Take Jake with you and win! (new prize)

Kim Scott and Lisa Kane #Jake-n-it at #AquarivaRestaurant #willametteriver #PDX#TeamJakeBrand #trilliumfamilyservices

A post shared by M. Louis (@m.louis.author.guy) on

Jake is getting around!  Contest photos are streaming in from all over the place.  The Take Jake Book Tour Contest will be going the entire summer long so bring your favorite Jake Brand book with you on vacation (or even to the dog park), snap a photo and post it to Twitter or Instagram with #TeamJakeBrand in order to get in on the prize action.  OR you can just email us the photo and we will post it for you.   info@mlouisbooks.com

You could win a gift certificate from your local indie bookstore or from Amazon (your choice!) 

You can even get in on the ‘Take Jake’ Book Tour Contest by taking a screen grab of your device while listening to the audiobook of Angel’s Devil and posting on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TeamJakeBrand.

Here are some pics we’ve received from all over the place!

Maryland, Hawaii, New York, Virginia, Oregon, Washington DC and MORE!

Review: The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a fictional story loosely based upon the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimke. They were born into a wealthy plantation family in Charleston South Carolina in the early 1800’s. The Grimke family, like many of that time and place owned slaves. Sarah and Angelina abhorred the institution and became amongst the most famous, or infamous, abolitionists of the times. They became the front for the movement, primarily writing pamphlets and speaking to women’s groups. When men began to attend the public speaking events, the abolitionist movement was attacked for involving women. As a result, the movement itself was split in two due to gender bias. So Sarah and Angelina became early advocates for equal rights for women.

It is an excellent book, well written, and portraying a life for slaves that was horrific, and a life for women that was disheartening at best. Sarah loves to read books from her father’s library. She is well educated and has decided she wants to be a lawyer. Her dad, and the community refuse to allow her to pursue a professional career. And when they discover that she’s taught a slave nicknamed Handful, to read, they take all but one book away from her, depriving her of her favorite pastime.

Handful lives a torturous life. Maybe not the worse by standards of the times, but certainly that of a slave. At one point she decides to attend a newly founded all black church. The white community decides to shut it down, having all the attendees arrested. The owners of the arrested slaves are offered the chance to pay a fine to free their property. Handful’s owner, Sarah’s mother, refuses to pay. As a result, Handful is forced to labor in a prison where her foot is mangled.

Sarah is gripped with shame for not having the ability to free Handful. And Handful is gripped with cynicism that white society is so dismissive of fellow human beings. In the midst of their different races, they become friends, both horrified by the institution of slavery.

View all my reviews

Take Jake Book Tour Contest

M. is super busy writing the 3rd book in the Jake Brand Private Investigator series and watching Game of Thrones (which he calls “research”) so we at Team Jake Brand are taking things into our own hands to launch our latest crazy idea to get the word out about his fun and fast paced crime thrillers.  So, we bring you (drumroll)…

The Take Jake Book Tour Contest!

Jake Brand book one, Angel’s Devil and book two, Secondhand Smoke are going on a book tour with YOU!

All you need to do is take a photo of one or both books out there in the wild and post it to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TeamJakeBrand or you can email it to us at  info@mlouisbooks.com

Extra credit for:

  • Both emailing a copy AND posting on social media
  • Letting us know where the photo was taken

There will be prizes!

Every month we will select a winner and award them either an Amazon gift card or a gift certificate for their local indie bookstore.

Follow M. Louis on Twitter @Jake_Brand_PI  |  Instagram @m.louis.author.guy and the hashtag #TeamJakeBrand to quadruple your fun!

So take your copy of Angel’s Devil or Secondhand Smoke with you out there in the wild world, prepare your selfie sticks and enjoy being a part of our latest crazy idea.

PS: Kindle / Ebook readers you can participate too! Just make sure that the cover of the book is visible on your reader when you take the photo.

Team Jake Brand Contest

Review: Girl in the River

Girl in the River
Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg is a well written book about Portland, Oregon from the late thirties into the fifties. A young Mae Rose’s mom dies from a botched abortion at the end of the depression. Having no family to help her, she moves from rural Oregon to Portland. Bad luck and dire economic times force her to make hard choices to survive.

Well written, the book provides an interesting description of Portland and some of its residents, as Mae works to not only survive but thrive.

5 stars!

View all my reviews

And Some Other Stuff, Also on the Run

Wait for it…

there are donuts involved.


Secondhand Smoke – Jake Brand PI book 2 – by M. Louis – Available on Amazon (free on Kindle Unlimited / 2.99 ebook) and these fine Indie Bookstores:

Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl Street (on the Pearl St. Mall)
Boulder, CO

Boulder Bookstore Online

Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97219


Broadway Books
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232


Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a Hitchcock type thriller. It combines human profiles with danger. The book takes the perspective of three women; Rachel, Anna, and Megan, whose lives intersect around men and two homes located along a rail line.

Rachel has become a divorced, unemployed alcoholic. She rides a train into and back from London everyday, pretending to go to work. Anna is married to Rachels ex and is frustrated by Rachels inability to leave her and her new family alone. Megan lives down the street from Anna.

Rachel’s train ride passes the two homes twice everyday. She sees things, and imagines others that entangled her in a murder investigation.

The presentation style is unique. A chapter will focus on one of the three women who will narrate. Each time they do so, they do so twice in a row, once in the morning and once in the evening. It allows each character to question their thoughts and judgements, as they work to solve their insecurities and fears.

Each of the women have secrets and flaws that drive their behavior. Each of them have a different perspective of men. And each of the men in their lives have their own motivations, fears, and anger that counter with the women.

A very enjoyable read. 4 stars.

View all my reviews

The Origins of Jake Brand, PI – Reluctant Hero & Lover

My parents were true believers in babysitting by TV.  I was the only kid in my neighborhood to have a TV in my room; heck we were the only family to have two TV’s.  As a result I spent decades watching television, and nothing has changed much since then.  I’m a passionate watcher.  I find human truth in TV shows.  Much of it is the viewpoint of the writer/director of what they believe the audience wants to hear or see at that moment in time.  For example, Dragnet was a police show intent on informing us of the demons of crime at the time of free love and hippies.  If you smoked marijuana, Friday was going to get you.  Or the second season of True Detective; all I saw was dark violence, a base attempt to appeal to our lesser selves.

I find that I am most attracted to the reluctant hero.  They stand out to me not because of the shows depiction of crime and conflict, but because of the character of the man confronted.  All of my favorites had several things in common.  First, the dude was a hunk.  Aren’t we all?  Second, the hunk could be a tough guy.  Don’t we all think we are?  Third, the tough guy never wanted to fight.  He wanted to talk his way out of it or even avoid it.  Fourth, the man was empathetic.  He cared about people and it was this concern for the wellbeing of others that was the hook that drug him into conflict. There are a lot of examples of these, but I have a few that especially stand out to me.

MaverickMaverick, filmed between 1957 and 1962, it is a black and white series about a gambler, Bret Maverick (there were other Mavericks but they were faded shadows of Bret), played by James Garner.  “Who is the tall dark stranger there, Maverick is the name.”  That’s right, I still know the words to the theme song.  Bret wasn’t a detective. He was a gambler who traveled from town to town, making a living playing cards.  Basically a loner, in each episode he became reluctantly (there’s that word) entwined in a weaker soul’s conflict.  His empathy forced him to abandon his self-interest in order to do battle for the weaker person. He’s witty and charming.  Women love him, but can’t corral him.  He’s a tumbleweed blowing in the wind (this sentence will never make one of my books).

Rockford-Files02Next up, The Rockford Files, airing from 1974 to 1980.  Starring James Garner (yeah I know, I’m a Garner groupie) as Jim Rockford, it was essentially Bret maverick driving a gold Pontiac Firebird instead of riding a horse.  There are two significant differences between Rockford and Maverick.  First, Rockford was anchored.  He lived in a trailer home on the beach instead of drifting from town to town.  Second, he had a team.  A very quirky, difficult to manage team, primarily his dad Rocky, and Angel, who always had a con going.  Doesn’t seem like much, but it was impressive to me.  The second line of the Maverick theme song is “Ridin’ the trail to who knows where…” makes Maverick seem sad.  Rockford didn’t seem sad.  He seemed happy in a dysfunctional way.

magnumpiIn the early to late 80’s there were two shows that hit my imagination, Magnum P.I. and Hill Street Blues.  Both of these shows had great ensemble casts that all took their turn being tough, serious and funny.  They mixed humor with anger, compassion, and passion.  It was the unity of tough guys, and gals, banding together to complete difficult tasks.  They fought with each other, but in the end, they were family and worked as a team.

MoonlightingIn the mid-eighties, one of my favorite shows of all times (for the first three-ish seasons) aired, Moonlighting.  Starring Bruce Willis as David Addison, and Cybil Shepherd as Maddie Hayes, it was hilarious.  It was Bruce Willis at his best.  It was romance, as David and Maddie went from thoroughly disliking each other to hubba-hubba.  And it didn’t happen overnight.  They took their time over several seasons before they, well you know.  Unfortunately the amazing chemistry with them bickering while harboring secret desires, couldn’t survive the realization of those desires.

Anyway, Jake is bits and pieces of these characters.  I see him as a reluctant hero and lover.  He’s careful and caring.  He sees the humor in everything around him and can’t keep it locked inside.  He wants to settled down but can’t find his soul mate.  He likes his clients less because they pay him and more because they value him.  He laments missed opportunities but doesn’t let them drag him down.  He’s a professional who appreciates the strength of a team.

Anyway, in my mind it all plays out like that.


Review: Ochoco Reach

Ochoco Reach
Ochoco Reach by J.R. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ochoco Reach, by Jim Stewart, is the tale of half-brothers that battle dirty feds, banditos, and the elements. Set in the wilds of Mexico, spectacular Central Oregon, and Portland, Oregon, the brothers rely on more than just their experiences as special force veterans who served in Vietnam. They also draw heavily on their experiences growing up on a ranch with a rich native American influence. In fact Daniel is half Nimi’ipuu, or Nez Perce tribe. Both brothers are connected to the land and hear and rely upon the songs and battle cries of their shared heritage.

But it’s more than just a modern day battle between good and evil. Elements of the book reach back to the old west, reminding us of all of the movies and stories we’ve heard growing up. Plus, as all good books do, there’s a very enticing romance element to contrast against the stark violence.

Very enjoyable, 5 stars!

View all my reviews

The Keys to Writing a Novel


Key number 1 – Read! A lot. Read other authors to see how they style things. How do they set up a scene?  How do they create characters?  How do they create an emotional response; any response – love, hate, fear, joy, humor, bad humor, a desire to go to a book burning.

Read different genres. If you’re writing a detective book read sci fi.  If you’re writing romance read about zombies. Actually those two are pretty close to the same. In romance two people try to consume each other emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Zombies want to eat brains. See? The same.

Key number B -Write every day. The easiest way to start a book is to write something. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a shopping list, a recollection of a past event, or anything that hits your brain. Just write. If you don’t shop, there are exercises on line to help you think out side the box (ie your skull).  Eventually something will click. You’ll create a character you love. Or you’ll come up with a unique phrase. I mean pretty much every country song starts with a hook phrase.

And do it every day. It isn’t important how long you sit and write. It is important that you do it every day. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Pen up, pen down, pen up…

Key number III – Bring in the most talented team you can find. I was a terrible writer (maybe still am but for my great team) but I have a very visual brain. I can see scenes and think I can convert them into black and white marks on a piece of paper. It doesn’t always translate. A team that gets to know you helps interprut your mush and helps to convert it into a fine dining.

Oh and trust your team. They can do lots of good stuff like help create something that will be read by a customer, or keep you from being sued for libel, or protect you from embarrassing yourself. That’s been my biggest fear. Writing something so offensive that I become the target of a social media hate campaign.

Of course letting others in means you have to be willing to delete chunks of work or witty (to you only) phrases. It gets harder the farther you go into the process. You’ll start to see your characters as real people. Changing the color of their eyes can be emotionally challenging.

Key number four – Invest yourself. I mean if you can’t feel it, a reader definitely isn’t going to. If you’re writing a scene about a first kiss think about yours. Describe what you saw, felt, smelled, heard. Involve all of the senses.   This means puting on paper for the world to read how you really feel about things. It’s like running naked on a really dark night. People know you’re exposing yourself, but they can’t quite pick out the real you. You’ve disguised you with half truths and things that have nothing to do with the real you.
Key number Z –  Don’t sweat it. Don’t worry about how many copies you’ll sell. If it’s one it’s a blessing. Everybody has different goals when they write. My original goal was to finish a book so I could say I had. With that accomplished I set a new goal, sell a copy. Nailed it.  Next, sell one in a foreign market. Been there done that. Next, make money. Workin on that one. And my next one?  An appearance on the Ellen show. Why not?  Why not me?  Got to always have a dream.


M. Louis is the author of the Jake Brand PI series.  Sign up and get a free copy of book 1, Angel’s Devil rated 4.6 stars on Amazon.   Secondhand Smoke (Book 2) is now available. It’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers / 2.99 for ebook.