Please Allow Me to Re-introduce Myself

By Gamal Hennessy 

At some point, I invited you to go on a trip.

I promised to take you away from your daily grind and guide you through a world of crime and passion. I offered you a ticket to action, espionage and seduction. I wrote three novels and half a dozen short stories of the best work I could create. You rewarded me with your time and attention.  

Then life got in the way.

 Personal, professional and financial realities cut me off from my fictional journeys. They also prevented me from staying in contact with you since late Spring. I apologize for stopping the trip in such an abrupt fashion, but I’d like to make it up to all of you in two ways.

First, I’m going to make all the books in the Crime and Passion series available on Amazon for $0.99 each for the next thirty days, including my full length novels

If you haven’t had a chance to sample some of my work yet, I hope you’ll take advantage of this 75% off sale to step into my world. 

Second, I plan to have a series of bi-weekly posts leading up to the release of my next novel in November about the role violence plays in being a writer. I hope these essays lure you back into the world of crime and passion and all the other work I plan to create.

I know one less email doesn’t make much difference in your busy life, but I also know everyone can use a break from real life once in a while. If you’re willing to keep hearing from me, I’ll try to make the trip worthwhile. 

If you’ve got any questions, comments or observations, please let me know. I enjoy hearing from you.

 Have fun.


If you want to spend more time in the world of Crime and Passion, sign up for the free RSVP Newsletter. 

A New Touch of Honey Teaser Sample and Free Book Offer

by Gamal Hennessy

Teasers, trailers and samples are an expected part of modern entertainment. Movies, games and TV shows try to build up excitement by offering a sneak peak of new releases. Well, whats good for them is good for me. I want you to get excited about my new novel A Touch of Honey, so all this week Im offering a sample chapter to get you ready for the release on March 17th. 

You can find Part One Here, but if you already read about the handcuffs and the international spy operation, please feel free to jump into part two.


Part Two

Nikki wanted to say something to end this torment. She wanted to scream or lash out at Bakers intense and animated face. She couldnt handle his fascination with her nightmares. She couldn't listen to this, but she couldnt open her mouth to stop him. 

Baker must have noticed the pain on her face. His tone lost its enthusiasm, but he continued. "Unfortunately, Nikki had a problem. Actually, she had three problems. First, her case officer was a man named Christopher Carpenter. That was a problem because Carpenter is mentally and emotionally unstable, completely unfit to run field operations. He'd gone so far off the reservation a Congressional committee considered investigating him for acts of genocide. And Carpenter wasn't really interested in the op. His obsession focused on controlling Nikki more than anything else." 

I dont want to hear anything about him. The nausea churned in Nikki's stomach at the word genocide. The idea of sharing a bed with a mass murderer made her feel like shed bathed in blood. She didnt challenge Bakers accusations. She'd seen Chris true nature on video. He revealed his demonic passion and used Dominique as his disposable prop

"Ok. The second problem involved Dominique. Nikki fell in love with Manuels wife. That made the mission of betraying Cruz Maritime almost impossible. Finally, Dominique presented the most complex problem of all. She claimed to be an agent from another intelligence service who also wanted to spy on Manuel. Based on unconfirmed reports, Dominique might have worked for British, French or even Russian intelligence. Near the end, the operation went sideways in a big way. Every op hits some kind of snag, but this was fucked beyond all recognition. Do you want to know how it ended?"

"I know how it ended." Nikki's voice sounded so tiny in her ear. She didn't want to admit anything, but she couldn't listen to Baker talk about the night Dominique died. 

Baker's voice became a whisper to match hers. "Then you know how important that drive is. A lot of people suffered for that information." 

The emotional manipulation took its toll when she snapped. "If you know what happened, then you know the USB is useless." 

"Why do you say that?"

Nikki let out a long breath in an attempt to focus. "When Manuel died, Cruz Maritime became compromised. The assets were seized and Argentinian authorities started a full investigation. Any smuggling Cruz might have been doing died when he did. You can't use what's on that drive." 

Baker gave Nikki his inside joke smile again. "Luckily for you, compromised assets can still be useful in the right hands."

"What the hell does that mean?"

He shrugged.  "It means that if you still have the drive, then it is possible for us to form a relationship based on mutual exploitation."

"And if I don't have it?

"Then we both have a problem."

A Touch of Honey will be available for all major book platforms on March 17th, 2015. If youd like to get my first novel Smooth Operator for free while youre waiting, just click on this link to get your e-book.

Have fun.


A Touch of Honey Teaser Sample Part One

by Gamal Hennessy

Teasers, trailers and samples are an expected part of modern entertainment. Movies, games and TV shows try to build up excitement by offering a sneak peak of new releases. Well, whats good for them is good for me. I want you to get excited about my new novel A Touch of Honey, so all this week Im offering a sample chapter to get you ready for the release on March 17th.


Part One

"So I'm hoping you still have the flash drive you acquired from Cruz Maritime."

Baker opened the cuffs and dropped them into his lap in one smooth motion. Nikki rubbed her wrists to project an image of pain. They didn't really hurt, but she needed to do something with her hands to stall for time. She held his gaze for an extra beat to reinforce her sincerity then shook her head and lied.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just a bartender at a strip club, at least I used to be, before you got my attention."

Baker nodded. "I understand what youre trying to do. You want to stick to your cover story as long as possible. Youll deny everything that doesn't fit your legend. That's your first line of defense. It's interrogation resistance 101. But if you were going to work that angle, it would have made sense to act more frightened back in the alley." Baker smiled as if teaching tradecraft to an eager student over drinks. "Let me play along. Ill tell you a little story and pretend to put things in perspective for you. Does that make sense?"

"It's your car."

"Actually, this is a company car. I prefer to drive something much nicer than this on my own time." 

Nikki shook her head in spite of herself. "Whatever."

Baker smiled back "Whatever. Approximately nine months ago, a woman named Nikki Siriene attended a Christmas party in the resort city of Mar del Plata, Argentina. The host of that party was one Manuel Cruz, former President of Cruz Maritime. In the days following that party, Nikki became an intimate acquaintance of both Manuel Cruz and his wife; a French painter named Dominique. What do you think of that picture so far?"

Nikki's jaw clenched as she forced out a response. "A high profile international threesome sounds pretty hot."

"It was, but it got hotter." Baker shifted in his seat to face her. His interest and excitement in the story filled the whole car. The memories he exposed forced bile into her throat. "You see, Manuel didnt know Nikki had been sent to spy on him." Baker let those words hang in the air for a moment as if to savor them. "Prior intelligence suggested Cruz Maritime might be smuggling illegal weapons into Mexico. It was Nikki's job to steal the data that could prove or disprove that suspicion."

A Touch of Honey will be available for all major book platforms on March 17th, 2015. If youd like to get my first novel Smooth Operator for free while youre waiting, just click on this link to get your e-book. 

Have fun.


America's Love Affair with Torture

A poll conducted in the wake of last week's CIA Torture report suggests that up to fifty percent of Americans believe the CIA program was justified. Responses were split along party lines, race and gender, with Republicans standing behind the legacy of Cheney and Democrats split on the issue. Minorities, women and younger people were more likely to reject the program while older white males accepted it.

The results aren’t earth shattering, considering the history of American society. Our treatment of indigenous Americans, African slaves, Chinese migrants and women in general has included systemic violence since before we were a country. Modern examples also support this premise. From what I understand, entertainment popular in the wake of the 9/11 attacks from 24 to Zero Dark Thirty, depicted torture as a viable means to extract critical information in a short period of time.  The poll results only clarify what we already knew.

I’m not innocent when it comes to using torture in my work. Both Smooth Operator and A Taste of Honey include torture scenes. The difference between my stories and other situations is the goal of the torturer. In my books, the torturer wants to punish the torture victim or use images of the torture victim to force action from a third party. The collection of information is secondary or not an issue at all. Based on my understanding of the subject, torture is not an effective way to gather information, but it’s a great way to display aggression, generate fear or act out repressed anger.

I think those of us who support CIA torture are less interested in intelligence and more interested in venting the feelings of rage and insecurity in the aftermath of 9/11. They accept torture because they imagine it acted out on someone who does not look like them or follow their beliefs. One of the few Republicans to speak out against torture was Senator John McCain. His position is influenced by his own experience as a POW tortured by the North Vietnamese. I’m sure if more Americans found themselves or their loved ones in the horrible position of being tortured, they’d be less likely to throw their support behind this program.

Nine Good Reasons (and One Bad One) Why Independent Novelists Should Write Short Stories

Most authors I know (both independent and traditional) see the novel as their main creative outlet. It has the substance, gravitas and size to mark it as a major achievement. Few of them focus on shorter works as a beneficial aspect of their craft. (I include both short stories and novellas into this discussion See Just How Long is a Novel and How Much Should it Cost?)  I feel that independents, even more than traditional authors can get enormous benefits from writing short fiction. I've identified ten virtues of writing shorter stories that cover the business, craft and lifestyle of writing.

Business Virtues

1) Production benefits: Independents have several aspects of the production process that they have to be comfortable with in order to get their work out into the world. The best way to understand the nuances of pre-production, production, post production and launch is to get in there and do it. (See The Four Stages of Novel Production) There is a natural discomfort that comes from trying to understand all these moving parts when the 'test study' for your publishing education is the 120,000 word manuscript that you've worked on for two years. That hesitation is reduced when the “test subject” is a 15,000 word short story that you wrote in a month. You would still try to produce the best book possible, of course. But the emotional cost of each inevitable mistake would be less damaging to your psyche.

2) Cost benefits: One of the major costs in independent publishing is editing (See How to Find an Editor without Going Insane). The editing cost for a 120,000 word book can easily be $2,000 or more. The price is often based on word count, so a 15,000 word story might only cost $240 under a similar pricing model. This lower price offers flexibility on two fronts. First, you're more likely to try different editors if you know the cost associated with each one isn't that much. Second, the release of each book won't take such a huge chunk out of your limited personal budget. There is an increased cover cost for multiple books (See the Mystery of Cover Design) but there are ways to keep those costs substantially lower than your editing costs.

3) Sales benefits: The popular wisdom about independent publishing is that the more products you have in the market, the easier it is for readers to find you and the more success you'll have in the long term. The problem with that is that it might not be feasible to get 10-15 novels out in a reasonable period of time. Releasing 10-15 novellas on the other hand is a more manageable production plan (See What's Your Publishing Plan?)

Craft Virtues

4) Playground for Ideas: If you're playing with a certain characters or scenarios for a larger work, but you're not sure if you want to tell that story over an entire novel, then a short story can help you explore the narrative potential. If you get to the end of the short story and you're itching to write more, go ahead. If the idea fizzles after 10,000 words, then you can avoid wrestling with the concept for 30,000 to 40,000 words before you realize you've written yourself into a space that you can't get out of.

5) "Extra" ideas: I often come to points in my novels where minor characters suggest stories that won't fit into the main narrative. At other points they hint at something in their backstory that deserves to be explored. Instead of trying to cram it into the story where it might not fit or forgetting the idea altogether, I often use that idea as a separate short story to satisfy my creative detour without derailing me from the main plot.

6) Building blocks: I work under the concept that the chapter of a book is a mini story in its own right that includes a beginning, turning point and end (See Analysis of Story Structure Part 1: The Chapter). The only difference between short stories and chapters is that the chapter needs an internal consistency that also serves the broader book. Writing short stories is great practice for manipulating the individual elements of a novel that can be strung together to complete the story in the same way a season of a TV series is made up of discrete episodes.

Lifestyle virtues

7) Project management: Cooking dinner for two is less intimidating than cooking for twenty. A 15,000 word project is less intimidating than a 150,000 word project. Breaking your creative work into smaller chunks might get you to a place mentally where you are more productive. This is even more beneficial if you use your short stories to build a larger novel.

8) Greater sense of accomplishment: When I look on my author page on Amazon, I feel better when I have more titles up there. The bigger catalog gives me a sense of progress and productivity that inspires me to write more. I don't know if I would get the same sense of accomplishment if I only saw my novels.

9) Creative freedom: When you know all your writing isn't tied up in one project, you can take risks. You can explore different genres, perspectives and ideas. You can push concepts farther than you normally would without sacrificing your main books. These might be stories that you never even release, but the creative freedom that they give you will come back and make your main stories even better.

The Vice of Short Stories

If there is a downside for releasing short stories, it is their length in relation to their price. With many independents selling full novels for $2.00 less, some readers and writers might reject the idea of selling 15,000 words for $.99. While I might disagree with the $.99 novel concept, I understand the economic problem it creates. 

My solution is to release a series of short stories in an anthology that is cheaper than the cost of all the individual stories. For example, I released an anthology of related short stories called Smooth Operator in 2013. The book contained five short stories and one novella for a total of 65,000 words. If I released each one individually, the price of the set would have been $7.99. I released Smooth Operator for $4.99 or 40% off the individual story cost. It's still more than the $.99 novel, but I don't believe in selling full novels for a buck.

Your turn

Do you write short stories in addition to or instead of writing longer novels? Do you do it for some or all of the reasons I listed, or do you have another rationale? Please share in the comments below. 

Have fun

If you’d like to stay informed about the business, craft and lifestyle of independent publishing, sign up from the free IPN Newsletter today. For a limited time, new subscribers will receive the short story Anything for Love: A Taste of Honey Book One

Enter Now for Your Chance to Win a Free Copy of Smooth Operator!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Smooth Operator by Gamal Hennessy

Smooth Operator

by Gamal Hennessy

Giveaway ends March 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

A Special Sale Price for Smooth Operator!

To celebrate the release of my new novel, A Taste of Honey, I’ve decided to offer my last novel at a special low price for a limited time.

About Smooth Operator

Born into privilege, wounded by war, and skilled in the art of manipulation, Warren Baker works like a spider. He weaves plans and plots, drawing people into his web until they accomplish his goals without ever knowing he was involved.

In some cases, his influence is as delicate as a woman's smile. In others, he is a blunt instrument ruthlessly pursuing his goals. All the stories in this collection reveal insights into this complicated man and his mysterious quest for power.

Smooth Operator is ultimately a crime story about our desires, and how they define us. From ambition to passion, from blood lust to vengeance, our motivations do more than shape what we are willing to do; they reveal who we are as people.

When you are faced with a critical life choice, what you are capable of?

Note: Readers who purchase and review this book will be eligible for a FREE gift!

Smooth Operator was a 2013 Amazon Espionage Bestseller in 2013 and was a #1 bestseller in the Amazon's Hot New releases category. 

This sale won’t last long, so take advantage of it now so you can be ready for A Taste of Honey when it is released in February 2014.

Have fun.


Marketing the Independent Novel: Lighting a Spark or Spitting in the Wind?

Marketing is one of the necessary evils of independent publishing. As a writer, I'd prefer to simply spend my days reading, writing, drinking, loving and sleeping. But if I don't tell people about my book, how can I get them to read it, even if it's free? At the same time, if I just run around begging people to buy my book, the only thing I'll accomplish is pissing people off.
I don't have a marketing background, but I am willing to share the marketing I did for Smooth Operator and what I've learned in the process. Hopefully this information will help you reach Fifty Shades sales numbers, even though I'm really far from that right now.

Please note that these tactics came from three books on the subject of independent marketing as well as my own meandering experience in my previous jobs; (Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, Crush It With Kindle and Secret Amazon Hacks)

The Five Principles of Independent Book Marketing
Based on what I've read, people buy books based on five factors. In general:
  1. They buy from authors they know and like
  2. They buy books they've heard about (often several times)
  3. They buy books that offer to do something for them
  4. They buy books that other people buy
  5. They buy books that are easy to buy

I tried to use these concepts to shape my marketing efforts. I broke the process down into five phases to maintain my sanity; social, preparation, announcement, pre-launch, launch and post launch.

Social is where I interact with the potential audience without talking about my book. The goal here is to establish yourself create rapport. I post essays about the business and craft of writing (like this one), book reviews and news articles about subjects related to my books. Hopefully this makes more people familiar with my name without a constant hard sell. At the same time, I've tried to create and increase friend’s lists on various sites and a mailing list that can be used to both keep in touch and spread the word about the book when the time comes. I did this stage for about nine months before the book launch.

In the Preparation phase, I try to set up the framework for the book marketing just prior to release. I found and sent ARC copies, determined the book's Amazon categories, and wrote the cover copy. I did all this about a month before the book launch.

The Announcement phase is two weeks before launch. This is when the cover image (See Judging a Book by its Cover) and promotion copy is posted (See the Smooth Operator Promo Post), the press release is written and mercenary mailing lists are recruited. The goal here is to let people know about the book, without pushing them to buy it. I imagine it works the same way as a movie trailer or a commercial for a new show.

In the Pre-Launch phase, I offer readers something in addition to the new book. I try to add incentives to the process, in the same way other companies offer extra features or gifts for people who buy first or take some other action. Since I didn't have money for an elaborate gift, I offered a prequel story called A Special Request to Smooth Operator to anyone willing to write a review.

When I was ready for the Launch phase, I created launch post on my blog (, sent out a blast on my email list and a social media blast to about 300,000 people (I didn't take bots, duplicates or dead profiles because I have no way to weed that out) during the five day promotional period that comes with Amazon's KDP program. My goal was to get as many downloads as possible in an attempt to raise my ranking on Amazon's sales list.

In the Post Launch phase, I try and let people know how other readers reacted to the book. Reviews from critics, sales figures and list announcements are all used to show that the book has merit in the marketplace. I also purchased three days of ad time on Facebook ads to target about 2.8 million readers in the US, UK, Canada and Mexico. I wanted to try this to see if FB advertising was more effective than a social media blast so I can compare the two methods for my next book.

The Results
Here is what all this marketing did for Smooth Operator during the first two weeks of release:

The Good News
  • There were 900 downloads in the US and more than 300 internationally. And 200 actual sales
  • Smooth Operator was reached #1 on the espionage new release list and #5 on the crime anthology list
  • The book got seven independent reviews with an average rating of 4.6 stars (See What the Critics are Saying about Smooth Operator)
  • Amazon used Smooth Operator as its featured new espionage release email early last week

The Bad News
  • The sales of Smooth Operator dropped 95% after the promotional period was over
  • Smooth Operator dropped off the espionage chart after the promo period and slipped down to #55 in the crime anthology list
  • The overall response rate from all marketing efforts came in at about .003%, or three downloads for every 1,000 people targeted.

Lessons Learned
The obvious takeaway from this exercise is that I am not a marketing genius. There are probably several steps I could have taken to improve my sales. I’m just not sure what those steps are at this point. Maybe I needed to reach three million people instead of three hundred thousand. Maybe I needed a Champion to lead people to Smooth Operator (See Champions, Tastemakers and True Fans). Maybe I shouldn't have squandered the Launch by offering the book for free. Maybe the long tail hasn't kicked in yet and I need to give it more time. I have seven novels planned after Smooth Operator. When it's time to market the new novel in January, I'll try to learn from this experience and create a better result.

What marketing tactics did you use? Were your results better, worse or the same? Leave a comment and let me know.

Have fun.

Smooth Operator Is Now Available for Free on!

August 7, 2013,
New York

Nightlife Publishing has released a new anthology called Smooth Operator: The Life and Crimes of Warren Baker (ISBN-0615853579). It is a criminal espionage novel that explores human motivations and how those motivations shape our identity.

The stories in this collection follow a professional spy named Warren Baker as he attempts to manipulate the parade of criminals that cross his path in New York, Miami and Argentina. Playing on the anger, envy, greed and lust of his targets, Baker strives to fight against an army of criminal cartels invading America. If he succeeds, he'll be in a perfect position to stop them. If he fails, he'll wind up dead in the trunk of an abandoned car. Advanced reviews have described Smooth Operator as "a thrilling, exotic novel packed with intrigue, action, deceit and sensuality."

Gamal Hennessy, the president of Nightlife Publishing and author of Smooth Operator, sees the book as a blend of both the crime thriller and the spy novel. "I tried to create a style of story inspired by the best of both genres. Combining the cool professionalism of the spy mixed with the primal motivations of the criminal appeals to readers who are looking for a different type of spy story."

Smooth Operator will be part of the Kindle Direct Press program. The e-book will be free from Wednesday August 7th to Sunday, August 11. The retail price of the e-book will be $2.99. The paperback version has a retail price of $9.99.

As a bonus, Nightlife Publishing will offer a free prequel short story called A Special Request, to anyone who posts a review for Smooth Operator on Amazon. The retail price of the prequel is $.99 and will be provided regardless of the contents of the review.

For more information, please visit

About Gamal Hennessy
Gamal Hennessy is an author, entertainment attorney and nightlife advocate in New York City. He is the author of fiction including Afraid of the Dark and Smooth Operator, the non-fiction title Seize the Night and he is also the President of Nightlife Publishing.

SOURCE Nightlife Publishing

Have fun.
Gamal Hennessy

A New Novel from Gamal Hennessy Called Smooth Operator Goes on Sale July 31st

He knows what you want…
Born into privilege, wounded by war, and skilled in the art of manipulation, Warren Baker works like a spider. He weaves plans and plots, drawing people into his web until they accomplish his goals without ever knowing he was involved.
In some cases, his influence is as delicate as a woman's smile. In others, he is a blunt instrument ruthlessly pursuing his goals. All the stories reveal insights into this complicated man and his mysterious quest for power.

Smooth Operator is ultimately about our desires, and how they define us. From ambition to passion, from blood lust to vengeance, our motivations do more than shape what we are willing to do; they reveal who we are as people. 
When you are faced with a critical life choice, what you are capable of?
The Kindle version of Smooth Operator will be FREE to Amazon Prime members beginning on July 31st, 2013. The sale price for the Kindle version is $2.99. The sale price for the paperback version is $4.99.
Everyone who reviews Smooth Operator on the Amazon Page is eligible for a FREE GIFT! Details are coming soon.
Have fun.