Friday, June 09, 2006

THE DEATH OF MILLY MAHONEY by Susanne Severeid (iUniverse)

My backlog of submissions is getting a bit overwhelming. And this book has been in my queue for months. It wasn't until I perused my email a bit that I realized THE DEATH OF MILLY MAHONEY had been recommended to me by no less than four different people.

So I read it. And I loved it.

Susanne Severeid has churned out a tasty little mystery, with all the Grafton-esque hooks that keep the pages turning. MILLY tells the story of Trix Donovan, former model and current tabloid journalist, and how her life is turned upside-down when a long lost friend leaves an unusual--and clipped--message on her answering machine. When her friend turns up dead (Milly, in case you haven't guessed by now), Trix throws her journalistic instincts into overdrive and follows the only path to getting to the bottom of the case--which takes her around some surprising curves, especially when she finds herself inexorably tied to what happened. (Geez, it's hard to review mysteries; I can't keep the spoilers from coming to my fingertips.)

The novel dumps you into the deep end of Southern California's pool of sleaze (Severeid was once an actress herself, for all you CHiPs fans) and doesn't toss you a life preserver. While the book is clever and funny, it's fairly gritty, too, and keeps the punches--and surprises--coming, right from the first few pages.

For more background info on the book, check out this interview with Susanne.

Grab a copy for $16.95 from Amazon. It's a snappy, fun beach read. Just load on the sunblock; once you start reading you'll lose track of time.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Updates on some 2005ers

The 2005 authors. Where are they now? Just like me, they're sitting in front of their laptop, nervously refreshing their browser, praying their Amazon rank will jump a few more points.

Okay, that's just me.

But here's some info on a few past POD-dy Picks:

Todd Noker's RATED F has been kicked up a notch at iUniverse, having been re-released via their Star program. Sound like no big deal? Turns out it is. Todd stayed in contact during the entire process and it sounded a lot like a traditional deal. He was flown out of state for a photo shoot, heavily promoted at BEA, and the book was really edited (no, really--it was.) The book sports a new and improved, Hiaasen-esque cover and the price was dropped to a competitive $12.95 (and only $9.97 with Amazon's 23% discount.) Had he received an advance, this would be no different than any other book deal (and possibly better.)

If you haven't bought it already, do it. I mean, what's ten bucks? A caramel macchiato and a couple muffins, three gallons of gas, 2/3 of a buzz from the Hair Cuttery. Let your hair grow and read a good book, dude.

Elsewhere, Carol Hoenig's gorgeous WITHOUT GRACE won the Silver Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Magazine this year. So, if don't take my opinion seriously, you should definitely take ForeWord's. And here is yet another excellent book for under $10 at Amazon. Save yourself the calories from the macchiato and the muffins and get fat from some beautiful writing.

As more news comes in, I will pass along. Over half of the Needle winners and finalists from 2005 are now repped by agents and on submission in New York. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A POD venture that worked . . .

This guy is/will earn some serious dough. All you have to do is write scripts for national television. *Sigh*

On pitching (and catching)

I'm pretty flexible when it comes to reading a POD (or any book for that matter). I'm willing to give stuff a shot (if it falls into one of the categories in the list on the right) if it sounds even vaguely compelling. But I am starting to see why some of these authors have had to go POD (besides the obvious horrific writing in most cases).

It is my advice, if you have interest in going the route of a commercial publisher instead of/before POD, that you spends weeks (yes, weeks) generating a compelling query for agents and/or editors.

I've had several folks (three, as a matter of fact) mention that their writing was similar to Don DeLillo (among others). While it is great that these folks (wish that they) write like Don DeLillo, I'm not sure it is something I would mention in a pitch. To me? Fine. But not to New York. If you can compare your writing to someone more contemporary--and better selling, like, say, Jonathan Safran Foer--than go that route. But to compare yourself to an author who has lost the sales impetus like DeLillo is probably not a good idea--because it suggests your book will fall to the same fate.

Don't get me wrong: DeLillo is a master and I love all of his books (except COSMOPOLIS) and I fully realize why the guy has won awards. But he will not help sell your book. The same goes for guys like Jay MacInerney and Bret Easton Ellis.

If you are blessed enough that your writing really does resemble one of these folks, I wouldn't mention it. New York is more likely to be interested in "new" and "out of the box" writing--or, sadly, derivative writing of current bestselling authors. So, you should probably go one of those routes.

In the meantime, keep the pitches coming. Eventually, one is going to get knocked out of the park.