Friday, March 31, 2006

NEW COMICS AT STUDIOWELL


My lovely and talented wife, Erica Well, has been posting various of our comics over at the StudioWell site. Some of these are our own collaborations (me writing, her drawing), some are her collaborations with others, and some are all her, baby. There are several links to be found on her page, Erica Well DRAWS!

Some of the more recent uploads:

PENULTIMATE ADVENTURES:
THE SECOND TO LAST WORD IN ADVENTURE!

ISSUE #1: "GRAVITY IS A HARSH GIRLFRIEND"
ISSUE #2: "BONO, IF YOU'RE READING THIS—CALL ME!"

Bible comic: "THE BURNING HEARTS"

And, of course, twice a week Erica updates her online comic strip, The Miller Sisters. It's Julia's birthday, the day she will inherit super powers ... which are now starting to manifest ...

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

GOING "FULL TILT"

The Creston Mapes media juggernaut continues: He is the special guest at "Forensics and Faith," the blog of popular suspense novelist Brandilyn Collins. Part One was posted yesterday. Part Two is posted now. The two-part appearance is part testimony, part testimonial, and part interactive interview. Check it out!

Also, Creston's latest slam-bang Christian rock suspense thriller, Full Tilt (Multnomah), is reviewed at Novel Journey. (If you hurry over and post a comment, you may still be eligible to win a FREE copy!)

Related links:
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 1
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS, PT 1

Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 3

Concluding our Q&A with novelist Tasha Alexander, author of the historical mystery And Only to Deceive (William Morrow), named by Notre Dame Magazine as "Pick of the Week" for October 31, 2005. The novel, set in Victorian England, involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder. William Morrow has contracted her to write two more books about Lady Emily Ashton.

* * *

PART THREE

For the writer promoting a new book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she could do to promote it?
I’ve found that hiring a good independent publicist is invaluable.


Why would you recommend joining an author guild like Sisters in Crime?
As I mentioned [before], writing is solitary, and to meet other people doing it is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Mystery writers are a supportive group—and organizations like Sisters in Crime give you the chance to connect with other writers who are geographically close to you so you don’t have to remain alone behind your computer all the time.


Of all the fine author organizations available, what about Sisters in Crime do you feel sets it apart?
I can’t imagine that any other group could be more welcoming than Sisters in Crime! The local meetings are great and it’s nice to be part of a large national organization, too—you can connect with lots of people at SinC events at conferences.


What other writers groups are you a member of?
I belong to the Authors Guild and Backspace, which is an excellent online writers forum.


BONUS: The Munsters or The Addams Family?
Addams Family!!!!!! I wish Thing were here right now so that I wouldn’t have to crawl off the couch to get myself something to drink …

* * *

Thanks so much to Tasha Alexander for her time this week. Find more interviews with her from RT Bookclub Magazine, Authorlink and The Tennessean.

Her mystery And Only to Deceive is available at Amazon and other fine booksellers. Read the first chapter online. Find Tasha online at www.TashaAlexander.com.

Related links:
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 1
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 2

More Novelist Q&As:

LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"MY SUPER-POWERS COULD SHOW UP ANY MINUTE!"

My wife, Erica, has uploaded #87 of her twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters. The clock is ticking on Julia's birthday, the day she will inherit super powers ... and now they are starting to manifest ...
(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

EVELYN: RIPPED FROM EVEN MORE HEADLINES


Just saw this link from Mediabistro's Daily Media News Feed:
Jann a Party Monster? (NYP)
Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner is apparently trying to add some pop to the party that will celebrate the magazine's 1,000th issue by signing The Strokes as opening act. But Wenner is "driving everyone crazy," over the party says one insider. "He keeps changing his mind."

Hmm ... Evelyn Blake planning a party event and driving everybody crazy. I wish I had thought of that. (Maybe in the next book.)

Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 2

Continuing our conversation with novelist Tasha Alexander, author of the historical mystery And Only to Deceive (William Morrow), named by Poisoned Pen Bookstore as one of the Top 20 First Mysteries of 2005. Tasha Alexander is the daughter of two philosophy professors and grew up in South Bend, Indiana, completely surrounded by books. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Medieval Studies.

Following stints running a temporary employment office in Laramie, Wyoming and working as a pharmaceutical sales rep in Vermont, she had a baby and retired from corporate life. The family moved to New Haven, Connecticut when her husband started a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale. The week before her 3-and-a-half-year-old son happened to stop napping, she started work on And Only to Deceive. Two months later, the manuscript was finished. She currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where she is working on her next novel.

She is also a member of the Middle Tennessee chapter of Sisters in Crime.

(Author photos by Wolf Hoffman.)

* * *

PART TWO

Are you an “outline” writer or a “make it up as you go” writer?
Definitely “make it up as you go!” Outlines slay me. I have a fairly intuitive sense of pace as I’m telling a story, but if I’m writing an outline, it’s like I’m taking stabs in the dark. Stabs that never hit anything.

Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes. I’m not good at anything else.

How were you able to go full-time?
I was staying home with my son when I started to write, and continued to do that after my first book sold. It’s definitely helpful to have a gainfully employed spouse if you want to be a full-time writer ...

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read! There’s nothing that will improve your own writing more than reading good books. They’ll teach you what works, what doesn’t, what you like, and are the best place to discover new words.

What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
I’ve found that non-writers are generally tolerant of the neuroses of writers, although it is sometimes hard to convince them that when we’re staring out the window we really, really are working—thinking counts!

What one thing about writing do you wish other writers understood?
We’ve got to remember that we all have different experiences once we’re published. What works for one of us, particularly in terms of marketing and self-promotion, is not necessarily going to work for others.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. And Only to Deceive is available at Amazon and other fine booksellers. Read the first chapter online. Find Tasha online at www.TashaAlexander.com.

Related links:
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 1
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 3

More Novelist Q&As:
LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

IT IS NOT A SEQUEL (WELL, NOT ENTIRELY)


My brand-new novel Deliver Us From Evelyn (Harvest House) received a very positive review on Christian Fiction Review today. I do disagree with the need for the enormous consumer alert that kicks it off, but an author certainly can't complain about any review that ends with "I personally want to read it again. Highly Recommended."



Related link: CHRISTIAN FICTION REVIEW: BEST OF 2005

Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 1

Our guest today is novelist Tasha Alexander, author of the historical mystery And Only to Deceive (William Morrow), named by Poisoned Pen Bookstore as one of the Top 20 First Mysteries of 2005. The novel, set in Victorian England, involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder:

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily's dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly ...

Now, with further ado, the first installment of our Q&A ...

* * *

PART ONE

Who are your literary influences?
Gosh, I’m such a book junkie; I’ll read just about anything. But as to who influences my writing, I’d say Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, Dorothy L. Sayers and Elizabeth Peters. At the moment I’m absolutely in love with David Mitchell’s writing.

Who are your philosophical influences?
I’m the daughter of two philosophy professors, so this is kind of a loaded question … Plato, Sartre, and on bad days, Nietzsche.

What is the best thing anyone said about one of your books?
Honestly, every single nice thing that’s been said about my book has warmed my heart. But one thing that made me dance around the house was in a review that ran on reviewingtheevidence.com: “Alexander's writing made me remember why I became an English major in the first place. It's for the books.”

What is the worst thing anyone said about one of your books?

Kirkus called And Only to Deceive “pleasantly soporific.” My goal in life is to become successful enough as I writer that I feel comfortable walking around in a t-shirt with PLEASANTLY SOPORIFIC emblazoned across the chest.

How many books do you read a month?

Five or six

What are your writing habits?

I sit down at the computer as soon as everyone else has left the house in the morning and usually begin by writing emails. This could be considered procrastination or warming up, depending on your point of view.

Then I read what I wrote the day before, make notes about what I’d like to revise, enter those changes into the computer, and at last start the real writing. I try to do two thousand words a day, which is a reasonable goal for me. I’d undoubtedly be more efficient if I had no access to email, but writing can be isolating work; I wouldn’t want to give up my correspondence with the handful of other authors I’m lucky enough to have as friends.

If I’m finding myself distracted, I’ll go to Starbucks in downtown Franklin. Lots of creative people there, so there’s a certain amount of benevolent peer pressure that’s excellent for kick-starting productivity. Plus, their chai tea is the best.

When I reach the stage of being immersed in the book, I don’t want to stop writing at all, something not particularly appreciated by my husband and son, who find themselves knee-deep in pizza boxes at a house where the dust buffalos have taken over from the dust bunnies. They much prefer the earlier stages, when I’m doing lots of thinking. Thinking often done best while, say, baking Viennese pastry.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second installment of our conversation. In the meantime, And Only to Deceive is available at Amazon and other fine booksellers. Read the first chapter online. Find Tasha online at www.TashaAlexander.com.

(Author photos by Wolf Hoffman.)

Related links:
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 2
TASHA ALEXANDER, PT 3

More Novelist Q&As:

LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Monday, March 27, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #86

"MY BIRTHDAY! WHAT TIME IS IT?!"
My wife, Erica, has uploaded #86 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 at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Friday, March 24, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #85

"...ONLY THERE'S ONE PROBLEM"
My wife, Erica, has uploaded #85 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 at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 3

Since Wednesday, our guest has been novelist Creston Mapes, author of the acclaimed suspense thriller Dark Star (Multnomah Publishers) and the brand-new Full Tilt. Creston has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, freelancing for major corporations, colleges, and magazines nationwide. His clients include Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, The Weather Channel and Focus on the Family, and such magazines as In Touch, The Hockey News, and Physician.

In this final installment, Creston shares advice to aspiring writers, his literary influences, and explains the aspect of God he wants readers to get out of his novels ...

* * *

PART THREE.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Be creative. Write from the heart that God's given you. Don't be afraid to write in a style no one else has. You set the trend.

After that, prepare yourself for rejection. Develop a tough skin. Rejection hurts, but it's going to happen. Remember, though, just because one person and one publishing house rejects you, all that means is that your story was not right for that one person, perhaps that one publisher (however, then again, maybe just that one person!).

I had professional editors tell me Dark Star would never make it into CBA. They said it was too edgy, that people would never root for a drug-addicted rock star. It is SUCH a subjective business.

But all it takes is one person to love your work, and you may be on your way. It took me six years of diligent pursuit to hook up with my publisher. But, if God has put it on your heart to write fiction, nothing can quench the fire. And nothing can hold back God from doing what He's going to do in you and through your writing.


What aspect of God do you most hope readers take away after reading your books?
When the people were beating Jesus, spitting on Him and cursing Him, He said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." That is radical love. It is unconditional. It is a free gift. We're all sinners. All in the same boat. All in need of that unfathomable love and forgiveness. That's the message in Dark Star. And there will be other aspects of God conveyed in future books.


What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
Writing books is a difficult, challenging, lonely job. It takes SO MUCH hard work, organization, discipline, and concentration. It is utterly draining. It fries my brain. I admire anyone who's finished writing a book.


For the writer with a new book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she can do to promote it?
On one hand I would say, hook up with a publisher you really like, one who's going to promote your book, and you, well.

On the other hand I would say, just continue to concentrate on writing great books. Because, if you do that, the work is going to get noticed. Bottom line: if you don't have a fantastic story, it doesn't matter how you promote it, you're going to be forcing sales, and that can only last so long. However, if you have a great book, word of mouth will sell it, it will get legs, and that baby will sell for years to come. Have faith in what God is doing in you and through your writing.

* * *

Many thanks to our guest, Creston Mapes. Full Tilt is available from ChristianBook.com, Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Visit Creston online at www.crestonmapes.com and at his publisher's site at fiction.mpbooks.com.

Related links:
CRESTON MAPES, PT 1
CRESTON MAPES, PT 2

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 2


Continuing our replay of last November's three-part Q&A with suspense novelist Creston Mapes, author of the thrillers Dark Star and the brand-new Full Tilt (Multnomah Publishers). Today, he shares his writing habits, and why he's cautious about expecting too much too quickly from his career as a novelist ...

* * *

Part Two.

How many books do you read a month?
Some months, one. Other months, four. Most recently, I finished Chris Well's book (Forgiving Solomon Long) in about three days and then proceeded to fly through two novels by my Multmomah friends, Mark Mynheir (Rolling Thunder) and Melanie Wells (When the Day of Evil Comes). All great books.


What are your writing habits?
I do best when I've had an early morning walk and some quiet time with the Lord. Then, I dig in at 8 or 8:30. My creativity is best early. So, as the day goes on, I slow down. Usually, I try to set goals for myself. If I can hit 2,000 words a day I feel very good.


Are you an "outline" writer or a "make it up as you go" writer?
Definitely, hands down, make it up on the fly. I don't like writing to an outline. And I don't even like thinking very far ahead about what's going to happen. In fact, I can't!

If I try to write a synopsis of what's going to happen in the whole book, I'm stumped. I prefer creating some characters, getting the ball rolling, and seeing how these unique characters will react to various circumstances.


What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
I grew up in Akron, Ohio—near Cleveland. When we were young, my dad took my brother and I to the Browns' games. We would get there early and meet the players on the Browns, and on visiting teams. I distinctly remember meeting players from my brother's favorite team, the Steelers, and my favorite team, the Raiders.

I cherish the thoughts of a warm, loving home. It was a safe place with a lot of laughter. My dad had a century-old early American furniture store and we lived upstairs. Across the street was a pharmacy with any candy you could imagine. We could take a dime over there and suck on candy for days.


Are you a full-time novelist?
No. Right now I've been asked to do a book a year for Multnomah, for three years.


What is your day job?
I've been a writer my entire professional career. I started in newspapers, then got into corporate writing. I've been freelancing for 15 years and currently write magazine stories (see "non-fiction" link on my Web site for stories about Casting Crowns, Third Day, David Crowder, Louie Giglio, Randy Travis, etc), and marketing copy for colleges and ministries across the country.


When did you know you had "made it"?
It's a great question and one I find myself thinking about often lately. When you get a three-book contract you automatically think, "I'm going right to the top." But making a living as an author usually takes time, if it ever happens at all.

I've turned down quite a bit of free-lance work to stay busy on the books. And Dark Star has done well so far, selling close to 16,000 into stores in four months. But, at the good advice of my agent and others, I'm moving cautiously into this field. I have four children and a lovely wife, for whom I need to provide.

For now, my plan is to write books from 8 a.m.-Noon, and write my other freelance copy the rest of the day. That sounds great, but it's not that easy. When you have a book deadline staring you in the face, sometimes you just have to bury yourself in that project for days and weeks. At those times, I have to turn down other work. It really is a step of faith.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. In the meantime, visit Creston online at www.crestonmapes.com and at his publisher's site at fiction.mpbooks.com.

Related links:
CRESTON MAPES, PT 1
CRESTON MAPES, PT 3

THE WRITE STUFF

Associated Press reports that Rolling Stone and MTV are partnering for a new reality series where amateur journalists compete for a staff position at the magazine. The untitled series, which tapes this summer in New York City, follows hopefuls as they work with editors and interview politicians, actors and musicians.

Deadline for applications, including a short video and writing samples, is Apr. 7. Apply here.

www.RollingStone.com
www.MTV.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

CHRISTIAN BOOK PREVIEWS

Christian Book Previews has posted a review of my brand-new novel, Deliver Us From Evelyn:
With multiple subplots stacked up like a parfait dessert, Chris Well once again delivers a delectable novel. ... Whether you read it for the rapid-fire plot, witty humor, or zany allusions, you’re sure to enjoy this treat.
Check out the whole review.


DOWNLOADS:
Find a Bookseller Near You: Ask For It Wherever Crime Fiction Is Sold
Sneak Peek: "The Golden Age"
Sample: Chapter One
Mini-Poster: Evel Takes Over

Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 1


Suspense novelist Creston Mapes has a brand-new novel coming out, Full Tilt (Multnomah Publishers):


What Good Can Become of Psychotics, Meth Users, or the Mob?
In this sequel to Dark Star, rock star Everett Lester is eager to share the redeeming power of Christ’s love with the world through his music. But reaching his family in their twisted lives is another issue altogether. His gambling-addicted brother, Eddie, and the rest of his deteriorating family greet Everett’s attempts with disdain and hatred. When the Mob gets involved, dangerous threats become a haunting reality. And when Eddie’s son, Wesley—who blames Everett for his brother’s death—hooks up with psychotic Tony Badino, the two meth-using antichrists will stop at nothing to bring Everett down and secure his demise!

On a different blog last November, I featured a Q&A with Mr. Mapes—which I am replaying here in honor of the latest novel. Today, Creston shares the best advice anyone ever gave him, his literary influences, and the worst thing anyone ever said about his book.
* * *

Part One.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?
A friend told me back in 1991 I should go into freelance writing. I had been disappointed with my job and called him to see if I could lay carpet with him at his business. He said, "Creston, you need to be writing." That's when my freelance writing business began and I've been at it ever since.

Are you an "entertainer" or a "minister"?

Definitely an entertainer. When I read books, I love to bemust be—entertained, or I'll give up on the book. So I work diligently to make sure there's as little fluff as possible in my fiction. That it's lean and enjoyable. Boredom is enemy number one.
But I'm also a minister. Because, beneath it all, there is a message in my writing that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Do you hate when people ask whether you are an "entertainer" or a "minister"?

Not at all. In fact, I'm honored anyone would want my opinion about anything!

Who are your literary influences?

Some are Christian authors and many are not. So keep that in mind. J.D. Salinger, Kent Haruf, Anita Shreve, Jack Riggs and James Scott Bell.

Who are your spiritual influences?
My longtime accountability partner, Steve Vibert. The man who led me to Christ, Paul Ryden. My pastor, Sandy Adams. Another close friend, Frank Donchess.
And some favorite teachers/authors: Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, R.A. Torrey, Chuck Smith, Jon Courson, Tony Evans, Charles Swindoll, Louie Giglio.


What is the best thing anyone said about one of your books?
One young man wrote and told me that the characters and plot in Dark Star seemed so real, he was out with his friends one night and had to tell them all about it.
Many others have said Dark Star has encouraged them to start praying for the salvation of specific rock stars and celebrities. Also, many adults are telling me that their teens and college-agers -- who are not avid readers -- are loving Dark Star. It makes me feel good that we're capturing the interest of non-readers!

What is the worst thing anyone said about one of your books?

In a very positive review, one reviewer commented at the end of her critique that there was some mild profanity in my first book. But that isn't the case. My publisher would never go for that, and neither would I.
* * *
Come back tomorrow for the next installment of our three-part Q&A. In the meantime, visit Creston online at www.crestonmapes.com and at his publisher's site at fiction.mpbooks.com.

Great Minds Think Alike: I see that Creston is also the featured interview today at Infuze Magazine.

Related links:
CRESTON MAPES, PT 2
CRESTON MAPES, PT 3

More novelists:
COLLEEN COBLE FANS: FICTION CONTEST!
LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

PENULTIMATE ADVENTURES

My wife has posted one of the mini-comics we did together shortly after we were married, the first issue of Penultimate Adventures: The Second To Last Word In Adventure. "Gravity Is A Harsh Girlfriend!" is a parody of superhero, romance and sci-fi comics from the '60s and '70s. (Actually, it is a parody of old Legion of Super-Heroes, which had a sort of "superhero-sci-fi-teen romance" vibe back in the day.) Enjoy!

B.J. HOFF: NO CONTEST, NO PRESSURE

Historical novelist B.J. Hoff discusses the topic of "contests" on the multi-novelist blog Charis Connection. In the course of sharing her thoughts and answering a few questions she has been asked over the years, she also mentions why she does not enter her own novels in contests:
... some years ago, the Lord "impressed" it upon me to refrain from the practice in the future. That was several books ago. I'd like to be able to say that God "invited" me to enter into an agreement with Him about this contest business, to negotiate it on a book-by-book basis--but the truth is that there was no "invitation" involved. It was a straight-out admonishment, no "ifs" or "ands." If I knew the reason or reasons for this, I'd probably not talk about them anyway--but the fact is that I don't know His reasons--nor do I need to know them.

I will admit that I'm aware of some of the benefits to come out of it--one big one being that it gave me an incredible sense of freedom. It allowed me to write without ever wondering if my work was "award material." It also made it wonderfully easy for me to cheer all my writer-friends and other contestants on, rejoicing with them when they won...without ever being tempted to wonder why my book didn't win.

Sounds like a pretty healthy perspective. Check out the whole column here. Find Ms. Hoff online at her official site, www.BJHoff.com.

Monday, March 20, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #84

"THIS IS NOT WHAT
I EXPECTED ... "

My wife, Erica, has uploaded #84 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 at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

OFFICIAL MONK

It looks like this summer fans of Monk have a plethora of products looking to soak up any pocket change: In addition to the aforementioned Monk: Season Four on DVD and the novel Mr. Monk Goes To Hawaii, now there is the upcoming tome Monk: The Official Episode Guide, with interviews and inside info detailing the first four seasons of Monk.



Related links:

MORE FROM MR. MONK
MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS
ARE YOU MONKISH?
TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK
MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE

NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING

In my years as an editor, I have run across several people who are under the mistaken impression that I "owe" them a certain level of editorial coverage. If you have a book, if you have a CD, if you have band, whatever it is that you do that you think I "have" to give you coverage, here is the deal: I don't.

Today's painful lesson in "How not to treat the press" comes not from my own experience but from self-published comic book dude Keith Klein. He made some sort of self-published comic book - what it is is unimportant, because I will never buy it - and then griped when his ELEVEN DAYS OF COVERAGE was not enough. There are literally HUNDREDS of comic books printed each and every month, and he is complaining that a story about him on Pulse only lasted ELEVEN DAYS before newer stories pushed it off the front page.

I will not link to the story - it is, of course, still there if you choose to seek it out, but I am not about to give the man any more free press - but I will link to this thread. Pathetic.

So, if you have a book or a CD or anything that you are trying to get attention in the media, a few handy tips to remember:

1) Be polite.
2) The editor does not owe you anything.
3) Give the editor the correct and appropriate information in a timely and useful manner.
4) Do not pester the editor after you have sent it.
5) Do not be afraid to check back after an interval -- but in no way shape or form should you pressure the editor.
6) Be gracious.
7) Be thankful.
8) BE POLITE.
9) If the editor in question is just not receptive, do not under any circumstances try to force the issue. You will only make it worse.
10) Once the editor has made the decision, for good or ill, just move on to the next editor.

Remember, if you alienate an editor, you could get locked out of the system altogether. And if this is you trying to launch a career, being an ungrateful pest will just make it harder the next time ...

SLATE: REINVENTING FICTION?


Publishers Weekly reports that online magazine Slate is trying to reinvent the concept of Internet fiction:
... the online news and culture magazine is hoping to bring the genre to new heights (and new readers) with The Unbinding, a serialized novel by Walter Kirn. On Monday the site launched its first installment of the piece, which will appear in biweekly segments and is hoped to be part of a new fiction section. Dubbed by the publication as a "dark comedy set in the near future," Kirn's novel is intended to make inventive use of its format while ruminating on how the Internet shapes our culture. As such, the unfolding story is being presented as a series of found documents with links to Web sites, e-mails and other digital mediums.

Whole story here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A NEW VOICE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE


After much pestering and cajoling from me, my wife has launched her own blog, Erica Well: Nashville Art & Artists. As the title implies, she plans to focus her attention on art news around Nashville. (There is a burgeoning scene here, so she will have much to share in coming days.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

ITW: THE NOMINEES ARE IN


Just received this email blast from International Thriller Writers:

ITW's First Award Nominees Are In!

You may not have been at Left Coast Crime in Bristol, but that doesn't mean you're out of the awards' loop.

At a dinner on Friday, March 17th, 2006, the co-presidents of ITW, Gayle Lynds and David Morrell, announced the nominees for the new International Thriller Awards (or more simply "The Thrillers").

Over three hundred titles were reviewed by our judging committees, along with a slew of screenplays by our film panel. And as stipulated in ITW bylaws, no one on the board of directors, nor myself as chair of the awards, was eligible to compete. Each judging committee was selected to balance men and women, authors and reviewers, while also incorporating an international flare with judges from beyond US borders. Operating under a strict code of silence and isolated from prejudicial interference, they have deliberated for the past several months to pare down the towering pile of submissions to the nominees listed below.

So with great pride and delight, and congratulations to all, here are the nominees (listed alphabetically by writer) for the first International Thriller Awards.

The Thrillers

BEST NOVEL
PANIC by Jeff Abbott (Dutton)
CONSENT TO KILL by Vince Flynn (Atria)
VELOCITY by Dean Koontz (Bantam)
THE PATRIOTS CLUB by Christopher Reich (Delacorte Press)
CITIZEN VINCE by Jess Walter (Regan Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
IMPROBABLE by Adam Fawer (William Morrow)
THE COLOR OF LAW by Mark Gimenez (Doubleday)
COLD GRANITE by Stuart MacBride (St. Martin's Minotaur)
PAIN KILLER by Will Staeger (William Morrow)
BENEATH A PANAMANIAN MOON by David Terrenoire (Thomas Dunne Books)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
SLEEPER CELL by Jeffrey Anderson (Berkley)
PRIDE RUNS DEEP by R. Cameron Cooke (Jove)
UPSIDE DOWN by John Ramsay Miller (Dell)
THE DYING HOUR by Rick Mofina (Pinnacle Books)
EXIT STRATEGY by Michael Wiecek (Jove)

BEST SCREENPLAY
MATCH POINT, screenplay by Woody Allen
SYRIANA, based on the book by Robert Baer, written by Stephen Gaghan
CACHE (Hidden), screenplay by Michael Haneke
OLDBOY, screenplay by Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim, Joon-hyung Lim, and Chan-wook Park; story by Garon Tsuchiya
MUNICH, screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth; based on the book by George Jonas

James Rollins
ITW Awards Chair

* * *

Related links:
Thriller Readers Newsletter (Win FREE books!)
ThrillerFest 2006

STEPHEN LAWHEAD: TALES FROM THE HOOD


This September, novelist Stephen Lawhead spins a new yarn around an old legend:

Hood: Book One in the King Raven Trilogy

In Book One of The King Raven Trilogy, Bran ap Brychan finds his world ripped from its foundation as invaders topple his father's kingdom and send the young prince fleeing into the forest. Readers will be spellbound with this entirely fresh take on this legendary figure--where the familiar and unexpected collide into something wholly original.

From the ashes of ruin, a reluctant hero begins to emerge . . . yet his greatest enemy may be himself.

Considering the great take Lawhead had with the King Arthur legends, I am quite eager to see where he takes Robin Hood.

More novelists:
COLLEEN COBLE FANS: FICTION CONTEST!
BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
ROBIN PARRISH (Relentless)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

THE MILLER SISTERS #83

"HERE WE ARE, JULIA!"
My wife, Erica, has uploaded #83 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 at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"YOU WOULDN'T LIKE ME WHEN I'M ANGRY ..."


Ah, the joys of classic '70s superhero TV ...

TVShowsonDVD.com points readers to TV producer Kenneth Johnson's official site, wherein Mr. Johnson says Universal is finally releasing Season One of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno television series on DVD in July. Happy day!

(Click on the photo for all sorts of info from TV.com, including an Incredible Hulk episode guide.)

ELMORE LEONARD: TEN RULES OF WRITING


By popular demand, Elmore Leonard's official site has once again posted the master's classic New York Times essay, "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle."

Mr. Leonard is, of course, the legendary author of such crime fiction classics as Get Shorty, Maximum Bob and Out of Sight. He was recently awarded the 2006 Cartier Diamond Dagger by The Crime Writers’ Association.

MORE TV!* (except, apparently, for mac users)

Over at his blog A Writer's Life, TV writer and novelist Lee Goldberg points out that AOL's new TV-on-demand service In2TV includes a classic episode of Spenser: For Hire—which, in fact, was Mr. Goldberg's very first sale to television.

The new portal offers many classic TV shows, including action series, soaps and cartoons. Titles range from Babylon 5 and Kung Fu to Chico and the Man and F Troop to Freakazoid and Pinky & The Brain. According to MediaWeek, the service is matching old shows with new games and technology to appeal to a "younger, Web savvy audience."

But, apparently, if you are a mac user, no sense in even trying the service out. (Harumph.)

JACKIE CHAN: FIREMAN

Associated Press reports that international action hero Jackie Chan wants to play the role of a fireman, but is afraid he is now too old:
"I have dragged this idea on for so many years, even if I want to make it, now I feel that my age makes me unsuitable. If I do make this film, I would no longer play a firefighter, and would more likely be a firefighting captain. But if I were to be honest with you, the role I want to play most is the firefighter."
Chan, 51, recently served as ambassador for the World Firefighters Games in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

AN AUTHOR'S HIT "SINGLE"

Something intriguing in today's email blast from Publisher's Lunch, reporting from the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers:
[Former publishing executive and current ceo of Sony Pictures Entertainment Michael Lynton] observed, "The movie industry's reliance on television [as a marketing vehicle] has grown over the past 20 years," but now "every indication is that that model is going to go away. We probably have as much to learn from the book business as from anyone else."

And:
While the internet only solves some of studios' marketing challenges, where "it works best on very targeted pictures" -- publishers can find greater advantage if they are willing to try. Lynton did note "it is surprising that the book business hasn't made more use of the internet," particularly for Blair Witch-style marketing and audiences.

Free sampling remains the best tool: "The number one way to market a movie is trailer play.... ." Lynton sees publishers and film studios as thinking alike in being reluctant to part with free material in large quantities in order to bring in new audiences, even as the music business goes in the opposite direction.

* * *

Sampling is, of course, how something goes from being obscure to being ubiquitous—whether it is Bill Gates giving away Internet Explorer (and nearly running Netscape out of business) or a popular group offering free downloads of their hit single to promote a new album.

Offering an excerpt or first chapter from a novel is pretty normal anymore, but let's hope that going the extra step and releasing a "single" from Deliver Us From Evelyn will get me some extra traction in the markplate.

THRILLER FEST 2006

PRESS RELEASE:

Join Your Favorite Bestselling Thriller Authors at ThrillerFest 2006—The First All-Thriller Reader/Author Conference in History

Lunch With R.L. Stine, Go to Jack Reacher's Trial, Learn How David Morrell's FIRST BLOOD Became a Movie, Follow Tess Gerritsen's Team of Forensic Investigators, Dine (Not Die) With John Lescroart, Attend the Thriller Awards Banquet, Rub Shoulders With Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer and Doug Preston, Be There For the Debut of the THRILLER Anthology.

(PRWEB) March 14, 2006—Where will your favorite thriller authors be this June? At ThrillerFest, the biggest thriller conference ever, hosted by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) at the world-class Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Arizona from June 29-July 2, 2006.

"ThrillerFest is the first major all-thriller reader/author conference in history. We've arranged many exciting presentations that bring together so many bestselling authors that I'm reminded of the MGM film studio which used to say that they had more stars than in the heavens," says ITW co-president and bestselling author David Morrell.

“This is the first three-dimensional literary conference,” explains author MJ Rose, member of the ITW Board of Directors and Chair of Marketing Committee. “We are not just talking heads on panels. We have Lee Child’s Jack Reacher on trial, a mock autopsy by Tess Gerritsen. Don’t worry, we aren’t requesting volunteers for that one. For the first time ever at a conference, we will have both readers and authors on panels together.”

During the conference, ITW will unveil the first pure thriller anthology—THRILLER (MIRA Books, June 2006) edited by mega-bestselling author James Patterson and New York Times best-selling authors Steve Berry as managing editor with Gayle Lynds as inaugural editor. Between the covers, you'll discover more than 30 riveting stories from some of the best thriller authors at work today.

“And because ITW is committed to empowering up-and-coming authors with the tools they need to succeed in the industry,” says ITW co-president and bestselling author Lynds, “we have 10 free craft panels with some of the biggest writers and editors in the business.”

ITW also will present its first Thriller awards, covering five categories: The Distinguished Literature Award; Best Novel; Best First Novel; Best Paperback Original and Best Script. The top five finalists in each category will be announced at Left Coast of Crime in Bristol England (Mar. 16-19, 2006). Winners will be revealed at a gala banquet at ThrillerFest.

Spotlight guests include Sandra Brown, John Lescroart, Brad Meltzer, Douglas Preston, and RL Stine, along with numerous attending authors such as Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, M.J. Rose, Joseph Finder, Linda Fairstein, M. Diane Vogt, Dale Brown, James Rollins, Gregg Hurwitz, C.J. Lyons, Katherine Neville, Steve Berry, Michael Palmer, David Liss, Paul Levine, P.J. Parrish, Barry Eisler, JA Konrath, David Dun, Lee Goldberg, David Hewson, Michele Martinez, and many others.

Founded in October 2004, at the Bouchercon World Suspense Conference in Toronto, Canada, the International Thriller Writers boasts a membership of more than 300 authors (many of whom are New York Times bestsellers) with worldwide sales exceeding 1.6 billion books.

Registration for ThrillerFest is open to ITW members and non-members. ITW has reserved a limited block of rooms at the celebrated Arizona Biltmore Resort (where the event is being held), designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, at a specially discounted rate of $109 per night.

For information about ITW, go to www.ThrillerWriters.org. To register for ThrillerFest, go to www.ThrillerWriters.org/thrillerfest.

More ITW links:
THE THRILLER AWARDS
Q&A: TL HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)
ITW ANTHOLOGY: STARRED REVIEW

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are entered to win FREE BOOKS!

Monday, March 13, 2006

THE MILLER SISTERS #82

"BUT WHATEVER."
My wife, Erica, has uploaded #82 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 at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

THRILLER READERS NEWSLETTER

REMINDER: Be sure to sign up for the FREE official newsletter of International Thriller Writers. Not only am I a contributor, but I have it on good authority there will be some ink (well, pixels) devoted next issue to my imminent novel, Deliver Us From Evelyn.

Subscribers are also automatically entered in a drawing to win FREE thrillers from popular novelists.

How can you lose?

MORE FROM MR. MONK

Fans of obsessive compulsive sleuth Adrian Monk will be thrilled to know that Monk: Season Four is coming to DVD in June! Check out the info from TVShowsonDVD.com.

Fans should also keep track of Monk's literary adventures, from TV writer, novelist and blogger Lee Goldberg. His first Monk novel is the excellent Mr. Monk Goes To The Firehouse (Signet). Mr. Monk Goes To Hawaii hits shelves in June.

Lee has also created a series of blogs written from the point of view of Monk's assistant, Natalie Teeger. The latest entry is "Meant To Be Mom."

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

Friday, March 10, 2006

FACT OR FICTION: THE MOB

On the occasion of the return of The Sopranos, AOL News explores how the mob is faring better in fiction than in reality. Which is as good an excuse as any to shamelessly plug Deliver Us From Evelyn:

Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of a heartless media mogul. But nobody can decide which is worse -- that he has missing or that she is not ...

SELLING CHRISTIAN FICTION

Over at the popular Faith*in*Fiction, Bethany House acquisitions editor Dave Long has started the series "Establishing a Career as a Writer."

THE MILLER SISTERS #81

"LOOK, I'LL MAKE YOU A DEAL -- "

My wife, Erica, has uploaded episode #81 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

Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE, PT 2

We continue our discussion with novelist Lonnie Cruse, author of the "Metropolis" mysteries: Murder in Metropolis (Quiet Storm) and Murder Beyond Metropolis. She is also an officer in the Middle Tennessee chapter of Sisters in Crime.


* * *

PART 2

Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes, well sort of.


What is your day job?
I edit manuscripts for other authors, running the business from my home. That money helps pay my writing expenses such as attending writer's conferences, etc. That makes it difficult to write every day. Some clients need immediate assistance, so I have to let my writing slide a bit while I work on theirs.


When did you know you had “made it”?
I'm with a small independant publisher, so I haven't "made it" yet in terms of being able to support myself from my novels, even though two have been published, and the third is due out soon. Don't know for certain that I ever will "make it" in that sense. But, the fact that I am published, that my books sell well, that I do have a fan base tells me I've made it as an author, even if not financially. But the reader reaction means more than the money to me. As long as I can get my books published and people want to read them, I'm a success.


What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don't give up. You have a story to tell, so tell it. No one else can tell it like you. When you've told it, get it professionally edited if at all possible. It's worth the money. However, check around. There are editors out there who charge a fortune. And they aren't worth it. $1-$3 per page is the going rate. Pay more than that, you may get ripped off. Take classes, do your research, learn your craft. Above all, write what you love to read, not what you think is selling. By the time your manuscript is done, it probably isn't selling any more.


What about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
That it's a REAL job. I need time to write -- I can't always drop everything to answer the phone and chat or take off and spend time away from the computer (though I'm willing to do both when I can.)


What one thing about writing do you wish other writers would understand?
Being published by a "traditional publisher" doesn't mean you are any more talented than someone published by a small indy. A lot of dreck is published by the big New York houses every year. And a lot of excellent novels are published by the small guys.

And the reverse is true, of course. But ALL of us are only as good as our next book. Getting signed to a contract by any publisher is fairly hard. Being dropped is easy (for them, not the author, of course.) We all have to be on our toes.


For the writer with a new book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she could do to promote it?
BEST is word of mouth. People will buy books that friends with the same tastes recommend. Second is the Internet for getting the author's
name out there.


Why would you recommend joining an author guild like Sisters in Crime?
Support would be number one. Networking would be second (learning about publishers, agents, where to submit, where not) research information that other authors can give you, friendship, lots of things.


What other writers groups are you a member of?
Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, Guppys (for new and unpublished authors), SINC Mid-Tennessee Chapter (closest chapter to me), Southern Illinois Writer's Guild, Heartland Writer's Guild.


Of all the fine author organizations available, what about Sisters in Crime do you feel sets it apart?
Some of the other writer's organizations are more expensive and I'm on a tight budget. The support sets SINC apart. Networking, etc. And the various SINC chapters often set up writer's conferences and signings, and as a member, I hear about them and get to attend.


BONUS: The Munsters or Addams Family?
Oh, easily The Munsters. I liked the Addams Family, but The Munsters were hilarious. I was sad to see that Grandpa passed away recently. I can still see him hanging upside down. Great show.

* * *

Many thanks to Lonnie for her time! See another new interview with her at Chicago crime writer Beth Anderson's Hot Clue. Keep up with Lonnie online at www.LonnieCruse.com and at her blog, Cruse'n With Lonnie.

Related link: LONNIE CRUSE, PT 1

More Author Q&As:
ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt)
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

COLLEEN COBLE FANS: FICTION CONTEST!

Between now and April 15, fans of novelist Colleen Coble can enter to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., to attend a Women of Faith conference with Coble in August. To promote her latest novel, Alaska Twilight (WestBow Press), entrants act as Coble's "publicist."

Publicizing the book includes finding ways to get people to buy Coble's books or winning media coverage for Alaska Twilight. Winners will be decided by May 5.

Westbow publicist Caroline Craddock (left) has all sorts of handy suggestions to help you get started. As well as a trip to the Women of Faith conference, the winner will also have a character named after him or her in the second book of Coble's next series, "Fire Jumpers." Four additional winners will win Coble's entire WestBow Press line of fiction personalized and autographed (seven books total).

Find complete info about Alaska Twilight and about the contest at www.colleencoble.com.

Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE, PT 1

Today and tomorrow, we turn the spotlight on novelist Lonnie Cruse, author of the "Metropolis" mysteries Murder in Metropolis (Quiet Storm) and Murder Beyond Metropolis. She is an editor and an officer in the Middle Tennessee chapter of Sisters in Crime.

* * *

PART 1.

Who are your literary influences?
Bill Crider and Anne George. Love his sheriff, and love the humor both put into their works.


Who are your philosophical influences?
The Bible, particularly Proverbs. Hard to beat that.


What is the best thing anyone said about one of your books?
"I have a crush on Joe Dalton." Said by someone who reads my series. She asked if it was okay to say that. I told her, absolutely, because her statement let me know I'd done my job in drawing his character, in making him real to her.


What is the worst thing anyone said about one of your books?
"I guessed the killer by the middle of the book." Said by my husband and a reader who is a published screenwriter. Sigh.

How many books do you read a month?
At least 2 fiction, 1 non-fiction on writing, and parts of the Bible daily. (And sometimes a Bible study book as well)


What are your writing habits?
Um, rather undisciplined, I'm afraid. I try to write a bit every day, but I tend to stick with it much better whenever my online writing group (Guppys) is doing a challenge. The prize is always chocolate. I won last March. Trying to win this month.

As I said, I try to write every day, or edit what I've written before. And I study writing books.


Are you an “outline” writer or a “make it up as you go” writer?
Both. I use index cards for 4 main characters and I jot down things that might happen to them in the story. Then I put them in order on a story board. But quite often a card will cause me to take off in a different direction, and then the cards have to shift or be redone.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second half of our Q&A. In the meantime, keep up with Lonnie online at www.LonnieCruse.com and at her blog, Cruse'n With Lonnie.

Related link: LONNIE CRUSE, PT 2

More Author Q&As:
ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt)
THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

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.