Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I've conquered Germany.

Just heard from my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun, who heard from my foreign rights agent, Erszi, that The Tilting House has sold 6093 copies in Germany. Das is sehr gut. 

Auf wiedersehen. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Official Title - The Shadow of Seth

My upcoming teen noir murder mystery has an official title: The Shadow of Seth

You may recall that it's being published by The Poisoned Pencil, the young-adult imprint of Poisoned Pen Press. The projected publish date is August 2015, which seems like forever from now. But it's nice to have a date.

We even agreed on a series name: A Seth Anomundy Murder Mystery

I will also say just how amazing it has been to work with the folks at The Poisoned Pencil, particularly my editor, the remarkable Ellen Larson. You won't believe what happens when I send an email to Ellen.

Seriously, you won't believe what happens.

Go ahead. Guess.


When I send an email to Ellen, SHE ACTUALLY WRITES BACK. Usually THE SAME DAY.

Anyway, set some time aside on your calendar next fall, so you can read this book in all its physical glory.

The Shadow of Seth
A Seth Anomundy Murder Mystery.
Coming to a bookstore near you in just ten short months.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Black String - I just sent the manuscript to my agent.

I keep a copy of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary by the toilet. Today I read his definition of achievement: The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust. 

It just so happens that I read this on the same day--or evening--that I sent a completed middle-reader manuscript to my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun. The manuscript is 50,126 words. 231 double-spaced pages. A dozen or so characters. A few ounces each of blood, sweat, and tears. And a two-word title: Black String.

I like this one. Love it, I suppose. I've loved writing it. I felt like I was really grooving most of the time, the way I feel while carving a good slope on the mountain. On the edge, barely in control, but not quite crashing.

But now it's done. I attached the file and hit send. Now my manuscript is in the hands of the beast, and I have to sit back and see if they like it or not. And, worse yet, I have to dig down in myself and find the guts to start another. I have to stare at the dreaded blank page.

I've got lots of ideas. I might write a sequel to Seth, since I have a deal on the first one. I might actually push one of my many imagined characters into the world, such as--no, it's too early to talk about any of them.

Anyway, the endeavor is complete. For now. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dutch, baby!


We just received an official offer from Van Holkema & Warendorf for the Dutch publication of The Tilting House. It's scheduled to come out in May of 2015.

The house that is tilting is already out in the U.S. via Random House. It's out in Germany via Thienemann. And soon it will be out in the Netherlands as well.

Thanks to my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun. And big, big thanks to my foreign rights agent, the also-esteemed Erzsi Deak.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Seth - Signed and sealed. Not quite delivered.

This week, I signed a contract for my young adult murder mystery, thanks to my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun. The publisher is Poisoned Pencil, which is the young-adult imprint of Poisoned Pen Press. I'll be only the 10th author of this imprint, which is pretty exciting, and I'm thrilled to round out their first ten writers.

These guys are the real deal when it comes to mysteries. Poisoned Pen Press is one of the largest publishers of hardcover mysteries in the world.

Writing and publishing is still a struggle for me. But I love the struggle, and these bright spots of goodness keep me going.

So cheers, Universe. Here's to ya.


Check out The Poisoned Pencil

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Tilting House or, in German, Das Haus, in dem es schräge Böden, sprechende Tiere und Wachstumspulver gibt

My first book, The Tilting House, has now been published in Germany. Actually, it appears it came out a while ago. This spring some time. But I just received my hard copies yesterday. The German version has a new title:

Das Haus, in dem es schräge Böden, sprechende Tiere und Wachstumspulver gibt

 I believe this means, "The house where the slanting floors, talking animals and growth powders are."

Weird. But whatever. The cover, by Maximilian Meinzold, is lovely. The translation is by Petra Sparrer. Sorry, Petra, but I have no idea if the translation is any good, as I can't read much German.

Because I have a pathetically fragile ego, I've been Googling the German title and finding a variety of reviews, blog posts, and random mentions, which I have to run through Google Translate to make sense of. Most of the reviews are quite good. A few aren't.

Fair enough.

The one mention that really struck me was about a kid at a school talent show reading a story from the book and making the crowd laugh.

That freaked me out. Some kid in Germany is reading my translated words.

Here's a word you can translate: Dankbarkeit.

German for gratitude.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Contract negotiations are underway

We are now in the Jerry Maguire stage of my teen murder mystery. I'll share the publisher once ink is on the paper. Publisher X emailed the contract, but the esteemed Abigail Samoun thinks we should push back on a few issues.

That said, most of it looks pretty good to me. I would like to have approval on the cover. And I'd like to get international rights, because that worked out quite well for me on The Tilting House. But mostly, I'm excited and grateful. I know how hard and how rare it is to get to this stage, mostly because I know how hard it's been for me.

Gratitude. That's the word for the day.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seriously good news from a mystery publisher

Ok. So I've still come the realization that nothing is certain until it is past tense. But I've also learned to have gratitude for every bit of encouragement. 

So I am very grateful for an email that reads: "I’ve finished reading Life and Seth and you will not be surprised to hear that we would like to acquire the title."

Hopefully this story ends with a new classic hardboiled paperback. And hopefully it's cover is as cool as this:


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A figurative tornado of encouraging news.

Eat your heart out, Dorothy Gale. I got my own tornado. And mine doesn't kill ladies in red shoes.

I've had a whirlwind of activity lately around a kooky variety of books.

Run, Dorothy! And your little dog, too!
First of all, a Dutch publisher called Van Holkema & Warendorf contacted me directly to discuss publishing my first novel, The Tilting House, in The Netherlands. So as it slides into out-of-print status here in the U.S., it moves into print status in both Germany and The Netherlands. Go figure. My friend Lance said that maybe it's because they have more tilting houses over there.

Then, as I dip my toe into the water of picture books, I've already had some good response. One of the big New York publishers (who, of course, is owned by an even bigger foreign publisher), is interested in my irreverent alphabet book, The Unless Alphabet. No contracts yet, but I've made some edits at their request and am now sitting around checking my email.

Another publisher passed on that one, but asked me to take a crack at a related assignment.

And two other picture book manuscripts I passed on to Abigail are now having samples made by two very talented illustrators.

(I'll share names soon, assuming any of this becomes more, ahem, substantial).

Then, just a couple of days ago, a mystery publisher contacted my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun, regarding my young adult murder mystery. In fact, they asked me to quickly stop all self-publishing activities surrounding that book, so that they could consider it. So...I've yanked it from Kindle and CreateSpace and even from the home page of this Blog.

So then, temporarily say goodbye to my beloved Seth and his various murders. Say hello to Amsterdam. And say maybe to a handful of potential picture books.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Picture books? Me? Does this even make sense?

The idea of writing a picture book has honestly never entered my mind. I'm a novel guy. It takes me 150 pages just to get going. 

But between unsuccessful novels, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: I was gonna become the next Shel Silverstein. I know--a humble little thought. But I've been a songwriter all my life. I write shortform works all the time for my other project, Beautiful Angle (in partnership with Lance Kagey). I can go deep, but I still like a good poop joke. So I spent a few weeks and about 40 of these bits of funny poetry flowed out of me. 

So I picked out about 20 good ones and sent them to my agent as a sample of my Grand Idea. 

She was less than excited. 

Abigail said, "Perhaps if you're the poet laureate, you might have a slim chance of getting a book of kid poetry published."

But then she said that a couple of these ideas struck her as good picture book texts. 

Since then, Abi has been sending one of them back to me for edits. The other one, she just started sending it out edit-free. And we've already started getting some encouraging feedback. Rejections? He'll, yes. But encouraging rejections from some serious big shot editors. Weird. 

So, all that to say that I might try a few more of these picture book things. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sharecropping/Writing for the local paper. Check out my latest editorial.

I have mixed feelings about my editorial that ran today in the Tacoma News Tribune.

You can read it here.

I like the piece. It's funny and makes a few points I care about--like the value of bakeries and paint jobs--and it gives me exposure. Hopefully it even spreads the word about my books. Because Lord knows I'm not above shameless self-promotion.

I'm not getting paid for it, but I'm giving this for-profit business free content. And this is how the world works now. We post on Facebook, Twitter, blogger (like right here).

We are all content sharecroppers.

We type our fingers to the bone, hand over our hard-earned thoughts to a media outlet, and in payment, they give us teeny bits of whatever--exposure, connections, maybe even a dollar or two here and there. Meanwhile, they are some of the richest companies in the world.

OK, The News Tribune is far from the rich company list. But you get my point.

Even as I type this, I realize I'm playing right into the system.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Entering the dragon's jaws. And yes, I do mean high school.

I apologize deeply to my 17-year-old son for what I am about to do.

Volunteer in his class.

My writer friend, Mary Boone, asked me to come into her high school writing class at Tacoma School of the Arts and talk about my latest book, my publishing journey, what it means to be a writer, and all sorts of other crap like that. I said yes.

I've done dozens of author talks to elementary school kids. That's fun stuff, because fourth graders think anyone with their name on a spine is cool. Doesn't matter if they've read the book.

For high schoolers, my out-of-this-world hope is that they'll be grateful for the distraction.

I also hope a few of them have actually read the book. In case you forgot, it's called A Matter of Life and Seth. Coincidentally, it's about kids in a high school in Tacoma. We'll see if they think I'm totally full of shit or not.

Wish me luck.