Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Last Gasp of Christmas Cheer...Sort of

Just in case you haven't had quite enough Christmas cheer, haven't taken your tree down or dumped it in the woods yet, haven't removed those garish lights hanging all over the shrubs in your front yard, and haven't sung (or hummed, if you can't quite remember the words, especially after that third or fourth eggnog) your final Christmas carol until next December, I cordially invite you to visit the blog from the good folks at Do Some Damage for a little Christmas noir flash story from yours truly.

Do Some Damage is a blog hosted by some of the hottest, up-and-coming members of the crime fiction community - Bryon Quertermous, Joelle Charbonneau, Steve Weddle, Jay Stringer, John McFetridge, Dave White, Russell D. McLean and Scott D. Parker, to be precise - and someone among them came up with the bright idea to host a Christmas noir flash fiction challenge.

The idea was for writers to come up with a noir flash story, no more than 1000 words long, somehow involving Christmas. The stories would be featured, a couple a day, at Do Some Damage, starting the week before Christmas and running through New Year's Day. The thing has been so successful, they're getting record numbers of hits every day as folks check out the unbelievable variety of holiday noir.

What's the point? Thanks for asking. I submitted a story after learning of the challenge, and mine is up at their site now. "Christmas Carole" tells the tale of a pair of brothers, one of whom is facing a weighty problem as Christmas approaches, and the unique way the other finds to deal with it.

Check it out if you have a few minutes. They say Christmas comes just once a year, but in this case, it's not really true.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Do You Like Short Fiction? How About a Free Book of it?

This past summer I downloaded Dave Zeltserman's incredible short story collection, 21 TALES, to my Kindle and devoured it like Charlie Sheen at happy hour. If you're not familiar with his work, you should check out one of his books; this guy can really write.
While reading the stories in his collection I remember thinking a couple of things:
1) This guy can really write, and
2) Why don't I do this?

Now, Dave Zeltserman is a pretty accomplished author. He has written some critically acclaimed stuff and although my first novel hasn't even been released yet, it occurred to me that releasing my own short story collection might serve a couple of purposes. It could introduce people who may not be familiar with me, and may not want to part with eight bucks for my novel, to my work. If they then decide they like that work, maybe they will go on to try FINAL VECTOR.

I have also had a decent amount of success with my short fiction and it makes a certain sense, at least to me, to release the short story collection, titled POSTCARDS FROM THE APOCALYPSE, on the eve of my debut novel's release.

So I'm excited to announce that anyone who has signed up for my email newsletter by midnight on Christmas Eve will be eligible for the drawing to win one of five copies of the upcoming POSTCARDS FROM THE APOCALYPSE. To sign up, simply go to http://www.allanleverone.com/ and click on the "Contact" button on the left sidebar, then enter your email info - it is secure and will NEVER be shared with anyone else for any reason.

Among the seventeen stories inside POSTCARDS are "Regrets, I've Had a Few" and "Independence Day," both finalists for a 2009 Derringer Award for Best Short Story, "Uncle Brick and Jimmy Kills," a Derringer Award finalist in 2010 for Best Novelette, and "Dance Hall Drug," a nominee for a 2011 Pushcart Prize.

There is a mixed bag of material in the book, some noir, some mystery fiction and some horror/dark fiction, but as I mention in the foreword, pretty much everything you read involves someone doing something bad to someone else and maybe - or maybe not - getting what's coming to them in the end.

POSTCARDS FROM THE APOCALYPSE will be available shortly after Christmas, but I'd love to see you win a free copy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh Look, It's a Soapbox!

The International Thriller Writers is a very cool organization, always on the lookout for ways to promote not just the thriller genre as a whole, but also the work of its practitioners. One of the newest ways they have found to do that is called the "Thriller Roundtable," a blog-based discussion forum giving readers and writers an opportunity to interact on nearly a real-time basis.

The topics - and the authors discussing those topics - change weekly, and since the launch of Thriller Roundtable have included favorites like Jonathan Maberry, Andrew Gross, Robert Gregory Browne, Reed Farrel Coleman, Boyd Morrison and many others, including a bonus discussion last week involving thriller legends Lee Child, Gayle Lynds, Joseph Finder and MJ Rose.

Some of the topics which have already been covered and which are archived here, if you're interested, include "Why do you write/read thrillers?," "Who is the best antagonist of all time (other than Hannibal Lecter)?," and one of particular interest to me, "What's the one piece of advice you'd give to the next generation of thriller authors?"

The reason I mention all of this, aside from the fact that if you're a fan of the thriller genre - whether as a reader or a writer - it's a fantastic opportunity to see inside the minds of some of the premier practitioners of the craft, is that the folks at the ITW have very generously given me a chance to participate in next week's Thriller Roundtable as one of the featured authors.

I'm incredibly excited to take advantage of this lapse in judgment...I mean, uh, opportunity...yeah, that's it, opportunity...provided by the ITW. Next week's topic is "What's one myth about being an author you'd like to debunk?" and along with my semi-coherent thoughts on the subject you can also probably get some real insight from my fellow panelists Susanna Kearsley, Julie Korzenko, C.E. Lawrence, Bonnie Hearn Hill and Jeremy Robinson.

The Roundtable discussion kicks off this coming Monday, December 13 and runs through Friday the 17th. Sick of Christmas shopping? Haven't started yet but looking for one more way to procrastinate? Check out this week's Thriller Roundtable; I'd love to see you there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Awards? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Awards

If you're a genre writer and you want your work to be eligible for certain awards - the Edgars, for example - you need to be a member of the Mystery Writers of America. The MWA's list of eligibility requirements is fairly extensive and includes earnings thresholds that must be met to be considered a professional author, as well as requirements publishers must meet for their authors to qualify.

Fair enough; after all, it's their organization, they have the right to run it however they want.

I'll be honest - I'd love for FINAL VECTOR to be eligible for a Best First Novel Edgar. And yes, before you say it, I am well aware it would be the ultimate longshot, but you can't win if you don't play, right?

The problem is I can't play.

I meet the earning requirement by virtue of the advance for my debut novel and my publisher, Medallion Press, is a qualifying publisher. But I am still not eligible to join the MWA as an active member, because of a rule that states, "The initial print run for a book-length work of fiction or non-fiction must be at least 500 copies."

Sounds pretty reachable, right?

And, in fact, if FINAL VECTOR was being released as a mass-market paperback, which was the original plan, it would not be an issue. But in this rapidly changing publishing landscape, many of the smaller/Indie publishers are abandoning the unprofitable mass-market paperback format for the lower-overhead electronic format. Which is exactly what Medallion has done, meaning there will be NO print run.

I wrote an email to the MWA asking for a clarification and was told I could apply for an affiliate membership, making me eligible to receive "about 95 percent of...member benefits." Unfortunately the major benefit I want is award eligibility, which doesn't apply for affiliate members.

What's funny about the entire thing is that in the lengthy list of eligibility requirements at the MWA site is the following: "If your book...is available only in an electronic format...but can meet certain criteria, you may qualify." What those criteria are is not stated, but whatever they are, I guess I don't meet them.

I don't mean to complain, and I fully acknowledge the MWA's right to operate their organization in any manner they choose, but to have a "sliding scale" of eligibility requirements, especailly one that is not quantified or explained, seems to me to be more than a little unfair.

The International Thriller Writers, another professional writers organization and one to which I already belong, has the right idea. They maintain their list of eligible publishers, and if you sign with one of them to release a book you are deemed eligible, whether your book will be available in hardcover, paperback or ebook.

Simple. And fair.