Friday, January 29, 2010

Keep on keepin' on

Hat tip to Pulp Serenade for the quote below from old-school pulp writer Richard Sale. It was just too good so I am reposting it. You should go to Pulp Serenade though for more great musings on pulp.

"Up in the morning and hit the typewriter. I wrote a story a day. Three thousand words, five thousand words. Sometimes it carried over into the next day if you were doing novelettes–that would be 12,000 words. You might spend more time for the top magazines–Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book–but for the others you really rattled them off. First draft was the last draft, straight out of the typewriter and send it off. You had to keep them coming all the time otherwise you'd starve."

In writing news - we have an outline! Writing will commence this weekend on my new book with JB Kohl and I couldn't be more excited. We spent the past year selling, editing, promoting and selling our book and now it is time to get back to the fun part. All the rest of it was like a 12 month-long root canal.

I will be attending the Left Coast Crime convention in March here in LA so I'm looking forward to that but have no idea what to expect. It may be as big as Bouchercon but I'm pretty small change right now anyway. I have until October to build up the stuff for B-Con in San Francisco which I plan to attend, money issues not withstanding.

We've hit a wall with book sales. Who has a way to get the word out there? Why are you holding it back? Several review copies are out in the world but without the advantage of ARCs it has been tough to get a review in a timely fashion. I know it takes me forever to read anything so it is no wonder reviews take a long time to generate. I'd be the world's worst reviewer. I'm still working on my TBR pile and also buying books that are 4-5 years old and always on the hunt for things that are 50-60 years-old too. 

Oh well. I start a new job Monday and I'll just be that weird guy who always eats alone with a book. I don't try to be anti-social but it's my only reading time.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010


On the site At The Bijou it is Noir-o-rama time. A home for some great writers of all genres the Bijou is a happening place. To start things off are four stories including one from Bukowski's basement , always a pleasure. Basement resident Anthony Venutolo does amazing readings of his work and this is no exception. Take a moment and listen to a great story. It is rainy here in LA and a perfect backdrop for this tale, sound effects and music included. Good stuff.

I will have a story and a reading some time next week. It won't be this good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New story...finally you slacker

It's been a while but I have a new story up at A Twist of Noir. It is very dark, very harsh and not for those who are sensitive to desecration of religious icons.
I've seen a bunch of stuff on the blogs lately but can't even decide if I want to repost them or link to them. Of course the sad passing of Robert B. Parker, at his desk no less. Then the story of Harlequin re-releasing several of their pulp crime novels. Yes, the kings of romance used to do crime in the 50s. Now I see the pitfalls of waiting and I can't find the original article I read on this but it was great because it ran down in detail the ways that Harlequin had bowdlerized the books to make them less "offensive" to today's readers. What the...? Much of what they changed was for racial sensitive reasons and some, quite a lot it seems, was to excise bits of violence towards women. While it is hard to defend slapping punching or near-raping a woman even in print these actions are plot devices and character moments that, when changed or cut out, alter the work that was, for a brief moment, deemed re-release worthy. Seems odd to me. I guess I'm not really shocked and it's their imprint so they can do what they want. I'm glad I heard about it because the chance to pick up a good old fashioned pulp novel I usually jump at but I know now to avoid these watered down versions. I'm in the midst of another Victor Gischler book. Nothing is shocking anymore.
A less detailed rundown of Harlequin's plans can be seen Here and Here.
Also, since I'm on a roll with what seems like an actual blog spot now, I just finished my first SJ Rozan book, Stone Quarry. I found it at the last Mystery Bookstore blowout sale. I picked it up and knew I was going to buy it because of the discount by then discovered it was signed too. Not bad. What a damn fine writer. I wrote to her a note that said:

"You have a way of constructing sentences that read as if there was only one way they could have possibly gone together, and you captured it. I am humbled and a little jealous."

She was nice enough to write a note back which was sweet. I don't normally read series but I might have to check out more of her stuff.
My TBR pile is getting only marginally smaller and I have a large wish list started already.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Query (noun) [kweer-ee]

Sent out the first query for the new novel. Too soon? Probably. I'm not much of a rewriter though so I could sit and stare at it for months and it wouldn't really get much better. Time for some one else to tell me if it sucks or not.
Back into outlining the sequel to One Too Many Blows To The Head. Also have a novella planned. Where to find time for more shorts is the question. I must do that, really.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Guest bloggin'

Here are the links to our guest blog spot at Murder by 4 and our new interview with Amy DeTrempe.
Thanks for having us, both of you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Noir City 8

Oh yes, it's that time again when darkness falls on San Francisco and the Film Noir Foundation puts on its annual descent down the blind alleys and dark corners of post war cinema. Noir City 8 is coming! Jan 22 -31 at the Castro Theater. This event is a real party and the lineup of films this year is, once again, stellar.

Guest blog day

Tomorrow – Friday the 15th – JB and I are guest blogging at the great writers site Murder By 4 which hosts some great pieces by indie writers. It covers the spectrum of crime authors and some of the have some great insights and what sound like some great books to offer.
We also stopped by for a chat at fellow Second Wind author Amy DeTrempe's blog. Amy is a sweetheart and a historical romance author so I have no idea how our book will go over with her readers. I fear it will make them blush and get out a match to burn the book but it was nice to be invited to chat anyway. Writers helping writers. The whole Second Wind experience has been a very family-style welcome home kind of thing. It's quite nice. Y'know, unlike the stories I write.

Monday, January 11, 2010


So I get a link to the Amazon "breakout novel contest". Great. Good opportunity to take a shot at getting a good push for the book. So I go the rules and find out that, "Any Manuscript submitted as an Entry written by two or more authors will not be eligible."
What the...? Why? Is our novel somehow not good enough because we collaborated? Did we really only write half a novel? Can two people not breakout as well as one?
Well F.U. Amazon. 

Super short

The blog The Clarity of Night does some great flash fiction challenges using photos as inspiration. I was invited into this newest one where the word limit is 250 and the photo is a great silhouette seen below. Check out my entry here and breeze through the others (over 100 of them!) they take no time to read being so short. It is always fascinating to me to see how differently writers can interpret an inspiration.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Art vs. commerce

So I got my first royalty check last week. Yeah! Well, sort of. It came with a certain amount of stress and the idea that we should be selling more books. I hate even thinking about book sales. I hate to stress over it. I hate to have unreal expectations about it. I do have obligations though. Obligations to my publisher who took a chance on us and has taken the leap of faith to put out a book which is no small investment. To my co-author who I wish success on in some ways even more than myself.
How to sell more books? Who knows? In truth, no one. I have seen first hand really dedicated authors pushing so hard to sell books and making some headway but not as much as the effort deserves. I have seen lavish praise heaped on books but still they languish in obscurity. On this, the day of Friday's Forgotten Books , there is evidence of so many books that mean so much to a select few but never find a mass audience.
For me, it is so not about money. I'm half tempted to just frame the check and not even cash it, just to prove later in life that I did this at one point. Hoping this won't be my only book but until the next one sells it's all I have. It is so much more about getting a story out there that I believe in and one that I think people will truly like. So far the response has been fantastic. Thank you all who have written to say you liked it. (we could use more Amazon reviews if you're so inclined) I just want the book to find the people who would enjoy it. But, hey, don't we all.
I went through a long period where I barely read at all. Bookstores were just too intimidating to me. I would walk in and see shelf after shelf of books and not know where to begin. They all have blurbs telling you it is the best book of the year, etc. so how can you trust that? So I know how difficult it is to try to get your tiny little book to stand out among a very crowded field.
I still remember it was A Simple Plan that got me back into reading and really that turned me almost exclusively to crime fiction. It just hit the target dead-on for what I was looking for and made me realize exactly what my area of interest was.
So now, in the thick of trying to get the word out on One Too Many Blows To The Head, which will hopefully sell a few copies and reassure my publisher that they made a good decision to release it and also build a reputation for Jennifer and I as good writers, together and individually, where to go from here? Back to it I guess. Into the scrum with all the others.
Surprisingly, I have found other authors to be very non-competitive, very supportive and generous with their time. It would be so easy to just hunker down and defend your own beach head but so far, everyone I have met in the book world is kind and giving. Very different from the TV/movie biz.
So I will try not to stress about sales numbers while at the same time accepting that it is a part of my job as an independent author. It is a new world of publishing and only a grass roots approach will make our voices heard.
I need to get better at weaseling my way into the conversation more. I am a terrible self-promoter but that will get me swept away with the tide awfully quickly in this line of work. And with that check, no matter how tiny it is, it moves from a hobby to a job. Sure I made more at my real job during my commute this morning but the book exists and I have a product to sell. Even when I worked in retail I never did sales. Guess it's time to learn how.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year

Hello and Happy New Year. I'm back! Back to blogging, writing and indeed back in the country after way too long. Three weeks is a long time to be gone from your home especially when you don't speak the language and you have a 3-year-old in tow and have just been handed a 2-year-old to care for who doesn't know you from a hole in the ground and frankly doesn't trust you to take care of her. She's gotten more used to the idea but I'm still struggling with her refusal to let me love her. It only takes time though. She'll realize I'm a good Dad someday.
But, this is my writing blog. Not a whole heck of a lot happened in all that down time. Another flash piece I did a while ago finally got published at Powder Burn Flash and our super fun interview at Hardboiled Wonderland went up so check that out.
We came out late in the year and since we are on a teeny tiny publisher we didn't make it to any real reviewers but we've gotten our first couple of Amazon reviews. More would be nice. We are officially entered in two award competitions so wish us luck.
One really cool thing is that we made an end of the year "best of" list. Cormac Brown, a great short story writer, gave us the nod on his blog and we are honored.
Now it is back to work. After so long away from a keyboard I am bursting with ideas but also a long list of stuff to do including at the top – commence the 2nd draft of the new novel. After that, finish the outline on the sequel to One Too Many Blows and in between, more shorts! So much to do and with two little ones running around now it is hard to find the time. I'll do my best. At least it's quiet here in the ol' detached garage office.