Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quick updates - Updated!

The Asbury Park Press feature on me is in today's (1/31) edition, on the cover of the Entertainment section, and online.

Over at WBGO's site, my interview with WBGO Journal host Andrew Meyer, the outtakes, and a web-only reading can be found here.

Thanks to everyone in Texas for coming out to the events, especially in Houston. And thanks to two great Florida authors - James W. Hall and Bob Morris - for letting me fly along as wingman.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The definition of bad timing

As some of you may have heard, Amazon has temporarily pulled all Macmillan books - including St. Martins Press books - from its site, due to a dispute over e-book royalties. However, GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER can still be ordered online via or the Indiebound network of stores.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More reviews, Kindle, Nook, etc. *Update #2*

The Nook e-book of GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER is now available. The Kindle version should be by the end of the week as well. The unabridged audio version, read by actress Karen White, is due out Jan. 29.

- An interview I recorded yesterday (1/25) at WBGO-FM in Newark will air in edited broadcast form Friday (1/29) night at 7:30 on 88.3 FM and via the live stream at After that, it'll be archived on the station's website, along with a reading I did from the book.

- Last week saw two more reviews, from January Magazine and

- An interview I did with the Asbury Park Press will appear in this Sunday's (1/31) edition, and will also be available online at

- The GTN tour begins this Friday at Book People in Austin, Texas, then moves on to Houston, before circling back for the official East Coast launch party at Manhattan's Mysterious Bookshop Feb. 5, and then Words! in Asbury Park the following day. More dates to come. Hope to see some of you on the road.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where I've been

GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER, which goes on sale today, is my first new novel in five years, following 2003's THE BARBED-WIRE KISS and 2005's THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE. Both those books had paperback editions as well, so I wasn't totally absent from bookstores in the interim, but it has been a solid half decade since I had a new hardback out.

What was I doing in the meantime? Well, most of my time and energy was taken up with my other job, as the Sunday Entertainment Editor at the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. It was a good gig, one I was lucky to have. It was (and is) a great paper, and I worked with some of the smartest and most talented people in the business. It was a wonderful time. I did publish a pair of short stories during that period, especially one close to my heart called "Lovers in the Cold," which appeared in the anthology MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER, a collection of stories inspired by the Springsteen song.

And then there was 188 pages of a standalone third novel, tentatively titled SHADOW LAND, which I worked on for a good part of 2005. I liked the plot (as far as I'd figured it out. I never outline), and I was eager to jump into another book quickly after finishing HEARTBREAK. But something was wrong. After an energetic start, the going got tough. Though it was a standalone, it began to feel too much an echo of the books I'd already written, in both tone and content. And although I liked the main character, a disgraced former U.S. Marshal, he was clearly walking the razor's edge of cliche - troubled man with a past seeking redemption.

In an interview I did with Stephen King once, he described two modes of writing, one in which the story is a speedboat and it carries you along behind it, like a skier. In the other, you're the skier and you're dragging the boat. If it's the right story at the right time, and all your cylinders are firing, you're often in the first mode - it's energizing and invigorating. If you're spending a lot of time in the second, you're in trouble. By the time I got to page 180 of SHADOW LAND, I felt like I was dragging the Queen Mary.

I remember vividly one afternoon sitting down at the desk, about to write a scene I was actually looking forward to - a character gets out of his pickup, goes into a bar and has a confrontation with one of the minor villains. I love those kinds of scenes. They come easy to me and they play to my strengths - terse dialogue, action and ambient detail. But I realized, as I described him getting out of the truck, that I had no interest whatsoever in what happened to him once he got inside. I couldn't have cared less, and I figured a reader wouldn't care much either.

The next morning when I woke up, I knew I'd decided to bag the novel, all 188 hard-fought pages of it. And when I came to that realization, I felt a tremendous sense of relief flooding through me. Not long after that, I started working on a short story about one of the characters who would eventually figure in GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER. And suddenly writing was fun again.

I haven't thought about that novel much since, which I guess is another indication it was never meant to be. I may eventually revisit the plot, but it would be with an entirely different cast of characters, I think. Life's too short to write the same thing twice.

So I hope you enjoy GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER. And if you're wondering about that lost novel in between, trust me - you didn't miss anything.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ledger review

Writer Vince Cosgrove reviews GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER for the Star-Ledger/Newhouse Newspapers today. And if that link doesn't work directly, The Huffington Post has picked it up as well.

Saturday night in Asbury

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Website update

The website has been updated to reflect GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER and the current tour schedule (more dates to come, including a cool multimedia one I'll have more details on later). And over on the OTHER WRITINGS page, I've added the feature obituary I wrote for Mickey Spillane (above) that appeared in the Star-Ledger in July 2006.

For those who've asked about the long-promised Part Two of my James Lee Burke interview, I'm still trying to locate the transcript, and when I do, I'll post it. It's a good one too, with Burke talking at length about writing, drinking, and the hazards of success. I'm hoping it turns up soon.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

More words

The inimitable Harriet Klausner weighs in on GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER over at The Mystery Gazette, as does Library Journal and reviewer David Marshall James on Yahoo's "Shine" forum.