Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm Off

Tomorrow (or today if you're reading this on Wednesday), I'm off to ThrillerFest. Getting in a little early so I'm rested and ready for the fun. No posts until probably next week. Have a great weekend, and I'll let you know how it all went when I get back!

Hey, if you haven't checked out Tuesday's post with the links to the KT Tunstall performances, then do yourself a favor and go there right now.

And don't miss J.B. Thompson's interview with Jason Pinter, fellow Class of 2007 member!

See you next week!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Accelerating Toward a Killer Year

It seems the last couple of months someone’s been pushing the gas pedal closer and closer to the floor. It’s one of those things you don’t notice at first, then just by chance, you glance at the speedometer. “Whoa!” you say. “How the hell did that get up to 120 miles per hour?”

And if I thought things were going fast before, today markers the beginning of a whole new phase. Today is the official launch of theKiller Year website, and the Killer Class of 2007’s blog. Jason Pinter’s up first at the blog, so check out what he has to say. Tomorrow it’s my turn. On the following days you’ll hear from other members of the Killer Class of 2007, so bookmark our blog and website so you can check back often.

And the launch is just in time, too. ThrillerFest begins a week from Thursday, so if you’re going, you’ll be able to meet several of us there. And if not, we’ll keep you posted on the happenings through our new kids on the block point of view.

Hang on, everybody. And enjoy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Something Every Writer Should Read

Jason Pinter has written a fantastic post today about agents and their value. All writers starting out or even already done the road need to read it. Click here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cold Case

J.T. Ellison has a post on Murderati today about a cold case that is personally important to her. If you have the chance, please go over and read about it. And on the off chance you can help, please do so.

If you're a debut novelist with a crime/suspense/thriller coming out next year don't forget to send your info to jason@jasonpinter.com.

And everyone should bookmark Killer Year, we'll be getting it going soon, then will have constant updates!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Killer Year

Did you feel that earthquake yesterday? Maybe not, but trust me, you will. It's not the kind of earthquake that shakes for a while and goes away. It started Wednesday morning...actually started on Tuesday (see JT's comment)...hell, it's been building for the past several months now.

Every year sees another group of debut authors make their appearances. But I don't know, 2007 just seems different. Okay, I know. It seems different because I'm one of those debut authors. But that's not what I mean. See, several of us have been slowly developing friendshps that we've used to support each other, share information and learn together. Now we've decided to make it official. Watch out the Killer Class of 2007 is coming.

Yeap. We have our own website. More to come soon. Jason Pinter, JT Ellison, Sandra Ruttan and I have official declared 2007 A Killer Year.

If you're a debut thriller/crime/mystery novelist whose first book is coming out next year, you're in. Just email Jason your information at jason@jasonpinter.com.

Our goal is to work together to get our names out there. We have a helluva lot better chance of getting recognition together than we do on our own.

Join us. It's going to be a blast. And it's going to be a killer year.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Your first book coming out in 2007? Get yourself over to Jason Pinter's Blog and sign up as an official member of the class of 2007.

Together, we'll make this a Killer Year. HA! I love that! It makes me laugh.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

YK Syndrome then an Interesting Link

So I was thinking about writing this post, and, you know, I couldn't exactly figure out, you know, how to, you know, start it. I mean, you know, starting a post is hard. You have to, you know, grab your audience, and, you know, talk about something, you know, relevant.

Man, I hope you made it through that paragraph. It was as painful to write as I'm sure it was to read.

As you might have guessed, I've been thinking a lot about public speaking lately. Next year after the book comes out, I hope to get some opportunities to go out and do a few signings. Even before that, there are at least three conferences I'm planning on attending, and at the first, ThrillerFest at the end of the month, I'm appearing on a panel. So I've started to pay more attention when I see others speaking in public.

Within the past week, I've had the opportunity to attend a couple of signings. First the Thriller Anthology signing with five great writers - Denise Hamilton, Gregg Hurwitz, Gayle Lynds, Christopher Reich and Christopher Rice, and then the next night Barry Eisler at the Mystery Bookstore. To a woman/man, they were all great speakers. Clear. Funny. Entertaining. Informative.

Great role models.

After I left Barry's signing on Friday night, I turned on the radio and caught part of a sports radio talk show. (I have my sports moments. GO ANGELS!...though we suck at the moment.) They had a caller on the line. Callers are seldom good public speakers, so it didn't surprise me that he was inflicted with YK Syndrome, that is, inserting "you know" after about every fifth or sixth word. What did surprise me was when the host came back on to speak. He seemed to have been infected by the disease. During his first response, he said "you know" seven times. Second response, nine times. Third response, eight. I stopped counting after that. This from a man paid to speak publicly nearly every day.

I'm sure you all have heard speakers with similar issues. It's a crutch, a way to fill the air because you think you need to fill the air. After all you are the speaker. You are the one everyone is looking at. What we fail to remember is that sometimes it's okay to not say anything. A pause without a "you know" filling the void, is thoughtful. It shows the speaker is confident and in control of what they are saying. Whereas dropping the old YK into the mix makes a speaker sound unsure of themselves.

Now I'm not about to start throwing stones here. I've been known to employ the you-know pause on several occasions. But I really try to watch it. And with more talking in front of groups ahead of me, I would love to completely excise this tendency.

So if you're ever talking with me, and, you know, you hear me, you know, fall into the YK Syndrome, you know, knock me up side the head.

Or just tell me to shut up.

Interesting Article on publishing paperback vs. hardback. Click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tar Pits and Ideas

Most of you probably don't live in a place where you experience this, at least not on a daily basis, but tar bubbles up out of the ground here. Weird. I know. But I see it every day.

Now before you go thinking I'm talking about the whole Los Angeles, area. I'm not. Well, at least I assume I'm not. I'm just talking about my little corner of weirdo paradise. A little strip know as the Miracle Mile. You've heard of it in the movies, you've read about it in books - specifically those of Raymond Chandler. It's like those other iconic L.A. locations: the Sunset Strip, Hollywood and Vine, Rodeo Drive.

Another famous L.A. landmark is the La Brea Tar Pits. The tar pits, see, they're right on the Miracle Mile. That's a two for one for all you tourists out there. I see both of them every day. My day job is on the Mile. All right, smart aleck...in a building on the mile. In fact, if I stand up from my desk in the cube farm and look out the window, I can actually see the main pit across the street. It's not easy to miss. They've got a family of staged mammoths to demonstrate the dangers of the pits.

The tar pits are a part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) complex. Surrounding the pits is a beautiful grass park. I walk through that park almost every day. What I've noticed over time is that occasionally tar starts bubbling up in unexpected places. There are two new miniture eruptions right on my path in the middle of a large grass expanse.

The tar got me to thinking about ideas. And how ideas pop up at any time from unexpected places. It could be someone we see walking down the street. It could be a news story we read. It could something we've heard from a friend. Or it could be something that pops into our heads for no apparent reason at all. (For a more detailed post about the genesis of an idea, read Jeffrey Cohen's excellent and hilarious entry at Murderati from June 4.)

I marvel at that process. I love that moment an idea hits me. There's nothing like it. These idea moments happen to everyone. I mean EVERYONE. Someone might swinging their cart around a corner at a super market when they have an idea that shows them the exact ratio of acceloration to turning angle they need to win the Indy 500. Someone might be searching blindly for the snooze button when they come up with the idea that planting a bougainvillea in a certain spot would be the perfect touch to their front yard. Or someone might be having breakfast with someone they're not particularly fond of and realize that writing a story about a serial killer that targets cereal tycoons would be great.

Perhaps the first person could become a world class race driver, the second a successful landscape architect, and the third a published author.


But it's just as likely that these three would become none of these things.

Getting the ideas is just the first step. It's what we do with these ideas that determine our paths. Let me repeat: It's what WE (you and I) do with these ideas that determine our paths. If we don't, it'll just be a lot of woulda, shoulda, coulda. If you want to be a writer, then you take the ideas and you write. Doesn't matter where they came from. They're going to bubble up in unexpected places. You're job is to do something about them, not just say, "Hey, look at that. That would make a good story," and then move on.

Ideas are great. But they remain only ideas, until you act.

What are you going to do with your ideas?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cornelia Read

Stopped back in at the Mystery Bookstore last evening to say hi to Cornelia Read and get my copy of A Field of Darkness signed. Unfortunately I wasn't going to be able to stay for her discussion, but I was hopeful that I could grab a moment or two of her time prior to her talk.

And I was in luck. We spotted each other as soon as I walked in and had a great, albeit quick, conversation. Got the book signed and made my exit. I sure that the event went off great. There were already several folks crowding into the store.

Thanks, Cornelia!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

You're Beautiful

You’ve probably all heard the song. If you haven’t, you just haven’t been listening to the radio or watching MTV or VH1. You’re Beautiful by James Blunt has been in heavy rotation everywhere. I know there are those of you out there who are completely burned out on it. I even read where one radio station in England has banned the playing of anything by Blunt. Not because he isn’t any good, but because he is played too much everywhere, in other words, a severe case of over exposure.

Usually, I’m one of the first to jump on the You’re-Playing-It-Too-Much bandwagon. Really, I am. I don’t listen to top 40 radio because of that. In fact, I seldom listen to pop radio at all. KCRW is my station here in L.A. It’s the local public radio station, and they have some kickass radio programs. Check ‘em out. They podcast almost everything over the web. In this age of the Internet, I think KCRW would probably be my station wherever I lived. When not listening to the radio, I’ve got the iPod going with what it tells me is 4.7 days worth of continuous music.

But here’s the thing. I love this song. There are several elements that play right down my alley. The simplicity of the guitars. The emotion of the voice. But most of all, the story the lyrics tell.

It’s a simple one. You catch the eye of someone across the room, and for a split second you feel the attraction between the two of you. You can see a whole shared life right in front of you. But, for whatever reason, you know you will never be together. And then she (he) is gone. But that memory is there for you for the rest of your life.

The song makes me think back to the fall of my senior year in high school. I was working at McDonalds (yes, it’s true.) I was very much a single guy at this point with no idea what to do about it. But that’s probably beside the point.

I remember this one night, it was a Saturday. Late, maybe 9:30. Not a busy time for us. This family comes in: a husband and wife and their teenage daughter. I’m sure we were about the same age. I remember her face to this day. Open and friendly and cute as hell. I lived in a small town with only a single high school, so I was pretty sure they weren’t local.

The girl and I exchanged glances while they ordered their food. Then again while they were out in the dinning room eating. I wanted so much just to say hi. But it was like I’d forgotten how to talk.

And when they left, she looked back at me.

And she smiled.

And I smiled back.

And then she was gone.

I never saw her again. But I’ve never forgotten that evening, that perfect meeting.

That’s what this song does for me.

You're Beautiful
by James Blunt

My life is brilliant.

My life is brilliant
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I'm sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won't lose no sleep on that,
'Cause I've got a plan.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

Yes, she caught my eye,
As I walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
Flying high,
And I don't think that I'll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last 'till the end.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it's time to face the truth,
I will never be with you.