7 Easy Steps to Becoming an Amazon Kindle Bestseller

Joseph Mark Brewer:

Really interested to know what you think of this.

Originally posted on :


STEP ONE: write a book.

You don’t need to know how to write, and it doesn’t have to be a great book. Don’t even think of it as a book. Think of it as a product. Based on their reviews, many of the writers on the Amazon Kindle freebie bestseller list don’t really know how to write, and many of those who do are giving away a single short story or essay, not an entire novel or nonfiction book. You don’t have to write a masterpiece, just something you can slap a title and cover on and call an e-book.

STEP TWO: give it an enticing title and a nice cover.


You don’t really have to know anything about book design. There are places you can buy premade covers for $50 or less. If you are low on a budget, Fiverr is a great place to get High Quality…

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Japan and Me

CherryblossomsOnce upon a time I was in the Navy and I was sent to Japan. Knew nothing about the place. But after three years there I came to appreciate the people and the culture. I left Japan and mustered out of the Navy, finished college, and a few years after that, made my return, mostly as an adventure, because I knew such an opportunity would never occur again. I lived as an expat, fell in love and married and became a husband and a father before leaving again.

My life in Japan was not so very different from the usual foreigner’s experience. The first time there I was a GI, taking in a world I’d only seen on the pages of National Geographic. During my second stint I taught conversational English, edited textbooks and worked at an English-language newspaper to make ends meet. I have no gift for learning a foreign language, so I coped with my poor GI Japanese, but a keen ear and willingness to learn goes a long way.

One of the clearest, lasting memories I have is sitting in a park and watching a grandfather mind his granddaughter, who could not have been more than two years of age. As I looked around at the people in the park,  I realized that people are the same the world over: grandparents love their grandchildren; parents scold their children, then hug the life out of the little dears. Teenagers seek out their own kind, finding independence in groups. Housewives gossip, commuters trudge along, students dream of school’s end.

Several short stories about of my days in Japan survived many reincarnations, and one character is now featured in my Shig Sato Mystery series set in Tokyo. And The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake will soon be joined by Traitor’s & Lies, the third book in the series. You’re invited to download a copy – and sign up for my newsletter.

But what I’d like to conclude with is this: what has been your trip of a lifetime? And have you written about it? I’d like to know.

The World of Shig Sato

Do you remember where you were in 1991? Some of you do, of course, and some of you don’t. And one of the great thrills of reading is being taken to a time and place you may never have been: Paris, 1870; Dublin, 1904; Rome, 30 A.D.; A galaxy far far away — stories take us to memorable places with people and creatures that entertain us for hours.

In the Shig Sato Mystery series, the reader enters the world of Tokyo, 1991. A world capital, a center for government, entertainment, industry, diplomacy, a cavalcade of characters from the world over stepped onto the shores of the Land of the Rising Sun. It was a time of Japan Inc., riding an economic boom, the nation making its mark as an industrial leader. A city and a nation with a new emperor, a new vision for the future.

japan_imperial_palace_217304The world of Shig Sato was unique: a long-serving, highly respected police inspector, Sato returned to Azabu Police Station after two years of diplomatic security detail and security assignments for the Imperial Household Agency. Sato’s world was heart of Tokyo – the Imperial Palace, Roppongi, the embassy districts, and Sato knows every inch of it.

Roppongi: served by Sato’s beloved Azabu Police Station, isn’t so different now than it was in 1991. And Sato knew that among many of the foreigners out for a good time in that nightclub district were American servicemen, including some stationed with the U.S. Navy and Marine forces in Yokosuka, 37 miles down the coast. In the Shig Sato mystery The Gangster’s Son, Kimi Yamada’s beloved Cpl. Charlie Parker Jones is a Marine stationed on a American ship at the Navy base.

Sato’s return to Azabu Police station, the murder of Kimi Yamada, and his journey to finding the truth about her killer and himself make The Gangster’s Son “A highly readable murder novel with authentic Japanese flavor and a fresh, intelligent plot,” “Unique,” “Gritty. ”

Next time: Tokyo Inc.

To get a copy of my ebook mystery The Gangster’s Son click here . To get the latest news on Shig Sato Book 2 visit my website  www.josephmarkbrewer.com — and sign up for my monthly newsletter.  See you soon!


Sato and Abe are called to a murder scene

(An excerpt from The Gangster’s Son, a Shig Sato Mystery)GangSon1400

The police inspector knelt over the dead woman. He gently tilted her young, battered face. Her hair, dusty with debris, fell at odd angles. Sticky crimson blood oozed out her nose, ears, and mouth. One eye stared into the night, and what remained of the other was a swollen bloody mass. He pressed his finger against a plum-colored cheek split open. Some bone was still intact.

As he got up, he noted how her legs were oddly twisted beneath her. The sleeveless silk blouse and short black skirt she wore did not look disturbed. Nothing lay beside her. In the harsh crime scene lights, he thought the girl looked like a broken mannequin, carelessly discarded and alone.

It was a still, humid Tokyo evening, past midnight. Detective Ken Abe watched Inspector Shig Sato. Five minutes had passed since Sato said he wanted to take another look at the body. Abe wondered if his friend had lost his ability to concentrate, with his wife so ill, and this being his first night back in Criminal Investigations after two years of diplomatic security duty.

“Inspector?” Abe believed he hid the concern in his voice.

Sato raised his hand to shade his eyes from the blinding lights.


Abe pulled a cigarette from his lips.


Sato took another long look at the young woman, walked over to Abe, and said, “She was probably surprised, then beaten and left for dead. Probably dropped to the ground where she stood.”

Abe was relieved to see Sato focusing on the crime, putting what he saw into some sense of order.

“You said she’s a waitress at the jazz club?” Sato asked.

“Yep. Right in there,” Abe said, pointing at a neglected brown door. “A jazz club. Called the Down Low.”

There were many scattered anonymous doors along the alley. Some led to long, narrow, dim bars selling grilled chicken and beef on sticks to whet the appetite of the tired businessmen drinking beer after lonely beer. The meat’s lingering aroma, the grease, the alcohol, the sweat of the cooks, all clung to the thick night air. Behind other doors, sushi denizens had watched countermen slice their tuna and eel and octopus, caress their roe and rice, priests preparing their offerings. In tiny cabarets with low and plaintive jukeboxes, hostesses rested their aching feet while night managers quickly counted the evening take after rousting patrons from their drunken stupors.

The inspector saw these doors, once open in the vain hope of catching a midnight breeze, now closed tight against the bad luck that came with a dead body.

“It is too quiet here,” Sato said to himself. He did not like the quiet, not in that part of Tokyo, on the fringe of nightclubs and cabarets and bars and restaurants, that place where two alleys met, where a girl lay dead.

Sato took another look at the dead girl, then turn toward the medical examiner.

“It looks like somebody struck her across the face so hard it snapped her head back against that concrete wall,” the doctor said. A slight, bald, fidgety man, the doctor was truly at ease only when performing an autopsy. He hated making definite statements at crime scenes, but knew Sato needed to hear something. “Blunt force. Caused some type of bleeding in the skull, I’d say. And then maybe something snapped. She slumped to the ground, and that was it.”

Sato looked back at the body, then at the doctor, and paused before asking, “No one moved her, touched her in any way?”

“No!” If it had been anyone other than Sato, the doctor would have been insulted.

“Any signs of resisting? Bruising? Rape?”

“I don’t know.” The doctor hesitated, scratching his ear. “Her underclothes don’t look like they’ve been disturbed, and there’s nothing strange about her thighs or buttocks. I mean, there’s no strange marks or bruises. Like I said, it looks like she just dropped. Some kind of smack in the face, her head hits the wall. Probably burst something in her brain. Anyway, it probably shut down her central nervous system. That’s probably what killed her. We’ll know more later.”

Abe watched as Sato talked to the medical examiner. He watched Sato’s face harden as the doctor gave his assessment.

“She was pretty,” Abe said.

Sato turned to look at the girl once more.

“What was she doing in a dark alley so late at night?” he asked. “What could have happened that would lead to this?”

“This is Roppongi,” Abe said. “She probably liked the excitement. Nightclubs. Music. Lots of strange new people.”

“People.” Sato grunted.

“This club has a lot of foreigners come listen to jazz.”

Sato frowned. “Foreigners.”

“Young girl looking to meet foreigners, maybe have an adventure.”

“Adventure.” Sato shook his head.

“Hey, Tokyo’s booming,” Abe said. “It’s 1991. Things are good. Lots of people come here from all over the world, looking to make money, have a good time.”

“Maybe she had a boyfriend,” Sato said. “Maybe a jealous boyfriend.”

“Maybe a secret admirer,” Abe said.

“Yes, maybe.”

(Read more here.)

Joseph Mark Brewer is author of the Shig Sato Mystery series. You’re invited to visit his web site,  www.josephmarkbrewer.com. You can get your copy of The Gangster’s Son by visiting Amazon at

US  http://tinyurl.com/ov6286h


The World of Shig Sato: Food in Japan

A reader discovering the world of Shig Sato will soon learn that food becomes in interesting side character – Miki’s breakfast of miso soup and rice, Abe’s early life growing up in a ramen shop, Ses Fujimori’s love of okonomiyaki, Shig’s lunchtime katsudon, even Mos Hishida’s nickname, a result of his steady diet of Japanese-style hamburgers. Any reader not familiar with Japanese cuisine might wonder at it all. In truth, the food of Japan is as simple as it is varied.

The simple: fish and rice. But is that really all there is? It doesn’t begin to encompass the world of sushi, much less the whole of Japanese cuisine. The popular Japan Talk website lists 100 types of sushi. Notice that fish, vegetables, eggs, meat – it’s all included. Sushi, sashimi, makiit can take minutes to prepare, a lifetime to master.sushi

The importance of rice in Japanese culture cannot be overstated. The language uses the word gohan for “meal” as well as “cooked rice.” Gohan is a part of each word signifying breakfast, lunch and supper. In feudal times, wealth was measured how much rice one possessed and peasants were keenly appreciative of a payment in rice for their labor – coins were no good to them when they had to eat. Japan’s propensity for natural disasters, and it’s involvement in war, often led to a scarcity of food. Rice stockpiles were worth fighting for.

As an nation comprised of many islands large and small, a reader would be right in thinking that all types of seafood is a part of the Japanese cuisine, from the common tuna to the exotic –  pufferfish, anyone?

What many Western readers of the Shig Sato series may not realize is that farming – livestock, grain, vegetable, fruit, any combination and variety – can be found in most of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Almost any grocery store or market will have fresh local produce, seasonal fruit, cuts of meat and poultry, and packaged foods like curry mixes and spices. (When my in-laws came to visit from Canada, flour and vanilla were found and donuts were produced in an afternoon!)

One may not think of baked goods when thinking of Japanese cuisine, yet the tasty sweets and snacks appeal to young and old. And it doesn’t take much to find pan – bread – and some have even embraced the staple, when it’s made with rice flour.bakedgoodies

The varied: Being an international city, Tokyo is home to an array of dining experiences any world traveler would appreciate. Michelin stars are not unknown in the city. Gourmets and foodies alike can find were the finest food is served, and also the stores that sell the products for those daring and talented enough to create at home.

Regional specialties abound. I’ll conclude with this list of a prefecture’s favorite dish. See if you don’t recognize some, and have probably eaten some others (and some not!).

Hokkaido – Grilled mutten

Aomori – Sea urchin and abalone

Miyagi – Oysters

Yamagata – Potato stewsweetpotatoes

Fukushima – Pickled herring

Ishikawa – Turnip sushi

Gifu – Potatoes with sweet chestnuts

Nagano – Buckwheat dumplings

Aichi – Deep fried chicken wings

Tochigi – Giyouza (potsticker) dumplings

Chiba – Steamed peanuts

Kanagawa – Curry

Mie – Lobster

Shiga – Duck hot pot

Osaka – Okonomiyaki

Hyogo – Kobe’s famous beer-fed beefkobebeef

Tottori – Snow crab

Tokushima – Buckwheat porridge

Nagasaki – Sasebo burger (thanks to the navy base there)

Kukamoto – Sliced horsemeat

Miyazaki – Kyushu-style fried chicken

Okinawa – Fried pork belly

To get a copy of  The Gangster’s Son click here . To get a copy of  Shig Sato Book 2 The Thief’s Mistake visit my Smashwords page or Kindle page or visit my website www.josephmarkbrewer.com— and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and enter the World of Shig Sato. 

A Father’s Day

For fathers past, present and future, and the people love them. 
A Father’s Day
That day the alarm went off at 5 a.m. On a normal day that’d be an hour I’d be going to bed. prairierThis wasn’t a normal day, and not just because I wasn’t home. I was home, in a way. I was in the town my son lives in, a city on the Canadian prairie. It’s sort of a second home. I was visiting, and I took a motel room, and we were seeing each other and hanging out and this particular morning we were getting up at five a.m. But it wasn’t a normal day.
A trip to see the lad included a drive up to Sheho, a town of 350 on the Yellowhead Highway between Winnipeg and Edmonton.
There is a church there, and a cemetery, and the grandfather wanted to go to the church that day for it was the church’s feast day and there the priest would come from Brandon. There’d be a service in the tiny church and then there’d be a ceremony in the cemetery next door, where the grandfather’s mother and father were buried. The lad was supposed to be the altar boy. He’s an altar boy at the Orthodox pro-cathedral in town, and he was supposed to assist at this event.
The mother didn’t want the grandfather to drive, and in conversations before my arrival I said I’d be glad to go to Sheho, and that I’d drive if necessary. This was what the mother wanted. She didn’t think her father was up to driving anymore. The day before the trip I saw the grandfather and his new station wagon, and we talked, and we decided he would drive. I didn’t want to insult the man, nor argue his daughter’s case, as it wasn’t mine to argue. I was going to be a passenger. I’d keep an eye on things.
With arrangements made, and the alarm now having performed its duty, it was up to me to shower and shave and get ready to go in a manner to set an example with the youngster. I needn’t bothered. He was up, dressed, and ready long before I’d turned on the hot water tap in the bathroom. He was good at getting up, and getting ready. He was trained well. I needn’t have worried, and by the time I was ready, we were on our way to the grandfather’s, who wanted to leave early so we’d have time for breakfast on the way. That was how it turned out, too. By the time we reached the town of Ituna there was time for breakfast, big and reasonably priced, eaten in an easy manner with the grandfather and father teasing the lad about his entry into the sixth grade the next day and how big he was getting, and how he’d be as big as his dad before long. The boy took it all with a grin.
Our small party arrived at the church grounds just as the service was starting. In Orthodox churches, separating the congregation from the altar, there is a great screen decorated with icons and images from the life of Christ and his Apostles. Behind this screen the priest was hearing confession. There wasn’t enough time for the boy to find out if he was needed as an altar boy. The service began soon enough as the priest, finished with confession, walked out wearing his gold vestments and began the opening prayer. It didn’t appear that the boy’s services were required after all. The boy sat next to his grandfather, and as the service began, it was clear that there were going to be more people than there would be room in the small church, even as they took seats in the vestibule of the church. I decided to spend my time outside, listening as the service progressed, listening to the choir respond to the priest’s supplications. The average age of the choir, much like that of the congregation, was about 65 to 70 years old. Even with the Dumanski’s two boys, aged 3 and 18 months, and the boy, it was clearly an older crowd at the church.
Sheho is the Cree word for prairie chicken. When Ukrainian immigrants came to the area at the turn of the last century, when the province was still the Northwest Territory, such creatures lived in the scrub tree thickets and groves, along with the prairie dogs, pheasant and quail and deer. It was tough, dry, cold country. The land needed to be busted up and plowed, grain planted and harvested and be shipped East to the food companies so a nation could be fed. An immigrant’s part in the whole process started with a homestead, 40 acres, a good horse, a mud house, or if you were lucky and had the right type of trees on your land, a house with four strong walls and a roof, raised and set before that first bitter prairie winter set in. And a man knew his best friend was the horse he was tethered to, the two of them busting land that would help the family last another year.
Taking on land in plots close to the Yellowhead Highway meant a man had land close to the road traveled by the characters that typically went back and forth on roads, peddlers and agents and such, people who had news to tell, and so a man didn’t feel so cut off from the world.
A community would build a school and a teacher would come and be paid by funds raised by the families, or in livestock and vegetables. Many of the people standing and sitting and listening to that priest celebrate that feast day in that old church, 97 years after its dedication were students at such schools who lived their lives on such homesteads, educated in a time and place far removed from the new country and a new century they’d not yet gotten used to.
The grandfather had grown up on the hardscrabble land, his father working land here and there, wherever a deal could be made for something better, hedging a bet and working out of bad luck, mostly. Older brothers worked the land, he and a younger sister tended to the animals before school. There were four or five years of that before work became a serious thing.
The service began its second hour, the Orthodox liturgy lingering over the mystery of the Christos. The late August sun began its work in earnest, heating a land with wheat, canola, oats, peas, timothy, alfalfa, ready for the combine, the reaper, the header. The land was hard and thick with grasshoppers. Late-summer rain brought mosquitoes quick on the attack. It was hard to remember they were God’s creatures, even when standing in a church yard.
The after the service the congregation assembled outside and the priest blessed the church, the land and then the procession up the small slope to the cemetery south of the church. The grass was freshly mowed and weeded and some plots had fresh flowers. Despite the walkers and canes the procession was something like a children’s walk, the old men and old women with grandchildren and great-grandchildren of their own visiting the graves of their parents, their aunts and uncles, their brothers and sisters.
Kuzyk, Romaniuk, Melnychuk, Shevchenko, Svoboda, Wiesliu, Dymanski. The graves bore names I didn’t know, and I knew I was a visitor to the place, linked to the land there by the blood of a son who was Ukrainian and a Canadian as well as a German-Irish American.
I stood there, watching the procession, the priest praying the prayers of the living for the souls of the dead. And that’s when I realized these grandfathers and grandmothers were at once aged and at the same time they were children visiting their families. That’s what was really going on. It was a special day for the people who loved that church, who had their families buried here. They wanted to be there on a holy day and say hello to mama and papa, and tell them they’re still trying to be good boys and girls, doing what the Bible said, to honor thy father and mother.
I bent over and whispered into my son’s ear, “take a good look at all these grandmas and grandpas. You know who they really are? Children, coming to visit their mothers and fathers. When they come here they are children again.” My son looked at me and laughed a small laugh at the idea. I don’t know if he understood what I said, or whether he laughed at the idea of all these old people being young.
Before heading home, the grandfather wanted to show the boy the house where he grew up. It was only a mile or so from the cemetery, on a gravel lane, behind a grove. The old man and the boy got out of the car and walked across a field of ripening oats. I stayed in the car, and watched the two cross the field.
I knew the grandfather, nearly 80 now, liked these visits with the past. And I could easily see him as a lad no older than my own son, crossing that field after school, or with a pole with a few fish from the stream north of where I stood.
We live solitary lives at our own peril. Some of us are put on Earth lucky enough to know the goodness and the love of parents who bear us, and we try to live our lives as our parents did, and their parents did. Some of us remain single, and some go on to have children who go on to live the lives they are meant to live. And if they are lucky they fondly remember a loved one, and a visit to their resting place seems as natural as the desire to sit and talk once more.
My cousin once said it wasn’t really Christmas until he was with his dad. I know what he means now. My special time of the year is when I’m with my son. It doesn’t matter if we spend the day at a cemetery, or reminisce with an old man. It’s better that way, I think. Some memories are treasures too fine for wrapping paper and bows.

Charleston 2015

downloadThis suspected mass murderer, Dylann Storm Roof, is 21. Makes him born in mid-1990s. Two generations after the Civil Rights era. 130 years after the end of the Civil War – six generations, if not seven?
‘You have to be carefully taught.’
Seven generations of hatred and bile, and there’s a bunch of babies born every day who will be indoctrinated into this evil just as sure as the sun rises. A white man goes into the heart of the black community and murders.
‘You have to be carefully taught.’
Seven generations of willing ignorance.
Once America looks at itself in the mirror it ignores this murderously shameful behavior and its legacy, nothing will change. America will ignore it and grow silent and forgetful very soon, as always. What will fill the silence is the notion that this behavior is acceptable.
Is it?
Seven generations of silent approval. Of murder. Of hatred.
‘You have to be carefully taught.’

I don’t approve of not publishing the names and faces of these people who kill in the name of hatred, of supremacy, or any other idiocy of the day. Show their pictures. Publish their names. Sweeping their misdeeds under the rug of history is the same as silence. Don’t be silent. Silence is aiding and abetting. Silence enables.

Twilight talk and lightning bugs

My son calls every weekend, usually after supper, when the long afternoon sunlight begins to dim. I sit in my apartment with the lights off, and as we talk, I watch the day turn from light to twilight.summereve

Tonight I asked him about lightning bugs: where there any where he lived? I couldn’t remember  — he is, for another few weeks, living in the town where he grew up. I did not live in that town nearly as long as he. There are many things I don’t remember about the town, or those days.

He said no, there aren’t any lightning bugs. I began talking about the Midwest summer evenings of my youth, being dismissed to the back yard after supper, to run and burn off energy, to get out from underfoot. Those evenings we waited for that moment when, in the thick summer evening air, the sky would light up with the dozens of neon green lights flickering from the insects we gleefully chased. We captured them, put them in jars, or pinched one between our fingers to write out names in the twilight sky. It was a childhood summer evening ritual.

I asked him if there were lightning bugs where he lived, and he said no. I asked if he had ever seen a lightning bug, and he said yes, the summer he was an intern in Washington, DC. Of course, I thought to myself. He would have, there. We talked a little longer, the day became night, and I said goodbye. I watched the twilight dim to darkness. I thought of lightning bugs and childhood, and him.

I know he’ll call next week. Sometime soon he’ll be returning to where I live, and he won’t be calling me on Sunday evenings to check in and see how I am. We’ll see each other nearly every day, and what we talk about will be different. We’ll talk to each other, and it will be good, but it will be a different type of conversation. It won’t be the talk of a son calling a father.

I’m going to miss the phone calls.

(Image from Flickr.com)

Book Review of the Week: On the Black

On the Black

Theo Cage81ijmdVYzdL._SL1500_

Format: Kindle Edition

★★★★ 4 Stars

Great Writer, Great Story

I feel quite lucky to have received Theo Cage’s On the Black for review. There is everything to like in this page-turner. Action, espionage, compelling and believable characters, and a plot that could be ‘ripped from the headlines.’
In On the Black, we learn that Burroughs Rice was always good at his job. It just happened to be killing people for his government. Then one day he walked away, put himself in isolation in a cabin in Washington State. He knew there would be certain people looking for him. He was prepared for that day.
And the tale Theo Cage spins is a thrilling read that cannot be put down. The action, the pacing, the characters – at one point I didn’t know how Cage could pull off writing about so many dire situations. But he’s a resourceful man and knows how to tell a story: bikers, the mafia, a witness on the run, and FBI man on the outs, a crew loyal to Burroughs Rice, and creepy government kingpins anyone would like to eliminate if they had half a chance.
Be prepared to be taken in by the whole story and be prepared to become a fan of Theo Cage. Great writer, great story.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
For all my