Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Allan’

Notes From a Stuffed-Up Author

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I spent much of last week fighting a cold and researching/writing an introduction for a forthcoming Hermes Press collection of the pre-Disney ZORRO comic books from Dell. The centerpiece is a trio of issues drawn by Everett Raymond Kinstler, who would go on to be our nation’s premiere portrait artist, with subjects ranging from John Wayne to various Presidents. The other comic books (seven in all) are good as well, but I really had to dig in on the net and among Zorro fans to find out who the artists and writers were. Much guesswork involved. I am a big fan of Zorro as originally created by pulp writer Johnson McCulley, and my intro in part decries the paucity of McCulley Zorro stories in print.

Also, we received good reviews from agent and editor on ANTIQUES FRUITCAKE, so that one is largely put to bed (it’s an e-book novella). Barb is back to her draft of ANTIQUES SWAP, and I am headed into the Spillane western, THE LEGEND OF CALEB YORK. There will be a subtitle for the latter but I haven’t come up with it. I’ve been told to leave out the sex and hit the violence hard, even down to the title. So RAVAGING THE DANCE HALL GALS is out. I’m considering SHOOT-OUT AT SIROCCO.

I also worked on several more passes on a HELLER TV pitch. I’ve done seven so far. Hollywood is all about rewriting. I remember so vividly when I handed in draft umpteen on THE EXPERT to director Bill Lustig and he immediately said, “Thanks! Now, on the next draft I want to concentrate on – ” I interrupted to say that I wouldn’t take any more notes till he’d read the draft I just handed him.

Barb and I are listening to Dan John Miller’s audio rendering of THE WRONG QUARRY. This is Dan’s first Quarry novel, having done all of the Hellers. He has once again nailed it.

Speaking of THE WRONG QUARRY, here’s another nifty review.

COMPLEX 90 made the top five best book covers of 2013 at the Rap Sheet.

Here’s a nice review of the Hammer short story (available from Mysterious Bookshop as a mini-book), “It’s in the Book.”

Finally, here’s a very smart review of the film of ROAD TO PERDITION. Nice to see this great film really making its mark over the years.

M.A.C.

Writer’s Work is Never Done

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

When a writer finishes a novel and sends it in to a waiting editor/publisher, a feeling of relief is greater than any sense of accomplishment. What all of us forget, however, is that sending in the “finished” book is only the beginning.

First, there comes an editorial letter, often asking for revisions, followed by a line-edited manuscript, then a copy-edited manuscript and finally galley proofs. For a prolific writer like me, all of these turn up unexpectedly, often at terrible times, and always with a note to get the manuscript or galleys back in something like three days.

Editors don’t care if you’re on deadline with some other book, usually (though not always) for some other publisher. Every editor (rightly) considers the book of yours that is theirs to be the only book.

I also have the problem of not wanting to do any revisions that aren’t absolutely necessary – i.e., a plot point that I haven’t dealt with, or sentences and/or paragraphs that have proved confusing. I rarely agree to elaborate rewrites. Hardly ever. I also am notorious for becoming furious with copy editors. Not all copy editors: just those who have appointed themselves collaborators. About one in three times at bat, I encounter one of these creatures intent upon “improving” my work.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. The only shit fit that Mickey Spillane ever threw in front of me was in response to a copy-edited version of one of his novels. The fury of Mike Hammer at his kill-craziest was unleashed.

But it is the collision of books that can make a writer dizzy.

Last week, after completing QUARRY’S CHOICE, I was immediately thrust into dealing with the galley proofs of the very different SUPREME JUSTICE. Now, because Hard Case editor Charles Ardai is lightning fast, I am already facing the copy-edited manuscript of CHOICE!, before the literary paint is dry. I am grateful and impressed with Charles’ speed, but fear I lack enough distance from the book to effectively work with the copy-edit so soon.

Much of what a professional fiction writer does is little-known or even unknown by readers.

Ahead in the immediate week or two ahead are finishing a TV pitch for a potential Nate Heller TV series, which will require me re-reading STOLEN AWAY and much of TRUE DETECTIVE, taking notes as I go; writing my draft of a “Barbara Allan” Christmas novella called ANTIQUES FRUITCAKE, not due for a while but necessary to deal with now, because of scheduling issues; and getting ready to write a western novel based on an unproduced Mickey Spillane screenplay. The latter prep will include spending many hours with that screenplay, looking at western reference books, and reading some ‘50s western novels by the likes of Jonas Ward and Harry Whittington, to help get the right flavor.

Not complaining, mind you. This beats my other paying jobs (sacking groceries, bussing tables) by some distance.

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Eliot Ness
Eliot Ness

Be sure to check out the Huffington Post piece on Eliot Ness that Brad Schwartz and I put together to defend the Untouchable from attacks from Jonathan Eig (Get Capone) and others, in reaction to the proposal that a new ATF building be named for him.

My pal and collaborator Matt Clemens visited the Twin Cities recently to read one of our short stories at Noir at the Bar.

Speaking of Matt, here’s a great review of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, which – like SUPREME JUSTICE – is a book Matt contributed mightily to.

Check out this very good article on cozy mysteries dealing with antiques. Barbara Allan gets some very nice attention here.

Still haven’t picked up THE WRONG QUARRY? Here’s an excerpt.

Here’s a great WRONG QUARRY review, demonstrating that members of my favorite sex (hint: not male) can relate to Quarry just fine.

And finally a review of QUARRY – the first book in the series. How odd and oddly sweet to see a novel that I began writing in 1972 at the U of Iowa Writers Workshop getting reviewed in 2014.

M.A.C.

Get Together Now

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Last week Barb and I met with Ed and Carol Gorman and Bob Randisi and Marthayn Pelegrimas for one of our periodic get-togethers at a restaurant in the toursity/rustic Amana Colonies. Every one of us is a published writer, though the “girls” tend to gather at one end of the table (after a family-style repast) and the “boys” at the other. Too bad both ends of the table aren’t recorded secretly, because the conversation is quick and funny and very “inside baseball.”

Ed and Bob are my two oldest and best friends in publishing (not counting collaborators). We were all three involved in the creation of MYSTERY SCENE magazine (me the least – I was the movie reviewer there, serving in that capacity for almost a decade….Being in at the beginning and helping mold MYSTERY SCENE has not led me to a cover story there, more’s the pity). What a pleasure spending time with working writers, discussing the current ever-shifting state of publishing. Anecdotes of recent and fairly ancient vintage got shared, and all of us – with large backlist catalogues – are seeking various ways to get our stuff back out there. Mostly it’s e-book-driven, of course.

Speaking of Ed, he later e-mail interviewed Barb for his terrific blog, and Barb is very hard to nail down for that sort of thing, so enjoy.

Otherwise a slow week for M.A.C. news/attention on the web, with the exception of this very nice WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER review.

On Labor Day (today, as I write this), Matt Clemens came down to deliver some materials on the in-progress thriller, SUPREME JUSTICE. We also explored possible new thrillers and discussed the possibility of publishing an expanded version of our long-out-of-print short story collection, MY LOLITA COMPLEX.

It’s been a while since I commented on movies here, so let me give you a very brief rundown on what Barb and I have seen lately:

Les Daniels’ THE BUTLER – a mess, but fun, unless you are an Obama hater.

ELYSIUM – a mess but no fun. We walked out.

THE WORLD’S END – a wonderfully funny, quirky Brit beerfest and a perfect conclusion to the trilogy that also includes SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ. I met Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at Comic-Con a few years ago and they were swell blokes.

M.A.C.

August E-Book Sales: ANGEL IN BLACK, ANTIQUES BIZARRE $1.99

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

I’ve got the word on a couple e-book sales this month, with two very different (though both excellent) novels.

First up is ANTIQUES BIZARRE by Barbara Allan (that’s the husband and wife duo of Max and Barbara), for $1.99 on the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader (check on other retailers for possible price matches). This sale runs until August 20th. Don’t miss this fan favorite cozy! If you need a push from someone who’s not related to the authors, here you go:

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (on Antiques Bizarre): “The Trash ‘n’ Treasures books have to be the funniest mystery series going.”

Mystery Scene: “You’ll laugh out loud.”

Crimespree: “Antiques Bizarre is fun reading and the mystery is terrific.”

Amazon’s Kindle storefront is featuring ANGEL IN BLACK as a deal of the month. ANGEL IN BLACK, a Shamus nominee and rated 4.3 out of 5 stars by Amazon readers, has Heller solving the famous 1947 Black Dahlia case. Also, buying ANGEL IN BLACK on the Kindle will drop the price on the Audible download of Dan John Miller’s fantastic audiobook reading to another $1.99, which is a steal.

Continue below for your regularly scheduled update…