Thursday, May 31, 2007

BEA Signings and Another Review

I'll be signing copies of THE MARK at Book Expo America tomorrow at the following times and locations:

1:00-1:45 at the MIRA booth (#3874 – 3875 – 3975), alongside Deadly Seven authors Alex Kava, Michelle Gagnon, J.T. Ellison and M.J. Rose.

3:45-4:15 at the Mystery Writers of America booth (#2750) alongside Alex Sokoloff.

And this review for THE MARK just came in:

"Pinter's debut novel showcases his fresh, witty voice and appreciation of the writers who've gone before him in the genre. Henry's a terrific amateur sleuth, and if he survives this adventure, readers will undoubtedly look forward to many more."
--Romantic Times (4 stars)

Curiously, this is the second review to state that THE MARK shows respect/appreciation for other thriller writers. I'm not quite sure how one deduces respect for other authors in a novel, but hey, I do have the utmost respect for many other crime fiction writers, many of whom I'd be thrilled just to breathe the same air, and if that somehow came through in THE MARK I'm happy to say I did it on purpose.

A Few Recommendations

SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn

I'd been meaning to get to this book for a long, long time. It garnered terrific reviews, had a great quote from Stephen King, and was nominated for an Edgar. Needless to say I went in with high expectations. They were all met, and then some.

This is a wonderfully written dark, dark book about a female reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate the murders of two young girls, and must confront the horrific demons in her past to do so. Camille Preaker is a magnetic protagonist, fully realized, and her affliction is written about in such a vivid way that every page contains nail-biting suspense. Trust me, this is not the kind of relapse that can be helped by an AA meeting or soothing words. SHARP OBJECTS is the kind of novel where there are no stock characters. Everyone has a personality. Everyone has a story. And not one word or scene is wasted. SHARP OBJECTS ranks up there with Theresa Schwegel's OFFICER DOWN as one of my favorite debut crime novels of the past few years.

SNL in the 90's: Pop Culture Nation

This documentary ran last week and analyzed Saturdal Night Live from 1990-1999. It was a decade of major change for the show, as they began to appeal to a younger viewership for the first time. Some of the biggest comedians ever came through the SNL ranks during this period: Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, David Spade, Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Chris Rock, and Phil Hartman. Oh yeah, and Tim Meadows. Though this isn't a great "in depth" documentary, there was a great sense of nostalgia reliving some of the funniest SNL moments of all time. I hadn't seen the Farley/Patrick Swayze Chippendales competition in years, and I nearly fell off the couch laughing. Not sure if they're still rerunning it, but if so check it out.

Slate on "The Sopranos"

A panel of pretty much everyone you could imagine, from Timothy Noah, Jeffrey Goldberg, Jerry Capici and Brian Williams (yes, that Brian Williams) offers their thoughts on the final season of "The Sopranos." Really funny and insightful stuff, topped off by a thorough dissection on whether Tony fits the clinical profile of a sociopath

I was thinking about this last night, and I actually came to the decision that Vic Mackey fits the description of a sociopath better than Tony Soprano. Which is ironic, obviously, as Tony is a mob boss and Vic is a cop. And yes, this is what I think about on a Wednesday night. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Shield: Season 6

"The Shield" is probably my favorite show on right now. It picked up the slack when the Sopranos hit a rough patch between seasons 5 and 6, and has actually gotten better with each season. A big part of this is because no ripple is ever forgotten, and an action in season 2 will sure as heck come back to roost in season 6. Case in point, last night's episode.

(Spoiler alert)

The dominant story this season has been Vic's struggle to first find Lem's killer, and then deal with the devastation when he learns it was his closest friend. Vic's relationship with Shane is shattered, and Ronnie seems to be his only friend left in all of Farmington. Perhaps the smartest thing Shane ever did, from a self-preservation perspective, was create the document detailing the Strike Team's wrongdoings over the years. Now he's protected from Vic, and as we saw last night he's more than happy to bide his time at the Barn until Vic is forced out the door. This led to a terrific scene, as Shane tells Vic, "There are no trap doors this time." Vic knows it. He's exhausted all resources, finally burned all his bridges.

Of course, in traditional Vic Mackey fashion, a trap door does appear. And while it seemed a bit cheap at first, taken into perspective it makes perfect sense. It had been a long time since Aceveda's rape had come into play, and we all knew it was a long shot that it would end with Juan Lozano's murder in prison. Now Aceveda's shady representative/benefactor proves that Lozano wasn't lying when he said he had pictures, and for some reason it's mighty important that Vic stay on the job. Undoubtedly Vic will tighten this noose around Aceveda's neck until the councilman saves his job. Aceveda again showed that his ascention in the politcal ranks is due less to his acumen and more because he can be manipulated by those in power who can benefit from him.

One of the most interesting subplots of the last few seasons took another turn last night, with Billings's orchestration of a tryst between Hiatt and Tina. Not only does this tear Dutch's heart out (he'd been pining for Tina for years), but puts another wedge between Tina and Danny Sofer (though considering the relative ease with which Billings pulled this off, maybe he should junk the Quikmealer and open up a dating service).

Danny Sofer is one of the best characters on the show, but she's been woefully underused this season. This Tina issue with should change that, or at least give them something meatier for next season. Danny has always had to put her job above her womanhood and personal happiness, even having to deal with constant harrassment while pregnant (i.e. the 'who's the daddy' gambling board last season), but recently has attempted to compete with Tina in that regard (as seen by her interest in Hiatt and buying the fake purses). Tina is the polar opposite of Danny. She's a poor officer with bad instincts, despite Dutch's words of 'encouragement.' Additionally Tina has no problem balancing a social life with policework, often sacrificing the former for the latter. Danny has tried to pave the way for more women to become officers--Tina seems content to bury that road under lipstick and spaghetti straps.

Shane's motives for "getting in" with the Armenian mob do confuse me, though. It could be for money, as we know he and Mara are beyond strapped. The more nefarious theory is that he wanted them to trust him so he could eventually pin the money train robbery on Vic, thereby wiping out his problem with eventual retribution. The wrench in this theory is that Shane has always been impetuous, never good at planning ahead (the Christopher to Vic's Tony). This theory seems a little too complex for him to muster. Regardless, Shane confessed to the robbery last night (denying involvement, naturally), putting Vic and his family in the line of fire. Terrific moment when Shane confesses, as Diro's face morphs from fright to anger. The Armenians have not forgotten the robbery, but ever since Margos was killed they haven't had any leads. As we've learned the Armenians are vicious, bloody and ruthless, and can't be bluffed (as is Vic's specialty).

Another good moment, the assemblyman calling Vic's bluff when Vic threatens to expose the truth about his daughter. The assemblyman points out that doing so would contradict Vic's initial report, prove he is unethical, and dig his grave that much deeper.

(End Spoilers)

Can't wait for the season finale, though between this and "The Sopranos" I am getting a little sick of these 9 and 10 episode seasons...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Four Short Weeks

In four weeks, THE MARK will be on bookstore shelves across the country. It's been over 14 months since I agreed to a publishing deal, and while the process has been, at times, agonizingly slow, it's also been exciting as hell. From the moment my editor emailed me the very first cover concept to the day a box of galleys arrived at my mailbox, special moments have come fast and furious. The most exciting one of all, though, is four weeks away.

On June 26th, Henry Parker and Amanda Davies will live and breathe, and THE MARK will be the first of (knock wood) many books featuring the two. Early reviews have been tremendous and humbling. But the fates of Henry and Amanda are, in the end, up to you--the reader.

BEA schedule

For those attending Book Expo America, I will be signing ARCs of THE MARK at two separate events on Friday, June 1st. Stop by, say hi, I'll also be unveiling my first ever bookmark (special thanks to my brilliant and patient father-in-law).

1:00-1:45 at the MIRA booth (#3874 – 3875 – 3975), alongside Deadly Seven authors Alex Kava, Michelle Gagnon, J.T. Ellison and M.J. Rose.

3:45-4:15 at the Mystery Writers of America booth (#2750)

The chase begins on June 26th.

Just four short weeks.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Make a Romance! (wa wa wee wa)

THE MARK by Jason Pinter
Romance Reader at Heart
"Top Pick"

I have to admit this. THE MARK by Jason Pinter took me by total surprise. It wasn't at all what I expected it to be. Oh my, it was so much better than I ever dreamed it would be. This, for me at least, is a case of not being able to gauge a book by its cover. With its no-nonsense, non-flowery cover, I thought THE MARK would be heavy on suspense, light on romance. Was I ever wrong. Big time!

The story of an eager young journalist who is looking to make his mark on the writing world, this book is the perfect blend of mystery and romance. Henry comes to New York with limited funds, a failing relationship with his current girlfriend and a bright mind. When he gets caught up in a tangled plot of murder and corruption, his bright mind turns out to be his biggest asset. That, and a woman he meets while attempting to escape death, are the two things Henry can count on. I was on the edge of my seat as I read, wondering if the couple would find a way out of Henry's mess, and find a way into each other's arms.

I won't let on how this book ends, but I will say that Jason Pinter has a new reader. THE MARK is an excellent book and Jason Pinter is a talented writer. I loved this and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm Huge in Japan

I just learned that there are plans for THE MARK to go international. Said plans are subject to change based on the whims of the publishers as well as the god Poseidon. THE MARK has been picked up in the following territories, with more hopefully to follow:

--THE MARK will be published in the UK in May, 2008, with THE GUILTY and THE STOLEN to be published soon after.

--THE MARK will be published in Australia in September, 2007, again with THE GUILTY and THE STOLEN to follow. Here is the tentative (sweet!) cover for the Australian edition, also subject to change in the event of dingo engorgement:

It will also be published in Boston on June 26th, 2007, although it will be retitled THE MAHK.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Who Will Direct THE MARK?

The question I'm most frequently asked about THE MARK, by far, is who I envision playing Henry Parker and Amanda Davies in the movie. And I'm usually stumped. I didn't have any actors in mind when I wrote it, and if a movie is ever made I hope to be pleasantly surprised. Yet there is one crucial member of the 'potential' film whose candidacy I wholeheartedly endorse.

After reading this post by Jonathan Lethem, about his choice of director for his novel YOU DON'T LOVE ME YET (whose rights he offered for free), I was inspired to think long and hard about who I would choose to film the eventual big screen version of THE MARK. And my choice is simple.

Sam Raimi.

No, Mr. Raimi has not bought the rights, nor has he or anyone associated with him shown any sort of interest in THE MARK. But I'd like to jumpstart the process by selecting Mr. Raimi as my personal choice to direct THE MARK.

I've been a HUGE (I cannot emphasize this word enough) fan of Mr. Raimi's ever since I fell in love with his "Evil Dead" trilogy. I've spent roughly $6,375 on various DVD editions of the three films, and can quote any number of lines until I lose all my friends. On eBay I paid, no joke, over $75 for the limited edition DVD of "Army of Darkness." Gratitude alone should convince Mr. Raimi to direct THE MARK.

After "Army of Darkness," I watched gleefully as Mr. Raimi's filmmaking prowess matured with his haunting adaptation of Scott Smith's A SIMPLE PLAN. And though I wasn't too fond of "The Gift," I was overjoyed to hear that he'd be filming the Spider-Man movies. I think it's safe to say that decision has been an overwhelming success.

And while I'm on the topic, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst wouldn't be too shabby as choices to play Henry and Amanda (though Tobey might be concerned about being typecast if he plays another character named Parker). The three seem to love working with each other, so why break up a winning team? And I'm sure we can find a cameo role for Bruce Campbell as well.

So there you have it. My choice to film THE MARK is none other than Sam Raimi. Sam, my agent and I are awaiting your call...

Wilson in the Park

Ok, I had to put this up. Here's pretty much my favorite picture ever of Wilson, taken Sunday at the dog run in Madison Square Park. (Wilson will be present at any and all book signings, just in case you needed another reason to buy THE MARK)

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Last Ten Books I Bought (and why)

It's been a while since my last post like this, so here we go, the last ten books I bought (and why I bought them):

THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris

This book got stellar reviews when it was released, not to mention said reviews reminded me of Max Barry's COMPANY, which was one of my favorite books of 2006. I started this last night and am very into it so far. Who gives a crap about whether this book hit the printed list? Word of mouth seems to be so good that it'll end up outselling many books that do.

NO HUMANS INVOLVED by Kelley Armstrong

Confession: I read DIME STORE MAGIC when it was on submission, thought it was fantastic, my bosses didn't see it, I wasn't very familiar with the genre and another house ended up buying it. Now? Armstrong probably has a dump truck pulling up to her house every day with manuscripts for blurb solicitation. Armstrong also has an interesting backstory, starting out in hardcover, breaking out writing paperback originals, then moving back to hardcover. So this is her first hardcover in several years, and I had to jump on board, if only to selfishly feel like I knew she was good before most of the world.

THE BLUE ZONE by Andrew Gross
This book was bought for a ton of cash, and since the author has co-written several books with James Patterson he's well-versed in that bestselling formula. I haven't read many reviews so this was something of a "curiosity" buy. It also has one of the most elaborate covers I've ever seen (flashy metallic ink, embossing to resemble water droplets, etc...).


It's the new Jack Reacher. Nuff said. (Did you know Chuck Norris checks his closet every night for Jack Reacher?)

TERM LIMITS by Vince Flynn

I read CONSENT TO KILL a few months ago, my first Flynn novel, and though political thrillers generally aren't my thing I really enjoyed it. Several "I can't believe he did that" twists that worked. Anyway, I decided to pick up Flynn's first book to see where it all began. Did you know Flynn self-published TERM LIMITS because he couldn't find a publisher?

SCENT OF SHADOWS by Vicki Pettersson
This debut dark fantasy novel got a lot of good buzz, and I met the author at the RT convention. She was incredibly nice, and actually worked as a showgirl in Vegas. So dark fantasy+cool author+knowledge of the Vegas scene+sweet cover=easy purchase.

ABSUDRISTAN by Gary Shteyngart

My in-laws were HUGE fans of THE RUSSIAN DEBUTANTE'S DAUGHTER, so I got them Shteyngart's second novel as a present. I might have to steal it when they're done.

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben

Another present, this time for my Mom, who's a big fan. And I totally didn't get it for her so I could read it afterwards. Really.

UNDEAD AND UNWED by MaryJanice Davidson

Davidson was on several panels at the RT convention, and was simply hilarious. I figured if her books were nearly as much fun as she was, they'd be a great read. So I picked up the first one in her series to find out.

THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden
This book was a smash hit in the UK, and has already spent 2 weeks on the bestseller list here. Another "curiosity" buy, since in the publishing world any surprise success spawns discussions of "why did this work?" and "can we do one for girls? moms? goldfish?"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Publishers Weekly reviews

The Mark
Jason Pinter. Mira, $7.99 (352p)
ISBN 978-0-7783-2489-8
"Debut novelist Pinter turns in a stellar performance, taking to the suspense-thriller field with great confidence and greater promise. Disappointed to find that his new job with the prestigious New York Gazette is all pap pieces and obits, 24-year-old freshman journalist Henry Parker jumps at the chance to work with the paper's top reporter on a where-are-they-now look at “the scum of New York.” Arriving at the apartment of ex-con Luis Guzman with some follow-up questions, Henry finds a scene right out of Goodfellas: a big guy pistol-whipping a terrified Guzman and his wife. Before Henry knows what's happening, the victims turn the table, the assailant is killed, and Henry is left holding the smoking gun. From there, the cub reporter goes on the run—his only ally an unsuspecting NYU coed—while trying figure out how he became wanted by the NYPD, the FBI and the mob. Though some of his situations can strain credibility, Pinter's a wizard at punching out page-turning action, and the voice of his headstrong protagonist is sure to win readers over; his wild ride should thrill any suspense junky."

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Really Do Read it for the Articles

The inimitable Rachel Kramer Bussel interviewed me for a really nice feature on THE MARK in the June issue of Penthouse. You'll know it's the right issue because:
a) it's their big summer issue, and
b) there's a really big tush on the cover.

Anyway, here are the two best lines from readers:

Jason's wife (flipping through the magazine): "I think I saw a nipple."

Jason's Dad: "I actually put another magazine on top of it when I went to the checkout."

Anyway, make sure to buy the June issue of Penthouse. You know, for their book coverage.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Final Art for THE MARK

No, not some guy named Art, but here is the final cover, spine, back cover and step-back page art for THE MARK (which comes out JUNE 26th, by the way). The cover has a cool bullet hole design that goes through to the step-back page with the quotes. Niiiiice.

Trailer Park

Interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal about a major publisher launching a channel to showcase videos and trailers for their books. While book videos are diversifying by the day, from interviews to demonstrations to character profiles, I want to focus on the popular kid in school: the book trailer.

Book trailers are a fairly recent development--a promotional tool that's really only caught fire over the last 2-3 years. The most successful example I can think of, in regards to actually selling the book it was promoting, is the VidLit Little, Brown commissioned for YIDDISH WITH DICK AND JANE. This was one of the very first "book trailers," and it caught on like wildfire. Despite working in the industry, I was still forwarded this trailer by half a dozen people. It was funny, pithy, and made you want to buy the book. YWDAJ sold like crazy, and a new promotional tool was in play. Soon VidLits were popping up everywhere (two books I edited had VidLits produced). They were even used for books that didn't seem quite right for the medium...

Now? Tons of authors and publishers have trailers or videos to promote their books. They run from Vidlits to flash videos to full on ensemble mini-movies like the one Michael Connelly created for ECHO PARK. I like the idea of book trailers, but I have to say the execution is still pretty hit or miss.

Here's the thing: Most book trailers are made on very small budgets, using stock photography, stock music, or enlisting 'd' level actors. It'll come as no shock then that a lot of book trailers give off the impression of a 'b' movie. A little cheesy, tenuously straddling the line between high drama and unintentional comedy. Some of them are done quite well (take the BROTHER ODD videos that were produced for Dean Koontz's series), and you can tell money and inspiration were put into them.

I created a teaser for THE MARK, but I've been hesitant when deciding what to follow it up with. I'm hardly a film major, and I didn't want to create another trailer consisting of random photos and eerie music. Fortunately the band Waterproof Blonde gave me permission to use one of their songs in my video, so instead of howling wind and random screams I had an actual pop song that, I think, fits well and gives off more of a cinematic feel. My teaser is far from perfect. In fact, it's all text. Like most authors, I used merely what I had at my disposal. And the result, while perhaps unique, certainly won't create the kind of buzz a phenomenal movie trailer will.

Book trailers are supposed to give off a "movie-ish" vibe, but I guarantee that most book trailers, if they aired before "Spider-Man 3," would be laughed off screen. It's not really the fault of the authors or whoever ponies up the dough, they're simply doing their best with limited resources. When you spend $1,000 on a movie, it's not going to have the production values traditional moviegoers are used to. And I wonder if this could do more harm than good.

So here's my question: since the entire point of a book trailer is to create a cinematic experience for a book, are we doing the books a disservice by creating C+ cinema? Again, there are many book trailers that are unique, inspired, and far from cheesy. But from the trailers I've watched(and I've watched a lot), these are the exception to the rule.

So while this book channel is certainly a step in the right direction, part of me wishes we'd perfect this form of promotion before blanketing the earth with it. Do we really want our books to have the "cinematic feel" of a Tori Spelling MOTW?

Monday, May 07, 2007

If You Want to Know More...

I'm putting together my very first newsletter in preparation for the June 26th publication of THE MARK. Only instead of installing some complicated widget on my website (been there, done that, couldn't get it to work), I'm going about this the old fashioned way.

If you're interested in receiving my newsletter, which will contain more info about THE MARK, future Henry Parker novels, and lots of other information that hopefully won't go in one ear (eye?) and out the other, just drop me a note at

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Grit Boy

I have a new post up at the Killer Year blog. Check it out.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Is Writing Fast Simply Not Fast Enough?

At the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention last week, I met a successful New York Times bestselling author of supernatural romance. I mentioned that my first novel was coming out this summer with the next two in the series scheduled to come out in 2008. My jaw dropped when she told me that she was contracted to write four full novels by the end of 2007. As far as I know none of these are co-authored, and she actually didn't seem daunted by the task.

When my agent and publisher proposed the notion of publishing two books a year, I was intrigued but nervous. Nobody wants to sacrifice quality for quantity, but at the same time publishing my first three books in fairly quick succession would enable me to build a readership and get decent shelf space pretty fast. Currently THE MARK, THE GUILTY and THE STOLEN are scheduled to come out within a span of 14 months.

Yet when I look at the publishing landscape as it pertains to "genre fiction," specficially the paperback marketplace, I fear that starting your career publishing two books a year simply isn't enough.

After some early, understandable trepidation, I've grown to not only accept but prefer that my book is coming out in paperback. My publisher will be printing a quantity that would be extremely difficult to do in hardcover (barring a HISTORIAN-size push), and as authors like
Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline, Kim Harrison, Laura Lippman, and Sherrilyn Kenyon have shown, eventual hardcover success is easier when you've published several paperbacks and have an established readership. Whereas for a debut hardcover, the promotion might entice people to buy the first book, but after that the curiosity factor wears off and the next books need to stand tall on their own. The more books you have in print and the larger your readership, the sturdier your legs will be when the time comes to stand.

One publishing method that's becoming incresingly popular is that of the back-to-back-to-back (or more!) release. This tactic has been recently used to great success by Allison Brennan, Jim Butcher, Naomi Novik and Keri Arthur (among others), with even more such releases on the horizon. These authors have been able to garner shelf space and readers within matters of months, not years, and many will have a backlist of three or more books by the time they're barely into the second year of their authorial career.

Readers have short attention spans. Nothing new, but it's daunting to authors looking to make waves. Major bestselling authors have seen sales drop off considerably, a large part of which, in my opinion, has to do with a long hiatus between novels. My second book comes out eight months after my first, hardly a long hiatus, but there are some authors who will likely publish up to six books in that time, gobbling up readers' attention as well as precious shelf space.

Granted this is a model that, so far, has only been used for paperbacks. I don't believe anyone would be willing to plunk down $24.95 in three successive months for a first-time author. So far writing the books has not been a problem. I am very happy with how THE GUILTY turned out, and the outline for THE STOLEN has gotten a great reaction. My fear is not writing books I can be proud of in a relatively short time frame. It's having to swim amongst the sea of paperback editions from major bestselling authors as well as second or third books in a series of original releases.

Authors need to work their butts off to write good books, but also to stay relevant, stay in their readers' consciousness. More and more authors are putting out two or more books a year, which gets their name out there more, builds a healthy backlist, and keeps the reels spinning in Short Attention Span Theater. An author's readership needs constant watering, and we only hope the roots don't dry up between books.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Official Publication Date for

The chase begins on June 26, 2007.
Keep track via the countdown clock on the right side of this page.