Sunday, January 30, 2011

All this snow is making me SAD

This is what my front yard looks like. Well, maybe a little more plowed out now, but this was what it looked like last Wednesday, after our umpteenth snow storm. We'd gotten 30 inches two weeks before, and this past storm dropped 18 more inches on us. Another storm is supposedly bearing down on us, bent to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday this week. I'm not sure which because I'm afraid to watch the weather.

This is not normal for coastal Connecticut. Anyone who says climate change isn't happening clearly isn't living here or paying attention to the fact that the jet stream is shifting. And while we're getting snow dumped on us, somewhere the polar ice caps are melting. What's wrong with this picture?

Besides all the snow, this is never a great time of year for me. I get SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but usually not til February. I think it's all the snow that's causing it this year.

My husband says I'm an embarrassment to my people, who left Sweden to go to a place that's even snowier and colder: Minnesota.

I am not a pioneer.

Summer can't come fast enough.

Do you like winter?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Discovering Tana French

I tend to veer away from books or movies that have had too much hype. Usually I think this is a smart thing to do, but sometimes I discover that the hype is incredibly well deserved. This is what happened when a friend was telling me how good Tana French's books are, and I decided to try the first one.

I feel stupid for not reading IN THE WOODS earlier. It got the Edgar Award for best first novel, but that's pretty much all I knew except people were raving about it. It looked to me like a horror novel; I didn't know too much about it except the author lives in Ireland. When I finally decided to give it a go back in early December, I wasn't prepared for just how much I was going to like it.

Tana French's use of language and character development is amazing. I was immediately drawn into the story of Rob Ryan, a Murder detective who'd been a victim of a crime when he was a child but who could not remember what had happened to him. Throughout the book he struggles with his amnesia about that, while investigating the murder of a child in the same woods where he'd been a victim.

I couldn't put the book down, and when I finished, I told my husband I wanted the second book, THE LIKENESS, for Christmas. What I like about French is that while this is sort of series, the books are only connected by characters from the previous book. In the second, the main character is Cassie Maddox, who was Rob's partner in the first book. But this book takes place after the events in IN THE WOODS, and takes us to Cassie's next assignment undercover.

I admit that I had to suspend disbelief in THE LIKENESS. Cassie looks so much like a murder victim that she's talked into taking that girl's place in order to try to catch the killer. But despite the obvious flaw in that premise, the story sucked me in and I believed that Cassie was able to pull it off and infiltrate the girl's life.

In FAITHFUL PLACE, the most recent of French's books, the main character is Frank Mackey, the undercover cop who talks Cassie into taking on the assignment in the previous book. Mackey is drawn back to his old neighborhood and a reunion with his family when it's suspected that his first love, the girl he was supposed to run away with to England when he was 20 and who left him with no explanation, might actually have not gotten away after all. The best thing about this book is the depiction of Frank's family, which comes to life on the page. I can picture them clearly through French's brilliant storytelling.

Each book is told from the first person point of view of the main character. French gets into each character and creates a whole new world in each book. If forced to pick a favorite, I think I have to say the first, IN THE WOODS. While I liked the other two and they are very strong stories, I think Rob's voice spoke most to me, and that story resonated just a little longer.

Have you read of any of Tana French's books? Do you tend to shy away from a book that's had too much hype?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Want to read my backlist but they're out of print? Download them!

Lately I seem to have quite a few readers inquiring whether I'd ever write another Annie book or a fifth tattoo mystery and put them up on Kindle as e-books.

I admit that I find the phenomenon interesting. Many writers I know have been putting their unpublished manuscripts and/or backlist up on Kindle, and for a minimal cost, people can download them. Joe Konrath and Lee Goldberg claim they're making a mint on Kindle.

I'm not totally convinced this is the way to go. Honestly, it's really just self publishing. It would be taking a book I wrote, thinking that it's publishable even though maybe it was turned down by about a hundred agents—not even making it to an editor's desk—and deciding that people would want to pay money for it anyway. Granted, I wouldn't be out a lot of cash, like I would be if the book were to be printed, but still. It's the idea that whatever I write would be worthy of having people pay money for it without the validation of someone who's actually in the publishing business. Sure, I've wondered about some of those publishers' decisions on what to buy and what not to buy, but they are still the professionals here. I'm not confident enough to think that every word I write is gold and worth someone's hard-earned cash and time. (And this is not dissing those who do choose to publish on Kindle; it's a personal decision for personal reasons. These are merely my own thoughts on the matter and how I feel about it.)

That said, all of my books are available as e-books. Even all my out of print Annie books. You can get them on Kindle or the Nook or the iPad or whatever e-reader you might have.

This was a surprise to my friend Clair when I mentioned it to her. She had no idea. But the way publishing is working these days, when a book is published and printed, it's also put out there as an e-book. Why not?

Clair said I needed to let people know that my books are available as e-books, and when I thought about it, I realized she was right. I've had people email me and ask about the Annie books, where can they find a rare copy, and I do tell them that they can go on Amazon and eBay, but I never thought about saying that they're also available for download. Mostly everywhere.

So here it is. The announcement: All of my titles are available for download as e-books. So if you've got one of those Kindles or Nooks or iPads or another nifty gadget and you're dying to find out how Vinny and Annie meet up in SACRED COWS or you haven't been able to find a copy of SECONDHAND SMOKE anywhere, just download them. It's cheaper than a print book, too.

Are you an e-reader?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Finding a new voice in the new year

So it's a new year.

I'm not one to make resolutions. It's too easy to break them. But I've been floundering a little, and I finally made a decision. I suppose you could say it is sort of a resolution.

June will see the publication of the last of the tattoo shop mysteries, INK FLAMINGOS. I wrote the book as the last one, so it leaves Brett and company in a good place — after solving the crime, of course.

I'm still waiting to hear from editors about my YA novel, and since there are no guarantees in this business, I know I need to get started on something else. I've tossed around an idea for another YA, but just couldn't find the voice when I started writing. I had another idea for a thriller, but the same thing happened: the voice just wasn't there.

It became too easy not to write. Two months went by and I produced nothing. I wasn't feeling very creative, still not feeling it.

So I decided to pull out an old manuscript. Way back after I wrote SECONDHAND SMOKE, the second Annie Seymour book, I decided to switch gears and write a straight up PI novel from Vinny DeLucia's point of view. For those of you just joining us, Vinny is Annie's former high school classmate turned lover. But the book that features him took place before he and Annie hook up again, before SACRED COWS begins.

I really liked that book. My agent liked it. So I started looking over it again, wondering what I could do with it.

First off, though, Vinny had to become someone else. I don't want to start rehashing old characters. This needs to be its own book, in its own right, with its own characters. So Vinny has become Nick Maloney. When I started writing Nick, suddenly I knew everything about him. In six pages, this story was no longer Vinny's, but Nick's. And I realize now that the story could never have been anyone else's.

Granted, I have to update it. Funny how in five years technology has changed, teenagers no longer email but text, Facebook exists. The economy is floundering, and Nick is a victim of that new reality of housing busts and layoffs and media infatuation with celebrity.

I have no idea where this book will go or if it would ever get published. But my resolution is to write it, to tell Nick's story, to get back on that writing horse and see where it can go.

Do you make resolutions?