Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bouchercon, Brenda Janowitz, and, yes, more Dave White

I leave this morning for Bouchercon. Bouchercon is in Alaska. I am not looking forward to the 9.5 hours of flight time and 5 hour time difference. I am looking forward to the conference itself. If you're there, please say hi. And buy my book. It will make the return flight much more pleasurable.

On the heels of yesterday's Dave White Love Fest, Dave has posted a smattering of pics and videos from his launch day. Yes, Grover does make a cameo.

Now on to the main event.

I met Brenda Janowitz a few weeks ago at the launch party for M.J. Rose's THE REINCARNATIONIST. Brenda and I both write for different imprints of the same publisher. Always nice to meet a publishing cousin. Anyway, later that week I picked up the latest issue of "Entertainment Weekly," and perusing the book section I was happy to see Brenda's novel SCOT ON THE ROCKS among that week's bestsellers. I sent Brenda a congratulatory email. It wasn't until this came out that I realized EW has mistaken Brenda's book for Mary Daheim's SCOTS ON THE ROCKS. Brenda emailed me the story, and we figured since her book was mistaken for mystery, it might be fun to trade blog postings. Brenda would write something about mystery, and I would write about chick lit. My entry should be up on her blog in the next few days. So here she is: Brenda, take it away!

I love a good mystery thriller. Who doesn’t? The drama, the suspsense, that edge-of-your-seat feeling—nothing can beat that! So, when Jason Pinter and I decided to swap blogs for a day, I thought that, even though I normally write chick lit, it might be fun to create a mystery thriller myself! To do so, I used the characters from my debut novel, SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact) and the forthcoming sequel, JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school.). Here goes:
Brooke Miller, a big-time attorney in a large New York City law firm, wakes up one morning to find that 10 million dollars of her client’s escrow funds have somehow been transferred over to her own personal account. She is shocked—how could this have happened? Is she being set up? If so, why? And more importantly, would it be unethical go to Saks Fifth Avenue before reporting this to the firm? (Just to make up for the mental anguish of the whole situation, that is.)

Brooke decides to go to her law firm, Gilson Hecht and Trattner, and get the whole thing cleared up before the client can find out about the mess. But, she arrives at the firm to discover that the place is crawling with police. Her best friend Vanessa sends her a text message to tell her that a warrant has been put out for Brooke’s arrest and that federal marshals are after her. Brooke flees to the only place in the world that she can think of, the one place where she knows she will be safe—Barneys New York—and plots her next move.

The manhunt is on! Or, the womanhunt is on! Okay, that doesn’t sound very good. Try: the girlhunt is on! Whatever, you get the point, the point is that things are getting dicey for our gal Brooke…

Back at the firm, senior associate Jack Solomon just knows that Brooke couldn’t be responsible for stealing 10 million dollars. Sure, Brooke loves shopping, but this is ridiculous. And at any rate, she’s a junior associate, so she doesn’t have access to escrow funds. Something is not adding up…

Unsure of what to do, Brooke does the one thing that makes sense to her. The one thing that will help her to think: shop the sale at Barneys. What? You can get really good deals during the sales! And more importantly, shopping helps her think. Her best friend Vanessa meets her there to figure out who would have the motive to set Brooke up (and to see if there’s anything in her size). While there, they have a run in with Brooke’s high school nemesis, Nina. Nina casually asks Brooke about her ex-boyfriend, Hollywood agent, Trip, since Nina helped Brooke pick out a dress to wear to his wedding. The mention of Trip’s name instantly makes Brooke and Vanessa think, and they begin researching away on their BlackBerries.

Brooke emails Jack everything that she and Vanessa figured out and unmask ex-boyfriend, Trip, as the culprit—after all, he is a well connected Hollywood agent who would have the contacts to set Brooke up. And motive? Well, he first tried to foil her by inviting her to his wedding, but when Brooke attended the wedding with her dignity ever so slightly intact, that was it for Trip. Something inside of him snapped and he realized that he had to make her pay for breaking up with him back in law school.

Brooke and Vanessa return to the firm to a hero’s welcome, and Brooke falls into Jack’s arms and they kiss, realize they are madly in love, and live happily ever after.

And you thought that chick lit couldn’t be thrilling….

Brenda Janowitz is the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS (Red Dress Ink). Visit her website at or on MySpace here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Stores Today

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.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"White manages the neat trick of respecting the genre's traditions while daring to nudge it toward something new and unexpected."
--Laura Lippman

"A unique and artful blend of the PI novel and the police procedural, with a story as deceptively simple as your first love and as fatal as your last car wreck...a terrific novel."
--James Crumley

Monday, September 24, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

This week, Dave Barry's HISTORY OF THE MILLENEUM (so far) arrived in stores. I bought my copy the first day of its release.

Dave Barry has been one of my favorite authors for years, beginning in middle school when I read my tattered copy of DAVE BARRY'S ONLY TRAVEL GUIDE YOU'LL EVER NEED (sample chapter: Working Toilets of Europe) until the cover fell off. I tore through his first novel, BIG TROUBLE, during college, having never laughed so hard at a work of fiction. As I got older, I didn't read Dave quite as often. His new books went unpurchased, his newspaper columns unread. It was a conscious decision, as I assumed my sense of humor had matured with age, and I would feel somewhat dirty laughing at jokes primarily about mucus. Then last year I read DAVE BARRY'S MONEY SECRETS, mainly just to see if I still enjoyed his brand of humor. I cracked the spine feeling a little silly, and began reading.

To no great surprise, I laughed the entire 200+ pages. (if you think there's something just a little ridiculous about Donald Trump and/or Suze Orman--and really, who doesn't?--make sure to check it out)

I hesitate to say Dave Barry is a "guilty" pleasure--I mean the guy has won a Pulitzer Prize and sold millions of books, so I'm certainly not in a weird humor vacuum. But come on! I have a job! A mortgage! I'm not supposed to laugh at booger jokes!

But screw it. Boogers are funny, and I'm thrilled to say I enjoy Dave just as much now as I did when reading DAVE BARRY TURNS 50 (and not getting half the jokes). So needless to say I'm bringing Dave's new book this week on my flight to Bouchercon. I just hope whoever sits next to me understands when I laugh so hard I snort a booger onto their lap.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's 2007, but you wouldn't know it

I'm in shock that things like this still occur in the United States. For a culture to exist that inspires somebody's warped mind that this is perfectly acceptable is simply disgusting and dispicable. Whatever legal ramifications there are for these inbred and ignorant troglodytes, their punishment won't be nearly severe enough.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

UK Cover

Here is the package that will be used for the UK edition of THE MARK, scheduled to come out in May, '08. I've also been told by my UK editor that they've produced a video trailer which I'm hoping to get very shortly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dear Reader

In the reissued paperback edition of Stephen King's THE STAND, King included a letter, addressed to the reader (or as King calls them, 'Constant Reader'), about how the book was written, why nearly 150,000(!) words were cut from the original publication (primarily economics), and what the reader could expect from the volume within.

I remember reading this introduction for the first time at summer camp when I was a teenager, and then plowing through the 1,100 page novel in about 3 days. The introduction opened up a window into King's mind that I found fascinating. He was self-depricating, a little haughty, darn funny, and cared enough about his readership to reader try and win them over.

I did not write a "Dear Reader" letter in THE MARK because, frankly, it didn't occur to me. Looking back I don't know if, as a debut author, it would have mattered. I did decide to write one for THE GUILTY however. I did this for two reasons.

First, like King, I want to connect with my readers beyond the novel itself (case in point, this blog). Second, I felt several of the themes and non-fiction hooks in the book were interesting enough that a casual reader might read the letter in a bookstore and bring THE GUILTY to the cash register. I have no idea whether this letter will actually accomplish either of those, but thinking back to how much I enjoyed King's letters (literally to the point where I would reread them for pleasure) I can only hope to connect on that level. And if I do, there's more than a good possibility I'll succeed on at least one of those two goals.

As readers, does a "Dear Reader" letter make you more or less likely to buy a book? Does it endear the author to you? Does a letter influence you in any way whatsoever?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sim Book

Somebody once told me--apologies for forgetting who--that the longest-running series are the ones with the least character development. I thought about this recently, as I had a meeting with my publisher to discuss plans for THE GUILTY, which comes out in less than six months, as well as long-term plans for future books. One of the things we discussed was "World Building." Specifically the importance of creating a universe that is constantly evolving, while staying true to the rules the authors has established. While world building is most commonly associated with fantasy and science fiction, it's an incredibly important aspect for any series, especially a budding one, where the hope is to both entice new readers while sating fans who've been there from the beginning. As an author, it goes against creative impulse to begin every book with a "previously on..." in order to let new readers (or forgetful old ones) catch up, yet you have to approach almost every book with the hopes of drawing from both wells.

My second novel, THE GUILTY, is complete. Galleys should be arriving within the next few weeks. In this book I continued the stories of several main and supporting characters from THE MARK, while adding a few new characters and subplots into the fray. I'm currently working on THE STOLEN, the third in the series, and am trying to accomplish the same thing. Only now I have two books worth of characters and stories to draw from. It opens up my characters' worlds to more possibilities, but also narrows what I can do with them. I've set certain rules, established behavioral patterns, and these must be adhered to.

At the Romantic Times convention, Jim Butcher stated that when sitting down to write STORM FRONT, he had the Harry Dresden series plotted out through twenty books. Right now I have my series plotted through three, with ideas for four and five percolating. I don't know, at this point, how many books the series will encompass. Part of it depends on readers. I have seven under contract, and if readers are still hungry for more beyond that and my sales figures support it, chances are there will be more. Certainly at some point I'd like to write something non-series, but as long as there are stories to tell with these characters I'm all for keeping them going. But for how long?

Many authors have written crime series that have gone on for well over ten years, sometimes more and, if anything, are more popular than ever (Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum come to mind). These authors still receive strong reviews for their work, regularly top the bestseller lists, and the books stay fresh. But with so many books in a series, how much character development can there be?

The characters in THE GUILTY have their scars, both mental and physical, from THE MARK. Yet at some point, in a crime series, if the characters wear their scars on their sleeves to a completely realistic degree they'd either be dead or going insane. Jack Reacher can get away with this, partly because he's a badass mofo, but he's a badass to such a degree that scars (physical, at least, are expected). For characters who are cops, reporters, bounty hunters, or hold any one of numerous other dangerous professions, at some point the odds would catch up. If the author establishes that a forensic anthropologist or sports agent can be in fatal danger in every book, the reader accepts that as part of the universe. But that means they accept there is something slightly implausible about that universe as a whole, since I doubt many FAs get their degrees with the expectations of being menaced by murderous psychopaths. For the most part readers are willing to accept these credulity strains, provided the author is conistent within the universe they've created.

So as an author, how much development do you need to stay true to the character? And how much can you ignore certain implausibilities to create a consistent universe?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Biting the Bullet

So I finally joined Facebook. Feel free to request an add, or do that weird poking thing.

UPDATE: According to my sister, I am a giant loser.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back Cover/Spine
Coming March, 2008

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Looks like yesterday's item about the New York Post eliminating their book coverage was not only wrong, but in fact it appears they'll be increasing book review coverage. Great news.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! As one Gawker commentor put it, "I don't care that much about my OWN life."

Tuesday Dumping (of the link variety)

DAVE has an interesting discussion up on his blog, about how far in advance authors pen out storylines.

I'm intrigued by the trailer for "Iron Man," especially in the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Not exactly the actor you envision playing a super-hero, but that's what we thought about Tobey Maguire too. I do like the casting of actual good actors in these roles, as they add another dimension to the 90 minutes of special effects. Jon "Elf" Favreau directing, not so sure about. They do get bonus points for actually using the song "Iron Man" in the clip.

Hey, he's having a good season, so why not? (for your viewing pleasure, the original hilarious "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" commercial. Wow, we were naive about steroid use...)

No words to say about Britney's performance at the VMAs other than man, was that painful to watch. I'm not a fan, but I was rooting for a comeback. Nobody deserves to fizzle out the way she has, but damn was that routine awful. Couldn't somebody have pulled her aside and said, "Hey, there are 1,000 other outfits you will look good in?" Anyone who calls her "fat" is simply ridiculous, but just because you're in good shape for a mother of 2 doesn't mean you will look good dancing in a skimpy bra and panties. And sure, we all love that Sarah Silverman pushes buttons, but her post-Brit monologue was awkward and cruel, like she was simply trying to top her crack about Paris Hilton at last year's VMAs. Ragging on somebody's infant children just doesn't make me giggle.

Another book review page bites the dust (probably the only time I'll ever hope Jared Paul Stern reappears in the public eye)

If you haven't seen it yet, check out HBO's "Alive Day Memories," a moving documentary about soldiers gravely wounded in Iraq who lived to tell the tale, and whose scars are visible both inside and out. It was produced by James Gandolfini (dressed like Tony Soprano throughout the proceedings), though he wisely stays off camera for the most part. The whole film is available to see online here.

Best. Headline. Ever. If I ever join a band, it will be called "Erotic Latino Persuasion." (btw I just bought a copy of Diaz's book and can't wait to read it)

Also: Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Gone, Baby, Gone

The early reviews for the Ben Affleck-directed adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel are in, and they're good. Like, really good.

GONE, BABY, GONE is my favorite of Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro series. Good pacing, characters and dialogue like his previous books, but this one had a sense of menace and sadness that more than hinted at what Lehane would accomplish with MYSTIC RIVER. And while I wasn't so much worried by Ben's directorial abilities (I do think he's a better artist than his tabloid image projects), I was very worried about the casting of his brother Casey as Patrick Kenzie. I always envisioned Kenzie, at least in GBG, as more brooding, more world-weary. Still good in a pinch for a smart-aleck remark, but he's someone who's been dragged through the old neighborhood muck for a little too long and finds the stains don't wash out like they used to. Casey Affleck has done some good work in spurts, mainly in smaller roles in "Good Will Hunting"and "Ocean's 11," but he's always been his best hamming it up with brother Ben or Scott Caan. Casting Casey felt like another Sofia Coppola, ruining a potentially good film by giving a pivotal part to a relative who couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, especially opposite Al Pacino and Andy Garcia (or in Casey's case, Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris).

Ben grew up in Boston, a city whose whose character is a crucial element of Lehane's books, so I think he'll give the film a sense of authenticity an outsider might not. I don't know much about Michelle Monaghan as Angie Gennaro, other than that she did a good job in a thankless role in "Mission Impossible 3." Based on the trailer, it looks like Harris and Freeman are at the top of their games, which already sets the bar fantastically high. But Casey is the 'X' factor. And if he's up to the challenge, which it appears he may be, this has the potential to be a terrific movie.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Live Nude Presidents

Recently my wife and I spent 9 days in Russia, traveling to Moscow and St. Petersburg. During our time there we read every Russian newspaper we could get our hands on (at least the ones in English). We wanted to get a sense of the culture--political, economic, social.

Now see if you can guess which of these three stories dominated Russian news over the past few weeks:

1) The August 14th terrorist bombing of a Russian passenger train that left over 60 injured.
2) The MAKS airshow that represented Russia's desire to compete with the UK in the international arena, and a return to aircraft dominance.
3) A series of topless photographs taken of President Vladimir Putin.

If you guessed 1 or 2, you're a rational human being. If you guessed 3, you're correct.

To give some background, President Putin is required by Russian constitutional law to step down upon completing his second term in office after succeeding Boris Yeltsin in 2000. To date, Putin has shown every desire to do just that.

Yet the Kremlin, which controls major media in Russia, set up a photo op during Putin's August vacation in the Siberian mountains in which the Preisdent was photographed riding on horseback, walking beside a waterfall, and calling in orders on a cell phone. In every photo he was either completely topless or wearing a form-fitting tank top. Unlike the Falstaffian Yeltsin, Putin is a former major in the KGB and head of the FSB (which succeeded the KGB as Russia's secret police), as well as a black belt in judo. The dude has pretty good muscle tone for a man of 54.

Now why did these photos dominate political discussion in Russia? Because political analysts, observing that the photos were orchestrated by the Kremlin, saw it as an attempt by Putin to strengthen his appeal to the public, namely potential voters. Meaning he just might not be so eager to step down next year. Which means he might just try to change the Russian constitution to allow himself to stay in office.

(Russian conspiracy buffs claim the photos--taken while vacationing with Prince Albert of Monaco--offer a newfound acceptance for homosexuality in the country. Yes, Russian bloggers are well aware of "Brokeback Mountain")

So there you have it. The topless photos that could change a nation.

Oh yeah, you can see the photos here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Winner, etc...

And the winner of an audiobook of THE MARK is...

Graham Powell!

Congrats Graham, I hope you enjoy the production.

On another note, check out the interesting discussion of publishing in hardcover vs. paperback original at Levi Asher's Lit Kicks. There are interesting thoughts from a number of publishing pros. Scott Hoffman's story about Pam Jenoff's THE KOMMANDANT'S GIRL was especially interesting to me, in that Pam and I share the same publisher and our both of our debuts were published as paperback originals (hers in trade, mine in mass). (via Sarah)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back in Black

I'm back in town after a fantastic trip to Russia (plus a mind-numbingly difficult trip home, which consisted of 21 hours in transit. And thanks to the helpful taxi driver who took us to the wrong airport terminal in St. Petersburg on Sunday morning). So we're only slightly delirious right now.

I'm slogging through lots of emails, and will announce a winner of the audiobook contest tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to post a few photos from the trip soon as well.

I read four books on the trip:
L.A. REQUIEM by Robert Crais
THE PACT by Jodi Picoult
THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
BLACK ORDER by James Rollins

My first order of business today is to pick up Charlie Huston's THE SHOTGUN RULE.
Also, Autralia's own Kathryn Fox pointed out that THE MARK is included in Target's Father's Day promo in the land down under. Very cool!