Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another writing spot

I guess I guilted Keith Rawson into giving in and taking a shot of his writing space. This sooooo fits. Writing at night? But of course he does. A laptop? You can't pin him down! And books to be read right nearby. Naturally. Writing, blogging, reviewing - Rawson does it all. In the dark, too.

Okay, folks. Guilt works. Let's put the pressure on your favorite writers to show us theirs!

Where the magic happens

I only got a few responses from my call for other writers to show me the space where they write but I thought I would share those kind enough to share with me. I am struck my how modest each space is. From such humble settings such flights of fancy occur. I'd still love to see more. Any writers out there send me a snap of your writing space. I did think that perhaps one reason why not very many people shared is that it is a very intimate space. I might as well ask you to send a picture of you in your underwear (which I won't say no to by the way. Call it curiosity) If anyone is too shy I'd love to hear that too. Or maybe your desk is just really messy. Yeah, well, join the club.
In contest news - the deadline for submissions is Wednesday! We've gotten some great stories. Amazing riffs on the fist idea. Brutal crimes, quiet menace, a ghost story, one story where I had to go back and re-read it to find the fist it was woven in so subtly (but well). I am inspired by you all and flattered that people took the time at my paltry request to create something new out of thin air. After Wednesday the stories will go off to our secret panel of judges. All I can tell you is that they are coming at them from the perspective of an average reader. We wanted the unvarnished reaction without the baggage that we, as crime writers, bring. I am so curious to see if they react to the same stories I did. Of course I reserve the right to overrule any decision they make:)
And finally, I just about five minutes ago got through the final chapter of One Too Many Blows To The Head's final edits. Super huge thanks to Deborah Ledford (author of Staccato one of our prize books!) for doing a pass and fixing many of my totally obvious (and yet overlooked) mistakes as well as playing grammar police which I need. I really need a whole swat team. As much as I liked the book before this gives it a real polish and makes me embarrassed that anyone read it before this stage. We won't make our Oct 1st date but soon. SOON!
On to the pictures:

From San Diego comes Jimmy Callaway's roll top desk. An antique? Hand-me-down? Found on the street with a sign that said "free"? This is obviously a multi-purpose space. Love the pink beer cozy and Jesus candle. And who still has that many cassette tapes? Much respect for a turntable though. My office has one too. I rue the day I need to find replacement needles.

From all the way Down Under comes Cameron Ashley's desk which doubles as an *a-hem* "entertainment" center apparently. You can tell he's a writer though because of the pen. Despite the distractions he manages to crank out some mighty fine crime fiction.

Finally is J.F. Juzwik's desk. Only knowing Joyce online she seems a contradiction. Sweet and friendly in her correspondence she turns dark and nasty in her fiction. And apparently likes toys. It is a Bionicle. I only know this because she identified it for me. This is a woman with secrets....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I hate hardcovers (and I don't care who knows it)

The following is a re-post from my monthly day on the Second Wind Publishing blog. There are some great musings on writing and other topics there from all the Second Wind authors so browse around a little bit while you're there. Enjoy!

Giving the Hardcover a Hard time
by Eric Beetner

What is the appeal of the hardcover novel? I just don’t get it. On the eve of having my name on a book out in the world I am glad to not have it be a hardcover. I want people to read it and therefore I want people to afford it.
Let’s run down the pros and cons: Hardcovers probably last longer if you don’t care for your books all that well. Last time I visited my Father’s house, though, he still has paperbacks on his shelf that predate me so I guess they’re doing okay.
Um...I’m out of pros on the hardback.
Cons: They’re expensive. They’re heavy. They have those annoying dust jackets on them that do nothing at all about dust and just get in the way, fall off, get torn (much easier than a soft cover book) and increase the printing costs. Did I mention they’re expensive? You can’t put it in your pocket. They weigh down a carry-on for the plane.
Wait - one more pro for hardcovers: they are much better for squishing bugs.
I am partial to trade paperbacks which are a little larger and don’t usually pass the pocket test depending on what pants you’re wearing, but the pros on soft covers: Smaller and therefore easier to tote around, stash away and you can fit more on a bookshelf saving the yearly purge of books that results in a Sophie’s Choice scenario of what to keep and what to give away. (never throw books away!) To me they feel more intimate. They aren’t as high falutin’ so I have less of a problem with dog-earing pages or cracking the spine a little. Wear and tear looks good on a paperback like an old pair of jeans.
And they’re cheaper. That’s the big one.
In this economy, and even before, hardcover books are too expensive. You can give me the keepsake, read-em-twice argument until you’re blue in the face but I say $25 is too much for a book. When movies crossed the ten dollar mark there was outrage. We’ve since come to accept ten bucks and more but imagine being charged $25 for a ticket? There would be riots in the streets.
And don’t get me started on children’s books. The vast majority of kids books seem to be hardcover and cost $12, $15, $20! And this is for a book with maybe 30 pages and 200 words. My 3-year-old daughter’s first interaction with a new book is to rip off the dust jacket and say, “I don’t want this.” Underneath? An exact duplicate image. Why do a jacket at all?
Molly has easily over 200 books. She has infinite patience for listening to them and is so excited for the day she can read them herself. Cheaper, more accessible books would mean she could maintain this love of the written word for her whole life. I hate to think of the day when she gets priced out of a love for books.
So given a choice, I will wait for the soft cover. Really I just wish everything would go straight there. I’d buy a lot more books. Would you? Am I nuts? Are there hardcover purists out there still sitting in the drawing room while listening to their turntables and watching their laserdiscs who think this is heresy?
You weigh in. You won’t change my mind though. The hardcover is a dinosaur whose time has past.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We got our proof copy of the book in yesterday. Time to get out the fine toothed comb and see if we can find any last little typos or grammar problems. I feel grateful to have a second set of eyes at this stage. I know I'm terrible at this sort of thing. The new novel has been put on hold for almost 2 weeks while I take care of all this other junk but I'm chomping at the bit to get back to it. I think I may read it through from the top to get back into it and see if I am just wasting my time or not.
I finally made it to the Mystery Bookstore's fall blowout sale and got some interesting stuff for super cheap including a signed SJ Rozan book for $4 which is cool. About to start up one from 1959 called The Smasher that I got and seems really pulpy vintage in that way that I love. Only 148 pages too. My mind is easily tricked into thinking that reading more shorter books is more of an accomplishment that reading fewer longer ones. I'm simple that way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mug Shot

So I was asked by this anthology I am a part of - Harbinger*33, more details to come - to include a "mug shot" along with my author photo. I love this idea. It is a safe bet that all writers have a trusty mug by their side when they work. Mine, I should say, is never filled with coffee. I don't drink caffeine or alcohol. Never smoked cigarettes, never taken any drug. I know, I know I just got thrown out of several writer's groups. I am a shame on the art form. In any event, I liked the way the photo came out of my desk and mug where I write deep into the night. I'd love to see other writer's spaces. I'd venture a guess that none are spacious, most are crowded with papers and other books in towering TBR piles. Do you write in a closet? An office? The attic? A coffee shop? Show me your space! I showed you mine.

Bonus points for anyone who can ID the poster on the wall in the background. I have 9 posters and 9 lobby cards from old Film Noir movies decorating my office. (there's your clue) Very inspiring!

And completely without her permission I went ahead and stole a picture of JB Kohl, my co-writer, in her space. And she's holding a mug. Perfect!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2 down and 3 stars

I finished my stories for a competition I'm entered in and also an anthology I'm a part of. Whew! Feels good to have those done. Writing just for fun Writing for a deadline and possible accolades can be nerve-wracking. It does jump-start the ol' creative juices though. I like both stories. Both very different.
And another story, Brotherly Love, a nasty piece of flash fiction I dashed off for the folks over at the Flash Fiction Offensive garnered my first online review in Keith Rawson's BSC review column.
3 stars. Not too bad. One more star to be had there but what can you do with a piece under 1000 words. Frank Bill's Flesh Rule got the full four and that is well deserved.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Stories...still more to do

I've got two new short stories making debuts this week. My first story for The Flash Fiction Offensive is called Brotherly Love. It's quite sleazy so consider yourself warned. Do I need to say it is a work of fiction? I doubt it but might as well. Yes my sister did peirce my ear once but that's about as far as it goes. I am not a purveyor of 'write what you know'.
Another piece, The Room Next To Room 5, is up at Thrillers Killers and Chillers. This is a short that became a novel. One that I need to get back into and do a serious edit/rewrite. It needs work. I sent it out and got a stack of rejections and then having not seen it in about a year I started to re-read it and realized that all those rejection letters were correct. I still think there is a lot of good in there so I am excited to get back to it...someday. There is a lot on my plate right now. I have two short stories due by the end of the month. I have started them but I'm not settled on them quite yet. Mostly because I need to just focus. I'm about 3/4 done with a new novel and it is hard to put it aside for fear of losing momentum. Oh what is a writer to do? This is just the kind of problem I like having though. Better than to have no one interested.
So, okay, back to work.

More Prizes!

As if it wasn't enough! Fellow Second Wind Publishing author Deborah J. Ledford has graciously given over a signed copy of her book Staccato hot off the presses! That makes the grand prize package a whopping FIVE signed books. You can sit back and hope to get snowed in this winter because you'll have plenty of reading material - if you win that is! Submission are accepted until the end of the month. Scroll down for all the rules.
Thanks to all the authors who have contributed books.

And of course any chance to pimp our hot cover...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heating up

Submissions are rolling in. We got one all the way from the UK today. It is fascinating to see what people come up with when tasked with writing a story around a fist. Some great stuff so far.
We got a good mention on the BSC Review in Keith Rawson's new column on short fiction all over the web. It's great to have Keith doing a wrap up of noteworth stories.
I am honored to be among those chosen to submit a story for the 1st Watery Grave International contest being run by Corey Wilde over at his blog. I can only be so flattered though since the ten finalists were pulled out of a hat. Now I just need to come up with a story. I started on something the other night but I'm not sure it's prize-worthy so I'm going to keep ruminating on this one. It's is open to anything and I almost wish it had restrictions to narrow it a little. Sometimes the wide open ocean of ideas can be intimidating.
We're awaiting the proofs of the book any day now and then we'll see if we're still on track for an Oct 1 release. A pre-order page should be up soon after the proof is approved. Hopefully we can get some interviews and reviews once it is out and people have read it and hopefully like it. When I played in bands we always got the most entertainment from the bad reviews but it does bruise the ego a little bit. It is part of the risk of putting out something creative into the world. Once it is out of your hands - all is fair. I know not everyone will like it. Some may hate it. I assume the people that would hate it just won't even pick it up so I'm not too worried about getting angry hate mail. Reviewers can be fickle though. Oh well, fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep 'em coming!

The entries are rolling in on the contest. Others are still mulling over how to use that fist. It's going to be stiff competition. To let off a little steam (as in, procrastinate from writing the new novel) I did up a short story for laughs. It features some of my writing "friends" - those people who I've never met but love their writing and chat with on facebook, etc. - all re-imagined as actual criminal characters. I assumed they all had a good sense of humor and I hope I was right. Check out the story here. It's a hoot if you know the players involved. If you don't, it's still a bloody good time.