Thursday, May 26, 2011

BEA 2011: E-book Future, Google, and Facts

BEA 2011: E-book Future, Google, and Facts  
Reader Comments 4
Google, everyone's favorite 800-lb. gorilla, held a panel discussion on Tuesday and a presentation on Wednesday to parse the significance of the e-book explosion and to explain Google Books’ position in it.
On Tuesday, before a standing-room-only crowd, Google Books’ director of strategic partnerships, Tom Turvey, moderated a panel on the present and future of e-books, quizzing four publishing execs on the impact and importance of the format: Andrew Savikas, O’Reilly Media’s v-p of digital initiatives; Evan Schnittman, Bloomsbury’s managing director of group sales and marketing; Amanda Close, v-p of digital sales and business development at Random House; and David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus.
The conversation began with the question of discovery: by far, the most common way for readers to find out about new books and authors is by browsing in a physical store. What e-book sellers have now, said Perseus’s Steinberger, is a system that’s “good for hunters, but not as good for gatherers”: it’s easy to find a book if you know what you’re looking for, but the virtual world offers nothing for the casual browser comparable to the bricks-and-mortar experience. Still, Steinberger and others see a “big lift” in midlist e-books “not easily found in the physical world” because of their limited appeal: e-book copies of PublicAffairs’s lauded but niche-y history title Dancing in the Glory of Monsters account for 62% of its total sales. This same phenomenon applies to backlist titles no longer in print, giving the long tail a “disproportionate lift.”

Read the complete article HERE

It is notable that:

 "No figures were given regarding sales at the 250 independent bricks-and-mortar stores that opted into the Google eBooks program through the ABA’s IndieCommerce Web system."

The Poisoned Pen being one of those 250, I'd be interested in those figures. Our business model was just not compatible with what IndieCommerce Web system was offering. Fortunately, technology is moving at a fast enough pace, we think there will be a model that will allow us to sell e-books effectively in the next 6 months. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Story Behind SILENT ENEMY

The author of the much acclaimed The Mullah's Storm, Thomas W Young, will be coming to The Poisoned Pen sign his next novel featuring Major Parson and Sergeant Gold. In preparation we've got a nice bit of backstory on this new novel Silent Enemey ($25.95 Putnam) from Thomas.  

The Story Behind

In my previous novel, The Mullah's Storm, Major Parson and Sergeant Gold found themselves shot down, trapped on the ground, fleeing an enemy they fought hand to hand and bullet by bullet. In the sequel, Silent Enemy, they meet again for what should be an uneventful flight, transporting wounded out of Afghanistan. But a terrorist bomb traps them at altitude, unable to land. The crisis forces them on a journey more than halfway around the world, beset by all the dangers of voyage.

From the Trojan War to the War on Terror, tales of a ship and crew in peril have timeless appeal. We can all relate to the fear of getting lost, the challenge of facing the elements. We can all envy the bonds that form within the crews. We can all admire the skills they bring to bear, whether they're seamen climbing through rigging or airmen climbing through clouds. And we're all fascinated by their leaders, from Odysseus to Captain Kirk. How will he handle this problem? What would we do in his place?

“Thomas W. Young is an airman, and a natural-born novelist. If you want to know and to feel what it’s like to serve in Afghanistan, this novel is for you. If you are a fan of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester, this novel is for you.”
–John Casey, National Book Award-winning author ofSpartina 

For military aircrews, these types of questions come up all the time. As an Air National Guard aviator, I've found myself in situations where the worst could have happened if not for the commander's leadership, the crew's airmanship, and a little mercy from the gods of wind and storm.

One morning in 1998, my crewmates and I took off from Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa. In our C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, we headed for Wake Island, a tiny atoll in the Pacific. We were in the middle of a long trip home from an airlift mission in Bangladesh. 

Enroute to Wake, we flew over Iwo Jima, the island taken at such a dear price by U.S. Marines in World War Two. The U.S. gave the island back to the Japanese in 1968, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces still run an airfield there. I rose from the flight engineer seat to watch Mount Suribachi pass under our wings. From altitude, it appeared as a great, black rock.

Between Iwo Jima and Wake, we encountered unforecast, unfavorable winds. The cost in groundspeed and fuel became clear as the navigator and I made calculations. It appeared we might not have the fuel to reach Wake. As we discussed options with the aircraft commander, the ocean never looked so vast. We considered turning around, declaring a fuel emergency, and landing at Iwo Jima.

Then the winds shifted to our tail, the numbers improved, and we landed at Wake with adequate fuel reserves.

The flight ended safely, but the memory of it reminds me that every journey hints of danger. Whenever someone goes away, there’s always the chance they will not return. Anyone who’s said goodbye to a loved one at the airport knows the feeling.

Among my own journeys as a military flier, the most poignant have involved transporting troops injured in war. The entire concept of modern combat medicine depends on airlifting the severely wounded off the battlefield almost immediately. In the old days, the effort focused on moving medical facilities as far forward into the combat zone as possible. (Think of the old MASH units.) Now the effort is reversed, focused on moving the wounded to state-of-the-art medical centers in Europe or the U.S.

This means transporting people still fighting for their lives: treatment continues almost seamlessly from battlefield to combat-theater surgical facility to major hospital, and the wounded fly while still under intensive care. Flight nurses and medics, called “aeromeds,” specialize in this continuity of care enroute. Their equipment and training turn the back of an airplane into a sick bay. Silent Enemy revolves around a fictitious aeromedical mission and puts readers on board an airborne emergency room, where the flight nurses and medics deal with the most heartbreaking of war injuries, in a confined space rocked by turbulence and subject to all the other hazards of flight.

Watch a trailer of The Mullah's Storm

One hazard aeromeds usually don’t have to worry about, however, is a midair explosion. The novel’s basic plot element—a bomb planted on board a U.S. Air Force transport plane—is fictional. I’d like to think the Air Force’s security police will make sure it stays that way. But if a crew ever did take off with a bomb rigged to detonate on descent, the ensuing events might be terribly similar to those described in Silent Enemy. As my wife read the manuscript, she noted that I seemed to be retelling every in-flight crisis I’d ever experienced or trained for. Any seasoned flier has stories of emergencies.
My own logbook includes about five engine shutdowns, smoke in the flight deck, a couple of hydraulic losses, a brake fire, two pressurization failures, and electrical weirdness not even covered by the flight manual.

In Silent Enemy, Major Parson has those kinds of troubles, and they compound as his long flight continues. That happens in airplanes: a malfunction in one system might cause problems with another. What makes it worse for Parson is that he can’t land for repairs without triggering the bomb. As you might imagine, there aren’t too many things you can fix on an airplane while it’s flying. But Parson can refuel in the air. He keeps his aircraft aloft through multiple aerial refuelings. Military fliers practice aerial refuelings so often they become routine, and as a crew member you almost forget the inherent danger of two jets flying within feet of each other. That is why I chose to describe the novel’s first aerial refueling from the point of view of Sergeant Gold, one of the passengers.

Throughout the novel, the point of view switches between Parson and Gold so the reader can experience the flight from the perspective of both pilot and passenger. For Parson, the burdens of leadership weigh heavy as he and his crew grow tired, the patients worsen, and the aircraft breaks down around them. For Gold, the journey tests her faith, her endurance, and her belief in the fight for a better world.

I happened to write a few pages of Silent Enemy while stuck with several other aircrews in Rota, Spain.  We were waiting out a cloud of volcanic ash that had played havoc with air traffic all over Europe. It seemed appropriate to work on a journey story while I was in mid-journey myself, trapped at an ancient seaport, running into old crewmates I hadn't seen in years. Some were on the way out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Some were on the way in.

As I complete this essay, their travels continue. In even the best-case scenarios, young soldiers, sailors, and airmen will keep going into harm's way. At any moment, service members like my fictitious Major Parson and Sergeant Gold are in the skies above you, headed for wherever their missions take them. When they get there, politics won't matter. They'll care only about doing their jobs, watching their friends' backs, and getting home. I hope Silent Enemy offers a glimpse of who they are, and why they do what they do.

Visit Thomas' website at

Check out the event page at

To pre-order a signed copy of SILENT ENEMY email

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts on Sara Gran and her new book

      Sara Gran, a little known American writer with a loyal following, has a new book due out on June 4, 2011.  Along with some short stories she has published three previous novels, all wildly different from each other.

    The first, "Saturn returns to New York", is a story of a woman coming to terms with adulthood.  It transcends its Bridget Jones-Big City setting and reaches a much deeper level.  Her other two books are "Come Closer" and "Dope". The former is a tale of demonic possession or a psychological descent into madness(take your pick) which recalls Polanski's brilliant film "Repulsion". The latter is a story of an ex-junkie in search of a missing girl that leads her back to the streets she fought so hard to escape.

    Sara Gran's latest is called "Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead".  To call this a detective novel is like calling her previous books chick-lit, horror, and crime novels.  They actually defy simple categorization.

     In her new book we meet Claire Dewitt.  A wonderful name combining Latin and Greek to translate roughly as "clear sighted".  As with all of Gran's books this is a book about books, by books, and with books.  Ostensibly a detective story, she includes all the classic Mike Hammer elements:  Dark dangerous streets, subtle and overt threats, punch-ups, odd characters, etc.  The core mystery is lain  out and solved as in any crime novel, and can, at  its simplest, be read that way.  Gran, however, despite her claims to the contrary, has created a multi-layered novel about the very nature of "mystery".  While there is a solution to a mystery in the book, other mysteries abound and act as background and catalysts in themselves.  She creates a very subtle and disconcerting aura that defies easy description.  Her setting in post-Katrina New Orleans gives us an off-kilter world with a wobbly axis.  As with the best of art careful parsing of its elements can easily remove the magic, and believe me, this book is magic.  Often the things we understand the least have the strongest effect on us.

    I found the book to be rife with metaphorical riches.  From  the physical book itself, its color scheme, its flashbacks, and its hundred year perspective on New Orleans, Sara Gran lays line after line of clues to mysteries both seen and unseen.  Like a peeled onion the layers of clues appear in linked succession.  Gran also has musical elements in her novel.  In addition to  the music that permeates the city, certain elements of the stories of her main characters, both alive and dead, weave in and out and are repeated.  This pattern is very much like a recurring rondo theme in the final movement of a sonata.

    Her presentation of the city is totally enthralling.  It encompasses all the good, bad, and in between that New Orleans holds.  The duality of its citizens: The noble and the base writhe like cottonmouths in the flood waters.

    I have enjoyed all of Sara Gran's books but this time out she has taken a quantum leap forward.  This is a unique and elegantly structured  piece of writing.  This book begins a new series and is, by far, the best out this year. Do not miss it. 

Appearing at The Poisoned Pen 6/7/2011

    Sara Gran will be appearing at the Poisoned Pen on June 7, 2011.  Please come and meet her and get your book signed.  Aside from being a terrific writer she is one very cool woman.

    As for further  reading featuring a strong, complicated modern female lead try John Connor.  He is an ex-lawyer and little known British author whose series begins with "Phoenix".  There are five books in the series so far.  All of them are extremely well written and riveting police procedurals that go way beyond the genre.

                                         Steve Shadow Schwartz

Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview with Jeff Guinn in AZ Republic

5/26: Q&A with 'Last Gunfight' author, in Scottsdale

Jeff Guinn deconstructs myth of O.K. Corral

"I'm your huckleberry."

Jeff Guinn

What: Author talks about and signs "The Last Gunfight."When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Where: Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Admission: Free, but books for signing must be purchased from the store ($27). Details:480-947-2974,
Anyone who has watched Val Kilmer's deliciously sly portrayal of Doc Holliday in "Tombstone" - or any of the other dozen-odd movie retellings of the legendary "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" - knows that Hollywood's version of the Wild West is a bit over the top.
In fact, most folks probably prefer it that way. But not Jeff Guinn, the Texas author who deconstructs this iconic moment in Arizona history in his latest book.
Guinn will be at the Poisoned Pen on Thursday, May 26, to sign his just-released "The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral - and How It Changed the American West" (Simon & Schuster, $27). He is also the author of "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde" as well as the novelistic "The Autobiography of Santa Claus."

Question: What is the mythical version of the shootout, and what does it tell us about America?

Answer: The mythology of the gunfight at the O.K. 
Corral - which was really not much of a gunfight and didn't happen at the O.K. Corral - is that good and evil faced each other in the American West, and when the smoke cleared and the bodies were dragged away, the West was saved for good men and women everywhere.
The fact is there were all kinds of social, economic and political factors involved that meant people who were on different sides of issues were inevitably going to collide in some way, probably violently. It just happened to be those eight men on that day. What that says about us culturally is that we like these things to seem simple. We like events to be clear-cut.

Q: But wasn't it the mythologized movie version that got you interested in the first place?

A: Of course. When you talk about Wyatt Earp, I see Hugh O'Brian riding a horse with the Buntline Special on his hip, even though it's pretty unlikely Wyatt actually carried a Buntline Special. All my books are about iconic events in American history, and anything that is iconic almost by definition has been exaggerated. I like to go back and try to understand better the events themselves or the people themselves, because when we really try to learn history, that's when we can understand ourselves a whole lot better.
What fascinated me was the real history of southeast Arizona. Tombstone was not this little dry, dusty outpost. It was a fabulously sophisticated place. There were some telephones. They were debating in city council meetings about how they were going to put sewer lines in the main streets and how much they would have to tax the businessmen to do that. It was an amazing story.

Q: What gets obscured in the iconic version?

A: A big change in the psychology of the people who were moving west came right after the Civil War. Previously, a lot of the folks who were settling the frontier come from the North, where there isn't a whole lot of land to be had, because jobs and industry are harder to come by because there's so much immigration. But after the Civil War, a lot of people in the South wanted to get away from the states that had been absorbed back into the Union and that they thought were under the thumb of the Yankee Republican government.
And that was a big part of what happened out in Tombstone. You had the businessmen who wanted to modernize everything and wanted a powerful government that was going to make sure that the laws were followed and taxes were paid. And you had all these folks now fleeing from an area in the country where they felt that the government was intrusive, and they just wanted to live their lives as they pleased, and anybody who was trying to tell them differently was the enemy to them. The Earps represented the business faction, the modernization, the folks that wanted that. The Cowboys - the Clantons and the McLaurys - represented the free spirits who just wanted to be out there and left alone.

Q: There have been some fictional efforts at deconstructing the myth of the Old West in recent years. Any thoughts on HBO's "Deadwood"?

A: You've got to remember that some types of art, movies, television, books, are meant strictly for entertainment purposes. They can take some truths and kind of expand on them and exaggerate them. I did watch "Deadwood" for several episodes, until I finally decided that the dialogue, with an obscenity every third word just to make sure we would remember that people did cuss in the Old West, got old for me.
I enjoy watching the various Tombstone movies now. It doesn't mean I think they're necessarily factual, but I think the storytelling's a lot of fun. The challenge in writing this book was to take the truth, what really happened, and challenge myself to make it every bit as entertaining as the mythology. There's no reason reading about real history has to be boring.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anthony Nominees

Great news this year! One of our regular bloggers on The Poisoned Fiction review has been nominated for an Anthony Award for best website this year(Chantelle Aimée Osman). If you get a chance head over to her website and say Hi. We are also happy to note that 4 out of the 5 authors nominated for best first novel signed at The Poisoned Pen.  To find out more about this prestigious award head over to the Bouchercon Website


Jen's Book Thoughts - Jen Forbus []
The Rap Sheet - J. Kingston Pierce []
Sirens of Suspense - Chantelle Aimée Osman []
Spinetingler - Sandra Ruttan []
Stop, You're Killing Me! - Lucinda Surber, Stan Ulrich []

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin [William Morrow]
Faithful Place - Tana French [Viking]
The Lock Artist - Steve Hamilton [Minotaur Books]
I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny [Minotaur Books]
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A NovelBury Your DeadFaithful Place: A NovelThe Lock Artist: A Novel
Damage Done - Hilary Davidson [Forge Books]
Rogue Island - Bruce DeSilva [Forge Books]
The Poacher's Son - Paul Doiron [Minotaur Books]
The Sherlockian - Graham Moore [Twelve]
Snow Angels - James Thompson [Putnam]
The Damage DoneRogue IslandThe Poacher's Son (Mike Bowditch Mysteries)The SherlockianSnow Angels (An Inspector Vaara Novel)
Long Time Coming - Robert Goddard [Bantam]
The Hanging Tree - Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]
Drive Time - Hank Phillippi Ryan [Mira]
Expiration Date - Duane Swierczynski [Minotaur Books]
Vienna Secrets - Frank Tallis [Random House]
Long Time Coming: A NovelThe Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries)Drive Time (Charlotte Mcnally)Expiration DateVienna Secrets: A Max Liebermann Mystery (Mortalis)
"Scent of Lilacs" - Doug Allyn, EQMM Sep/Oct'10
"Swing Shift" - Dana Cameron, Crimes By Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side [Berkley]
"The Hitter" - Chris F. Holm, Needle: A Magazine of Noir Summer'10
"So Much in Common" - Mary Jane Maffini, EQMM Sep/Oct'10
"Homeless" - Patricia L. Morin, Mystery Montage: A Collection of Short Story Mystery Genres [Top]
"The Frame Maker" - Simon Wood, The Back Alley Webzine Vol III No.3

Scalped Vol 6: The Gnawing - Jason Aaron [Vertigo]
Richard Stark's Parker, Vol 2: The Outfit - Darwyn Cooke [IDW Press]
Tumor - Joshua Hale Fialkov, Noel Tuazon [Archaia Studios Press]
Sickness in the Family - Denise Mina [Vertigo]
Beasts of Burden - Jill Thompson, Evan Dorkin [Dark Horse]
The Chill - Jason Starr [Vertigo]

The Wire: Truth Be Told - Rafael Alvarez [Grove Press]
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks - John Curran [Harper Collins]
Sherlock Holmes for Dummies - Steve Doyle [For Dummies]
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History - Yunte Huang [W W Norton]
Thrillers: 100 Must Reads - David Morrell [Oceanview]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Barbara's eNews now available on Kindle

Barbara's News

In an odd twist, we are able to publish our blogs so that you can read them on your Kindle. What we've done in this case is to have Barbara's eNews which goes out 2-3 times a week come directly to your Kindle. Having this feature does cost $1.99 per month for an otherwise free service, but it does give you added convenience. Just visit the Amazon blog page here to subscribe. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Arthur Ellis Shortlist

Best Crime Novel
A Criminal to Remember, Michael Van Rooy, Turnstone Press
Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny, Little, Brown UK
In Plain Sight, Mike Knowles, ECW Press
Slow Recoil, C.B. Forrest, RendezVous Crime
The Extinction Club, Jeffrey Moore, Penguin Group

Best First Crime Novel
The Damage Done, Hilary Davidson, Tom Doherty Associates
The Debba, Avner Mandelman, Random House of Canada
The Penalty Killing, Michael McKinley, McClelland & Stewart
The Parabolist, Nicholas Ruddock, Doubleday Canada
Still Missing, Chevy Stevens, St. Martin's Press

Best French Crime Book
Cinq secondes, Jacques Savoie, Libre Expression
Dans le quartier des agités, Jacques Côté, Éditions Alire
La société des pères meurtriers, Michel Châteauneuf, Vent d’Ouest
Quand la mort s'invite à la première, Bernard Gilbert, Québec Amerique
Vanités, Johanne Seymour, Libre Expression

Best Crime Nonfiction
Northern Light, Roy MacGregor, Random House
On the Farm, Stevie Cameron, Alfred A. Knopf Canada
Our Man in Tehran, Robert Wright, HarperCollins Canada

Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book
Borderline, Allan Stratton, HarperCollins
Pluto's Ghost, Sheree Fitch, Doubleday Canada
The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz, HarperCollins
The Worst Thing She Ever Did, Alice Kuipers, HarperCollins
Victim Rights, Norah McClintock, Red Deer Press

Best Crime Short Story
In It Up To My Neck, Jas R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
So Much in Common, Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Big Touch, Jordan McPeek,
The Piper's Door, James Powell, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Bust, William Deverell, Whodunnit: Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction Showcase
Best First Unpublished Novel
(Unhanged Arthur)
Better Off Dead, John Jeneroux
Uncoiled, Kevin Thornton
When the Bow Breaks, Jayne Barnard

The Crime Writers of Canada – How it all began

By Tony Aspler, founding President
In the summer of 1982 seven men with criminal intent met in Dooley’s bar, a suitably insalubrious downtown Toronto watering hole for what we had in mind. The co-conspirators were the late Derrick Murdoch, mystery reviewer for The Toronto Star, British novelist Tim Heald, book reviewer, the late Doug Marshall, editor John Pearce, authors Howard Engel, Larry Morse and myself. The noise in the establishment was such that we were driven out to the more lofty and salubrious surroundings of the rooftop bar in the Park Plaza.
The purpose of the meeting was to form an association of crime writers modeled on the Crime Writers of Great Britain. Although my genre at the time was political thrillers (I co-wrote three with Gordon Pape – ‘Chain Reaction’, ‘The Scorpion Sanction’ and ‘The Music Wars’) I was voted by default, to be the first President of the fledgling Crime Writers of Canada.
For the first year we met monthly in a room at the Toronto Reference Library, a fitting venue since it houses one of the world's foremost collections of library materials devoted to the life and works of Arthur Conan Doyle. At those early meetings we would invite an expert in different aspects of crime – cops, forensic scientists, criminal lawyers, etc. Eddie Greenspan was one of our guests whom we subsequently co-opted into presenting the Arthur Ellis Awards. These awards were named after the nom de travail of Canada’s hangmen. The wooden statuettes (a condemned man on a gibbet whose arms and legs flail when you pull a string – considered by some to be in execrable taste) were designed under the supervision of Tim Wynn-Jones, who subsequently retreated from the crime fold to write children’s books. (See note below)
The first recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award, in those days a single prize for the best novel published the previous year, was won by Eric Wright for ‘The Night The Gods Smiled,’ beating out works by William Deverell and Ted Wood. Next year it was Howard Engel for his second Benny Cooperman novel, ‘The Ransom Game.’ Both Eric and Howard would in turn ascend the throne of the Presidency of the Crime Writers of Canada. We used to publish a quarterly newsletter called ‘Fingerprints’ and the first item was the President’s letter, titled ‘Speech from the Throne.’
For my part, I returned to pure crime fiction with ‘Titanic’ and a series of Ezra Brant wine murder mysteries, ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Beaujolais’, ‘The Beast of Barbaresco’ and ‘Death on the Douro.’ I’m currently working on ‘Nightmare in Napa.’
A note on Arthur by Tim Wynn-Jones
I'm happy to clarify Arthur's history. It was my job to head the committee, as Tony said. And my big contribution, as far as I'm concerned, was in realizing that a book prize is kind of a stage prop. The darn thing should look good in somebody's hands as well as on their mantel. So I thought to go to a stage designer, Peter Blais, who happened also to be a wonderful actor, and who happened to be someone I had acted with and knew to have a wicked sense of humour. He got it! He understood what I was trying to say and came up with the jumping jack. So Peter very much deserves the kudos for Arthur and I'm just pleased to have got him on board. It's the best prize around, as far as I'm concerned. I'm lucky enough to have won one and also to have won an Edgar and Arthur beats Edgar all to heck!