Friday, July 30, 2010

I'll Be Hoping For the Big One Out of the Blue

By Kevin Guilfoile

This is a story about the way one book--an old-fashioned, ink-on-paper kind of book--saved a really cool piece of history.

A few months ago, I was asked to appear on a local television program to talk about literature and baseball (I actually wrote about that discussion in a previous post). Prior to the taping of the show, I was visiting my parents and I noticed a number of old (in some cases very old) baseball-themed novels on my father's shelves. I asked him if I could borrow them, and he said of course. They sat in a stack on the floor of my office until the morning of the taping, at which point I started to leaf through them, hoping to mine them for some interesting talking points. Many were books I had already read--Malamud's The Natural, some anthologies of short fiction, a number of YA books (The Kid From Tompkinsville, The Fifth Base) I'd devoured as a kid. And then there was one really old volume that stuck out, specifically because of the author.

The book was called Pitcher Pollock, it was published in 1916, and the author was Christy Mathewson.

Christy Mathewson was one of the great Major League pitchers of the first part of the last century. He won more than 350 games for the New York Giants and was one of the five original inductees into baseball's Hall of Fame. He didn't actually write Pitcher Pollock. It was one of a series of novels, targeted at boys and ghostwritten by a New York sportswriter, with Mathewson's name on the cover. I thought it might be worth mentioning and so I fanned the pages, and as I did, a small piece of pink cardboard, attached to a string, fell to the floor.

I picked it up and turned it over, and as I read the words on it, I couldn't believe what I was holding--an almost perfectly conserved press pass to Game 2 of the 1929 "World's Series" at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Chicago Cubs vs. the Philadelphia A's.

It didn't take very much detective work to figure out what had happened. The name of the reporter who used the pass that day (October 9, 1929, just the second World Series game played at Wrigley Field) was written across the face of it in pen. Ken Smith of the New York Graphic. Ken had been a friend of my dad. He had also been a good friend of Christy Mathewson. I imagined him returning home to his New York apartment after a long train ride from Chicago, putting away his clothes and his notebook, looking for a place to stick this worthless piece of cardboard he had tied to his jacket button, and absent-mindedly sticking it between the pages of Pitcher Pollock. Fifty years later, as Ken had no children or grandchildren of his own, he gave the book to my father, who had three boys. And it sat on a shelf for another 30 years, until this artifact dropped to my office carpet.

We often treasure books, not for the stories between the covers but because a book itself can be a story. Ken Smith saved Pitcher Pollock, maybe, because it had been a gift from his friend Christy Mathewson. My dad saved Pitcher Pollock because it had been a gift from his friend Ken Smith. It survived more than 80 years, through countless moves and disruptions, without ever having been read, or even opened, and never letting on that there might be a secret between its pages.

My second novel, The Thousand is due out August 24. I'll have more to say about it then, but you can read an excerpt from the book and check out the preliminary tour schedule. You can also enter to be one of ten people who will win a free advance copy of The Thousand just by following me on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cult Books-Favorites-and Not So Much

by Jamie Freveletti

Ask a reader what are their favorite books and you will get a slew of answers with few overlaps. The joy of reading is that there is a genre out there for everyone. Change the question to “what is your favorite cult book?” and the list narrows. Cult books hold a unique position in the public consciousness, because they survive often in spite of their narrow appeal.

It’s tough to label a book a “cult” classic, because we all have different interpretations of what that might mean. For me, it’s a book that you stumble upon, and when you describe it to your friends they all seem to know it, and agree that is was odd, outside their normal reading material, and that they loved it, or hated it. The love or the hate runs deep with cult books.

The Telegraph came very close to creating the perfect cult book list in this amusing article: Fifty Best Cult Books. I urge you to read the authors' hilarious short explanations of the books, which are dead on. Here's their list (without the funny asides):

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

The Alexandria Quartet A Rebours by JK Huysman (1884)

Baby and Child Care by Dr. Spock (1946)

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (1991)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1964)

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (1993)

The Dice Man by Luke Rheinhart (1971)

The Chariot of the Gods: Was God an Astronaut? by Erich von Daniken (1968)

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1782)

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard (1950)

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954)

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973)

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)

Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter (1979)

Gravity's Rainbow by Douglas Pynchon (1973)

The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1982)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

If On a Winter's Night by Italo Calvino (1979)

Iron John: A book about men by Robert Bly (1990)

Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Robert Munson (1970)

The Magus by John Fowles (1966)

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borgas (1962)

The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa (1968)

The Master and the Margarita by Mikail Bulgakov (1967)

No Logo by Naomi Klein (2000)

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1967)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)

The Outsider by Colin Wilson (1956)

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (1923)

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (1914)

The Rubbiayat of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald (1854)

The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1774)

The Story of O by Pauline Reage (1954)

The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

The Teachings of Don Juan: The Yaquit Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda (1968)

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Von Nietzsche (1883-85)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig (1974

There were a few on this list that surprised me. I’d read many, and disliked some and hated one in particular (“The Fountainhead.” I shudder at the thought of it).

In reading the list, I realized that many of the books came to define an era or make a profound, or not so profound, statement on women, men, sex, and the ever interesting subject of the “meaning of life.” Several created new descriptors for old behaviors. “Catch 22, “(Vonegut), “Zipless F.*#%,” (Jong), and “New Operating Thetan” (Hubbard). Okay, that last one is only known to followers of Scientology or the antics of those in Hollywood, but you get my drift. To be a cult novel it must operate on the reader in a way that makes her step back and rethink an old closely held idea.

What’s most interesting is the way our culture has changed since these books were written. Jong’s groundbreaking view into housewives and sex without strings seems like a yawn today, where casual sex is much more prevalent and even accepted in some circles, and Hubbard’s “Dianetics” has received its share of derision and hostility even as followers of Scientology continue to remain at the top of the “A” list in Hollywood. “The Story of O,” described in the Telegraph article as a treatise decrying the objectification of women may have been seen that way in 1954 when it was published, but by the time I read it in the late ‘80’s appeared to be nothing more than an erotic novel describing an unusual sexual subculture and really depressing.

Some of these on the list look interesting, mostly because I was unaware of them until I read the article. I’m going to pick up a couple and see if I agree with the authors. In the meantime, if you have any “cult” books that you think have been missed, let me know!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Customer satisfaction...

by Michael Dymmoch

...for a change.

In the last few months I've spent a lot of time listening to writers who've put their out-of-print books on Kindle and Smashwords. Some have even gone to self-publishing their dropped series as e-books. You can check out Joe Konrath's bog, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing, if you're interested in pursuing the subject.

My reason for bringing it up is that my first book, The Man Who Understood Cats, came out so long ago that my current computer couldn't read the electronic copy. I don't even have a drive that could handle the floppy disks. I tried having two different computer gurus scan them for me and got back files of gibberish. (Something like this: Sunseô waó onlù á reprieve¬ ninå houró tï rest¬ tï recover¬ � buô onlù á temporarù postponemneô oæ thå momenô mù opponenô � woulä deliveò thå coup®.)

You have to have a clean, recent-release-version-of-Word copy or an HTML version of your novel to publish electronically. And I wasn't up for retyping a 244 page novel. So I started asking around for a company to scan the novel for me. Found Blue Leaf Book Scanning. The company offers "a non-destructive scanning process [that] converts virtually any size book or document to any file format, including searchable PDF, eBook (Kindle, Nook, Sony...), audiobook (mp3), and editable text-based formats such as Word, RTF, and TXT." If you're willing to sacrifice a copy of the book to be scanned, they charge less.

On June 20 I paid on line (through PayPal) to have Blue Leaf scan my book. I got an email receipt immediately.

June 21, I sent a (3rd printing) copy of the novel (media mail with tracking) to Blue Leaf.

On July 7, I received a Zip file containing: copies of the novel in Kindle format, HTML, PDF, and formatted (for commercial printers) and unformatted Word versions. All for under fifty bucks!

Another scanning company I contacted quoted $199 for fewer formats.

That makes me a very satisfied customer.

On another note...

I'm a world class procrastinator. Which is why I'm just getting around to mentioning a great (for crime writers) website I first heard about in January. Carolyn Friedman blogs on The Forensic Science Technician. Besides her own article, 8 Body Parts Forensic Scientists Use to ID a Body, the site contains links to other intriguing topics:

• About The Skully Wannabe Blog
• Top 50 Homeland Security Blogs
• Getting to the Bare Bones of the Gormogon Killer
• Top 50 Forensic Scientist Blogs
• It ain’t CSI: What It’s Really Like to Be a Forensic Scientist
• The 50 Best Safety and Security Blogs
• The Top 50 Self Defense Blogs
• 100 Online Brainstorming Tools to Help You Think Outside the Box
• 50 Fascinating Online Psychology Tests
• DIY CSI: 20 Awesome Forensics Gizmos and Gadgets You Can Buy
• Top 20 Free Tools to ‘Hacker Proof’ Your Inbox
• Six Files the US Government Keeps on You, and How to Obtain a Copy
• 8 Body Parts Forensic Scientists Use to ID a Body
• 50 Germiest Places in the World
• 30 Scary Food facts you need to Know
• Top 100 Blogs for NFL Fans
• 50 Fascinating Documentaries for Forensics Science Junkies
• 15 Ingredients in Cosmetics you should Know About
• 100 Fun Twitter Feeds for Serious SciFi Geeks
• 100 Best Websites for Science Teachers
• 100 Blogs Every Science Student Should Subscribe To
• 50 Best Ecology Blogs

Check it out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fraud, Scam, or Practical Joke?

by Libby Hellmann

Here’s a puzzler of a crime that’s happening to my sister, even as we speak. Although it’s hard to see how anyone is profiting. If you have any thoughts on who, why, or what’s really going on, please -- leave a comment.

In early July, my sister received an email from the Bank of America Fraud Department asking her to call them. When she did, she was told there were about 20 charges on her credit card all on the same day, ranging from $24 to $48. They were all listed as “USPS Click and Ship,” an internet service that allows you to print postage online for packages and large envelopes.

My sister told them she hadn’t made any of those charges, so the bank cancelled her card and gave her credit for all the charges. They told her she’d have to fill out a fraud report. No problem so far, right? Just your average identity theft.

But then, two nights later, she began receiving phone calls from people she didn’t know telling her they’d received a package with her name and return address on it. Inside each package was a personal check for about $2,000, drawn from various banks with real account numbers, names and addresses of the account owner printed on the checks, and, of course, their “signatures.” Each person had received a check from a different person.

The callers had never heard of my sister… or the people who signed the checks. Neither had my sister. She got back in touch with BOA who added the information to her file and speculated that the people whose accounts were used were probably victims as well.

In this day and age of identity theft, it’s not hard to imagine that someone stole my sister’s name, address, and credit card number. Or that they also managed to get checking account information from other strangers.

But why send checks to people who have no idea why they’re getting them? Who’s profiting? What’s the scam? Were the recipients supposed to deposit the checks, use the money, then find out the checks bounced? Was this a way just to get MORE account information from innocent people, ie, the check recipients?

There are other questions, too. Are the people whose accounts were used for the checks being ripped off in other ways besides the checks? Why use my sister’s name and address on the envelope? Didn't they realize the people who got the checks would probably track my sister down?

Which raises the final set of questions...Are these the dumbest identity thieves around? A Keystone Cops gang? Or is there some grand complex scam I’m not aware of?

What do you think? I really want to figure this out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today's guest blogger is Delphine Pontvieux. Delphine took an unconventional route to publishing her thriller, and we thought our readers would be interested to hear her story. First, a bit of background: Delphine was born in Versailles, grew up in France and graduated from University of Burgundy. She studied and worked in Australia, USA, Spain, and the Netherlands until 1998, when she moved to Chicago. She has 10 years of international sales and experience in the music and entertainment industry. "ETA Estimated Time Of Arrest" is her first novel.

by Delphine Pontvieux

As an aspiring writer, you soon find out the amount of work that is being put into writing a book: first comes the draft, then the second, the “I-can’t-remember-which-version-this-is-anymore” word document staring at you blandly on the computer screen. Then comes the editing, the rewrites, the second round of edits, the proofreading (giving it yet another go for good measure because, inexplicably, you still found a typo on page 129 after the 27th round of dissecting your manuscript line by line) until one day, hallelujah, you’re done with it. Seriously, I mean, “cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die” done for good. You know it because this is the day when you find yourself enjoying a bottle of wine with a real person for a change instead of clicking glasses ‘en tete-a-tete’ with your computer at 3 in the morning. Yep, it’s over and out. FI-NI-TO.

Someone should have reminded you to savor that moment and milk it for all it’s worth, because a finished manuscript is only the beginning of your journey on the path of publication.

Ah, the conundrum of publishing...

Should you go the traditional route, i.e., hunt down an agent, receive 83 rejection letters, still hope to get a deal, send another batch of queries, wait another year or two (or twelve) to find a publisher only to find out that your agent has dropped you and you’re back at square one with nothing to show for but a stupid pdf file baring the title of the ‘chef d’oeuvre’ you were once so proud of.

Or, one night, as you’re crying your eyes out in your ratty pajamas, you start (gasp!)considering the vanity press option. Oh, you know the feeling: on the one hand, you will get to finally hold your book in your own hands. How cool would that be? Yet, on the other, you are well aware that you will be forever frowned upon by “real” published authors, the media, and basically everyone in the book publishing world till hell freezes over.

Well, there is a third option out there, and that is to start your own bona fide publishing company. Granted, it is a road that is seldom traveled, for a great number of reasons: it requires fronting a non negligible amount of money, a tremendous amount of work for little-to-no pay, extensive experience in the marketing and promotion fields, not to mention a healthy dose of social skills, courage and determination.

This is the path I chose, mainly because I am notoriously impatient (the idea of waiting for weeks and weeks for a potential answer to a query alone gave me palpitations), plus I was lucky to have worked for many years in the music industry, which gave me the experience and knowledge required to foray into this other branch of the entertainment business. Besides, I always wanted to start my own business.

My company, Miss Nyet Publishing, LLC, just turned one on July 8. I have a distribution network in place, online and at brick and mortar bookstores, including chains. I am building my media database and focusing on landing a publishing deal for my novel “ETA-Estimated Time of Arrest” in Europe (with a traditional publisher this time). I am receiving more submissions as the word spreads and hopeful to come across a manuscript that I will want to release. I get to wear many hats throughout the day: I’m the agent, the manager, the publicist, the warehouse clerk and the author all wrapped up in one. The only downside with running the company is that it greatly cuts down on my writing time window.

In this new era of online buying, digital download and world wide access to information and product via internet which affect and transform the consumption patterns of readers, the publishing world is undergoing deep changes. As companies of every size strive to figure out and implement new business strategies, I believe now is an exciting time for small independent presses to carve a niche and take a piece of the Lion’s share, as we take advantage of new tools born from the digital revolution, and serve as an intermediary between not-yet published writers and large publishers. As a small press, I am aware of my limitations and yet, I still have the flexibility, will and energy to develop an author (in this case, myself) from the ground up, which is something larger companies don’t necessarily have the time or patience for.

ETA-Estimated Time of Arrest

When 21-year old Lartaun is wrongfully accused of a terrorist crime and forced to flee his native Basque Country, his childhood friend offers him the chance to return to Europe under a new identity, but with a price, as Patxiis secretly planning a brutal event that will shake Spanish politics.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moebius Life

by Marcus Sakey

I've written five books now, and one of the things I've learned--along with the absolute necessity of caffeine--is that writing makes for a cyclical lifestyle. For me it goes something like this:

A period of blank wandering about, during which I read a lot and soothe myself with metaphor (a field has to lie fallow for awhile, you can't just plant crop after crop, etc.)

Growing panic which forces me to focus on one of the ideas that have been swirling in the back of my brain.

Weeks spent wrestling with the concept, freewriting, exploring variations, looking for a way to crack it open. Also, hating it and myself.

An arbitrary moment in which I decide I will start tomorrow, goddamnit.

The first day of writing, which is one of the more intense of the year. Spending hours looking for the opening sentence. Moving words around. Moving them back. In a good first day, I'll write a paragraph.

The second day, which is really the first of work. I sit down and for awhile, I feel like a professional. The story comes along, I build out the characters, I toy with mood and style. There's a sort of "la-la-la, I'm writing a book" feeling to things. Until...

Page 200. At which point I completely melt down. I've gone the wrong direction. Chosen my traveling companions unwisely. Darkness is setting in. Was that a wolf I just heard?

Between two weeks and five months of floundering about. I reread everything I've done. I try to put my finger on what it is exactly that's got me so troubled. Is it a flaw in the story? A character thread I need to reconsider? An upcoming plot point I no longer believe in?

Slowly I push past. There's a real temptation to abandon the book, but I've never done it, and I hope I never do. I suspect that if I did, I might be opening myself up to the kind of doubt you just can't afford. You can't actually hit reset in life, you can't reload the game at the beginning of the last level.

Eventually, things get back on track. I make good progress. My confidence returns, albeit tempered by the fear.

The climax, which is one of the more interesting and agonizing parts of the process. Interesting because of the million variations I play with, both alone and in conversation with other authors. There are so many ways to tell the same story,a nd so many ways to end it. But the thing about a really good ending is that it when you read it, it seems like the only possible way to finish the book. The agonizing part of the process is that until you figure it out,it's just one of the herd of options.

But eventually I spot it, the ending for me. At which point I write the remaining 50 - 100 pages in a mad fucking rush, often a week or two.

My wife takes me out for dinner and martinis.

Then there's the cooling off period, the rewriting, sending it to other people, receiving their reactions, and the like. This whole period is actually a sort of disengagement, though. You're beginning to unplug.

Finally, there's the part when the book is accepted and essentially done--not counting copyediting and so forth--and it's time to begin to start thinking about the next one.

In other words, see Step One.

Right now, I'm somewhere between Steps One and Two. It won't be long before the panic forces me to click over. It's an odd time. I feel very lucky and sort of guilty and a little blank, blank like the page I'll soon be facing. This cycle has started to become central to me. I realize that I very much mark my life by the story I'm telling at the time, and there's something quite sweet to that.

Though it would be sweeter if I knew what I was doing next.

For you writers, does this seem familiar, or do you do it differently? And if you're not a writer, what is it you use to mark your days? When I was in advertising, I know I saw things differently...

Monday, July 19, 2010

An interview with Chicago’s very own star newswoman - Anna Davlantes

I met Anna Davlantes when she interviewed me for an NBC story about Jovan Mosley, a young man I'd represented who was in a county holding cell for nearly 6 years without a trial. (The book about Jovan, Long Way Home, will be released September 14). Then Chicago Magazine hired me to write a story on Anna about her PBS show, Rewind. Recently, Anna moved from NBC to Fox, and is a shining example of a smart, authentic anchor/reporter who really cares about her city (yes, she's a born and bred Chicago girl) and the issues. Since she deals with Chicago crime stories on a regular basis, I thought she'd be a perfect interview for the Outfit.

You seem to have hit your stride lately as an anchor, but especially as a news reporter now that you're on Fox. Is that due to the network, the sabbatical you had between the two jobs, or something different?

My contract didn’t allow me to work for three and a half months. It turned out to be a blessing personally, but professionally it had even a bigger impact. The time off gave me a fresh set of eyes. I started watching news as a consumer for the first time since college. I realized that the complaints people were telling me about news was true – teases lead nowhere, the coverage of crime is constant, and often there’s no context or perspective to a lot of stories. It made me realize it was time to change how we deliver the news and give people a real alternative. Fox is going to be more issue-oriented and not as reactionary. We don’t want to simply report every shooting. We want to ask the questions like why are these shootings happening? And we want to help find solutions, rather than just issue-spot. We’re going to be discussing what to do about politics and corruption and other the other issues that arise in Chicago.

A huge verdict recently happened in Chicago - Detective Jon Burge, long believed of torturing suspects at Area 2, was convicted of lying about that torture. What are your thoughts on the verdict?
The verdict helps bring a very dark period in our city history to a close. To truly close the door, though, anyone who had a hand in sustaining systemic torture at Area 2 needs to examine their actions. And changes have to be made so people can be confident in the integrity of law enforcement and the legal system. We may have gotten some closure, but I wonder how long until confidence is restored.

Seems to me with people like Blago and Drew Peterson, there is rampant narcissim in Chicago. What's with that?

I never thought of Chicago being a town like that but there are so many high profile examples of it now, I suppose we have to own it. You’d like to think that after we deal with Peterson and Blago our work is done, but it’s not. Because much of the political system that propped Blago up still exists. What I’ve seen covering the news for Fox is that it’s great political theatre for us in the news biz, but at the end of the day, you go home sad that this is the reality for our city and government.

Is there anything to be done?

Restoring accountability to government is the answer, but the solution is much more complicated because the people who run for office are usually bolstered by the current system. The time is right for candidates who have an independent message. Really. The time is now.

One more question. Recently you were in the news for the possibility of taking over the morning show on Fox. True?

Oh, who knows. I’ve worked nights for so long. Really, I haven’t even owned an alarm clock since college, I don’t want to get addicted to coffee, and I don’t know if I could give up my late night crime dramas on A&E .

We’re hoping to keep Anna talking about the hottest Chicago news stories. Stay tuned…

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Extra, Extra

Thanks to the Chicago News Cooperative, The Outfit was featured in Friday's New York Times!


PS Wait! There's MORE... Check out today's Sun Times article on Jamie Freveletti and her decision to give up lawyering for writing. (A wise decision...)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dazed and Confused in New York

by David Ellis

I’m going to throw out some thoughts I’ve had. I hope you find them interesting. Even more so, I hope I haven’t already made these points in a recent post, because I tend to block out what I’ve previously written.

  1. Just went to ThrillerFest in New York. Had a good time. A few notes:
  • The glass ceiling has been broken at the ITW awards banquet, the women having swept the major awards (including, of course, our own Jamie Freveletti). I don’t know this myself, but I have been informed that women have rarely even received nominations for ITW awards in the past, so this is a significant occurrence.
  • Marcus didn’t buy me a drink as he promised. Actually, he didn’t promise, and to be fair, I didn’t give him much of a chance.
  • Marcus is pretty popular at these things.
  • A watered-down vodka tonic at the Grand Hyatt lounge costs $14.
  • LeBron made a huge mistake doing that special and not choosing the Bulls.
  • Saw my old friend Raymond Benson, and at one point his lovely wife Randi. Great to see them. Reminded me of a dinner at his house many years ago, when Raymond, Joe Konrath and I, along with our spouses, were talking about the ups and downs of the industry, how you break out, how you stay on top, etc.—the kind of conversation each of us writers have had about a thousand times. Randi made a comment that, okay, maybe none of us were living in a mansion in Beverly Hills, but Raymond had managed to make a perfectly comfortable living doing what he loved, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? I try to remember that story.
  • A lot of authors are very worried.
  • You hear people talk about the loss of the middle class in our society, and some fear we are witnessing the loss of the midlist author—you’re either one of the chosen ones or you’re brand new and still holding that promise. I happen to believe that’s not true, or at least that trend will change. But unlike my colleagues at the Outfit, who back up their industry analysis with statistics, I only have my gut. The platform will always be there. We just might have to adjust.
  • I love being a novelist, and I love talking about writing with other writers.

2. I’ve learned to dare myself when I write. Put my character into a corner—a corner that, as I’m writing, I have absolutely no idea how he’ll extricate himself. And then figure it out. You can always figure it out. It only took me six novels to discover this.

3. I know we live in a world of attention deficit disorder, and publishers want to see you get to the point quickly, shorten the chapters, all that stuff—but I’m continually reminded of the benefit of detail in a novel. Little throwaway details can add so much to a setting. This is nothing earth-shattering—I pride myself on being master of the obvious, as well as master of my domain—but a healthy reminder.

4. In the time it has taken you to read this post, Joe Konrath has sold 100 E-books.

5. I really don’t want to start Twittering (notice, Bryan, I didn’t say “tweeting”). But I have a feeling I’m going to some time soon.

6. I don’t really get the E-book thing. It works for a guy like Joe, who had like ten unpublished manuscripts sitting in his drawer that he could cart out, as well as a maddening ability to write stories, long and short, in very short time spans. I don’t work that way. Some people think Joe’s an anomaly. Some people think they should all follow his lead, others don’t. I would greatly appreciate it if someone else could figure this out for me and let me know. I guess I’ll be calling Libby soon ….