Saturday, June 21, 2014
Thursday, June 19, 2014
One of the things that Kieran Shea is so good at is kicking expectations in the crotch. Koko Takes a Holiday opens with a shoot-out in a bar. On display is Koko's skill with weapons. The killing and all. Ba,. Etc. It's vivid, clear, and exciting.
Koko escapes. Here comes some bloodbath, right?
Nope. Koko ends up having to ditch all her weapons before the next stop.
It's the little stuff like this that shows Kieran Shea's skills -- on full display. Show your character is a master at something, then take away that strength. See what's left. It's a stripping away to get at, well, at the character of the character. It's brilliant.
Go read the book. Koko Takes a Holiday.
This post fires off on Thursday, June 19, 2014. Tonight, I'll be in Durham, at a bar with some talented writers, doing some reading and signing. I plan to read a Roy Alison story that is set after the conclusion of Country Hardball.
You can read about the event in the Herald Sun or in Indy Week or, you know, just show up.
Seven crime authors will be reading and signing books at the bar 106 Main (located at 106 E. Main St.) in Durham during the city’s first “Noir at the Bar” event. This reading, signing and mingle event begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and continues until 9:30. "Noir at the Bar" is a nationwide movement popularized in St. Louis by authors Scott Phillips, Jedidiah Ayres and others for crime authors to gather, meet, and read their work. Bars in New Orleans, San Francisco, New York and other cities have presented events.Durham's inaugural event will feature Steve Weddle (“Country Hardball”), Grant Jerkins (“The Ninth Step”), Eryk Pruitt (“Dirtbags”), Chad Rohrbacher (“Karma Backlash”), Peter Farris (“Last Call for the Living”), Charles Dodd White (“Sinners of Sanction County”) and Phillip Thompson (“Deep Blood”).Visitors may purchase books at the bar, or may bring their own copies for autographs.Pruitt, who is organizing the evening, hopes this reading will be the first of many “Noir at the Bar” events for Durham.Admission is free. For information, visit www.facebook.com/events/ and search on “Noir at the Bar.”
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
(sung to the tune of Honky Tonk Blues)
You can hum that while I take care of a little housekeeping:
I released the official cover of my second book, Mistress of Lies, on Monday:
|Isn't she pretty?|
In fairness, the fault lies with me when it comes to dropping the promo and marketing ball. I've nothing against it in theory, but when it comes down to actually doing it, I get overwhelmed. If only there was a comprehensive list of things I should be doing and when I should do them. Does a guide like this exist somewhere?
I asked several authors to give me blurbs for Mistress of Fortune. I followed through on only one of them (shout out to Susanna Calkins) because I was too shy to actually send the others the book.
Shyness doesn't sell books, people! Cajones do!
I know that publishers often set these things up for authors. Carina Press did a few things for me, but I should've done a whole lot more myself. With the release of book two, I'm really trying to be proactive about getting the word out to more than just my friends on Facebook.
I also know that a lot of authors work their butts off doing everything themselves. They do anything they can to get the word out. Here's where I fall flat on my face. I do have a "say yes to everything" policy, but I should be going out there and rustling up business instead of letting it all come to me.
Sigh. This is a depressing post. Sorry. Let's leave it at this: What's the most effective marking thing you've done to promote your book? It's hard to know what directly contributes to sales, but the day I did a guest blog post on Chuck Wendig's blog, I saw a big rise in my Amazon ranking. Of course, many authors say Amazon rankings are essentially meaningless, so take that for whatever it's worth.
Now it's your turn. Tell me the secret to selling lots of books. KTHX.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
This week my buddy, Adrian McKinty, has a post on up his blog about how the idea of writing 1000 words a day is not for everyone.
Well, of course it’s not for everyone, you say, no single method is for everyone. You need to find what works for you and stick with it.
Or, stick with it until until you move on to the next method.
At least that’s the way I feel about it now. I don’t think it ever gets easy to write a book but I do think it’s possible to learn from your experiences and not repeat every mistake. I’m at the point in the book I’m working on now where everything feels like a big mess and I’m wondering why I ever thought I could write this book in the first place. All these loose ends will never come together, there’s really no point in any of this and any ending I tack on now will just be a cheat.
I’m going to do that anyway because that’s exactly how I’ve felt with every other book I’ve written. But I learned a few things from each of those to help me here.
I learned that there will be rewrites. Editors will point out problems to me and I’ll get another chance to fix them.
I learned that no matter how much I think the ending I finally put on the book works there will some people who just don’t like it. And some people who will.
It probably wouldn’t help me to write 1000 words a day but like Stephen King said, amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work (I know how ridiculous it is for me to use any sentence that has the words “Stephen King” and “us” in it, but there you go) so I’m just going to keep plowing through this till the draft is done.
But that may not be the right method for anyone else. Maybe it would be better to take a break and think about it for a while or start writing something else and come back to it. I’ve used both those methods in the past and I may use them again sometime.
What works for you?
Monday, June 16, 2014
Half World by Scott O'Connor
The CIA ran the MKUltra project, officially, from 1953 to 1973. During that time the Government took citizens off the street and drugged and abused them in order to find ways to control their minds. This was done all over the country and in parts of Canada. Perhaps the most well known of these sites was in San Francisco where some have argued that CIA administered LSD started the counter culture. A quick Google search shows that notable test subjects include Ted Kaczynski, Ken Kesey, and Whitey Bulger. The official documents pertaining to the project were destroyed. You can see from this reductive summary that this has all the ingredients of a potent brew. O'Connor makes the most of it. Half World is scary, and paranoid and haunting. The first part is like a great paranoid 70's movie and the actions will cast a shadow over the rest of the novel.
The Contractors by Harry Hunsicker
The Contractors is a crime thriller that takes place along the Texas-Mexico border. It has non-stop action, morally compromised characters, and a real world setting, what's not to love?
The Fix by Steve Lowe
There have been a number of great boxing novels over the years (The Professional, Fat City) and boxing and noir have long gone hand in hand. Boxing is described as The Sweet Science. If you apply yourself to the strict and rigorous study of this science you can succeed and, through, hard work, make it to the top. It has meritocratic elements and anyone can make it regardless of race, economics, personal history, etc. But because it is also a kind of food chain there can only be one at the top. As such someone is always gunning for you. The Fix portrays all of this in a quick novel that will appeal to all fans of boxing, noir, and crime fiction.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Weird, lush, surreal, alien landscape explored by characters who may not be who they say they are sent by a shadowy government organization. Book one of a trilogy that will be completely published by the end of the year. Can't wait to read the others.
And the Hills Opened Up by David Oppegaard
Deadwood meets Cthulhu? Not quite but close. Great characters, unlikely heroes, and a quiet, creeping dread.
The Door That Faced West by Alan M Clark
The story of the Harpe Brothers told from the perspective of one of their wives is a stunning portrait of early America and a compelling and entertaining story.