Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't Feel Bad For Me

It was the email you always want from your agent. "I think I sold your book."

This was back in May, the weekend of the Edgar awards. The book in question is one I truly believe in, and one that had been rejected before. But this time – with a new imprint and a new editor charged with bringing in exciting new content – it seemed like a go. All we were waiting on, it appeared, was a conference call with the head office. A few weeks of silence followed. Not unusual. Nothing was a given and my standard operating procedure is to assume it will all fall apart.

Today it did. Exhibit A books has closed down.

But don't feel bad for me. There are other writers whose books had sold. Contacts had been signed. Edits had begun. Immensely talented writers like Matthew Funk, Patti Abbott, Rob Hart, Nik Korpon and a host of other writers I'm not lucky enough to call friends like these folks. Books that had been finished and circulating for years in some cases. These are the people you should feel bad for. I was still in a state of hope, a place all writers seem to float in until the ink is dry on the contract. These people were down off the cloud, looking forward, thinking of things like cover art and book tours. All gone now.

And what of this intrepid new editor? Well, Bryon Quertermous is out of a job. That sucks big time. His enthusiasm for Exhibit A was infectious among the crime writing community. You got the sense this was an imprint on the verge. The verge of what, we were misinformed.

And Dan O'Shea, who was two books into a trilogy. What happens now?

The book business is brutal. This is not news. I'm sure Angry Robot, Exhibit A's parent company, didn't come to the decision lightly. They absolutely wanted to keep it alive. But if the numbers aren't there, they aren't there. Not much to be done. No blame here. I feel bad for them too.

So I go on. Back to square one, a place firmly imprinted with my footsteps. A place I spend so much time I ought to pay rent. After my deal with Guilt Edged Mysteries I felt like I'd climbed the first rung of the ladder. That turned out not to be true. Good folks, great books, but that imprint has fallen victim to a rethinking of what exactly they are all about. My trilogy of books ended at one. (#2 is written and sitting comfortably on my hard drive for 2 years now.)

But all the authors above will keep on writing. Bryon will get another job and he has his own book deal to look forward to. The now homeless books? Right now agents are scrambling to find them new homes. It's not the end of the world, but when hopes are dashed it makes us all into middle schoolers experiencing our first heartbreak. Our date to the dance has stood us up. Mine was still busy making up her mind when I heard through the grapevine that she dropped out of school.

We're alone, but surrounded by the characters we create and the other writers who all have their own version of this story. I've been here many times before throughout my screenwriting career. It is soul crushing and depressing and hurtful and discouraging. But if I haven't quit after all the bullshit up to this point, I'm sure as hell not going to quit now. So don't feel bad for me. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We're going Down and Out

Every time I go on here to give a good news update I realize there are several things I should be mentioning, but I tend not to post about every little thing. That leaves me with a backlog of releases and things to announce, which I guess is a good thing.

In this case, it's a very good thing. Let's start with the big news. I wrote another book with my sometimes co-author, JB Kohl. We collaborated on those two books over there on the side, One Too Many Blows To The Head and the sequel, Borrowed Trouble.  (back in print and available for cheap!) One Too Many was the first book I ever had published and Jennifer and I have been writing together off and on ever since. We wrote a whole book that nobody wanted and half of a sequel to that one before pulling the plug. Then we started on this new one, Over Their Heads. After we started Jen moved half way across the country, changed jobs and I continued writing several other projects I was working on. So it dragged on for a while. A year to be exact. Odd for us, but we kept it going through the down times. (one lag left us with a whole month off after I sent her the updated draft and she thought she was waiting on me to get back to her. Confusion where we both thought the other was a total slacker only to end up going, "Oops. Sorry.")

We love the book. It's a crazy caper with a SUV full of drugs, a family on vacation, some stolen money, a drug mule named Skeeter, several errant gun shots, a woman giving birth, stolen identities, and so much more.

But us finishing isn't the good news, though it felt damn good. We're going to be publishing the book through the good folks at Down & Out books!

They are a great indie publisher of gritty and original crime novels and we're proud to be a part of it. We're on the schedule for early 2015 and we're going to get a cover by the ultra talented JT Lindross.

Speaking of amazing covers, a release I haven't mention yet is Pulse Fiction. This throwback pulp anthology is another from the mind of Paul Bishop and Tommy Hancock of Pro Se productions. This is classic pulp fiction in a variety of stories and it includes my caper, Diamonds Are A Girl's Worst Friend featuring cat burglar Holly Lake and her adventures in early 60s Paris.

Seriously, look at that baby! All the stories are exciting and offer two-fisted action and all the great pulp characters and storylines you know you love. Check it out.

And we're up to Book #4 of The Year I Died Seven Times! We're over the halfway mark. The craziness keeps on rolling. Book #5 drops in July. Each installment only a buck!
The print versions are going through a small update. They're getting cheaper! Book 4 reflects the new price with the others to follow. A lot of making-the-sausage stuff you don't want to know about it, but just trust me that Beat To A Pulp publisher David Cranmer is a man of infinite patience. 

We're getting dangerously close to the release of Trouble In The Heartland, the anthology based on Bruce Springsteen song titles and one that promises to be a big deal. I really like my story in that one, even if I did take a risk by doing something fairly off beat that I'm sure some people might not like. But, oh well. You have to challenge yourself as a writer now and then.

More news soon. Sooner than later. And there is some big stuff coming.