Sunday, January 30, 2011

Releasing Your Debut Novel is like Losing Your Virginity

After what seems like an eternity, my debut thriller, FINAL VECTOR, launches in just over twenty-four hours. I signed the contract with Medallion Press in December, 2009, so this day has taken a while to get here. At times it felt like it never would.

I was thinking about it earlier tonight and it occurred to me that for an author, the release your very first novel resembles nothing quite as much as losing your virginity. Think about it:

- In both cases, you have absolutely no idea what you're getting into when you start.

- In both cases, your mood is ninety percent breathless anticipation and ten percent absolute gut-wrenching terror, especially as the big moment gets closer and closer.

- In both cases, you are plagued with self-doubt, with the exact same thought running through your head: "What if my reviews suck?"

- In both cases, as soon as it's over, your immediate goal is to do it again, despite the fact it can only be your first time once.

- In both cases, it's a moment you will remember the rest of your life.

Of course, there are differences, no matter how similar the two events are. For example:

- I didn't write any of my book in the back seat of my mom's car.

- I was alone for most of the writing of my book, unlike when I lost my virginity. As far as you know.

Still, despite these minor differences, I believe my point is a good one. FINAL VECTOR will be available beginning at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all major online booksellers beginning Tuesday, February 1. I would love it if you check it out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

This isn't an easy letter to write. We've been together exclusively since July, 2008, just the two of us, you and me against the world, joined at the keyboard, facing down every challenge thrown at us.

And I've enjoyed every minute of it, Blog, I really have. I think it's fair to say I've . . . loved it. That's what makes what I am about to type so difficult. I have something to confess. I think I have to get back out there in the game, Blog. I think I have to . . . post on other blogs.

There. I said it. Wow. I feel a lot better, don't you?

You don't? Why not? You don't understand? What do you mean you don't understand?

Here's the thing, Blog. I've written a book; you know that, right? Of course you do. FINAL VECTOR. Well, there is this thing called, um, a blog tour that I will be doing when my book comes out, and that means I will be making guest posts on other blogs, blogs from all over the country, maybe even the world, and it will be really good exposure, and -

- What? What did you say, Blog? A tramp? I am not a tramp. I'm doing this for us, don't you see? I will be getting much-needed exposure for us, so that my book will sell.

And besides, it's just a blog tour. It's no big deal. It will be like The Bachelor, only without the chicks and the sex. And the hot tubs. I'm pretty sure there will be no hot tubs.

Don't be so upset, Blog, it's not forever. It's only two months, and besides, it's not like we won't be seeing each other at all. I will be posting my tour stops here as I go, so really, we will be seeing more of each other now than we have in the past!

So how about it, Blog? Maybe we can even get a few authors to provide guest posts here every now and then, how does that sound? Can you live with that?

Excellent, Blog, you're the best! And when this blog tour is all over it will still be you and me, just like always, I promise!

What's that? A blood test? No, I won't get a blood test afterward. Jeez, Blog, don't be such a drama queen for chrissakes. And don't look at me with those disapproving fonts. You're making me feel dirty.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Knights of the Thriller Roundtable

Back in December I participated in my first International Thriller Writers weekly Thriller Roundtable, in which authors discuss a predetermined topic and what role that topic does - or in some cases does not - play in their work.

It was a lot of fun and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in another roundtable discussion this coming week, from Monday, January 17th through Friday the 21st. This week's topic is, "Do you plot, plan or outline? Or, do you just go where your characters lead you?"

If you know me, you probably realize planning and outlining aren't necessarily my strong suits, except when it comes to controlling airplanes. I have a knack for mis-reading my work schedule that would be hilarious if it weren't so freaking annoying. This would probably lead you to believe I just sit down and start pounding away at the keyboard when I'm writing a book.

You might be surprised.

But I'm not giving away any trade secrets here. If you want to find out for sure whether I'm a pre-planner or whether I sit back and follow meekly along wherever my characters lead me, you will have to check out this week's Thriller Roundtable starting on Monday. And don't worry, there will be eleven other authors contributing to the roundtable, including award-winning, bestselling folks like Weston Ochse and LJ Sellers. You know, people who actually know what they're talking about.

Check it out if you're so inclined, and if you do, say hi or ask a question; get involved! I'd love to see you there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Is there anything more difficult to watch than the struggles of a dying entity? Is there anyone who truly believes the Borders chain of bookstores is anything other than a "dead man walking?"

On December 31, Publishers Weekly reported that the Borders Group, which saw third quarter sales drop an astounding 12.6% (By comparison, Barnes and Noble sales rose 9.7% for the nine week period ending December 31), began suspending payments to "some publishers." Which publishers were affected was not specified, but in response, PW reported that at least one of the "big six" New York publishing houses retaliated by suspending book shipments to Borders.

It gets worse. This morning, Publishers Weekly reported that, on the eve of "complex negotiations with vendors and lenders," Borders Executive Vice President and General Counsel Thomas Carney has resigned along with Chief Information Officer Scott Laverty. Apparently these two saw the handwriting on the wall and made for the lifeboats before the SS Borders slips below the surface of the sea of debt.

According to a Borders spokesperson, senior corporate officials (minus Carney and Laverty, of course) are even now in New York, "in discussions regarding the refinancing of existing senior credit facilities." In case you're like me and don't speak legalese, PW goes on to explain that the discussion involves a "new refinancing plan that includes new money from a new bank."

Is there anyone anywhere who believe Borders, at least in its current form, is anything other than a goner? Is there anyone anywhere who believes a bookseller which suspends payments on its inventory can survive? Is there anyone anywhere who believes Borders will be the last bookselling chain to fail?

Independent booksellers, which by definition don't have access to the kinds of resources the huge chains do, have been struggling - and failing - for years now, victims of a lethal combination: a weak economy and the rise of electronic books. It was only a matter of time before one of the Big Guys fell by the wayside, too.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the lightning-fast changes taking place in this industry. But anyone who likes to curl up at night with a good book can't help but feel at least a little sense of loss. Borders may not go down without a fight, but they're going down, and when they do, they won't be back.