Saturday, October 28, 2006

Men of Mystery

As part of our Stonewall Jackson's Elbow / Candy from Strangers tour, John Billheimer and I attended MWA Raven winner Joan Hansen's great conference, Men of Mystery. The headliners were Jeffery Deaver:

And Martin Cruz Smith:

Mr. Smith told an interesting story about how his novel Gorky Park was held hostage by a New York editor who did not like the idea of a Russian detective solving crimes, and wanted Smith to return to his original proposal of a Irish cop from New York who goes to Russia to help the Soviet police. In a form of crude intimidation, the editor took off his shoes and socks during the meeting held in the publisher's office to discuss the book and proceeded to clip his toenails!

Smith eventually got the rights back to Gorky Park and sold it in the form he wanted to another publisher--but it took six years!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Buzzing

I'm participating in the AuthorBuzz program to help publicize Candy from Strangers to booksellers, librarians and readers. The program involves inclusion of an ad for the book in Shelf Awareness, an e-mail newsletter sent daily to booksellers and librarians:

Followed by two more messages about the book specifically targeted to librarians and readers that are sent as part of the electronic book club.

I'll let you know more about the results later, but one thing's for sure: the opportunity to win a free copy of the book in the message to readers is driving a lot of traffic to my web site.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Seattle Mystery Bookshop

John Billheimer and I did a signing at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop as part of our joint Stonewall Jackson's Elbow / Candy from Strangers tour.

Here's John in front of the store. Check out the books he's got in the shopping bag and his briefcase. We were joking that John bought more books than we managed to sell during our visit.

And here we are posed with store owner JB Dickey.

You can make out the tops of John's and my book as well as a signed copy of fellow Bleak House Books/Intrigue Press author Steve Brewer. The poster in front of us is one I made (six years ago) to help publicize the first edition of The Immortal Game, and is the same image that I "sampled" at the top of the blog. JB keeps it on display in the store and said he periodically gets offers to buy it. A good author friend of mine also told me--after having a few drinks--that he thought the poster was better than my books. Maybe I better switch careers!

Everyone at the store was very friendly, and JB was a wonderful host. They've moved into a larger space that is more visible from the street and that seems to have helped to increase business. John and I are looking forward to coming back during Left Coast Crime, which is being hosted this year on February 1-4 in Seattle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"M" is for Mystery

Had my first signing of the CANDY tour this Sunday at "M" is for Mystery. Ed Kaufman is the owner and he's always been very supportive of me and my books. Here's me on the hot seat, thumbing through a (now rare) first edition copy of The Immortal Game that Ed had to find a photograph I took of a "dead body" to set up a chapter.

You can see the photo here. Turns out I faked the body by taking two cardboard rollers from gift wrap, putting socks on them, shoving one end into shoes and the other into a pair of pants and only shooting from the shin down.

You can view all the photos for The Immortal Game here, and the photos that go with Candy from Strangers here.

If you liked our dessert topping, you're sure to love our floor wax

Here's an e-mail my friend Larry recently got from
My second novel Vulture Capital is about the world of venture capital, but hopefully it's a little more exciting than a finance book! It's also considerably cheaper. But I suppose it's possible folks who want to learn about VCs would like both the fact-based financial perspective and the narrative fictional one, too.

In an interesting coincidence, I happened to have worked (in my old day job at Netscape) with the VC who supplied the review comments above ...

Search for Sam Spade

I was looking through the stats for my web site this morning, checking out the search terms that people used to get to the site when I came to this page in the display:

Terms number 13 and 14 make sense because I've got a lot of material about Chandler up on the site. Number 11 is also understandable (but embarrassing perhaps) because I scanned an old report card of mine from 3rd grade and posted it, but 12 was a mystery.

I wasn't even aware it was possible to search an English site by entering Chinese characters, but apparently some of the search engine sites in China must have translated English sites they've crawled and enabled Chinese searches.

But here's the punch line: I called my wife (who is Chinese) into the room and asked her to translate the search term. She looked at it for a while, pronounced the characters out loud and then said, "Sam Spade." Apparently that is the (phonetic) representation of his name in Chinese.

How about that?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Candy on TV

I had the opportunity to appear on a Bay Area cable TV program called Book Watch this Monday to talk about Candy from Strangers. Here's an excerpt from the interview with show host Janice Holman:

Except for almost losing my voice on occasion, my wife tells me the appearance went fairly well ... but she chastised me for not mentioning that--after appearing in three books--Riordan finally gets laid!

Oh, well, I guess that gives me something to talk about in the next interview ...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fleet Week in San Francisco

It was Fleet Week in San Francisco and Chris and I were playing our regular Tuesday night gig at House of Shields on New Montgomery.

That's a sentence culled from the first chapter of my newly released book, Candy from Strangers. In an interesting confluence of real and fictional lives, it turns out that it actually is Fleet Week in San Francsico. Here's the USS Bonhomme Richard docked in a pier near the Bay Bridge. You can take the free tour if you're willing to wait in the long line to get on board:

Or you can kick back at the HiDive Cafe with a Coors and watch from afar.

In a later chapter in the book, my PI August Riordan checks out the student art gallery at the school where two of the book's "cam girls" attend. That school is called the The San Francisco Lyceum of Art and there's no such institution in San Francisco. But, golly, it appears a real school in SF is putting on a student exhibit:

If you look carefully, you can see the reflection of a Starbucks Coffee sign in the glass covering the exhibit poster. I didn't realize it was there until after I got back home, but it turns out Starbucks is the employer of Caroline Stockwell, the cam girl who goes missing in the book.

Shortly after visiting the art school, Riordan goes to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see a photography exhibit of one of the schools instructors, George Wesson, where he finds Wesson has used Caroline Stockwell as a model in several nude photographs. I based the character of Wesson on one of my favorite photographers, Edward Weston (yes, I worked real hard on the name, didn't I?). Guess who's having an exhibit at the SF MOMA right now? Yep, Weston and his photography partner and lover, Tina Modotti. There are several several nudes of Modotti included in the exhibit.

After visiting the exhibit, Riordan furthers his "career as a patron of the arts by patronizing the museum cafeteria for a pastrami on rye." He concludes with, "I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like."

In truth, I'm afraid I took a liberty with the cafe's menu. There's nothing so plebeian as a pastrami on rye available. Today my wife had the portobello mushroom panini and I had the heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad. August wouldn't have touched either with a ten foot fork.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bleak House Books / Mystery Scene Magazine Party

The final bash at Bouchercon was a barbeque co-hosted by Bleak House and Mystery Scene Magazine at the Bleak House offices in beautiful downtown Madison.

The offices are in a converted house, which makes it mighty convenient when you want to pull out the old grill and cook up some Wisconsin brats in the back yard. Here’s Publisher Ben LeRoy doing a turn at the grill. With the spitting fire and the arched eyebrow, he looks rather demonic, doesn’t he?

Ben, by the way, claims that he can eat four hot dogs in five minutes. That by itself is supernatural.

I caught co-host Kate Stine (editor and co-publisher of Mystery Scene Magazine) and Bleak House editor Alison Janssen chatting in the kitchen. Alison looks a little demonic herself due to my inability to work the red eye reduction on my camera.

As with the earlier Bleak House party, many well-known authors were in attendance. I saw John Billheimer, SJ Rozan, Gary Philips, fellow Big Earth authors Reed Farrel Coleman and Steve Brewer and this guy leaning against the door to Ben’s office:

And speaking of Ben’s office, while the cat was away (or more accurately out grilling brats), I decided I would find out what it’s like to sit behind the desk of a big wheel publisher. Note how I’m holding my beer. My mother always taught me when you’re drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon from a can, wrap it in a doily.

P.S. To Ben: as a big wheel publisher, you really need to get yourself something better than a folding chair to put behind your desk. However, your Dukes of Hazzard snow globe collection was quite impressive.

For the whole conference, I’d been trying to work up the nerve to introduce myself to Jennifer Jordan, reviewer at Anthony Award-winning Crimespree Magazine, and thank her for the nice review she had done for Candy in the latest edition of the magazine. Near the end of the party, I finally got Ben to do the honors and my wife snapped this picture of us.

Even though it looks like the thought bubble above Jennifer’s head should read, “What a sissy. The tough guy private eye writer is carrying his beer wrapped in a napkin!” she was very nice and we had a great time chatting.

So ends my coverage of Bouchercon. Next up: the Candy tour begins.