Tuesday, February 28, 2006

WARREN ELLIS: SPEAKING OF SPEAKEASY

In one of his email blasts, comics writer Warren Ellis (Nextwave, Planetary) had some interesting comments on the recent closing of indie comics publisher Speakeasy:

... I was kind of taken aback when Speakeasy started releasing book after book with no visible marketing plan beyond the usual "if you build it they will come" that always spells doom. Especially in an overheated publishing marketplace that now has increased expectation placed upon it by the internet conversation.

[snip]

Publishing isn't just a case of assembling and trafficking books. Speakeasy's moves just baffled me from start to finish. They filled no obvious gap in the marketplace, and, sad to say, I think they'll vanish with not a ripple at all.

Except for the creators. I think a lot of people got their start at Speakeasy, and I'm damn sure there's people who had books in the pipeline there who will now feel robbed of their start. All I can say to those people is: it happens. Almost every pro creator has a false start early in their career, sometimes more than one. It's never easy.

Things aren't getting harder. This isn't market correction. This, I'm sorry to say, is one publisher getting it wrong from start to finish: releasing too many books, without a support structure.

Adam's saying online that he's done with publishing, and would like to go back to just being a fan. Some might say that it's being such a great fan of the medium that did him in as a publisher. But if he does come back, he will do better. Publishing comics is a harsh gig, and he's been through pretty much the most unpleasant learning curve it can give.

http://www.the-engine.net

DAPHNE DU MAURIER CONTEST

Over at Dee Stewart's Gospel Fiction blog, she reports on the
Daphne du Maurier Contest. She says the RWA Mystery/Suspense Chapter’s Daphne du Maurier Contest Unpublished Division 2006 is low on Inspirational entries. Click on over for links to rules and such.

du Maurier, of course, was author of such classic suspensers as Jamaica Inn (1936) and Rebecca (1938)—both of which were adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939 and 1940, respectively.

THE MILLER SISTERS #78

" ... HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE GET BACK BEFORE ANY OF MY NEW SUPER POWERS KICK IN!"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #78 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters.

The clock is ticking on Julia's birthday, the day she is destined to inherit super powers ... but what will they be?
(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Sunday, February 26, 2006

DARREN MCGAVIN: 1922-2006

Last night, actor Darren McGavin passed away. His great roles include gruff news reporter Carl Kolchak chasing impossible stories in Kolchack: The Night Stalker and the grouchy dad in the perennial 1983 classic A Christmas Story.

Find out more about his life and career at www.darrenmcgavin.net, and at the links below:

Prolific Actor Darren McGavin Dies at 83 ABC News
Darren McGavin, 83; Played Reporter on TV's 'Night Stalker' Washington Post

An entire generation of X-Files fans can thank him, too -- X-Files creator Chris Carter has regularly acknowledged he was inspired by Night Stalker. McGavin even played a brief role on the show, where his character turned out to be the original agent working the files.

McGavin co-starred with Don Knotts -- who, I'm sure you've heard, also passed away yesterday -- in the Disney family comedies No Deposit, No Return (1976) and Hot Lead & Cold Feet (1978).

Saturday, February 25, 2006

BUY A MUG OR SOMESUCH

Some writer/artist friends of ours have created nifty merch for sale at www.cafepress.com/amoebadreams. The artwork and clever slogans can be found on a variety of items, including mugs, calendars and various wearables.

With three different artists involved, you have three entirely different styles / approaches. Check it out!

Friday, February 24, 2006

ERIC WILSON UPDATE

Suspense novelist Eric Wilson is in the process of final edits for his latest book, The Best of Evil (WaterBrook Press). He recently shared some updates with his email list:

* FREE BOOK -- Be one of the next three people to post an Amazon review of EXPIRATION DATE or DARK TO MORTAL EYES and you'll win a copy of THE BEST OF EVIL. It's easy. And it's your chance for a freebie.

* SHORT STORY -- Next month, my first short story, BEFORE A FALL, will appear. Look for it in the new magazine, ANGELICA.

* WRITERS WORKSHOP -- A weekend workshop is in the works for hopeful writers. I'll keep you posted on this great opportunity.

Keep up with the latest news on all that's Eric Wilson at his official site, www.WilsonWriter.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #77

"BESIDES I'VE GOT RULES ABOUT GOING OUT -- "

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #77 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters. The clock is ticking on Julia's birthday, the day she is destined to inherit super powers ... but what will they be?

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

SNEAK PEEK: "THE GOLDEN AGE"


Infuze Magazine has just posted a sneak peek at Deliver Us From Evelyn: The self-contained short story excerpt "Golden Age," an adventure starring Detective Charlie Pasch of the Kansas City Police Department. It comes as a downloadable pdf. (Free registration required.)

The faux comic book cover was created by my lovely wife, Erica, writer/artist of "The Miller Sisters." (Click on the image to enjoy it at full size.)

If you do not already have the free pdf reader Adobe Acrobat, it can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

MORE PETTY MEDIA SQUABBLES

Yet more life-imitates-art that should make you want to pre-order Deliver Us From Evelyn:

Wenner Cans Rolling Stone Publisher Over Party Spat (Mediaweek)
Publisher Steve DeLuca was let go Friday after a dispute with Jann Wenner, Wenner Media chairman and Rolling Stone editor in chief, over the location of a party for Rolling Stone's 1,000th issue. The mag's associate publisher Ray Chelstowski will serve as acting publisher.

Now, if I can only get the media to start adding stuff to their stories like "in an eerie parallel to the zany crime thriller Deliver Us From Evelyn ..."

BAD REVIEWS, GOOD PEOPLE

Over at the blog Christian Novels, book reviewer Katie Hart outlines the dilemma of reviewing products created by people you know:

You're likely to meet the authors you review, whether it be through email, online forums, or a writer's conference. If I get a book published, I will belong to the ranks of CBA novelists whose books I praise or bash. If I hate a book and my review reflects it - what if that's the author who could have recommended me to her agent? Or what if an editor who also hates the book reads my review - will he remember my name for the future?

As a longtime reviewer myself—CDs, movies, books—I understand her pain. (And am relieved she seems to like my fiction ... so far.)

P.S. -- Despite the sing-songy title of this blog entry, it is technically not a "bad review" but a "negative review." At one of my previous magazines, there was one particular associate publisher for whom I had to constantly explain the difference.

MORE MARTHA VS. DONALD

Given that the title character of Deliver Us From Evelyn is a reality-show-starring media mogul with a public relations problem, I can't help but chuckle at the timing of this feud between Martha Stewart and Donald Trump. Associated Press reports:
The two pop-culture icons spent much of Tuesday in a back and forth tempest over "The Apprentice."

First, the domestic diva took aim in an article in the current Newsweek; then The Donald blasted back in a letter to Martha delivered Tuesday; late Tuesday a stunned Stewart returned fire, and then later Tuesday Trump shot again in a TV interview.

In his biting letter, Trump wrote that Stewart's version of "The Apprentice" was "a mistake for everybody - especially NBC."

See the whole story here. See my movie-poster-style flyer for Deliver Us From Evelyn here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

DELIVER US FROM EVEL(YN) FLYER

Continuing our countdown to the March 2006 release of Deliver Us From Evelyn* ...

Based on early comments, I have updated the flyer a bit. (Click on the image for bigger size.) When we're ready to distribute it, I'll upload a link to a pdf.

The order form at the secret link is also updated.

At this point, all the suggestions I've received are minor. We might almost have these worked out ...

*(Since I am not John Grisham, I do not have an exact release date. I think it leaves the warehouse March 1, which means it will start hitting shelves two or three weeks later, depending on traffic.)

UPDATE: THE MCPASSION

Just heard back from those crazy McPassion guys:
If all goes well, we'll be streaming the film on the site as of the first stroke of 3/1/06. And it looks like we're only going to keep it posted for a limited time ... probably just 40 days and 40 nights ...

Thanks so much for your support! Keep an eye on the site!
Related link: WOULD YOU LIKE SALVATION WITH THAT?

THE MILLER SISTERS #76

"WAITAMINUTE WAITAMINUTE WAITAMINUTE!"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #76 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters. The clock is ticking on Julia's birthday, the day she is destined to inherit super powers ... but what will they be?

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Monday, February 20, 2006

LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU, E-V-E-L-Y-N


My old college paper the SIUE Alestle has printed a story about a certain graduate by the name of Chris Well. (Maybe you've heard of him.)

Curiously, the reporter renamed my second novel for me. This despite all the publicity materials readily available (including a very recent story in the nearby Alton Telegraph and an almost-as-recent item in the also-nearby St. Louis Post- Dispatch) ... this despite the novel's ubiquitous presence on Amazon and a dozen other online retailers ... and this despite no fewer than TWO emails from me to the reporter saying "here is my Web address, please go there to make sure you spell everything correctly."

She has decided to tell her readers that the name of my second novel is "Deliver Us From Adam."

How about that.

(And, yes, during the phone interview I even explained that the title Deliver Us From Evelyn is a pun based on "Deliver us from evil.")

UPDATE: I just heard from the reporter, who was quite apologetic. She says the Alestle will run a correction and fix the title on the website.

MAKIN' (CHRISTIAN) COMICS

Someone who wants to make a Christian comic book emailed my wife for advice on how to connect with a comic book company and get it distributed. I thought her reply worth sharing:
Your best option is to draw up your comic and make mini comics (at like Kinko's.) Sell them locally and through a place like www.megazeenonline.com. Spend the $30 and file the minis with the US Copyright office so they're protected. Invest in a website of your own and run your comics on it. Hook up with a free webcomics site like www.onlinecomics.net (they're excellent) so you can get your comics in front of people.

If you really believe in your stories and in your artwork you'll work on it to develop your skills, and not wait on or expect someone to necessarily pay you for it yet. You should prepare to be hireable and to be publishable. That means first you have to believe in what you're doing before anyone else will. (But don't get a big head about your stuff either. Nothing's a huger turn-off to someone hiring.)

Educate yourself about comics. Educate yourself on how to work as a freelance artist. Learn how to draw. If you're also writing your own comics, learn how to spell and use punctuation. (Or get someone you know who can to help and double-check them for you.)

Some Christian comics people seem to be under the mistaken impression that because they're doing work "for the Lord" that they don't have to draw very well or know how to spell or punctuate correctly. As a Christian and professional who has hired freelancers, there's nothing more offensive to me than someone who thinks the Lord God is not worth doing your very best work or being professional for. Poor quality also leaves a bad impression on the very people you hope will hire you or buy your book.

People always want to know if there are shortcuts on how to break in and be hired. There are no shortcuts. You have to be able to do the work, be ready to do the work and be willing to do the work. That way the people who have the ability and means to hire will want to hire you. If you ever want to work and make comic books for anyone else, you have to be able to deliver the product even for yourself.
Erica's resume includes work in both comic book retail and publishing—including employment at DC Comics and Milestone Media. Good advice, for anyone entering any sphere of the arts ...

(MAYBE NOT) A GOOD THING

Trouble in Apprentice-ville: Martha Stewart and Donald Trump are trading blame for the poor performance of her spin-off. She told Newsweek her show "flopped this past fall because of too much Apprentice."

Trump fired back to the Associated Press: "I wish she would be able to take responsibility for her failure."

The rebuilding of Martha may have hit a snag, but Newsweek also reveals some surprising successes: Mini-versions of Martha's mansion (selling at up to $450,000 each) sold so well in Cary, N. C., the project will be repeated in seven more cities.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

DELIVER US FROM HUCKSTERS

I am wrestling with creating promotional materials for Deliver Us From Evelyn. (Click the image at left to see it at full size.)

Here, too, is a secret link to a handy form to print out and take to your friendly local bookseller. (Scroll down to locate a retailer near you.)

These are still works in progress. Please let me know what you think!

AMAZON: LISTMANIA!

I love making these Amazon lists. Maybe it reminds me of my days in retail making end-caps ...

My lastest additions/updates:

NIGHT STALKER: PAGE TO SCREEN (February 18, 2006)
This list includes:
Richard Matheson's Kolchak Scripts by Richard Matheson
The Night Stalker/The Night Strangler (Double Feature) DVD ~ Darren McGavin
Kolchak - The Night Stalker DVD ~ Darren McGavin
See entire list


Build a Bridge: Christian fiction, music and more (February 12, 2006)
This list includes:
Out The Box - The Movie DVD ~ Tonéx
Out the Box by Tonex & The Peculiar People
O2 by Tonex & The Peculiar People
See entire list


KONG: PAGE TO SCREEN (February 16, 2006)
This list includes:
King Kong by Edgar Wallace
King Kong (Modern Library Classics) by Delos Lovelace
Merian C. Cooper's King Kong : A Novel by Joe DeVito
See entire list


Wanted: Suspense Thrillers (February 13, 2006)
This list includes:
Brink of Death (Brink of Death) by Brandilyn Collins
Stain of Guilt (Stain of Guilt) by Brandilyn Collins
Dead of Night (Dead of Night) by Brandilyn Collins
See entire list


SATURDAY MORNING FIXATION: DC COMICS (February 18, 2006)
This list includes:
Justice League - Season One (DC Comics Classic Collection) DVD ~ Kevin Conroy
Challenge of the Super Friends - The First Season (DC Comics Classic Collection) DVD ~ Jack Angel
Super Friends, Volume Two DVD ~ Danny Dark
See entire list

CRIME FICTION: PAGE TO SCREEN (February 15, 2006)
This list includes:
Shoot the Piano Player (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by David Goodis
Shoot the Piano Player - Criterion Collection DVD ~ Shoot the Piano Player
The Thin Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by Dashiell Hammett
See entire list

Friday, February 17, 2006

WOULD YOU LIKE SALVATION WITH THAT?

A new short film pokes fun at the over-commercialization of the Gospel: The McPassion is a four-minute faux infomercial for the latest crass "Jesus junk" product tie-ins. (The sad thing is, how long before someone tries to make some of these products for real?)

The film has a "release date" of March 1, Ash Wednesday. But at this moment, I don't actually know what that means. Details to come.

In the meantime, check out the official site.

Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 3

Today, we conclude our conversation with novelist and fellow International Thriller Writers member Thomas O'Callaghan. His first novel, Bone Thief (Pinnacle Books), is already much acclaimed:

Bone Thief sweeps the reader along in its breathless,
tumbling course ... ” -- Peter Straub

“You won't soon forget this truly creepy serial killer -- or the haunted cop who struggles to bring him to justice.” -- P.J. Parrish

"Bone Thief is that rare commodity in murder-mystery fiction which can actually give the reader nightmares." -- WhoDunnit.com

So, without further ado, part three of our interview ...

* * *

Part 3


Why would you recommend joining an author guild like ITW?
Support. As I'm sure you're aware, writing is a lonely profession. Aside from the fictional characters, there's just you. ITW allows me to feel connected to people who are going through exactly what I'm going through, the highs and the lows. It's great to have a network of people to share it all with.


Of all the fine author organizations available, what about International Thriller Writers do you feel sets it apart?

It's vibrancy. The fact that it's brand new makes being part of it feel like you, personally, make a difference in its expansion. And it's specifically geared toward the thriller genre. I feel at home.


What are your writing habits?
I write Monday through Friday. I find I'm at what I consider my best between 11 and 5. But, as you know, a writer continues to edit and rewrite 24/7. I usually get what I think are great ideas when I'm either in the shower or in bed.


Are you an "outline" writer or a "make it up as you go" writer?
The latter.


Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes. I’ve been blessed with the luxury of a very understanding wife who let me take an early retirement from a sales career to devote time to fulfilling my dream.


What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and keep at it.


What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
Unless you're Stephen King or the like, it doesn't come out of your head, hit the paper and get published. Writing is a process. A first draft becomes a second, then a third ... and, in between, many ideas hit the waste basket, never to be heard from again. (Well, maybe. I have retrieved a few and unraveled them.)


What one thing about writing do you wish other writers understood?
Each one of us has a different voice. Not summed up as "Good" "Better," "Best," but as "Different" and "Unique."


For the writer with a new book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she can do to promote it?
Consider the book an investment. If resources allow, spend the money on good, solid advertising. Let it be known to as many people as possible that the book is out there, for sale and for enjoyment. On the advice of my agent, Matt Bialer, I hired a Web publicist, FSB Associates. They've done a great job promoting it.

* * *

Many thanks to Thomas for his time! Find him online at www.ThomasOCallaghan.com. Purchase Bone Thief at Amazon or any other fine bookseller. Read his essay on his 12-year journey to publication, "Recipe For Getting Your Book Published."

Subscribe to the FREE Thriller Readers Newsletter and be eligible to win free books!

Related links:
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 1
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 2

Thursday, February 16, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #75

"I CHECKED AROUND FOR WHAT TO
DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY THAT COULD
BE FUN --
"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #75 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters ...

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

POST #200: MAKE MINE AMAZON

Based on the advice of suspense novelists Brandilyn Collins (Web of Lies, in stores now) and Creston Mapes (Full Tilt, hitting shelves in March), I have now officially joined the ranks of authors who also blog on Amazon.com. (Which means when my wife asks, "And if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?" I am afraid the only honest answer would be, "Yes. Yes, I would." )

Find my shiny new Amazon blog here. Down along the side under "Change What You Receive From Chris Well," you can click to make my Amazon blog visible on the front page whenever it's updated.

More about Amazon Connect. More Amazon Connect Authors.

HAVE A [PRODUCT PLACEMENT] TODAY

Publishers Weekly says the Authors Guild is asking members to contact congress—or lose the right to mention products in their stories. A trademark bill which could threaten non-commercial free expression has already passed the House and is headed for the Senate.
In the example cited by the Guild -- Tom went to McDonald's, had a Coke and waited for the Harley to arrive -- an author who used those trademarked names could be exposed to greater liability under the proposed bill than the existing law.
See the whole story here. See the Authors Guild alert here.

Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 2

Continuing our conversation with novelist and fellow International Thriller Writers member Thomas O'Callaghan, author of Bone Thief (Pinnacle Books). As we mentioned yesterday, Tom has written an essay on his twelve-year journey to publication, "Recipe For Getting Your Book Published." He is working on his second novel even now.

So, without further ado ...

* * *

Part 2

You consulted with a retired homicide detective to help with the accuracy of your novel—at what part of the process did you start to think about research?
Throughout the writing effort. Case in point: The killer's father is a taxidermist. I knew little, if anything, about the art. That called for research. After the body was discovereed, I planned on inlcuidng an autopsy but had never been to onel., Research was needed there as well.

The journey to the first novel was 12 years. Presumably, the publisher expects the subsequent novels faster ...
Michaela Hamilton, my insightful and ever-helpful editor at Kensington, would like to see a novel a year. They've signed me to two. I hope they ask for a third—I've got the story for it inside my head.

Looking back on your journey to this first novel, what would you have done the same and what would you have done differently?
The same: I'd say I would have been as tenacious. Differently: I'd have gotten a freelance editor to look at it sooner. Choosing Dick Marek made the difference between a good novel and a very good and marketable one.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. Find Thomas online at www.ThomasOCallaghan.com. Purchase Bone Thief at Amazon or any other fine bookseller. Subscribe to the FREE Thriller Readers Newsletter and be eligible to win free thrillers!

Related links:
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 1
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 3

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

NEW YORK: THE BLOG ESTABLISHMENT

New York magazine has a bundle of articles on the ins and outs of blogging—including the scientific reason some blogs get W-A-Y more traffic:

The Blog Establishment

• Blogs to Riches: The Haves and Have-Nots
• How the 50 Most Popular Blogs Are Related
• The Early Years: How Blogging Began
'• Five Cool Blogs to Check Out Now
• Meet the Bloggers
• Why B-list Blogs Can Make It, Too

Now, if I can just harness this power for my own selfish ends ...

TWICE THE BLATANT SELF PROMOTION

ME, PART ONE (AND, TO A LESSER EXTENT, SUPERMAN)

For those who missed it, novelist Lonnie Cruse, author of the "Metropolis" murder mysteries, recently interviewed me for her blog, Cruse'n With Lonnie.

She has a new novel coming soon; watch for my Q&A with Ms. Cruse. (I proposed to my lovely wife at the Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois. As you can imagine, the idea of a mystery series set there holds particular charm for me.)

*****

ME, PART TWO (BUT NO SUPERMAN-RELATED CONTENT)

Following the recent discussion questions for my debut thriller, Forgiving Solomon Long, the fine folks at Christianbook.com have posted several new items regarding me and my upcoming zany crime drama Deliver Us From Evelyn :

*Interview with Chris Well

*Favorite Bible Verse

*Writer's Corner

Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 1

In the current issue of the Thriller Readers Newsletter, I profile novelist and fellow International Thriller Writers member Thomas O'Callaghan. His debut thriller, Bone Thief (Pinnacle Books), introduces grieving Lieutenant John W. Driscoll, a New York City cop who must guide a troubled team to hunt a bizarre serial killer.

Thomas and had such a great correspondence that I am running the "extended cut" of our conversation over the next three days ...

* * *

PART ONE.

One thing you and I have in common: Our characters are dealing with "parent issues." Your protagonist and your antagonist both seem emotionally damaged by the way their parents treated them as children, yet each deals with it differently ...
I believe most people want to see good conquer evil. I certainly do. It's a sedative for an unsettled world. As children, we have little, if any, control over how we are raised. It's how we allow harsh upbringing to control us as adults that makes the difference.

Both Driscoll and Pierce were victims, yet Driscoll managed to distance himself from his past and lead a civilized life, despite the maltreatment. By choice. Whereas Pierce, who was much more traumatized, remained a victim. By choice? I doubt it.


Your essay "Recipe For Getting Your Book Published" says it took TWELVE YEARS between the time you started writing this book and the time it became published! How much did the story change during that period?
The story pretty much remained the same, although the original ending was modified. The changes were seen in the character development. Each one became more distinct, more true to life, during the course of the twelve years.


What came first for you, the story or the characters?

The story. I sort of cast the characters as the story unfolded.


Was there anything specific that inspired this novel?

My appreciation for the writing talents of such notables as Thomas Harris, John Sanford, Dean Koontz and Ed McBain. I challenged myself to write as good as they did.


Your 2007 novel also stars Lt. John W. Driscoll ... did you start out with him in mind as a "series" character?

Yes. There's a lot of crime, both imagined and real. NYC makes a great setting for it, and who better to deal with it than a resourceful career cop such as Driscoll?


Is this an open-ended series, or do you have an arc in mind that you are working toward?

Open-ended for now. I'll see how his character evolves to know when I've reached the arc.


Bone Thief is certainly an intense thriller—how surprised were your family and friends to read how brutal this bad guy is?
Very. I have a choir-boy face and a reserved, friendly personality. I'm even a lector at my local church! I'm bracing myself my pastor's reaction.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second part of our Q&A. In the meantime, find Thomas online at www.ThomasOCallaghan.com. You can purchase Bone Thief at Amazon or any other fine bookseller. Subscribe to the FREE Thriller Readers Newsletter and be eligible to win free thrillers!

Related links:
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 2
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN, PT 3

50/50 EMAIL

Wired News explains the cause of most email and Internet flame wars:
According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.
Read the whole report here.

MILLION WRITERS AWARD





The 2006 storySouth Million Writers Award, which honors online fiction, is open for nominations. This year's award, sponsored by the Spoiled Ink writing community, features a $300 prize, plus $50 memberships to Spoiled Ink for each author of the top ten stories.

Related links:
ANTHOLOGIZED!
JUST AN HONOR TO BE NOMINATED

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #74

"BESIDES I'VE GOT AN IDEA!"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #74 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters ...

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

CRUSE'N WITH LONNIE

Mystery novelist Lonnie Cruse, author of the "Metropolis" murder mysteries, recently interviewed me for her blog, Cruse'n With Lonnie. Check out the interview here.

She has a new novel coming quite soon, so look for my Q&A with Ms. Cruse here one of these weeks.

(Extra trivia: I proposed to my lovely wife at the feet of the Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois. So, obviously, the idea of a mystery series set there holds particular charm for me.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

JOHN THOMPSON AT HM

Just saw this piece of news:
Chicago IL / Austin TX -- HM Magazine, the leading publication for news, reviews and features related to the growing "Hard Music" genre within the Christian Music underground, has announced a new Director of Advertising and Marketing. John J. Thompson, via his company Gyroscope Arts Incorporated, has assumed the position effective immediately. Thompson and Gyroscope Arts will oversee ad sales for HM and will assist with the marketing and publicity of HM Magazine in both the Christian and the mainstream markets.

Thompson brings twenty years of experience to the HM staff, including his years as editor and ad sales director for True Tunes News magazine in the 1990s, and four years as the Marketing Coordinator for the Cornerstone Festival. In 2004 Thompson founded Gyroscope Arts Incorporated and signed Cornerstone Festival as his first client.

"Basically I perform many of the same duties for Cornerstone as I did when I was on staff full time," Thompson explains, "handling the sales of ad space in the festival's major nationally distributed Program, as well as wider scale sponsorships."

Thompson sees the addition of HM Magazine to the Gyroscope roster as a logical fit. "Cornerstone and HM are obviously cut from the same cloth," Thompson adds. "It's all about progressive culture and the radical truth of the Gospel. HM's commitment to its audience is well known and has created a loyal and growing readership that is a real value to advertisers, just like Cornerstone is. This revenue stream is important for the overall ministry goals of the organizations. I am highly motivated to help vital ministries like this achieve their goals."

HM founder and Editor-in-chief Doug Van Pelt agrees that the fit with Thompson and Gyroscope Arts is obvious. "We're thrilled to be working with an old friend," Van Pelt says. "The benefit of John's talent, experience and skills is obvious."

Thompson is excited about the new venture personally, as well as professionally. "I've been a fan of HM since, literally, the very beginning. I founded True Tunes in 1989, and by then HM (then Heaven's Metal ) was already established as an authoritative voice in the Christian
music underground."

Thompson has been an occasional writer for HM Magazine for several years, and mentioned HM prominently in his 2001 book Raised by Wolves; the Story of Christian Rock and Roll.
See what's up with HM at their official site.

SIMON & SCHUSTER ACQUIRES HOWARD PUBLISHING

One of the few remaining standalone Christian publishers is now part of the machine—Howard Publishing has been acquired by Simon & Schuster:
Simon & Schuster has acquired Howard Publishing, a leading Christian and inspirational publishing company based in West Monroe, Louisiana. The announcement was made by Jack Romanos, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, Inc., and John Howard, President of Howard Publishing. Terms of the acquisition were not made public.

As part of the acquisition, Howard will become an imprint of the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Division. John Howard will serve as Executive Vice President and Publisher, reporting to Carolyn Reidy, President of the Division. Howard’s editorial and publishing staff will continue to be based in Louisiana.

“Howard Publishing is a wonderful complement to our existing businesses. It is a dynamic, emergent publishing company that offers us strategic and immediate entry into the increasingly important Christian and gift publishing marketplace,” said Jack Romanos. “In addition, their extensive network of sales and distribution contacts in these markets will benefit our existing imprints and divisions. We are confident that Howard will thrive and grow as part of Simon & Schuster and are delighted to welcome John and his staff to our company.”

“I have been greatly impressed with John Howard and his team,” added Carolyn Reidy. “Their list of leading authors and brands, and their ability to market creatively and to specific demographic segments makes them stand out from the competition.”

“As part of Simon & Schuster, a leading global publisher, Howard will have even greater opportunity to fulfill and expand upon its vision for publishing imaginative, faith-based, and meaningful titles,” said John Howard. “Our shared passion for publishing high-quality books and finding the widest possible audience for them will be to the benefit of our many customers and authors.”

Founded in 1969, Howard Publishing releases approximately 45 titles a year, with a backlist of about 350 titles. Their areas of editorial expertise include Christian living, gift books, devotionals, fiction, and children’s books.

Howard is the publisher of the bestselling Hugs series, which has sold more than 6 million copies

Howard is the publisher of leading Christian and inspirational authors, celebrities, and licenses, including Andy Stanley, Ed Young, Ken Canfield, Sandi Patty and Point of Grace.

The publisher is home to the Motherhood Club, a popular and growing publishing program that connects and provides support for moms through online communities, local chapters, and special events.

Howard has been named #1 gift book publisher to the gift store industry by Gift Beat magazine from 2001 to 2005.
In the past few years, Howard Publishing made an impressive entree into the world of fiction, with well-received novels by Tim Downs, Patricia H. Rushford and Denise Hunter.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"KANSAS CITY, HERE I COME ..."

Over the weekend, I discovered this interesting entry from The Examiner in Eastern Jackson County Missouri:
Some people are surprised to discover that many novels are set in Kansas City. The library owns nearly 30 such titles published in the past three years. When a character visits the Nelson-Atkins or Union Station, drives past the Liberty Memorial or Brush Creek, or goes shopping on the Plaza, it helps us identify with the novel. We can visualize the character's exact location. It's also fun to see a local landmark mentioned in a novel.
As anyone who has read Forgiving Solomon Long knows, it is set in KC, Missouri. And it's nice to see it listed among the others on this page.

Here are some fiction titles published in the past two years, set in Kansas City:

- "The King of Kings County: a novel," by Whitney Terrell (domestic fiction).

- "First Dawn," by Judith Miller (historical fiction/Westerns/ Christian fiction).

- "The Perfect Family," by Carla Cassidy (contemporary romance/thrillers).

- "Get Blondie," by Carla Cassidy (contemporary romance/thrillers).

- "Honeymoon Suite: a novel," Lynn Michaels (contemporary romance).

- "Forgiving Solomon Long," by Chris Well (suspense fiction/organized crime).

- "Flying Crows: a novel," by James Lehrer (psychological fiction ­ Washington Post's Best Fiction of 2004 Award).

The article goes on to list several novels set in rural Missouri as well.

Friday, February 10, 2006

HONOR AMONG (TV) THIEVES

Medical info site WebMD has this interesting story, "Everyone Loves Crime— on TV":

"People are anxious in an uncertain world and today they may get the message that bad guys do win and these shows show that they don't," says [Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Robert Butterworth, PhD]. "Modern technology makes it so crime doesn't pay and that is the ultimate premise -- 'we will get you, and we will use whatever tools we have to get you.'"

Related links:
MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS
TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK
ARE YOU MONKISH?

THRILLER WRITERS: JURY DUTY

Publisher's Lunch reports that at ThrillerFest this summer, Lee Child will be "put on trial," playing his character Jack Reacher. Paul Levine will play defense attorney, with Michele Martinez as prosecutor and M. Diane Vogt as judge. Journalists and reviewers are asked to play jury. Another panel will be a mock autopsy conducted by Tess Gerritsen.

Speaking of ITW, next week I post my three-part Q&A with fellow member Thomas O'Callaghan, author of Bone Thief. Watch for that.

Related links:
THINGS ARE GOING TO START HAPPENING TO ME NOW
INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS!

Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 3

Today, we conclude our three-part conversation with suspense novelist Brandilyn Collins, author of Web of Lies (Zondervan). (If you missed them, feel free to go back and read Part One and Part Two. We can wait.)

Ready? OK, without further ado, here is part three, wherein Brandilyn shares advice to aspiring writers ...

* * *

PART 3.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
First, put your talent firmly in God's hands. He gave it to you in the first place. No doubt He's got a pretty good idea of what you should be doing with it. Second, if you're a novelist, work like crazy on the craft. The journey toward publication can be long and hard and full of cabinet-kicking. (Don't you just love mixed metaphor?) You have to stick with it.


What aspect of God do you most hope readers will take away after reading one of your books?
The extent of His power, released through prayer. David wrote: "In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" Even if "mere man" does something mighty awful, God can get us
through it.


What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand?
There are two kinds of people in this world -- Normals and Novelists. Novelists are rather ... strange. If we talk to our characters, pretend not to notice. If we look at absolutely everything that happens around us as a possible story
idea ... yeah.


What one thing about writing do you wish other writers would understand?
That no one of us has a corner on the market as to what fiction is good and what isn't. I have my tastes, others have theirs. I know enough about craft to judge quality of writing, but in my judgment are mixed my own predispositions. We all need to remember that even though we don't care for certain genres, plenty of others do. In this difficult business, we need to support each other, not berate each others' talents, or even secretly think our genre is harder to write in than someone else's. Each genre has its own challenges. Each can be done well or done poorly.


For the writer promoting his or her book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she could do to promote it?
Well, no surprise -- These days having a Web site is essential. It's particularly helpful to post an excerpt of each book to give folks a flavor of your writing. And keep the Web site up to date! Feature your latest release. As time approaches for the next one, tease readers with information about what's to come. Also, offer free stuff like bookmarks and signed bookplates. Make sure the Web site URL is on the back cover of your book. Besides this, I do an e-mail newsletter, interviews, mailings, and make good use of an influencer list with each book.

* * *

There you have it! Many thanks to Brandilyn for her time. Find her online at www.BrandilynCollins.com or at her daily blog, Forensics And Faith. She has also launched an Amazon Blog and is a regular contributor to the multi-novelist blog Charis Connection.

Find Web of Lies at Amazon or ask for it at any fine bookseller.

Related link:
BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 1
BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 2

Other author Q&As:
ANNE RICE
TOM BUFORD
JAMES SCOTT BELL
RANDY SINGER

Thursday, February 09, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #73

"WELL ... I WON'T WORRY
ABOUT IT.
"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #73 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters ...

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

SPECIAL NOTE: The links now take you directly to the strip from here (and still get the count from Onlinecomics.net). Enjoy!

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 2


Continuing our Q&A with suspense novelist Brandilyn Collins, author of Web of Lies (Zondervan). An award-winning and best-selling novelist, she also has written the distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). In between writing novels, Brandilyn teaches the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.

* * *

PART 2.

How many books do you read a month?
As many as possible, given my schedule. In a regular month, perhaps 6-8. In vacation mode, more. An author needs to keep reading -- in various genres, and especially in his/her own. I make sure to keep up on Christian suspense. I need to know what's happening in my own market.


What are your writing habits?
I hit the office around 7 a.m. and write until my daily page count is done (anywhere from 6-10 pages.) I tend to write my first drafts the way I want them, which slows me down some. (Opposed to some authors, who like to get the first draft down in a hurry, then spend a lot of time editing.) When that's accomplished for the day, I have devotions (reading the Bible and praying the Psalms -- I have a long list of people who've asked me to pray for them). Then somewhere in there I run my five miles and do marketing stuff -- which, by the way, seems to increase with every book.


Are you an “outline” writer or a “make it up as you go” writer?
Neither, completely. I'm more of a plotter. My stories have a lot of twists, and infinite details go into those twists. That's not something you can just make up as you go along. From page one, I am writing to the ultimate twist. On the other hand, I don't fully know every scene when I start a book. I plan some scenes and have others generally in my head. But as I write, details and characterization cause new possibilities to arise.


Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes.


How many books did you have to write before you were able to go full-time? (When did you know you had “made it”?)
This is a hard question; I'm not the sole breadwinner in the house (and my husband makes a far higher salary than I). That said, if I were on my own, I could support myself with writing full-time. I sold my first novel toward the end of 1999. By the time it hit shelves in 2001, I'd sold four more novels and a nonfiction (my book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character). But I'd say when I signed a seven-book contract with Zondervan in 2003, I felt pretty solid. At least I knew what I'd be doing for the next three and a half years.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. Find Ms. Collins online at www.BrandilynCollins.com or at her daily blog, www.ForensicsAndFaith.blogspot.com. She is also a regular contributor to the multi-novelist blog Charis Connection.

Find Web of Lies at Amazon or ask for it at any fine bookseller.

Related link:
BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 1
BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 3

Other author Q&As:
ANNE RICE
TOM BUFORD
JAMES SCOTT BELL
RANDY SINGER

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.