Monday, April 30, 2007

The Puppy in Black

For those of you who missed meeting Wilson last week, here are a few photos of the Puppy in Black (or the Puppy in the Blue Bandanna). And yes, this blog was named one of the top 8 crime fiction websites by Library Journal. Though this post might convince them to do a recount.

Necessary Reading from Michael Connelly

Read Connelly's article in the Los Angeles Times here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Romantic Times Convention
Running Diary
Day 4 (aka travel day)

I'm sitting in the Charlotte International Airport in Charlotte, NC, waiting for my connecting flight to NYC. I arrived here about 2 hours ago from the George Bush International Airport (trust me, there are few things stranger than telling a cab driver, "George Bush International Airport, please"). And did I mention my connecting flight to LaGuardia isn't for another 5 hours? Good times.

Thankfully the good Charlottian folks have wireless internet in the airport, so I'm watching the NFL Draft on my laptop, as well as running through edits on THE GUILTY. I've already read the NYT book review online (she's surely heard by now, but congrats to Allison Brennan whose FEAR NO EVIL is still on the list!). Oh, and so is Laura Lippman. Might I just say that on March 22nd, I emailed Laura to congratulate her on WHAT THE DEAD KNOW hitting the New York Times bestseller list. Laura insinuated that after that week her book would "drop like a stone." Man, that's one buoyant stone...

Most unintentionally hilarious subplot of the NFL draft so far: Brady Quinn starring in a commercial for Hummer which plays right before the video of the Browns selecting Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas and passing over their hometown boy. I had an evil laugh as I watched Brady driving up a soggy mountain in a Hummer saying "This is awesome" right before a video showing him being passed over in the draft.

The RT convention was quite an experience, the best part was meeting lots of terrific authors and sitting in on some great panels. Mine were a blast, and hopefully I'm getting used to them to the point where I don't come off like a complete fool. Though in my second panel I actually quoted Jeff Foxworthy.

Might have to go over my material before the next one...

See you at ThrillerFest!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
Running Diary
Day 3

8:41 am
So I never made it to the faery (correct spelling!) ball. I showed up about an hour into it, not realizing it was a actually a sit-down dinner (the ball the night before consisted of people either wandering around or dancing to Will Smith's "Miami."). Rather than canvas the enormous ballroom for the 5 people I knew, I went back down to the bar and watched the rest of the Jazz-Rockets game. Had I not done that, I wouldn't have overheard this priceless comment from woman wearing a gigantic winged harness and face paint: "I used to work in the sex industry. If I don't get it four times a day I go crazy."

Stay classy, San Diego.

This morning I'm looking forward to the Murderers Row panel at 10:00. It's actually called "Urban Fantasy," but it features a murderers row of authors including Jim Butcher, Jennifer Armintrout, Keri Arthur, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie Liu, Vicki Pettersson, Jeri Smith-Ready and agent Miriam Kriss. I'm giddy again.

I already got my breakfast bagel and coffee (cost: $936). And who's the very first person I see in the elevator? The cowboy dude/cover model from the opening night ball. He's wearing a tank top that reads "Got Sex?". It's not even 9:00. I don't think many people do.
Anyway, he says, "Hey, name's Mark, remember me??"
I say, "Yeah."
He says, "You gotta kill me and Kimo in your next book."
I say, "I remember."

I don't think I've ever spent so much time trying to draw attention to my wedding ring.

On an important note, my heartiest congratulations to the Edgar Award winners and nominees. I was incredibly disappointed to miss the majority of this year's festivites, but hopefully I'll have many years to make up for it. I'd like to add that Stephen King deserves every single accolade and ovation he receives, times ten. King was one of the first authors who hypnotized my senses growing up, and I'm proud to be one of seemingly thousands who were inspired to write by King's ON WRITING. Throw snobbery out the window, without King we would have legions of fewer readers then we do now. And just like every year, the Edgars make me get off my butt and read many wonderful books I didn't get to for whatever reason.

I wonder if King has ever promised to kill two half-naked cowboys in his books...

Another great panel, the best-attended one I've been to so far (not a shock, considering there were four NYT bestseller authors and two USA Today bestselling authors sitting in). Despite the crowded dais everyone managed to get their shot. Highlights were, of course, Jim Butcher admitting he had 20 books in the Harry Dresden series planned out when he was in college, Charlaine Harris "thanking" fans who point out the errors in her books, literary agent Miriam Kriss advising aspiring urban fiction authors that it's good to have material for your second book ready when submitting the first, the fan who advised Jim Butcher to "eat in the shower" so he could write faster, and Vicki Pettersson assuring the audience that getting pregnant and writing back-to-back books are not dependant on each other.

After the panel I ran into an old editorial colleague, and we're meeting for a drink later. We're both recently married, so in the words of Sherri Ann Ward Cabot from "Best in Show," we have a lot to talk and not talk about. Right now I have a break, so I'm going to work on revisions for THE GUILTY (aka Henry Parker #2). Tonight is the big Heather Graham vampire gala, but there are also a ton of good basketball games on. Choices...

While we're on the topic of urban fantasy, I think some of the covers used in this genre are simply tops in the industry today. I LOVE Jim Butcher's covers (and actually recommended them to my publisher as far as atmosphere). Vicki Pettersson's are also very cool. When it comes to "commercial fiction" many covers seem a little too similar (god help me if I see another blurry guy running). And though I'm not a big fan in general of showing characters' faces on a book cover (I'd rather not get locked into a visage and prefer to let the reader use their imagination), the lighting, mood and detail in many of these covers are simply stunning. Case in point, Sherrilyn Kenyon's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, Patricia Briggs's BLOOD BOUND, and Carrie Vaughn's KITTY series.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Romantic Times Convention
Running Diary
Day 2

7:39 am
First up, a thriller author-sponsored bookseller event which begins at 9 am. I don't have any swag to give away, with the exception of some pretty neat business cards (made by my talented father-in-law). My first panel begins at 11. It's called "Hooks That Shock," and I'll be participating alongside Carole Nelson Douglas, Heather Graham (who pretty much owns this convention), Libby Hellman Fischer, Rick Mofina (go dudes!) and Alex Sokoloff. I don't think any half naked cowboys will be in attendance (though I wouldn't put any money on it). The panels yesterday were terrific, so if I can make my first Bill Simmons-ism of the diary, I'm a little giddy.

I have been out-swagged. Authors at the bookseller event had everything but the kitchen sink to give away. ARCs, finished books, bookmarks, matchbooks, playing cards, luggage tags. One author even built a few dozen feeaking DIORAMAS. Let's just say my business cards were like bringing a toothpick to a knife fight. New authors, when you go to a conference or convention, bring stuff. After "wear sunscreen," that's the best advice I can offer.

Well, my panels for the day are over. The first went very well, great attendance, I only wish we had time for a Q&A at the end (but with 6 authors on the panel, everyone had to get their 2.5 cents in). The second panel had four authors, Karna Small Bodman, Rebecca York , Ann Parker and myself. Really interesting stuff, such as how Heather Graham uses her family in her books, how using "Mental Real Estate" can help readers notice your book, how you don't need a book tour to get major speaking engagement, and why it's ok to write a cozy where the body has a maggot crawling out of its nose. Plus Heather Graham threatened to have me killed. Ok not really, but she said she had a great idea for a premise where a 27-year old author goes to a book convention and doesn't make it out alive. Trust me, there are about 1,000 fans here who might actually commit murder if Heather asked them to, so I'm using the deadbolt tonight.

I chatted for a while with Jennifer Armintrout and her husband (who was brave enough to admit he hasn't read his wife's books). Jennifer and I share the same editor and publisher, and her debut novel THE TURNING was a USA Today bestseller. Plus she's apparently in some sort of feud with a bestselling paranormal author (who shall not be named). Hey, the more literary feuds the better. Jennifer is also blogging from RT, so check it out.

Tonight is some sort of Fairy Ball. Or maybe it's 'Faery'. Or 'Faerie'. Either way I expect to check my sobriety at the door.

Apparently an ARC of THE MARK is for sale on eBay. Two people have already bid on it. Between the bidding price and shipping cost, someone is already willing to pay more for THE MARK now than when it hits stores in just over 2 months. For some reason this makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Romantic Times Convention Running Diary
Day 1

4:07 am
Must wake up. Flight leaves in 2.5 hours. Didn't I just leave the Edgar party at the Black Orchid? I swear Dave White was just balancing a beer bottle on his head. I don't really have time to double check my suitcase. Is it possible to forget something before you actually leave?

10:15 am (Houston time)
My plane landed despite a monsoon outside that looks like something out of commercials for "Lost." Was it so wrong to assume Houston would be warmer than New York City?

12:11 pm
I arrived at the hotel, and I have to say the Hyatt is mighty impressive, plus they have those cool see-thru glass elevators that never get old. After checking in, I went to the third floor to register for the conference. There's a big line for, um, something, but I'm able to skip it because nobody else is registering in the 'P' section. I feel lonely. I do see two or three other men, some of whom are even wearing badges, meaning they're here for the conference. I hope they become my friends. There are already a ton of people here, and many of the conference highlights are actually spotlighted in a big display on the hotel wall. Very cool. They have nifty blue conference bags for all the attendees, which contain all sorts of giveaways from attending authors and publishers (my favorite is a pink heart attached to what I think is a bunion remover. Or it could be a nail file.) It also contains a free copy of the Romantic Times magazine, which has a feature on Lee Child. I wonder if Lee has ever been to this convention. My first scheduled panel (as a viewer) is at 3 pm and features MaryJanice Davidson and Charlaine Harris. The star power is already out in full force.

Houston has more in common with NYC than I thought. Even here a large coffee and a turkey sandwich cosst $12.

To get to the panel rooms, you have to make your way through a gauntlet of tables filled with every kind of promotional goodie you can imagine. Buttons, pins, cds, lollipops, nerf automobiles (seriously), chocolates, votive candles, tea packets, you name it. I give the prize for the most unique giveaway to a set of business cards tucked into a poster that looks suspiciously like a jeans pocket on a cowboy's derriere. I haven't seen this much man flesh since I watched Wrestlemania.

Terrific panel on paranormal books. MaryJanice Davidson is simply hilarious, and now I have to go buy some of her books. If they're half and energetic as witty as she is, I'll be happy. Two things I noticed in the paranormal panel. First, that authors and readers commonly refer to publishing as "New York." As in, "New York finally noticed me when...". Second, romance authors like to use slang words that describe er, manhood. The energy on this panel was off the charts, and made me excited for my panels tomorrow. Some really interesting insights from the authors, especially when it came to World Building (i.e. setting guidelines, rules you can and can't break, etc...).

Best quote (serious): "It's better to take something out than to not be brave enough to write it in the first place" --Charlaine Harris

Best quote (semi-serious): "Heroes don't eat people." --Angela Knight

Best Quote (after someone said 'I love c--k' in regards to writing explicitly): "That's going on my buttons for next conference." --MaryJanice Davidson

I finally ran into someone I knew, the one and only Alex Sokoloff. After the panel I caught up with Allison Brennan, who is simply put conquering the world. She also made me feel slightly less neurotic about my obsession with publishing numbers. Also ran into Rachel Vincent, another MIRA author who I met at their sales conference and whose debut STRAY comes out in June. Also met Marjorie Liu, who apparently has to write four books by the end of the year. People like Allison and Marjorie make me feel like a slacker. I hate them.

At the opening dinner. There are at least half a dozen men walking around topless wearing cowboy hats, leather pants, and suspenders. I think I need another beer.

Something I'm fairly certain that won't happen again in my career: two men wearing bowlers and suspenders (without shirts) asking me if I'll kill characters named after them in my next book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I couldn't think of a better post title.

RIP David Halberstam. Another huge blow to the literary establishment, as another one of its giants leaves before he was ready. Halberstam is perhaps best known for his reporting on the Vietnam war and his book THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST. In addition, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest sportswriters of his time. THE EDUCATION OF A COACH is likely the best book to come out of the Patriots recent dynasty, and could be as close to an autobiography of Bill Belichick as we ever get. Halberstam was apparently working on a book to be published this fall, hopefully it will be released as a fitting coda to an incredible and influential life.

Edgar festivities kick off tonight with the annual preparty at the Black Orchid. I went last year, my very first event as an author, barely knew a soul and ended up wandering in and out of awkward conversations. This year should be smoother, partially because I know a lot more of the usual suspects and live so darn close to Bonnie and Joe's place. Expect many reports chock full of name-dropping goodness (and at least one photo of DAVE with a beer bottle on his head).

Tomorrow morning I fly out to Houston for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I'm on two panels: "Hooks that Shock" and "Is It Just Another Thrill?". I'm a little nervous for this convention, as I've heard rumors about costume parties, half naked male models (who have hopefully practiced their Blue Steel) and people dressed like wood nymphs. Several attendees have been gracious enough to assuage my fears, but if I end up weeping in a corner with Rick Mofina and Shane Gericke you'll know why. Jim Butcher is scheduled to be there as well, and if anyone knows about wood nymphs it's Harry Dresden.

Publishers Weekly ran their "Maiden Mystery" article in this week's issue. It features Killer Year's own Brett Battles and his debut novel THE CLEANER, as well as 8 other debut crime novels. PW also reports on the formation and ongoing success of Killer Year, though someone pointed out that none of the KY authors starred in a tv show called "Grace Under Fire."

I was interviewed for the article in a sidebar on Editors Who Write, alongside Colin Harrison, Kate White and Peter Gethers (aka Russell Andrews). Fine company, I must say.

Lastly, I AM going to attempt a running diary of the RT Convention (or least a diary), but it depends on internet access, force majure, and the aggressiveness of the wood nymphs. Check back tomorrow to see if it pans out.

Also, tonight will mark the first public appearance by our 5 month old dog Wilson (aka The Puppy in Black). If you're planning to be at the Black Orchid tonight, say hello.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Winner of the "Name the Best Fake Name" Contest

Finally, the neverending "Name the Best Fake Name" contest is over. There were tons of terrific entries, thanks to everyone who submitted a name (and to the companies who lost money due to the lack of productivity from their employees). Some of my favorite names included:

--Splash Marriott
--Merrilegs Wethers
--Schreiber Nennen
--Jock Gallopsion

But my favorite, the one that made me choke on my soda when I was reading it, was the very first entry, submitted by the world-renowned Gerald So:

Eduardo Chespizza

Congratulations Gerald (and Eduardo). For your troubles (and patience) you have won a signed ARC of THE MARK, along with one of the very cool blackberry holders/notebooks courtesy of my generous publisher. Feel free to have the notepad monogrammed with your name (or Eduardo's).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back in Black

I got back from vacation late last night, retrieved our dog Wilson from the babysitters (aka in-laws) and pretty much passed out.

I still can't even fathom the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, and saying my heart goes out to the victims and their families feels like a hollow gesture. I do hope the university and everyone affected finds strength in their sadness, and we can somehow prevent atrocities like this from happening again.

Hopefully new security measures will be adopted in the aftermath, not the least of which is some sort of broadcast system in every classroom that would allow the administration to get in touch with students and faculty in the event of an emergency. I remember on 9/11 I didn't even learn about the attacks until a good hour and a half after the planes hit, simply because I was in transit and in class from 8:30 to 10:30. Most of the students in my 10:30 class didn't know a thing was wrong until the professor entered, crying, saying she simply couldn't teach a class after such a horrific event. And that was in a university of 2,800 students, not 26,000 like VT, where urgent and timely communication must be near impossible.

I do hope we stop seeing the killer's name and face splashed all over our television and newspapers soon. I would prefer that he dies the same way he lived, in complete anonymity. I can't help but think we'd be better off not showing those demented clips and photos in his "multimedia" package. This is an ugly comparison, but I wish we would treat murderers the way we treat fans who run onto the field at ball games. Turn the cameras away. Don't give these sick narcissists what they're looking for--exposure, fleeting fame, and the undiverted attention of thousands if not millions. I wonder if twisted "martyrs" like this killer and those in Columbine might hesistate a split second if they knew their manifestos would never see the light of day.

Begin awkward segue.

Check out this article on mysteries and thrillers from Library Journal. A great piece, full of interesting insights from industry insiders, and they make prominest mention of THE MARK. I also participated in a Q&A for the issue (note: the title and release dates for my second book have changed. I am also not the author of an erotic novel called LIP SERVICE. That would be the esteemed M.J. Rose).

That LJ issue ran the very first actual review of THE MARK, and a starred one at that. Which, of course, led to this conversation:

Jason: "Wow, Library Journal gave THE MARK a starred review!"
Jason's wife: "They gave you a star--what's that out of, five?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Very First (Starred!!!) Review of THE MARK

Pinter, Jason. The Mark. Mira: Harlequin. Jul. 2007. c.352p. ISBN 0-7783-2489-3 [ISBN 978-0-7783-2489-8]. pap. $7.99. F

From the opening sentence to the exhilarating conclusion, Pinter's debut thriller gets the reader's heart racing. Taking a dream job as a reporter for a major New York newspaper, Henry Parker plunges into a nightmare when an interview goes wrong and a stranger is killed. On the run from the police, the FBI, and the mob, Parker has gone from uncovering dirt to becoming the story. With nowhere to run or hide and trying to find a package that everyone believes he possesses, can Parker survive long enough to stay off of the obituary page? Pinter clearly reads thrillers, and he is able to use the best aspects of the genre to his advantage. With more Parker novels on the horizon, Pinter is clearly one to watch. For all popular fiction collections.
(Library Journal)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Back Soon

Away until next Thursday. Yet more time to enter the "Name the Best Fake Name" contest, which is quickly becoming the "Everybody Loves Raymond" of contests. I swear it will actually end next week, before the pain is prolonged any further.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

One of the greats is gone. Thankfully his works will live on for many lifetimes.

"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center. "

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who Makes You Buy Books?

One of the discussions to come out of the Don Imus/Rutgers scandal is Imus's almost unmatched ability to spark sales for a certain kind of book, aimed at a certain reader. If you're a politician or businessman, or have written a work of serious non-fiction aimed at an older audience, having Imus plug your book is worth its weight in gold.

In this article by Publishers Weekly's Sara Nelson, Sara mentions Kelly Ripa's book club clout when it comes to pushing romance and frothy fiction, as evidenced by her launching Vicki Lewis Thompson's NERD IN SHINING ARMOR onto bestseller lists. Jon Stewart's star has inspired many to buy very un-comedic books like Ishmael Beah's A LONG WAY GONE and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's IN THE LINE OF FIRE.

Now, not everyone listens to Imus (I don't). Not everybody watches Regis and Kelly (I don't). So I'm curious to know what other mediums are effective in pushing books, specifically in various genres.

Is there a certain person whose rave review will convince you to buy a crime novel?

Whose gushing praise will make you pick up a diet or fitness book?

Who makes you buy books, and what kind of books do they make you buy?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good Times

I'm putting off announcing the winner of the "Name the Best Fake Name" contest until Monday, so there are a few more days to enter.

My fantasy baseball team, 'Shooter McGavin', is in first place after the first week of the season (thanks mainly to A-Rod, who's still as much fun to root for as a colonoscopy).

The Mets are currently 5-2. I am considering changing my fantasy team name to 'The Jimmy Rollins Bootkickers'.

Three of my favorite tv shows had their season premieres this week ("The Sopranos," "The Shield" and "Entourage"). Two outstanding episodes (Shield, Sopranos) and one that was at least better than last season's premiere (who would have thought an episode centering around Vince's birthday party would be more entertaining than the guys trying to get their mothers to come visit?).

"The Shield" is on tonight. I'm giddy just thinking about it. Haunting use of Johnny Cash's "I Hung My Head" in last week's ep when Vic visits Lem's grave. I'm starting to think no show in television uses music as effectively as "The Shield."

Finalized back cover copy for THE GUILTY (aka the second Henry Parker novel, coming Feb. '08). Damn, things are starting to move fast.

I'll be attending the 2007 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Houston, speaking on a few panels, unfortunately missing Edgar festivities. As one of, oh, about three men attending, I am alternately excited and terrified. I'm thinking about doing a
Bill Simmons-esque Running Diary of the convention.

Since apparently male models with name like Fabio, Sergio and Prospero roam around topless half the time, there's a high chance of my being in an inebriated stupor for four days straight. Which should at least provide for entertaining commentary.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Killer Year 2008--Calling Debut Crime Fiction Authors

If you are thriller/mystery/suspense writer whose debut novel is being published in 2008 (or know someone who is), and are interested in becoming part of the 2008 Killer Year class, go to to learn more.

Killer Year began in 2007 as a group of debut crime fiction authors who banded together to help promote each other's work. In the end, the inaugural Killer Year class of 2007 included 13 authors from 8 different publishing imprints. Promotional efforts included the Killer Year blog, Killer Year website, a chap book mailed to several hundred independent booksellers, organizing Killer Year panels at various conferences and bookseller events, and compiling the very first Killer Year anthology which will be published by St. Martin's Press in 2008. For their hard work, the group has received major press coverage, radio interviews and feature articles as well as the sponsorship of International Thriller Writers (ITW). We're hoping the 2008 class will carry on the tradition with some great debut novels. So get ready, because 2008 is going to be another Killer Year.

For more details go to, and feel free to drop me a note with any questions. The application deadline is June 15, 2007.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Barnes & Noble Website Picks up the Trailer for THE MARK

Barnes & Noble has a special link and page devoted to the teaser trailer I made for THE MARK. Very cool, though there are one or two typos in the video I wish I'd fixed before it went wide. I haven't seen too many video promos posted by online book retailers (other than author interviews), so I'm thrilled about this. Hopefully other sites will pick it up as well.

You can find the page here, and the page with the video teaser here.

If you're a bookseller, work at an online retailer, or just want to post the video on your site, a copy can be found here on YouTube. Or if you need the actual file, email me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Few Thursday Links

Check out this wonderful review of Laura Lippman's WHAT THE DEAD KNOW in today's New York Times. And if you haven't bought the book, prepare to be laughed at by everyone on your block who has.

There are a few cool features for THE MARK lined up, but of course I can't talk about them right now simply because the chickens have not yet hatched.

Make sure to post your entry in the "Name the Best Fake Name" contest" for a chance to win a signed ARC of THE MARK, along with another neat treat.

So maybe the first win was a kick in the shin compared to losing the NLCS, but a three-game sweep is definitely like taking the Cardinals mother, Mrs. Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never calling her again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Name the Best Fake Name Conest

I was inspired by this post at Sarah's site and this one at Duane's to run an impromptu contest. The winner will not only receive a signed ARC of THE MARK, but one of the very cool blackberry holders/notepads my publisher made to help promote the book. It's embossed with the book's title, and will contain a special note addressed to the winner.

Here are the rules for the "Name the Best Fake Name" contest:

Whoever can come up with the best pseudonym (i.e. Fake Name) wins the ARC and bonus goodie. To get your creative juices flowing, I always said that if I was going to write under a pseudonym, it would be as Brick Hardcastle.

You can either give an example of a great actual pseudonym (i.e. Sophie Kinsella) or make one up. It can be ridiculous, serious, just plain weird, or anything you think would simply make a great Fake Name.

Post your responses in the comments section, and the winner will be announced on Monday. Brick Hardcastle should be pretty easy to top. So have at it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tomorrow We Steal Their Milk Money

I'm thrilled that the Mets pounded the Cardinals in last night's season opener. That goes without question. Glavine was terrific, Wagner gave up two ninth inning hits (wouldn't be a new season without it), and all is well in Queens. But can we PLEASE stick a muzzle on all these sportswriters ranting about how the Mets finally got "payback" for the Cards victory in last year's NLCS?

The Cardinals beat the Mets in the playoffs, and then won the World Series. The Mets won the first game of a 162 game season. The Mets didn't get payback. They kicked the Cardinals in the shin and called them a poopyhead after the Cardinals beat up their parents, emptied their bank account and stole their girlfriend.

It's a victory, sure, but please keep things in perspective.