Archive for October, 2007


Blogger naps, Killer debuts hit stores

While I’ve been bad and lazy and not posting, three of my Killer Year compadres have released their debut novels.

First up was Dave White, notorious short-story writer and Rutgers football fan. Some people just can’t help themselves, I guess. His When One Man Dies should do for the PI novel what Yuen Wo Ping did for fight choreography.

White cover

“When Gerry Figuroa is killed in a hit and run, his pal, Jersey P.I. Jackson Donne, is hired to investigate. Donne soon discovers that Figuroa may not have been quite the innocent he seemed. A second case leads Donne to a dead body on the steps of Drew University. As he digs deeper, Donne uncovers a drugs connection, and it quickly becomes clear that certain people would rather he dropped his investigation. Soon his ex-cop partner shows up bent on shattering everything, and Donne finds his past hurtling towards him with a vengeance.”

Then came the awesome Derek Nikitas, chronicler of upstate New York smalltown life. (About which I know something, for my sins. My first wife was from a small town on the Niagara Frontier. I have eaten the Friday night fish fry and drunk the Genny Cream Ale of these towns.) His novel Pyres hit the bookstores while I was away somewheres, probably sleeping on the couch. But don’t you miss it.

Nikitas cover

“When a folklore professor is shot dead in his car, the crime smashes together the lives of three disparate women: his anguished teenage daughter, a detective facing her own family’s collapse, and the pregnant former-junkie girlfriend of the killer. These three women must choose where to aim their last shots at redemption, even as they face a gang of barbaric thugs who torch homes and lives for a thrill.”

Last but very far from least, Nashvillienne J.T. Ellison’s All the Pretty Girls is now in a bookstore near you. This is the coolest cover I have seen in all my fucking life. Well, right up there, anyway.

Ellison cover

“A vicious, highly mobile killer is terrorizing the Southeast. Showing no mercy to his victims, he leaves a trail of mutilated bodies faster than investigators can process the crime scenes. Nashville Homicide Detective Taylor Jackson, working with FBI profiler John Baldwin, must follow the killer along his devious path. How many will die if they don’t succeed?”

Lots of reading to do. Get these guys now. Just read them.



The copyedits on my second book are here.

The manuscript looks like it’s had a hard journey, stained and dirty, the corners worn off, bristling with little yellow Post-it notes.

A lot of little yellow notes. Really, a whole fucking mass of Post-its. And these urgently scribbled little notes are not trivial questions of grammar and punctuation, but probe deep into word choice, consistency, even the motivation for certain scenes.

It’s not going to be a walk in the park answering this stuff. Unless that park is in a bad neighborhood, after dark, with a mugger behind every clump of shrubbery.

I’ve talked to a few writers who deeply resent the questions copyeditors lard their manuscripts with. No one likes having their grammar corrected. Having your mistakes pointed out is annoying, even if you agree they are mistakes.

But having worked a lot as a copyeditor myself I’m more sympathetic.

And as a writer concerned with making my stuff better, I’m commited to the process. You’re not going to enjoy this. This may hurt a little. But it can make your writing stronger if you engage.

Remember: no one is ever going to read your manuscript this closely again.

A good copyedit should hurt. If in the course of answering queries you don’t swear out loud or at least feel your blood pressure float your eyeballs, at least once, then the copyeditor probably hasn’t done a very good job.

Because very few writers are so good and perfect that they never make mistakes. Most manuscripts will contain soft spots, places where you were not sure you got it across, but patched it together as best you could. Places where maybe you negotiated with yourself, supported a weak or dubious passage with spurious argument, straight-up denial.

And sometimes, you just miss shit. It’s always a slap in the face with a wet flounder when you come across some boneheaded error glaring up at you from your own manuscript. I didn’t know that was in there! you say. Holy fuck. How did that get there? I think my next door neighbor must have been breaking into the house and editing my manuscript at night while I was asleep!

No, uh-uh.

You put it there.

Now fix it.

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