Thursday, January 26, 2012

The CITY OF THE LOST Three Week Release Report

First off, an announcement.

I'll be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco next Saturday, February 4th at 3pm, signing with author of zombie novels FEED, DEADLINE and the soon to be released BLACKOUT Mira Grant (AKA Seanan McGuire). If you haven't picked up those books you owe it to yourself. She's an amazing writer and those novels are the best zombie books written, hands down.

Now CITY OF THE LOST came out three weeks ago and I've been getting asked lately, how's it going?

The short answer is, I think, that it's too early to tell.

I don't have any reliable sales numbers, yet and frankly don't have any context for them. I don't know what "good" is here. Is it only good if you sold 10,000 in your first week? I didn't, in case you're wondering.

I honestly don't know how reliable Bookscan numbers are. Not every bookstore reports to them. Amazon numbers are useless because all they tell you is where you rank in relation to everything else in their store. With no actual numbers attached all that does is give me the illusion of data while at the same telling me fuck all.

As I find out more and figure out how all this works I'll probably talk about it, but at the moment I got bupkis.

That said, I've been busy. Guest blog posts, interviews, signings, reviews. Is it enough to make the book successful? I have no idea.

So here's where I've been and what I've been doing and what people have said about the book:

First off, we got the first 3 chapters of CITY OF THE LOST up at Criminal Element. Check it out. I think you'll like it.

I did a couple of signings at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach and San Diego and Noir At The Bar last Sunday and I was on an author panel at a local Barnes & Noble.

Got some good reviews.
Then I did some interviews:
And a whole lotta guest blogs:
You know what I've discovered after doing those?

I'm tired.  Seriously, I'm beat.

Overall, though, I think this has gone well.  Won't know for a while if any of this has helped or hindered, if ever, but I went in with pretty low expectations, and so far they've all been exceeded.

Thanks for stopping by.  We'll get back to the blood and guts and dismembered bodies tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Noir At The Bar - The Recap

Culver City, CA

So last night, Eric Beetner, Mystery Dawg and I held our third Noir At The Bar at The Mandrake and goddamn was it good.

The crowd was fantastic and I saw some new folks I didn't recognize. That makes me happy. Whether they came to hear a friend read, hang out with a bunch of drunks telling stories, or were in the bar wondering what the hell this was all about I don't really care. I'm just glad we've managed to keep an audience and grow it a little bit each time.

We even had guests from out of state. Sabrina Ogden from Shotgun Honey was in the crowd to cheer us all on.

Travis Richardson opened up with a couple short flash pieces and a nicely jacked up story about a father and son on their way to a Boy Scout meeting when Bad Things happen.

I think he wins for most traumatic Boy Scout experience
AJ Hayes followed up with some short pieces that showed he's not just a pretty face.

Reading about the perils of witness protection
And then we had Aaron Philip Clark, whose book THE SCIENCE OF PAUL recently came out from New Pulp Press. He read a piece from a work in progress and damn that man is a talent. Watch out for this guy, folks. He's going to kick all sorts of ass.

You are going to be reading a lot about this guy, guaranteed
Bob Ward came on to read an hysterical, fucked up scene about a desperate man trying to roll over geezers at a casino, from his latest novel, THE BEST BAD DREAM.

I had no idea casinos were this dangerous
And then me reading a chunk from CITY OF THE LOST.

Drunker than I look
A huge thank you to Mysterious Galaxy for coming out and having books on hand. We're hoping to have that be a regular thing, so when we do the next one you'll be able to get copies of the readers' work and maybe get it signed by the author if you're into that sort of thing.

And speaking of the next one, we're already lined up for March 25th. So far we've got Hilary Davidson, Johnny Shaw and Gary Phillips lined up and we're working on getting more.

If you came by last night, thank you. I hope you enjoyed it and I'm really glad you could make it. And if you weren't around, well, you're missing out on some of the best crime writers out there.

Join us next time. We'd love to see you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The San Gabriel Police Department Could Use Your Help

Back in September of 2007 the body of Pasadena City College nursing student Liya Lu was found in a trash can and the evidence pointed to one Isaac Campbell as a suspect. Campbell was picked up in, Minneapolis? I think? Anyway, they picked him up a few months later and he's been in the hoosegow since. Trial was going on in December and it looks like there might be more going on with it.

I got a comment last night on the original post I did on it from 2007 from Detective James Just of the San Gabriel Police Department and thought it should get a little more airplay.
Anyone who reads this Blog that knew Isaac Campbell or Liya Lu please call me to provide further information for this case. We are going to retry this case possibly 30 days from the next court date of 02-15-12 and I am trying to locate any other friends of Campbell or Lu. If you have any other information such as character evidence or statements made by Campbell or Lu please call or e-mail me.

Detective James Just
San Gabriel Police Department
So, if you knew Isaac or Liya and have any information regarding either of them, Detective Just of the SGPD would like to speak with you. Give him a jingle, won't you?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just Slap' Em Together And Call It A Day

Los Angeles, CA

A couple of days ago some people walking their dog in Bronson Canyon in the Hollywood Hills found a bag with a head in it.  

This, as I'm sure you can understand, caused great consternation.

The police have been crawling through the scrub looking for the rest of the body and as of yesterday they have found two hands and two feet.  

Head, hands, feet.  No body.

By a startling coincidence, police in Tucson have found a body.  With no head, hands or feet.

Now police say they don't think it's likely they're a match.

But I say, "Who cares?"

This is synergy, people.  It's meant to be.  So what if they're not the same guy?  It's all the requisite parts, isn't it?  Did Dr. Frankenstein care that he had parts from all the same person?  Does Mr. Potatohead care if his parts all come out of his own butt?


Parts is parts.  Mix and match and save yourself some time.  Come on, it's not like we're a stranger to dismembered bodies out here.  

And if you find another torso, head, hands and feet, well, stick them together.  At the end of the day they're all gonna get dropped down a hole, right?

Thinkin' outside the box.  That's me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some People Really Like Their Nuggets

Burbank, CA

Khadijah Baseer must really enjoy her Chicken McNuggets. I mean, she got arrested for them.

Well, not arrested for the nuggets, exactly. For offering sexual favors in a McDonald's drive-thru lane in exchange for them.

Seems she was opening up car doors and offering the drivers unspecified acts of a carnal nature. One gentleman says he was approached but turned her down.

Well, yeah. He would say that to the cops. But he didn't say why he turned her down.

I'm thinking there's something funny about those Chicken McNuggets. We've already had a heroin filled burrito, why not some fried chicken treats with "special sauce"?

Or, you know, maybe he just has a problem with crazy women offering handjobs for a super-sized meal?

Could happen, I suppose.

A Mother's Love

San Dimas, CA

You know how in the movies somebody in jail would get a cake from their girlfriend or their dear old mom and inside there'd be a file for cutting through bars?

Did that ever work? Really? How many hours would it take to get through a set of iron bars? And don't you think the guards would notice? Might as well give them a woodchuck for all the good it would do.

Which makes me think that this mom might have had the right idea.

Rhonda J. Gonzales, 44, went to see her son who's currently doing a stint at Camp Glenn Rockey, a probation camp in San Dimas. Instead of trying to give him useless tools of escape baked into pastries, she brought him bundles of marijuana stuffed in her purse, presumably to smoke and/or trade to make his stay more enjoyable.

Well, she would have if she hadn't gotten caught in the parking lot.

See, before you can go in to the camp you get searched for things like weapons, alcohol, drugs.

Bet she was surprised. Good thing she had a medical marijuana card.

Oh. It was a fake? That's unfortunate.

Hey, wait... you don't suppose. Maybe she knew it was a fake? Nah. I'm sure she's squeaky clean.

Oh, an outstanding warrant, you say? And she went to take pot to her son in jail with a forged medical marijuana card?

Man, she must really love him.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time To Get Drunk And Talk About Tragedy - Noir At The Bar #3

Hey there, cats and kittens... and other mammals too, I suppose.  Ocelots, maybe?  Are ocelots mammals?  Or are they marsupials?  Wait.  Marsupials are mammals, too, aren't they?  Or are those platypuses?  Platypi?


Anyway, whatever you are, we got FUN TIMES A'COMIN'!

Really, they're breathing hard and everything.


Alcohol!  Crime!  Zombies!
That's right, folks, it's here.  On Sunday night, January 22nd, at The Mandrake Bar in Culver City we're gonna do another Noir At The Bar.

We'll have AJ Hayes, Robert Ward with his new book THE BEST BAD DREAM, Aaron Philip Clark with his book THE SCIENCE OF PAUL and... *drumroll please*

ME!  Reading from CITY OF THE LOST.  After tossing back a couple watered down Glenlivets, of course.

You don't think I do this shit sober, do you?

Plus we're having Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach (beautiful and charming people who really class up the joint, believe me) on hand to sell some books in case you're looking to buy.

So start 2012 off right and come on down.  Drink some hooch, and listen to a bunch of guys throw some nasty noir stories at ya.

Hope to see you there, folks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

But Aside From All That I'm Sure She's A Peach

Los Angeles, CA

To hear her attorney tell it Nanette Packard-McNeal is not a nice woman. Deceitful, he calls her. Dishonest. Unfaithful.

But, he says, and this is important, she's not a killer.

Packard-McNeal, 46, is in court for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Bill McLaughlin in 1994. She's accused of plotting with her other boyfriend at the time, ex-NFL linebacker Eric Naposki, in the almost 20-year-old crime.

Seems she was dating both of them and, according to Packard-McNeal's attorney, when Naposki found out he got upset and topped Mclaughlin all on his lonesome. I'm thinking the phrase, "riddled with bullets" was probably used.

The defense's argument here is that Naposki was broke and Packard-McNeal wasn't going to get McLaughlin's cash, so what the hell would be the point of taking him out?

Prosecutors, of course, see things a little differently. They're going with the "Look how horrible she is!" argument.  McLaughlin was loaded after inventing a device that filters plasma from blood.  Before his death they say that she was taking credit for the invention and telling people that she was going to be coming into some money soon.

If the defense can get past the whole "She's a hussy!  She's a bad person!" implication the prosecution is tossing around it sounds like she's got a fair chance of walking. From the thin slice the story gives us it sounds more like a cheap prosecutorial trick than a solid case.

Naposki was convicted back in July for first degree murder with a January 20th sentencing date. So unless he comes in with a "I'll hang her out to dry for a reduced sentence" thing the defense should just need to raise enough doubt about her potential involvement.

Man, this is like a Cain novel. The Femme Fatale, the jilted lover, the rich victim. I think I'm gonna have to watch this one.

I wonder if she looks like Barbara Stanwyck.

Monday, January 09, 2012

In The Wild

So the book went live last week.

And it's been getting some cross-genre love.

Paul Goat Allen dug it over on Explorations, the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog and Jed Ayres had some nice things to say over at Ransom Notes, the Barnes & Noble Mystery Blog.

To be honest I've been a little worried about how either genre camp was going to take the book. Not everybody likes chocolate in their peanut-butter, after all. It's nice to see it getting this kind of reception from both sides.

Then I did signings over the weekend at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach and San Diego.

The RB store was the book launch and mostly had people I knew. A couple strangers came by, which was nice. It was pretty full and VERY surreal. I think something like 20 people? Give or take? Plus I think I pissed off my sister-in-law by teaching my nephew some new swear words.

So that's a win.

San Diego had more people than I expected, which is to say more than zero. Two lovely people, Christine and... Kevin? I think, showed up and we spent an hour talking about zombies. It was a lot of fun and totally worth it.

The staff at both stores are fantastic people. I had a blast at both signings and actually sold some books. Which was, you know, the point.

In all, this whole book thing seems to be going well. Who'da thunk?

Friday, January 06, 2012

In Which Books Are Given Away

Sick of me, yet? God knows I am.

If you're not check out these two interviews with me over at The Qwillery and My Bookish Ways running today where I talk about, shocker of shockers, CITY OF THE LOST, what I'm working on next, Noir At The Bar and other sundry things.

There's even a fez in one of them.

But wait, as master salesman Ron Popeil once said, there's more!

Hidden deep within those two interviews are encoded details on how you (Yes, you!) can enter to win a copy of CITY OF THE LOST for your very own with a hand scrawled note inside written by my helper orangutan Bjorn The Mighty And Incontinent.

Actually, no, the details aren't encoded. They're just down at the bottom.

But the rest is true. Bjorn's here to say something to prove he is more than just my peyote fueled hallucination.

khfgapistg'a?UJoESAutrg aekt5":HUDZG


Dammit, he hit the Caps Lock again.

Anyway, hope on over and enter to win. It's US/Canada only, I'm afraid, since I'm broke and can't afford shipping to Zimbabwe. That peyote habit just costs too damn much money.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

In Which I Jump Out of An Aeroplane

And the flogging of CITY OF THE LOST continues.

I'm over at Penmonkey Chuck Wendig's place today talking about fear, my first book and breathing in free fall.

Please to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

In Which I Talk About Elephant Guns

John Scalzi has been gracious enough to host me at his blog today as I discuss The Big Idea behind CITY OF THE LOST.

Hint: it involves elephant guns.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Release Day Round-Up

With the release of CITY OF THE LOST today, it's been pretty much been like any other day.


But besides having a new book out, I've learned a very important lesson.

I'm a whore.

Really.  I've been bouncing around and popping up like an unfortunate erection.

Like here, at Criminal Element, where you can read the first three chapters.

I'm over at Do Some Damage talking about it and giving you some suggestions about where to buy it. Hint: Bookstores. Like Mysterious Galaxy.

I've even done a couple of interviews over at Bish's Beat and at Spinetingler.

But that's all ME ME ME. The important question is what are other people are saying about me? Or, you know, the book. I guess.

Turns out, some very nice things.

The Qwillery - 5 Quills

My Bookish Ways - 5/5

Rex Robot - 4 out of 5 robots! Robots, people. ROBOTS.

Kirkus Reviews. They gave me a star.  I'm told it's a good thing.

Thanks, everyone, for putting up with my shameless flogging of this thing.  It ain't over, yet, but I promise I'll stop talking about myself soon.

Soon-ish, at any rate.

In Which A Book Is Released And I Extol The Virtues Of The Independent Bookstore

So today's the day. CITY OF THE LOST is finally out.

When I first told my family that I had a book coming out a cousin of mine asked, "Are they going to sell it in bookstores?"

I expected that question. I'm something of the black sheep round these parts so it wasn't surprising. She's not mean, she's just different from me and coming from her it was a valid question.

And so I didn't say, "No, I'm going to drive around and sell copies out of the back of a van like they were puppies."

Yes, you can actually buy it in bookstores, like my favorite local, Mysterious Galaxy. Here's a link to the book if you want to order a copy or, better yet, go down to one of their stores in Redondo Beach or San Diego and grab a copy.

Why? Why would I ask you get out of that comfy chair and brave the traffic?

Well, Mister Dave White has kindly allowed me to usurp his spot over at Do Some Damage today to talk about it.

Hop on over there and I'll tell you all about it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

In Which I Thank The Not So Little People

The road a book takes to creation, I've learned, is a lot like wandering stoned through the desert on a vision quest. It's hazy, enlightening, full of strange new lessons from strange new people.

There's a lot of falling into cactus.

At the end of it you have gone to the land of the dead and come back changed.

CITY OF THE LOST officially hits the bookshelves tomorrow. And though I'm the one who wrote it that feels almost incidental.

Do you know how many people it takes to write a book? Lots.

I don't care whether you've gotten it published with some massive New York publisher, a tiny indie-press, self-pubbed or sitting in your desk drawer covered in dust. You didn't write it alone.

There are the people who gave you good advice you took and bad advice you ignored. The ones who encouraged you to do it, or discouraged you and you told them to go fuck themselves. There are writing groups, editors, agents, friends, spouses.

And I'd like to thank a few of those people who helped me get CITY OF THE LOST where it is today.

I know I'm missing some people from this list. And I'm sorry for that. It's been a long road and I have a memory like a bullet-ridden sieve. But here are a few shout outs.

My Wife, Kari
She convinced me to do NANOWRIMO in 2002. If I hadn't done that I don't think I'd have had the confidence to pursue writing anything longer than a couple thousand words. It proved to me that I could sit down and actually do the work. Toss in years of encouragement, advice and not killing me with a shovel, though I'm sure the urge has been pretty great from time to time.

Allan Guthrie
My agent, the Tartan Ninja. Al Guthrie isn't just a hell of an author, or one of the brains behind Blasted Heath Books, or even a fantastic agent. He's a kick-ass editor to boot. He had suggestions and pointers on CoTL that made it a far better book than I could have hoped for. Even if I cursed him for all the rewrites, the outlines, and that one, teeny-tiny suggestion that meant rewriting the entire second half of the book.

But he was right, damn him. He usually is.

Betsy, Debra and Josh at DAW Books
Everyone at DAW has been fantastic to work with. Thanks guys for putting together a kick-ass book.

Sandra Ruttan
I came up with the idea for CoTL back in 2004 or so but couldn't make it work. Finally I decided to hell with it and I wrote a short story to get it out of my system. Submitted that to Sandra over at Spinetingler Magazine and they ran it. Of course, it didn't get it out of my system. Instead it turned into the first few chapters for CoTL.

Duane Swierzynski and Rob Gregory Brown
Both of these fine, upstanding gentlemen helped me out with my agent search. Thank you, guys. Really appreciate the assist.

Brett Battles
Who critiqued the book, giving me some excellent suggestions and, while I was looking for representation said, "Hey, what about that Allan Guthrie guy? I hear he's an agent. You should try him."

Theresa Weir
Who read an early draft and has been a constant supporter of my writing. She's an incredible writer and a good friend.

The Folks At The Mystery Bookstore
Before it closed early last year, my go-to bookstore was The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood.  Linda, Bobby and everyone else who worked there was always very supportive.  You're all very missed.

There are more. Lots more. Daniel Hatadi, Chris Holm, J.D. Rhoades, David Terrenoire, Doselle Young, Naomi Hirahara... The list goes on.

Thank you, everyone for helping get this mad creation out into the wild. I honestly couldn't have done it without you.