Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wintery Reads

Writers read a lot. A LOT. For me, reading an hour each day before I start my own work fires up the brain cells. The story has to grab me, of course, but I also read for craft: to see how other authors put their stories together; how they use dialogue, voice, tense, etc. And winter's the perfect time: no grass to mow, the boat's wrapped up tight in the back yard, and the icicles are getting longer by the day above the back bedroom window.

Gotta tell you, I've been reading some pretty cool stuff lately. By far the most unusual novel I've read in years is Don Winslow's The Savages, which follows three twenty-somethings as they get drawn into the world of crime--a spoiled, lost young woman and the two men in love with her (and yeah, this gets a bit kinky). Everything about this book is different: the structure, the syntax, the dialogue, even the way Winslow uses punctuation. Case in point: the first chapter is just two words. "F--- you." Succinct, no?

Just this week I finished Tana French's excellent Faithful Place (one of Time magazine's Ten Best Books of 2010). A mystery-love story set in Ireland, it follows a cop whose seminal life moment was the night the woman he was planning to elope with left him--or so he thought. Gritty storyline, excellent pacing and use of dialogue. No pat ending, either, which is very important to me.

Dennis Lehane's Midnight Mile, the sequel to his excellent Gone Baby Gone was another good one, and I'm about to start the much lauded Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

So send me your suggestions! I'd love to add them to my list...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Snickers Bar

This is the deal. A while back, when I first got serious about trying to "sell" one of my novels, I bought a candy bar (something I NEVER do cause they're just a little too tasty) and put it in a little side drawer in my desk. It was a Butterfinger, as I remember, and I promised myself I could have it when I sold the book.

Years went by.

When I began submitting my 2nd book, I did the same thing with a Snickers bar. Sad to say, the Butterfinger was still there. The 3d ms saw a Mounds Bar added to the pile. Things were getting pretty crowded in that little drawer. Luckily, right around that time I sold Hunter Huntress and got to eat the Butterfinger which, as you can imagine, was pretty stale. I mean we're talking 7 or 8 years. Still, never has success tasted so sweet!

The recent acquisition of Matinicus means I can finally eat that Snickers bar--something I plan on doing tonight. Can't wait...this one's only 4 years old.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Matinicus" to be Published March, 2012

Happy to report that a just last week I signed a contract with PublishingWorks, a terrific small publisher here in NH, for the publication of Matinicus--the first of three mysteries set on the coast of Maine. Matinicus is a double murder mystery tracing the development of a stubbornly self-sufficient fishing community through the eyes of a disturbed and unhappily married island woman of the 1820s, a conflicted twenty-first century teenage girl, and a middle aged, womanizing university botanist—Dr. Gil Hodges—who arrives on-island to verify the existence of a purported 22 species of wild orchid only to find himself hounded by the ghost of a child some 200 years dead. Matinicus is the prequel to Reese's Leap, the novel I'm currently writing. PublishingWorks specializes in the fiction of New England and just as importantly from my point of view has signed on for national and international sales distribution with Publishers Group West (PGW), the leading book sales and distribution company in the United States. One thing I've learned over the last few years: distribution is everything. Funny how I found them, too. I was scouring the mystery section of RiverRun, our local indie book palace, for publishers I'd not yet submitted to. PublishingWorks had just come out with a new New England-based mystery entitled Sumner Island which was set prominently on RiverRun's "new releases" table. I jotted the name down, emailed them that afternoon, later sent them some chapters and then the full ms. Four months later, they signed me. How cool is that? Look for Matinicus in March, of 2012. Available everywhere in paperback and all e-formats!