Jul 312014
 

As ever, Block’s writing is crisp and classy. This is pure pulp fiction: there’s no faffing around with detailed back story or sprawling social commentary. Instead we cut straight to the chase, in an urban American cityscape of the late 20th century, where you still drop a dime to call the cops… and confidential information can be bought for the price of a new hat.

Click here to read the review

 

Jul 312014
 

When people learn that I am an acquiring editor, I get a few stock responses.

    "Oh, you get to read all day!" That is from the readers.

    "What kind of books do you acquire?" From the writers.

    "Huh? What's that?" Non-readers.

But then we dig into what I really do all day long. I am going to start with yesterday. I had two launch meetings yesterday. At the launch meeting, we determine the cover design, title, series name, taglines, discuss blurbs/reviews, back cover copy, etc. This is the most important meeting we have for any one book. Before the meeting, I talk with the author about what he or she envisions. Then I create a set of launch notes for everyone who attends the meeting describing what I feel the books should look like.

After work, I went to the gym and then to a Midwestern Writers Binder meet up. It ended up only being four of us, and quite a fun time, but still a work function in many ways. This morning, we had our weekly acquisitions meeting. Today I was presenting a thriller that I hope to acquire. To prepare for this meeting, I research the market, collect data about the author and comparable titles. It can take half a day to a full day for me to prepare. It all depends on the other things that interrupt me – phone calls, the art dept (asking me to go look at a cover design or at potential illustrators), marketing or sales stopping by (to ask specific questions about ads, copy, the author), etc.

My to-do list for today:

 

  • Transmit a revised manuscript to the production department
  • Brainstorm blurb requests with three different authors
  • Gather synopses from the Spring Summer 2015 authors
  • Tweak those synopses and send onto marketing
  • Remind Spring Summer 2015 authors to send in author photos and permission forms
  • Create an offer memo for the ms I presented today (to be pubbed in 2016)
  • Find six manuscripts for the Winter 2016 catalog
  • Read my tarot cards
  • Find time to meditate
  • Sign off on cover routings as they get dropped on my desk. Same for catalog copy and cover designs
  • Return a call to an outside publicist
  • Type up revision requests and send to the authors
  • Answer author and agent emails (this alone could take all day)
  • Read seven manuscripts (I have hundreds of submissions to read, but these seven are time sensitive –manuscripts that I have to formally accept within 30 days.)

 

Did you notice that reading is the last thing on my list? It shouldn’t be that way, but most days it does fall to the end, and I often have to read at night or on weekends to hit those deadlines. There are other crummy parts of my job. I have to inform authors/agents when we are discontinuing a series. I have to reject manuscripts. And I don’t have time to get thru my backlog of submissions. I feel like I am failing writers by not looking at their manuscripts in a timely manner. But at the end of the day, something has to give because I simply can’t do it all. It stresses me out continually. I wake up in the middle of the night because I have suddenly realized a plot hole or something I have forgotten to do.

But at the end of the day – I still have THE BEST JOB EVER! Reading is my job. I make dreams come true when I offer a contract to a debut author. I get to go to conferences and hang out with my friends in the crime fiction community. I am part of the creative process of taking a manuscript, giving it wings, and watching it fly. That, my friends, is an incredible feeling.

And in parting, I have a question for you all. As you can probably guess, my work doesn’t allow me much time to read for pleasure. If you were to pick the top five books pubbed in 2014 – what would they be? I will always have my favorites – but I am looking for new authors to read. Maybe a debut author? Or someone who writes excellent stuff but hasn’t broken out yet? I look forward to your suggestions.

Have a great day y’all!

Jul 312014
 
Nick Carter Rips Through A Nest Of Spies
To Hunt A Ruthless Assassin!


Killmaster  #250
Canada is split into two hostile camps. Quebec's left-wing separatists are threatening the prime minister with a bloody secession from the Canadian state. The political scene explodes into an inferno when separatist leader Giles Parisant is cut down by an assassin bullet. The Mounties number one suspect is the prime minister's son. Only one man can pull the nation from the brink of civil war, Nick Carter. Racing against a deadline where one  mistake spells failure, Nick works around the clock to sniff out Parisant's killer, a demonically manipulator who's dug in so deep only Agent N3 can smell his special sent of evil.

Printing History
Written by Jack Garside (1924- )

Berkley Publishing Group
Jove Books
Published by arrangement with The Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
ISBN 515 10034
June 1989

 Posted by at 3:18 pm
Jul 312014
 
Cabby, by Leonard Jordan No month stated, 1980  Belmont-Tower Books Predating his work on The Sharpshooter (and even the porn novel he wrote as “March Hastings”), Cabby was one of the first novels Len Levinson ever wrote. However despite being written in 1972, the novel went unpublished until 1980. Len has often mentioned this book to me, saying that it was his stab at literary greatness;
Jul 312014
 
I'm still alive and kickin', though you wouldn't realize it by looking at this blog. I've been on holiday which has also meant not blogging. We've travelled quite a bit and been doing some renovations at our new summer cottage (I'll probably post about that something soon).

But here's something that's more in the vein of Pulpetti. Someone might remember I wasn't thrilled about Charlie Huston's vampire private eye novel Already Dead back in 2007, but I've now read the book in Finnish translation and I'm happy to say I liked it more this time. It's a fast-moving, cynical and very violent book about Joe Pitt, a guy who went vampire when being given a blow-job in a New York punk club in the late seventies and who now works as a private eye between the world of vampires and the real human beings. Highly recommended. And this also proves that translations are sometimes a good thing, even though books are usually best read in their original language. Not this time, for some reason or another.
Jul 302014
 

Terror Tales 34-11John Newton Howitt studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman and Walter Clark. A devoted landscape painter, his work was sold at fine art galleries in New York City. In 1905 he began to freelance for The New York Herald Tribune, This Week, and other publications. His later markets included Red Book, Woman’s Home Companion, Maclean’s, and Scribner’s. Following the First World War, Howitt’s work could be found in Country Gentleman, Farm Life, Liberty, and The Saturday Evening Post.

The Great Depression vastly diminished the markets to which Howitt had been selling. Needing an income, he turned to the pulps. An excellent painter, Howitt found a ready market in the rough-paper periodicals, selling freelance pulp covers to Adventure, Dime Detective, Dime Mystery, Horror Stories, Love StorySecret Service Operator #5, The Spider, Terror Tales, Top-Notch, The Whisperer, and Western Story. Although he signed his covers for the western, adventure, and romance pulps with his professional signature, his work for the hero and weird-menace pulps was signed with only his initial, “H.”

Although John Newton Howitt’s iconic cover images for Terror Tales, Horror Stories, The Spider, and Operator #5 are among the most disturbing in the history of pulp art, his painting technique is among the most dignified of all the pulp artists. On Saturday, August 9th, at 8:30 PM, please join art historian David Saunders for an exploration of “The Mystery and Mastery of John Newton Howitt” at PulpFest 2014.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been exhibited worldwide in museums and corporate and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC. He has taught art at colleges nationwide, including Yale, Oberlin, R.I.S.D., S.C.A.D., Middlebury, Washington University, as well as art schools in France, Korea, Mexico and Japan.

David’s father was the legendary illustrator, Norman Saunders. His mother, Ellene Politis Saunders, worked at Fawcett Publications as Chief Executive Editor of Woman’s Day Magazine. In 1972, David became his father’s business and correspondence secretary, which started a long project to catalog his father’s 7,000 published illustrations. He spent the next seventeen years gathering published examples of his father’s work from used bookshops and submitting each new entry to his father’s inspection. What began as a sentimental hobby for a father and son grew into an impressive archive of 20th century American illustration. After his father’s death in 1989, he continued to complete the archive on his own. He interviewed his father’s surviving associates to record their oral histories. These transcripts helped to broaden his viewpoint of the popular culture publishing industry and also recorded vital information about the lives of other historic illustrators. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles of classic illustrators in Illustration Magazine and a number of book-length biographies and appreciations of pulp artists.

David Saunders is the foremost scholar of American pulp illustrators. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over three-hundred biographical profiles of these creators of popular culture. David continues to research, document, and promote a greater appreciation of pulp artists. To find out more, please visit pulpartists.comdavidsaunders.biznormansaunders.com, and the illustratedpress.com.

Ed Gorman's blog 2014-07-30 20:48:00

 Uncategorized  Comments Off
Jul 302014
 

Gravetapping



Posted: 29 Jul 2014 04:09 PM PDT
The American western novel has a bad reputation. It is reputed to be ethnocentric, violent and, even worse, simple and inaccurate. The good guys are too good, the bad guys are too bad, and the natives are one-dimensional cutouts. The townsfolk—the common working class—are portrayed as stupid, weak, or both.

In many cases this poor reputation is deserved—there have been some really, really bad westerns introduced on television, film and fiction. There have also been some damn good westerns over the years—both past and present. To quote Theodore Sturgeon—he was defending SF, but the same rule applies to westerns—“ninety percent of everything is crap.” It is the other 10 percent that separates a viable genre from a dead one and the western is far from dead, whether we are talking about golden age stories or the novels published today.

An example of an older title—it was published by one of the more maligned houses, ACE, in 1962—that holds its own against the often valid arguments against westerns is Brian Garfield’s The Lawbringers. It is a traditional western from beginning to end. It is short, seemingly simple, and very much to the point, but it is also clever, intelligent, and subtly complex.

The Lawbringers is a biographical novel about the formation of the Arizona Rangers—a law enforcement agency created by the territorial Governor to combat the seemingly endless supply of toughs and criminals that haunted Arizona in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its focus is directed at the chief Ranger, one Burton “Cap” Mossman, but it is told in an unexpected way. It is a multi-perspective novel that never attempts to get into the head of Mossman. Instead he is painted and defined by the characters around him—some real, others created by Garfield—as a hard, stubborn and tough man.

The novel is dedicated to Burt Mossman—“a chivalrous gentleman, a lawman, and an Arizonan.” But it is far from a one-sided novel of adoration. It tackles the man’s complexity as well as his flaws. He is depicted as a hard man doing a hard job. His decisions are made with the citizens of Arizona in mind, but with a frightening lack of color. There are no gradient shades, but rather his view is strictly black and white, and more often than not the end justified the means. He wasn’t above lynching a man to make his point, and the Mexico-Arizona border was less an end to his jurisdiction and more an artificial line to be ignored.

Mossman is a man who withstood political pressures and did what he thought best no matter the consequences. He typified the mythical western protagonist, but is portrayed by Mr Garfield as nothing more than a man—stubborn, sincere, and flawed. He had friends, enemies, and admirers, but he hid behind a wall of secrecy and loneliness. He was a man that fit into the demands of an era, but whose era passed quickly and without much fanfare.

The Lawbringers manages to does all that and also tell an exciting and tight tale. It has a peculiar heavy quality. It is packed with emotion and wonder; wonder at the basis of right and wrong. It has a conscience without being limited or judged by that conscience. It is complex and wondrous. In short, it is very much part of that 10 percent, which has allowed the western story to survive for more than a century.


This post originally went live September 1, 2009 right here at Gravetapping.
Jul 302014
 
• The Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and the Deanston Distillery have jointly announced their shortlist of nominees for the third annual Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year:

-- Flesh Wounds, by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
-- Falling Fast, by Neil Broadfoot (Saraband)
-- The Amber Fury, by Natalie Haynes (Corvus)
-- Entry Island, by Peter May (Quercus)
-- A Lovely Way to Burn, by Louise Welsh (John Murray)
-- In the Rosary Garden, by Nicola White (Cargo)

The winner is scheduled to be declared on September 20 during a special Bloody Scotland event. (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

• And recipients of the 2014 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense competition were announced last week during the Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio, Texas. Click hereto see the winners in half a dozen categories.

• I respect Will Ferrell as an actor, but I think this idea is dumb: It seems he is among a group of film folk determined to revive the 1983 TV series Manimal as a big-screen picture. For those of you who don’t remember the NBC’s Manimal, Wikipedia describes it succinctly as centering on “the character Dr. Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), a shape-shifting man who possessed the ability to turn himself into any animal he chose. He used this ability to help the police solve crimes.” Flavorwire is not wrong when it includes Manimal--along with Cop Rock and My Mother the Car--in its new list of “The Most Ridiculous TV Show Concepts in Pop Culture.”

• British author Martin Edwards, who writes quite often about classic crime fiction, has posted a rundown of his 10 favorite Golden Age mysteries. It includes Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise, John Dickson Carr’s The Crooked Hinge, and several books I have not yet read. I guess I have my reading work cut out for me--as usual.

• Meanwhile, Jeffrey Marks names his five favorite Agatha Christie novels. No shock: He also mentions And Then There Were None.

This is the first trailer I’ve seen for Pierce Brosnan’s new film, The November Man, based on the late Bill Granger’s 1987 novel, There Are No Spies. I really enjoyed Brosnan’s James Bond films, and The November Man returns him to that dimly illuminated world of espionage. It also features the lovely Olga Kurylenko, who starred in the 22nd Bond flick, Quantum of Solace.

• Here’s a headline I thought I would never witness in the 21st century: “Typewriter Manufacturers See Boom in Sales.” It seems the U.S. National Security Service (NSA) is to blame.

• I used to love TV movies-of-the-week, which showcased familiar small-screen actors and actresses in unfamiliar roles and often served as pilots for prospective new series. Nowadays, it seems the Big Three American networks have given up on such expensive projects, leaving them to cable-TV networks. Just as in the old days, some of these teleflicks deserve accolades, while others--including these “35 Campiest TV Movies Ever Made”--are best forgotten.

• Max Allan Collins has wrapped up a week’s worth of posts from Comic-Con International in San Diego--an event during which he won a 2014 Scribe Award for Best Short Story. You’ll find Collins’ Comic-Con coverage in five parts: here, here, here, here, and here.

• Happy 12th birthday to Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine. As Crider explains, “[the blog has] been a good distraction for me over the years, so I’ll keep it going for a while longer. So far there have been 41,725 posts prior to this one. That’s kind of scary. Maybe I should just get a life.” The Rap Sheet celebrated its eighth anniversary in May. If I can keep it going as long as Crider has been writing his blog, I might impress even myself.

• In case you didn’t notice, I spent the last two weeks posting summer-related (and occasionally lascivious) paperback fronts in my other blog, Killer Covers. Enjoy the whole set here.

This is one hell of a Raymond Chandler book collection!.

• Can you ever have too many books? Yes, insists Rachel Kramer Bussel in an essay for The Toast that begins: “Nothing brought this home for me like watching paid professionals cart away hundreds of books--read and unread, purchased lovingly or attained at book parties or conferences--when I hired a trash removal service last year upon moving from my two-bedroom apartment after 13 years. The most heartbreaking part was seeing anthologies I’d edited, with my name right there on the cover, being swept away into giant garbage cans. This was reinforced when I moved again this year, and was told by the movers, multiple times, that my boxes of books, rather than furniture like a bed and a couch, was what was weighing down their truck.”

• B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder provides this tidbit: “Angus Macfadyen (Turn) will star in The Pinkertons, a 22-episode series based on the real-life cases of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which premieres in first-run syndication in the U.S. this fall.”

• Mary Kubica, author of the suspenseful new novel The Good Girl (Mira), talks with BOLO Books’ Kristopher Zgorski, who says she “seem[s] poised to be a bit of an overnight success.”

Casablanca--“Hollywood’s greatest film”?

• And I’m sorry to hear that American actor James Shigeta has passed away at age 85. As the blog A Shroud of Thoughts recalls, “In the Seventies Mr. Shigeta appeared on such TV shows as Emergency!, Kung Fu, Matt Helm, Ellery Queen, S.W.A.T., The Streets of San Francisco, Little House on the Prairie, Police Woman, The Rockford Files, and Fantasy Island.” Shrouds’ Terence Towles Canote adds that “With the looks of a matinee idol and considerable talent as both an actor and a singer, James Shigeta might well have been a major star had he been born in a later era. Unfortunately, in the Sixties and Seventies roles for Japanese Americans were even rarer than they are now. Regardless, Mr. Shigeta had a very impressive career.”