Friday, November 30, 2007

is this real?


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MWA, Self-Publishing, and the YouTube Debate

Over at Sarah's website, you can check out a very interesting debate revolving around Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai, a previous winner of the Edgar Award, who because of new rules adopted by MWA finds his latest novel ineligible for consideration.

I'm not the right person to make any sort of judgment on the issue itself. I've been an MWA member for a little over a year, have never been a judge and don't really know what goes into the process. What does interest me is the self-publishing debate, and how the wheat is separated from the chaff.

In a nutshell, Ardai's novel SONGS OF INNOCENCE is ineligible under the new MWA rules, as it falls under the category of being a self-published book. (please go to Sarah's site for a far more comprehensive analysis) Naturally an issue was raised since Ardai has won an Edgar previously, and is widely considered one of the most respected and influential members of the writing and publishing community. Not to mention the consensus is that SOI, self-published or not, is a terrific book, and even if not nominated for an award would at least warrant serious consideration.

Some commentors, Ardai included, seem to be in favor of MWA accepting submissions from self-published authors, assuming the cream will simply rise to the top. Accepting these books does not cheapen the award or make the process more difficult, as Ardai, himself an Edgar judge in 1998 when they did accept self-pubbed submissions, notes that, " took precious little time to determine that a bad self-published book was nowhere near award caliber and set it aside."

Having been on the other side of the publishing desk, I equate MWA's banning of self-published books to the rule most larger houses have of not accepting unagented submissions. The rule is not there, of course, out of snobbery, but to act as quality control for editors and publishers whose time is already taxed to begin with. The feeling among editors and publishers is that with so many agents out there, the bottom line is that good books will find representation. After all, agents want to represents books that will sell (books people will read, not only books that are commercial). Many agents do end up representing self-published works whose quality rises above the stigma. So if an author can't hook up with one of the literally hundreds of agents out there, the book has not passed through quality control. Yes there are diamonds in the rough, which I'll go into later, but one has to dig through a tremendous amount of coal to find it, and since an editor's primary concern is the books he/she currently has under contract, the risk is very seldom worth the reward. 

Of course Ardai's situation is much, much more complicated than "author who couldn't find a mainstream publisher and went to iUniverse," but I tend to agree with those who are reluctant to allow any books bound between cloth to be eligible. Since anyone can self-publish a book with ease, what is the real difference between a self-published book and a stack of loose manuscript pages? Or somebody with a Word file saved on their hard drive? There must be some sort of quality control.

Again I have never been an MWA judge and do not know how the process works, but I can imagine it consumes an incredible amount of time, and that's only judging books that are accepted under the current, tighter conditions. As Ardai states, the self-publishing issue was a minor inconvenience in 1998. Others have mentioned writers like Tolstoy, who were considered self-published and would not be eligible under the current laws. To that I say, this ain't 1998 any more.

Getting self-published today is easier than ever. It does not take any editorial or authorial skill to be self-published, only a pile of paper and enough money to cover the costs. And for many, the cost is worth seeing your manuscript bound between two covers. I can be relatively certain that if all self-published books were permitted, the time consumed would go from "minor inconvenience" to "near insurmountable" almost overnight. Not to mention, in my opinion, it would encourage even more self-publishing, as aspiring authors would soon realize that for $199 they could be judged on the same field as Lawrence Block. And if this leads to authors paying a few bucks to get their books bound for award consideration instead of honing their craft, I think it'd be a real shame and could actually do the opposite of what's intended. Like a team calling up a prospect who hasn't had proper seasoning, you might squander some tremendous potential. Surely there must be a process that prohibits the millions of home videos uploaded to YouTube from being judged for Oscar consideration, right? 

Yes, there are many cases of authors who initially self-published their books, and either sold hundreds of thousands on their own (James Redfield) or eventually landed with a mainstream publisher where they became massive bestsellers (Vince Flynn). No process, especially one which judges such subjective matter as books, is infallible. Just as in this case the new rules, though they make sense to many, sadly leave a talented author like Ardai out in the cold.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

My First vlog

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!
from the world's largest turkey


Happy Thanksgiving!
from the world's largest turkey

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vlog Monday

Starting next Monday, I'll be trying something new. I recently got a MacBook, and with this MacBook came a cool little built-in camera called the iSight (since everything Apple must begin with the letter i). So next Monday I'll be posting my very first 'vlog'--or video log--in which I'll talk about THE MARK, THE GUILTY, books, sports, pop culture, the publishing biz and pretty much anything else that might decrease your productivity at work.

For my first vlog, I'll be introducing a feature called "From the Readers" where I'll answer actual questions from actual readers (no planted questions, so there Hilary). If you have a question you'd like answered on the vlog, post it in the comments section or drop me a note at Make sure to include your name and where you're from!

As an added bonus, since the name 'vlog' is as sexy as Bea Arthur in pleather, I'd like to solicit titles for the video log. Unfortunately SportsCenter is already taken, but if you have a good idea for a name please drop me a note. If your title gets chosen, it will become the official name of my vlog and I'll also send you a signed advance copy of THE GUILTY (in stores February 26th).

So bring on the questions, bring on the titles, and I'll see you on Monday!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Rave Review for KILLER YEAR!!!

KILLER YEAR: Stories to Die for...From the Hottest New Crime Writers
Sixteen shades of noir, all interesting, some compelling.

Three of Child's contributors--Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan and Duane Swierczynski--are seasoned pros, but the collection's gems come from the 13 members of the younger set. Derek Nikitas's "Runaway," for instance, is a superbly ambiguous chiller about an adolescent girl who
may or may not be a real runaway, or for that matter real. In Toni McGee Causey's artfully composed "A Failure to Communicate" introduces the indomitable and irresistible Bobbie Faye Sumrall, a steel magnolia whose steel will cause three lowlifes to rue the day they took her hostage. "Perfect Gentleman" by Brett Battles and "Bottom Deal" by Robert Gregory Browne are both lean and taut, expertly crafted in the good old hard-boiled tradition. In Marc Lecard's sly "Teardown," a hapless loser arrives in the wrong place at what turns out to be exactly the right time. Gregg Olson's autobiographical "Crime of My Life" features a surprise ending that actually surprises. The quality is less consistent among the other entries, but, remarkably for a collection this ample, there's no sign of a clinker.

An anthology so worthwhile that it comes within an eyelash of deserving the hyperbole Child (Bad Luck and Trouble, 2007, etc.) heaps on it in his introduction.
--Kirkus Reviews

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Buster Olney on A-Rod and Scott Boras

Rodriguez is going to get the largest contract ever in sports, when the I's are dotted and the T's crossed. He'll survive. But Boras' reputation as a savvy negotiator will not. He somehow managed to badly overplay the perfect hand.

Boras represented the best player coming off one of the greatest seasons ever, in the midst of a Hall of Fame career, a 54-homer, 156-RBI monster season played out in sports' biggest market, for the richest team. Boras held four aces, in a sense, and yet his client's contract will be somewhat lighter, by about 7 or 8 percent, and his client's reputation -- which had just begun to heal, through his remarkable 2007 season -- was trashed.

Read the full article at Olney's blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A New Oprah Dawns?

I was pretty surprised by Oprah's latest book club selection, THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett. Not for any reasons that have to do with the book itself, but mainly because of the author's oeuvre.

Though PILLARS and its newly released sequel WORLD WITHOUT END have been massive bestsellers all around the globe, Follett is best known as a writer of thrillers such as EYE OF THE NEEDLE and JACKDAWS. Doing a quick scan of Oprah's past selections, this is the first time she's picked an author who has dabbled in the murky genre known as "crime fiction." Maybe a few of them have written what could be generously described as "literary suspense," but I don't think you'll find any previous Oprah picks hanging around at Bouchercon.

This makes me wonder whether Follett's selection was a one off--simply a case of the right book at the right time--or if it means the Harpo'd one could be broadening her horizons. Certainly there are crime writers who tackle material that go far, far beyond traditional potboiler status, as did Follett, so is this selection perhaps a harbinger of a pure crime novel being selected in the future?

Certainly a few crime novels come to mind as being Oprah-worthy, a potent blend of style and substance. Lehane's brilliant MYSTIC RIVER perhaps. And hey, Laura Lippman's had a heck of a year...

Things That Make You Go Grrrrrr

I walked into my local bookseller yesterday. Don't get me wrong, all the booksellers I've met since THE MARK came out have been incredibly supportive and patient, even in the face of some dumb questions.

So I waited in line at the information desk, and upon arriving at the front I began my well-rehearsed schpiel.

"This is kind of a weird request, my name is Jason Pinter and my first novel THE MARK came out this summer and I'd be happy to sign whatever stock you have." For whatever reason, I always begin these things by saying this is a weird request, as though I'm the first author ever to do a drop-in signing.

Anyway, he said that'd be great and he'd check the stock levels. He clicked his mouse a few times, then looked at me with a slightly apologetic smile and said, "I'm sorry, we don't have any copies left in stock."

My heart sunk a little, but I said, "Oh, ok, are you planning to reorder by any chance?"

He did a few more clicks and said, "I don't see any reorders scheduled. The book actually did pretty well here, we sold out of two good-sized shipments."

I said, "If you sold out of two orders, maybe you'd want to reorder, keep a few copies on the shelves?"

"You know," he said, "that's not a bad idea." He clicked a few more times. "I just ordered ten more copies. They should arrive in two to three days, and it'd be great it you could stop by and sign them."

Sure thing. No problem. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book Marks

I'm happy to say that THE MARK will be the January selection in Lance Storm's terrific Book Marks book club. I think it's safe to say that Lance is the only professional wrestler with a book club, and though he's technically retired from the ring his club tackles some of the best crime authors in the world. Past Book Marks selections have included Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, T. Jefferson Parker, and Lance was actually featured as a character in one of Janet Evanovich's novels.

I met Lance a few years ago after I got wind of his club, sending him a few books I thought might make nice selections. He's a massive mystery and thriller fan, and if he gave his blessing to THE MARK I knew that'd be a huge honor.

THE MARK will be the Book Marks selection for his January-March club, so definitely stop by Lance's site to share your thoughts, and check out the rest of his picks. Lance will post reader thoughts on the book, and I'll have a chance to share mine as well. I'm really thrilled about this, as Lance is one of the nicest guys in the world (despite the fact that he could squash my head like a grapefruit while doing a triple axle somersault and reading a Robert Crais novel at the same time).

So check out Book Marks, and I'll see you in January!

Monday, November 12, 2007


New York City

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's the Little Things

New Orleans Streetcars Roll Again

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ok, this is kind of despicable

This week, CNN aired a documentary called "Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling" which dealt with the horrific Chris Benoit murder/suicide and the alarmingly high rate at which professional wrestlers have been dying prematurely. During the piece, they conducted an interview with WWE star John Cena, currently rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle. What the documentary aired and what Cena actually said are drastically different things. This is a pretty ugly example of selective reporting, misrepresenting someone's statements to fit an obvious agenda.

CNN version
Voiceover: "John Cena is a WWE superstar, now recovering from an injury in the ring. He doesn't like being asked if he has used steroids."
Cena: "This is a crazy question. It's something's tough to answer just because the way society is now, the way people conceive things because performance enhancing drugs have got the spotlight, and it's a hot thing to talk about. I can't tell you that I haven't but you'll never be able to prove that I have.

Wow, seems rather damning, right? Like one of those Mark McGwire "I'm not here to talk about the past" non-admission admissions. WWE smartly recorded the interview, obviously expecting shenanigans. And here's what Cena actually said.

Actual, Unedited Version
Interviewer: And it seems that WWE is under the microscope right now.
Cena: Of course. As is all of sport.
Interviewer: A lot of talk about steroid abuse, drug abuse. Have you ever used steroids?
Cena: Absolutely not. And this is a...
Interviewer: Even back in bodybuilding days? Football days?
Cena: This is a crazy question, and it's something that's tough to answer just because the way society is now, the way people conceive things because performance enhancing drugs have got the spotlight, and it's a hot thing to talk about. Any time you see any athlete, in any athletic venture, even the PGA tour, achieve physical greatness, something that is beyond the norm, even for a top-tier athlete. If top-tier athletes are rushing for a thousand yards, and then somebody comes out and starts running people over and rushing for two thousand, it's not athletic achievement any more, and that's something that really gets me. It's always, 'he or she is on performance enhancing drugs.' And it's only because certain athletes have gotten themselves in a certain situations where the finger is automatically pointed at somebody else and they go, 'oh, they're on performance enhancing drugs.' My answer to that question, have you ever used steroids, is the only thing I can say, I can't tell you that I haven't but you'll never be able to prove that I have. Because each one of you, each one of you out there, has an opinion on how I carry myself. And I can take a million tests, I've been tested for drugs since I was seventeen years old, I can take a million tests and pass every one of them. But as soon as I pass it there's another guy going, 'oh, there are masking agents, there's this, there's that.' I know the arguments because I've been in that situation. This is a subject that's very near and dear to me because since I was a very small child I've worked my ass off to get to where I'm at, and it sucks to be able to have to deal with people saying I rely on a crutch. You know I wake up every day and I work myself to the bone because I love what I do. I got the best gig in the world and I love it. And it kills me to have to sit here and do this with one arm. I want to be back out there. You hear stories about guys coming home from the war, and they're in the infirmary and all they want to do is get back out into the field. I want to get back in the field, you know, it's killing me. But to have to deal with the popularity of a substance that enhances performance, it's tough to take. I take great pride in the fact that I have a god-given gift of above average natural strength. And I show it off whenever I can because to me it's fun, it's entertaining, and it's what I love to do.

Notice how CNN omitted the "absolutely not" part, Cena's direct answer to the steroids question. And the part about having a natural gift. And how they acted as though the "I can't tell you I haven't" was his direct response to the steroid question. This is just lame, lazy and irresponsible.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Birthday Present

As of tomorrow I will no longer be an editor. At least not a professional one. The only editing I will be performing is on my own work, the next Henry Parker novel, and whatever may come next. As of tomorrow, I will be a full-time writer.

(Cue hushed silence. Ok, maybe not)

This was not an easy decision to make or one I came to lightly. A little over a year and a half ago one of my lifelong dreams came true when MIRA books bought my novel THE MARK. This summer I was offered a new deal that forced me to make a choice. The amount of work that my new contract calls for is significant. And anyone who's worked in publishing knows how much time and effort is needed to properly shepherd a book through all stages of production. It was coming to a point where I simply could not perform both without each suffering to some extent.

And as I took a more active role in promoting my work, going to conferences and speaking on panels, it became incredibly difficult to wear both hats. While as an editor there's always a professional barrier (no matter how slight) between you and your authors, I began to view many authors as friends. The double-edged sword was that some of these friends had books submitted to me by their agents. Some of them I was forced to pass on. As an editor it's the nature of the beast, as I turn down literally hundreds of books and proposals a year. Yet as I made the rounds more I realized the line between personal and professional had been blurred, perhaps permanently. There are other editors who write, have worn both hats for years, and worn them well. Right now, though, only one hat fits me. Of course I do want to leave the door open in case I want to try the other one back on in the future.

So I've decided to make a go at it, to try writing for my career and livelihood. My family has been more than supportive, since between professional obligations and personal obstacles these last few months have been difficult. Not to mention the incredible grace support from everyone at my employer. I'm beyond thrilled to have the opportunity for write full time, and I thank my publisher for giving me the chance to do just that. Now I have to live up to my end of the deal and keep writing books to be proud of, that people will hopefully want to read.

A few years ago, my boss and mentor told me an author only gets only one, maybe two bites at the apple. Hopefully I have the time and focus to make mine count.

Tomorrow also happens to be my 28th birthday. And today is Wilson's 1st birthday. To celebrate, here is a picture of Wilson in his Halloween costume:

And since I'm a writer now, I gots ta plug my warez. THE MARK is available at bookstores everywhere. THE GUILTY will be released on February 26th and is available for pre-order. And if you see me on the street please say hello, since odds are I've been cooped up inside, hunched over a computer for hours on end. Ok, so maybe my work day won't be changing that much after all...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Define Irony

I have worked in editorial for a little over four and a half years. I've acquired somewhere between 30 and 40 books. And I have my very first New York Times bestseller two days before leaving the industry.

I'm so freaking happy right now I can't stand it. Y2J! Y2J!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

because I had the power


Friday, November 02, 2007

THE GUILTY -- galleys

Galleys just arrived this afternoon for my second novel, THE GUILTY, which hits stores on February 26th. I love the coloring on the cover, and how my publisher kept the same font and the bullet hole motif as THE MARK. There will be some slight copy variations on the finished book, but it looks great so far.

I'm very proud of this book. It's a lot more layered than THE MARK, and I've had the story for THE GUILTY in mind for several years. I really aspired to further the characters, add a few new ones, and give some neat twists. I hope readers enjoy it.

And if you pay close attention, you might find a few clues along the way...