Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blog Tour for The Night Visitor

The promotion whirl for The Night Visitor, my new standalone thriller, is off and running. I'll be doing a blog tour with stops almost every weekday for the next several weeks. If you post a comment, you'll be entered into a raffle to win a free copy of The Night Visitor and a $25.00 gift card to the e-book retailer of your choice.

The Night Visitor goes on sale September 16, 2014 but you can pre-order it now, and I hope you do. Pre-orders help authors! You can pre-order it wherever e-books are sold such as 

The pre-release reviews of what I call my "crazy little book" on Goodreads have been amazing.  I'm really excited to finally have this book in reader's hands.

You can read the first six chapters here.  Just click "Read an Excerpt."

Here are the blogs that will be discussing The Night Visitor this week:

Monday 9/8  From the TBR Pile
Tuesday 9/9 Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday 9/10 No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday 9/12 Bibliophilia, Please

Remember to post a comment to the raffle to win a free copy of The Night Visitor and a $25.00 gift card to the e-book retailer of your choice.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Your Editor

"The Care and Feeding of Your Editor" was the panel I moderated at the 2013 California Crime Writers Conference held last June in Pasadena, California.  It also describes my conundrum over how to care for my longtime editor and Manhattanite, Dana Isaacson, during his brief L.A. visit. First, the panel.

L to R: Colleen Dunn Bates, Annette Rogers, me,
Dana Isaacson, and Kendel Flaum
The editors were: Colleen Dunn Bates, founder and publisher of Prospect Park Books based in Pasadena, California; Annette Rogers, executive editor of Poisoned Pen Press based in Scottsdale, Arizona; Dana Isaacson, senior editor with the Random House Publishing Group who's now overseeing Alibi, RH's new eBook mystery/thriller line; and Kendel Flaum, founder and managing editor of Henery Press based in Dallas, Texas.

With three independent publishers and one huge New York publisher represented, the discussion naturally went to the advantages of "small vs. big."  The independents spoke of their benefits: the personal touch, no bureaucratic decision-making process, the ability to take a chance on regional and less mainstream works, and the freedom to handcraft their lines according to personal preference without the compulsion of always chasing the next bestseller.  This is not to say that they aren't concerned with the bottom line.  Without the financial cushion of a big publishing house, missteps in publishing and promotion can be devastating to their business.

Dana said that there has been a shift in big publishing to focus on bestselling authors. Consolidation of major publishers and the eBook revolution have decimated the mid-list--authors who aren't consistent bestsellers.  The mass market paperback format is disappearing as brick-and-mortar bookstores melt away. Readers are now avidly purchasing these mostly genre titles as eBooks. This is the market that Alibi is focusing on.  Dana says that the Alibi line returns to a simpler era in publishing in that acquisition decisions aren't argued in big editorial meetings but are made by him and his boss, allowing him wide flexibility to publish books that he loves. These include my stand-alone paranormal mystery, Kiss Her for Me, which Alibi will publish in the fall of 2014, and a new book in my Nan Vining mystery series.

The panel discussion was lively and wide-ranging. Here's an overview.

"What do writers most misunderstand about the editorial process?"  The editors agreed that writers don't understand that the process never ends. It doesn't end when you finish that first book, or when you finish revising your manuscript per your editor's notes, or even when your book is published because by then, you're well into your next book, or should be.  Writers write and writers edit. Period.

"There was a golden age of book editors, perhaps epitomized by Maxwell Perkins who nurtured the careers of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others, taking chaos and building a scaffold on which the writer could build a house.  It's said that editors today want a manuscript to be as perfect as possible before they'll consider it. True?"  The editors said the short answer is, "Yes." Smaller publishers are not flush with editorial staff.  Big publishers have consolidated and cut back.  Everyone is working harder than ever.  No one has time to sort out a messy manuscript even if it has flashes of brilliance.

"A corollary question: will an editor dump a problematic author?"  Everyone's heard stories about diva-antics on the part of certain famous authors, mostly tolerated as long as the authors' books are selling gazillions of copies. However, for the rest of us, editors don't have time for nonsense.  It's a sound career strategy for an author to meet deadlines and act professionally.  You don't want a reputation of needing to be "managed."

"Should crime writers worry about fitting a marketing niche when writing a book?"  The editors said that writers should know what subgenre they're writing. It helps the publisher market the book and also helps your agent direct the book to the right editor.

"What about rejection?  What greater purpose can it serve the writer?"  It's an old saw, but the editors emphasize learning from rejection and not letting it stop you.  Also, just because your book isn't right for one editor, it might be perfect for a different one.  They read many fine books but there's a light that goes on when they find "the one."  It's like falling in love.

Dana Enjoying a Feast at J & J
Which leads me to things I love, the San Gabriel Valley (the "626" in local speak) and Los Angeles. I took Dana off the beaten path to some of my favorite places, including locations that I used in my Detective Nan Vining series. Ironically, I met Dana in 1992 at the Bouchercon conference in Pasadena. We'd just inked a contract for the first two books in my Iris Thorne series. Dana's edited six of my nine published books and we're penning a contract for two more with Alibi.

Dana and Me at El Mercardito Mariachi Restaurant
First, lunch in the "new" Chinatown at my favorite hole-in-the-wall, J & J in the city of Alhambra. J & J's juicy pork dumplings are terrific. Then a tour of Pasadena, including the Police Department, City Hall, and a couple of (fictional) murder locations in my books.

Later, we headed to the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East L.A. to see the dueling mariachi bands at the El Mercado de Los Angeles.  We returned to the conference hotel after our only-in-L.A. experience stuffed, satiated, and slightly deaf.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Guest Blog About Pushover - Iris Thorne #5 (and Come See Me at the LA Times Festival of Books)

I'm continuing my blog series at Elizabeth White's Book Reviews about revisiting my first series, the Iris Thorne Mysteries, originally published in the 1990s and now available as e-books and trade paperbacks. This is my final post in the series as I'm discussing Pushover, the fifth and final Iris Thorne. I reflect about ending a mystery series.

I'm giving away a copy of Pushover to one of the commenters, so please stop by and opine.

This Saturday, April 20, I'll be signing books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus in Los Angeles.  Here's my schedule:

Prospect Park Books - Booth 63
12:00 - 1:00
Signing Literary Pasadena -- a new anthology in which I have a story
Sisters in Crime - 
Booth 367

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Signing the Nan Vining Thrillers and the Iris Thorne Mysteries

See you there!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing

There's a viral blog event going around called the Next Big Thing where writers talk about what they're working on now or what's coming out soon. I've been tagged by Matt Coyle, author of Yesterday's Echo, Find out about Matt's Next Big Thing here.

My next book is Pushover. It's the fifth in my series featuring sexy, savvy investment counselor and amateur sleuth Iris Thorne who prowls the streets of L.A. in her vintage Triumph sports car in the "greed is good" 1990s. Pushover will be out in late February 2013.

 1. Where did the idea for the book come from? Mercy. Who knows where book ideas come from? When asked about where his songs come from, Willie Nelson said: "The air. The air is full of music."

2. What genre does your book fall under? Mystery/Suspense/Romance

3. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  For Iris Thorne, I'd like someone smart, sexy, and witty yet down-to-earth -- a Tea Leoni type. For her boyfriend, Garland Hughes, a younger Harrison Ford. For Iris's ex-fiance, Todd Fillinger, I see Matt Damon.

4. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Iris's ex-fiance Todd lures her to post-Soviet Moscow on a business venture and to settle personal issues, but after Todd is gunned down in front of her, Iris returns to L.A. and learns the City of Angels can be more dangerous than Moscow when Todd's dangerous legacy threatens to destroy her.

5. Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by my longtime agent, Robin Rue at Writers House.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About six months. But I do many rewrites.

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are influences from movies and books. It's sort of Vertigo meets The Maltese Falcon meets Bullitt.

8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
In the late 1990s, I read a story about an American businessman who'd traveled to Moscow to pursue business ventures in the emerging Russian market. He was machine-gunned to death on a street in front of a hotel. The incident stuck with me.

9. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? I believe of my five Iris Thorne mysteries, Pushover has the most adrenaline-fueled plot. It's lean and mean.

I've tagged Petrea Burchard to talk about her Next Big Thing which she'll do on Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Petrea's acting career morphed into writing with Act As If, her online humor column about the acting life. Camelot & Vine is her first novel. On January 16, check out Petrea's Next Big Thing here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Past is Prologue

I'm blogging today at the Sirens of Suspense about how revisiting my first books, the Iris Thorne Mysteries, has informed my later works.  Kindly stop by and comment, love it, etc.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Foolproof Schemes and Foolish Dreams

Me and a friend on the pier in Bandon, Oregon

I'm continuing my series of guest posts at Elizabeth A. White's Book Reviews about revisiting after 15 years my newly re-published Iris Thorne Mysteries. This time, I'm talking about my journey to Foolproof, Iris Thorne #4. Check it out to see what the computer game Doom, O.J. Simpson, Los Angeles' stairways, and an L.A. taxi driver have in common.

If you're interested in exploring L.A.'s stairways, and get a tough workout at the same time, this is a great guide to get started.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Talking Noir at LitFest Pasadena

UPDATE - - -

LitFest RAINED OUT... As anyone who might have shown up on March 17 quickly learned.

RESCHEDULED FOR MAY 12, 2012... This will give all of you time to brush up on your L.A. Noir.

Come out to Pasadena on Saturday, March 17 for the inaugural LitFest Pasadena, Pasadena's first community-wide book festival. It's from 9:30 - 5:00 in Central Park, between Fair Oaks Avenue and Raymond Avenue, north of Del Mar Boulevard.

Come see me on the Los Angeles Noir panel at 11:30 on the Harriet Doerr stage. I'll be opining about how the City of Angels has inspired the noir tradition in the past and today with my esteemed local colleagues: Denise Hamilton, Gary Phillips, and Naomi Hirahara. 

From 2:00 to 3:00, I'll be signing at the Book 'Em booth.

On Saturday, April 21, come out to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC Campus.  From 2:00 - 4:00, I'll be signing at the Sisters in Crime booth, Section F, Booth 373.  I'll also be signing at the Mystery Ink booth right next door, time to be determined. 

Would love to see you!