Online writing class ‘The Big Idea’ starts next week…

So, yeah, this is starting next week! And I am very excited! I’ve been wanting to get into teaching for a while, and I was doing an in-person workshop right before the world caught fire, and it was quite a bit of fun, so until that resumes, I’m giving this a shot.

Now, yes, I have been the class director at LitReactor for years now so I guess it’s a little self-serving to design my own class there but oh well! Honestly I’ve been wanting to do a class craft forever and I always held off because I thought I wasn’t qualified. Right now I feel like I’m ready.

The gist of the class is how to take a big idea, hang it on a character, and then put together the kind of high concept book that’s going to make editors and agents sit up and take notice. I’m digging into my experience writing and selling The Warehouse, as well as working with James Patterson on Scott Free, and selling my next book, Paradox Hotel, on spec.

It’s going to be a fun class! Lectures, Q&A, homework assignments, and I’ll be critiquing students. Students will also be critiquing each other because I think that’s an important part of the process… it sharpens your knives in a different way.

Want to learn more about the class? Click here. Got any questions? Go hit that contact form, and I’ll answer ‘em. There are only a few seats left! Which is pretty cool. So if you want in, don’t wait…

Join #QuarantineMysteryBookClub and #SupportLocalBookstores!

a03538c0-915a-4509-bcf6-ebcb207647e2-15152-00001b242450a369This is one of those fun instances where I’ve been invited to a party where I feel like I am crashing the gates and will probably get thrown out when I’m discovered? I mean, jeez-louise, look at the talent here!

Seriously, three cheers to Ben Winters for putting this together. This book sounds AWESOME and it’ll be fun to jaw about it with such an incredible lineup of writers. It’s for a good cause and I’m thrilled to be doing it.

Join the #QuarantineMysteryBookClub to #SupportLocalBookstores

Hang out with your favorite mystery writers and support local bookstores through a tough time.

It’s easy…

1. Buy the “book club selection”  — Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey — at your favorite independent bookshop, or at Bookshop.org.

2. Join us HERE on Monday May 4 at 8 PM EST / 5 PM PST for the discussion!

FEATURING:

See?! How much fun will this be. Get to ordering. Mail is moving slow so you want to make sure you’ve got time to read it…

BOTH SIDES, an anthology of border stories, is out today

51Dr7RxM-NLLa frontera is full of stories…

Today marks the release of Both Sides: Stories From the Border, edited by my bud, Zero Saints and Coyote Songs author Gabino Iglesias. It’s an anthology I’m proud to be in, because of the relevancy of the subject matter, but also because I’m sharing space with some incredibly talented writers.

And I’ll be honest—a part of me feels like a bit of a charlatan to be in here! Because I’m a white guy, and a born and bred New Yorker, and I know voices most suited to tell stories about true hardship and suffering often don’t get that chance in this industry.

Not to say writers can’t push themselves and tell stories that don’t align with their experience and privilege. Those stories just need to be handled with thought and care. They need to reach for those feelings that are universal—in the story I wrote, about being a dad, and the feeling that I’d do anything to protect my daughter, and the fear and frustration I feel at the kind of people who call themselves patriots but, in reality, act against everything America is supposed to stand for. Continue reading

Now accepting reservations at the Paradox Hotel

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Time travel hotel.

That’s it. That’s all I had. It struck me while wandering the McKittrick Hotel during a performance of Sleep No More. What if there was a hotel where you could walk in a room and find yourself five minutes ahead, or ten minutes behind?

I wrote it down and it sat there while I did other things—but I’m a sucker for a good time travel story. It kept calling to me. I thought it might be a good vehicle to write about the assumed power of money. Time travel and financial markets both being largely theoretical.

It kept calling to me even as I spent nearly a year working on a book that, ultimately, never came together.

So…

Welcome to the Paradox Hotel. My next book. Coming out at some point next year probably.
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Writing through fear

I’ve said this in a bunch of interviews but: I originally got the idea to write The Warehouse back in 2012. Then, it was a little seed of an idea that needed time to grow, and part of the process was letting it take root, letting it suck up water and nutrients, and letting it blossom. I didn’t start writing it in earnest until something like 2015. And I had three or four false starts before I really cracked it.

But part of the reason it took so long was that I was afraid to write it. I didn’t think I was a good enough writer. I didn’t think I was smart enough. It was economic policy and criticisms of capitalism wrapped in the blanket of a thriller.

I thought to myself: I’ll get there eventually. One of the things I do when I feel challenged by something is, I go bigger. Maybe so the thing that’s actually scaring me seems less scary. So I came up with this idea for a novel, that I don’t want to completely give away because it might be salvageable at some point, but it was a horror novel, wrapped in a memoir of the author who is writing it, and the way fiction and reality influence each other. It was a very meta, very risky narrative, and I wrote 70,000 words before I realized I’d hit a wall. Continue reading

My favorite reads of 2019

It’s that time of year again, when I have to list my five favorite reads for LitReactor and I feel like an asshole because I read so many good books and how in the wide world of fuck can I possibly narrow it down?

I tried my best. My top five is:

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, Recursion by Blake Crouch, Wanderers by Chuck Wendig, Three-Fifths by John Vercher, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. You can see my reasoning here.

BUT there were a whole lot of books I read that I really liked and I am going to list some more of them here because this is my site and I can do what I want. This is for books released in 2019 (some of which I really struggled about including in the top five).

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Italy/Germany/Holland

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I’m back from Europe, having spent a week shuttling from Milan to Munich to Hamburg to Amsterdam. And it was a trip. Not just because I covered so much ground, or ate so much food, or wandered through not one but two famous red light districts. It’s because I got the chance to see the kind of impact The Warehouse is having in other parts of the world and the entire process was humbling and surreal.

I also learned some fun stuff about the weird cultural differences of book publishing and promotion in other countries. Which I thought it might be fun to talk about here.

(Oh, and before I left, I went to all the Hudson News stands in Terminal 4 at JFK and signed their copies of The Warehouse… so if you’re flying through there soon and want to get one, there you go.)

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Finances for Authors

So we’ve all seen The Piece. You know the one. About the advance. I’m not getting into judgement one way or another except to say that it was bold to share that and it got people talking. And talking is good because in publishing there’s a whole lot of not talking because it’s considered… I dunno, uncouth or something.

And yes, you have to arm yourself with knowledge. It’s all out there on the internets. The problem is that the good advice is really very often nestled amongst bad advice. A lot of people are ready to tell you how publishing works, despite having no idea how publishing works. Some people consider this “branding,” like if you present yourself as an expert you’ll be taken more seriously.

I have shot from the hip with advice over the years and some of it has been good and some of it has been bad. I’m still learning. No one has it all figured out and anyone who says they do is lying. I do feel like at this point I know a little about a little–I’ve worked as a publisher, published seven of my own books at both small and large presses, co-authored a book with James Patterson, and navigated the weird and winding road of a bananas book deal with The Warehouse.

And one thing that was really hard to figure out–because there’s no guidebook!–is the financial end. Chuck Wendig touched on it briefly in this very good article about the overall tomfuckery of publishing. It’s a must-read. It also made me think I had some information to share about navigating the financial end of things. Continue reading

Pitch Wars mentor wishlist

2019-Adult-Mentor-SQUAREHey everyone! So, Pitch Wars. I’m a mentor this year! I’m excited. Don’t know what Pitch Wars is? Click this link. Or, here’s some sample text I copy and pasted because I’m a little lazy!

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.

I am looking for books in the adult category, and in a broad sense, in the crime-thriller and/or sci-fi-speculative realm (we’ll get to that…), and here is some relevant info that you will hopefully find helpful: Continue reading