Wednesday, June 28, 2006

on the road to phoenix

you MUST check out lee goldberg's blog.

scroll down to a bookstore that monk would never visit.

lee goldberg

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ITW controversy revisited

i wasn't going to mention this again, but it seems people are still blogging about the issue so i felt the need to revisit and clarify. after some investigating, the consensus is that the disgruntled judge doesn't even exist. I can't elaborate, but most people will be able to figure out the why of it.

please adjust your notes accordingly.

reviews are coming in

stacie at raspberry latte posted a wonderful review of Pale Immortal last week:

raspberry latte

here's another very nice review posted at armchair interviews:

armchair interviews

alison kent knocked me out by blogging about Pale Immortal today:
alison kent

thank you, thank you!

Monday, June 26, 2006

jon's doin' stuff!

jon from crimespree magazine is currently running a great deal for the next 10 subscribers. crimespree magazine is full of book reviews, articles, interviews, and short stories.

jon would also like to know your top 10 favorite movies -- because he's nosy like that.

check it out:
central crime zone

film parody

this is a parody of the movie DIG! about the Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Chipotle ran a film contest. rules stated that you had to include a reference to a documentary screened in Get Real, a Minneapolis film festival. you had to also include a Chipotle burrito in your entry. the winner was supposed to receive free burritos for a year, sadly the contest was canceled, but not before my daughter made this:

you be the judge

judging - what should you consider before saying yes or no?

1. Time. This is the obvious one, and I'm guessing it's the first thing any potential judge thinks about. Time ended up being less of an issue for me than I'd anticipated. I had to wait several months to get a green light on a new project, so I spent all of that time reading. I would say if you know you're going to have a crazy year, don't judge.
2. The emotional toll. The weight of responsibility is enormous. An award can have a huge impact on a writer's career. You pick the best books, but at the same time you can't help but be aware that your choices could play a role in a writer's future. I'm not sure what impact awards have on the reading public, but they definitely influence editors, agents, and publishers.
3. If this is ITW, plan to receive at least 150 books. I imagine this next year it will be more like 200. maybe 250. if just the thought of this freaks you out, don't judge.
4. it's an ongoing thing. Don't expect to take a month off and deal with the contest. Plan on a good six to eight months, pace yourself, and just keep moving steadily forward. Don't watch television, don't rent movies, don't go to movies. In every spare moment, read. Always go to bed with a book. Or two. Never leave the house without a book. You'll be surprised how many books you can read in a week if you quit watching television.
5. What do you do with all of these books once you're done? I donated most of mine to the library in my hometown. They were thrilled to get them, plus it exposes the books to more readers.
6. Bonus: It's extremely educational to read so many books published within such a short span of time. You get a solid handle on the market and publishing houses
8. Would I do it again? Probably not, although I don't for a second regret my involvement in the 2005 awards. This has taken up a large part life, and as we've all seen, it can be a pretty thankless endeavor with attacks coming from everywhere. I've been subjected to hurtful accusations -- all because I dropped out of the conference when informed that my books wouldn't be available in the book room. A strictly practical, financial decision, and not "vitriol of a disgruntled individual" as someone so cruelly and publicly claimed on more than one blog. That was an especially hurtful and vicious statement coming on the heels of the time and energy I've dedicated to ITW in the past year.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

we'll be right back with the dna results

"That baby you been feedin' all these years? He ain't even yer kid!"

i've been trapped in a jerry springer episode for the past two days, but i'm changing the channel. i don't know if the "debate" is still going on. maybe it's fizzled out. these things tend to do that. my blog had twice the hits yesterday. i'll bet the site meters were spinning at the places actually blogging about the controversy.

joe konrath and kelly parra both had an excellent posts yesterday on responsible blogging. robert gregory browne also had an excellent post on his blog. you should check them out.

in the blog world, words are forever. even if someone decides to remove an entire thread along with comments, it can still show up if googled. i'm not saying that was done, i'm pointing out how words remain on the internet even though they are no longer on your blog. when you blog, think etched in stone. think possibly backed up in a file on somebody's external drive.
you never know who's watching and reading.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

ITW Awards

i just heard about this whole ITW awards stink. check out the lipstick chronicles and sandrablabber for more details.


Yes, i was a judge for the ITW awards. I'm proud of ITW, and i'm proud to have been a judge for best hardcover thriller of the year. My team was FANTASTIC. We worked so well together and I'm proud of all of them. Shortly after the finalists were announced some people were horrifed to find there were no women nominees. Here was my response to that issue:

"I was one of the judges in the best novel category, and I can say we would love to have seen a female on our list. We chose the books we thought were best whether they were written by a man or a woman. I'm not sure what the numbers were as far as
male/female entries. I remember before all the books were in I did a count and had less
than a handful of female entries. By the end I would guess maybe 15% were written by women."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

short fiction contest at the clarity of night!!

jason evans at the clarity of night is having another one of his amazing writing contests.

It's called "Midnight Road" and is paired with one of Jason's amazing photos.

short fiction contest

From jason's blog:

"Using the photograph above for inspiration, compose a short fiction piece of no more than 250 words in any genre or style. Paste your entry into an email and send it to me at jevanswriter at yahoo dot com any time between now and midnight, Wednesday, June 28th (Eastern Standard Time, United States). Each entry will be posted and indexed.

To make things interesting, the following prizes are on the line (and to support the publishing industry!!):

1st Place, $35 Amazon gift certificate
2nd Place, $25 Amazon gift certificate
3rd Place, $15 Amazon gift certificate
4th Place, $10 Amazon gift certificate
5th Place, $5 Amazon gift certificate

But this is about more than prizes. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to meet and interact with your fellow writers. Read and comment on the entries. Teach, and learn, from others. Let's make writing a less lonely process."

Picolata Review -- new online magazine

Today marks the launch of a new online literary magazine called The Picolata Review. Please check it out!

From the charming and talented managing editor Mark Pettus:

"Picolata was originally a Spanish fort located on the St. Johns River seven leagues west of St. Augustine. The fort is now underwater, but Picolata survives as a small village. St. Augustine is known around the world as America's oldest city, but only the locals know about Picolata. You might say it's located just a little west of famous.

This is The Picolata Review, a new magazine dedicated to great writing by talented authors and poets who are also just a little west of famous. We hope you enjoy our first edition, and will consider us your new home for top quality short fiction, poetry, and essays on subjects related to literature and culture.

When I count the number of talented people it took to bring The Picolata Review to life, I run out of fingers and toes before I run out of people to thank. If you like what you see, credit goes first to the writers and poets who trusted us with their work, and next to poetry editor Andy H. and features editor Lisa Coutant. All good work is theirs. Anything else - including misspelled words or formatting errors - is mine. (When it rains, it pours, and at fiction editor Serenity Banks's house, it pours right into the living room. She is dealing with a leaky roof and has tried repeatedly to submit her resignation, which I've refused to accept. She deserves neither blame nor credit for this issue, but will get her share of both in future editions.)"

Picolata Review

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the obnoxious guest

last week i visited Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis to hear Anthony Neil Smith read from The Drummer. (What a great cover!) The book both captures and pays tribute to a fascinating and weird period of rock history when the spectacle often overshadowed the music.

Neil posted about his visit here:

and posted photos. it was neil's booksigning, not mine. but guess who's in 2 out of 3 of photos? front and center?

but that's enough about me, let's talk about me.


top photo: chris everheart and gary bush -- both have fantastic stories in Twin Cities Noir.

then we have Anthony Neil Smith signing a copy of The Drummer.

then we have Gary Shulze, one of the owners of Once Upon a Crime.
Pat Frovarp and Steve Stillwell are off-stage.

jamie's doin' stuff!

jamie ford, one of my favorite soon-to-be-famous literary writers, has had an interesting week. read all about his writing adventures on bittersweet blog.

uncle orson's literary bootcamp

Monday, June 19, 2006

selling of uncorrected proofs on ebay

PALE IMMORTAL ARC being sold on ebay. I'll probably report this to my publisher, but it seems almost impossible to crack down on these people.


Friday, June 16, 2006


I'm collecting blurbs for Pale Immortal. At this time these will only appear on my website - - although it's possible my publisher might use some next time around when the sequel comes out. If you read an ARC and are interested, just email the blurb along with a line or two of promotional info about yourself. If you haven't had a chance to read the ARC, no big deal. I'll be making updates to blurbs and reviews before the book comes out in September.

if you're busy, you might choose from any of the following:

A) So scary I wet my pants!
B) Didn't suck as much as I thought it would!
C) Laugh-out-loud funny!
D) Creamiest, dreamiest!
E) That's some messed up shit!
F) I thought the main character would turn out to be Kenny Rogers. When that didn't happen I tossed the book against the wall!
G) I drove all the way from Florida to Wisconsin just to visit Tuonela. I couldn't find it and I'm pissed off!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

ice cream man

make it stop!

every afternoon the ice cream truck comes around.
every afternoon it plays THE SAME SONG. Never any other song.
What does that do to the driver? How long does it take for him to lose his mind?

I once heard this awful noise and looked out to see the ice cream truck lurching up the hilly street in front of my house. I'm guessing the driver was new to a clutch. The music was seriously impacted by all this bucking. The happy, happy melody would slow waaayyyyy dowwwwwnnnn, then speedupandgoreallyreallyfast!

through a lens darkly

POV 101

I usually avoid talking about writing basics because every story is unique and what might not work in one could very well work in another depending on how it's handled. I HATE to say something should be done a certain way, especially now when one of the biggest problem in publishing is that too many books are the same, but that's another topic for another day.

I've been seeing a lot of what I consider viewpoint mistakes in some otherwise good writing. Many people think they get and understand viewpoint when they really don't.

This is pretty basic stuff - you don't want to say your viewpoint character is ugly and lazy unless he thinks that about himself. Otherwise you're introducing the opinion and viewpoint of somebody who isn't even in the book. Or he could have the thought that his sister say's he's ugly and lazy. There are ways to get it in there just as long as it comes from him.

Some beginners tend to step out of viewpoint in the narrative, which can be jarring for the reader.

Ack. This is such a broad statement. That's the problem, because there are so many exceptions. One example: I sometimes employ a technique that probably has a name. I open the scene as if viewing it through a camera lens. I start with a long shot, then move in closer until I'm in the viewpoint character's head. Once I'm in there, I stay there.

Ack. Not always. In PLAY DEAD, I sometimes ended a chapter by moving the camera back out of the viewpoint character's head to suddenly focus on a group of girls jumping rope and chanting.

If you're having trouble with a scene, if it seems flat, you might not be utilizing viewpoint. How can you personalize what's going on? Once the depth of the viewpoint is found your problem is often solved.

Another thing I've been seeing is fantastic deep viewpoint - with a random sentence that's way outside the viewpoint. Watch out for those sneaky things.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

this and that

coming up: my ghost hunter friend has agreed to guest blog at some point in the future. i'll keep you posted on that. in the meantime, if anybody reading this would like to be a guest for project real life just drop me an email.

all about me: 200 pages and i'm halfway through the first draft. i always like to take a few days off every hundred pages, so i might not be posting as often this week. plus computer-related arthritis issues have kicked in and i know i should avoid the keyboard for a while. but i doubt i have the self-control.

about my kids: their band has been getting quite a bit of nice local press. the latest in city pages:


even more about me: i saw a cardinal and goldfinch together at the feeder today. while i was eating a chocolate cupcake. for BREAKFAST. how wrong is that?

now where'd i put that spare tire....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

grey gardens

Plot Synopsis:
"The unbelievable but true story of Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, recluses who live in the decaying 28-room East Hampton mansion known as "Grey Gardens," a place so derelict that the local authorities once threatened to evict them for violating building and sanitation codes. The incident made national headlines -- American royalty, living in squalor! "Little Edie", once an aspiring actress of striking beauty, put her New York life on hold to care for her mother, but then never left her side again. Together they descended into a strange life of dependence and eccentricity that no one had ever shared until the Maysles arrived with their camera and tape recorder. Little Edie -- a still-attractive woman at 56 -- parades about coquettishly in her trademark improvised turbans, reminisces about her brilliant past, still hoping that her Big Chance and Big Romance are just around the corner. Big Edie, a trained soprano in her bohemian days, trills romantic songs of yesteryear. As the women bicker, prattle, and flirt, the film documents a bittersweet love story, a record of the powerful and complex relationship between mother and daughter."

i love this documentary, but as i watched it i couldn't help but feel i was watching myself through an acid haze. but maybe most writers can relate to edith and edie because of the solitude of a writer's existence and the way years and seasons pass without notice. the cat population here is down to one, but i could very easily see myself going into the attic to feed the raccoons.

apparently a grey gardens movie is being made. jessica lange -- good choice. drew barrymore -- poor choice.

a website devoted to grey gardens: here

more interesting stuff: here

Saturday, June 10, 2006

ITW conference update

I have the scoop.

The ITW conference committee orginally expected 40 - 60 writers to participate in panels and book signings. (wow, that's a low figure for a conference.) We were all given a three-title limit for the book room. They would supply the books as long as the titles were still in print. Now they have more than 150 authors on panels. In order to cut down on the amount of books that need to be transported, the committee decided to allow 2006 titles only. But this is June.... :D

Friday, June 09, 2006

rocky mountain oyster ads pulled

all three ads, plus news story. you have to watch POETRY BULL!!


Thursday, June 08, 2006

change of plans

today i got an email from thrillerfest publicity saying i would have to bring my own books to the conference because they have too many books to handle and deal with. i can kind of understand how they might be overwhelmed, but there's no way i'm dragging 100 books on an airplane with me.
that and the early sunday morning panel have me thinking I'll stay home and save myself a huge expense and headache. hate to change plans at such a late date, but signs are pointing to don't go. i do feel they should have informed people of the situation two or three months ago.

i think it's too late to get my money back for the conference, but i'm looking into possibly transferring the registration to someone else. stay tuned.

or maybe somebody could go as me. preferably a female, but i'll consider a male.

Monday, June 05, 2006

through his eyes -- project real life

today's post is the first in a series called project real life. posts will equate to one page lifted from the guest blogger's journal.

background: guest # 1 is a recent high school graduate who will be heading off to college this fall.



Okay. Here it goes.

At 10:17am Thursday, Grandma called from next door. Dad's having pains in his chest and back. Had it since Tuesday, but it's unbearable today. He's going to the hospital. Needless to say, I'm driving. I'm ready to roll in 90 seconds (literally; she's still on the phone with Aunt when I walked out the door). Dad decides to call his physician first. At 11:00, the doc says go to the hospital. They'll already be waiting, "direct admission" is the term.

At this point, my mind is in "Get your butt in the car" mode. Not panic, just "let's go". But Dad has to brush his teeth while Grandma puts in a load of laundry, changes clothes, and cleans out the car. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding the urgency of the situation, but I thought we're going to the hospital, right?

We leave at 11:25., an hour after I was told we were going. On the way, Dad declares he's hungry. I say quite firmly "We're going to the hospital." Dad and Grandma are hungry. I'd just keep driving, but I'll never hear the end of it. So we stop, as requested, at the Waffle House. The entire time, I'm reading the riot act. I called my brother for a reality check, because this sounds totally stupid to me. In fine form, he replies "Bring me back two scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, and sausage."

Does this sound f-ing stoooopid or what?

After more than an hour we leave, and finally check in at 12:50. He's immediately taken to PCU and put on a heart monitor, then promptly falls asleep. A lot of tubes of blood are drawn, and an EKG is run. At 3:30, Grandma decided her knees hurt too much and we leave. On the way home, which takes forever, she asks if I'm bothered by Dad being in the hospital. Up to this point, she's done well. Her normal emotional train wreck of herself has held together until now. "What do you mean "'bothered'?"
"No. Dad's at the hospital. He's being taken care of."
Now, emotionally, I'm the Rock of Gibraltar. My feelings show a lot more in my writing than my actions. Upset to me means emotionally unsettled (like crying, jitteriness, and showing a general lack of control or discipline), like Grandma's acting like now.
"You have no idea how much your father loves you!" Translation = I'm pissed your panties aren't in a wad.
"I love dad, too. But having an anxiety attack will not do any good."
"Would you feel better if I had a breakdown?"
"I guess not."

After we got home, she started calling people, telling them he's had a heart attack. Aunt calls and tries to calm her down once she starts with "Be sure to bury us both next to (dead husband), because neither of us will survive this. And I want to use this funeral home, not the other."

Aunt: "Can we wait until the doctor actually examines him before we plant him in the ground?"

Aunt, Lil' Bro, Cousin, and I go to the hospital about 7pm. Dad's still asleep. Slept through the doctor's examination. Woke up long enough to hear the doctor say "The patient won't stay awake long enough for me to tell him what's up." Dad's not hungry, so I eat the spaghetti dinner.

Thus, my day ends.
The next morning, Dad is discharged after a heart catheter first thing in the morning reveals surprisingly clear arteries. It was all likely a muscle spasm or pinched nerve.

Chapter closed on yet another insane anecdote of my upbringing.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

recently viewed dvds

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

woody paints by number:
i've seen this movie before. about 20 times.
Fifteen minutes in, i realized this was a rehash of a plot that's been extremely popular over the past seven or eight years. but i at least expected woody allen to add something new to a tired, unoriginal plot.


a lot of people loved this movie. maybe those people haven't seen the other 20 versions of it. i do find it extremely interesting that the theme of infidelity and retribution is so pervasive in movies now.

5 out of 5 stars
loved it. maybe i should stick to watching documentaries...

Friday, June 02, 2006

project real life

i've been toying with the idea of inviting friends and family to guest blog. people from different walks of life. not writers, but people who are interesting. i'll try it once or twice and see how it goes. my first guest will visit monday. he just graduated from high school, and his life could be a movie or a sitcom. the way he relates a simple day puts you right there under his skin. people are fascinating. and at the heart of a good story is an interesting character. also at the heart of a good story is honesty. this is what a real person would say. this is what a real person would think.

some possible guests:

ghost hunter
recording engineer
stay-at-home mom
stay-at-home dad
tattoo artist
newspaper editor
drug addict
gas station clerk
pizza delivery guy

people would be welcome and sometimes encouraged to post anonymously in order to keep their identity a secret.

anyway, this could be one of my ideas that goes nowhere. we'll see. if it takes off, i'll probably archive these posts somewhere else so they will all be easy to access.

be sure and check back monday. you'll like it!

show us your tips!!

i was dragged kicking and screaming to a group blog. after much arm twisting by kathleen eagle, i finally agree to join on a trial basis. i only post twice a month. right now i'm standing with one foot barely in the door and i'm braced to run because i'm afraid i've already spread myself too thin in blogland. i'm also the only non-romance writer in the group, so i'm feeling baffled by my role, yet at the same time we are all writers and our experiences tend to be similar, so it might work. we'll see.

here's the link:

riding with the top down

helen brenna is the author of today's interesting post. after several years as a struggling writer she recently made her first sale. but she's finding that the ride can still be rough.