Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What's a Review Worth?

With THE MARK now having been in stores for a little over a month, I've had both the pleasure and heartache of hearing from many readers who've read my debut novel and took the time to send emails, MySpace messages, and post reviews. What amazes me most about the letters I've received--as well as the various reviews posted on blogs, websites and online retailers--is the broad spectrum of opinions people have about my book.

One reader said it was the best suspense novel he'd read in years.

Another told me she liked it so much she bought 14 copies for her entire book club.

And then one reader told me I should be ashamed of myself for ripping off the reading public.

Now I certainly don't think THE MARK is the best suspense novel in years. But neither do I think it's ripping anybody off. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle (ok, hopefully it lies closer to the first reader's opinion). I'm proud of the book, but also aware that it's my first novel and that I have a great deal of room to grow.

As I imagine most authors do, I try to lend more weight to the good reviews than the bad. But sometimes the bad reviews go beyond reviewing your book, and seem to attack you personally (I'm looking at you, Mr. You're Ripping Off the Reading Public). Even worse, sometimes the critics are right. You made a mistake. A character's motivation isn't quite as clear on the page as it was in your head. And you begin to question everything.

Now part of the beauty of the digital age is that readers can share their thoughts about a book directly with the author via email, as well as the entire world via blogs and websites. I'd be lying if I didn't do periodic Google searches to see if there are any new reviews for THE MARK, or troll Amazon and bn.com to see recent reader reactions. It also makes me think about those in other professions who receive criticism--good and bad--from a much louder megaphone. Sports coaches and athletes. Politicians. And writers far more famous than I am. The bigger you are, the thicker skin you need to have. Because even if only 1% of people hate your work, if a million people are reading you that's 10,000 people who think you're a hack, a sellout, a bum, etc...

Not every book is going to appeal to everyone, and I'm aware of that. I've gotten some letters from readers who simply didn't "get" Henry and Amanda due to their relatively young age compared to most thriller protagonists. And that's fine with me. Several have made valid criticisms which I will try to address in future books. But most readers have thanked me for entertaining them for 367 pages. And those are the ones that, to me, have the loudest voices.

Monday, July 30, 2007

THE MARK Signings

I'll be signing copies of THE MARK this week, so come if:
a) You already bought a copy of THE MARK and want it signed
b) You've been waiting to buy a signed copy of THE MARK in person
c) There's nothing good on T.V. and you need something to do

But whatever you do, please stop by and say hi.

Wednesday, August 1st
Barnes & Noble
396 Avenue of the Americas (at 8th street)
New York, NY
7:30 pm

Saturday, August 4th
The Open Book
128 Main Street
Westhampton, NY
9:00 pm

If you come to the Open Book signing, you'll get to sample the Mark-itini, a delicious concoction that was apparently conceived at a party my publisher threw in January, but which I was not aware of until a reporter from PW asked if I'd tried it. D'oh.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

2007 Anthony Award Nominees
(via Sarah)

ALL MORTAL FLESH, Julia Spencer-Fleming, St. Martin's
THE DEAD HOUR, Denise Mina, Little, Brown
KIDNAPPED, Jan Burke, Simon & Schuster
NO GOOD DEEDS, Laura Lippman, HarperCollins
THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS, Nancy Pickard, Ballantine

A FIELD OF DARKNESS, Cornelia Read, Mysterious Press
THE HARROWING, Alexandra Sokoloff, St. Martin's
HOLMES ON THE RANGE, Steve Hockensmith, St. Martin's
THE KING OF LIES, John Hart, St. Martin's
STILL LIFE, Louise Penny, St. Martin's

ASHES AND BONES, Dana Cameron, Avon
BABY SHARK, Robert Fate, Capital Crime Press
THE CLEANUP, Sean Doolittle, Dell
A DANGEROUS MAN, Charlie Huston, Ballantine
SHOTGUN OPERA, Victor Gischler, Dell
SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, Naomi Hirahara, Bantam Dell - Delta

“After the Fall,” Elaine Viets, Alfred Hitchcock Mag
“Cranked”Bill Crider, DAMN NEAR DEAD, Busted Flush Press
“The Lords of Misrule,” Dana Cameron, SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL, Avon
“My Father’s Secret,” Simon Wood, Crime Spree Magazine, Bcon Spec Issue
“Policy,” Megan Abbott, DAMN NEAR DEAD, Busted Flush Press
“Sleeping with the Plush,” Toni Kelner, Alfred Hitchcock Mag

THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, Daniel Stashower, Dutton
DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, Chris Roerden, Bella Rosa Books
MYSTERY MUSES, Jim Huang/Austin Lugar, Editors, Crum Creek Press
READ ‘EM THEIR WRITES, Gary Warren Niebuhr, Libraries Unlimited

Charles Ardai, Hard Case Crime
George Easter, Deadly Pleasures
Barbara Franchi & Sharon Wheeler, reviewingtheevidence.com
Jim Huang, Crum Creek Press and The Mystery Company
Jon & Ruth Jordan, CrimeSpree Magazine
Ali Karim, Shots Magazine
Lynn Kaczmarek & Chris Aldrich, Mystery News
Maddy Van Hertbruggen, 4 Mystery Addicts

Congratulations to all the deserving nominees.

Oh Yes It's Ladies...wait, scratch that...Oh Yes It's Equality Night...

Men Sue Over 'Ladies Night' at Bars

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

G.W.P.O.T.D. (Gratuitous Wilson Photo of the Day)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This Just In...

THE MARK has been on the Barnes & Noble mass market bestseller list for four straight weeks. Woohoo!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Big News

This has been in the works for a few weeks, but I was forbid from mentioning it lest I be eaten by a maraudering Hippogryph (sorry, Harry Potter on the brain).

I've agreed to a new deal with my publisher for four more novels. Saying I'm thrilled is like saying J.K. Rowling is slightly peeved at the New York Times. MIRA has done a spectacular job publishing THE MARK, and I'm happy to be locked up for the foreseeable future.

Less than 18 months ago I didn't have a deal for one book, and now I'm committed to seven. I'm truly humbled and proud to have a home for Henry Parker for a long, long time. Thanks to everyone who bought and supported THE MARK, you've helped a dream come true.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Only Other Person Who Gets This Kind of Treatment is The Pope

From Publishers Weekly: Arthur Levine, Scholastic v-p and co-editor of the Harry Potter book series, delivers the first U.S author-signed edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at a press conference at "Harry Potter Place" this morning in New York.

Farewell Black Orchid

I was saddened to hear that the Black Orchid, the venerated independent mystery bookshop on 81st between 2nd and first, will be closing its doors in September. The Orchid has been a part of my life for years. When I was in high school, my father would make a weekly sojourn, saying, "I'm going to the Black Orchid, can I pick you up anything?" He never went with a particular book in mind, but always came back carrying three or four knowing Bonnie and Joe had steered him in the right direction. I always read the books he brought back, so they're likely as responsible for my love of crime fiction as anyone.

It was a pleasure to frequent the Orchid the past few years as both an author and a fan, and I'm honored to have held a book signing there before they closed the doors. Bonnie and Joe are legends for a reason, and even though their shop won't be there, they'll still be in our hearts.

Best of luck in whatever the future may bring. We're going to miss you.

So on August 16th come, raise a glass, and ask Bonnie and Joe to recommend a few good books. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

To Wear or Not to Wear

I stumbled upon this thread over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and found it rather fascinating, with strong points on both sides of the issue.

A brief summation: this past weekend was the national Romance Writers of America conference. Apparently three authors (Marianne Mancusi, Liz Maverick and Sherrliyn Kenyon) caused somewhat of a furor with their unorthodox--and some believe inappropriate--attire. Supporters have come forward on both sides of the issue. Some claim the authors were merely trying to bring deserving attention to their works and their outfits were simply extensions of their personality, while others (including mega bestsellers Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie) claim the authors' lack of professionalism demeans them and other authors in the genre.

(Apologies if this wrapup does not illustrate the points satisfactorily. Read the original post and comments for a better picture)

Sherrilyn Kenyon and her swan hat
Marianne Mancusi and Liz Maverick (and their knickers)

I met two of the authors, Liz Maverick and Marianne Mancusi, at BEA. They were incredibly nice, and wore outfits that stood out like Yao Ming on the PGA Tour. To me it seemed like they were worn in good fun. And after reading the Q&A and starred review in Publishers Weekly for WIRED, I bought Liz's book. I thought WIRED sounded different, cool, and my perception of the author didn't play a role in the purchase.

I have never been to an RWA convention, so I don't have the authority to comment on what is and is not "appropriate" attire. Not to mention I have the fashion sense of Ace Ventura. But I wonder if this debate extends to other genres, outside of romance. Having been to several crime conferences, I can't say there have been authors who stood out to such an extent due to their appearance (Marcus Sakey and Barry Eisler's slobbered-over hair notwithstanding).

Do you feel at a convention that represents a given genre, authors should eschew "gimmicks" and be respectful? Or is attire (among other traits) something that should be up to the individual, without prejudice? And are gimmicks merely empty marketing tools, or are they justified in order to garner attention for the author and his/her work?

Random Thursday

A few links:

Check out the excerpt from Norman Bussel's memoir at Memoirville.com. Norman is the grandfather of author/journalist Rachel Kramer Bussel, and his work is truly touching. You can read it here.

MediaBistro.com was sold. I'm a big MB junkie--it's one of my first stops in the morning--so I hope if there are any changes, they are either minimal or serve to bolster the site.

Tess Gerritsen, with the aid of Joseph Finder, has posted follow up thoughts to one of the questions from our ThrillerFest panel, regarding how many copies you need to sell to hit the NYT hardcover bestseller list.

Joe Konrath puts other newsletters to shame.

I did a brief interview with The Motivated Writer. You can check it out here.

"The Sopranos" deservingly gets a truckload of Emmy noms. "Entourage" for Best Comedy Series? I mean I watch the show, but best comedy series? Either it has some big fans among voters or the comedy slate is pretty thin.

And in other "Entourage" news, apparently Suge Knight bit Kevin 'E' Connolly. Methinks Suge is slightly more dangerous than Billy Walsh.

And this lede is just silly. Summer books tend to fall into familiar tropes: the thriller, the historical romance, the tale of a charmingly rogue pet. And this crop of new books doesn’t disappoint on that front. It should read "Summer books we happen to mention fall into familiar tropes." Because I'm not quite sure how Don DeLillo, Michael Ondaatje, Lisa See and Khaled Hosseini fit into those categories. I'm not saying these books don't deserve some recognition, but what's the point of running single paragraph plot synopses of six books with no editorializing whatsoever?

And finally, a few new reviews for THE MARK I hadn't gotten around to posting yet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Killer Year at ThrillerFest

From Publishers Weekly:

A number of the contributors to Minotaur’s Killer Year anthology got together for a picture at ThrillerFest, which took place in New York City this weekend. Pictured here (first row) are: M.J. Rose, Robert Gregory Browne, J.T. Ellison (with glasses), Brett Battles, Toni McGee Causey, Marc Lecard and Sean Chercover. In the second row: Killer Year editor Lee Child, Marcus Sakey, Dave White, Jason Pinter, Patry Francis, Derek Nikitas and Bill Cameron.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dispatches From ThrillerFest

The multi-talented Jeff Ayers interviewed me at ThrillerFest, you can check out the audio clips here.

More T-Fest updates to come...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Brief Notes from ThrillerFest 2007

--Congratulations to Joseph Finder (KILLER INSTINCT), Nick Stone (MR. CLARINET), Eric Roth ("The Good Shepherd") and P.J Parrish (AN UNQUIET GRAVE), receipients of the 2007 Thriller Awards.
--Even though I live in New York, I was still appalled by the price-gouging (i.e. $3.00 for a "New York" bagel).
--A $4.00 cup of coffee seems like a bargain when you get five refills.
--The "First Blood" debut author breakfast was terrific. Many first-timers (myself included) were unnerved by the format (22 authors each giving a one-minute book pitch to a room of 300), but it went smoothly, thanks in no small part to the great M.C. skills of Lee Child. In case that whole Jack Reacher thing doesn't pan out, Lee, they are looking for a new co-host for "The View"...
--Harley Jane Kozak is jacked. She could totally kick Scott Bakula's ass in "Necessary Roughness 2."
--The sex and booze panel was a hit for the second straight year, even if M.J. Rose had a hard time "getting it up." Hee hee.
--My panel with Neil Nyren, Tess Gerritsen, David J. Montgomery and Matt Baldacci could have gone another two hours easy. Lots of great questions, and needless to say we only scratched the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
--When introducing people, I need to stop offering up their entire life story. (Bill, meet Ted. Ted is the bestselling author of "Heebie Jeebie," lives in Montana with his wife and son, windsurfs on odd Tuesdays, and has an affinity for crawfish).
--My most meaningful fan interaction of the conference was meeting Brett King, a psychologist from Colorado, who read THE MARK and was impressed by the character depth of Henry and Amanda, even more so when he learned I hadn't done specific psychological research. Since it was so important to me that Henry and Amanda be flesh and blood characters, Brett's comments truly struck a nerve.
--Ain't no party like a St. Martin's party 'cause a St. Martin's party don't stop. Until the hotel staff literally rolls the bar away.
--Speaking of which, the SMP party went from "invite only" to "come if you are breathing" in about 0.2 seconds.
--Jeffery Deaver plays a wicked acoustic guitar.
--Line of the conference, runner up (during the P.I. panel):
P.J. Parrish: What would you do if you woke up one morning, naked in bed, with a dead hooker lying next to you?"
Dave White: "Well today I came to ThrillerFest."
--Line of the conference:
James Patterson, in his ThrillerMaster acceptance speech during the banquet's 17th hour, "I'm used to reading and writing books that have a fast pace, that crackle. I feel like tonight I stepped into Finnegan's Wake."

More to come...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Off to ThrillerFest. Books and bodies will be flying everywhere.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Signing Tonight

I'll be signing copies of THE MARK tonight at the Black Orchid Book Shop at 6:30 pm (not 7:30!). It's on 81st between 1st and 2nd, and Bonnie and Joe always show a good time, so come on down.

Thanks to everyone who braved the downpour to come see Bill Cameron, Shane Gericke and I read from our new books. And hey, how often do you get to say that Lee freaking Child came to your reading?

So who will show up for tonight's signing? Don't you want to find out?? (rumors are flying that The Pope and Mark Twain have been sighted drinking at the Starbucks across from the Orchid...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11-a thrilling chilling night @ 20 W 44th, NYC

Come see Shane Gericke, Bill Cameron and I read from our new books at the New York Center for the Independent Press. Reading begins at 6:30, be there or the hounds of hell will snap at your heels.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who Is Putting Their Best Trait Forward?

Thanks to all the entrants to the "Put Your Best Trait Forward" contest, but ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner...

Kace Procter!!!

Congrats Kace! Kace has requested his trait (it's a good one!), and it will be given to a character in THE STOLEN, in bookstores everywhere August 2008. Another contest will begin shortly, so keep your eyes open...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Great Reviews for Great Authors

I decided to push back the conclusion of the "Put Your Best Trait Forward" contest until tomorrow, instead to focus on two stellar, starred reviews in this week's Publisher's Weekly for September crime novels that will soon be wreaking havoc on bookstores everywhere:

The Reincarnationist, M.J. Rose. Mira
Best known as an author of erotic thrillers, Rose (Lip Service) delves into religious myth and past-life discovery in her well-paced ninth novel. In present-day Rome, a terrorist bomb explosion triggers flashbacks of pre-Christian Italy in photographer Josh Ryder. Josh experiences the memories as Julius, a pagan priest defending the sacrosanct monuments of his gods and the life of his vestal virgin lover against the emperor-mandated onslaught of Christianity in A.D. 391. Six months later, Josh has teamed with the Phoenix Foundation, an institute specializing in past-life memories in children, to explore a newly excavated tomb that may contain pagan memory stones that incite past-life regressions and will, by proving the existence of reincarnation, challenge the church. The stakes rise after it becomes clear that dangerous outside forces also want the stones. In a series of memory lurches, the narratives of Josh and Julius slowly wind together to reveal a Da Vinci Code–esque tale of intrigue that’s more believably plotted and better meets its ambitions than Dan Brown’s ubiquitous book. (Sept.)

When One Man Dies, Dave White. Three Rivers.
Derringer Award–winner White’s engrossing, evocative debut novel will grab most readers from its opening sentences: “I’ve killed three men in my life. One the police know about, two that I’ve kept to myself.” New Jersey ex-cop Jackson Donne is about to use profits from his PI business to fund a bachelor’s degree when his closest friend, Korean War vet Gerry Figuroa, is killed in a hit-and-run. Reluctantly investigating the accident, Donne finds evidence that Figuroa may have been supplementing his actor’s income by manufacturing crystal meth, and soon suspicious ties appear to an apparently unrelated adultery and divorce case. White manages to make improbable plot twists seem plausible, and his choice to alternate Donne’s slightly unhinged first-person narration with the third-person perspective of New Brunswick Police Det. Bill Martin, Donne’s despicably corrupt former partner and nemesis, works surprisingly well. Fans of hard-hitting, uncompromising private investigators will hope that Donne ditches his college dreams and continues to pound the pavement. (Sept.)

Congrats Dave and M.J.!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

No Good Deed

Thursday I had a doctor's appointment, a routine checkup. I brought a copy of THE MARK, figured I'd leave it in the waiting room amidst the tattered copies of Field & Stream and four week old issues of Sports Illustrated. So when they called me in, I left the book on the small table reserved for abandoned periodicals, and that was that.

Yesterday I get a call from the doctor's office. The receptionist leaves this voicemail on my cell phone:

"Hi Mr. Pinter, I'm calling from Concorde Medical Group, and I just wanted to let you know we found your book which you accidentally left here. I picked it up and we're keeping it safe up front behind the counter, so you can come pick it up at your convenience."

Sigh. Guess Field & Stream has the doctor's office reading market cornered.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Next Week's Events

I have a lot going on next week. If you've bought a copy of THE MARK, definitely stop by and say hello. If you haven't, well, I suppose you can atone by stopping by anyway.

NY Center for Independent Publishing
Wednesday, July 11th, 6:30 pm
reading and signing (with Bill Cameron and Shane Gericke)
20 West 44th St.

Black Orchid Book Shop
Thursday, July 12th, 7:30 pm
book signing
303 East 81st St. (between 1st and 2nd avenue)

New York, NY

FIRST BLOOD: 2007 Debut Thriller authors breakfast
Friday, July 13th, 9:00 am
hosted by Lee Child

SNARE OF THE HUNTER: How writers and publishers work to get you to buy their books
Sunday, July 15th, 10:00 am
hosted by Neil Nyren
with Tess Gerritsen, Matthew Baldacci, M.J. Rose and David J. Montgomery

Thursday, July 05, 2007

How Do You Handle Your First Week?

So the official pub date of THE MARK was last Tuesday. In the week since, I spend a large chunk of every day wandering in and out of bookstores, talking to sales clerks and managers, trying to figure out how the book is doing and meeting as many people who sell my book as possible. I'm nowhere near as good at this as most members of my extended family, who are bold enough to ask harried cashiers not only "how's this book doing" but "How many copies have you sold? Have you reordered? Why isn't the book shelved here? Shouldn't you order more copies?"

Thankfully my friends and family are much better publicists for my book than I am. A few major stores didn't shelve my book until July 1st, and despite my desire to tear into the stock room and shove the books on the shelves myself, cooler heads prevailed (they generally weren't mine, but at least I listen).

I try not to check Amazon too often, especially since as a paperback original Amazon captures a fraction of a fraction of my total sales. That doesn't mean if my ranking goes up I don't smile and think Hey, that's another 3 copies sold!

I have to keep things in perspective. This is my first book. For the most part, nobody knows who I am. I even got a 5 star rating on Amazon from a reader who starts off one paragraph with, "Jason Pinter, whom I have never heard of and I am sure you may not have either..."

If that's not a ringing endorsement...but hey, the guy not only bought my book, but took it pon himself to write a pretty nice review (with one or two backhanded compliments).

So I'm wondering, to authors out there, how did you handle your first weeks on sale? Did your routine change over multiple publications? Did you grind your teeth down to mush, or sit comfortably sipping chamomile not worrying about such matters?

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Put Your Best Trait Forward" Contest

Lots of authors run contests in which a character is named after the winner. What about a contest in which a character acts like the winner?

Below are ten questions. The answers can be found within the pages of THE MARK. The reader who gets the most correct answers will have a character in THE STOLEN display a personality trait of their choosing (to prevent a character from envisioning a tryst between Bea Arthur and Carrot Top, I must approve the trait). In the event of a tie, the winner will be chosen at random.
Have a fondness for parakeets?
Love the smell of fresh ground Sumatra?
Always turn the doorknob eleven times before leaving the house?

Answer the most questions correctly and so will a character in THE STOLEN (coming August, 2008):

1. What newspaper does Henry work at prior to joining the Gazette?

2. Which play did Luis Guzman act in?

3. What happened to Mya that damaged her relationship with Henry?

4. Who helps Henry flee New York?

5. During their flight, Henry and Amanda eat breakfast at a highway rest area. What letter is missing from the restaurant's sign?

6. Wallace Langston asks Henry to write an article on what kind of creature in Rockefeller Plaza?

7. What alias does Henry offer Amanda when they meet?

8. Why did Amanda begin keeping notebooks?

9. What is the name of the superintendent in Luis Guzman's building?

10. Name three people who want Henry dead.

Email your answers to jason@jasonpinter.com (DO NOT post them in the comments section). The winner will be announced on Monday, July 9th. Best of luck, and remember to think of a good trait!!!

P.S. One of the ten is a trick question...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Have an Audiobook!

Audible.com has posted the audiobook for THE MARK. I listened to a sample, then had to turn it off because it was too freaky to hear someone read my book out loud. Maybe in a few days I'll do it, after a few stiff drinks. This is very cool. It should be up on iTunes shortly, in the meantime check it out on Audible here.

Also, starting tomorrow I'll be running a contest. More to come on that.

Saw two movies this weekend: "Ratatouille" and "Live Free or Die Hard." Ratatouille was another brilliant film from Pixar, and aside from a small misfire with "A Bug's Life" every one of their movies has been superb. Ratatouille isn't quite as funny as "Finding Nemo" and doesn't quite tug at your heartstrings like "Toy Story," but it has enough of both to easily make it one of the best films of the year. Plus the short Pixar film before the main feature was hilarious. Let's just say if you ever wondered what really goes on during an alien abduction, you'll want to check it out.

As for "Die Hard," I was less than impressed after the first half hour, but the next 90 minutes are a pure adrenaline rush, with some of the most jaw-dropping action scenes in a long time. In a summer where CGI and blue screen wire work dominate, it was refreshing to see a movie based around real-world stunts and explosions, and some mighty impressive ones at that. Though Bruce Willis's John McClane now has more in common with John Rambo now than the chain-smoking pissed-at-the-world everyman in the original DH, and though he bounces back a little too easily from 20-foot falls and slams onto steel girders, Willis is magnetic, and Justin Long gets in some genuinely funny lines as his sidekick (the two devlelop a nice chemistry as the film goes on). Though the film is slightly marred by the actor who plays the government bureaucrat Bowden, who with some serious lessons might have a career in porn. Timothy Olyphant, who was so manic and creepy in "Go", plays the head bad guy Gabriel with the menace of Mr. Bubbles. Two action sequences in particular stood out: one with Willis and the dangerous Maggie Q (who should have been the lead bad guy/girl) dangling in an elevator shaft, the second with Willis driving a semi trailer up a crumbling ramp to escape an F-18 fighter jet. Just spectacular stuff. They even throw a few inside jokes that will please fans of the original (no, Carl Winslow doesn't make a cameo). It's a far different movie from DH1, but that doesn't make it bad, and as far as action movies go this has some of the best actual "action" I've seen in a while.