Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Day For Remembering

Scott D. Parker

I spent some good quality time yesterday watching various D-Day programs. I woke early enough to catch some of the coverage of the ceremonies live. I watched Michael Beschloss and others talk and Chuck Todd interview a couple of veterans. Later, I watched the special with Brian Williams who featured four additional vets and their stories. I even broke out Saving Private Ryan and watched the opening segment.

I’m a history major so dates and what came before is never far from my mind. But I always appreciate anniversaries like the 70th for D-Day to remind everyone of the big events that shaped our world and the small ones that colored it.

At the end of the Brian Williams special, the camera panned up and showed the cemetery and the rows of crosses at night. It’s a shot you rarely see. Most of the time you see the cemetery, it’s in the daylight. The darkness, with the shadows created by the TV lights, gave the rows an otherworldly glow. The scene moved me.

It’s odd watching all that coverage and reading the history and just being so awed at the courage of those men and then doing normal things like driving to pick up a pizza or writing this blog or heading out to the drugstore to pick up batteries for my car’s remote. But then I realized that it was for precisely those things--those mundane things to which these men returned--that they fought and died.

Man. It’s hard to comprehend the gift they gave us. Let’s make sure that, in ten years when we celebrate the 80th anniversary and there will likely be no living D-Day veterans present, that we remember their sacrifice and bravery. And also on the 81st, and the 82nd, and ever onward.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Five Hachette Books To Love

By Steve Weddle

Lost in much of the Amazon vs. Hachette discussion has been the number of good books and cool authors publishing under the Hachette name.

If you're looking for some good reads, check out these Hachette titles -- past, present, and future.

Feel free to add your own favorite Hachette authors and books in the comments.

Also, shopping indie is a swell idea, while you're at it. My favorites are Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, and One More Page in Arlington. You can find your locals at or order from one of my favorites.



The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire,The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman).


Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski

We picked this one for our DoSomeDamage Book Group a while back.

The first of three explosive pulp thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation and Marvel Comics scribe Duane Swierczynski.

Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop still reeling from the revenge killing of his former partner's entire family, fears one thing above all else: that he'll suffer the same fate.

Languishing in self-imposed exile, Hardie has become a glorified house sitter. His latest gig comes replete with an illegally squatting B-movie actress who rants about hit men who specialize in making deaths look like accidents. Unfortunately, it's the real deal. Hardie finds himself squared off against a small army of the most lethal men in the world: The Accident People.

It's nothing personal-the girl just happens to be the next name on their list. For Hardie, though, it's intensely personal. He's not about to let more innocent people die. Not on his watch.


Alpha by Greg Rucka

For the visitors to Wilsonville, the largest theme park in the world, the day began with a smile. By the end, they wonder-will they be able to escape with their lives?

Retired Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jonathan "Jad" Bell, is Wilsonville's lead undercover security officer. The threat begins with the announcement of a hidden dirty bomb, but quickly becomes something far, far worse.

Trained since the age of seventeen to save innocent victims from impossible hostage situations, Jad scrambles to assess the threat and protect the visitors. He will come face to face with a villain whose training matches his in every way-and presents a threat Jad may not be able to stop.


Skinner by Charlie Huston

Skinner founded his career in "asset protection" on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner's CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.

Now, an ornate and evolving cyber-terrorist attack is about to end that long exile. His asset is Jae, a roboticist with a gift for seeing the underlying systems violently shaping a new era of global guerrilla warfare.

At the root of it all is a young boy, the innocent seed of a plot grown in the slums of Mumbai. Brought to flower, that plot will tip the balance of world power in a perilous new direction.

A combination of Le Carre spycraft with Stephenson techno-philosophy from the novelist hailed by theWashington Post as "the voice of twenty-first century crime fiction," SKINNER is Charlie Huston's masterpiece--a new kind of thriller for a new kind of world.


Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What do you say to aspiring electricians?

By Steve Weddle

So John Mantooth was on ABC the other day talking about his new book.

You can read more about him over at Keith Rawson's LitReactor interview or over at Publisher's Weekly.

One thing I notice about author interviews is how the different audiences command different types of questions.

If you're being interviewed at a writing site, you'll be asked about craft. If it's a books and publishing site, you'll be asked about, um, books and publishing.

And if you're being interviewed for General Public Consumption, you'll be asked the following:

"What advice would you give someone who wants to write a book, but just hasn't found the time."

The answer you're expect to give is that the aspiring writer should just keep at it, by gosh. You're supposed to say that everyone has a story to get out and, golly, you just have to write it.


What advice would I give? I don't know. Go back in time and deal with the pain of being a feeble, weak ginger by writing stories where smart, dorky looking kids aren't tortured.

Study writing in college. Read three books a week. Make a pilgrimage to the homes of Salinger or Blume or Evanovich. EVANOVICH!!

Spend $53,950 for an MFA you'll never use.

Drive three hours each way to hear David Sedaris read and then chicken out like a weak ginger when it comes time to ask the question you want to ask.

Write. Write. Write.

Get up at 4 a.m. every mother fucking morning and write, even when you have a cold and even when your hemorrhoid has blistered up so bad you have to keep a dishtowel delicately and precisely folded on your chair.

Take classes online to make your writing clearer.

And read.

Join a writing group that meets weekly and rips apart your first drafts as if they were weak gingers on a playground full of jackasses.

And read.

You know the old story about the doctor who says to the writer, "When I retire, I'd really like to write a novel" and then the writer says, "How odd. When I retire I wanted to do some surgery"? Yeah, that writer was asked to leave the party.

What advice would you give an aspiring electrician or mathematician or banker? After all, everyone has a Callan-Symanzik equation in them if they can just find the time.

And, yet, as my pal Mr. Shory points out, you have to be licensed to be a surgeon, right? Electrician. You have to be certified to be a mechanic. You have to install a door "up to code" or claim to have a Ph.D. to teach philosophy.

Heck, come to think of it, I know probably seven or eight writers I'd like to sue for malpractice. But you can't. You can't have your license revoked if you write a story that repeats three of these 10 storytelling cliches.

Electricians and surgeons are, of course, nothing like writers.They're well compensated. Ha. (I haven't used a cheap joke in paragraphs. Lighten up, Francis.)

But why is it that people often ask a writer for advice on being a writer? Is the artist angle? Maybe you'd ask a painter? A musician.

"So, Ms. Hole, what would you say to aspiring guitarists?"

"So, Mr. Picasso, what do you tell aspiring painters?"

My guess is that people think they can write a novel because, let's be honest, we make it look too easy. There you are in the coffee shop typing away and the next thing you know, you've got a book on the NYT best seller list.

When I give a reading and people ask me "how did you get your agent?" they often want to know how they can get an agent. Very few people give a darn how I got my agent. "How did you get published" means "How can I get published?"

See, the question isn't really "What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a great book?"

The question is -- What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a writer.

Because people don't want to practice the guitar; they want to be rock stars.

People don't want to learn how to use Scrivener or co-angulate 19 plot points.

And you can't tell aspiring electricians to electricate, can you? Mathmatize?

See, I can't tell how to be a published author. I can suggest that you play nice with interviewers, understanding that dealing with people is its own kind of fiction, the making a face to meet the faces of the day, as the poem says. I can tell you about AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker and LitReactor. I can send you a link for how to write a query letter. I can give you the home phone number of Jay Stringer's agent. I can't give you The Answer, though.

Because publishing isn't writing.

If you want to write, though, you can be a writer. All you have to do write.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rewarding Bad Behavior (or Not)

by Holly West

Sometimes coming up with blog post titles is harder than writing the actual post. Not sure this one is entirely accurate, but let me explain:

Awhile back, I posted this link on Facebook, with a caption saying "Thank God Charmin toilet paper isn't on this list because I'd totally have a problem with that."

Dutiful liberal that I am, I'm no fan of the Koch brothers. But really, I posted the link about the plea to boycott their products as a joke. A couple of my more right-leaning friends took exception, however, and made various comments such as "What's next? We can't boycott everything," and "boycotting hurts jobs more than it does the people we're boycotting." I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.

The thing is, I'm not big on boycotts myself. If I'm using a product or service regularly and like it, I probably won't stop using it. Some might consider this to be "rewarding bad behavior." (Okay, maybe my post title does work).

That said, if I don't already use a product (or shop at a store, or eat a particular food, etc) and I find out that those who profit from it have been behaving badly based on my own personal value system, I will go out of my way never to purchase that item. This is my way of punishing "bad behavior."

Let's use Chik-fil-A as an example. I've never eaten anything off their menu, though I've heard it's delicious, if unhealthy. But now that I know that as a corporation, they're against marriage equality, I'll go out of my way not to purchase their food.

By the same token, however, when Target gave money to a politician who opposes gay rights and embraces a number of extreme conservative views I abhor, I continued shopping there.

Hypocrisy much? I'm not even going to try to justify this choice of mine.

Occasionally, this subject comes up with regards to celebrities, including authors. Recently, the question of whether one would continue buying the books of an author who was known to "behave badly" or came out publicly as being anti or pro-fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-position-you'd-like, came up on social media.

Some people said they would. Others said no. But I'm going to go back to what I said near the beginning of this post: if I've enjoyed said author's books in the past, I will purchase future books as long as I continue to enjoy them. However, if I've never read said author's books and he/she says or does something that annoys me, I'll go out of my way to not buy their books.

I would argue that even the most conscientious consumer has some area of conflict in their purchasing decisions. If you think not, I'd certainly like to hear from you. In fact, I'd like to hear from you anyway. Whether it's choosing not to purchasing an author's books or deciding whether to eat a scrumptious chikin sandwich, what is your consumption criteria?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mike Knowles – The Buffalo Job

Way back in the dawn of time Mike Knowles used to blog here at DSD. I’m happy to report that while he’s no longer blogging he’s still writing the terrific Wilson books and a new one was published yesterday, The Buffalo Job.

Here’s the description:

Wilson should have just walked away when three men came looking for a way to boost a valuable piece of art. But the heist was more than just a job for Wilson; it was a chance to get off the sidelines and back in the game.

The art came off the wall, the alarm screamed thief, and Wilson walked away clean. But it turned out that job was an interview for an even bigger heist. A dangerous man wants Wilson to get him something more valuable than a painting. Problem is Wilson only has a week.

Wilson and his crew cross the border to Buffalo to steal a 200-year-old violin. Four men cross, but four don’t come back. A lot of people are interested in getting their hands on the instrument and none of them are shy about killing to get it.

The job starts like a bad joke — a thief, a con man, a wheel man, and a gangster get in line to cross the border — but the Buffalo job doesn’t end with a punch-line. It ends with blood.

Well, no wonder Knowles gets the Stark comparisons.

"Wilson can take his place alongside Richard Stark’s Parker as a ruthlessly efficient bad guy with an ingenious ability to escape tricky situations." — Publishers Weekly.

And Mystery Scene says, “… reminiscent of Lee Childs' unstoppable Jack Reacher.”

Peter Rozovsky said, “He's a bit like Mike Hammer but without the hyperventilating political rants. He's darker than Richard Stark's Parker, as if Parker had descended a circle or two into the world where Andrew Vachss' Burke lives.”

What all this adds up to is something completely new and original.

You can read an excerpt from The Buffalo Job here

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones - trailer

Apologies for the late post. Still no internet at the new house so please accept this short post.

Based on Lawrence Block's bestselling series of mystery novels, "A Walk Among the Tombstones" stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime...nor will it be the last. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.

Release Date: September 19, 2014 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nervacited about Blast Off

By Kristi Belcamino

In less than 10 days my very first novel, Blessed are the Dead, will pop up on iPads and computers and phones across the country.

People will read my words over coffee, in bed, on the subway.

It is a day I’ve dreamed about since I was eight years old.

This past year, I’ve seen a whirlwind of changes in my life. I have deadlines set by other people.
I not only have an agent, I work with an entire team at HarperCollins: an editor, a publicist, and a digital marketing expert.

A digital marketing expert because I signed a deal with a HarperCollins imprint, Witness, that focuses all its marketing efforts on digital sales.

There will be a print book, but unless my e-book sales blow up, it will be a very limited print run.

At first, this was a difficult part of my dream to let go.

Part of taking this two-book deal involved some soul searching.

Mainly, it involved me setting my ego aside. Let’s face it, having a physical print book is, in many ways, all about ego. About how it makes me feel—successful. About how others perceive me—successful.

And when I realized this, I saw that I was being an old stick in the mud.

When it came down to it, I could care less HOW people read my book, as long as they read it. That is what counts.

Once I realized this, I embraced my book deal. And I’ve never looked back. I could not have found a better team of people to work with than the crew at HarperCollins.

They are power hitters and their efforts show that. One day, I clinked on a link at the bottom of my publicist’s email. The link shows which books she is promoting. I was beside myself to see that along with my book, she is also promoting Patricia Cornwell’s latest.

Now, how on God’s green earth, did I ever get in a position where the five-star publicist promoting my book is also promoting Patricia Cornwell’s book?

But, of course, I am not Cornwell. And the publicity efforts will not be the same for each of us.

For me, it seems that efforts are focused heavily online, where, after all, the people who read digital books can be found. So far, I see my name and my book popping up all over the place thanks to the stellar efforts of the HarperCollins crew.

But with only a little over a week remaining until pub day, I can't help but wonder, once again, if I've done everything I can to make the book a success. I wrote the best book I could. I manage to blab about it every once in a while to my friends. I'm sure at this point it's too late to do anything to help the book succeed, and that makes me nervous. Excited, but nervous.

My kids call this state "nervacited."

I’m thrilled to finally be a published author. Finally. At the same time, I’m worried that my book won’t sell as well as I hope.

My hopes are realistic, I think.

I want to sell enough books that my publisher believes all my books should come out both in print and digitally. I want to sell enough books that there are actually people out there waiting to read my next one. In summary, I want to be able to keep writing books that people want to read.

I think this is realistic. I’m not asking to become famous. I’m not asking to make a million bucks. I just want to be read and to keep writing. That is MY dream.