Sunday, December 18, 2011


Here’s something quite a bit different: I’m offering a chance to win a major chunk of handwritten writing—a legal pad full of the opening pages of my new standalone novel EL GAVILAN—as I originally penned them.

What you’ll get is a fragment of the idea for the novel as jotted down when inspiration first hit—call it an impulsive mission statement—then about seven chapters’ worth of first pages…first glimpses of characters Tell Lyon, Able Hawk…a first take on the opening pages of the book.

This is truly first pass stuff. I tend to write longhand, then key in the material, revising as I go along. If you, lucky winner, detect breaks in the continuity in the legal pad, that’s a result of me toggling over to write first draft on the computer—something I tend to do more with dialogue heavy scenes.

Now, as originally announced via my newsletter, to win this item, contestants were asked to answer a trivia question related to the book. Unfortunately, jiffy “Look Inside the Book” posting by Amazon made that a far too easy affair.

Also, book availability got a little crazy with some copies getting out far in advance of today’s Dec. 18 official release date.

So I’m changing the contest conditions just a bit, and the deadline for entry.

Want a chance to win some raw EL GAVILAN? Just drop me a note via craig @ (Delete the spaces on either side of that @, of course; or contact me here.) Subject line: EL GAVILAN CONTEST.

Then, briefly, say what you’d be more interested in reading next: Another standalone, or number five in the ongoing Hector Lassiter series. Also tell how you purchased your last book written by me—was it a bound copy, or an eBook?

(If you already submitted an answer to the trivia contest, no worries; I've got your entry and you're still in the running.)

That’s all it takes for a chance to win.

On New Year’s Eve, I’ll gather all the submissions in a hat, and a name will be drawn. The winner will be announced in this space New Year’s Day and contacted for mailing information.

In addition to getting the legal pad, you’ll also get a finished, signed copy of the novel containing the polished prose only you will have access to in my own block-letter scrawl.


My first standalone novel, EL GAVILAN, officially releases today. (That means it is also officially available for download for Kindle and Nook and other eReaders.)

It goes out into the world in a book buying market that remains uncertain and tumultuous. My sincere thanks to those who have already read and ordered the novel, or are considering doing so.

(A request, also, to any who have taken the time and effort to review EL GAVILAN to please consider cross-posting those reviews to online book selling venues. It's become increasingly clear such reviews, up or down, do have a profound influence on book buying decisions, even by those who ultimately purchase from independent, bricks-and-mortar booksellers).

A synopsis and some review clips from EL GAVILAN follow:


The news is full of it: escalating tensions from illegal immigration, headless bodies hanging off bridges and bounties placed on lawmen on both sides of the border.

New Austin, Ohio is a town grappling with waves of undocumented workers exerting pressure on schools, police and city services. In the midst of the turmoil, three very different kinds of cops scramble to maintain control and impose order.

Police Chief Tell Lyon is a hurting man: a former California Border Patrol commander whose family was brutally murdered by a vengeful gang of smugglers. Tell has fled the desert and returned to the heartland to be New Austin's chief of police. He's arrived expecting a Mayberry-like experience, but soon learns "the border is now everywhere."

Conservative hard-liner Sheriff Able Hawk takes a direct approach. Hawk stages mass arrests, posts inflammatory blog entries and bills back the Federal government his costs for jailing illegal immigrants who have nicknamed him El Gavilan.

Walt Pierce is sheriff of neighboring Vale County. Walt has a storied history and long rivalry with Able Hawk. Pierce, a vindictive, closed-minded man and a dangerous enemy, takes an immediate dislike to Tell Lyon.

The rape-murder of a Mexican-American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors.

El Gavilan is a novel of shifting alliances and whiplash switchbacks. Families are divided and careers and lives threatened. Friendships and ideals are tested and budding love affairs challenged.

With its topical themes, shades-of-gray characters and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times.


"Searing. Sobering and as urgent as tomorrow's headlines. McDonald deftly...dissects one of America's most tormenting social problems."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"An addictive read."
—Library Journal

"Everything you'd hope to get from a modern day master stretching his impressive-as-all-hell wings."
—Spinetingler Magazine

"A fascinating thriller...highly recommended."
—The Drowning Machine

"A thoroughly gripping crime story."
—Mystery Scene

—Suspense Magazine

"A major step forward for [McDonald's] already formidable breadth and range."
—Barnes & Noble Book Club

IndieBound (Hardcover)
IndieBound (Paperback)
Amazon (Hardcover)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Books-A-Million (Hardcover)
Books-A-Million (Paperback)

• El Gavilan at My Book, the Movie.

• El Gavilan: The Page 69 Test.

• Writer's Read: Craig shares thoughts about recent reads.

• J. Kingston Pierce interviews Craig at Kirkus Reviews & The Rap Sheet.

• Guest blog at Spinetingler regarding El Gavilan/Hector Lassiter secret connections.

• A free short story drawn featuring a character from the novel here.