New Mike Hammer Novel Giveaway

April 15th, 2014 by Max Allan Collins
King of the Weeds

Last week, my offer of a dozen ARC’s (advance reading copies) of ANTIQUES CON to readers willing to do an Amazon review found all twelve spoken for within 24 hours.

This week I have a similar offer, and it just might go quicker (we will post here and on Facebook when the offered books are gone). [Note from Nate: We're all out again. Thanks for the terrific response!] I have a dozen copies (not advance reading copies, but the real deal, and I’ll sign them) of KING OF THE WEEDS, the Mike Hammer novel going on sale May 6. Again, this is predicated on your willingness to write an Amazon review (also encouraged are Barnes & Noble reviews and blog reviews in general). Do not try to post your review before May 6 – Amazon does not allow advance reviews except from their own selected cadre.

This week our son Nathan visited Barb and me for several days, and during that time our author copies came of not only ANTIQUES CON and KING OF THE WEEDS, but Nathan’s BATTLE ROYALE (the cult classic Japanese novel of which he did a new, superior translation). Kind of amazing: every time the doorbell rang, there were more boxes of our books! (And an angel got its wings, of course.)

Battle Royale Remastered

Nathan’s presence was fortuitous in another way – he was here to participate for Barb and me (and Mrs. Nathan Collins, Abby) in the frantic on-line event known as the San Diego Con making hotel rooms available. The rooms go in under twenty minutes, and the good ones (downtown) are gone in under two minutes. Nathan took under 90 seconds to enter the required info, including a list of six hotels in order of preference, and – thanks to computer dexterity on Nate’s part that both his mother and I lack – we were rewarded with rooms at the Marriot Marina next door to the convention center. This is winning the nerd lottery. We have been attending San Diego Comic Con for many, many years…and this is the first time we’re staying at everybody’s first choice for lodgings.

Right now I am working on ANTIQUES SWAP – really dug in on it. Another week and a half, I would estimate, and my draft will be complete. Barb did such a great first draft that my work has been easy – or as easy as writing ever gets, which isn’t very.

Allow me to quickly comment on a few recent TV series and movies.

First, TV. JUSTIFIED is a great show and had a terrific season finale, setting up one last great big season with Raylon Givens and Boyd Crowder facing off one last time. ARCHER – renamed ARCHER VICE – is winding up its latest season, and it remains my favorite series on TV, just a truly demented guilty pleasure, should any of you be able to experience guilt. On Blu-ray, we watched three JACK IRISH movies, a very good hardboiled private eye show from Australia based on a novel series – beautifully shot, well-written, well-acted, with Guy Pierce excellent as the somewhat forlorn (but not despairing) lead. At least as good is the new season, the sixth, of GEORGE GENTLY with British TV superstar, Martin Shaw. These four movie-length episodes are superior to most of what you might see at the movies themselves. Set in the changing times of the late ‘60s, with a father-and-son relationship between an older and younger cop, GENTLY is as good as anything in the UK crime department with the possible exception of SHERLOCK.

Onto film. I didn’t hate CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. [Note from Nate: mild spoiler alert] In fact, there is much to like, in particular Chris Evans’ portrayal of Cap, and Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight cat suit. Audiences are reacting very well to this one and I feel like a bit of a spoilsport not to be caught up in its spell. But every surprise is predictable, and it suffers from the oh-so-serious rendering of childish concepts Stan Lee threw off in his sleep decades ago. Guys, SHIELD is not the CIA – it’s an imitation of UNCLE, as in MAN FROM. The Winter Soldier is Bucky, and Bucky is Captain America’s Robin, fer chrissakes. You would think I would relish these movies, having grown up on Marvel (and Atlas before it). But the fun has been drained out, largely. By the way, almost all of the endless fight scenes are incoherent. When a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie’s biggest surprise is that Robert Redford is not the Red Skull, we have a problem here at the Merry Marvel Marching Society (yes, I was a charter member).

For wild action that is not incoherent, although it’s gory as hell (in a good way), catch THE RAID 2. Though it lacks the purity of the single-setting first film, RAID 2 has more fantastic action set pieces than you can shake a baseball bat at (and there will a baseball shaken). This is the rare Asian crime film that actually beats John Woo at his own game.

But the best movie I’ve seen this year – though it’s admittedly not to every taste – is THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. I run hot and cold on Wes Anderson. Hated MR. FOX, loved MOONRISE KINGDOM. Was annoyed by DARJEELING EXPRESS, was crazy about RUSHMORE. This new film is his best, combining all of his obsessions and quirks into one very funny, very moving film, with a mindboggling cast that is unlikely to be repeated, even in another Wes Anderson film. Anderson is a novelist on screen, but one who shares the vision inside his skull with the viewer.

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Here’s a blast from the past: a review of THE HISTORY OF MYSTERY.

And here’s a fun review of THE WRONG QUARRY, specifically of the audio version read by the great Dan John Miller.


Antiques Giveaway and a Nomination

April 8th, 2014 by Max Allan Collins
Antiques Con

The International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers has announced this year’s Scribe award nominees. It was a tough field (COMPLEX 90 did not get a novel nomination, for example), which is healthy considering how weak the tie-in field generally is these days. I am pleased to say the Spillane/Collins MIKE HAMMER short story, “So Long, Chief” – already honored as an Edgar nominee – is also a Scribe nominee.

In the past, these awards have been presented at San Diego Comic Con. We intend to do so again this year, but haven’t received confirmation from the con as yet. I’ll post that info here when I have it.

In the meantime, here is the full list of nominees at my pal Lee Goldberg’s terrific web site.

On a related note, here’s a terrific recent review of Lee’s book on tie-ins (with contributions by me).

A flurry of M.A.C. books has started to hit, including mass-market paperbacks of TARGET LANCER and ANTIQUES CHOP (the latter perhaps my personal favorite of the series). Coming up very soon are ANTIQUES CON (April 29), KING OF THE WEEDS (May 6) and SUPREME JUSTICE (June 1).

[Nate: All copies are claimed for now—see you next time around!] I have available twelve ARC’s (advance reading copies) of ANTIQUES CON for the first dozen of you who are willing to review it for Amazon (and other sites, such as Barnes and Noble and Goodreads). First come, first served, and only USA addresses, please. You can’t post at Amazon until the book is out, so April 29 is the key date. Goodreads reviews can go up immediately. Amazon is crucial because it takes nine reviews to get on their radar.

I am trying to get copies of KING OF THE WEEDS from the publisher for a similar giveaway, and will have some in a few weeks for SUPREME JUSTICE.

Again, I can’t stress how important these Amazon reviews are, not just for me but for any authors whose work you follow and enjoy. You don’t need to post lengthy reviews – a line or two is sufficient. If you are a Quarry or Nolan fan, for example, please consider going to Amazon and posting quickie reviews of those. The Nolan books are in particular under-reviewed, and again, this keeps the Amazon algorithms from kicking in.

Getting back to ANTIQUES CON, we’ve just had a delightful review from ROMANTIC TIMES (a great place for a cozy mystery to get attention). Take a look:

Romantic Times May 2014
**** ½

Allan’s madcap series has never been the most typical of cozies; it provides non-stop humor as well as a logical, tangled mystery. Vivian is wildly charming, although she often drives Brandy close to insane. The New York City comic book convention setting gives the story a gentle, satirical backdrop. This is a fun, fast mystery that shows Allan at the top of her game.

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April Amazon Deals

April 6th, 2014 by Nathan Collins

Today only (April 6), these twelve Nathan Heller and Mallory e-books are only $1.99 each on the Kindle Store:

Nathan Heller:

Triple Play: A Nathan Heller Casebook
Neon Mirage
Carnal Hours
Blood and Thunder
Flying Blind
Majic Man
Angel in Black
Chicago Confidential


Nice Weekend for a Murder
No Cure for Death
Kill Your Darlings
A Shroud for Aquarius

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Through April 16, Kindle editions of Midnight Haul and Barbara Allan novels Bombshell and Regeneration are $1.99 each.

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Triple Play in paperback is $7.48, 10% off the standard price as part of the April Bookshelf deals.

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For M.A.C. fans across the pond, What Doesn’t Kill Her is part of this month’s UK Kindle 25 £1 deal.

Pitcher This

April 1st, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

Longtime followers of these updates may recall that I’ve been involved for around two decades with an organization called the Iowa Motion Picture Association. I’m in fact a three-time past president. The existence of this group makes my friends on either coast chortle with demeaning delight. Nonetheless, a lot of top professionals in the field belong to this organization.

IMPA Awards 2014

Our annual meeting and awards presentation was this weekend past. Usually it’s held in Des Moines, but this time we met in Burlington, which is about sixty miles from me. The event was held at the newly refurbished and very cool Capitol Theater.

Last week the president of the organization got in touch with me about participating in a “speed pitching” session. The keynote speaker, Barry Morrow – Academy Award-winning screenwriter of RAIN MAN – would be hearing five minute pitches followed by five minutes of critique and interaction. My knee-jerk reaction was to say, “No thanks,” because after all – I know everything!

Then in a cooler, more rational mood, I agreed to participate. The IMPA folks were grateful, because I would be an established pro showing the younger aspiring types how it’s done. But that was not how I viewed it.

You see, for several months I have been struggling – under the guidance of a big-time talent/production management outfit – to put together a pitch for Nate Heller on TV. And it’s been a rugged road. I am used to selling one story – almost every book I’ve sold over this long career has been via a proposal – but trying to describe a TV series, based on the entire Heller canon? Mind-boggling.

Just lately my most recent take on the pitch has been more warmly received. So – not being a complete idiot – I realized having the opportunity to pitch it to a pro like Barry Morrow was a favor the IMPA was doing me, not the opposite.

Barry Morrow

It went very well. If I were a better writer, I could describe how generous, smart, kind and incisive Barry’s help was. But ironically his general remarks at the end of the pitch session – and some brief conversation before and after – were what showed me the way for improving my pitch. At least I think so.

Briefly, Barry emphasized being a storyteller when you pitch. To come in the door telling a story – “You should have seen the truck I was stuck behind! Its wheel was going to fall off. I’m lucky to be alive!” That kind of thing. But I also realized that instead of telling who Heller was in my pitch, I needed to open with a story sequence that demonstrated who he was.

Hollywood has a way of making a book writer’s brain seize up. I had completely forgotten the most basic rule of narrative – show don’t tell.

I have already rewritten the pitch, and having delivered the earlier version out loud, I have confidence where before I was a mass of misgivings.

MAC Best Unproduced Screenplay

At the awards presentation Saturday night, I won for Best Unproduced Screenplay, for a MIKE HAMMER pilot script I wrote so that my producing partner Ken Levin and I would have one in our pocket, should the movie that keeps threatening to happen not do so.

Next week we’ll have at least one giveaway of advance copies to readers willing to commit to an Amazon review. See you then!


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