Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Nominated for a Thriller Award!

I was completely taken by surprise yesterday when I was informed that my short story, "The Point Guard" from KILLER YEAR: A Criminal Anthology, was nominated for a 2009 Thriller award. I was also happy to see that the legendary Ken Bruen is nominated in the same category for the story he graciously contributed to KILLER YEAR. ThrillerFest was the first crime convention I attended as an author, back in July 2006 in the sweltering Arizona heat, and it'll be very cool to attend this summer as a nominee. My sincerest thanks go to the ITW judging committee, the rest of my Killer Year comrades, and to the good folks at St. Martin's Press for publishing this bad boy.

Congratulations to all the nominees. And since I harbor no delusions of actually winning the award, I can honestly say it's an honor to be nominated.

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver
The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver
The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross
The Last Patriot by Brad Thor

Calumet City by Charlie Newton
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Criminal Paradise by Steven Thomas
Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton
The Killer's Wife by Bill Floyd

Between the Dark and the Daylight (Ellery Queen Magazine) by Tom Piccirilli
Last Island South (Ellery Queen Magazine) by John C. Boland
The Edge of Seventeen (The Darker Mask) by Alexandra Sokoloff
The Point Guard (Killer Year Anthology) by Jason Pinter
Time of the Green (Killer Year Anthology) by Ken Bruen

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Please remain seated

I'm neck-deep in revisions for THE DARKNESS, the second of my two Henry Parker novels that will be out this year. The more I talk about these books, THE FURY and THE DARKNESS, the more excited I get. I'm definitely getting a little stir-crazy with the 14-month gap between the publications of THE STOLEN last August and THE FURY this October, but I think once readers read both upcoming books they'll find them well worth the wait.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Can MILF Island Be Far Behind?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Conversation in Bob Barnett's Waiting Room

(note: I have met Bob Barnett, and he's a very nice guy)

(Interior: Elevator opens into the office of a high profile literary agency. President Barack Obama walks out. He approaches the receptionist.)

Barack: Hi...um, Shelly, right?

Receptionist: It's Sheila.

Barack: Sheila, right. Sorry, haven't been here too often. Kinda busy, you know. Did you see me on Leno last night?

Receptionist: Sorry, I don't stay up that late.

Barack: No sweat, neither do I. Anyway, I have an 11:45 with Mr. Barnett.

Receptionist: Sure thing Mr. President. He's running a little late, please have a seat in the waiting room.

Barack: Sure thing. Can I smoke in there?

Receptionist: No, sir.

(Obama, disgruntled, heads into the waiting room, where he is shocked to see...)

Barack: George W. Bush, what are you doing here?

George: Oh, hey Barack. Good to, um, see you. I'm just waiting to meet with my agent.

Barack: Your agent? Bob Barnett?

George: That's right. When it came time to write my book, there's nobody else I would want brokering my deal. Why are you here?

Barack: I, um...needed somewhere to smoke.

George: I thought this was a no smoking office.

Barack: Ok, you got me. I'm here to meet with my agent.

George: Wait...are you saying Bob Barnett is your agent too?

Barack (sighing): Yeah, that's what I'm saying. 

George: Hold on, didn't you used to have a different agent?

Barack: Yeah, but that was a long time ago, back when nobody really knew who I was. 

George: I hear you, partner. Once you hit the big time, you need to run with the big dogs.

(George holds his fist out. Barack just stares at it.)

Barack: Uh...

George: Come on, don't leave me hanging.

(Barack reluctantly touches George's fist)

George: Alright! Terrorist fist jabs for everyone! 

Barack: Please don't call it that.

George: Isn't this so weird? I mean, what are the chances that we'd both have the same literary agent? Isn't that, like, so funny?

Barack: Hilarious.

George: So what's your book about?

Barack: Well, I've written two critically-acclaimed, bestselling memoirs that have sold millions of copies around the world. I'm thinking about a children's book, and maybe a book reflecting on my presidency once I leave office. What about you?

George: Paranormal erotica.

Barack: Huh?

George: I'm just joshing with you. It's a book on the hardest decisions I had to make while president.

Barack: That sounds like it could be insightful.

George: Does it? I kind of wanted to write one of those cookbooks. You know, "Kill 'Em and Grill 'Em" or something. But some 'people' (George makes finger quotes) thought I should write something a little more 'serious' (more finger quotes).

Barack: (silence)

George: So who's writing your book?

Barack: Excuse me?

George: You know, who did you choose to interview you with a tape recorder and then ghostwrite your book?

Barack: Um, I wrote both of my books myself.

George: Riiiight. So who really 'wrote' your books?

Barack: I did. Really.

George: Ok, ok, I get it. You're really embracing the whole 'ghostwriter' thing. Me? I'm thinking of using that Salter guy McCain seems to like. He told me he'd going to need at least half an hour of tape. How about that, he must think I have a lot of wisdom to impart!

Barack: You know, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, during the campaign I basically implied your presidency was up there with the reign of Satan himself. And now we're here, in the same office, selling our books through the same agency?

George (laughing): I know. What are the odds?

Barack: Yeah. What are the odds.

(The door opens. In walks Bill Clinton)

Bill: George! Barack! What are you guys doing here?

Barack: Hey Bill, I'm waiting to meet with my agent.

George (reading a copy of 'Highlights'): Hey Bill, my Dad says hi.

Barack: What are you here for, Bill?

Bill: Well, Bob sold my first two books. Got me a sweet, sweet deal for both of them. So when it came time to write a new book, there's nobody I'd rather have handling my contract. You know Barack, would you mind giving Hillary whatever exercises Michelle is doing for her arms? Hello, two tickets to the gun show please!

(Bill extends his fist. George leaps forward and taps it while Barack shakes his head.)

George: That's right, Bill, you old hoss. So what are you writing?

Bill: Paranormal erotica.

Receptionist: George, Mr. Barnett will see you now. And Mr. Obama, please put out your cigarette.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exclusive Updates on Twitter

I just announced an updated UK release schedule for the next two Henry Parker novels on Twitter. For the chance to follow my semi-witty banter with other Twitterers--plus more exclusive updates--follow me at www.twitter.com/jasonpinter.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back in Town

We got back in to JFK last night around 1:30 am, and naturally couldn't get to sleep due to our internal clocks being three hours earlier. So, in an effort to try and fall asleep, we turned on "27 Dresses" starring Katherine Heigl. Two quick notes on this movie:

1) Is it just me, or does Katherine Heigl seem mildly annoyed in every movie/tv show she stars in?

2) "27 Dresses" is an absolutely abysmal movie. 

Note: This is not a biased opinion on chick flicks (we watched "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" the other night and I was terribly disappointed). But "Dresses" is just stupid, contrived and lame. And can Heigl play anything other than "slightly frazzled"?

Anyway, not to be completely negative, I have two big time recommendations:

1) THE SPELLMAN FILES by Lisa Lutz. I started this on my wife's recommendation, and loved it. Lutz is a terrifically funny writer, and her characters are witty and rich. We have the second book in the series, CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS, and I'm eager to dive in.

2) I was at the Barnes & Noble in the Grove in L.A. and heard a song over the speakers that I immediately thought was fantastic. I used the 'Shazaam' app on my iPod, and found out that the song was called "People, Turn Around" by a band called Delta Spirit. Well, I downloaded the song, then their live album, and I can honestly say I now love this band. Check them out.

And finally, I went with Brett Battles and Stephen Blackmoore to Barry Eisler's signing at the Mystery Bookstore. Barry surprised Brett and I by wearing the very t-shirt we gave him back in the summer of 2006 at ThrillerFest in Arizona:

I also finally had a chance to meet Bobby and Linda, both a pleasure, and they gave me the honor of signing the store's 'Jail Registery', a literal who's-who of every author who's set foot in the store. Everyone from Michael Connelly to Mickey Spillane. Needless to say, I took pictures:

Is there more eclectic company than Jerry Stahl, Val McDermid and Joan Rivers?

I sold three copies of my books on the 14th--and I was there as a fan. Now that's a great bookstore!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

City of Angels

Apologies for the lack of posts, but I'm on a business/pleasure trip in L.A. for the week. A few thoughts:

--I had the best coffee of perhaps my life yesterday at the Griddle Cafe on Sunset. Just delicious (making Homer Simpson drooling noise).

--I've stopped at four bookstores, and every one of them had at least one of my books. It's really just a thrill to see them outside of New York.

--Met up with my buddy/Killer Year mate Brett Battles yesterday. He introduced me to a very cool coffee shop called The Novel Cafe that seems very conducive to writing. Just tables and tables of people writing on laptops and drinking coffee while surrounded by packed bookshelves. I might have to steal this shop and bring it back to NYC.

--Californians don't have much perspective when it comes to weather. During our time here it's been 65 degrees and sunny, and people are literally apologizing to us for the terrible weather. Little do they know that last week I was literally digging our car out of the snow with a broom.

--Apparently Los Angeles basically shuts down at the slightest hint of rain. I actually kind of want to witness this.

--I'll be going to Barry Eisler's signing at the Mystery Bookstore on Saturday. This will be my first time seeing the renowned store (not my first time seeing Barry), and I'm very excited.

--Tonight we're having dinner and drinks with two friends, one who writes for a fantastic tv show and another who's a junior agent. Trying to get the whole L.A. experience. Tomorrow I will walk around in front of Grauman's and hope to be discovered. A nice producer already asked if I might be interested in writing for "independently-produced, mature-themed videos starring today's hottest young talents." This sounds like a great opportunity, though I did find it strange that he said I'd need to take a blood test before reporting to work. Hmm...


Friday, March 06, 2009

Liveblogging the first 13 minutes of "Castle"

So there's this new show premiering called Castle, in which a rock-star mystery author (Nathan Fillion) tails a female cop (Stana Katic) in order to research his new book. Or something like that. Anyway, the first 13 minutes are online and I figured I'd live blog it.

Interesting opening as the anonymous killer decorates his bloody victim with flowers. Kind of like "American Beauty" meets "Dexter" with the new Batman theme spliced in.  The eyeball flowers are a little bit of overkill.

Novelist Richard Castle is introduced at some hoity toity book party, which from the looks of it probably ate up 80% of his publisher's marketing budget for the year. Castle signs some blond lady's bosom then says "Call me when you want to wash that off" in his best 'Miggs from Silence of the Lambs' voice. Imagine what would happen if someone did this at Bouchercon. How long would it take for the cops to handcuff him? Three seconds? Two?

Castle's new book is called STORM FALL and his series character is named Derek Storm. I hope Barry Eisler, RAIN FALL and John Rain are getting royalties from this.

Castle signs books for all the hot young things in the audience. Most ludicrous part of this scene? It's a book party for a mystery author and there's not a person there (besides Castle) over the age of 35. This is like bizarro mystery world.

We meet the female cop, Kate Beckett, as she studies dead flower girl, saying, "Who are you?" I hope CSI is getting royalties from this. She immediately deduces that the killer knew the girl. Man, usually the cop has to investigate to determine that. I guess they figure we've all seen cop shows so they're cutting to the chase. "No signs of a struggle," Beckett analyzes. Except, of course, for the two bullet wounds. Just saying.

Seems Kate is a CWWDDOGOM (Career Woman Who Doesn't Date Or Get Out Much). I hope every female romantic comedy lead from 1980 to the present is getting royalties from this.

We learn that Castle's publisher is also his ex-wife. They must have met at BEA or something.

Seems Castle has killed off Derek Storm due to artistic malaise and is suffering from writers block. His ex-wife/publisher, Gina, (again an attractive blond who looks like she just graduated college) threatens to demand he return his advance unless a new book hits her desk ASAP. Gina is low-talking to the point where she makes Jack Donaghy seem like a circus barker.

Castle's daughter, Alexis, is a bookworm and his mother, Martha, is a horny old lady. I hope Blanche from "The Golden Girls" is getting royalties from this. Apparently Castle hangs around in his underwear instead of writing. Hey, he really is a novelist! 

Mama Castle is on the lookout for older, wealthy, unmarried men, which she picks up on her 'graydar'. Ok, that was funny.

Castle offers Alexis (who is studying while at the party) a glass of champagne, which she refuses. Hasn't she seen "Gossip Girl"? Fifteen year olds can't get anywhere in life unless they're alcoholics! Castle criticizes her bookwormishness by asking how she wants to be viewed by her (unborn) children. Ok, talking to your fifteen your old daughter about her not-yet-conceived children is a little creepy.

Castle complains that too many people ask him where he gets his ideas. Hey, he really is a novelist!

Seems the flower girl murder was a scene right out of one of Castle's books. I hope the creators of "Basic Instinct" are getting royalties from this.

After being read his rap sheet (um, isn't he just there for questioning?) Castle offers to spank Kate. I did that once, but Ray Kelly wasn't amused.

Seems flower girl is the second murder patterned from a Castle novel. Castle then name drops James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell as his poker buddies. Props for acknowledging actual authors and not making people up.

Castle interrupts Alexis (studying again) by asking why she's not listening to Martha sing while Graydar from the party plays the piano. No wonder U.S. test scores are way down. 

Alexis wants to know more about the murders. She's got a kind of cool Penny from "Inspector Gadget" thing going, and I hope she has a real role on this show.

Kate brings a stack of books into the station and asks her two partners to brush up on Castle's backlist. One asks, "Do you have any on tape?" The other cop laughs. Isn't illiteracy hilarious?

Apparently Kate inscribes her books 'From the library of Kate Beckett.' Um, ok...

Kate's partner: "I work dead bodies all day long. The last thing I want to do when I go home is read murder books." That's actually a fair point.

Dead flower girl is covered in rose petals, and nobody even thinks of "American Beauty"?

Kind of a formulaic first taste, and I'm not feeling the actress playing Kate Beckett (she seems to be doing a Lucy Liu-lite). But Nathan Fillion has personality, and his daughter seems kind of cool (and it's nice to have a teenage character who's not a total druggie or misanthrope). I'll probably watch the rest of the first episode, but the show's going to have to get a lot more original to keep me interested.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Michael Viner's Huffington Post Column: Decoded!

A few days ago, I used my editor/agent/superhero powers to decode the press release about former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's book deal with Phoenix Books. Now, the president of Phoenix Books, Michael Viner, has published an article on the Huffington Post about the reaction to his company signing up Mr. Blagojevich. And so, using the same superpowers, I will now decode Mr. Viner's HuffPo article (actual article in italics. Decoded article in bold):

A lot has been said this week about Rod Blagojevich and about his book deal with Phoenix Books. It seems that the issue is the presumption of innocence is no longer with us. As a publisher who believes that there is more than one fascinating story here I am puzzled as to why we have been made part of the story.

Decoded: Please keep talking about our book deal and Mr. Blagojevich. For the love of God, public outcry, controversy and curiosity is the only way we're going to make money on this thing. Also, I am puzzled (with joy!) as to why we have been made part of the story. And in case you missed it, Phoenix Books also has a large selection of popular fiction and mystery books. 

When Harper Collins decided to pay $3 million to O.J. Simpson there was no public outcry until the book turned out to be a great hoax. Little Brown paid Paula Barbieri $3 million for having accomplished no more in her life than having had a fling with the same Mr. Simpson. There were no lessons learned, there were no compelling reasons. Mr. Blagojevich may or may not have committed a crime; that is for the courts to decide. However, the rush to judgment was a landslide seemingly aided by political lobbyists and those with their own agendas. It could appear that Mr. Blagojevich considered breaking the law, but whether he did or not is a decision for a jury, and not the spectators to make.

Decoded: Gee, I hope Mr. Blagjoevich isn't reading this, because I just compared him to an accused murder/convicted felon and his talentless girlfriend who showed her boobies in Playboy.

His story is in large part, the story of how the lobbyists in America work and how integrity can easily be lost. The casual free drink turns into a free lunch and is often followed by a paid speaking engagement for a trumped up audience. These are followed by fact finding trips to luxury vacation spots and a myriad of other temptations that seem to be, for many in government, part of the standard perks. If through Mr. Blagojevich's book we learn how the system works from someone who is as critical of himself as the system that he used, and perhaps abused, then this is a cautionary tale worth telling.

Decoded: Kinda weird that I use the phrase "if through Mr. Blagojevich's book" considering I'm the one who bought it, and I should probably know what he is and isn't going to discuss. Unless, that is, I bought it as a cynical public relations ploy in the hopes that the scandal surrounding an impeached governor will sell books and raise the profile of my company. But come on, do you really think I would do that? ;-)

The effort to block his story from being told makes it all the more enticing. If Mr. Blagojevich is guilty, that guilt is shared by myriads of public officials as well -- and the true victim of these excesses are you and I -- the American public.

Decoded: After all, how could you expect Mr. Blagojevich to have told his story? It's not like he ever did any media appearances in which he could have discussed it or anything. And if Mr. Blagojevich is in fact guilty, the victims are you and I...oh wait. Not 'I' as in 'Michael Viner' because if the book does well I'll be making a ton of dough off of Mr. Blagojevich. So really it's just you.

I cannot recall a book that delineates the pitfalls and the failings of any governor. But if this book is well and honestly told, then it is one that should be a guidepost to all those who serve, or would serve, the American public. As well as to the lobbyists who have contributed to many of the problems in our system and have caused the present economic dilemma. While governor, Mr. Blagojevich took on the drug companies and many other lobbyists. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that his swift ejection from power has something to do with the windmills he tilted and the transgressions that he made.

Decoded: Again with the 'Ifs'! I mean, you'd think I had no idea what was actually going to be in this book! And you know what else isn't "beyond the realm of possibility"? Flying monkeys! I mean, have you seen "The Wizard of Oz"? That looked real!

It is an open secret that exceptional pressure was exerted on publishing companies not to publish this book. The reasons why will become self evident, and I only ask that the public at large give him a fairer trial than the railroad ride he was given out of his role as governor.

Decoded: Yes, the book will fully expose the reasons why publishing companies were pressured not to buy this book. Namely the fact that paying money to a disgraced politician might not be the most savvy public relations move, not to mention the fact that Rod Blagojevich is about as well-liked in this country as Bernie Madoff and herpes. And by "give him a fairer trial" of course I mean please take $25 that could otherwise go towards buying groceries, filling your gas tank or paying bills and give it to Mr. Blagojevich and myself. Did I mention we have a line of popular fiction and intriguing mysteries?

Whatever the verdict, this is not a black and white case, and we hope to at least show the full scope of the rainbow web behind these events.

Decoded: As you probably know, both rainbows and webs are incredibly thin and transparent. I felt that this was an appropriate metaphor to use in describing Mr. Blagojevich's book. He really is lucky to have me as a publisher.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

THE GUILTY: Now in German!

My second Henry Parker novel, THE GUILTY, has just been released in Germany (where it has been retitled V.I.P.).

Das Buch kaufen heute!

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Rod Blagojevich's Book Deal: Decoded!

As a former editor, current author and part-time super hero, I have participated on both sides of the dealmaking process. So when I read that former Chicago Governor Rod Blagojevich just got a "six figure book deal," I decided to put on my super-secret publishing decoder glasses and see what the former Governor's press release really says (Actual release in italics. Decoded secret press release in bold). Here we go:

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today signed a six figure book deal with one of the largest independent book publishers in the U.S., the PR firm representing Blagojevich announced today.

Decoded: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagjoevich today signed a deal with the largest publisher of tawdry, D-list celebrities, celebrity wives, and all out degenerates, including Debbie "Eminem's mom" Nelson, Natalie "world's highest paid escort" McLennan, Larry "Hustler" Flint, Vera "I kept Dee Dee Ramone's last name so people would recognize me" Ramone King, and Patch "Robin Williams played me in a 1998 movie, remember?" Adams, the PR firm representing Blagojevich announced today because Blagojevich is paying them to do so.

Blagojevich, who vehemently denies he tried to sell President Obama's senate seat, will write about the discussions, the considerations and the factors involved in picking Obama's successor to the U.S. Senate. Blagojevich maintains he was hijacked from office because of politics. In the book, he will write about his journey that led up to the twice-elected governor and former congressman being ousted from office. He also plans on exposing the dark side of politics that he witnessed in both the state and national level.

Decoded: Blagojevich will consistently claim to be an upstanding member of society and a squeaky-clean politician, while refusing to take blame for anything he's ever done and throwing everyone he's ever met under the bus because he's not going to sell books unless he creates controversy. He will also include a full color photo insert full of old people, children and minorities holding hand-made signs that read "We Love You, Rod Blagojevich" spelled out in macaroni.

Phoenix Books is run by maverick publisher Michael Viner whose titles include books from celebrities like mega-rock star and businessman Gene Simmons and talk show host Larry King. Phoenix also has a large selection of popular fiction and intriguing mystery books.

Decoded: Michael Viner is a "maverick" who publishes disgraced personalities like Jayson Blair who no other publisher will touch because they wouldn't be able to sleep at night, as well as books from musicians like Gene Simmons who have since made nasty sex tapes and sold their artistic souls for reality television glory.

"The governor chose to go with a large independent company because he wanted to tell his story without any restrictions over content that might've come with a major publishing house," says Glenn Selig, Blagojevich's publicist and founder of The Publicity Agency. "He simply did not want to accept constraints or conditions on what he could say in this book."

Decoded: The Governor signed a deal with Phoenix because no mainstream publisher would touch him with a ten foot pole, and because he likely wouldn't talk about any issues that were not completely self-serving or include anything juicy or interesting that people would actually want to read. Yet he must spin this unsurprising lack of interest so he sounds just like his "maverick" publisher.

Selig says the governor will tell the American public the truth about what happened. He does not intend to pull any punches and will reveal information and provide insights that will at times be embarrassing to himself as well as to others.

Decoded: Remember, he was hijacked from office due to politics, so any embarrassing insights will certainly not have anything to with Blagojevich's political career, because that would contradict the notion that he did nothing wrong. Instead, the former Governor will discuss the time he peed himself during a screening of "The Blair Witch Project." 

"There were some people in high places who didn't want the governor to write this book and worked to try to squash a book deal," says Selig.

Decoded: By high places, the Governor means Dale Jorgenson, the guy Blagjoevich lifeguarded with one summer, who heard that his former friend Rod is planning to tell the embarrassing story about the two of them, a bottle of Cuervo and a donkey from Tijuana named Carlos. 

The terms of the book deal were not disclosed. The book, which has a working title of "The Governor," is set to be released by Phoenix Books in October.

Decoded: The terms of the deal were not disclosed because a former Governor taking a low five figure, incentive-laden publishing contract is kind of embarrassing, and we'd prefer to call it a six figure deal because technically if the Governor earns his bonuses it could conceivably total that much. And the title of Blagojevich's book was inspired by Richard Nixon's autobiography: "The President".

The literary agent of record is Jarred Weisfeld of Objective Entertainment.

Decoded: Don't call him, he'll call you.

For Breaking News developments on former Gov. Blagojevich, please follow The Publicity Agency on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PublicityAgency.

Decoded: For breaking news on Shaquille O'Neal's current dining location, follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/the_real_shaq. Because that will be far more entertaining.

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