Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm Just a Soldier in the Digital Revolution

Boy, you just never know. After getting what I assumed to be my "Big Break," signing a contract with Medallion Press for publication of my debut thriller in mass-market paperback format back in December, I was stunned to learn last month that Medallion is getting out of the mass-market paperback business entirely and now will publish FINAL VECTOR as an e-book.

I had some decisions to make when I was notified of the changes. Should I pull the book? I could have done it, given that I had a contract which was now unfulfillable by the publisher. (Unfulfillable? Is that a word? If it's not it should be) After a couple of very agonizing weeks, during which time I went back and forth on the subject at least twenty times, I finally decided to let it ride.

FINAL VECTOR will still be released in February, 2011, as planned, only now the format will be as an e-book. It goes without saying I'm disappointed. Everyone who has ever dreamed of writing a novel imagines the day when they can hold their book in their hands and flip through the pages. Nobody ever says, "I can't wait to fire up my Kindle and read my very own book!"

But the times, they are a-changing, and faster than practically anyone could have imagined. Sales of electronic reading devices are skyrocketing, and many, if not most, obsevers believe it's only a matter of time before the publishing business as it has existed for hundreds of years is dead. That's not to say there will be no more books, of course there will, but dead trees will become the choice for fewer and fewer readers as time goes on.

My marketing strategies will obviously have to be different, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I already have a few ideas for things I might want to try in terms of bringing my work to thriller readers and beginning to develop an audience. Stay tuned.

Oh yeah, and if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion - get out there and start looking at electronic readers! There are plenty of choices, all of them good ones. Just make sure you get one before next February. And I have a few ideas for books you can get started with, too.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Well, Shoot Me With a Derringer

I got incredibly exciting news yesterday when I learned that a story I wrote which appeared in Mysterical-E's Summer 2009 issue, "Uncle Brick and Jimmy Kills," has been named a Finalist for an SMFS Derringer Award in the category Best Novelette!

Yeah, I know, knock me over with a feather. The Derringer Award is given annually by the Short Mystery Fiction Society for, as you might imagine from looking at the name of the organization, excellence in short mystery fiction. To be eligible, a story must have appeared the previous calendar year in a publication "with an editor and an established procedure for submission, acceptance and rejection."

There are four award categories, including Best Flash Story (1000 words or less), Best Short Story, (1001 to 4000 words), Best Long Story (4001 to 8000 words) and Best Novelette (8001 to 17,500 words). Five finalists are named in each category, with eligible SMFS members votes determining a Derringer winner for each category. Voting takes place this month, with the winners being announced May 1.

My competitors in the Best Novelette category:

-B.K. Stephens, for her story "Adjuncts Anonymous," which appeared in the June 2009 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,

-Dave Zeltserman, for his story "Julius Katz," which appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,

-R.W. Kerrigan's story "The Last Drop," appeared in the February 2009 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and

-Toni L.P. Kelner, for her story "The Pirate's Debt," which appeared in the the August 2009 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Depending on how much attention you pay to the field of mystery fiction, both in its' long form and short form, you may or may not have heard of any or all of these writers, but just in case you haven't, let me tell you that it's a pretty darned impressive group, and I'm proud as hell to have my work competing for recognition against theirs.

For example, Dave Zeltserman is a Boston-based novelist and short-story writer, author of the hard-hitting and critically acclaimed noir masterpieces SMALL CRIMES, PARIAH and the upcoming KILLER. He is a regular contributor of short fiction to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and considered by most in his genre to be an author on the rise.

Toni L.P. Kelner is the Agatha Award-winning author of more than a dozen novels as well as numerous award-nominated short stories. In addition to being up for a Derringer this year, Ms Kelner is also in the running for an Anthony and a Macavity Award for Best Short Story.

I know what you're thinking. "Man, you're going to get slapped down going head to head against these people."

And you might be right, but the fact that a series of judges using a blind grading system (no author names or publication names were attached to the stories submitted when they were being graded, with the top five stories being named Finalists, based on their numerical grades) considered my work worthy of competing against some of the best in the business is gratifying in the extreme.

If you're interested in seeing the list of finalists in all four categories, you can check it out here.

And just in case anyone up for a Derringer this year happens to stumble aross this post, congratulations and best of luck to you. I can't wait to read all the stories!