Hi troopers,
I happen to be in the world of letters, but it doesn’t really matter what field you pursue, the same basic rule is always in place:

“The higher you reach, the rougher it gets.”

And if you do put yourself out there, you can expect to run into any number of do nothing knuckleheads who are falling all over themselves just dying to point out what a jerk you are to even try. These are guys who are actually rooting for you to fail. Why? Because by putting you down they think they’re building themselves up.

Not that I’m bitter, perish the thought.

This on top of getting smacked right between the eyes with every set back and disappointment you could ever imagine and a thousand and one you never saw coming at all.

The good news is most people see the odds and never get up to bat in the first place and the vast majority of people who do, get kicked in the pants and quickly give up.

That’s good news, because if that were not the case, they’d be your competition.

To get to the point where I am with this grand adventure of mine, I’ve formally dubbed The Phoenix Project, above and beyond the grins that said “You’ll never win,” I have a collection of five hundred eight rejection letters and have written over eight thousand pages, that’s effectively War & Peace times eight.

The reviews are in. Here’s a smattering below, but even now we’re still not completely out of the woods. Why? Because it takes time, despite all our rave FIVE STAR reviews, the general public is still not aware who this new rising star of the Mystery Genre, James Phoenix, actually is.

Suddenly that state of affairs is changing very rapidly. I’ve hooked up with a Social Media guru who actually knows what he’s doing, my new pal, Chris Castro. Among other things, he’s started placing ads on Facebook.

When you click on to the link below you’ll see the Facebook landing page that people see when they click on to our ad. There’s a special offer and a very silly two-minute video, but it turns out, there’s a lot worse things a fellow can do than going into business with Mark Zuckerberg.


The rewards for successful writers of Commercial Fiction, people like my great hero, Robert B. Parker, chick lit queen, Danielle Steele and Steven King, to name but a few are in the billions...James Phoenix is not there yet.

But it’s getting clearer and clearer, the die is cast.

James Phoenix

“Top rate investigation, fans of Parker’s Spenser will enjoy Phoenix’s take on the mean streets of Boston. FIVE STARS”

Harriet Klausner, Amazon #1, Hall of Fame Amazon Reviewer.

Bodies pile up and Fenway discovers he’s up against a violent and talented international hit man. Just staying alive makes this quite an adventure. Highest Rating.

Book Views, by Alan Caruba

“Frame Up pays homage to all the best parts of the genre—I applaud Phoenix’s boldness, and fans of the crime drama, including Parker’s should enjoy this latest addition.”

Literary Aficionado FIVE STARS

“Phoenix gives readers a larger than life hero to root for, plenty of shoot outs and fisticuffs.”

Crime Fiction Lover

“Frame Up keeps the pace going. Fenway’s relentless, even when he would probably be better off not being so.”

Shooting Star Mag FIVE STARS

“Frame Up blew me away, buy it!” FIVE STARS, selected Best Debut Novel of the Year.

Sons of Spade

“Frame Up, James Phoenix’s debut novel, has laid the groundwork to establish himself as the heir apparent to legendary Robert Parker” FIVE STARS. Nashua Telegram - 

“This is an action thriller that will grab your attention about halfway through the novel and keep you chuckling throughout...A segue to Robert Parker.

Swampscott Marblehead Reporter - FIVE STARS

“FRAME UP is almost certain to satisfy the most jaded of thrill seekers.”

I Love a Mystery-FIVE STARS

“Hands down the best debut novel of the year.” FIVE STARS, The Black Mask Magazine

“Brilliant dialogue and a story that grabs you by page two and never lets go. Bravo!”

FIVE STARS, Good Reads

Rated must read by Listopia, FOUR & ONE HALF STARS...(Guess you can’t please everybody.)

High Praise from The Robert B. Parker Fan Club for James Phoenix

“Couldn't put the damn thing down!” 

“I started Frame Up yesterday and finished it this morning. Phoenix really grabbed me!”

“Thanks for Frame Up, an awesome story. I can't wait for the next one!”

“It’s true, James Phoenix is The Next Robert B. Parker.”

“Phoenix is dynamite!”  

Hi troopers,

The process of writing a memoir is a real stroll down memory lane. I grew up in the 50’s and my well meaning parents, trying to give me opportunities they never had, paid extra to send me to Parochial School, so anti-everything that wasn’t Catholic nuns could hit me with sticks...God bless those saintly women.

I had eight years of that and then right out of the 8th grade, one full year in what they called a junior seminary, where I lived away from home, wore nothing but black, went to mass in the morning and novena at night, except for Sundays when we went to mass twice. There was silence at all meals while one of us was selected to read scripture and of course confession seven days a week...It was rough coming up with anything to confess, but we all did the best we could.

Finally though a fluke, I escaped to Public High School in my second year. You didn’t have to be Catholic to go there, but it wasn’t a whole lot less rigid. Both the principal and assistant principal were bona fide fascists.

I once sat through a lecture by our assistant principal, a Mr. Mahan, where he said: “Joe McCarthy was a great hero for all true Conservatives.”

I fit in perfectly because I was tall and blond, with a close crop haircut, just long enough to put a sharp part in and a genuine goodie, goodie. I ended up as class president my senior year and was selected for the prestigious  “Marshall Staff” which amounted to the school police force.

We had our own special homeroom and wore green blazers with the school logo on the breast pocket for special assemblies and events. For every day, we wore “arm bands” when we directed traffic in the corridors.

I did go through my adolescent rebellion, as we all do...But I was thirty-three at the time.

So I got along just fine...But God help you if you didn’t fit in, if you were in anyway different. When I was in high school, it was a very good plan to keep your head down.

It’s a changing world and it’s changing for the better.  We were at the mall last night and there was the usual selection of bops going through the puberty rites, a rough time in anybody’s life.

One kid in particular stood out, little skinny guy, black wife beater T, tattoos everywhere and a beyond the pale eight-inch loud pink lacquered Mohawk, chatting away with a bunch of his pals, no problem.

When I was in high school, if they let him walk through the door in the first place, (they wouldn’t,) they could never leave him unsupervised for a minute...He’d be bounced off a wall in a millisecond.

Now there’s real tolerance...I’d call that progress.
Hello there!
I’ve been working so hard on the business end of my grand adventure in the world of letters, that I really haven’t been taking any time to write. Had lunch with an old classmate of mine from the Newburyport High School Class of 1966, Helen Wilbur, who lives down in NYC. It had been more than forty-seven years since I had last seen her.
I took her out a couple of times in the way back then, but it never really went anywhere as there was nothing wrong with her eye sight...But that’s another story.
Helen’s a senor VP with a major publishing house who’s written a number of highly successful children’s books as kind of a side project, really good stuff. My favorite is Lilly’s Victory Garden, though she’s better known for her Alphabet learning books, Z is for Zeus, being her latest.
Anyway, she encouraged me to get back at it and polish off my ADD/ADHD memoir, Relentless, which deals with the impact ADD/ADHD had on my life from very early childhood on...ADD/ADHD is prime meat for the talk show circuit, so my PR guys have been pushing for me to put a wrap on Relentless for quite some time. But for some reason, when Helen spoke, I listened.
Just got back into it this AM...In addition to the ADD/ADHD thing, there’s quite a section on my rigid parochial education...Not all of the nuns I had were psychopaths...just most of them. So I’m going to paint as balanced a picture as I can.  Here’s a little excerpt from Chapter 11, just to give you a little advanced look at what lies ahead.
James Phoenix

Chapter 11


The Mark of Zorro, Militarism, Higher Education & Other Adventures

It would be unfair of me to say that all the nuns I had were scary, frustrated, mean-spirited women prone to corporal punishment. Sister Agnes Teresa was the only notable exception, well, her and Sister Mary Miles, the closed fist puncher, but I never had her for a teacher.  They were rigid, orthodox and parochial disciplinarians of course, but that was no big surprise. That’s why they call it Parochial School. There was a play that ran forever on Broadway, popular because it spoofed the way that a whole generation of Catholic school children had been educated. It was called Nun Such, and as far as my own personal experience was concerned, pretty much spot on.

We were taught that our religion was the one true religion, that all others were Johnny come latelys. Why? Because the Catholic Church was the one and only church founded by God. That’s why, all of the others were founded by men. We were taught respect for authority...Tolerance, not so much.

They watched us and kept us in line at all times, but beyond a sharp rebuke and maybe a whack at the back of your head, that would be the end of it.

There’s an old black and white photo I have of me in my white First Communion suit, which would have to have been circa 1954. I was seven, my little sister Ann Louise, would have been four. It’s obviously poised. We’re facing each other, me in my suit of lights, Ann Louise, a cute little chubby girl with long blonde hair, dressed for my big day in her Sunday best with straw hat and a ribbon trailing off the back. I’m bending over, kissing her on the forehead. It’s taken on our back porch.

I have no recollection of the picture being taken, but I do have a very distinct recollection of our procession from the school to the church. They had all the boys and girls lined up separately, each boy holding a wooden cross painted gold about a foot long, all the girls with their hands folded reverently and down cast eyes.

We marched along behind a six-foot statue of the Virgin being pulled on a draped cart by some of the older boys, followed by a an eight grade girl who was all decked out in a long gown. She was beautiful and the lucky girl selected to crown the virgin with a wreath made of flowers.

The procession stopped to let some of the other kids in line to catch up, pious singing in the background. I turned and looked to my pal Jimmy Kale who was right next to me. His old man was the school janitor. We smiled both getting the same idea at the same time. An impromptu sword fight broke out, I quickly got the better of him, laughing and trying to carve a Z into his lapel with my gold cross, the theme from the TV show I was addicted to, ringing in my ears.

“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a horseman known as Zorro.”

Suddenly I was grabbed by my collar and thrust back into line. It was Sister Mary Emalina, my second grade nun.

“Wilbur James Brown!” she snapped. “Stop that this instant!”

My pal Jimmy Kale got off with a stern look. I got a little whack on the back of my head. But that was the end of it. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have it coming. That was the kind of thing I experienced.

Of course I heard horror stories from other kids and had seen Sister Mary Miles, punch a kid in the stomach with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground writhing in agony. I had heard at one point she gave some kid a bloody nose, sending him home early. But that incident I hadn’t actually seen happen, though of course I took it as gospel...

Well, it was quite a week. Thursday we had a benefit signing for the Beverly Public Library with a very good turn out. I did a reading from “Frame Up,” spoke about the “Fenway Burke Series” and the next two novels already under contract, our rave FOUR and FIVE star reviews, and then had a lively Q&A.

Close to half the people in the audience had already read “Frame Up,” and I’m gratified to say, that every single one of them shared my own personal point of view, that James Phoenix is not only THE NEXT ROBERT B. PARKER, but he’s also God’s gift to the world of letters....Okay, I still may be the only guy with that perspective on the back end of that thing, but this is America, surely I’m entitled to my opinion.

Christopher Castro, the “Phoenix Project’s” answer to Mark Zuckerberg and our new Social Media guru, put in an appearance with his lovely bride, Kirsten. It was the first time I go to meet her. Chris’s done very well for himself.

After the signing, Chris had me do a video for our Facebook advertising campaign, but that one’s going to have to be a do over...The Man of Steel, wasn’t. After speaking for over an hour, I didn’t have a whole lot left...No problem, we’ll get that one done by mid to late next week and put it in front of close to one hundred million Facebook subscribers.

Chris posted some scary numbers with the Facebook test run. Starting next week, we get serious about it.

Friday I was on Peabody Access TV being interviewed by the North Shore ARC’s Merritt Kilpatrick around my benefit signing for the Arc at their fabulous Arts Center, March 7th at 6:00 PM. That’s right in downtown Peabody.

We’re expecting quite a turn out for that one as Merritt, who heads up the Art Center, along with her entire staff and volunteers have really been getting the word out.

On Saturday, March 2nd, I had my signing at the Barnes & Nobles at the North Shore Mall and I have to say we were delighted with the response. Caroline our host was just terrific and the turnout was even better than I had hoped for...Ahhh, the power of the press, the Beverly Citizen gave “Frame Up” a fabulous review just prior to the signing and we got some very nice ink in the Salem News and of course, the Boston Globe as well.

Now if I can just catch my breath, we’ll wade right back in next week and continue with our more than a dozen events coming up in the next 60 to 90 days.

I’ll keep you posted troopers,
James Phoenix