Sunday, June 27, 2010

A New Hope

It's been an odd week.

This week, I began a new job. It's new. It's a job. Thus far, it's going well (I think). And that is all I plan to say about that.

I also began writing a new novel. Like, only just. I'd been kicking around an opener for a couple weeks now, but I couldn't seem to find my angle, my point of entry. This morning, all the disparate elements in my head suddenly clicked, and there it was. All of three paragraphs, but damn if they aren't an important three.

And they're good. Really good. Now my job's to make sure the rest of the book lives up to them.

Okay, the elephant in the room: no, The Wrong Goodbye isn't finished yet. Yes, I still intend to finish it. In fact, I'm pretty close. But the fact is, The Wrong Goodbye's a sequel, and without a deal for the first in the series, I've found it difficult to invest myself in that world. Not because I've no attachment to it, but because I have too much. My brain gets all knotted pondering publishing scenarios when I should be thinking plot, and I'm worried my lack of focus will bleed into the writing of the book itself.

So instead, I've started something fresh. Something new. Something that both plays to my strengths as a writer, and challenges me to step outside my comfort zone.

Does it have a title? Yes, but I'm not ready to let it out into the world just yet. I will say this about New Book: it's a straight-up crime novel -- a big, sprawling, propulsive thriller. In some respects, it may wind up being the most commercial thing I've ever written. But it may also be the darkest.

Now all I've gotta do is write the thing...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Congratulations Stephen Blackmoore!

I have a confession to make. I'm not a huge fan of short stories.

Whoa whoa whoa -- don't get all mad at me. I know I write 'em. And believe me, I read 'em, too. Lots of 'em. But the truth is, I'm not a huge fan of the form itself. I'm a fan of novels first and foremost, because I like a story with complexity, with room to breathe. Novels take the reader on a journey, a feat short stories rarely manage. Which means a short story's gotta really have something to draw me in. A killer hook. A flat-out awesome character. A line or two that knock me back.

That's why I'm so damn psyched to hear Stephen Blackmoore just signed a two-book deal with DAW. See, forever ago, I read this story of Stephen's on The Thrilling Detective called Sumo, and it was awesome. Funny as all get-out, with a twisted, brilliant premise and prose that sparkled without calling attention to itself. So I sought out more of Stephen's stuff, and guess what? Sumo was no fluke.

But like I said, I'll take novels over shorts any day. And I've been dying to read Stephen's City of the Lost a while now. Thanks to DAW, I'll get my chance. And then I'll get to read his next one.

Awesome, says I. And if I had to guess, I'd say Stephen's probably kinda jazzed right now, too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Job Update

Day jobs. Damn near every writer on the planet has one, and until three months ago, I was no exception. Then my company shut down, and I found myself a full-time writer.

Know what? It sucked. I'm a biologist by trade, and I missed the challenge of research, the social interaction of being in a lab. And yeah, I missed the paycheck, too. Not to mention, the stress of job hunting and the pressure the lack of steady employment put on me to generate some cash flow via writing blunted my creative output.

I'm happy to say that as of next week, balance will be restored. On Friday, I accepted a position with a lab dedicated to providing diagnostic tools to veterinarians, as well as technologies to monitor food and water safety -- goals that are both scientifically interesting and socially very, very cool. No, I won't say where, for the simple reason that this is a blog dedicated to the writing portion of my life, and I'm a big proponent of keeping the two separate. In fact, I suspect this is the last I'll ever mention it. But I'd addressed my joblessness here, so I thought its end merited a mention.

So yeah. New job. Pretty psyched. Also psyched to get back to my novel. Or should I say novels? See, ever since I accepted this job offer, I've been kicking around a new idea...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sophie Littlefield's A Bad Day For Pretty now available!

Sophie Littlefield doesn't have to be so damned nice. Not when she can write as well as she does.

The chops she's got, Sophie could be a big, fat jerk*. I'm talking ego the size of Texas. I mean, did you read A Bad Day For Sorry? The Edgar committee sure did. Ditto the folks behind the Anthony, the Spinetingler Awards, and oh, did I mention the Macavity?

Yeah, it was that good. Smart, funny, thrilling, and featuring a narrative voice so warm and unique, from page one you feel like you've known Stella all your life. If you haven't read it yet, do.

And if you already have, well you're in luck. Sophie's followup, A Bad Day For Pretty, was released this week, and it promises to be every bit as good as Sorry. Add to that the fact that Sophie's one of the awesomest people in an industry chock full of awesome people, and that's two reasons you ought to buy this book. (Hmmm. Two reasons; two copies? Just putting that out there.)

So go. Buy. Read. Love. (Trying not to say "You won't be Sorry"... it's so cheesy... so obvious... and so very, very tempting...)

*Grammarian's note: in this context, "big" and "fat" are intended as reflective of any potential jerkiness, not actual Sophie size. In reality, Sophie would make quite a svelte jerk if she so chose.

UPDATE: A scant three hours after I posted this, Sorry was also nominated for a Barry. Like, for serious.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Killer Serial

Serials defined my childhood.

I have George Lucas to thank for that: his love of classic movie serials led him to create Star Wars and Indiana Jones, two series that molded my fiction sensibilities, locking me in to a love of the classic serial style long before I even knew there was such a thing.

So when David Cranmer, crack editor of Beat to a Pulp (and kick-ass author in his own right) dropped me a line to ask if I'd be interested in contributing the first chapter in a serial he was cooking up, I didn't even have to hear his pitch. I was in.

Lucky for me, then, his pitch was awesome. A rough-and-tumble time cop named Simon Rip, who along with his enigmatic partner, Ludwig, is tasked with hunting rogue genius Dr. Berlin across time. David's plan was to recruit writers from a wide spectrum of genres -- pulp practitioners all -- and just let 'em loose. I mean, who wouldn't want to play in that sandbox? A schlocky sci-fi premise. Larger than life characters. Limitless possibilities. One day, Rip might find himself the unwitting star of a Western. The next, an old-school mob tale. Sword and sandal? Check. Victorian Gothic? Why the hell not?

David called his serial A Rip Through Time, and I was lucky enough to kick it off. My installment's titled The Dame, The Doctor, and the Device, a rollicking adventure that kicks off in the 24th century, takes a little jaunt into prehistory, and then winds up with a good, old-fashioned Prohibition-era gunfight. And oh yeah, ends on a big fat cliffhanger. (It's a serial, after all; did you even have to ask?)

So, who takes the reins for chapter two? I'm not telling. (Seriously, copper, you'll never get me to sing!) I will say this, though; the folks David's brought on board can write. I'm giddy at the thought of seeing where the story goes from here.

As to where you can read about Rip's exploits, go bug David. Seriously -- call him up. Write him letters. (You could even use these stamps.) Right now, it looks like Rip's set to appear first at Beat to a Pulp in serial form, and when the whole shebang draws to a close, he'll get his own snazzy little e-book for your downloading pleasure. The question is when.

But then, with Rip, the question is always when.

(Oh, and if you'd like a little tease as to what's in store, pop over to David's blog for a quote excerpted from Dr. Berlin's 2342 MIT Commencement address...)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Oil

Cherie Priest, author of such rip-snorting novels as Boneshaker, Fathom, and the Eden Moore series, has written a post about the environmental disaster in the Gulf that's far more eloquent and heart-wrenching than I ever could. You can, and should, read it here.