Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Maltese Falcon

We were recently in The City (San Francisco), walking along Post Street just west of Union Square. At the corner of Post and Hyde is an unassuming apartment building that no one would ever think was significant. Yet the corner apartment on the top floor is where Dashiell Hammett lived in 1929. While there, he wrote The Maltese Falcon.

The upper corner apartment was Dashiell Hammett's during the late 1920s.
There is a plaque on the building commemorating his time living there.
Does a person's home matter in the creation of a classic novel? Certainly the location must have been useful to Hammett in writing a story set in San Francisco. But were there other aspects of the apartment that helped? I'm guessing it's likely that the look and smell and feel of the apartment all informed aspects of the novel.

Either way, it's fun to look up at the apartment and visualize Hammett inside, typing away, pacing, thinking, smoking and drinking (he did lots of the latter two).

Sunday, April 22, 2018

TAHOE SKYDROP Galleys Have Shipped!

Hey, Blog readers. You are the first to see the cover of my new book!

TAHOE SKYDROP is #16 in the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery Series.

One of the biggest days in any writer's life is when a new book arrives from the printer. A writer holds it and gazes at it lovingly, admiring the cover. Then, with great trepidation, one flips through it to see if the pages are in the correct order. (Believe me, they sometimes are not!)

Perhaps the penultimate "biggest day" comes a few months before that moment, when a writer gets a galley of the new book.

For those who don't know, a galley is a facsimile of a book. It often, though not always, has a cover that looks very similar to what will be on the finished book, although without the slick coated card stock. A galley has pages that are typeset just like what will be in the finished book. The layout and formatting and number of pages is fixed. The paper will be more like copy paper than what the finished book will have, so the galley may be less bulky and attractive than the finished book. But despite the differences, a galley gives a very good indication of what the finished book will be like.

Why do  publishers create galleys? To send to advance reviewers who work for what are known as prepublication reviews. You've heard the names. Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews are the Big Four.

Want to see the cover of TAHOE SKYDROP? Me, too! So here it is:

Look for TAHOE SKYDROP to be available for pre-order in a few weeks. And it should be ready to ship in the middle of August.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Pilot Pen Pal

I have a young pen pal from San Jose named Shelby. She is in the process of earning her pilot's license, learning in a Citabria and, sometimes, in a Cessna.

Shelby first wrote me because she likes my books. Perhaps she got into my books because my protagonist, Detective Owen McKenna, is a pilot. And a couple of my books have scenes with flying.

I told her that I had done some flying (in a Piper Tomahawk) but that I hadn't gotten my pilot's license.

When I asked Shelby to keep me up to date on her pilot training, she started periodically sending me some flying pictures along with comments about her experience. From those comments, I realized that she is especially perceptive about flying and will be a very good pilot.

She wrote things like, "I think the 9091L (a model of Citabria airplane) is easier to handle on the ground, but the 1806G is a bit more firm in the air and listens a little better."

A BIT MORE FIRM IN THE AIR AND LISTENS A LITTLE BETTER...! Obviously, Shelby is a natural writer and has a very good "writer's ear."

Eventually, I met Shelby when she came to the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival last fall, where I was exhibiting my books.

Here's a pic she sent me a few days ago:

This is the view looking northwest out of Shelby's airplane window. She's flying over Mount Hamilton, where the Lick Observatory sits (beneath the plane). San Jose is in the center of the photo, the San Francisco Bay is in the distance to the right. And the ridge line to the left is the Santa Cruz Mountains, stretching up the peninsula toward San Francisco.

Does this look fun, or what?!

When I told Shelby that I was envious of her flying, she joked that maybe she'll take me up for a ride after she gets her license.

I'll be waiting.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fun With WIlliam Kent Krueger

One of the great joys of the Left Coast Crime convention (which was in Reno in March) is meeting writers whose work you really respect. One of those was William Kent Krueger. He won the LEFTY award for Best Mystery. As toastmaster, I did the "award honors."

I highly recommend such conventions for writers and readers alike.

Here's the link to next year's Left Coast Crime in Vancouver.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Left Coast Crime - The Definition Of A Great Literary Event

Last weekend was the Left Coast Crime 2018 convention, which was held in Reno. I've been to a lot of literary events for both fans and writers. This was at the top of the list for knowledge gained, connections made, future friends met. I highly recommend this event, which moves to a different venue each year, mostly on the West Coast.

As toastmaster, I got an extra charge out of being in the midst of 550 dedicated crime readers and writers.

The photo below shows me introducing one of the organizers to the audience. Was it Lynn Bremer? Lynn was the person who was responsible for drawing the Left Coast Crime organizers to hold the event in the Reno/Sparks area. The convention was held at the Nugget Resort in Sparks.

This was the Awards Banquet Dinner.
That's me, waaaay up there in front introducing Lynn Bremer,
the woman who orchestrated getting Left Coast Crime to come to Reno.
How did the servers manage to serve dinner
and drinks to 550 people?!

Next year, Left Coast Crime will be in Vancouver.
Check it out: LCC 2019

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Sundance Books, the store that handled book sales for many of the authors present. They did a great job.