Blog: In Real Life

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

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...

read more

Interview with a Character: Rachel Knight

Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 in Interview with a Character | 0 comments

Today marks the release of Marcia Clark’s fourth novel featuring LA Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight. THE COMPETITION is one of my favorite books so far this year; you can read my review over at Pop Culture Nerd. Being a Special Trials prosecutor in Los Angeles is something Marcia Clark knows more than a little bit about, and so for this Interview with a Character, Marcia was good enough to answer for both herself and Rachel. Enjoy!   You were an accomplished prosecutor, but it must be a frustrating job sometimes. What...

read more

Flash Fiction: Kill Malmon

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Commentary | 2 comments

I don’t write fiction…except for a really good cause. Click here to read the explanation of this Flash Fiction Challenge. My entry is below. Special thanks to Matthew Clemens and my husband, who were good enough to read it and give me the courage to post it.   Tuesday   “Find something to soak this up.” I froze. “NOW, goddammit!” I turned, almost tripped over the dog, and opened the nearest cupboard. I considered the box of Froot Loops for a second before grabbing the powdered mashed potatoes....

read more

COP TOWN by Karin Slaughter

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Books, Reviews | 0 comments

Karin Slaughter’s first stand-alone novel is a force to be reckoned with. At once a gripping crime novel and astute commentary on American society, it starts off with a bang (literally) and doesn’t let up. The story concerns a spate of cop killings in Atlanta in 1974 and centers on Kate Murphy, who has just joined the police department. That’s right…Kate. A woman. Joins the cops. In 1974. She’s welcomed about as you’d expect, assuming you were born before this date (and if you weren’t, yes, it really was like that). Kate and her partner,...

read more


Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Books, Reviews | 0 comments

I never know quite what to expect when I open a first novel, and finding a good one, with a lead character I like and want to get to know better, is a real treat. SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN is such a delight. Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is tough, smart, and haunted. When she goes to interview a woman at a refuge in London, she happens on a more complex situation than she anticipated, and she never flinches as she confronts a complex web of heinous violence. But let me be clear: The violence in SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN is sometimes graphic, yes, but...

read more

Adieu, Exhibit A

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Marketing | 2 comments

We woke this morning to the sad news that Angry Robot has shuttered the Exhibit A (crime) and Strange Chemistry (sci-fi) imprints. I’m focusing here on Exhibit A because I’m not familiar with Strange Chemistry (don’t read much sci-fi), but everything I’m about to say likely applies equally to both. At first glance, this seemed like a bizarre move. But like many things, when we follow the money, there’s a logic. I’m no financier, so am not sure whether this makes real sense, but here’s what I’ve been able to figure out: Angry Robot started as...

read more

Reviewing Reviews

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Books, Commentary, Marketing | 0 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reviews in all their various forms… I have favorite newspaper reviewers…or rather, a favorite.Colette Bancroft is the books editor at my local daily paper, the Tampa Bay Times, and as fate would have it, we have “separated at birth” tastes in books. Her reviews are always smart and considered. And often hilarious; her review ofTampa is an excellent example. I have a bunch of favorite book blogs, among them (and this is far from a comprehensive list) Pop Culture Nerd, BOLO Books,Jen’s Book Thoughts, Jenn’s...

read more

Who Are You?

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Marketing | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation on Twitter with a new author. He’s pubbed by a small press, and I came across his book when one of his fans sent a, um, bizarre email to a friend who happens to also publish the most influential crime fiction magazine on the planet. I tweeted at him (because I couldn’t find an email address on his website), he responded, and all was right with the world. Yesterday, I got a direct message from this same author containing an invitation to an event in New York. At which point I assumed that he was sending it...

read more