Jim Stinson


Jim Stinson was taught writing at Harvard and media at UCLA, and has done both ever since.

On the writing side he started early, publishing “Restorations of Elizabethan Public Playhouses,” but was soon downsized from Academe, which is probably just as well. After an interlude of earning a living, he wrote four Stoney Winston Hollywood mysteries, Double Exposure, Low Angles, Truck Shot, and TV Safe, which were published by Scribner. Today they are available from Smashwords, and from Lulu.com. His mainstream novel, Tassy Morgan's Bluff, was published in Summer, 2011 by The Plume Books imprint of Penguin. In 2012 he published his first Smashwords original, The Princess and the Firedrake.

On the media side, he’s made everything from feature films to instructional gems like Electrical Hazards in the Coronary Care Unit. Today, he works constantly with media to keep abreast of ever-changing hard- and software.

Combining writing and media, he was a columnist and contributing editor at Videomaker magazine for 12 years. In 2001, Goodheart-Willcox published his college and high school textbook, Video: Communication and Production. A revised second edition was rebranded Video: Digital Communication and Production, and a third, massively updated edition was released in 2012. Yet another major update is scheduled for late 2015.

He has, over the years, returned to the classroom, teaching film production at Art Center College of Design, Media history and criticism at California State University Los Angeles, and video production at La Canada High School, La Canada, CA.

Though born and bred in Pittsburgh, PA, he has spent all his adult life in California and Oregon, where he now lives with his wife, Sue. He dotes on his two children and is pleased to report that they remain at large.

Where to find Jim Stinson online


TV Safe
Series: Stoney Winston Hollywood Mysteries, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 55,730. Language: English. Published: April 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Big bucks incite big greed, and the quiz show Oh-Pun Sesame! Offers a $1 million prize that people will kill for. Vulnerable celebrities like show star Kelli Dengham hide career-destroying secrets. And low-caste program staff like Stoney Winston have to stop the murders and protect the beautiful airhead star. Hollywood in the late 'eighties was not that different after all....
Truck Shot
Series: Stoney Winston Hollywood Mysteries, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 52,210. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Stoney Winston is teaching a film workshop at low-rent Angeles Commercial Design College when the college president is literally blown away. To pry loose the insurance transfusion needed to keep the dying college alive, Stoney follows the murderer’s trail into a labyrinth of crimes and scams. Before he emerges, he has to fight fires, foil attempts on his life and fly like a bird.
Low Angles
Series: Stoney Winston Hollywood Mysteries, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 51,250. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Historical » USA
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Against his better judgment, Hollywood foot soldier Stoney Winston arrives at a flea-bitten desert Hamlet to help Diane LaMotta direct her first feature, a no-budget indie action potboiler titled Cycles from Hell. He finds the production being killed by sabotage that turns into stabbing, near-drowning, and violent death.
The Princess and the Firedrake
Price: Free! Words: 34,720. Language: English. Published: March 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fairy Tales
(4.00 from 1 review)
Despite all the beauty and virtues expected of faerie tale princesses, Alix labored under a terrible curse: she was too smart, too knowledgeable, too capable. To set herself free, she had to kill the monstrous firedrake; though afterword, they became great friends…
Double Exposure
Series: Stoney Winston Hollywood Mysteries, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 50,360. Language: English. Published: August 22, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
“Stoney Winston works the slummy outskirts of the movie business, directing cheap local commercials, writing training films and industrials, and submitting always-rejected feature scripts. Murder and danger dog Stoney’s quest, which ends in a tricky and gut-wrenching climax. A masterful, colorful mystery.” Booklist, starred review.

Jim Stinson's favorite authors on Smashwords

Smashwords book reviews by Jim Stinson

  • Smallworld: A Science Fiction Adventure Comedy on Feb. 06, 2012

    Smallworld is indeed tough to describe. Imagine Terry Pratchett writing hard science fiction instead of fantasy. Stir in a whiff of Douglas Adams – but not too much. Imagine side-splitting sentences that blind-side you from behind moon rocks. This is emphatically not a “comic” novel; rather a wildly convoluted serious story but told by a narrator with an unquenchably comic spirit. Some of the lines, like this one… [Re the false night cast by the glittering rings of the nearby gas giant] "During Crystal Night, as the children had christened it despite unfathomable objections by their parents…” …are going to be puzzling to readers who no longer know which set of atrocities Herr Hitler presided over, or, for that matter, who Hitler was; but if you miss one, another will be along in a moment. Underpinning the humor and the complex story is a far future universe minutely imagined and scrupulously explained. For science fiction fans with no sense of humor (and there are a few) the book will still be deeply satisfying for its milieu, characters, and story alone.
  • Ledman Pickup on Feb. 19, 2012

    This story raises science fiction to the Neil Gaiman level. No battles, rockets, time travel, or aliens; a contemporary setting instead, and an ending that is JUST open-ended enough to satisfy but still intrigue the reader. The well-controlled satire is aimed at human frailties – and what humans they are too! The author builds 3-D characters by giving us their thoughts and words directly, and the various POV voices are distinct, realistic, and believable. Yes, this is a satisfying science fiction story, but with the extra dividend of highly accomplished fiction-writing. Oh: aside from frequent naughty language and some drug references, there is nothing here to occasion the NC17 warning. (The usual disclaimer: I have never had any connection whatever with this writer.)
  • Squatter with a Lexus on Feb. 17, 2013

    Squatter with a Lexus is a brisk, profane, and funny read. Taking the well-worn premise of unscrupulous people racing one another to win a big prize, the author draws a gallery of quirky, often surprising characters whom the reader cares about more than most of them deserve. Highly professional and well-done overall. (The Lexus, by the way, must be red – as in herring.)
  • The Girl in the Trees on Feb. 18, 2013

    This will be a fine story… …when the second half is published. The author paints vivid characters, sets up a very promising situation, moves the story briskly forward into dire complications, and then… …Quits. Just like that. If it were an overtly experimental fiction fragment or a free come-on for the whole book, I would grumble but accept it; but a standalone story it ain’t. This highly talented writer is like the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
  • Mining Games on Feb. 20, 2013

    Plucky spacers vs. evil corporation, solid plotting, plausible future -- a time trip back to Galaxy Magazine, ca. 1957. Characters are cardboard, but hey: you were expecting Proust? A good read.
  • Jon-29 on June 20, 2013

    This has great potential, but the total lack of even simple editing made it unreadable: vocabulary howlers, sentences broken as if by sudden sinkholes, tense shifts within paragraphs that CLEARLY have nothing to do with style.... A shame, because the substance is very good here. If the author will pull it, rework it, proof it, and re post it, it'll be a sure winner.
  • The Astoundingly True Tale of José Fabuloso on Oct. 18, 2013

    The Astoundingly True Tale of José Fabuloso is classic hard sci-fi, served up with a brisk pace, lean, literate writing, and unforced humor. Unusually, for the genre, the characters are vivid and individual – and they’re presented mainly through action and dialog. The structure is S.O.P. - good guys chased across the galaxy by competing sets of bad guys - but the twists and turns are unpredictable and yet plausible. The tone is relatively light, but never cutsey or juvenile, and the motley crew of the good ship José Fabuloso should be good for several more adventures. Overall, an excellent read from a highly professional writer.