Posts Tagged ‘JFK Assassination’

ASK NOT Appearances

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

I’m not doing a tour for ASK NOT, which I admit surprises me a little – I had figured the nature of the novel, its publication date exactly a month from the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, would attract a lot of attention, possibly from the publisher. But I didn’t count on the avalanche of other JFK books that ASK NOT would have to fight its way through. Round-ups in magazines and newspapers about JFK assassination books seem to focus largely on non-fiction works – understandably – although J. Kingston Pierce did right by the novel at his Kirkus blog column, and I was interviewed recently for Publisher’s Weekly about the book (nothing’s appeared yet – when it does, I’ll report).

And I admit Barb and I are weary of book signings. That’s not to imply at all that we don’t enjoy, in fact relish, contact with readers (and bookstore owners/employees). Getting to talk to fans of the books is incredibly gratifying. But the time and expense involved are considerable, and the last time my publisher and I collaborated on putting a tour together, several disastrous appearances marred an otherwise good experience. At the St. Louis stop, for example, exactly one person showed up, not counting my son and daughter-in-law. That one person did not buy a book, by the way.

I have come to feel that attending Bouchercon and San Diego Con puts me in touch with the greatest number of readers, in the most efficient way, and Barb and I are considering adding another con or two to the mix.

Ed Gorman, M.A.C., Barb Collins signing at Mystery Cat Bookstore, Cedar Rapids
Ed Gorman, M.A.C., Barb Collins signing at Mystery Cat Bookstore, Cedar Rapids

For ASK NOT, we arranged only three signings, two of which have already taken place. Both events were a lot of fun and very successful. At Mystery Cat (a hidden treasure in Cedar Rapids), my friend Ed Gorman made a rare signing appearance, and Barb and Matt Clemens joined in as well. The only downside was the unexpectedly large crowd – 75 in a small bookstore, with seating available for maybe thirty. Having four authors, talking up their current books and then taking questions, made the presentation go a little long, and some of those attending fled for the door ASAP, without buying a book. It’s always tough to know how long to speak at these things – you don’t want to bore anybody, but you also don’t want to shortchange people who make the effort of attending.

Augie introduces Max & Barbara Collins to their fans
Augie introduces Max & Barbara Collins to their fans at Centuries and Sleuths

Barb & Max Collins sharing a story with their fans
Barb & Max Collins sharing a story with their fans

We’ve done many signings at Forest Park’s wonderful Centuries and Sleuths bookstore. A nice group met with us on this Sunday afternoon past as Barb spoke about ANTIQUES CHOP and I talked about ASK NOT. Mostly we took questions, and one great fan brought doughnuts for everybody. Everybody bought books, everybody had a question. Augie and Tracy, the owners, were as always gracious hosts. We’ll keep doing signings there as long as they want us.

The final of the three signings is coming up. Here’s the info:

Nov 23, 2013 1:00 PM

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
North Park Mall
320 W. Kimberly Road
Davenport, IA 52806 (map)

Come see us if you’re in the area. These big chain bookstore signings are always the biggest risk.

* * *

The excellent ASK NOT reviews continue, I’m pleased to report. Check out this very nice one at Jerry’s House of Everything.

And here’s another strong one at Scene of the Crime.

The first review of THE WRONG QUARRY has appeared (at Dangerous Dan’s Bookblog). He likes it.

Here’s a decent review of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, not a rave but appreciated nonetheless.

A nice appreciation of Mickey Spillane is here.

Finally, here’s a review of the multiple author thriller, INHERIT THE DEAD.


Supreme Satisfaction

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Matt Clemens and Max Collins, in younger days….

Today I sent out the manuscript of SUPREME JUSTICE to my editor at Thomas & Mercer. It always feels a little odd to e-mail a manuscript after so many years of spending a work day running off copies for the editor, my agent and often my researchers, then wrapping packages and running to the post office or Fed Ex, trying to get there before closing. But done is done, and I’m glad to have that project under my belt.

The writing went very well. The idea was one I’d put together as a proposal probably five years ago, but never sent it around because my plate was too full – it’s an ambitious subject having to do with the Supreme Court. A while back I brought Matt Clemens on board, and together we fleshed the proposal out into a more complete document. SUPREME JUSTICE is now the second novel of a two-book contract for Thomas & Mercer (WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER being the first).

Matt did virtually all of the research, and he and I broke the story down into chapters over one of our typical lunch meetings. His story treatment is essentially a short rough draft and he did a really fine job. The book took longer than it should have because my work got interrupted by several trips, most recently Bouchercon. I hate to travel in the midst of writing – it screws up my momentum terribly.

In some respects, the novel is a departure for me. It probably most resembles the CSI novels that I did with Matt, and our two J.C. Harrow novels for Kensington. But the political subject matter and backdrop is new – well, it is cut out of somewhat the same cloth as my movie tie-ins, AIR FORCE ONE and IN THE LINE OF FIRE – and the book has a very dialogue-driven, fast-paced manner. I don’t want to say anything about the plot, because it’s very much a high concept and I’d just as soon not have somebody “borrow” it.

I will be anxious to see how my editor and agent respond to the book. From this vantage point, SUPREME JUSTICE feels very good. Of course, as the old saying goes, so does your head when you stop beating it against the wall….

ASK NOT is attracting some nice reviews, like this one in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

This is a rare positive Kirkus review for my work, but it’s odd. Really strange. Check it out and see for yourself.

Book Reporter provides an ASK NOT write-up (but not review) here.

Scroll down at Awards Circuit and find a brief but really nice TARGET LANCER review.

And here’s another of those odd but positive Alpha 60 reviews of various Quarry novels, this time THE FIRST QUARRY.


Ask for “Ask Not”

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

Today marks the publication date of ASK NOT, the third novel of the Nathan Heller “JFK” trilogy. It’s available right now, so scurry to your favorite bookseller, whether brick-and-mortar or on the net, and improve your life…and mine. Barnes & Noble often only gets in a couple of copies of my new novels, so you may have to ask for it.

If you like the book at all, please review it at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, or blog about it. (As usual, I will remind you to do this for all the authors whose books you enjoy). If you happened to read it in a bound galley, now is the day that Amazon will start posting reader reviews.

The previous JFK Heller novel, TARGET LANCER, has just come out in mass market paperback, so if you’ve been waiting for a popularly priced edition (as they used to say), now’s the time. Reviews at Amazon for that would also be much appreciated. Detailed reviews aren’t necessary – just a line or two about what you thought.

ASK NOT is my “dead witnesses” book just as TARGET LANCER was a novel about the lead-up to the assassination. Getting these two books written, and in print, was a major goal for me. When I first knew that TRUE DETECTIVE would spawn a series, I made the Kennedy assassination my end game. So in a very real sense, I have “finished” the Heller series. Should I get hit by a bus today, the Heller memoirs could be considered complete (unless I survive the accident).

With a new Forge contract, I hope to be doing at least another half dozen Heller novels. As I get older, this gets trickier – neither my researcher George Hagenauer nor I are the energetic kids we used to be. I’m an energetic something, but not a kid. Google has made writing the Hellers somewhat easier – I’m staggered to think that every Heller prior to BYE BYE, BABY was written without benefit of the net (first book I remember using the web for was THE TITANIC MURDERS). But George and I still do an enormous amount of research in old newspapers and vintage true-crime magazines, and read book after book after book.

With subjects like the McCarthy era, the Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, and Watergate on my short list, what lies ahead is somewhat daunting. I hope you’ll stay with me through what I trust will be some of Nathan Heller’s best memoirs.

Speaking of ASK NOT, here’s a terrific review from Criminal Element. What’s really cool is that the author – a female (my favorite sex) – hasn’t read a Heller before, which of course includes the first two books of the trilogy. Yet she really, really dug it.

And speaking of Nate Heller, check out this fantastic and very smart review of THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND (among my personal favorites among my novels) by Kevin Tipple.

Finally, I joined my fellow Top Suspense members to contribute to this list of our favorite noir films.


Bloody House

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
IMPA 2013

In Des Moines over the weekend, Barb and I attended the 22nd annual Iowa Motion Picture Association awards banquet. My screenplay “House of Blood” was nominated for Best Screenplay (Unproduced), and won the Award of Excellence.

The IMPA is an organization I was extremely active in from the mid-90s until maybe five years ago. I am a three-time president, and Barb and I ran the award shows (with me hosting and Barb giving out the awards) for maybe half a dozen years. I was on the IMPA board for ten or twelve years, and this required a monthly drive (about a three-hour one) into Des Moines, which finally wore us down. But I made a lot of friends there, some of whom I got to see at the Saturday night event – we had the fun of sharing a table with screenwriter Shirley Long, the “godmother” of the IMPA, and documentarian Kent Newman, also a multiple past prez of the organization. The evening of course brought to mind my late friend and prized collaborator, Mike Cornelison, who won numerous IMPA awards himself. A number of people spoke to me about Mike. Being on his home turf brings the loss sharply into focus.

The organization has hit some rough patches in recent years, reflecting the film industry in Iowa getting tarnished when an ambitious tax-credit program went belly up in a haze of scandal and buck-passing. I don’t know what really went on, but I do know this multi-million dollar program was run by one man in an OFFICE SPACE-style cubicle at the Department of Economic Development. This was a huge government bungle, and is responsible for me having to seek doing my indie film work in Illiniois and Louisiana (and California, of course). There is talk, among some legislators, of the industry making a comeback in this area, and a new Film Office chair person will be named soon. I am guardedly hopeful.

The “House of Blood” screenplay that won was the feature film version. It now looks like I will be converting the script into a one-hour TV anthology format, bringing it back closer to its original form as a 45-minute Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories radio play. Serious talk is afoot for both a series, which I’d be heavily involved in, and a slate of four movies, which I have been told would include two M.A.C. properties, possibly with me directing. I’ll keep you informed.

The keynote speakers – very informal and funny – were Darryl and Darryl from Newhart – Tony Papenfuss and John Voldstad. I spoke to John and he was a very sweet guy, and a fan of ROAD TO PERDITION. He was one of the many great comic actors in one of our family’s favorites, STRIPES.

On the way to and from Des Moines, Barb and I listened to the Brilliance audio of THE LONDON BLITZ MURDERS. That novel, which I was quite proud of at the time, received little attention when originally published, and has received some harsh reviews at Amazon and particularly Amazon UK. So I was a little gun shy about listening to it. But I was pleasantly surprised – I think I did just fine, writing a true-crime story set in the UK with Agatha Christie as the detective, even if some of the Brits at Amazon UK think I was about as convincing as Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS. My credibility takes a huge jump thanks to the reader, British actress Anne Flosnik, who does an incredible job. To my ears, she really brought Agatha and the book to life. After hearing her (and Simon Vance on THE HINDENBURG MURDERS), I would be tempted to have all of my books read by actors with English accents. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a better Nate Heller than Dan John Miller. (Unfortunately, Brilliance won’t be doing the forthcoming ASK NOT – another company will be, TBA – but I will certainly recommend Dan.)

If you are a longtime reader of my work, I think you might have a really good time revisiting my novels in audio form. Brilliance has done a fantastic job with the Hellers, the “disaster” novels, the Mallorys (Dan John Miller again), and assorted others (REGENERATION, BOMBSHELL, MIDNIGHT HAUL).

Speaking of Amazon reviews, let me remind readers that a great way to support the writers you enjoy is to write and post a review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and other sites. A two- or three-line positive review at Amazon, and nice high star rating, takes little time and is most helpful to authors. There are some dumb readers out there, and nasty ones, who do authors damage, and you can help. I speak not just for myself, but for any author whose work you enjoy. Those star ratings are important, because they are averaged. And so often the bad ratings are not for the book, but for perceived bad service, or in my case now and then, a reader angry that ROAD TO PERDITION or CSI: SERIAL turned out to a “comic book.”

End of telethon, although your continued contributions would be appreciated.

* * *

Here’s a nice SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT review from Blogcritics, which got lots of play on the Net.

And another one from BookSteve’s Library. The reviewer has some problems with the front end of the novel, because he’s so familiar with the history already, but gets on board when the mystery kicks in. It’s been interesting to see how many readers really love the front end of the book, with its fairly detailed account of the comic-book witch hunt, and how many others prefer the mystery portion that kicks in half-way. This reviewer falls into a small but distinct category of readers who are a little bored by encountering history they’re already familiar with.

Here’s a very nice and flattering review of the new edition of NO CURE FOR DEATH, from a Kindle site. This was my second novel (well, third if you count MOURN THE LIVING) and it’s a relief to see a reviewer liking it at this late date.

Finally, here’s a terrific review of ANTIQUES CHOP from Bill Crider (himself a helluva writer).