Sunday, May 30, 2010


What works for you?  How do you get what's in your head out? 

Are you a Apple or Windows person?  Anybody old school and using a typewriter?

I don't really know the answer why, but I have a collection of fine point ink pens scattered throughout the house.  I use them to jot down notes or write short passages when I'm either away from my PC or don't feel like firing up Word just to record the brief ideas filtering from by brain.  Thank goodness none of the pens are over four dollars and I usually get them from drug stores or whichever office supply place is closer.

I've been a Windows man ever since we came out of the dark DOS age.  I look at the occasional screen freeze or slowness of operation as sort of a life metaphor.  From time to time you're going to have some ups and downs.  Just go with the flow and clean out the junk that's weighing heavily on you.

I must admit, damn you Steve Jobs, that I do long for one of those 27-inch screen, fully loaded iMac desktop computers.  As soon as I can gather enough funds to overthrow a third world country, I'm diving in!

Finding the right time to be creative and get the juices flowing has been tricky.  Sure, I could do my best John McEnroe and scream at my six-year old when he wants something.  "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!  CAN'T YOU GET YOUR OWN DAMN SNACKS BY NOW!  DON'T YOU SEE DADDY'S BUSY WRITING A BESTSELLER!"  Of course, I'd spend the rest of the evening dealing with all the crying and guilt feelings. 

I find that early evening works best for me in terms of being creative.  The kids are busy in the their own world and my wife is getting her True Blood updates or scouring the internet looking for discounted Christian Louboutin shoes.  As if they're ever going to be that magic 59.99 price which would make me say, "Go ahead, get crazy.  Buy three pair honey."

I'd write after the kids went to bed if I didn't have to get up just past 3AM to get ready for the job that actually pays me.  Where's my "major deal" signing announcement in Publishers Marketplace!

I also try to get creative after coming home from work.  It's generally quiet except for when the dogs decide it's time for them to play Tom & Jerry around the house.  They have to be fed, let out, let in and let out again.  Before you know it, I've eaten lunch and gone over several pages or notes, only to realize it's time to pick the kids up from school.

Ah, there's always the weekend.  A pot of coffee and a fresh start.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Having recently taken my 14-year old son to a Comic Con convention (one day pass, okay!), I was a little leery of registering for my first writer's conference.  But darn it if Thrillerfest V  in New York doesn't sound like fun.  It's a collection of some of the best murder to paper minds in the world gathering at one place.  If Agatha Christie were alive, she'd have a field day:  Murder At The Grand Hyatt, A Hercule Poirot Mystery.

For an aspiring author like myself (hello mystery agent, my novel is finished), it's a chance to network, schmooze, learn a lot, and kiss plenty of literary agent backside.  First drink is on me.  Second, third, fourth and so on if one decides to represent me. 

Ken Follett

From what I've read, Thrillerfest seems like a loosen your tie experience.  For thriller writers and fans of the genre, I can certainly see the appeal.  In Hollywood terms, it's like the Golden Globe Awards.  New authors are recognized and established pros like Ken Follett will receive special recognition.  Ken if you ever read this, you should know the copy of World Without End you left behind at the studio has enough fingerprints on it to shut down a CSI department.

I'm looking forward to meeting authors I haven't interviewed or spent time with as of yet.  The opportunity to pick their brains would be amazingly beneficial.

Brad Meltzer, who's also scheduled to attend, don't forget you owe me!  I look out for you, you look out for me.  Capeesh?  I also promise not to rag on the Michigan Wolverines.  And sorry I was on vacation when you stopped by to promote Heroes For My Son.

So I'm fine tuning my game and getting excited about heading to the Big Apple.  I'd love to one day belong to that exclusive community known as the International Thriller Writers.  But, if Thrillerfest turns out to be anything like the William Shatner episode on SNL, my wife will never let me hear the end of it.  That is if her stomach would ever stop hurting from laughing so hard.

Star Trek TOS - William Shatner SNL - Get A Life - MyVideo

Monday, May 24, 2010


... seeking representation.  At the expansive cherry wood bar in the center of the establishment is a glow of light and force of energy that makes the beam on Lost look like a flashlight app for the iPhone.

The writer nearly loses his grip on the one hundred thousand word, rubber band wrapped stack of paper.  The challenges of maintaining a marriage, family, friends and work added unseen weight to the bundle.  Alleviating the burden was simple.  Instead of taking a step forward, turn around and walk away.  Return to the life he knows.  Shelve the dreams once and for all.

No!  He'd come this far.  He secured the manuscript in his sweaty hands, and decided to expose his heart.

They were all seated at the bar, barely a spot left.  Superstars all of them.  He'd read their blogs, seen their names numerous times on acknowledgement pages in books he read.  Janet ReidDaniel Lazar.  Molly FriedrichScott MillerNancy YostStacia DeckerAaron PriestLiza Dawson.  His mouth salivated as he continued to run down the list.  They were the literary agents who could take his hard work to the next level.  As if seeking a hung jury, he only needed one to believe in him.

He'd already pleaded his case to some of them.  They in turn, had no clue as to who he was, having discarded his internet submission with little fanfare.  It wasn't personal.  They had busy lives too.  He was not a quitter though.

He straightened his tie, took a deep breath and cradled his novel like holding his first born all over again.  He then stepped toward the bar with a smile on his face, knowing it was only a matter of time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I started reading thrillers, mostly spy fiction, before I was a teenager.  Anybody out there old enough to remember the Nick Carter series?  Killmaster ring a bell?  Had my mom really thumbed through some of the pages, she would have been as surprised as I gladly was.  Guess the innocent looking covers were a nice misdirection.

As time passes, you read and read and certain books influence or stay in your mind as ones you could read over and over again. 

Here, in no particular order, is my Magnificent Seven list.

1.  The Day Of The Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

      I said there's no particular order but I have to confess this is the book that set the standard for me.  The subject came up once during an interview with Tom Clancy and he agreed with my assessment.  Forsyth created a masterpiece in both plot and character development.

2.  Marathon Man by William Goldman

      I've never liked the dentist and this book created a phobia that exists to this day.  Perhaps you've seen the movie but reading it first-hand, late at night... who can forget...

      "Is it safe?"

      "Yes.  It's very safe.  It's so safe you wouldn't believe
      it.  There.  Now you know."

      "Is it safe?"

3.  Six Days of the Condor by James Grady

     If memory serves me right, this was the first book I ever read in one day.  It was short but one hell of a page turner.  A very well thought out and unique plot.  Robert Redford did a good job in the movie version and Max von Sydow - special.

4.  The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum

      That I got to meet and interview Robert Ludlum at a time when I was a huge fan, makes this book special.  Most people know about Jason Bourne but the lead character in this offering, Brandon Scofield, is a bad man.  He has a Russian counterpart and they hate each other but as fate would have it, they are forced to join forces to snuff out an organization known as The Matarese.  Good stuff.

5.  The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian

     Jonathan Hemlock was in interesting character.  A professor of art, skilled mountain climber and a free-lance assassin who often killed in order to acquire precious works of art.  Shame this character was only operational in two books.

6.  Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn

    I have had the pleasure of knowing Vince for several years and he serves as an inspiration since he had to self publish his first novel when no one would give him a serious nibble.  Several bestsellers later, it proves the literary world can miss out on talent.  Flynn's CIA assassin is Mitch Rapp and after all the killing he's done, it stands to reason that one day, someone would come looking for revenge.  That day comes to light in this entertaining read.

7.  From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming

     Another book I shouldn't have been reading when I did was this James Bond offering.  SMERSH sets up a lavish trap to kill Bond and they have trained the perfect killer in Red Grant.  How can you go wrong a writer who brought an entire genre to the forefront.