, I want to say how saddened I was to hear about the passing of Harvey Honsinger. It was almost exactly four years ago that he passed away, but I just found out yesterday. The few times I got to visit with Harvey, I had a great time talking about writing, my all-time favorite genre, westerns, and guns. Like my all-time favorite author, Louis L’Amour, Harvey was a western writer and a really interesting man. I’m really sorry he’s gone.

Here I am with Harvey at the Bayou Writers’ Group Conference in November of 2007:


Bad, Good, and Better News

First, the bad news:

As they say, all good things must eventually come to an end, and thus it is with Amber Quill Press, the publishing company that published three of my mystery novels (JAMES 516, THE SEVENTH TAKING, and BUT NOT FORGOTTEN). In early January, the company announced they would be closing their doors on March 30, 2016 and pulling all books from their website, as well as from third-party vendors, such as Amazon. Unfortunately, all electronic versions of my three AQP titles (JAMES 516, THE SEVENTH TAKING, and BUT NOT FORGOTTEN) have already been removed from Amazon, so anyone seeking to purchase a copy for their Kindle via Amazon will be out of luck…but only for the moment (more on that in a minute).

Now for the good news:

Those who want an electronic copy (including Kindle version) of either of my titles can still order a copy via the publisher’s website by clicking on the image of the book they’d like to purchase:

 James516  SeventhTaking Cover  ButNotForgotten_large

Additionally, the print versions are still available on Amazon (click here to order), but I’m not sure for how long.

Finally, the better news:

When something comes to a close, I never view it as an “end” to the old, but, rather, as a “beginning” of something new. While it’s unfortunate AQP had to close, I wasted no time fretting over it. Instead, I immediately set about creating new covers and formatting new print and digital versions of all three of my titles. Come March 31, 2016, I’ll be prepared to roll out new and improved versions of JAMES 516, THE SEVENTH TAKING, and BUT NOT FORGOTTEN on Amazon. With the removal of the “middleman”, I can offer them at a lower price and, in addition to re-releasing them in electronic format and trade paperback, I’ll also be releasing all three books in large print for the visually impaired.

In closing, I’m thankful to the good folks over at Amber Quill Press for accepting and publishing my work, and I’m pleased that JAMES 516 was ranked #1 (paid sales) out of forty titles in their Mystery/Detective category. BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, after being available for less than two months, was ranked #5 in the same category. Furthermore, JAMES 516 was ranked #3 (paid sales) out of 282 titles in their entire lineup, and it is a 2016 EPIC eBook Awards Finalist for the category of Mystery. (The winners will be announced in March.)

Well, that’s all for now. Please check back often, as I’ll reveal the new covers for these three titles soon. As always, many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read my work. Whether you enjoyed my stories or not, always feel free to contact me with your feedback. I love hearing from readers and I sincerely appreciate that they spent their hard-earned money and precious time on my books.


Great day at Terrebonne Parish Library!

I had the privilege of speaking to the Terrebonne Literary Club of Houma today at the Main Library in Houma. For those of you who haven’t been to the library yet, it’s a must-visit. The building is state-of-the-art and the staff–especially Lauren Bordelon–is extremely helpful and friendly.

As for the literary club members, they’re really cool and they made me feel at home. I met some amazing people, had a great time, and sold a bunch of books. It was a very rewarding experience, and my only regret is that Amanda couldn’t be there. She would’ve loved it!

Best to all and tons of thanks to the Terrebonne Literary Club of Houma for a nice afternoon!


New mystery novel out NOW!

ButNotForgotten_largeMy third novel, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, has just been released in e-book format through Amber Quill Press. It’s on sale right out the gate and only costs $4.55. It’ll be available in print and on Amazon in mid-December, but it’s only available through the publisher at the moment.
In BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, which is the first in a planned mystery series, Clint Wolf’s life has been dealt a heavy blow, thanks to the anti-cop sentiment and policies of Governor Lester Katz. Alone and utterly lost, Clint trades his detective shield for a framing hammer and puts homicide investigations as far in his rearview mirror as he can—that is, until he’s asked to serve as police chief for a quiet little town deep in the swamps of southeast Louisiana.
While the job seems uneventful, the tranquility of the sleepy town is shattered when the severed arm of a missing businessman is found in the jowls of an alligator. Drawing upon his experience and training, Clint sets out to investigate the case with the assistance of Sergeant Susan Wilson, a no-nonsense cop who moonlights as a cage fighter. When they finally locate the body of the businessman, they discover he’s been murdered—shot pointblank in the forehead—and things begin to get even uglier from there.
As the investigation ensues, Clint battles secret demons from his past while trying to get to know a local reporter named Chloe on a personal level. Chloe proves to be an asset to the case when she shares information from a confidential informant who says the murder was part of a larger plot.
Will Clint and Susan unveil and foil the larger plot before it’s too late, or will the citizens of Louisiana awaken to a horror worse than any in their state’s history?

Go walk the dog…

So, I’m sitting here minding my business when I get a text message from a random number I didn’t recognize. Here’s the exchange:

Them: “Go walk Trevor please.”

Me: “No. He can walk himself.”

Them: “Then bring me your I-pad.”

Me: “If you effin’ want it, come and get it…and you’d better bring some help.”

Okay, so Amanda wouldn’t let me send the last part. She told me to stop messing with that poor person. Instead, it went as follows:

Me: “Haha…I’m messing with you. You have the wrong number. Don’t be mad at your kid.”

Them: “LMAO Just got his phone today and I put the wrong number. Great joke. You got me.”

No Father, No Problem

I was three or four when my mom left my biological father. My memories of those early years were surprisingly vivid. I remember my father arguing with my mom and hitting her on a regular basis. I remember throwing marbles and green army men at his back in a feeble attempt to intervene. I remember when he caught me urinating in the neighbor’s garden and slapped me full-force across the face, nearly knocking me off my little feet and leaving my left ear ringing like a gun had exploded near my head.

Me at about 2

Although we were still very poor, things improved when my mom left him. She got a job as a secretary at the elementary school I attended and we lived in a trailer on my grandparents’ property. Food was scarce, new clothes even scarcer, and luxuries such as toys, treats and sodas almost nonexistent.

My mom joined this church that attempted to control every aspect of our lives. We couldn’t go to doctors, or associate with people of other religions, or watch television, etc. When I was in second grade, the preacher started his own school and we all had to enroll. My mom left her job and began working as a monitor for the church’s school, which believed in corporal punishment. When we’d do something wrong, the principal would make us bend over and grab our ankles while he hit us with a large wooden paddle. I often let go of my ankles and grabbed the floor to keep from falling over—that’s how hard he hit us.

My mom made me stay with the principal several times while she attended religious retreats. On one occasion, he made me wash his van, and then beat me because I left streaks. Well, the first three strikes were for leaving the streaks—the next nine strikes were because I refused to cry. And there was the time he and another member of the church tied me up and dunked my head in his toilet repeatedly, because I didn’t use the “correct” language when asking for rolls at dinner, and then I doggedly refused to apologize.

Private School Banquet (Literature Award)

The abuse at the hand of this principal lasted two years. I had just finished fourth grade when the preacher shut down the school and told the parents they had to teach their children at home. My mom got a job as the church’s secretary—the pay was meager—and this allowed her to work from home while “teaching” us.

When I was around twelve, I convinced my mom to let me go to work on a full-time basis, promising to do schoolwork at night. I worked as a carpenter’s helper for a man from her church, and it allowed me to help her pay bills and put food on the table. I didn’t do much schoolwork after that, but I did start reading…a lot. I eventually discovered an author who would change the course of my life forever.

Thirty-one years later, I found myself happily divorced, the father of two amazing children, and in a new relationship with Amanda, a single mom and a psychologist. As Amanda and I got to know each other, we exchanged stories about our lives. She looked at me one day and said, “I’m surprised you’re not messed up.” I laughed it off, but she went on to explain how lots of children would have been scarred from some of my experiences. She said she was surprised I’d been so successful, considering the scant opportunities I’d been afforded and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles I’d faced.

I’d never reflected poorly on my childhood. It hadn’t mattered that the principal beat me, or that we were poor, or that I didn’t have a dad. I’d rolled with those punches and remained a happy kid, growing stronger with each challenge I faced. However, Amanda’s words prompted me to consider my past. Statistically speaking, I’d been destined to fail. My brother, who grew up right beside me, was scarred by our past and had turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, essentially ruining his life. So, then, how was it that I was able to work my way from police cadet to chief investigator? Or develop and command a successful police sniper team? Or become a traditionally published novelist? Or achieve my dream of being a professional boxer? Or publish my own magazine?

Me as Sniper Leader, Pro Boxer, Published Author

As I pondered this, I suddenly realized all of my successes could be directly attributed to one activity: READING. Every time I’d wanted to learn a skill or embark upon a new endeavor, I turned to books to be my guide along the path of knowledge. While I owe a debt of gratitude to the authors of the many instructional books I’ve studied over the years, the one author who has influenced me the most is Louis L’Amour.

My Current Louis L’Amour Collection

I tell everyone who’ll listen that Louis L’Amour raised me. During those impressionable years of my youth, I learned more about real life from his fiction than from anywhere else. I learned how to treat a woman with respect, to persevere even in the bleakest of circumstances, and to be courageous in the face of grave danger. I learned to be loyal to my family and friends, and to “ride for the brand”. I even learned to stand on my own and achieve my goals through hard work and dedication, and to never give up on my dreams.

Later, as a father, I would always encourage my children, Brandon and Grace, to read…a lot. At worst, I knew they might discover an alternative means of entertainment. At best, I knew they might partake in an activity that would enrich their lives and change them for the better (I’ve witnessed the latter). One thing is certain; had I not started reading as a young boy, I would’ve been a statistic—the one that suggests fatherless, uneducated boys who come from poor households almost never succeed in life.

The Five of Us

BJ Bourg is the author of JAMES 516 (Amber Quill Press, 2014), THE SEVENTH TAKING (Amber Quill Press, 2015), BUT NOT FORGOTTEN (Amber Quill Press, 2015), and HOLLOW CRIB (Five Star-Gale-Cengage, 2016).
© 2015 BJ Bourg