Blog: In Real Life

Book reviews, marketing observations and advice, and general commentary…

Bloody Murder at Bouchercon

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Books, Marketing | 0 comments

My trip to Bouchercon was shorter than I had planned because of a death in the family, but despite missing the first couple of days, it included more than a few memorable moments. I’m going to limit myself here to talking about just two favorites. On Saturday morning, I was honored to be part of the Bloody Murder: Voices from the Margin event. I’m calling it an “event” rather than a “panel” because it included 46 authors (plus me and Terri Bischoff) in a format that, to the best of my knowledge, was entirely new to Bouchercon. I’m going to...

read more

The Vices of Bouchercon

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

As we gear up for Bouchercon in a couple of weeks, I’ve read a bunch of great “advice” posts. Alex Segura’s guide for cons at Do Some Damage is terrific. Kristopher at BOLO Books has a series of Countdown to Bouchercon posts that is invaluable. The Bouchercon 2014 blog is running posts from people on all different aspects of the event. Except one, which I’m going to address today. Forgive me if I sound a little like the “you’ll shoot your eye out” mom in A Christmas Story—it’s not my intention to suggest you dampen your fun! So here goes:...

read more

Ello…there

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

Some weeks back a new social network leapt onto the scene: Ello. I did what I always do in these situations. I went over and grabbed my user name (I like it to be the same everywhere) and had a look around. Much like when Google+ launched to far more fanfare, it was…quiet. Nobody could quite figure out what to say or do. The search wasn’t working, so finding friends was difficult. But I was intrigued, primarily because Ello’s shtick seems to be that they are not now accepting nor will they ever accept advertising. I’ve been spending less time...

read more

Three for Friday

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Commentary, Marketing | 0 comments

I’ll say what we’re all thinking: October? Really? How did that happen? And when did stores start putting out Christmas stuff so damn early? Ok. Now that that’s done with… In case you missed it, Jeff Cohen has a new book out, called THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD. As part of the launch, he did a wonderful campaign (read about it here) to benefit ASPEN, the Autism Spectrum Education Network. If you’re not familiar with Jeff’s books and ASPEN, please get to know both. Do you know what a bonkbuster is? Neither did I until Laura Lippman...

read more

The Week that Was

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Commentary, Marketing | 0 comments

Some relatively random thoughts/observations this week… In case you missed it, the Bouchercon programming schedule has been posted. Click here to view/print/download it. There are nine panels at a time this year, so chances are good everyone will be able to find something of interest. Last night, Scotland voted no to becoming an independent country. Voter turnout was 84.6%. I didn’t have a dog in this particular hunt, although I was hoping for a different outcome. But I’ve been fascinated with the role media (social and otherwise) and IRL...

read more

THE LEWIS MAN by Peter May

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Books, Reviews | 1 comment

Today I’m turning the virtual mic over to Lauren, because I thought she’d do a better job of telling you about THE LEWIS MAN than I ever could. I was right! You can find Lauren on Twitter here. I had never been to the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland until I read The Blackhouse, the Barry  Award-winning first entry in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy.  But May’s spare yet electric prose brings the harsh terrain and weather of the islands to life as surely as the living characters.  Now, the islands feel like a new friend,...

read more

Ice Bucket Challenge: Noble or Folly?

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

I have no problem admitting that when I first heard about the ice bucket challenge, I was skeptical. I figured it wouldn’t take off. I thought people would make videos rather than donate. I was wholly and completely wrong. But my point here is not to preach at you nor to address the multitude of concerns—both real and contrived—people have about the ice bucket challenge. I’m here to talk about marketing, and the ice bucket challenge is an ideal teachable moment for anyone wanting to market anything, especially books. ALS is like a less-known...

read more

Do NY Times Reviews Matter?

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

When I was a kid living in Seattle, my dad subscribed to theNew York Times Review of Books. It arrived a week late in the mail, and I remember reading it when I was as young as six or seven. My biggest takeaway was big words. I learned a lot of 3+ syllable words that way. And I was always surprised that the books I enjoyed reading were never reviewed. (Today, more of the books I read are reviewed there, but I still don’t agree with their bias against Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie.) I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes people buy...

read more

Recasting Literary Fiction

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

Before I begin, I should tell you that Andrew Lewis Conn, the author of O, AFRICA!, is my client. That fact hasn’t influenced what I’m about to say—this is an honest opinion—but I wanted to be all see-through about it. I hate the term “literary fiction” for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I think it dissuades people from reading because the simple reality is that many people equate literarywith boring. Are they right to do so? Nope. But they do. Likewise, I’m not a big fan of the phrase “genre fiction,” because more often than...

read more

Q&A with James Lee Burke

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Books | 2 comments

This is the fourth year I’ve had the incredible honor and privilege of doing a short interview with James Lee Burke. (Here are previous years': 2011, 2012, and 2013.) I can honestly say that my excitement about this has waned not one iota, and my admiration for JLB as a consummate storyteller and fantastic human being has only grown.   In addition to being the title of your latest (amazing) book, Wayfaring Stranger is an iconic American folk song, which has been recorded by Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris among many...

read more