Tag Archives: Last Exit in New Jersey

A nice little surprise from BigAl’s Books and Pals…

Lately, I’ve found the more I avoid the Interwebs, the more I get done. And trust me, I’ve been busy, which explains why my appearances online, either in posts, FB, or anywhere else for that matter, have been brief, not to mention few and far between. Here in presently gloomy, blustery NJ, winds are whipping rain sideways — just the sort of weather I find delightfully motivating, and I’ve been hard at work at my own usual plotting, scheming, and mayhem. But around this time of the afternoon I usually pause for some tea and a quick glance on the web, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very nice review for Last Exit  from BigAl’s Books and Pals pop up in my Google alert. While I may quietly chuckle at some of the scathing remarks Last Exit has gathered on Amazon, I’ll admit, I much prefer reading an intelligent, well-written review from a reader who seemed to appreciate that the story didn’t follow typical genre conventions and formulas.

Thanks, BigAl. I’m glad you enjoyed my book.

Mayhem and balls!

Andrew Donaldson of The Times in Johannesburg, South Africa, had something concise and very nice to say about Last Exit:


‘Last Exit in New Jersey’, by CE Grundler (Thomas & Mercer), R175

BRASH and antisocial, you’re going to love 20-year-old Hazel Moran, the heroine of Grundler’s debut. She drives trucks and sails boats but needs help with the people skills – especially when bad guys come looking for a relative about a missing trailer. Offbeat, darkly humorous fare with mayhem and balls.

Where did it go?

I unpublished Last Exit yesterday.

It was a strange feeling. Sales were starting to spike, both on the old edition and the pre-order March 6th edition, apparently fueled by Advance Read Copies currently out for review. It wasn’t something I had to do – it was my idea, and Jacque at Thomas & Mercer assured me that until the new edition was released I could keep selling the old one. But I felt that at this point, if an early buzz is building based on responses to the new edition, it was time to pull the original.

Getting closer…

I’d been looking forward to February, knowing that things would start to kick into high gear. And sure enough, just as I’m plotting and scheming my way into the start of book three, Evacuation Route, advance read copies, cover designs and release dates are coming in for the last two books. So here they are.

The very polished and re-edited edition of Last Exit in New Jersey will officially re-launch on March 6, 2012, and No Wake Zone is set for release on May 8, 2012.

Thomas & Mercer wanted to give Last Exit a new, grittier, more hard-boiled cover that hinted to the nautical angle of the story, and to keep a consistent look with both books. And while I was fond of my cover, with the actual Parkway sign for the title and hood of my old Dodge on the Parkway at 3 a.m., I think their design is a better match for the story.

Yesterday I received four concepts for No Wake Zone’s cover, and one really jumped out at me. I suggested a minor change that they are currently addressing, and I should have a finalized cover in the coming days, and we’ve finalized the promo text as well. So for all of you wondering just what happens after the conclusion of Last Exit, here’s a hint:

Hazel Moran, the tough truck-driving amateur sleuth introduced in C.E. Grundler’s debut novel, Last Exit in New Jersey, returns in this dark and twisting sequel.

Seven years ago, someone destroyed Jake Stevenson’s dreams when they murdered his fiancée, Helen Matthews and her family. Since then, tracking down the one responsible – finding them and making them pay — has consumed his life. Stevenson thinks the truth behind the killer’s identity and motive might still lie in the most elusive place – buried within the mind of a semi-mad man. But Stevenson may have found the means to access Hammon’s suppressed memories, and cleverly he draws Hazel into his hunt. Can she trust Stevenson, or does he have a hidden agenda? Hazel has her suspicions — but she has her own reasons for playing along.

Hammon and Annabel also question Stevenson’s motives. To protect Hazel from becoming the next casualty of a forgotten history now repeating itself, they must retrace a treacherous path of deceit and murder. But Annabel thinks Hammon is going about everything entirely wrong, and she’s decided it’s her turn to start calling the shots, whether Hammon likes it or not. And when, again, someone very close to Hazel dies, she’s pushed to the edge. The facts all point to suicide, but Hazel isn’t buying that. She’s determined to prove it was murder, and she’s closing in on answers, only to find someone is changing the questions. No one she trusts will hear her out; they’re all certain she’s in denial and becoming potentially unstable. But when has presenting a serious threat to herself and others ever stopped Hazel?

As her hunt travels from New Jersey to a Manhattan rave and a vacant construction site outside LaGuardia Airport, it’ll take all of her tough, fearless, no-nonsense smarts to navigate a complex and dangerous trail of clues. How far will some people go to hide the truth? And how far will she go for vengeance?

Author C.E. Grundler signs a two-book deal with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint

Yes, kind readers, it’s true. Last Exit In New Jersey and No Wake Zone will be published in Spring 2012 under the Thomas & Mercer imprint. I would like to thank everyone out there who has helped me reach this point, from those of you who have to deal with me first hand as I walk around plotting murders to the growing number of readers who have enjoyed my story. I do wish to apologize; you’ll all have to wait just a bit longer for No Wake Zone. I originally planned to have it out by late fall of 2011, but my publisher (wow, did I just say that?!) will be putting the professional polish on both books for a Spring 2012 launch.

Being that it’s Thursday, you can find a bit more on this subject over at Write on the Water.

Pulp fiction!

last exit paperbacks
Yes, it’s official. Due to repeated requests, Last Exit In New Jersey is now available in PRINT! At last, all 250 pages of murder and mayhem neatly bound up in a beautiful full color cover, and no batteries required!

What Exit???

What's your exit

It seems Last Exit In New Jersey is all over the internet this morning. A while back I set my web-browser’s home page to display the Google results for any mentions of “Last Exit In New Jersey” within the last 24 hours. It gives me a handy snapshot of my online presence and alerts me if anyone is mentioning my book, as well as providing directions to local events and a certain funeral home in Fort Lee, but that’s what I get for using a prominent New Jersey road-sign as my book’s title. And as I went online this morning there it was:

“Last Exit in New Jersey: book explores the literary possibilities of the state”

Apparently NorthJersey.com was running an article about MY BOOK! They were running it in the Arts & Entertainment section.  Even better, this same article was being posted on some other Jersey related sites, such as The Sopranos.Com and New Jersey Gambling News.

Wow. Someone did an article about my book and I didn’t even know it. As Annabel would say, “How cool is that?” Pretty cool, indeed. But… wait a minute. That’s not my book.

The article is, in fact, about a book edited by Joe Vallese and Alicia A. Beale, entitled What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour Through New Jersey. The book is a collection of contemporary fiction, poetry, and essays from forty-nine writers inspired by the Garden State.

What's Your Exit

Hmmm. Let’s see. I think I see the confusion here. Both books do have the words “Exit” and “New Jersey” in the title. Both are Jersey-centric, and both would likely appeal to similar audiences. But What’s Your Exit is an anthology celebrating the fine contemporary literature of our state, while Last Exit is a modern thriller done in a classic, hard-boiled noir style. Clearly two entirely different books.

So, for those of you who may be trying looking to find What’s Your Exit, they are located here on Amazon and they have an interesting blog as well at: http://nj.wordriot.org/ And if you are looking for the Last Exit In New Jersey, you can find it HERE.

last exit in njI should hope that the above links will help sort out any confusion between my book and What’s Your Exit. I can only imagine how I’d feel having an article run about my book with a headline that makes it sound like an entirely different but similar title. Who knows? Maybe the papers will do an article about Last Exit In New Jersey, and they can even title it “What’s Your Exit?” That only seems fair.

The real places are real…

There’s one comment I’ve heard on occasion from readers: they love the locations I created in Last Exit In New Jersey. Most of these remarks are from beyond the Garden State borders, though even a few natives think I’ve made up some of these towns and places. I’ve even been asked how do I come up with this stuff. I mean, seriously… Bivalve? Cheesequake? Really?

Yes, really. Every location in my story actually exists, pretty much as described. There is in fact a Bivalve, New Jersey, a Maurice River, a place called Cheesequake. There is indeed a Holy Sepulcher Cemetery and it is in fact divided in two by the Parkway. The numbers in the chapter headings are the actual latitude and longitude for each specific location; if you plug them into Google Earth or any GPS navigation you’ll find yourself at the Route 9 White Castle or an empty stretch of beach… or twenty-three miles offshore. Or one of these places:

Bivalve NJ
Brielle NJ
Point Pleasant NJ
Piermont NY
Paramus NJ
Parlin NJ
Millville NJ
Trenton NJ
Rumson NJ
Elizabeth NJ
Camden NJ
Little Ferry NJ
Hillsdale NJ
Maurice River
Hudson River
Harlem River
Spuyten Duyvil Creek Bridge
East River
Hackensack River
Cheesequake Creek
The Pinelands
The Meadowlands
Sandy Hook
Vince Lombardi Service Area
Cheesequake Service Area
Montvale Service Area
White Castle
Great Adventure
Newark Airport (Okay, now they call it Liberty.)
Teterboro Airport
Raceway Park
Route 9
Route 46
Route 4
Route 17
Route 80
Route 9W
Route 1 and 9 (NOT Route 19!)
New Jersey Turnpike
Garden State Parkway
Holy Sepulcher Cemetery
Nike Missile Base (located on Sandy Hook)
Paramus Park Mall
Garden State Plaza
…and so much more.

Yes, I may have added a dock here, a building there, I may have fictionalized specific boatyards and homes, but other than that every town, highway, tackle shop and shopping mall I featured exists as described, both in appearance and any history mentioned. Even the nautical headings, speed and distance are correct and accurate and the specific buoys are the very ones currently rocking and gonging away along the coastline. There’s only one geographic detail I took a writer’s liberty with: the water depth in Piermont, New York. Sadly, Piermont has shoaled in further and further over the years, so docking a boat with any significant draft at anything other a high moon-tide is nerve-wracking at best.

In the coming weeks I plan to post details, pictures and the history of some of these places, as well as some of the locations I’ll be featuring in No Wake Zone. Get ready… you’re going on a tour of the REAL New Jersey! (And it’s not what you see on MTV.)

UPDATE 1/26/11: Check out Highlands Blog; it’s a highly enjoyable hyperlocal blog about Highlands, NJ and its surrounding areas.


Yes, everyone, as of this evening Mysteries for Mutts has raised $100 for the NJSPCA. December was a slow month, but I’m happy to say that so far January is more than making up for it. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Me? Really?

A few weeks back I met with a reporter from my local paper. I wanted to speak about my Mysteries for Mutts fundraiser I’m currently doing for the NJSPCA. She arrived with a long list of prepared questions, the majority of them about my book and myself. It was a friendly meeting, very conversational and relaxed. I have no trouble talking about Last Exit; that’s my work and I’ve put much work into it. I was amused by her interest in me… really, I’m not that interesting. I’ve come to realize people are fascinated by my background though I can’t see the big deal. I’m just me. Yes, I’ve spent much of my time around boats, I’ve always said that, and I realize that’s somehow made me a bit… shall we say, different. But that may have been the case, boats or not. I figured most of our conversation was just her getting an idea of who I am. So we talked – about the book, about me, about, at last, the NJSPCA. We wrapped everything up and she told me the article would appear at some point in the coming week or two.

Fast forward to this morning. Then sun isn’t up yet; the horizon’s still dark, but there’s the paper in the driveway, tucked just beneath the truck. I bring it in, make a cup of tea and sit down at the kitchen table to read the usual run-down of community news. An apartment fire, still under investigation. Lights are going up in a town recreational field. The winners of the annual ‘Holiday Lights’ competition have been announced. Newly elected officials are being sworn in all over the valley. And… YIKES!!! There’s a cropped picture of ME grinning back from the header of the Community Living section. Arts & Leisure: Local author publishes book Page 34. Flip past the Shoprite sales flyer and… whoa. There’s me again, along with a nice big picture of my book’s cover. I’ve got a full page and then some… it continues for another column on page 36.

The headline: DIY writer publishes first novel, her way

Uhm… okay. But I thought it was going to be about Mysteries for Mutts, not me. I read through, seeing my words in print. Did I actually say THAT? This is weird. Yes, those are my remarks. So many of them. It’s odd to read them in print, pulled from the context of the conversation and slipped into the paper I’ve read for years. Weird. I honestly figured I’d get a quarter of a page, tucked between the advertisements for local banks and pizza coupons. There’s plenty about me and about the book, and me again, and the book. The fundraiser is mentioned, though the majority of the article is focused on the author and the book.

As the caffeine settled into my brain a bit more I realized something about this article was bothering me. It isn’t a bad article at all – in fact it’s quite nice; the only area where I saw any issue was a minor point: my reference to Evanovich was regarding her accuracy on certain details, not her female leads, which I know are not hardened and tough characters. That’ll probably get some of her fans riled up, but it’s likely my original statement would have as well. The reporter went into great detail about me, my writing, the story, and the fund-raiser as well as NJSPCA received mention. It took me a bit more caffeine before I could put my finger on what seemed wrong, and it wasn’t the article itself. I was me.

For one, I prefer to avoid notice. I’m a text-book introvert; I can deal well enough with one-on-one interactions but in the grand scheme of things I really prefer to stay off the radar. I don’t mind when the focus is on my book, the fund-raiser, my boat, you name it. Just pay no mind to the person behind the curtain. There are enough other people in the world who want the spotlight; I’m not one of them. And I suspect a portion of my discomfort is seeing my spoken words in print. People tell me I’m well-spoken, though I’ve never thought so and this only cements that belief. Writing is my preferred medium; I can select my words then return to edit and refine them further. I chose each and every word with great though, weaving them together in precisely the manner I deem fitting, even at this hour of the morning. I could care less how I’m dressed or what my hair looks like, (and there’s a photo of me as proof!) but my words? I’m very self-conscious of my words, even more so than I realized.

Oh well. Off to start my day, no longer quite as anonymous as usual.

On an aside, there’s been another very nice review posted today at Tiffany’s Bookshelf. And in Red Adept’s Annual Indie Awards, she named Last Exit In New Jersey as one of the top three mysteries of 2010!


That sums up my current mood, one I expect to continue throughout the day as people wonder why I’m grinning ear to ear. But here it is… a FIVE STAR REVIEW from Red Adept Reviews!

Anyone familiar with Red Adept’s blog knows she does not give stars out lightly. She’s known for her honesty and her hard-hitting reviews. I consider a 5 star review from her as a great honor and reading her impression of my book makes me happy beyond words.

Oh, and BTW, I now have Last Exit In New Jersey available for various other ereaders and computer downloads through Smashwords.

(So who out there knows the reference in today’s post title?)

I’ll take ‘Odd Place Names’ for $400…

“Meaning 2-shelled, the name of this New Jersey town goes back to its oyster industry days”

What is Bivalve?

A kind reader emailed me the other day; he’d recently finished my book and was amused when my main character’s home town was in fact the answer to a question on the October 25th episode of Jeopardy. Once a bustling center of commerce, Bivalve exists today as a virtual ghost town, beautiful and serene as nature has gradually reclaimed much of the marshy shoreline. It was the ideal setting for the start of Last Exit In New Jersey, perfect not only geographically but also as just the sort of place Hazel Moran would proudly call home, which says something both for Bivalve and for Hazel. Bivalve is so utterly Jersey while being removed from all that is Jersey… while still being in New Jersey. I’ve often remarked that I plan to retire to Bivalve; one day I’m heading the boat down to Bivalve and I’m not coming back!

Anyhow, there you have it. Read a non-socially redeeming mystery thriller about some nice and not so nice folks from New Jersey, you may just learn some fascinating facts, including ones that could ultimately win you money on a nationally televised game show!

Things that make me HAPPY!!!