Thursday, April 25, 2013


Six years ago I was surviving as a freelance journalist and sometimes foreign correspondent. I hadn't published a full-length novel since 2001 when Dell published, Godchild, the second in the Jack Marconi series. I was beginning to think I would never enter back into the game again. Even then, I still had no idea about the power of e-books and digital publication, so I was still schlepping manuscripts the old fashioned way: via snail mail and via an agent who schlepped via snail mail. In the end, a small traditionally based press took the book on. I signed a traditional deal for traditional percentages. Hey, what did I know?

Now I have the rights to my first Dick Marconi novel back. And now, for the first time, the novel that started it all is available from a digital-heavy indie press that knows how to publish, market, and distribute e-books--StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink. I should know, Over the past two years, I've sold literally hundreds of thousands of copies of my novels with them. So many that it led to a seven book deal with Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing.

 Introducing for the first time, again, MOONLIGHT FALLS

Get it here on Kindle
Get it here on Nook
Get it here on Kobo

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Your Eggs in a Basket

The dynamic literary duo, Hemingway and Gellhorn, each maintained a steady mix of both fiction and journalism. Why shouldn't you?

Writing is a business.
Think of yourself as (Name Here) Inc.
Which means, change the title of this blog to, Your Eggs in BasketS...Plural.

It's a tired cliche..."Don't put all your eggs into one basket." But you know what gets even more tired? Being broke all the time.

If you want to be a successful writer...a writer who actually makes a good living, eats, travels, enjoys life...then learn to write not only in many different styles and even genres, but don't give up the journalism either. When one thing isn't doing it for you or your wallet, something else will. By splitting up your time between several forms of fiction, be it novels, novellas, film scripts, novel adaptations, etc., along with several forms of journalism, photo-journalism, pro blogging, etc., can you ensure yourself steady and meaningful work.

Take it from one who knoweth. Back in the late 1990s, when I landed my first big book contract, I chucked journalism like a bad habit. When the book deal went south a couple of years later due to a corporate merger, I was left with zero means for earning an income. I had to pretty much beg news media outlets to give me another chance. Which they eventually did. Now, I have several new book contracts, but I still maintain my journalism chops. Never again will I be caught with my pants down around my ankles or my baskets empty of eggs.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gone, Baby, Gone

Remember the record store?

In the wake of Writer's Guild Pres Scott Turow's death of the great American author rant printed this past week in the NY Times, I thought I would take a roll call of those professionals and professional organizations whom I had the pleasure of working with back when I was first published by one of the Big 6 Mega-Houses more than ten years ago now.

--The agent...GONE
--The acquiring editor...GONE
--The acquiring editor's boss (the editor-in-chief so to speak)...GONE
--My marketing manager...GONE
--The office in the Bertlesman building...GONE
--The imprint...GONE
--The independent bookstore where I did my first signing..GONE
--The major chain bookstore where I did my second signing...GONE
--The other major chain bookstore where I did my third signing...GONE
--The other, less popular major chain book/CD/DVDs store where I did my fourth signing...GONE
--The post office from where I used to snail mail my queries and manuscripts...GONE
--The book page in the local newspaper...GONE

...Okay you get the point...I'm sure there are a few people and things I've missed here, but when you look at the evidence in bulleted fashion you begin to understand the ever changing nature of this business and why authors such as Mr. Turow (and he is a great author for certain), who more or less cling to tradition, are a bit glum about the future.

But be it the climate, geography, society, technology, the orbit of the earth around the sun, or simply the recipe of Coca Cola, things change. Existence is not static. It's always moving one way or another. We don't read off of cave walls anymore. We have Kindles for that.  

Some of the people I've worked with, published with, played with, laughed with, gotten gloriously drunk with, even played music with along the way were pretty great, and many have moved on to greener pastures, mostly in other industries. I'm greatful for the opportunities extended to me back then. Only one person I know of remains an editor at a big house. So you see, as writers, we must always be flexible and willing to adapt. Or, in the words of a fellow author, we must find ways to survive.

I'm an American author and I've survived and then some.

I'm still here. Gonna be here for a while longer.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Don't Read Your Reviews

Papa poised to kick a critic's ass...

There's a great scene in the recently broadcast HBO movie, Hemingway and Gellhorn in which a drunk Papa spots a book reviewer from across a crowded bar, and taunts the man into a fist fight.
"Hey you...Critic!" Hemingway belligerently shouts at the smartly dressed man. "Critic, come here!"
The critic in question is supposed to be Max Eastman who, in the early 1930s accused the macho Hemingway of being a sissy with no real hair on his chest. Whether Eastman was trying to be literal or just tooling with Hemingway is still up for conjecture eighty years after the fact. But I can bet that if the great Papa were still alive today, the nasty review would still be fresh in his mind and just as hurtful. So it went in make-believe-movie land that, when confronted face to face with his less than favorable reviewer, Papa not only tore his shirt open to reveal real chest hair, but he attempted to knock Eastman's teeth down his throat (In real life this altercation occurred in NYC in Max Perkin's Scribner's office. Eastman and Hemingway wrestled around a bit with the critic supposedly gaining the upper hand in the fight, prompting Papa to start laughing and suggesting they share a drink.).

The point here is not critics or macho stances or even boys being boys. The point is that, man or woman, we all loath reviews. Rather, we loath the bad ones. But as writers in the digital age, we not only have to sweat out the professional reviews, we now are forced to put up with the amateur reviewers. I recall a lecture given once by John Irving when I attended the Breadloaf Writer's Conference back in 1991 in which he explicitly stated that he would not review a single book by an author without having read his entire library first. That's the kind of care a professional reviewer puts into his reviews.

Today however, we place a whole lot of importance on reviews that come from amateurs who know as much about writing a proper review as they might flying a 747. That said however, their reviews are not taken lightly. They are considered a crucial component in the sales, or lack their of, of any given author's books. In other words, the more bad reviews an author receives the better the likelihood that his sales will stink up the joint. The converse is also true.

As authors, we don't have a whole lot of power when it comes to who reviews our work, be it other jealous authors cowardly hiding behind a clock of anonymity, or a spiteful ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, or simply someone who doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. But then, in many ways, it's a Godsend that so many non-professionals will take the time to lend their opinion about our novels and therefore help spread the good word.

Thank you!

But all too often, these same reviewers will go out of their way to say nasty things about a book, and this mean-spiritedness translates into one star reviews that inevitably hurt authors who are trying to make a living.

Imagine if you a will a world in which the reviewer must state his or her occupation and we, the writer, in turn, get to observe their performance for the day and write our own review.

1 Star ...  "This Lawyer Really Sucks"
"When I sat down in court to observe this lawyer in action today, I expected great things. After all, everyone is talking about how great he is. But his opening argument bored the hell out of me. It was full of cliches and the whole thing was slow moving. I won't be attending anymore opening arguments by this lawyer." 

Ok, you get the point.

So, what to do then in a world in which the amateur rules?
Don't read the reviews. Good or bad, just don't read them. Instead spend your time writing the best books you can. Then, in the end, you will know that no matter what anyone says, your book is as good as your could make it. A book that will stand the test of time. A book that will put hair on your chest.