Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Napping As A Book Marketing Technique?

June 27, 2007

I rarely take naps. But I'm basically on vacation this week, even heading out of town to the beach for a few days, and I was sleepy and it was storming outside.

So what wakes me up? My cell phone going off. It was a reporter for one of the local newspapers, the Observer-Eccentric, wanting to interview me for a piece in next-week's paper. The OE was one of the papers and media outlets I sent a copy of The Serpent's Kiss to and the first to respond.

I rather groggily said, "Sure, call me back in a couple minutes at my office number."

I think it went reasonably well.

Maybe I should take naps more often.


Mark Terry

Monday, June 25, 2007

Books On Book Marketing

June 25, 2007

I have a ton of books on writing. To my mind the best of the bunch if Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost. I've also got a couple really excellent books on freelancing, and if anybody is interested in my recommendations there, let me know and I'll blog about it later this week.

Going over my shelf of writing books, I noted that I have three books specifically geared toward the marketing and selling of your book after it has been published. I thought I'd mention them here with a few comments.

INTENT TO SELL: Marketing the Genre Novel

by Jeffrey Marks

Jeff's a good guy, a novelist, nonfiction author, teacher and he also happens to have an MBA. I recommend this book strongly. That said, I need to note that I have read this book twice and it pissed me off both times. The reason it pissed me off, I think, is because Jeff tells authors an awful lot of things they don't want to hear. One of the things that I always come back to when I think about this book is the idea that selling the book has nothing to do with the quality of the book. They tend to be separate things. A friend of mine's father used to do international sales for a major pharmaceutical company and he would proudly proclaim, "I'm a natural salesman, I could sell shit in tinfoil." I don't doubt it, but I always thought: why would you want to?

For some reason that story and Jeff's book always come to mind together. I'm not sure why. Maybe if you read Jeff's book, you too can sell shit in tinfoil. Let's just hope your book is better than that.

JUMP START YOUR BOOK SALES: A Money-Making Guide For Authors, Independent Publishers and Small Presses

by Marilyn & Tom Ross

It's been a while since I read this book, but I remember it as being damn near comprehensive. It's probably a little too focused on self-published authors. Glancing at it now, I suspect they must have updated the web stuff in a recent edition (if not, read that section with skepticism). My copy was published in 1999 so I can only hope they've come up with a newer edition. It's really an excellent book and as I'm writing this I'm thinking: hmmm, you should probably re-read this one.

Of course, I'm also remembering that the person who recommended I read it was a small press publisher who offered me a contract for a novel, then before any action resembling publication was taken, went out of business, disconnected her phone and (this is true) her website changed from that of a publisher to that of an animal crematorium.

Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing For Authors

by Steve Weber

I mentioned this earlier. It's got some good things in it, but it's entirely too focused on Amazon. Amazon, as most of us know by now, sells a lot of books--but mostly a few books by a lot of authors. (Pretty much the same business model as POD publishers such as iUniverse and XLibris.) They are a very small percentage of the overall bookselling market. Still, there's good stuff here and it doesn't take long to read it.

Of course, if you really want to get great book sales, convince your publisher to get your mass market paperback really good placement at Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs and Costcos. Once you've figured out how to do that...


Mark Terry

Friday, June 22, 2007

More Online Book Marketing

June 22, 2007

After my last post about online book marketing, Mary Reed, who I had mentioned in the post, responded in a personal e-mail. One thing she suggested that I had missed were reader's guides. Although handy for the casual reader, I would think, these are primarily aimed at book club and reading group readers. They provide a little synopsis of the books, suggest things for the groups to discuss, raise questions, etc.

Here's some of what Mary had to say:

Our theory is to keep folk coming back to a site, it is wise to offer them interesting things other than our yakking about our own writing, things of interest to readers of other writers too, such as the freebies & newlsetter lists. The current epic is listing free etexts of golden age mysteries -- I love those books and read as many as I can find, so thought other devotees would like a page to browse links already collected for them. I am trying to find at least five new ones a week, which refreshes the site nicely too.

One thing you didn't mention are reading guides. This presupposes a series, and reminds me we must update our guide, but the beauty of these is that book clubs and such are always interested in them -- if you contact these clubs, to be able to offer a reading guide is always a bonus. And who says you cannot have a reading guide to a standalone? Not yours truly!

I would note that AuthorBuzz has added a service targeted at reading groups as well. I know one of my fellow Midnight Ink authors (and I don't remember who it is, sorry) mentioned on the Inkspot blog that she was tracking down contact information for reading groups and targeting them via postcards, etc. Certainly an untapped marketing target.


1. The Serpent's Kiss utilizes the "ticking clock" motif that makes up the classic thriller format. How does Mark Terry exploit that in the structure of the novel?

2. There are numerous symbolic father-son relationships in The Serpent's Kiss. Discuss.

3. In The Serpent's Kiss, Derek Stillwater works closely with FBI agent Jillian Church. Mark Terry chose her name carefully. Why?

4. What is Derek Stillwater's religion? (I'll give you a hint. It ain't a church.)

5. "Choice" comes up several times in the context of The Serpent's Kiss. Specific characters under several circumstances have to make choices on a course of action that will drive the action of the book and affect their lives (and possibly their deaths). Discuss.

See? Kind of makes you feel like a literature professor, doesn't it?


Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Online Book Marketing

June 20, 2007

Somebody recently asked me to post about online book marketing. I suspect I've only touched on the surface of this, but sure, I'll go ahead and talk about it a bit. If you want to talk to someone who really seems to exploit this, talk to Mary Reed who co-writes historical mysteries with her husband Eric Mayer. You can check out his blog here.

First, ya gotta have a website. It's the new business card of the 21st century. Simple or a lot of bells & whistles, I guess you can go either way. Do it yourself if you can or are inclined to or hire a pro. I had a do-it-yourself website for some time, but I'm not into it and was always putting it off, so I hired who specializes in author websites. Ideally you have a good amount of real content. For writers this might mean stories, articles, interviews, these days even videos and podcasts. I'm very busy and not inclined to go the podcast route--yet--but if you've got a mind to, there's a lot you can do. Mary and Eric's website has tons of interesting things on it. Go to as well to see someone's website who handles a tremendous amount of content.

Blogs are big and free and in many ways they allow you to constantly change the content of your website. They can also be a black hole, but I recommend them for the interaction if nothing else. Also, get out into the blogosphere and interact with other writers and bloggers. It's a great way to get your name out there. Just be polite about it. Interact, don't just pitch your books.

Listservs. I belong to entirely too many listservs and don't participate in most of them. Still, your presence on listservs is like blogs--it gets your name out there.

E-newsletters. Create an e-mail list. When you set up your website, make sure there's a way for people to sign up for a mailing list. Then occasionally send an e-newsletter out to the people on your list. Tell them what's going on. I usually only do this when there's actually news. Mary and Eric send one out monthly called The Orphan Scrivener and it consists of an essay about damn near anything by both of them, with very little blatant self promotion.

I utilize Vertical Response ( because my webmaven fancies it up and it's cheap, but Mary and Eric just send e-mails in bulk. Just be cautious about how you do this because you don't want to trip over anti-spam laws.

AuthorBuzz is a service created by author MJ Rose. She charges for the privilege, but it supposedly reaches about 300,000 people--readers, booksellers, etc. You get a nice little write-up (that you create) along with links to your website and your book jacket. It shows up for one week (twice), once about 4 months before your book goes on sale and the second time around the time your book goes on sale. I notice she's added some services that also hit book clubs and other venues (for additional money--MJ's not stupid). Pricey but it seems effective.

Online reviewers. There are a bunch of them with more coming all the time. You can also get listed on ReviewersChoice, which is a yahoo group. You can announce your book there (or your publisher can) and offer ARCs or books to review. Some are online reviewers, some are print reviewers. The list of online review sites is huge and you can find them with a google search.

Blog Tours. This is where you contact people--presumably friends, but who knows?--and ask them to either let you guest blog on their blog or post a review or notice about your book. In an ideal world, it happens more or less at the same time. I haven't really tried this, but I can see where it might work.

Amazon and the other online booksellers have opportunities for reviews, blog, plogs (not sure what that stands for, actually) and a variety of other things that may or may not actually help sell your book. I read a book, "Plug Your Book!" by Steve Weber that's all about online book marketing and his focus was primarily Amazon and the focus seemed to be largely about driving up your sales numbers, which although a good thing, does not necessarily transfer to a large number of books sold, depending on what else is going online on any given hour of any given day. Still, although I would read it with skepticism, I suppose it's worth reading.

MySpace, CrimeSpace, and all the other social networking sites. Yes, I have a CrimeSpace site. No, I don't have a MySpace site. Why not? Too busy to work it effectively. I think these work best if you can spend time interacting. They're probably useful. A quick perusal of them suggests that either some people are really tech savvy or they really have a lot of time on their hands. Again, they're not a waste of time and they can be really effective, but in order to make them work you really need to spend some time creating a community and interacting with people. I also suspect that if you can jazz these sites up with video clips and music and update the content regularly, they're going to be much more effective.

Like I said, this only touches the surface. Any more ideas would be welcome. This is something I think can be very cost-effective and remains largely unexploited by me.


Mark Terry

Monday, June 18, 2007

Does Your Writing Suck?

June 18, 2007

Well, the reason I'm asking is John Scalzi has several posts about the subject. Apparently he wrote a blog post a while back about why teenage writers' writing sucks, and then he noted that they tended to not read the comments where he defended things...

I don't, actually, know if your writing sucks. One imprecise measure of Writerly Suckiness is if you're getting published. If you're not, your writing might suck. (Oh stop swearing at me, for God sakes! I said it was imprecise.) That isn't to say that great writing doesn't sometimes get turned down. The problem might be lack of persistence or lack of luck or, I don't know, the vagaries of an unfair universe. It's not like we're born deserving to be published. There are some pretty sucky writers who are great storytellers. There are some pretty fabulous writers whose stories (in my opinion) suck like an Electrolux. In my opinion, then, they're not fabulous writers because being a good storyteller is--to me--part of the definition of being a good writer.

Anyway, John, among other things, talks about being adequately unsucky and other levels of unsuckiness and I think you should go read his posts and stop swearing at me.

Here's a bit from his post:

Before I list the arguments, let me stress again something that gets lost in the shuffle: It's okay that teen writers are not particularly good writers right now. Almost all of them will get better with time and practice. I mean, hell: I did. It's not an insult to note that someone doesn't do something well, yet: It's just an observation. I have every expectation that teen writers will get better. If I didn't, I wouldn't have bothered to write the original article at all.


Mark Terry

Saturday, June 16, 2007

8 Facts About Me Meme

June 16, 2007

I've seen this 8 Facts About Me Meme around and managed to ignore it, but my niece recently did it and specifically mentioned me in the tag, so...

1. I used to play piano and saxophone, well enough, as a matter of fact, to teach both. Today, though, I took my very first guitar lesson.

2. Worst job moment #1: When I worked at the Cytogenetics Lab, I often worked with products of conception (POC), ie., what you get after a miscarriage or stillbirth, in order to test for chromosome abnormalities that caused the miscarriage. During training, we received a feus, about 2 or 3 inches long. The guy training me, Tom, said, "Okay, transfer it to a petri dish, then use two scalpels to chop it into mush."

3. Worst job moment #2: When I worked in a research lab in college (diabetes research), I worked with rats and mice. I was wearing a heavy leather suede work glove in case they tried to bite me. I was training the tech and said, "It's just in case, but they never bite." Then the rat squirmed right on cue and bit my hand right through the glove.

4. I've lived my entire life in Michigan (I love Michigan, but I'm not sure this is something to be proud of). In order: Davison, East Lansing, Southgate, Lake Orion, Oxford.

5. My first car was a maroon Dodge Omni. (I was 22).

6. My wife and I will have been married 21 years in September, but we dated 8 years before that. In other words, I'm 43 and we'll have been together for 3/4 of it.

7. Oldest memory: my brother's birthday party when he got a Handy Andy Tool Kit. I think I was 3 or 4.

8. I'm happier now than I've ever been.

Well, you're tagged if you want to be.


Mark Terry

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Day In The Life Of A Writer

June 15, 2007

Yesterday was a not-quite-typical day, but I'm not sure I would call it rare, either, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse of Life Che Terry.

6:30--Get up to accompany oldest son while he gets ready for his last day at school.

6:55--Shower, etc.

7:20--Hit office, check e-mail, put up blog entry, e-mail editor at Midnight Ink re. THE SERPENT'S KISS proof.

7:45--wake up youngest son, get breakfast around.

8:30--Sean off to school. I take Frodo for a walk, but today I have a mission. I take a bag of 30 pre-cooked hotdogs and buns, each individually wrapped in foil, to Sean's school and drop off for their last day of school picnic.

9:00--home again from walk. Pour caffeinated beverage and hit office.

9:20--work on The Valley of Shadows.

10:10--go for 9 mile bike ride.

11:00--home again. Check e-mail, work on a profile of an anatomic pathology lab.

11:30--Ian home from school. Chat briefly.

11:45--Keep working on AP profile.

12:15--Sean home from school. I pull lunch together. We eat.

1:00--Finish AP profile, start making phone calls to set up more interviews.

3:00--Start pulling data--Spreadsheet City--about laboratory test volumes for various states. Simultaneously uploading music disk to iTunes on computer (yeah, I'm multitasking).

4:00--take a break and sync iPod. Newest tune: "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse. Newest uploaded disk: "Take The Weather With You" by Jimmy Buffett.

4:10--go back to pulling data.

4:30--go upstairs and put together waffle mix for dinner (breakfast for dinner tonight, what can I say?)

4:50--back in office, talk to NF publisher about AP profiles, databases and various deadlines.

5:00--back to pulling data

5:40--go upstairs, eat dinner, do dishes, read the newspaper.

6:45--back in office, pulling data

8:30--call it quits for the day.

8:30--watch a little TV, settle in to read, close down the pool for the evening



Mark Terry

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

June 14, 2007

My friend Toby Buckell's second novel, RAGAMUFFIN, is out now. I enjoyed the hell out of RAGAMUFFIN and his first novel, CRYSTAL RAIN (now available in mass market paperback). Toby writes sci-fi with a Caribbean tinge, but I just know they're beautifully written books, a lot of fun and I highly recommend them (and I don't read much SF!).

Here's a description of RAGAMUFFIN.

The Benevolent Satrapy rule an empire of forty-eight worlds, linked by thousands of wormholes strung throughout the galaxy. Human beings, while technically “free,” mostly skulk around the fringes of the Satrapy, struggling to get by. The secretive alien Satraps tightly restrict the technological development of the species under their control. Entire worlds have been placed under interdiction, cut off from the rest of the universe.

Descended from the islanders of lost Earth, the Ragamuffins are pirates and smugglers, plying the lonely spaceways around a dead wormhole. For years, the Satraps have tolerated the Raga, but no longer. Now they have embarked on a campaign of extermination, determined to wipe out the unruly humans once and for all.

But one runaway woman may complicate their plans. Combat enabled, Nashara is more machine than flesh, and she carries inside her a doomsday weapon that could reduce the entire galaxy to chaos. A hunted fugitive, she just wants to get home before she’s forced to destroy civilization—and herself.

So check it out!


Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Marketing Your Novel, Part 2

June 13, 2007

I'm over at Inkspot today, writing about my efforts to market my upcoming novel, THE SERPENT'S KISS. Lots of nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts, dollar signs, etc.


Mark Terry


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Joy (?) of Rewriting

June 12, 2007
Elizabeth Bear has a lovely, insightful blog post about rewriting today.

This is the part where it stops being about art or inspiration or even a Puritan work ethic, and becomes about nothing more than sheer bloodymindedness.This is, in short, what we fondly* refer to as the glamour.And for me, this is the hardest part of the process. It's not any fun. It's not revelatory. There's no rush of creation, no euphoria, no dance of discovery. There is only the exhaustive working over and over of every damned sentence and line and idea, trying to make sure they make sense, trying to make sure they fit.

Yeah. I agree. More or less. Sometimes rewriting is actually easier. The work's all been done and all I'm doing is polishing. Sometimes, there's something wrong and you just can't figure out what it is. Also, as Bear notes, by the time your editors swing through for their 2 cents, you're not only bored with the damned thing, you're pretty much sick of it, as well.

Mark Terry

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hints & Allegations

June 10, 2007

There's been a fair amount of talk in Book World about Simon & Schuster's recent new contract changes, what some people are calling a rights grab.

It probably is.

Book contracts are an odd thing--probably all contracts are--and S&S has had a reputation for 20 or 30 years (at least, according to various articles and books on the subject I've read over the last 20 years or so), for long complex contracts. It's the publisher's job (read editor, since they are often the face presented to the author/agent during contract negotiations) to get as good a deal for the publisher as they can. It's the agent's job to get as good a deal as they can for their client, the author.

I have yet to see a book contract or even contracts for other writing projects I've had that didn't have something in it that gave me pause. I actually turned down a nonfiction gig for $10,000 because of some of the contract language. It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I did.

Ultimately it's a trap. It's a negotiating ploy, in many cases. Let's throw this out and see if we can get an edge over this author, particularly if they're unagented. Let's claim that "this is a deal-breaker" even though it might not be. It's a game of chicken, let's see who will blink first. Besides, if you expect that during negotiations you're going to give something away, you throw in outrageous things you don't mind giving up, just so you can look like you're being reasonable.

And in my contract?

Well, yeah, there were things my agent and I didn't like. Get a few drinks in any author and ask them if there's anything in their contracts they don't like, damn near all will say there's stuff they don't like. This whole thing can make you feel like you're in a bazaar in Ethiopia haggling over a rug.

Here's the thing, though. Unless you're in business, the only places in the U.S. you're likely to haggle over things are car dealerships and when you buy your house. And even then you might not (I've owned Saturns for years, and they don't do that haggling thing (supposedly)). But people in business who deal with vendors and clients and attorneys and customers haggle (er, negotiate) all the time. It's just part of doing business.

Editor Abby Zidle, over on There's A Dead Guy In My Living Room talks about it this way:

It's generally in everyone's best interest to take the gamble and stay together, forging the beginning of a long career. So most of the time a deal is struck in which the editor feels robbed and the author feels stiffed...and everybody's happy.

I'm pretty sure Abby meant that to be funny, although I didn't actually find it very humorous. I felt it was pretty sad.

But I also felt it was true. It's a reminder that publishing is a business. All too often writers, who don't understand they've just become a business partner, ignore the fact that they are, indeed, running a business. They are a sole contractor providing a service for a company that wants their business. From a bargaining position, unless you're a bestseller, the novelist is trying to negotiate from a horribly weak position. It's a buyer's market and probably always has been. Now that everybody with a computer thinks they can easily cough up a novel, and e-mail makes it even easier to send in a manuscript, editors and agents are deluged with material. Most of it is probably unpublishable, but I haven't noticed where publishers are going wanting for material to publish. It's all coming to them.

Anyway, I have something on my mind and I can't really talk about it here, but it involves contracts and contract language. What's on my mind is not particularly pressing and immediate so I can contemplate this from the comfort of the land of "what if." But I can give you a vague sense of what's on my mind and it's a question every author has to ask themselves:

If the deal sucks, can you walk away from it?

That's a trap, isn't it?


Mark Terry

Friday, June 08, 2007

Some Times You Feel Like A Nut

June 8, 2007

And, as the jingle goes, some times you don't. (For those who aren't familiar with this ad, it's for Peter Paul Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars).

The point being, sometimes you feel like a writer and sometimes you don't.

Yesterday I had a particularly "writerly" moment. I received an e-mail from one of my editors, The Great And Powerful Wade, asking for an urgent clarification for my French publishers, who are busy turning THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK into LA FOURCHE DU DIABLE. It took me all of about five seconds to clear things up, but I felt like a real "writer" for a while there.

Of course, part of the problem here is that, er, I'm a fulltime writer. How come I don't feel like a writer all the time?

The answer probably is that this is what a writer feels like. Or perhaps, being a writer is something you are, or something you do, and not something you necessarily feel.

I've written before about how some people get off on the "author" thing, doing book signings and going to conferences. There are aspects of both of those that do, as a matter of fact, make me feel like an "author." Of course, doing a book signing where you're prowling the store handing out free bookmarks and introducing yourself also makes me feel a bit like a stalker or a used-car salesman (or one of those perfume ladies at the malls). Conferences can make you feel authorly too, depending on how comfortable you are making small talk with people you've never met before and who mostly want to go meet Harlan Coben or John Ramsey Miller, who the hell are you, why don't you get out of my way.

That is to say, nothing is really all that simple.

I love writing. With some odd bemusement, I've noted that if it weren't for my novels, I might go days without actually writing something. I might be editing, I'm more likely these days to be researching, reading business reports or annual reports or scouring federal databases for information. Not exactly the gig I thought I was getting into when I left cytogenetics, but satisfying and enjoyable anyway. There's a separate blog post on that alone, I think; perhaps Monday.

Anyway, about those French translation rights. That's pretty cool. So is holding your book in your hand. Getting movie producers calling and asking to read your manuscript? Lot of fun, too. Actually writing, putting your words on screen and/or paper? Way cool.


Hey, rejections are an even bigger part of being writerly than translation rights or movie scouts. Don't they make you feel like a writer?

I'll tell you a little secret. C'mere. Closer. There's something kind of cool about rejection letters, too. I've been rejected by all of the major publishers, lots of minor publishers and everything in between. And although acceptances are better by several light years, at least when you're getting rejected, you know you're in the game. If you don't send stuff out and you never get rejected, you might still be a writer, but...

Yeah, well, acceptances are better. They definitely make you feel like a writer.


Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wanted: Orgy Planners

June 6, 2007
Saw this brief notice about a book talk and new book:

Today on Morning Edition, Vicki Leon expounds on Working IX To V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World (Walker, $16.95, 9780802715562/0802715567).

Hurry! Time to give up your writing aspirations and stock up on the condoms, sex toys, lubricants, etc.

And I can just see it, the class projects for the business majors going into "Event Planning."

Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Writing's Second Most Consistent Pleasure

June 5, 2007

Yesterday I received two copies of THE SERPENT'S KISS. One is pretty much a gift from The Great And Powerful WADE, my titles editor at Midnight Ink. The other is for me to read and mark-up if I want any changes, should we go to additional printings.

I was pleased--very--to find that I had picked up an additional blurb nobody had told me about. Here it is:

"I can't remember the last time a thriller made my heart pound and my hands sweat, but The Serpent's Kiss did all that and more. This is a tense, high-octane read!" —Tess Gerritsen, author of The Bone Garden

Thanks Tess! You rock!

There are many, many things about getting a book published that are anticlimactic or even disappointing. The world does not stop, by the way, when your book comes out. Even relatives, by and large, won't drop what they're doing and rush to the bookstore to pick up your new opus.

Holding your book in your grubby little paws for the first time is not one of those things. Holding your book in your hands for the first time pretty much lives up to all your expectations. It can be a bit emotional, certainly there's a sort of magic to it, and I hope all you aspiring writers get the chance someday to hold your own book in your hands. For that moment, at least, all the effort and rejection and frustration seems worth it.

Oh, and MI's copywriters did a great job. Here's the back cover copy:

Breaking News

Fifty-two persons are confirmed dead in a lethal sarin gas attack at a downtown Detroit restaurant, 8:00 A.M. this morning.

Detroit: 10:40 A.M.

I am the Serpent. Three million dollars must be in account 84-532-6887-263 by 11:45 A.M. or many more people will die.

Detroit: 11:47 A.M.

The Serpent will strike again. In five minutes. It is on their heads.

Breaking News

At noon, forty-three people were found dead at a Wayne State University lecture hall in what appears to be the second of several pre-determined bio-terrorist assaults on the city.

Detroit is running out of time.

And, I suppose I should mention writing's first most consistent pleasure. That's the actual act of writing itself.


Mark Terry

Monday, June 04, 2007

8-Point Checklist For Successful Fiction

June 4, 2007
I'm over at the Michigan Mayhem & Murder blog today with an 8-Point Checklist For Successful Fiction. Check it out!

Mark Terry

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What I've Been Reading: Latest 10

June 3, 2007
In my apparently never-ending quest to fill up bandwidth with trivia, here is a list of the last 10 books I've read this year. That would be #21-#30.

Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell
SF and fun space opera by my friend Toby. I read an ARC, but it comes out officially on June 15th, so if you're into that sort of thing, check it out. I'll mention it again when the date arrives.

Capitol Threat by William Bernhardt
A pleasant surprise. I believe I reviewed it here. Part murder mystery, part political thriller.

The Last Secret by Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore
An apocalpytic thriller featuring SNN reporter Cotten Stone, the daughter of a fallen angel. Very enjoyable.

The Narrows by Michael Connelly
I was very saddened to find that the victim was Terry McCaleb, the main character in two other Connelly books, but I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Critical Space by Greg Rucka
Got a rave from me. Loved it.

Fat, Forty & Fired by Nigel Marsh
This one's a memoir. Very funny, very true and recommended if you want to read a funny story about a man's midlife crisis. I'd have enjoyed it more if Nigel hadn't been able to travel (he lives in Australia) to Tanzania, England, France and Italy during the year he was out of work, due to frequent flyer miles and the fact his previous job apparently paid better than most everybody else's. Still, quite enjoyable.

Invisible Prey by John Sandford
A new entry from the mystery genre's most reliable author. Has this guy ever written a bad or even mediocre book? I'm so-so about "The Night Crew" but even that was compulsively readable. I thought this was one of his better books.

Stone Rain by Linwood Barclay
If you haven't read anything by Lindwood Barclay, you should. His main character is a nervous, hypochondriac nerd who writes feature stories for the city newspaper (probably Toronto, but he carefully doesn't ID the city or country). In this case, one of his neighbor friends, who runs a dominatrix business out of her, er, basement, draws him into a complicated crime.

Percy Jackson and The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
The third book in Rick's fantastic series about demigod Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon). A MUST-READ!

Escape Clause by James O. Born
A terrific new discovery. I like the scale of Born's characters and books--they feel real, and his tone is light, even if the events are harrowing. Lots of lovely, nicely integrated twists. It's a police procedural and Born is a cop for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as is his character. Bill Tasker investigates a death a prison, which is merely the tip of the ice berg for what's going on there.

Mark Terry

Friday, June 01, 2007

Denver Thoughts

June 1, 2007

That photograph is a satellite image of Denver. What I find most cool about it is that the green is basically the city. Denver, although a mile high, is essentially on a flat plain leading to the rocky mountains, which you can see there on the left side of the image. And yes, there was snow on the mountains when I was there.

Whenever I take one of these business trips, I try to pick a "favorite" thing about the trip or the city (aside from visiting friends). For instance, in Cincinnati, it was taking a walk over the bridges that cross the river and having boats cruise beneath me. In Atlanta, it was Bicentennial Park and the CNN tour. Anaheim was easy--Disney Land was just down the street and although I've been to both Disney Land and Disney World numerous times, the big memory from that trip was listening to a Dixie Land band playing down in the French Quarter area down by the lagoon. Kansas City was the World War I Museum, Baltimore was taking water taxis.

Denver's a little trickier. The trip got all screwed up. After I made my presentation Tuesday, I had to go deal with the airlines to change my reservations and by the time I was done dealing with that stuff, I decided to skip the last 2 hours of the meeting and go into downtown Denver, just so I could say I had. I also had a refrigerator magnet to buy and T-shirts to track down for the family. (Whenever we travel, we get a refrigerator magnet for the location).

I suppose it's mountains. I liked Denver's light rail system reasonably well, and the downtown area is nice. I think it's unfortunate that they've created this great downtown mall area that basically stretches from the Capitol to Coors Stadium, complete with free buses and access via the trains, and there's the sports stadiums, etc., but for some reason I wasn't really impressed by the stores and restaurants. I expected something a little more, I don't know, tourist-y, I guess. I did visit the Tattered Cover Bookstore, which is legendary. I was impressed. It's a well-designed store, set up so you almost have to browse (although they didn't have any of my books, and from what I could see didn't handle any books by Midnight Ink, although my search wasn't exhaustive). Nice store, though. If you're in Denver, make sure you stop in.

I suspect when I look back on this trip it'll be what a hassle it was. I flew in on Tuesday, got held up with storms at the airport, got stuck in horrible traffic getting to the hotel, had a terrific meal with Stephanie, Joyce and Kristy, the meeting managers, then spent a largely sleepless night tossing and turning in my room. The next morning was the Board Meeting, and around noon I got the phone calls about my aunt's death, and after a wildly phone-called-interrupted lunch I made my presentation (I also signed a multi-year contract with the AGT for my editorial services), then bolted to my room to deal with the airlines. I spent a couple hours downtown, then had a quick dinner at one of the hotel restaurants, hid out in my room and dealt with e-mail and more phone calls for an hour or so, watched a movie, then went to bed (and slept like crap). On Thursday I was up at 4:00 to catch a 5:00 shuttle to the airport so I could fly out at 8:00. I got back to Michigan about 12:30 Eastern Time, and finally made it home around 2:45 or so.

One thing I noticed, and I'm not sure if it's related, but I felt ill much of the time I was in Denver. I suspect this was me dealing with the altitude. I know when I was walking downtown that I felt a little breathless, and I susspect it was related to being a mile high.

Anyway, I'm back home, trying to figure out what's what.


Mark Terry