Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yup, We're Going to Try This.....

At this point it indeed looks like I'll go the Kindle route with my "trunk novel" in an effort to experiment with using Facebook, Twitter, my blog, and other avenues to raise interest. Currently the manuscript is being read by a few partners in crime who are making sure I won't doing the equivalent of running outside without my clothes on, and so far all reports indicate all is well. Of course, they haven't reached the end yet.

I have decided that if ebooks are the way of the future (something I'm still not convinced of, though they may be a big part of the future) I had better get comfortable with the format, and if Amazon is taking material, why not? Plus, if I can build some sort of following, that will help when the ink-and-paper books come out. (The spy novel I just finished will continue to circulate via traditional submissions.) If nothing else, I can learn, without spending any money, how to use all of todays resources in promotion efforts, and actually have something to promote. I'm expecting one heck of an education. Amazon provides help in this area, so I'll take advantage of that, too. I also have a few other tricks, learned from actor friends, that I'd like to modify for this effort.

Of course, if this does more harm than good, I guess I'll have to find another name to write under. Maybe I'll go back to my real name. Then I can say my real name is actually my pen name. How cool is that? It's a bitch to spell, though; don't even try to pronounce it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Kindle or Not to Kindle

I just wrapped up a chat with one of my writer friends, Rebecca Forster, author of a great number of books including Silent Witness, which is one of the... best... legal thrillers... EVER... written. I swear I could not put that book down. Anyway, she's hit a set-back of sorts in her career and, for a lark, decided to put some of her back list on Kindle and she's actually doing very well. As experiments go, it hasn't been a disappointment. She suggested that I do the same with a novel I wrote two years ago called Justified Sins. It's a crime novel that I've had some nice comments on, especially from Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime (super guy!), but nobody has bitten, and then I wrote my spy novel, which I'm now pushing as my break-through. Rebecca suggested that I put the crime novel on Kindle just for grins and giggles.

I'm not expecting a best-seller or anything like that. I'd almost rather put it in the trunk and do something else with the characters involved, but who can it hurt?

Anyway I thought I'd put the question out to your, faithful readers. Should I put Justified Sins on Kindle or not?

The story involves a modern-day Paladin named Steve Dane in his quest against crime. He must protect his foster sister from a crime syndicate after her reformed-thief husband pulls a double-cross on the Outfit and ends up dead for his efforts. Dane tears into the Outfit gang and blows the hell out of their operations. Think a cross between Mack Bolan and Batman minus the tights.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So Long, Robert

I've just heard about the death of Robert B. Parker, writer of oh so many books and somebody oh so familiar to readers of crime fiction that I won't even try to recap his career. This is one of those cases where if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.

Spencer was the second PI that sparked my interest in the genre (and I liked Hawk, too--maybe even more than Spencer, but don't tell anybody). Pale Kings and Princes was the first of Parker's books I read, and I still enjoy it now and then. I think I like the way the words sound of the page. But I also like the mix of hard-boiled action and the characterization Parker gave to even the smallest characters. His victims were victims and he let you see it. That's something that impressed me early and an aspect I've always tried to keep in my work. His books had humor and and Spencer felt real (I still remember a scene from Princes where he's in a hotel room eating tuna fish sandwiches he had to make himself and his thoughts were funny) and I couldn't get enough.

It's been a long time since I've read any of Parker's books (yes, I'm one of those people) but I always paid attention when he had a new one out. Always had to give it a peek.

So long, Robert.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gene Simmons on Luck

Some people are their own worst enemy. I have writer friends and actor friends who are some of the worst people to be around because they constantly sing a "poor me" song about how they can't get a part or can't sell a manuscript. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal piece that said the slush pile is dead and writers hoping to be discovered sans agent are in a terrible spot prompted one writer of my acquaintance to proclaim that he had a better chance of a vacation on Mars than selling his manuscript. That was a real pick-me-upper!

These people are hard to be around, because they carry an aura of depression that brings me down, too, and makes life harder than it needs to be. The paradox to this is that if I am not around some of these people, I miss out on opportunities for acting roles or writing assignments. To counteract this, I research the lives of successful artists to discover how they've been successful and why; today, the successful artist I am looking at is Gene Simmons, one of the founders of the rock band KISS.

I have never been a big fan of KISS, but I like Gene Simmons. I'm watching a biography program on him as I type this, and somebody just asked if he felt his success was due to luck. He said: "My success is due to hard work. I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get."

I sure wish other artists took this attitude, instead of putting their work out there and waiting for something to happen, or wasting time reading Wall Street Journal articles. Simmons is a publicity machine. He goes out and MAKES something happen, and reaps the rewards. I know, I know, he already has money and can afford to create his own publicity, but what about when he did not have any money? Shameless self-promotion isn't something he learned after becoming a millionaire rock star. There was a time when he did it on a budget. Sometimes no budget. Writers trying to break out should learn something from this; instead, they keep playing the "poor me" song. Makes me sick.

Being creative is tough; trying to earn money at being creative is even tougher, but there are ways of making things happen. This blog has put me in contact with other writers and readers that I would not otherwise be in contact with, and will be part of my publicity efforts when my novel comes out; some of my actor friends have ways of keeping their names in front of filmmakers that I will modify for my own needs. There are ways of making things happen and they aren't terribly expensive, and sometimes it requires nothing more than talking to people. As Simmons also commentated, any artist who doesn't want to talk about his latest project had better learn to say, "Do you want fries with that"?

And for a certain writer (who shall remain nameless) who just landed a sweet contract and poo-poos his hard work and ascribes it all to luck, I hope you save your money, Jack, because luck is a fickle lady and she'll leave you as soon as she finds another sugar daddy. But if you work hard with what you have and make something happen, you can kiss her off yourself, because it's always better to be the dumper than the dumpee, right, Daniels?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Quarry?

We are excited to note that 2010 will be a big one for fans of Max Allan Collins. While looking at the Hard Case Crime website tonight, I spotted the cover shot of yet another new Quarry novel, this one entitled Quarry's Ex. This is terrific news and the only bad thing is that we must wait until October before the book drops. What the heck are we going to read until then? Oh, right, Collins has the new Mike Hammer book coming out, among other things. We should be okay.

But we must ask one, simple question: Is Max Allan Collins a real person, or several people working under one name? Who, after all, can write so much, so quickly? It's like he doesn't have a real job or something. He can spend, like, twelve hours a day writing. Does he have a toilet built into his desk chair? Because that would be really cool.

Irregardless if Collins is of one or of many (and I know irregardless is not a real word, but I like using it, especially with people who don't know it's not a real word), a new Quarry is always something to look forward to, and we shall celebrate this news with a glass of milk. In a dirty glass.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Therapy

It's been a heck of a week. I haven't had a job in almost two years, but this week some part-time work came my way and required a ton of heavy lifting which has left me completely drained of mental energy. Physically, no problem; perhaps the other crap on my mind has also contributed, but I digress.

What I did tonight was stop my the local book mill and scan the shelves for an hour or so. Have you ever used such activity to get your mind off things? It worked great for me back in college, and I'm glad to see it still works now. I made notes on a few books I'd like to read eventually, including a new crime novel called Gutshot Straight which appears very promising. Alas I cannot afford hardcover prices anymore (or, more honestly, I won't pay them) so I'll wait until I see it in the new awful paperback format.

Speaking of paperbacks, am I the only one who dislikes the new elongated format that has given publishers and excuse to charge more money for what they used to sell for $6.99? Makes me mad. I used to be able to get three books for $20 but now I can barely get two with that money.

I noticed some crime-related graphic novels this evening, an anthology of crime stories called Noir from Dark Horse Comics and Filthy Rich, written by Brian Azzarello, which is a one-shot noir riff that has a promising premise. I don't know how I feel about crime comics. Prose is more vivid than pictures, I think.

Anyway it was a relaxing night. I should send out some queries for my spy novel but I'm even too tired for that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This One is For Writers

I'm very happy to announce that my friend Rebecca Forster, author of 22 novels, and one of the most undervalued and under appreciated and undiscovered gems on the bookshelf, has joined a web site called PR Therapy and is writing their "Write Now" column. Her debut is a good chuckle for those of us who have been writing for any length of time, and I thought I'd let y'all know about it. If you write, at whatever stage, this is a must-read. Click away!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shut Up and Kill Me--What A Great Story!

I have just been to the Beat to a Pulp website because I finally had some time to read Robert J. Randisi's contribution, "Shut up and Kill Me", and you should hurry over and catch this one. I've enjoyed Randisi's work for years so it's nice to see something new from him.

And while you're at it, don't forget my own BTAP contribution, "The Red Ruby Kill", which some of you may have missed:

Wow, I feel like Max Allan Collins with all this not-so-shameless self-promotion.

I'm hip-deep in "24" reruns right now but I don't think the show qualifies as "hard-boiled". Not one bit. But what the heck....