Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to Become a Successful Author
Look like a bigger bad ass than anyone else in the room.
(from Monday's KILLER YEAR signing at Partners & Crime)

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New review for THE GUILTY

"New York newspaper reporter Henry Parker returns in Pinter's exciting follow-up to THE MARK. Living with his girlfriend and trying to bury memories of the traumatic events recounted in the first book, Henry gets an assignment that will put him and his girlfriend in jeopardy again. A celebrity is shot outside a nightclub, and a note from the killer quotes a line from one of Parker's articles. More famous people die, and Parker sees a terrifying pattern: the weapon used to commit the murders is over 100 years old. The further Parker investigates, the more he becomes part of the story, a suspenseful and shocking tale that will leave readers clamoring for the next Henry Parker novel."
--Library Journal

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Patry Francis's THE LIAR'S DIARY

I first met Patry Francis during BEA last year, and we saw each other again last summer at ThrillerFest. Since we're are both members of Killer Year, after months of correspondance it was a pleasure to finally meet Patry in person. She had received glowing reviews for her debut psychological mystery THE LIAR'S DIARY. And in person, Patry was just as warm as the reception for her book. I'm proud to call her a friend and colleague.

Patry was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. And while our hearts and prayers are with her for a quick and painless recovery, it is the hope of her friends and fellow writers that her wonderful debut novel will find its way into the hands of many eager readers. If you've been debating what to read next, you can stop looking.

New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard said the LIAR'S DIARY, "Twists and turns but never lets go."

Kirkus Reviews called it, "Genuinely creepy."

The New York Daily News said it was, "Outright chilling."

The paperback edition of THE LIAR'S DIARY arrives in stores today. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. And as soon as that final page is turned, we're sure you'll want to help spread the word.

Visit Patry's website at, and read her blog at

You can purchase a copy of THE LIAR'S DIARY at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local Booksense retailer.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Five Writers, One Killer Event

The place: Partners & Crime bookstore (44 Greenwich Ave., NY, NY)

The time: 7:00 pm tonight

The culprits: Lee Child, MJ Rose, Jason Pinter, Dave White and Duane Swierczynski

The crime: Penning one of the best-reviewed anthologies of crime fiction in recent memory

Come meet us and get your copy signed tonight!

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I received word that THE MARK has been nominated for "Best First Mystery" by Romantic Times magazine. This is extremely cool and I'm just thrilled. Thanks to the good folks at RT and all the readers who made this happen!

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

ABA Winter Institute

Hello sports fans, I'm checking in from the Hyatt Regency in Louisville, Kentucky where I'm in town for the American Bookseller Association's Winter Institute meetings. There are something like 500 independent booksellers here, many of whom will hopefully want to meet me and pick up a signed galley of THE GUILTY. (and perhaps hug me, squeeze me, and name me George) Whether or not they will be able to ignore present literary stalwarts like Tobias Wolff and Mary Roach, or up-and-comers like Vincent Lam and Garth Stein (whose dog-narrated tear jerker novel was bought for something like $174,249,203 at auction), for a crime writer whose "office" overlooks a brick wall remains to be seen.

Throwing a small wrench in my presentation is the presence of 11 stitches in my upper lip, courtesy of an accident on Monday night that necessitated a trip to the emergency room and the services of a plastic surgeon who had to be called away from dinner (seriously). I have about a week's worth of beard growth, and hopefully this scruffiness will distract booksellers from focusing on the Betsy Ross job on my face. (for morbid weirdos who also watch YouTube videos of skateboarders breaking their arms in half, I do have a photo of said accident)

In any case, I am excited for tonight. Having the chance to meet people who want to read and spread the word about your stuff is just a thrilling notion, and I hope I don't disappoint. THE GUILTY hits stores in just over 4 weeks, and I can't wait to hear peoples' reactions. I am very proud of this book and hope it goes over well with booksellers and readers. Typing "The End," though, is just the beginning.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finding the Right Literary Agent

I've been getting a lot of emails recently from aspiring authors looking for guidance in the hopes of finding both an agent and a publisher for their book/proposal. Having worked in editorial prior to writing full time, I understand that the publishing industry can be a tough maze to navigate, with unforeseen pitfalls lurking around every corner. So here are some do's and don'ts when looking to sell your first book.

DO: your homework. I've written this before, but not all agents are created equal. Some have many contacts at many different houses and know exactly who to send your work to, and when. Some agents will simply throw a dart at the board and hope it hits the right spot. There are too many resources available in print and on the web for a smart author to make a good decision.
(tip: subscribe to Publishers Marketplace. There is a monthly fee, but you'll have a complete listing of every deal since 2001. Split the fee with a friend or your writing group, but it's definitely worth it. You'll find numerous agents who represent works in the field you write, and you can confirm which agents have made sales to reputable houses. Priceless information for aspiring authors)

DON'T: query editors directly. Most major houses have a strict 'no submissions' policy when it comes to unsolicited material. The average editor will receive 500+ agented submissions every year. They barely have enough time to evaluate those, plus give proper attention to the authors they have under contract. Most editors at major houses don't read unsolicited queries, and if you harbor dreams of your manuscript being pulled from the slush pile, the odds of that happening are enormously against you. Better you hone your craft and land a good agent who will get your work read by the right people.

DO: write what you want, not what you think will sell. Editors tend to have finely-tuned B.S. detectors. If you're writing a book about your pet dog (because dogs are hot) or a novel about the hunt for a religious artifact (duh), people will know if you're just trying to hitch a ride on the gravy train. You'd be much better off starting your own trend that becoming the umpteenth iteration of another. Think of it this way: the average book will be published about 15-18 months after acquisition. So that trend that's hot right now...are you sure you want to put all your eggs in one basket in the hopes it'll still be hot in 2010?

DON'T: tell an agent/editor how much your wife/sister/boss/uncle loved your book. They're your family. Of course they did. You have to think of a query letter like a job application. An employer generally doesn't ask for family references; they want professional references. If you've taken a writing class, maybe a few words from your professor. If a respected author has agreed to read the book, maybe a good blurb to accompany it. An agent isn't going to be impressed because "everyone in my family loved my book." They'll be impressed if an impartial outsider with some credibility did.

DO: expect correspondence with your agent. This does not mean your agent should be available 24/7/365, but that you're entitled to status updates on the submission of your manuscript. Be patient; the submission process can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years. It's completely normal to be nervous while your book is on submission, but allow your agent space to work. That said, if your agent doesn't return phone calls or emails, and won't give you any status updates or a list of editors/houses queried, be skeptical. 

DON'T: blame external forces. Most books do not sell. Most authors, even the hugely successful ones, have at least one manuscript in a drawer somewhere that was turned down by everyone with a pulse. I know I do. If your book doesn't sell, it won't help your cause to rant and rave against the unfairness of the industry, or vent on your blog about how brainless editors and agents are. The only thing that will help? Honing your craft. Assuming your end goal is to be published (not to become a critic of the establishment), focus your anger inwards. Venting might be satisfying, but it's a short term fix. Prove it to yourself first, and others will follow. 

DO: understand word counts. The average book page contains approximately 300-320 words. This means a 100,000 word book will clock in at about 320 pages, not counting front/back matter. So if you've written a 65,000 word thriller, keep in mind that will only amount to around 200 pages. If you're a book buyer, will you be more or less willing to shell out your hard-earned cash for a book that slim by an author you've never heard of? At the same time, a 300,000 word chick lit story will scare away even the most ravenous "Sex and the City" fan. Most novels fall in the 80,000-100,000 word range. Of course there are exceptions, but deviating too much on either side can be dangerous. A terrific 70,000 word book is always better than a mediocre 120,000 word book, but readers of certain genres have certain expectations.

DON'T: pick your book before it is ripe. Your book is competing against so many others for preciously few publication slots. Do you really want to send your book out into the world with its pants around its ankles? Keep revising your book until you wouldn't change a single word. Completing a first draft is a terrific accomplishment, but you don't get to the majors by taking batting practice once. Keep revising. Keep seeking (unbiased) opinions. Agents want to submit the most polished work possible. Don't give an agent or editor reason to turn your book down. Comb your book's hair, tuck in its shirt, and for heaven's sakes, make it use some deodorant.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

KILLER YEAR: On Sale Today

Buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local Booksense store

Check here for Killer Year signings

Read the terrific reviews for this one-of-a-kind anthology

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Saturday, January 19, 2008


I saw a mantinee of Cloverfield yesterday, and definitely recommend it. The plot is beyond simple: Big monster attacks New York, kids attempts to survive. That's it. No frills, nothing fancy, just a group of half a dozen scared sh*tless twenty somethings running away from a giant freaking lizard thing.

Now here's why the movie works. It's filmed "Blair Witch" style from the perspective of one of the survivors holding a camcorder, so whatever they see, you see. Nothing more, nothing less. You know whatever they know, and that's it. There are no scenes of government officials discussing strategy, no POV shots of dive bombers strafing the beast from the air, no scientists studying the monster. It has the feel of one of those King Kong or Jaws rides at Universal studios. One second you're lurching along, nothing to see here, then the car/camera turns and wham there's a huge monster poking its head between two skyscrapers, or you're right smack in the middle of a firefight between a dozen soldiers and a giant, um, thing that's half hidden by the smoke and artillery. Every time you think you're safe, something really bad will inevitably happen five seconds later. Even though there isn't much more to the script than the kids screaming and yelling "come on!" and "let's get the hell out of here!" it works because, come on, if you were being chased by a huge beast that was tearing up the city while your friends were dying around you, would you have much time for witty banter? 

That's another good thing. You never feel like the characters are braver than they should be. They never pick up a machine gun and fire away at the baddie, they never once try to hatch a plan to expose the beast's 'weak spot', and none of them are going to enter an F-15 and commence an air raid.  They're scared, and make decisions based on what seems to work at any any given moment, not because they've seen other monster movies and know how these things work.

The movie does conjure up some recollections of 9/11, some of them fairly uncomfortable, such as the beginning explosion in downtown Manhattan, and the cloud of dust that overtakes the survivors right after. It truly is a disaster film for 2008, like when the head of the Statue of Liberty comes rolling down the street and after a brief moment of terror, out come the cell phone cameras.

The kids know nothing more about the beast than they hear through news reports or overheard conversations, and even that ain't much. There are two set pieces in particular that work exceedingly well. The first happens while the kids attempt to navigate the subway tunnels to reach a trapped friend, and realize that this thing has brought little, um, things with it. The second is when the kids need to traverse the top of one building onto another that's been attacked, and is now propped up Pisa-like at an angle that suggests it won't be upright very long. 

Now the movie isn't all great. The kids definitely make some head-scratchingly dumb decisions, and the ending is pretty unsatisfying. But on the whole it's a terrific movie experience, and I use the word experience because this is one of the few movies where it feels like the events are happening around you rather than in front of you.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Edgar Nominees Announced

Congratulations to all the nominees. And a very special congrats to Killer Year member Derek Nikitas, whose book PYRES was nominated for Best First Novel! Way to go Derek!

Best Novel
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt and Company)
Priest by Ken Bruen (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)
Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best First Novel by an American Author
Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
In the Woods by Tana French (Penguin Group - Viking)
Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard (The Rookery Press)
Head Games by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books)
Pyres by Derek Nikitas (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original
Queenpin by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Blood of Paradise by David Corbett (Random House - Mortalis)
Cruel Poetry by Vicki Hendricks (Serpent's Tail)
Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill (Hard Case Crime)
Who is Conrad Hirst? by Kevin Wignall (Simon & Schuster)

Best Critical/Biographical
The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction by Patrick Anderson (Random House)
A Counter-History of Crime Fiction: Supernatural, Gothic, Sensational by Maurizio Ascari (Palgrave Macmillan)
Deviance in Contemporary Crime Fiction by Christiana Gregoriou (Palgrave Macmillan)
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (The Penguin Press)
Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy by Jean Gould O'Connell (McFarland & Company)

Best Fact Crime
The Birthday Party by Stanley Alpert (Penguin Group - G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton and Company
Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn't Commit by Kerry Max Cook (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
Relentless Pursuit: A True Story of Family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn't Quit by Kevin Flynn (Penguin Group - G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Sacco & Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders and the Judgment of Mankind by Bruce Watson (Penguin Group - Viking)

Best Short Story
"The Catch" - Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)
"Blue Note" - Chicago Blues by Stuart M. Kaminsky (Bleak House Books)
"Hardly Knew Her" - Dead Man's Hand by Laura Lippman (Harcourt Trade Publishers)
"The Golden Gopher" - Los Angeles Noir by Susan Straight (Akashic Books
"Uncle" - A Hell of a Woman by Daniel Woodrell (Busted Flush Press)

Best Young Adult
Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Penguin - Dial Books for Young Readers)
Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Blood Brothers by S.A. Harazin (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)
Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Simon Pulse)

Best Juvenile
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Shadows on Society Hill by Evelyn Coleman (American Girl Publications)
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books)
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers)
Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things by Wendelin Van Draanen (Random House Children's Books - Alfred A. Knopf)

Best Play
If/Then by David Foley (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
Books by Stuart M. Kaminsky (International Mystery Writers' Festival)

Best Television Episode Teleplay
"It's Alive" - Dexter, Teleplay by Daniel Cerone (Showtime)
"Yahrzeit" - Waking the Dead, Teleplay by Declan Croghan & Barbara Machin (BBC America)
"Pie-Lette" - Pushing Daisies, Teleplay by Bryan Fuller (ABC/Warner Bros Television
"Senseless" - Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Teleplay by Julie Martin & Siobhan Byrne O'Connor (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"Pilot" - Burn Notice, Teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)

Best Motion Picture Screen Play
Eastern Promises, Screenplay by Steven Knight (Focus Features)
The Lookout, Screenplay by Scott Frank (Miramax)
Michael Clayton, Screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
No Country for Old Men, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (Miramax)
Zodiac, Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award
"The Catch" - Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)

Mary Higgins Clark Award
In Cold Pursuit by Sarah Andrews (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Wild Indigo by Sandi Ault (Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime)
Inferno by Karen Harper (Harlequin - MIRA Books)
The First Stone by Judith Kelman (Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime)
Deadman's Switch by Barbara Seranella (St. Martin's Minotaur)


Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Killer Year Post

Head on over to Moments in Crime to read a post about the inspiration for my KILLER YEAR short story, "The Point Guard."


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Killer Year: A Chronology

I have a new post up at Moments in Crime, a month-by-month look at the killer year of 2007. Check it out here!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Killer Year at Moments in Crime

This week, I'll be blogging at the new St. Martin's Press website Moments in Crime along with fellow Killer Year founder J.T. Ellison and mentor/bestselling author M.J. Rose.

J.T. and M.J. already have posts up, and mine will be up tomorrow. Stop by Moments in Crime and say hi!

And on January 28th, I'll be signing copies of KILLER YEAR at Partners in Crime along with the inimitable Lee Child, the dashing Dave White, and the debonaire Duane Swierczynski. Please come and heckle us.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's the last book you bought, and why?

Over at David Montgomery's blog, he has posted some interesting snippets of a discussion about book marketing and publicity from the ITW discussion boards. I'm not going to add to the thoughts posted, but veer off to the side a little bit.

Since the goal of marketing and/or publicizing a book is to sell copies, I'd like to pose a question: What is the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it? 

Was it an ad? A recommendation from a friend? A good review? Great cover? Something totally different?

To kick things off, the last book I bought was Alison Gaylin's HIDE YOUR EYES. I bought it because I'd recently seen Alison take part in the HELL OF A WOMAN signing at Partners in Crime, and knew that HYE had been nominated for an Edgar. Her new novel TRASHED got strong reviews, so I decided to start with her first. Those factors convinced me to pick up a copy.

What about you?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

One Step Closer
(and a movie recommendation)

This morning, I sent in the final manuscript for my third novel, THE STOLEN. This book has been consuming pretty much every free moment over the last few months, both because I had some catching up to do during my job transition, but because as I've said before, this was the first novel I've written in which I didn't already have the plot in mind well ahead of time. 
In the end I think this mighty actually be my tightest plotted book yet. I would describe THE MARK and THE GUILTY as thriller with mystery elements, while I would describe THE STOLEN as a mystery with thriller elements. Perhaps a small distinction, but I think when you read it you'll see what I mean. I hope this will keep the books and characters fresh.

And now that THE STOLEN is in, I have a little time to think about THE GUILTY, which hits stores in just seven weeks. I'm very eager to hear what people think about my second book. While I am proud of THE MARK, I'm also aware there was significant room to grow. THE GUILTY has a more complicated story, required far more research, and I think could even be a little polarizing (in a good way, I think).

I do plan to write longer posts in the near future, right now I need to recharge the batteries a little bit. Especially because work on book 4 is looming. And we all know there's no rest for the e wicked.

Speaking of which, that line made me think of Peter Jackson's vastly underrated ghost flick "The Frighteners." Made in between his low budget gorefests "Dead Alive" and "Bad Ta
ste" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Frighteners" stars Michael J. Fox as a ghost hunter who, due to the traumatic suffered after the death of his wife, can communicate with the dead. Now when you say the words "Michael J. Fox" and "paranormal comedy" you might not run out to the video store, but trust me, this is a ghost story with scares, heart, humor and brains that actually holds up pretty well. I saw this in the theaters, and was shocked at how much I liked it. Not to mention it's the crowning moment of Jake Busey's career, playing homicidal lunatic Johnny Charles Bartlett.

Bartlett on being the most prolific serial killer in history: "That Russian cannibal creep is telling everybody he did fifty plus. That reflects badly on both of us, Patty. This record should be held by an American!"

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 07, 2008

3 Days in Deutschland

The German edition of THE MARK will be published in August '08 under the title 72 STUNDEN, which translates to 72 HOURS. This means the book has been mathematically proven to have 50% more hours than the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte movie.

Labels: ,