Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Books and Books: Twenty-five Years and It Never Gets Old

Mitch Kaplan gave me a wonderful introduction last night. There is, as Mitch discovered, another James W. Hall, a former military guy who turned spy against the US, and is now serving time in prison. Apparently some websites on the Internet have conflated the spy and me. Pretty funny.

Mitch reminded the audience that he's been in the independent book business for 30 plus years and he and I have been doing this song and dance for most of those. Thank god for that.

The photos of the event were taken by my friend Michael Stern. Sternphotos.com. Check out his amazing website. He's a great nature photographer, specializing in Florida. But occasionally he'll come indoors and snap the wildlife running around in the stacks.

This is Mitch Kaplan and me sharing the podium.

And here I am promoting my short story collection. Available for your Kindle or Nook.

Here are some interesting readers getting their books signed. I've got great fans. So smart, so funny. They don't let me get away with much.

Here's some of the audience. This shot taken by Evelyn, my lovely wife, who had one of the funniest lines of the night.

Another shot by Evelyn. Taken on the iPhone, so it's kind of blurry. So many friends, and neighbors came out on a Monday night to share a couple of hours with us. It was a great party.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Couldn't Have Written A Better Review Myself

James W. Hall is dead-on with Thorn’s latest case

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 24-30, 2011 www.FloridaWeekly.com FLORIDA WEEKLY

■ “Dead Last,” by James W. Hall.

Minotaur Books. 304 pages. $25.99.
A new book by James W. Hall is something to put away for a special treat: something to look forward to. But inevitably, I push other things aside so that I can dig into what will no doubt be a most pleasurable experience. I’m addicted to following the exploits of Thorn, a character at once unique and everyman-ish, spontaneous and guarded, outrageous and surprisingly disciplined.

The Thorn we meet in “Dead Last” is processing grief. Cancer has taken the woman he loves. Mr. Hall’s description of Thorn’s ritualized mourning, which includes burning many of his personal possessions, is dead-on accurate. Thorn is a man who carries little material baggage. Watching him strip even further down to essentials, a kind of excessive and half-mad cleansing, reveals his nature with dramatic economy.

As ever, Thorn’s fate presents him with a case to solve and a wrong to right. Uh, better change those nouns to plural.

How’s this for a plot premise? A Miami-based television cast and crew staffs a low-rated cable series named “Miami Ops.” A running plot line involves a serial killer who, outfitted in zentai suit (a skin-tight garment that covers the entire body) selects victims from hints picked up in newspaper obituaries. The killer deduces locations, weapons and other details from the obituaries as well.

The spandex-clad perpetrator is cunning and ruthless, but the series is about to be dropped by the network. The scriptwriter, Sawyer Moss, knows a lot about obituary writing because his mother, April, is the obituary writer for the Miami Herald. Sawyer’s twin brother, Flynn, is one of the show’s stars. The other is Dee Dee Dollimore, a gorgeous actress hungry for fame who is Sawyer’s girlfriend. Dee Dee’s father (and former abuser), Gus, runs the show.

Now the series seems to have inspired a copycat — a real serial killer who imitates the methodology of “Miami Ops.”

One of April’s obituaries is about Rusty Stabler, Thorn’s deceased wife. Details in the obit lead the real-life killer to murder Rusty’s aunt, who lives in a small town in Oklahoma. Since Thorn is mentioned in the obituary, it doesn’t take long for the Starkville, Okla., sheriff, a very young woman named Buddha Hilton, to visit Miami, tear Thorn away from his beloved Key Largo and involve him in her investigation.

Buddha is a fascinating minor character. Only 19, she is a self-made professional with skill, courage and shrewd perceptions. Like Dee Dee a victim of parental abuse as a young girl, Buddha would seem to have a bright future. She accomplishes much in a short period of time to further her investigation into crimes that become part of an FBI case worked by Thorn’s sometimes buddy Frank Sheffield.

However, Buddha’s future is cut short by the zentai killer. Thorn now has one more death to avenge, and his own life is in jeopardy. There is an unsettling glee among some of the “Miami Ops” gang that the copycat news might just spike the ratings and save the series. Is one of them behind these killings?

“Dead Last” is gorgeously complicated by the network of relationships the author designs. Perhaps the most important is that Thorn and April have to sort out the meaning of their youthful one night fling so many years ago. Awkwardly reacquainted by their involvement in this investigation, they cautiously try to make sense of it and of each other. That old and brief attraction haunts them and eventually provides the reader with an astonishing revelation.

“Dead Last” provides an abundance of violent action, excruciating suspense, brilliant characterization (check out April’s mother, Garvey) and precise and evocative delineations of Miami neighborhoods. It also offers a vivid exploration of the psychotic elements let loose in contemporary society as reflected in, perhaps nourished by, today’s morally hazardous popular culture. Thorn is by now a monument: solid and substantial, a bit tarnished and a convenient target for low-flying birds.

And Mr. Hall is in the vanguard of those who have erased the line between literary fiction and genre fiction.

Want more James W. Hall? “Over Exposure,” a new collection of his fine short fiction, is available as a Kindle
eBook for a mere $3.99. ■

philJASON pkjason@comcast.net

Murder on the Beach

The book tour kicked off officially with a stop at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Florida. A wonderful mystery store just off the main thoroughfare in Delray. The town itself has been booming in the past few years. A wonderful array of restaurants, boutiques, art shops and cool sidewalk ambiance. Like South Beach for baby boomers. A little more restrained, but hip.

Had a good turnout, including James O. Born and Wallace Stroby, two fine writers and friends who took the time from very busy schedules to show their support. Nice guys.

And the book goddesses at the store were wonderful, serving wine and snacks. Signed a lot of books for their online orders and then did my talk and answered questions. Some good questions from the audience. One in particular: who were my influences?

Here's what I said:

I was influenced in the beginning by a set of writers, all inspiring me in different ways.

John D. MacDonald
His love of Florida and his defense of the state against the assault of developers and scam artists. Though oddly for one who loved Florida so deeply, his ability to capture the feel of the place itself was pretty limited.

James Lee Burke
Burke's poetic and lyrical creation of Louisiana, the climate, the flora and fauna, and the landscape in general was at the beginning and is now a major influence.

Ross MacDonald
Lew Archer, his series sleuth, almost always solved crimes that were rooted in the past. Frequently 20 years is the time frame. Something bad happened twenty years ago and it's still reverberating into a current crime. That format was the basis for my first novel and remains one of the elements I use a lot.

Elmore Leonard
His books sound like talk, not writing. They are so natural, so seemingly effortless in the their movement forward, and so "cool" in their tone that they challenge me to write with less ornament, less artificiality in the prose. Finding the balance between Leonard and Burke stylistically is a real challenge.

Robert Parker
Early and late Parker is full of snappy, great dialog that drives much of the experience. I love the way Spenser talks, and though Leonard's dialog is also powerful, it is Parker's I ty to emulate.

So it was a good evening. And there was also cake! Brought by Ken Van Durand who drove all the way down from Orlando to deliver it. Here is Ken standing next to me with the cake in hand.

If you weren't able to attend and want a signed copy of DEAD LAST, I'm sure Joanne and the book goddesses of Murder on the Beach will be happy to send you one.

Here's their home on the web.

And here's Ken Van Durand's site, with his own view of the evening.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I'm thankful for my teachers. Most of all I'm thankful for Peter Meinke who was such a great inspiration to me (and many many others over the years), and such a great model for a hardworking and uncompromising writer. Poet, fiction writer, essayist and man for all seasons, and one who can always hold his liquor better than anyone I ever knew, growing funnier as the night went on. His poems are funny too. They became the models that I imitated early on. Funny and rich with emotion and complex while always being accessible. A marvelous blend of talents.

He taught me how to write, and showed by example how to live an academic life, one that is steeped in language and books and the arts.

And he's still kicking serious ass, as you can see here.

Or check out this interview.

Here's his website.

Advice to My Son by J. Peter Meinke

The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow; if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves–
but the stomach craves stronger sustaenance
than the honied vine.
Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
Show your soul to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.
But son, always serve wine.

There's a new anthology of short stories that includes one of mine, a story called "Good Forever." Quite a weird story in a collection that features noirish or oddball stories about Christmas. Title is BLUE CHRISTMAS and you can find the link here.

It's Books and Books' new publishing venture. Mitch Kaplan, the great bookseller here in Coral Gables is now a publisher.

Monday, November 21, 2011


As frequent visitors to my blog might notice, I've added advertisements lately. It's just an experiment to see how annoying they are. And to find out if they make me rich.

So far they haven't done the latter. But I'm curious if anyone has a reaction to them. Do they feel out of place? Do you just skim past them? What's your reaction?

I can remove them at any time, but it seemed like something I should at least know about.

And you might also notice that my Webmaster is redoing the site. I think it looks pretty cool so far. She's made some interesting changes to invigorate the pages and make things more active.

Soon my Facebook posts and Twitter feed will go live. You can join me in the meantime by going to my Facebook page or Twitter account: jameswhall for Twitter

Staying active in those social media places, plus adding to the Blog regularly does take a little time away from my writing. It's also very unThorn-like, but I'm trying to be a Modern Guy. Plus it's kind of fun interacting with readers and others that way.

Your thoughts on that?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Only two more weeks to get a super deal on the ebook of Under Cover of Daylight for Kindle. You can find it HERE.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The beauty of newspaper book reviewers is that they have the space and usually the passion and intelligence, as Oline Cogdill does, to dig into the substance of a novel they're reviewing rather than just recount the plot.

I doubt I'll get a better review than this one from Oline in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Murder gets personal for Hall's Thorn

By Oline Cogdill, Correspondent

November 20, 2011

'Dead Last' By James W. Hall. Minotaur, 304 pages, $25.99

The newspaper obituary isn't just the announcement of a person's death and service schedule. Obits often are homages to a life well lived, an insightful look at a person and the impact he or she had on their world.

But in the intriguing "Dead Last," the obit becomes a sinister weapon that takes aim at Thorn, James W. Hall's perennial Key Largo beach bum.

Thorn has never been the most sociable of characters -- content to eke out a living tying fishing flies, enjoying "the wayward scent of wilderness" and becoming involved with one nefarious crime after another.

But the death of Rusty Stabler, his wife of one month, throws Thorn into grief-fueled rage over which he has little control. "Some crucial atom inside him had cracked apart and all the wild-eyed craziness . . . stabilized by her presence went into a state of fission." Nearly suicidal, Thorn starts burning everything he owns -- clothes, furniture, mementoes. The bonfire "cleansing" is in full force when Buddha Hilton, the 19-year-old sheriff of Starkville, Okla., shows up at Thorn's Key Largo house. Michaela Stabler, a high-profile lawyer who was Buddha's adoptive mother and Rusty's aunt, was murdered in her bed in Starkville. Rusty's newspaper obituary was placed next to the body.

The murder scene is eerily similar to "Miami Ops," a failing TV crime show being filmed in South Florida that is written by Sawyer Moss and stars his twin brother, Flynn. Adding to the coincidence, the Moss brothers are the only sons of April Moss, the newspaper obit writer and an old acquaintance of Thorn.

Buddha has little use for Thorn, and both are out of their comfort zones in the urban jungle of Miami. But they make a credible detective team as they investigate whether the growing pattern of murders is a ploy for better TV ratings.

Hall always has made it easy to want to get lost with Thorn as he wanders Florida, and this 12th outing continues those high standards. "Dead Last" works as an exciting detective novel but also provides an insightful look at grief and rising above pain, and proves the adage that when one door shuts, another opens. The usually laconic Thorn is a fury-filled machine whose grief makes him ready to slash out at anyone in his way. The calm Buddha, who bears the physical marks of horrendous abuse as a child, sees through Thorn and forces him to deal with his grief. The scene where Buddha passes on her observations to Thorn about his personality is an inspiring moment full of humor and truth. A surprising plot twist signals a change for Thorn that he may not be equipped to handle.

"Dead Last's" solid story and characters who continue to grow show why Hall, who retired in 2009 as a literature professor at Florida International University, ranks at the top echelon of Florida mystery writers.

Oline Cogdill can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A nice early review from Shelf Awareness

Book Review
Dead Last

Dead Last by James W Hall (Minotaur Books, $25.99 hardcover, 9780312607326 , December 6, 2011)

James W. Hall (Magic City; Silencer), South Florida resident, Edgar Award winner and creator of Thorn, that Key Largo loner whose renegade style always gets results, has written another page-turner, this time with a surprising twist.

April Moss, obituary writer for the Miami Herald, has been on the job for some time, without incident. Sawyer, one of her twin sons, writes scripts for a cable TV series called Miami Ops and has been using the obits as part of his storyline. The other twin, Flynn, is the lead actor on the series.

In the show, a serial killer is using obits to select his victims. Suddenly, a copycat appears: a real-life serial killer using April's obits.

Thorn's wife, Rusty, has just died as the story begins. April writes an obit about Rusty, and a copy is found at the bedside of her Aunt Michaela, murdered by an unknown intruder. A young sheriff from Oklahoma is investigating the murder and travels to Key Largo to ask Thorn for help. Thorn is in the process of losing it--burning all his possessions, moving rocks around, spending days and nights in his hammock, refusing help offered by his P.I. friend, Sugarman. The sheriff, Buddha Hilton, arrives and talks him into helping her because, somehow, this murder is tied up with Rusty. Together, they go to Miami to begin tracking clues. Other murders take place, also with April's obituary notices left at the crime scene. Buddha sees a pattern in how the killer decides on the victim, the place and the weapon.

Meanwhile, the crime show gets a great boost in ratings from all the publicity. There are paparazzi everywhere--asking Thorn for information, knowing that he is always around when there is bad news; wondering what Buddha's doing there from Oklahoma; and asking April if she feels like an accomplice in the murders.

There are plenty of suspects to go around: Gus, the show's producer, had a career making porn films with his daughter, Dee Dee, the female lead in the show. This is his last shot; if the show tanks, he'll never work again. Dee Dee has a screw loose and is absolutely delighted that the show has a new life, even if people are dying. Sawyer wants his show to be renewed and Flynn enjoys being a leading man, even though he is too dyslexic to memorize lines. For good measure, a guy named Jeff, who is a critter exterminator extraordinaire, has his reasons to do a number on Sawyer.

Which, if any, of these leading suspects, is the right one? As if that weren't enough of a puzzle, Thorn gets the surprise of his life in the course of the investigation. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Florida Keys loner Thorn joins an Oklahoma sheriff to try to sort out the motivation behind a series of copycat killings based on a TV show.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Google already has posted a few sample chapters of Dead Last which you can find here.

Those devils.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three changes to see me at the Miami Book Fair.

Go here for the book fair website.

I'll be doing a panel with Jeff Lindsay (Dexter), John Connolly (a wonderful writer and funny guy) and Jeff Abbott (who I'll be meeting for the first time.) That's in the auditorium at 2 PM on Saturday.

Then John Durfresne and Ann Hood and Ana Menendez at 4:30 to discuss the short story collection Blue Christmas--kind of noirish holiday stories.

Then I'll also be singing a walk-on with the Rock Bottom Remainders. Here's the info on that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Book Tour for Dead Last


Here's the book tour for Dead Last. A quick drive around Florida. With one side trip to NYC. I'll be making a slightly longer tour in April to some of these same locations and a few more, including a bunch of libraries, for the publication of HIT LIT.

Tuesday, November 22

7:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Reading and signing
273 Pineapple Grove Way
(NE 2nd Ave)
Delray Beach, FL 33444
Contact: Joanne Sinchuk

Monday, November 28

8:00 PM to 9:30 PM EST
Reading & signing
265 Aragon Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Contact: Cristina Nosti

Tuesday, November 29

1:00 PM to 2:30 PM EST
Reading and signing
81909 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036
Contact: Cathy Keller
(305) 517.2602

December 30th

Drop in Signing
Mysterious Bookshop
New York City, NY

Monday, December 5

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST
Reading and signing
2145 Indian River Blvd.
Vero Beach, FL 32960
Contact: Cynthia Grabenbauer

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST
reading & signing
220 First Street
Jacksonville, FL 32233-5273
Contact: Rona Brinlee

Thursday, December 8

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST
Reading and signing, along with Lisa Unger
216 South Armenia Ave.
Tampa, FL 33609
Contact: Leslie

Saturday, December 10

1:00 PM to 2:30 PM EST
Reading and signing
St. Armands Circle
Sarasota, FL 34236
Contact: Eric Lamboley

Saturday, December 10

4:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST
reading & signing
2025 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Contact: Ray
(727) 822-8616

Tuesday, December 13

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST
reading & signing
13751 Tamiami Trail
Ft. Myers, FL 33912
Contact: Mercedes Lawler

Monday, October 17, 2011

The first review for Dead Last is in and it's excellent. Publisher's Weekly:

In Edgar-winner Hall’s compelling 12th novel featuring Florida PI Daniel Thorn (after 2010’s Silencer), Thorn mourns the sudden death of his new wife, Rusty Stabler, in typically idiosyncratic fashion—by burning his possessions. Then Buddha Hilton, the 19-year-old sheriff of Starkville, Okla., arrives in Key Largo to ask for Thorn’s help. Rusty’s aunt, Michaela Stabler, who was Buddha’s adoptive mother, has been stabbed to death in Starkville; Rusty’s Miami Herald obituary was placed beside Michaela’s body. The juxtaposition of clipping and corpse mimics a TV drama, Miami Ops, which employs the twin sons of the obituary’s writer, April Moss, whom Thorn knew briefly years before. Is Michaela’s killing a stunt designed to save a failing show or an act with a murkier purpose? As Thorn attempts to untangle fact from fiction, a revelation about his past changes his life. As always, Hall combines crisp prose, solid psychology, sardonic humor, and glimpses of an edgy, fast-changing Florida into a suspenseful and satisfying whole. (Dec.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hit Lit

There'll be more on this later, but I wanted to put up the cool cover that Random House is using for Hit Lit, my book on bestsellers. Coming April 11, 2012.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It took a while to get these four books of poetry together in the same volume. But it's finally done.

The Lady from the Dark Green Hills, Carnegie Mellon University Press
The Mating Reflex, Carnegie Mellon University Press
False Statements, Carnegie Mellon University Press
Ham Operator, Ampersand Press

I started writing poetry at the age of 18, published my first poem (in Antioch Review) at nineteen, and I was 26 when Lady from the Hills was published. I stopped writing poetry at the age of 40 when my first novel was published.

The novels really tapped the same creative wellspring and didn't leave a lot left for poetry. But I learned a lot about writing, about the music of language, about finding the right word for the right place, about imagery and metaphor and nuance from all those years of writing poetry.

Now you can get the whole collected works for a mere 3 bucks.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Climate Change

What is it about climate change that stirs such passion?

Why would scientists all over the planet enter into a conspiracy to pull a hoax on the public?

My guy Thorn who lives a pretty low-impact green life, is about to get drawn into all this in a very big way.

The new novel (titled Swelter at the moment) is underway. Planning finished, research done, first scene written. Off to the races.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dogs With Manners

Dogs with table manners are very rare.

Over Exposure and Six Other Stories (including the Edgar Award winning “The Catch”

I’ve been writing short stories for over forty years. My early stories were collected in a book that W.W. Norton published in 1990 titled “Paper Products.” Those stories were written mostly when I was in my twenties and thirties and were heavily influenced by the metafictionists back then, people like Vonnegut, Brautigan, Coover and Barth. They were fanciful and strange and surreal, written in a style that was self-consciously poetic.

The stories I began to write in my later years were more influenced by Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard and John D. MacDonald, though they retained some of the same fanciful and strange and slightly surreal qualities I’d employed decades earlier.

The short stories in Over Exposure include two stories that were nominated for the Edgar Award in short fiction, one of which actually won in 2005. The others were all written for a variety of anthologies of crime fiction over the last few years, one about tennis, one about a geriatric hitmen, and another about a scary fishing trip, and one about a man’s obsession with a nude photograph.

Why an ebook? As the publishing marketplace has radically changed in recent years, publishers have found it less and less profitable to publish collections of short fiction, so I’ve turned to this new format to give these stories a home.

I’m passionate about these tight, dark, twisted yarns. I think they contain some of the best writing I’ve ever done. It was a labor of love to put them together in this package and to make them available under one electronic cover.

It’s a new exciting era we’re living in. Songs from iTunes, books from e-publishers. Though I’ll always love to turn the pages of my hardback books, and always enjoy their heft in my hands, I must say I see many advantages to this new form of reading. For one thing, a book can stay alive in cyberspace in a way that it never could in the old world of publishing where paperbacks were shredded and hardbacks remaindered and eventually ended up in the landfill.

Over Exposure contains stories of lust gone out of control, and obsession and murderous envy and other dark passions. There are surprises and twists and moments of danger and violence. I believe there are also moments of redemption and grace in these works of fiction. Moments that lifted me up when I wrote them, and I hope will lift you up as you turn the electronic pages.

You can buy the collection of stories at several online retailers, all for $2.99:

Like Kindle

Or the Nook

Or everything else.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Well, which way is the publishing world turning? Old or new?

Tennis Day

Spent a few nice hours today at the Sony Ericsson. I always like to go on Monday and watch the qualies. You can stand right next to the court and watch matches, or watch the big names practicing, or sometimes like today you can see a world class player sitting in the stands right in front of you eating chocolate and joking with her friends.

Ebook Publishing

Got to pass on this post on ebook publishing. Full of hard facts and a great place to start in educating yourself about the process.

You can go here to watch an intersting video on one wildly successful epub author.

Going to work on putting a few more books up on Amazon and B&N.

When I was a college student back in the 60's I made a connection with a sandal maker down from St. Pete in Sarasota. He made this cool hippie sandals that everyone liked. But not everyone had a car, or knew where to find this guy. So I'd peddle his sandals. I'd go around to interested buyers and draw an outline of their foot on a sheet of paper and take it to my cobbler friend.

He'd charge me 10 bucks and I'd sell them for 12, still a bargain at the time. It felt good to have a side business, sort of like my paper route, or working for my dad in construction as I'd done before college.

In fact, from the age of 8, I'd never not had a job. I wouldn't call myself a hustler, but I was always looking for a way to get a few extra nickels and dimes flowing in.

This ebook thing seems to be rooted in the same sensibility. I love my publisher and respect the old school methods. They've been incredibly loyal and supportive and creative in shaping my career. But if I can put some books out there on my own that my publisher has not expressed interest in, or are years/decades out of date, I owe it to the books themselves to give them a longer life.

And the nickels and dimes aren't bad either.

And here's the King of Epub information,
Joe Konrath, being funny. You want to know more about ebook publication stuff, check out Joe's blog.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Follow me on Twitter: @jameswhall

Dead Last--the new Thorn novel--the Cover

Got a version of the new cover of the next Thorn novel that'll appear in November, around Thanksgiving. Thorn gets involved with an obituary writer for the Miami Herald, (she's an old flame) and through her Thorn becomes way too involved with a TV crime show being shot in Miami. TV stars, writers and directors can be very dark and twisted.

The cover is an early draft and will probably change a bit, but I'm guessing it'll stay close to this. I like it. A little less dark and noirish than recent covers.

Got opinions? I can still pass on feedback to the publishers before all this gets set in stone.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Okay, here we go. My adventures in ebook publishing begin.

I've been writing and publishing noirish short stories for years. I'm not a prolific short story writer, but I do enjoy the process very much. I decided to test the ebook publishing waters with a collection of seven stories, including "The Catch" which won an Edgar Award for short stories a few years ago.

So maybe for some of my hungry fans, this book will hold you over till November when DEAD LAST comes out.

More on DEAD LAST later. (It's a Thorn novel.)

But I wanted to start with a quick blog post about OVER EXPOSURE which I'm selling through Amazon for 2.99. I might be raising that price soon, but for the time being, I wanted to set the price as low as possible to see what kind of response I can get.

I'm also planning on putting my four books of poetry up soon.

It struck me lately that ebook publishing actually insures that these books which are out of print and very hard to find will have a longer life than they would have had in the old print format. Strange to think that cyberspace is better at preserving literary work than the ink and paper format we've always know.

I'm also the proud owner of an iPad 2 and will be reviewing my experiences with it as the weeks go on.

Another piece of news! I'm going to be with St. Martin's Press for at least another two books. I'll be getting to work on the new Thorn as soon as I finish copy-editing the manuscript for DEAD LAST.

Pretty exciting time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Publishing, Perishing and Flourishing

Now that I've finally finished new Thorn novel, Dead Last, and also finished the book on bestsellers I've been working on for years, I'm going to be spending a bit more time updating the blog...between working and researching on the new book proposal (a secret project).

Here are some fairly gloomy numbers about publishing in general and the impact of ebooks.

But as my friend Otto Penzler likes to say, book people are like farmers. If they aren't complaining about too little rain, they're complaining about too much rain.

Maybe so, but this feels like a hundred year flood to me.

The upheaval in the music business which from my point of view started with Napster and evolved into the very successful business model of iTunes, might be a good predictor for what's happening with the book business. I'm not sure what the fall out has been for musicians with the migration from CDs to digital formats. Probably it's a mixed bag. Some musicians benefit, some don't.

The same already seems to be happening in the book business with certain writers capitalizing on the radical changes, and other writers being left behind. The whole world of ebook publishing has a Wild West feel to it these days. No one's exactly sure what the rules are and how to game this brand new system.

The writer as hustler, the writer as entrepreneur. Not exactly a new concept. Most writers have to keep one eye on the marketplace. Even Franzenesque writers who lock themselves away from the world do so at their own peril.

One of the things I like most about my Kindle is that I can read a free sample of a novel, two or three chapters. Like listening to a few bars of a song on iTunes. Actually, I find that three chapters gives me a lot more to go on than the ten or fifteen seconds of music on iTunes. I make fewer mistakes in choosing novels from the three chapter samples than I do with songs. There's lots of stuff on my iPod that I wind up deleting.

Here's a little bit on the Bestseller List and its importance to the book industry.

And here's a very interesting blog post on the new ebook bestseller list in the NYTimes.