Sunday, January 28, 2007

Some more blurbs and a giveaway

Thought I'd share a few more of the blurbs that'll be plastered on my next book this Summer. Here are three followed by a little backstory and a giveaway:

One of the great pleasures of reading lies in being invited into places we've never been, having doors propped open into other minds, other ways of life. That is what good writing does -- and what Steven Torres does, wonderfully.
James Sallis, Anthony, Edgar, and Shamus award nominated author of Drive

A vivid, gripping piece of slow-burn suspense, The Concrete Maze seizes the reader from the first page and doesn't let go, breathing vivid new life into the classic story of a man searching for his teen daughter amid an urban wilderness. A rare mix of grit, white-knuckle suspense and rich character study, The Concrete Maze is, by turns, harrowing and heartbreaking.

Megan Abbott, Edgar nominated author of
Die a Little

A fresh twist on the classic quest tale set in the concrete canyons of New York City. Gritty, believable and surprising.

Wallace Stroby, author of
The Heartbreak Lounge and The Barbed-Wire Kiss

Now the backstory goes as follows - I've never met Mr. Sallis, but I much admired his novel, Drive (recommended by the good folks at CrimeSpree). I figured that I could lose nothing by asking him to read my book, so I sent an email asking if he'd care to take a look at it. He said he normally did not blurb authors he didn't know but since SJ Rozan had blurbed my latest book, he'd take a chance. Turns out he liked it, and I'm grateful he took the time.

I met Ms. Abbott at the now defunct ConMisterio in Austin, TX. I read her first novel Die a Little and thought it a marvel. The prose is truly luxurious. In any event, meeting her again at a summer event at Black Orchid in NYC, I asked if she'd mind taking a look at my book and, well, as you see, she did and quite liked it. Interestingly, she works with several people who knew the Bronx neighborhoods I described and especially a skating ring I use as a major setting.

Mr. Stroby was another person I met at ConMisterio, went through the same steps mentioned above and then, when he sent me the blurb, I saw the word concrete and the title sprang to mind. Before that, my editor and I had been going back and forth for a month trying to change the title from what it was (A Bronx Jam) to something that might help it sell. Hence, the birth of The Concrete Maze.

Now for the giveaway:

I have left over copies of CrimeSpree Magazine's 14th issue featuring a short story I'm quite proud of Elena Speaks of the City Under Siege. There are, of course, many other articles, reviews and stories to interest you so if you haven't been introduced to CrimeSpree yet, post a message and I'll contact you to arrange sending you a copy. There are six of them.

Also, I find I have two ARCs of my third novel, Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, in the series so if you've haven't been introduced to the series, post your request.

Please, don't post your mailing address - I ask for it offline.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


As I said recently, I've been enjoying Allan Guthrie's Kiss Her Goodbye* and I've gotten to a part where I find that I am also writing this novel. Let me explain...

Last year I spent a couple of months putting together 38,000 words for the opening of a thriller where pharmaceutical companies try to pawn off bad product on poor people and the woman who finds this out sets out to gather evidence to bring them down. Then I saw the DVD of The Constant Gardener. That stopped me pretty cold. The story was well done (LeCarre's, I mean...Mine too, as I think of it now) so I couldn't see a point in doing it again. Seemed like a waste. Maybe I can rework it somehow, but I got a couple of other novels going right now...

One of those other novels is one that I'm finding eerily similar to Kiss Her Goodbye. There are some major differences though, so I'l keep working on a story I'm calling The Concrete Heart. I like it. And of course, I can always ask Mr. Guthrie to retract his story to make room for mine...

Seriously, there are major differences, but some similarities as well. This one, however, I feel will be MY story as opposed to the medicine thriller which would have been LeCarre's story since he got there first and the plot lines were essentially the same throughout. Of course, I also had a story about this maniac ship's captain searching for one particular whale in an ocean full of whales so that he could kill it...

At the same time, I'm working on a thriller that involves terrorism and it's requiring me to go online late at night to look up how to make bombs and the range on sniper rifles. Not sure what to say when the Feds finally come knocking. Hold on, there's someone at the door...

* I'm not the type who can read a book in one sitting, but this one is so good, I'm reading it at breakfast and at dinner to my wife's great annoyance.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Currently looking at Allan Guthrie's Kiss Her Goodbye. Powerful stuff exacty the kind of book I'[ve come to expect from Hard Case Crime. The writing is lean and sharp, the emotions at play are strong and the story makes sense - that is , the characters are doing what they must so there is a strong sense of internal logic at work here. I hope one day that I'll be able to write like this.

Have also just finished Megan Abbott's novel The Song is You. Set in the 1950s in Hollywood, it is another poetic gem about the dark and seedy side of that time and place. Wht captures my attention in an Abbott novel is her prose - she manages to capture the casual speech of the period while, at the same time, adding a poetry and elegance to her prose that is not to be found in just anyone's novel, not even in the so called "literary" novels. And the mystery is absorbing too. A real treat.

Most recently, I finished Jonathan Santlofer's novel The Anatomy of Fear. This is an excellent thriller due out in April and it taught me several things, most importantly, it is a lesson in psychological thrillers and a lesson in juggling POVs. Jonathan does this very well in all his books, but I think best here. The book contains a hundred drawings purportedly made by both the novel's serial killer and by Nate Rodriguez, the police sketch artist who helps track the man down. Wait till you find out the motive. There's also a good introduction to NYCs vibrant Santeria sect. Great book.

Also, reading the Book of Genesis (more on my other blog soon) and Gettysburg by Stephen Sears. Rock'um, sock'um action.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


A couple of days ago, I watched my first episode of Ugly Betty. It made me laugh and (almost) cry. Why hadn't I seen it earlier? Not like it hasn't been hyped enough. I find that I had missed it's first many weeks because it was up against Survivor, one of two relity TV shows that I watch with regularity. Here, then, is what I thought: "Oh no!"

What happens when Survivor returns? Will I abandon Betty? I don't think I will. Two reasons for this. First, to mymind Survivor is getting stale - I keep hoping for Survivor:Yukon or even Survivor: Badlands (Winter of course). Better yet, start them off with a plane ride from Honolulu so that they think it's a ride to some tropical island, then fly them North, way North: Survivor: North Pole Alaska. After all, let's get real. If you CAN'T survive on an island with a thousand fruit trees and with fish that jump into the canoe and give you cooking instructions, then...Well, I don't know what.

Survivor: Sahara. First reward challenge - all out brawl for a barrel of water. Anything to break the monotony.

Secondly, Ugly Betty has a set of fictional characters that I can learn to care about more profoundly than the supposedly real people on Survivor. Strange, no? But then, the way it is set up now, Survivor is constructed to bring out only one side of the contestants - for instance, their greed (or their competitiveness, etc). This isn't the way these people are in real life - it's just one dimension. One thing I enjoyed from the early Survivor seasons was the (too rare) occasions when the teams were asked to deliver supplies to an AIDS orphanage in Africa and stuff like that. You got to see a different side to these people. Plus, the huge money CBS, Mark Burnett, et al were making was being dripped into something that mattered, but that's a different essay.

Is it possible that Ugly Betty and shows like that will quash Reality TV? Imagine that - real TV that is more powerful than Reality TV.

All this made possible by the hiatus Survivor takes between seasons. By the way,what is up with the split season that so many shows are offering this year? Sounds like a perfect way to convince the audience that they don't need to watch the show - Also a good way to catch new shows - for instance, I might very well be switching from watching Lost to watching Heroes. Saw my first couple of episodes of that show as well.