Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In final contract negotiations for The Bottle Imp of Bright House

Many of my favorite emails come from my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary. One of her most recent ones was one of the best. Why?

Because it was an offer.

Now she's doing her magic with the publisher and The Bottle Imp of Bright House is that much closer to seeing the light of day, getting into the hands of readers, and finding a place on my bookshelf.

I'm happy.

The basic pitch for the book is this:

The story is a modern-day retelling of a Robert Louis Stevenson short story, The Bottle Imp.

Our hero, Gabe, gets his hands on a bottle with a tiny imp inside. A djinn. The bottle grants wishes to whomever owns it. But for every good wish granted, the scales need to balance out somehow. If you wish for a million dollars, then someone else loses a million. If you wish for a job, then someone else gets fired. And if you wish to save a life, well, then things can get deadly.

The bottle comes with another price, too. If you die with the bottle in your possession, then the devil gets your soul.

The story is set in a funky old apartment building full of quirky mysterious characters--a landlady who likes to set fires, an astrologer who can't sleep nights, the studio of a famous painter whose paintings have never been seen, and a girl who wants Gabe dead.

I like this book. But I like all my books. I'm a biased parent. But I do like this one a lot. Don't tell the others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A five star review, translated from the original German

I took a couple of years of high school German, from a bitter woman named Mrs. Harmoning. We didn't get along. It might have something to do with the Ex-Lax Marty Lange and I baked into the cookies for the cookie contest. Mrs. Harmoning was one of the judges.

I can still stumble through a bit of German conversation. I can order a beer and find a bathroom. But when it comes to reading reviews of my books that have come out in Germany, I am fully dependent on the nonsense spewed out by Google Translate.

Take the following five-star review for "Tick Tack Tot," the German version of "The Shadow of Seth." This review comes from some kind and insightful reader named R. Manthey. Keep in mind: Five stars. So I'm assuming it is positive.

In German, the closing paragraph says:

Diese Geschichte bleibt natürlich eine Geschichte. Aber sie wirkt keineswegs erfunden oder konstruiert. Ganz im Gegenteil: Seth ist ein Typ, den man sympathisch finden muss und den man gerne zum Kumpel hätte. Ein gelungenes Jugendbuch, schnörkellos, unterhaltend und ohne pädagogischen Hintergrund.

Google Translate tells me this means:

Of course, this story is a story. But it seems not invented or constructed. On the contrary, Seth is a type that must be found sympathetic and one would like to mate. A successful youth book, straightforward, entertaining and without educational background.

Read the entire review (in German!) here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tick Tack Tot

My German publisher must know how much I like big letterpressy type. 

By the way, this is the German version of my American book, "The Shadow of Seth."  The translation is "Tick Tock Dead."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Just finished another manuscript: The Bottle Imp of Bright House

Dear Reader,

I just completed another manuscript. About 42,000 words worth of middle-reader goodness. It's a creepy story based on a little-read Robert Louis Stevenson short story, The Bottle Imp.

I just sent it off to the esteemed Abigail Samoun, my agent at Red Fox Literary. I have high hopes for this one, half because I think it is good, and half because I am clearly delusional.

I am. I'm delusional. I've been beat down by this industry time and time again, but I still believe.

And my next effort is already half-written and fully outlined, so it's time to sign off and get on with that.

Friday, March 4, 2016

How do you say "Tilting House" in Korean?

The mailman (yes, he is a man) just delivered my contract for The Tilting House to come out in South Korea. I'm pretty excited about this for two reasons:

1.  I have a soft spot for South Korea. Deb and I have hosted two Korean exchange students, each for an entire year. Eunjong stayed with us last year and was a delight. This year, we have Jina. Also (you guessed it) a delight. 

2.  I really like bibimbap. This is a Korean dish that, at least the way I had it, comes in a hot stone dish and has savory rice, veggies, maybe some meat or tofu, and a fried egg on top. Ooh man. So good. 

So bring on the Korean readers. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mrs. Johnson and the Thunder Bomb Dogs

This is a link to a live storytelling event I participated in a few years ago, called Drunken Telegraph. Sort of like the Tacoma version of the Moth radio hour.

Apologies to the Humane Society. Keep in mind that I was young and stupid. I love dogs and work hard to treat them nice. Not so much in this old tale, which involves mean neighbors, Pomeranians, and explosives.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A really solid review from Booklist - Why did I never see this earlier??

Here's what Booklist has to say about The Shadow of Seth

In this hard-boiled teen mystery, 16-year-old Seth must solve the murder of his loving but wild-hearted mother. In a rough Tacoma neighborhood, Seth and his mother live paycheck to paycheck; his mother works nights as a cleaner, while Seth goes to school, works odd jobs, and spars at the boxing gym. When she is found dead in her car, poisoned, the police think the murderer is Miss Irene, the owner of the Shotgun Shack, where Seth works as a line cook. However, Seth can't believe their long-time family friend is to blame. As Seth looks for the real killer, he falls for a girl from the privileged part of town, which has violent repercussions for them both. This is a solid noir mystery, with classic clues, red herrings, and a big reveal at the end. The Tacoma setting is infused with plenty of local color, and Seth is pragmatic and loyal to his neighborhood family. Readers looking for an old-school, straight-up mystery will enjoy this. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.