May 082012
 
The college sports world hit the new again tonight when a college hoops prospect decided he was going to choose his college this week.  The schools he'd narrowed his choices down to? UNLV and Oregon.

No big deal, right?

(Especially for readers of this blog.  Get to it, DaveyPants.)

Well, on Twitter it was a big deal.  Fans of the current champion Kentucky Wildcats assaulted the prospect's Twitter account.  "F*ck you!" They @replied him.  "I only hope the worst for you."  It was ugly.  And I only chose the easiest tweets to post.



But (aha, here comes the point), behavior like this is widespread across the internet. Look at any Amazon page and read some of the bad reviews.  While they are rarely curse laden, because Amazon screens, some are filled with hatred toward the author.  Anonymous comments on blogs lash out at people they don't agree with.  Look at any news article or blog post on teachers.  These posts are filled with thoughtlessness.  Cruelty. 

What do these people get out of this?  Hiding behind their internet screen names, they can say what they want and expect to be consequence free.  And most of these people aren't teens being teens.  They are mature adults who hold good jobs.

It's all about two things.  Power and entitlement.

Power:  People get a kick out of being able to say what they want directly to someone.  And when their view of that person or that person's work is negative, it becomes even easier.  It is very difficult to compliment someone.  A lot easier to bash and let every emotion they feel out toward that person.  Feels good, doesn't it?

Entitlement:  Now that the internet exists, people feel they deserve everything.  I spent 99 cents on this book.  I spent 9.99 on this book.  I deserve everything I buy to be GOOD.  I should agree with everything someone says.  My team should have the best players on the planet EVERY YEAR.

People need to think.  You wouldn't say this stuff if the author was sitting right next to you.  If the 18 year old kid making one of the biggest decisions of his life was standing in front of you.

So, don't do it now.

Even if you're on the 'net, hiding behind a fake name, be a human.
Apr 172012
 
I've been thinking a lot about the PI series lately.

The PI should be hitting another level of popularity among readers. I mean, they're some of the most technologically advanced crime fighters out there. (Crime fighters or, ya know, people who hang out outside seedy hotels and wait for people to do bad things so they can take pictures of them.) They used to lug around a ton of equipment to listen in on conversations and take pictures and pee in jars while they waited.

Now most of that (minus the peeing) can be done on an iPhone and strong MacBook. And, as far as I can tell, tech is really popular these days.

But there's a problem. I'm seeing fewer and fewer PI books available these days. The ones that are are standard series that have been around for awhile. I have two thoughts on this:

1) The public's consciousness of the PI is stuck in the past. They haven't thought about how PIs have moved ahead technologically and advanced the profession, thereby leading to all knew story options. The public still views the guy in the trenchcoat, lighting a cigarette on a rainy street. That's what they want. When they don't get it, they're disappointed. When they do get it, they complain it something they've seen before.

2) Everyone has an iPhone or MacBook. It's nothing new. Spy stories are popular because they take you to a world you don't normally see. But PIs use technology that's available to everyone. Nothing new, nothing to surprise the reader.

I have no idea if these are anywhere near the truth, but it's thoughts like this that go through my head on a warm Monday night.

What do you think?

Are they new PI series out there I should be checking out?
Apr 102012
 
Back in my younger days, way back in the aughts, I used to love doling out writing advice on blogs. It was ego, I think, plus the fact that I wanted feedback on my advice from other writers. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

Most times I came off looking like an ass, I'd imagine.

Occasionally, I still write about what works for me, and hope other writers maybe gain something from it. Mostly, if you've followed my DSD posts, I've been whining about not writing.

But, I'm back, baby!

I'm writing something just for me. After nearly 6 months off, I'm about 5000 words into a new piece. I'm writing it because it's been in my head, like a loose end that needs to be tied.

And one piece of advice that I've always followed is jumping out in my mind.

When you have the chance, blow up the novel. I don't mean stick a literal explosion in it (though I love those), and I don't mean stop writing it, scrap it...

No, I mean, when you as the author come to a crossroads, where the book can go one of two ways... go the harder way. Kill the character you thought you'd follow for seven or eight novels.

Put another character through hell.

Don't worry about longevity. Because readers are savvy. They know when a characters not about to be killed. They know when you're taking the easy way out because you HAVE to get the character to another point in the story.

So, don't do that. Torture your characters, put them through hell. Series characters be damned.

If you're surprising yourself, you're surprising most readers.

And you want your readers saying "Holy shit" every time they turn the page. That's what keeps readers going: loving a character and wanting to see that character get fucked up.

(Readers are weird. They love a character, but they don't really want to see that character make dinner, go to bed, wake up, have coffee and then say "Wow, that was a good day.")

I'm at that tipping point now. I have an opportunity to twist this novel into something surprising.

And I'm going to do it.

I think.

Because if I'm saying "Holy shit" then so should the reader.
Apr 032012
 

The best Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels focus on their friendship. LA Requiem was a gem, digging deep into the past of the two heroes, finally shedding a light on some of Pike's past.

Now comes TAKEN, the most recent novel by Robert Crais, digs that hole deeper and what comes of it is the best Crais novel since The Watchman--perhaps even Two Minute Rule. The set-up is this: Elvis Cole is asked to find a college aged girl, daughter of an illegal immigrant, who's disappeared. Cole quickly discovers she's been taken by a Syrian who wants to sell illegal immigrants back to their families. And then, during his investigation, Cole is taken as well.

And only one man can find him: Joe Pike.

The book cleverly ratchets up suspense early, by playing with time a bit--centering on Pike's search before we even read about Cole's abduction. Each part of the book is a count up to the time Cole is taken.

But, as with the best Pike novels, we learn more about Pike's devotion to Cole. We see it in Pike's simple one word bits of dialogue. And we see it in his actions, when Pike goes to Cole's apartment.

The book is fast paced and action packed. If you've followed the series, you can't miss this one.

_________________________________

Meanwhile, Kindle owners, my own thriller Witness to Death is free for the next two days. Check it out!
Mar 202012
 
So you're getting a best of from 2005... the way, way, way back machine. Here's my favorite serial killer story lines:

Just thought I'd share with you some of my favorite ridiculous lines from serial killer movies. I just saw a commerical for The Inside some new profiler show on Fox.

Anyways, here are some of my favorite lines that are said in every serial killer movie:

He wants to be caught.

I don't like this one one bit. Either the guy wants to kill and kill compulsively or he wants to be caught. Why not turn yourself in? The only time this one work is in Se7en.


He will kill again.

Yes. That's what serial killers do.

That doesn't fit the profile.

Anybody else sick of the profile? I know I am. This one went over the top when Sandra Bullock muttered "The profile doesn't fit the profile." in that wonderful movie Murder by Numbers.

He wants them to suffer.

No kidding? Man, I really thought he wanted them to die peacefully in their sleep.
There have to be more. Anyone else got any good ones?
Mar 132012
 
So I had a pretty good week.

First off, my wife and I finally closed on our house and moved in. To celebrate, I played around with Witness to Death and made it free for a few days.

And the book did better than I ever could have expected. Over the span of a week, the book was downloaded over 25,000 times. Meanwhile, when it returned to costing money, it got into the top 100 in both the US and the UK. It's sold so many copies this week, that I've nearly doubled the copies sold.

So, while I'm sitting here, surrounded by half empty boxes, I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for your help. WITNESS TO DEATH is in the hands of more people than I could have ever imagined.

Hope you all enjoy it.
Feb 282012
 
Stop justifying and be proud.

A lot of authors are taking up blog posts, twitter updates, yadda yadda (yeah, my usual pet peeves) to justify why their book is an e-book only. Whether they are with an upstart e-book publisher (who, by the way, are all AWESOME) or they're self-publishing, they need to go out and write and write and write about why they aren't on pieces of paper.

You know what?

At this point, it's unnecessary. E-books are here to stay. They're books. They have words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and eventually tell a story. If an editor was a wonderful person and picked you up, that means he or she loved the story. If you and your agent sent the book around, got a few close calls, but didn't get an official bite... and you published it yourself... if you're getting good reviews. Then stop worrying.

Too often e-book authors like to jump on the the interwebs and act like the little brother. They NEED to matter. They NEED to be noticed.

To use an overused sports cliche, act like you've been there before.

People respect e-books. They buy them. They read them. You've made it. Be happy, be proud.

But all these blog posts, Facebook statuses (stati?), and Twitter updates explaining WHY YOU HAD TO PUBLISH AN EBOOK... are written for once small, teeny, tiny group of people.

Other e-book writers.

And maybe a few people considering going e-book.

Remember your audience should be everyone. Not just this corner of the blogosphere that the crime fiction or sci-fi or paranormal adverb-filled romance community. More people read than the 200 people who visit your blog.

Be proud.

You're an author.

You're awesome.
Feb 212012
 
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. As you know, the rise of social media, along with message boards and screen names have done a lot to promote anonymous hate and complaining. Sometimes you can log on only to find people whining and whining and whining about the smallest things.

So, I try to go by 5 rules on social media.

1. Pick Your Battles: My battle is education. I'm a teacher along with the whole wanting to be a writer thing. Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you know that education is at a strange tipping point. The right want to pare down public education and make it mostly private. I disagree. This is my fight. This is what I try to keep my protesting to online. Everything in the world is not horrible, so stop acting like it is.

2. Talk about things you love: Rutgers basketball, movies, Doctor Who, books. I try to keep my topics positive. I want to enjoy my time on the internet, not run to it when it's time to whine. The use of the word awesome brightens my day. (And not in the form of "Well, this is an awesomely bad idea.")

3. Observe the Two Week Rule: Ah, the 2 week rule. Just remember that anytime there's an internet controversy, it'll be forgotten about in 2 weeks. People will find other things to whine about. So, unless it's major (sayyyyy the Governor of NJ comes up with a loophole to turn all schools private in 8 seconds), it's very rarely worth spending a day and a half complaining about.

4. Odds Are, You Aren't Going to Fix It: You can spout off all you want. It ain't going to change because of the internet. You may be able to use the internet to save your favorite TV show. And people have used social media to organize. But complaining on the internet is like complaining to the mirror. Nothing's changing.

5. Be More Funny: Even when things bug me, I try to add a sense of humor to the situation. I'm sarcastic, but I try not to be mean (the couple of times I've been mean, I've gotten in trouble). Tell jokes, mock, be snarky... but don't just flat out complain.


I'm sure I've broken a few of these rules at times. Everyone does. But for the most part, keeping this in my mind helps keep me sane amongst the noise.

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