Wednesday, September 27, 2006

overheard at bouchercon


i'm going to attempt to collect interesting snippets of conversation to post here once i get home. if you're attending bouchercon and want to add an overheard, please post it in the comment section!!


from wikipedia:

"Bouchercon, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention, is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, and editor Anthony Boucher.
It is held annually, each year being hosted in a different city by a different group of volunteers. is the main website for the convention, and each year's host puts together a website of their own.
People who attend are fans, authors, agents, booksellers, publishers and other people who read and enjoy mystery and crime fiction. The first one was held in Santa Monica, CA in 1970. The guest of honor was Robert Bloch of "Psycho" fame.
The standing commitee changes year to year being made up of people who have hosted and will host the convention, and three at large members who are voted in by the membership. (The membership is the attendees)
The standing committee is in charge of receiving and voting on bids for future sites for Bouchercon. Anyone is allowed to put in a bid."

overheard the night before i left home:

"Kierkegaard sure was a genius, i usually get so bored by philosophers but this dude was right one. Are you watching Top Model?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

and the panic sets in

otherwise known as: what was I thinking????

what is this thing called bouchercon?
and why in the hell am i going????
why did it seem so appealing several months ago?

i haven't been to a conference in over 10 years. conferences involve a lot of things i normally avoid:
1) crowds
2) hotels, especially expensive hotels that make me glaringly aware of my frayed jeans and department-store hair. yes, mine is a slacker attitude by choice, but i still succumb to loser status in these high-brow joints.
3) weird food swimming in oil and garlic
4) crowds
5) strangers
6) crowds
7) panels, especially if i'm on one
8) alien places
9) dressing up. ain't gonna happen. not even for the publishing-house dinner. (see number 2)
10) doorways that lead to the unknown

i'd thought i'd take my laptop and post snatches of overheard conversation, but it's a bad idea to leave a laptop in the hotel room, and i don't want to lug it everywhere with me. i might need to run away really fast, and that would be hard if i'm carrying a laptop.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Killer Year

Just when you thought it couldn't get any cooler, the bunch at Killer Year took the KY concept to a whole new level. Read about it here:

Killer Year website

and here:

Killer Year blog

I was humbled, honored, and thrilled to be invited along as Bill Cameron's mentor. I've been a huge fan of Bill's ever since reading some of his short fiction -- which can be found on his website -- and I'd planned to be first in line for his debut novel LOST DOG scheduled for April 2007.

Bill's blog

Bill's website

And when I was told being a mentor involved getting a tattoo -- i was cool with that.

here's mine:

I can't wait to see them all!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

thrillerchiller theatre!!

Introducing BookLoons first annual ThrillerChiller Theatre where we will be celebrating the spookiest month of the year one short story at a time! Join us for fear and fun!!

From BookLoons:

Do you love Halloween? Do you love spine-tingling Halloween stories? Then visit beginning October 1st when we'll dim the flickering house lights and raise the dusty red velvet curtains to bring you BookLoons' First Annual ThrillerChiller Theatre!!

Our Halloween loving romance editor, Martina Bexte, will get the audience really creeped out with her menacing little vampire tale, THINGS ARE DIFFERENT IN THE COUNTRY.

On October 7th our hunchbacked usherettes will unearth Shirley Damsgaard's spooky ghost story, LITTLE BOY LOST.

The week after that you and all your friends will get a chance to sink your incisors into Mario Acevedo's tasty shocker, WEDDING NIGHT FEAST.

And for the grand finale, Anne Frasier will have you running down the aisles screaming for your mother after reading her sinister story, THE REPLACEMENT.

So don't you dare miss a single installment of BookLoons' ThrillerChiller Theatre!!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

internet woes

my internet is acting up. i think it might be the...what's the box with all the blinking lights? :D

anyway, it's doing all sorts of screwy things.

i'd planned to blog this morning about today's trip to st. cloud, mn, where i was giving a presentation at the st. cloud public library. but my internet was/is down. so off i went feeling as if i'd left something unfinished by not blogging about it!! and now it's over! a cold and rainy day, and a not-so-great turnout, but we had a nice time anyway. i can get a little road-crazy -- sorry mark! sorry janet!! nice library, nice town, nice people. crappy weather. we don't have that many days like this in minnesota, not the kind where it rains all day and my hair just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

and the winner is...

if you left a comment on the music drawing post, i wrote your name on a slip of paper, folded it once, and put it in a hat. well, in a cool whip bowl. i held the cool whip bowl above my head and drew a name.

the winner is: jaye!

and since i always want everybody to win, i drew again: angie!

and a third time: tami!

jaye can choose her prize first, then we'll move down the line!

congratulations, gals!

and sorry guys! i think we had a pretty even number of male/female. i hope this doesn't start a controversy.

you shook me all night long

that's the title of my bouchercon panel.
i've always been fascinated by the psychology of the attraction to fear and horror, so i think this could be a good topic for me.

in doing a bit of research, i came upon something called sanskrit aesthetics. this is completely new to me, so i'm not going to even try to define or explain it, but it has to do with the emotions a piece of art evokes. these feelings are called rasas and sanskrit dictates that a fully-achieved piece of art should flow with all nine (some say eight) of them.

(i just found this interesting. maybe it's one of those things everybody in the world already knew about. that happens to me sometimes. too many times. )

sexual pleasure

"Indian drama offers a different aesthetic approach from much of Western theatre. With Indian plays, storytelling is the focus as opposed to the action of the story and often the action is described to the audience rather than depicted in the realist mode of most Western performance. At the heart of Sanskrit aesthetics is rasa, a flavor or essence that acts as the aesthetic guide for the performance. There are eight types of rasas that include both emotions, such as rage and terror, and dramatic types, such as comic and erotic, among others. Rasa transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, which is achieved through the performance that brings the performer and the informed audience together. The closest Western comparison to rasa is Aristotle's notion of catharsis, but rasa goes beyond this dramatic outcome by incorporating and producing more than just fear and pity. Because the basis of Sanskrit drama is rasa, Indian plays are not imitations of life but rather representations of an abstraction. The actor is not to represent a realistic imitation of a figure but rather to manifest an interpretation of the character. Also, the actor is better termed a performer because dancing, singing, and music are always part of the performance."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

four things

1) DRAWING FOR TUNES: don't forget about the drawing. comments can be left in the drawing post (below) until wednesday evening.

2) PIMPING AND WHORING: this past year has been an experiment for me. can a writer do anything to improve her sales? i've done a ton of stuff, and my own personal verdict is in. all along i've said a writer can't have a significant impact on sales. i've at least proven that theory to myself. i'll wait until the end of the month, then post details, reflections, and figures.

3) RETREAT: several people have expressed interest in a retreat. if you were to attend a retreat in say...iowa...when would you like to go? I'm thinking early June would be good.

4) MADAME SOSOSTRIS: new reading up at madame's joint.

Monday, September 18, 2006

amazon spotlight reviews

i keep trying to figure out how the amazon spotlight reviews work. i did a google search and ended up on an amazon message board where people were talking about how the negative spotlight reviews were impacting sales in a huge way. i tried to get in on the conversation, but this was some kind of private programmer board. they were saying that the negative reviews eventually got bumped by a good one, and then sales went back up. i know that's not the case. one of the few negative reviews posted on amazon for hush has been a spotlight for two years. there's another spotlight negative review for sleep tight that's been up since 2003 even though good reviews have followed. i know these negative reviews impact sales. as soon as they're posted you can see the rating change drastically -- and remain changed as long as the review is a spotlight.

two of my spotlight reviews were posted by the same person, someone who obviously knows the triggers for getting a spotlight. length is one. breaking up the review is another. i also suspect that certain words are triggers. things like good and fan.

anybody know anything about this?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Once Upon a Crime signing

Thanks so much to everybody who stopped by yesterday's signing, especially considering that traffic was horrible. Must have been a game at the U, or a game at the dome, or both. I hit the on-ramp before I saw that the westbound lane was solid cars as far as the eye could see. Luckily there was a side lane where I could exit -- and got immediately lost. Or slightly lost. Construction on Lake Street. Can't go that way. Should have taken Franklin across, but in my panic of fearing I would be late - and get taunted by Steve Stillwell (Lovewell), I actually went all the way back home and approached the store from the south. I arrived two minutes late. Whew! And no steve, so he would never know. But seems he HAD been there. Got there EARLY, so went to a record store, then returned. Rub it in. Steve used to own once upon a crime, and he's very good at continuing to support the store and the authors. I also think he likes to make sure his (fillintheblank) demeanor lingers in the dark corners.

Lots of yummy food. I'm still thinking of those chocolate squares with the cream cheese topping. Gary Bush didn't much care for the white grape juice and would actually make a face when someone started to take a drink. Hehe! It wasn't bad though. Pretty good, actually. Pat Dennis stopped and ended up signing some of her Haiku Hotdish books when people realized she was the author. Very cool! Cindy and family - so nice meeting you!

I have to say the phone orders turned an average signing into spectacular. Thanks to everyone who called for a copy. And a special thanks to M L who ordered NINE!! Woot!! And big hug!!

My haul? The hot-off-the-press issue 14 of Crimespree, and a copy of Charlie Huston's ALREADY DEAD, both gifts from Pat and Gary. This is one of the things that is so cool about this husband and wife team. They zero in on a reader's tastes and know exactly what to suggest. I didn't do any browsing. I didn't talk about what I've been reading. Gary just walked up and handed me a book I've wanted to read for the past 6 months. And this isn't a fluke. He does it ALL THE TIME.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Spinetingler Magazine

the fall issue of Spinetingler is out! what a lineup of short stories by some of my favorite writers. In glancing over the table of contents, I can see this is will be an issue to savor. It includes an interview with Peter Robinson, along with a review of Piece of My Heart.

spinetingler table of contents

a cool bonus:
By M. G. Tarquini and Elizabeth Krecker

the road interviews

also included is Sandra Ruttan's review of Pale Immortal. i have to mention this because it might possibly go down in my personal history as being the best review i've ever received.

PI review

This issue of Spinetingler:

Roudabout by Patricia Abbott
The Killing by Stephen Allan
The Devil To Pay by John Barr
I am Sam by Bill Blume
Prey For Change by Betsy Dornbusch
Boys Will Be Boys by Sam Douglas
Killing Carol Ann by JT Ellison
The New Kid by James Goodman
Bad Dreams by Andy P. Jones
With The Help of a Stranger by Lauri Kubuitsile
Lucy Comes Calling by Sarita Leone
Camera Shy by Ed Lynskey
Haven City by Beverle Myers
Natural Causes by James Oswald
When Kyle Comes by Colleen Quinn
Tip Your Head Back by Stephen D. Rogers
In The Bones by Tracy Sharp
Cat’s Pay by Pam Skochinski
Nuts to You by Paul Svendsen

Chris High profiles Peter Robinson and interviews Reggie Nadelson and reviews their latest works.

Sandra Ruttan interviews Simon Kernick

Sandra Ruttan profiles publisher Crème de la Crime, who has exciting news for North American crime fiction fans

Andrea Maloney reviews:
Twisted Perception by Bob Avey
Art’s Bloody by Vicki Lane
Max Unlocks The Universe by Mark Bouton
Murder, Mather and Mayhem by ME Kemp
The Deadly Tools of Ignorancy by Robert Elias
A Dream of Drowned Hollow by Lee Barwood
Philippine Fever by Bruce Cook
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Deadly Interest by Julie Hyzy
The Final Judgment by Michael A. Black
Blind Traveler Down a Dark River by Robert P. Bennett

M. Wayne Cunningham reviews:
Framed by Tonino Benqcquista
The Last Days by Gail Bowen
The Joining of Dingo Radish by Rob Harasymchuk

Flood Gondek reviews:
Murder Without Pity by Steve Haberman
The Scout Master: A Prepared Death by Luisa Beuhler

Diana Bane reviews The Case of Emily V by Keith Oatley

Sandra Ruttan reviews:
Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier
The Flood by Ian Rankin
The Green Room by Deborah Turrell Atkinson
The Last Assassin by Barry Eisler

Web profiles:
DevilDog by James Oswald
Mouth Full of Bullets by BJ Bourg

Staff Profile: Tracy Sharp

Bonus: Between the Hardbacks with Barry Eisler and JA Konrath by Elizabeth Krecker and MG Tarquini

Thursday, September 14, 2006

my dearest pimps

the USA Today list is up, and PI didn't make it. my agent said hitting the list was remotely possible, but all along i felt it wasn't -- that the print run simply wasn't big enough.

one way to get a very rough idea of sales -- call ingram's automated number. enter the ISBN # and you can get your sales figures. i called last week when the book had been out a couple of days. at that time the unadjusted demand was MUCH higher than the suggested demand. almost double, i think.


i resisted calling again until today. now the unadjusted demand is slightly lower than the suggested demand. does the unadjusted ever adjust? i'm not sure how that works and i can't find my notes from my first phone call. anyway, total sales as of this morning were 383. i was just lifting the special jim jones kool-aid to my mouth when i spotted jaye's comment about joe konrath's blog. he's also talking about ingram today. so i hopped over there and now i don't feel so bad about that 383. in fact it actually seems like a pretty good figure considering the book has been out a little over a week.

people guess that ingram is roughly 5% of total sales. this can vary depending on who is using what wholesaler. stores like walmart don't use ingram if i understand correctly, so that could put my figures more in the 4% bracket. is anybody still awake???

Neilsen BookScan was launched in 2001, and is considered the most accurate indicator of sales. Their information can be purchased for 52.00 a year. i don't think i'll ever resort to that, but BookScan seems to be what publishers use and consider the most reliable method of tracking early sales.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

book signing saturday

I'll be doing a booksigning saturday 1:00 - 3:00 at once upon a crime in minneapolis.

people who don't live nearby have asked about getting a signed copy of Pale Immortal.
if you'd like a signed book but can't make it in or don't live in the area, just give pat or gary a call and reserve a personalized, signed copy. for an extra two bucks they'll even mail it to you.

phone: 612 870-3785

once upon a crime

my signing in burlington, iowa, went very well. saw a lot of old friends and visited with people i hadn't seen in a long time. a blogging buddy showed up, which was a HUGE surprise. can anybody guess who it was?

i think the USA Today list is posted every Thursday. If PI doesn't make it this week it probably won't. Even with the wonderful and amazing pimp squad, I'll really be surprised if it manages to make it without in-house buzz. I'm just not sure that's possible.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

haunted houses

i'm back in the land of 10,000 rehab centers.

i told my friend dee that i'd been watching burlington real estate online, and there was a cool house on south hill. cedar street, i believed, but i wasn't sure about the street, and it had gotten dark. dee said she wanted to show me the most haunted house in burlington. "It's around here somewhere..." She couldn't recall the street, so we circled and squared for about 15 minutes. "There!" I look. It's MY house. The one i'd been telling her about. the one i'd been drooling over online.

Burlington's most haunted.

here's another burlington real-estate gem. it's listed for 90,000, which probably means you could get it for 80.

in other news: i'm in the process of linking to all the pimps who left comments on sept 5. little by little....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pale Immortal giveaway

Bailey at Long and Writing Road is giving away a brand-new copy of Pale Immortal. thanks, Bailey!!

long and writing road

Here's what she says:

"You have until 9:00 p.m. (CT) Thursday night, September 14, with winner announced on Friday September 15. All you have to do is comment - tell me what you would do if you met a vampire."

in other news --i'm pooped and heading home tomorrow. the internet connection here has been rocky, and web-based email pretty much sucks. it's probably just me, but it seems so much slower and harder than my regular email.

notes on my trip:

happy and sad days
bittersweet and filled with nostalgia

talk of money buried in walls and secret places
of bitches and lawsuits
of old beater cars
and experimental aircraft

youthful days of promise and sunlight
of kennedy and death and hearts that quit beating too soon
convertibles and casket factories

and roads that lead nowhere

aspen grove

Image Hosted by

Friday, September 08, 2006

south henderson

i changed the image. this was taken at the same place as the previous photo.
composition isn't great -- it was too bright to see the image in the preview frame -- but it's still kind of interesting.

Interview with Literary Agent Tina Wexler

An interview with literary agent Tina Wexler from International Creative Management is going on today at Riding With the Top Down. She's left her address for query letters, and she's answering your online questions all day. Better hurry!

Tina Wexler Interview

Please don't hesitate to join in with questions and comments. That's why she's there!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

off to tuonela

i'm heading off to my hometown of Burlington, Iowa, where i'll be doing a booksigning on Saturday, immediately followed by some serious lounging around.

Burlington is a beautiful, dark town built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi. Pale Immortal's Tuonela
IS Burlington.

I'm bringing my laptop, so I'll be watching you guys....

Billy Holiday -- Strange Fruit

some cool news:

Pale Immortal was a pick of the week on sarah weinman's
confessions of an idiosyncratic mind.

the morning after

my dearest pimps:

what an amazing day we had.

i made a final round last night and didn't stop at nearly all of the blogs, but that took six or seven hours. the video got around 450 views. my blog got 700 hits. 150 is normal unless i've pissed somebody off. then it might reach 250. i'm fairly certain we had over 100 bloggers blogging. I might try to get a rough count in a couple of days.

i'm humbled and amazed by your overwhelming show of support, not to mention your willingness to jump in and be a part of something fun and silly. i'm always coming up with weird ideas that i have trouble getting people to participate in, so this was especially exciting for me! I appreciate the old friends who were there with drinks and games and party favors, and i appreciate the new friends who were more than willing to jump into the craziness. you guys are amazing.

truly forever your whore,


PS: i'm going out of town tomorrow, so i'll be packing and getting things in order today. i must force myself to step away from the computer for at least a few hours.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

how soon is now?


WHAT: PROJECT PIMP SQUAD -- 100 BLOGGERS BLOGGING (imitated, but never duplicated)



or the direct link:
Pale Immortal video

technorati: pale immortal

Monday, September 04, 2006

countdown to blog crawl!

the pimps are gathering backstage. the lights have been dimmed. someone is playing a wheezing accordion with clattering keys.


edit and update: some people are having trouble with the video code. if you received it in an email, it could be broken and it would probably be easier to cut and paste it directly from the youtube site.

Pale Immortal video

if you look to the right of the video screen, you'll see the embedded code. just cut and paste that -- and cross your fingers.

here's what i think we should do tomorrow, september 5: once you've posted on your blog, come here and leave a comment. that will give us a number, and also give everybody involved an easy link to your blog. i really like the blog crawl idea, and think that might be the best part of this thing.

here is a rough count right now:

30 on the pimp squad list
10 not on the list who've said they will post
20 from GCC -- my online book-tour group
10 people on myspace

these figures are rough, and i'm tempted to knock off about 20 for those people who forget or are unable to post. that brings it to 50 -- a number I'm thrilled about!!! i have to confess i never in a million years thought i'd get close to 100.

Friday, September 01, 2006


i came up with the idea of PROJECT PIMP SQUAD -- 100 BLOGGERS BLOGGING back in early July. i thought it would be great if 100 people would post the Pale Immortal book video on their blogs on September 5. This idea came about after my daughter posted a parody she'd made for a contest on youTube and it ended up being a featured video and got 100,000 views in a few days. So people said, "Wouldn't it be great if your book video could get that kind of exposure?" That was the pimp-squad trigger. I also think it will be an interesting experiment. How much power does the blogging community have? Can we have any impact?

But now my focus has shifted slightly. Most people who are planning to blog are already in line, so i say we slap the info up on Sept 5, then focus on having a huge, all-day internet party. yes, there will be drinking! yes, there might even be nudity!

Kind of a BLOG CRAWL. Where we go from blog to blog and check out the parties. If you post a comment on my blog, visitors will have an automatic link to your blog.

as far as what to post about Pale Immortal -- post whatever strikes your fancy. a book synopsis. the cover. a review. the video itself would be very nice!!!

the easiest if you're pressed for time: post a link to the pale immortal blog and visitors can find the video there.

if you want to put the video on your blog: use the imbedded video code on the youtube site.


if you are on my PIMP SQUAD EMAIL LIST, i will email the code to you and all you have to do is cut and paste. that email will be going out saturday night or sunday morning. it's something you might want to save to sell on ebay when i'm in prison for killing the neighbors.

here's just one post idea:

Watch the Pale Immortal music video, listen to the soundtrack and mp3s, read the first two chapters, and learn more at:

(or a synopsis)

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.
Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.
Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....
As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

all good things must end

The Lonely Moon contest has drawn to a close. We had 100 entries!! And what entries! You could choose any entry and find a solid read. Over twenty of them hit fantastic on my meter. Winners will be posted today at the Clarity of Night .

What's on the stereo?

Nick Drake's Pink Moon. What else?

You Are A Rowan Tree

You are full of charm and cheer. You light up a room.
And while you crave attention, you do it without ego.
You are an interesting mix of contradictions - and very unpredictable.
You are both dependent and independent, calm and restless.
You are passionate, emotional, gregarious, and (at times) unforgiving.