Mar 172014


So, here’s Seth Meyers’ show from Tuesday night, March 11. He’s doing the funny, and then around minute 20, first guest Rachel Maddow comes out. And around minute 23 and 30 seconds, they start talking comics.

I’m still in geek-fugue about this. It’s always flattering to get a shout out, but to get a shout out from not one, but two people I hold in such high esteem…

…yeah, I’ll be over here in the corner, grinning and giggling.

Rachel Maddow admits to Seth Meyers that she gives copies of Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country to members of Congress, saying “It’ll give them helpful insight for their jobs.”

I wonder how Greg Rucka’s forthcoming novel, Bravo, would go over!

Feb 142014

jpattersonPublishing circles were reeling today after this morning’s surprise announcement of the merger of pop fiction titans James Patterson and Clive Cussler, who between them are likely to account for twenty bestsellers in calendar year 2014 alone. While neither author could be reached for comment, a source close to both men confirmed that the deal will include all rights—film, electronic, and audio—to the two authors’ innumerable backlist titles as well as all current and future work.

“This is very unsettling,” declared Georgette Rasmussen, proprietor of Books Are Our Friends. “Independent booksellers are facing desperate challenges these days, and I don’t see how this can possibly help us.”

ccusslerInterviews with two officers of Authors Guild, both of whom insisted on anonymity, brought curiously contradictory responses. “I think it’s very exciting,” said one. “This  shows the great resourcefulness of our membership, and the inherent ability of writers to adjust to changing conditions in today’s publishing environment.”

Her colleague was less sanguine, characterizing the merger as “appalling, and very much of a piece with the consolidation in publishing. You could see the handwriting on the wall back in 1962, when Harper & Brothers gobbled up Row, Peterson & Co. If Patterson and Cussler combine, how can other authors possibly remain competitive? They’ll almost have to follow suit, and you can look forward to the day when half a dozen mega-writers dominate the market.”

The two Guild representatives did find one point of agreement. “If you want to know who gets the blame,” said one, “you don’t have to look any further than Amazon.”

Literary agent Morgan Wheelwright cautioned against a rush to judgment. “First of all,” she pointed out, “there’s no certainty that the Department of Justice is going to sign off on something this unprecedented.” Her chief concern, she added, was for those clients of hers who were “co-writers” for one or the other of the principals. “We’ve been assured that our writers’ jobs are safe, and that if anything there’ll be a need for additional writers to keep the increasing stream of books flowing. If that’s so, I think this is a great opportunity for our writers, and writers in general.”

Marketing maven Jason Bordelaise echoed this sentiment. “I can see a time,” he said, “when every writer will start out by ghosting for or co-writing with a mega-writer, and that’s a win-win for everybody. The huge challenge in publishing has always been selling an author’s first book, an unknown quantity with no market awaiting it. And after that there’s the hurdle of the second novel, scorned by all those readers who were understandably disappointed with the first. But now there won’t be any first or second novels. Every book published will be a known quantity. Who could possibly object to that?”

One executive of a Big Five firm, insisting on anonymity, questioned the term merger. “Patterson has 15 books slated for 2014 publication,” he said. “Cussler has what, five? You call it a merger. I call it a lark pie.”

A little Googling helped us with that one. When Syria and Egypt linked up in 1958 to form the United Arab Republic, cynics likened the disproportionate amalgam to a pie consisting of equal parts of lark and camel—one lark to one camel. (In 1961, the Syrian lark took its leave and the experiment was over.)

The blogosphere, as you can imagine, has been buzzing, as internet observers and ardent self-publishers have been airing and sharing their thoughts on the new development. While every possible view has been given voice, all seem to agree that the times are indeed changing.

As further evidence of this, please note the rumor—still unsubstantiated!—that talks have been initiated between representatives of Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark.





 Posted by at 1:23 am
Jan 172014

Lawrence Block is sitting in the back of a cozy Greenwich Village bar sharing a plate of crunchy french fries and talking about how, at age 75, he is helping to expand the publishing industry and reinvigorate his own career with the latest entry in the ever-popular Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery series.

Click here to read the article

Jan 062014

WriteForYourLifeIn the 1980s, Lawrence Block developed an interactional seminar that adapted elements of the human potential movement specifically for writers. For several years he and his wife, Lynne, traveled the country conducting seminars that focused on the inner game of writing, and designed to enable participants to get out of their own way and put their best work on paper.

This book was written to make the seminar available to a larger audience, and at a lower price. Block self-published it in 1986, in an edition of 5000 copies, which sold out in short order. A few years later he stopped offering the seminar, having tired of the guru trip and preferring to concentrate on his own writing, and ever since the book’s been impossible to obtain.

When eBooks came around, Block arranged for HarperCollins to publish Write For Your Life in that format. But it’s the sort of text one wants to be able to page through, and a printed book is just more user-friendly. In the fall of 2013, an assistant found the last box of 25 copies of the 1986 edition in a storage cupboard; Block offered them in a newsletter, and they sold out within three hours.

This is the original book, with a foreword bringing it up to date. With the book, as with the seminar, it doesn’t matter at all where you are in your writing career, or what kind of writing you do. That’s all beside the point. Write For Your Life is about making the best out of what you are and who you are.

Click here for the new print edition of WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE

Nov 112013
“I came up with the idea for Bombproof not long after July 2005 London transport bombings, where three explosive devices were detonated on the Underground and a fourth on a double-decker bus. I visited London soon afterwards and the sense of fear and suspicion was everywhere. I often travel on the Underground with a small rucksack containing water and notebooks. I noticed how people would glance at the bag between my feet and I realized how easily someone could become a terrorist suspect if you refused to open a bag for inspection… . I wanted to explore the sense of fear and hysteria, which is why I created Sami Macbeth—an accidental terrorist and the world’s unluckiest man.”

- Michael Robotham on his motivation for writing Bombproof, which we’ve made available as an eBook for $2.99. 
Nov 062013

If you just tuned in, you may wonder what the hell I’m talking about. It was not quite a year ago, in the wake of a couple of November marketing campaigns called Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that I tried a bit of counter-programming, proclaimed it to be Orange Wednesday, and gave something away. Wednesday has been intermittently Orange ever since.

cover4Recently a friend reported an exchange at an online discussion group for self-published writers. Why, someone wondered, did Lawrence Block keep giving away stories? Didn’t the old boy value literature?

The rejoinder, by one of self-publishing’s true Poster Boys: “Maybe he values readers.”

Truth to tell, I value both. And on this most orange of Wednesdays it’s my pleasure to give away a story that puts a clear cash value on literature. “One Thousand Dollars a Word” ran in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in 1978, and has had a lot of anthology pickups over the years. It especially seems to resonate with writers.

And for the next several days it’s absolutely free, and you don’t even have to wait until the middle of the night for Amazon to mark it down from $2.99 to $0.00. It’s already there, and a mouse click or two will make it yours.

Very generous of you, but I’ve already read it.

So? It’s even better the second time around. And there’s a little something extra that comes with it. The story’s ending is a surprise (though probably less so if you’ve already read it) but the real surprise comes afterward—in the form of the first chapter of a book you haven’t read. Ever.

Limited Cover1030 2Speaking of books you haven’t read yet, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons is already generating a lot of buzz, no end of pre-orders for the eBook and HandsomeTradePaperback, and a steady stream of orders for the signed-and-numbered Limited Edition. At this point, numbers #1 to #224 are assigned—and so is #1000. (One of y’all, operating on the “If you can’t be first, be last” principle, asked for #1000. And yes, if you have a number you’d especially like, and if nobody’s already snapped it up, we’ll lock it down for you upon receipt of your payment.)

As you may recall, each book’s limitation page will bear, along with my signature and your individual number, a 33¢ US Personal Postage stamp, and because the manufacturer just delivered the stamps, it’s my pleasure to show you a sheet of them. Nice, huh?spoonsstamp

A reminder—the Spoons Limited’s on eBay. That’s probably the simplest way to order it, but we’ll also accept direct payment by PayPal (to . Or, within the US, you may send a check payable to me to 299 W 12 #12-D, New York NY 10014. When we receive payment, we’ll email a confirmation that will include your book’s number.

Whew. While I’m not without experience in publishing my own work, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons takes it to a whole new level—if level’s the right term for such a vertiginous landscape. Yesterday I picked the cloth for the limited edition. I’d settled earlier on dark green faux-leather, but do you have any idea how many shades and textures one has to choose from? Neither did I. Same for the special 80# stock for the limitation pages. The whole process is like an eye examination. “Can you read the top line? No? Is this better? Or this?”

And I seem to have interviews scheduled every day. (And if you’d like to book one: In a couple of hours I’ll be sitting down with a reporter from one of the book industry’s leading trade publications, to talk about Bernie’s excellent adventure and my own leap of faith in launching it on my own. I don’t know what tomorrow might hold, but then I never do, and isn’t that the great thing about tomorrow?

Back to today, this unrhymably Orange Wednesday. One Thousand Dollars a Word is there for your Kindle, free as the breeze. (But remember, if you’re outside the US, to go to the appropriate Amazon site—,,,,,,,,,—hey, what do you mean, world domination? They’re just bringing books and readers together, dude! You got a problem with that?)

Enjoy the story, and the sneak preview that follows it. And thanks for reading this. I appreciate it. See, the fellow was right. I do value readers…

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 Posted by at 4:41 pm

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