Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heading off to Bouchercon, yea Brother!

The title is a riff from an old Star Trek episode - "Heading off to Eden, yea brother!" The Enterprise crew encounters hippies...

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be getting on a plane early in the morning, stopping in the midwest somewhere to get onto a different plane that will take me to Alaska. Lovely Fairbanks...I'll be walking from there...

If you'll be there, stop by and see me. I'll be manning the tables at 9 am in the bookroom for the 2008 B'Con on both Friday and Saturday. I have a panel on Friday afternoon with Denise Hamilton, Sam Reeves, Chris Knopf, and Kirk Russell. We'll be defining "Hard-Boiled". Hell of a lot easier than defining "noir" so I'm happy.

Then on Saturday I have a standalone thingy where I talk for thirty minutes on a topic of my own choosing. Planning to dust of my dissertation for that one...

I'll be giving away books while I man the B'Con '08 desk, but only to those who sign up of course.

I get back home late Sunday night. It should be a good time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Winners and Losers...

A reminder and a gripe - First, several people won books. I've heard from three out of five. If you haven't contacted me yet, raise your hand. You'll probably need to go through my website "Contact Steven" page. Not sure my profile has a useful email. I'll have to check.

Then, the Mets. Do they really need to trot out Guillermo Mota every night? Really? The man has an ERA closing in on an even 6.00. In his lifetime he has had 23 save opportunities and blown 16 of them. It is almost inconcievable to me that in their entire farm system the Mets don't have a single arm that is better. There again, one of the guys they brough up with the expanded roster has an ERA over 20.

If this bullpen is really as good as it gets, then you have to wonder what the entire Mets farm system has been doing this year (and last). What have the scouts been doing? What has Omar Minaya been doing the past couple of months? Really? Can't make a single trade that might bring a live arm? Of course, the thought crosses my mind that I should ease up on Minaya - he's made good deals in the past and besides, maybe he just hasn't been watching the Mets play...Or reading up on their meltdowns in the papers...

On yet another hand, maybe the bullpen collapses that have become a pretty much nightly event are intentional. Helps build suspense in the season...and camaraderie among the starting pitchers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

MM PBO Reviews

I should start by saying that the current Crimespree Magazine carries a very lovely review of THE CONCRETE MAZE. Jennifer Jordan likes it. She really, really, likes it. Here's a snippet: "story telling at its finest." If youo're not sure if you can trust Jen4, get your own copy. oF course, there are plenty of fine independent mystery bookstores that would be happy to help you out.

In any event, my real intention with this post was to whine about not being able to get print reviews for my latest book. Everyone who has read it has loved it - not just my mom who actually had a few reservations since there are friends and family members portrayed under veils she thought were too thin - Everyone. And they weren't just being kind to me personally because I'm a swell guy. I know. I've asked them. But the print reviews have been few and far between. In fact, I only know of two - the aforementioned Crimespree and Spinetingler.

Now, before someone whines back "Torres probably didn't send out ARCs - can't have reviews without ARCs..." let me say that I did, in fact, send out ARCs both on my own and through my publisher - dozens of them. My publisher actually rarely sends out ARCs (rarely might be too strong a word, but allow me the hyperbole) but they sent out a bunch for this book. And, relatively speaking, I've gotten no attention for the trouble. Please, if someone out there has seen a print review for the book, let me know.

The lack of response from reviewers has well-nigh paralyzed me as a writer - I was going rewrite a hardboiled book for the same publisher, but if the best book I've ever written has dropped out of sight like a pebble cast into the ocean, then I really can't find the energy to bother. After all, there is a much easier way to get no reviews...

Sorry for the bitchfest. I'll be better tomorrow, I promise.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Either Very Nice or Very Lame...

Given that five people want books from me - a fairly low number - I've decided that they've all won. I can do that. It's my blog.

Peter, Patti, and Terrie each get a copy of BRONX NOIR, Pam gets a copy of THE CONCRETE MAZE (see? persistance pays), and Daniel gets A WAR OF GIFTS.

Now I just have to figure out a way for you guys to contact me with an address... Perhaps sending me a reader message through my website if you don't happen to have my email address.

Oh, and Patti, do you really think I need a second copy of QUEENPIN? Do you? Megan is one of the few authors whose books don't slip by me. They come out, I buy them, everyone is happy....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two Contests...

I've had a hell of a time with contests this year. I ran one on my website where I got zero response then figured out I wasn't getting any emails from my website email. I think the trouble is fixed, but the contest is long over. I'll run it again, but for now I've got two books up for grabs, responding to this blog post is all you need to do to be considered. As jeff Probst likes to ask on Survivor..."Wanna know what yer playing for?"

I have a copy of Bronx Noir to give away here. This is a collection of short stories put out by Akashic Books. Yes, it has a story by me (in fact, the story is a prequal to my novel THE CONCRETE MAZE which you really should read if you like noir...) but it also has stories by a bunch of writers who are not me but every bit as good. SJ Rozan, Ed Dee, and Lawrence Block spring to mind.

But what if you're tired of crime stories? What if you're in the mood for Sci-Fi action? Well, I can help there too. I was given an ARC for a book called A WAR OF GIFTS by Orson Scott Card. It is an Ender story and quite slim (120 pages or so). Well, I didn't really like the first Ender story so I won't be reading this one. Maybe you can get it from me. Here's how to play...

If you want the BRONX NOIR book, comment on this blog saying something to that effect.

If you want the Ender story, then respond with a note to that effect.

Don't enter into both contests. Make a choice. Sunday afternoon, I'll pick names out of a hat...assuming there are multiple names to pick from. Good luck and be well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two questions....

The first question is political in a way....Charles Gibson just came onto my TV to tel me that the President was going to speak about the Iraq War. Then Gibson went on to tell me what the President was going to say. Summed it up pretty neatly and what he had to say corresponded nicely with what a radio announcer told me the President was going say as I was driving to work this morning. Now the President is talking and he also agrees with the radio guy and Charlie Gibson. Essentially stay the course. Fine. But if everyone knew what he was going to say, why take up the TV time? If the news is out, why the speech? And if he's Commander-in-Chief and he wants to keep going, it's going to happen anyway, no?

Maybe more importantly, I'm trying to find a movie I remember having seen on late night TV more than twenty years ago. I only saw a few minutes, but does this ring any bells...?

The scene I recall is of a group of young British punks - (not musical ones, just leather jackets, questionable hygiene, etc) - who were apparently trying to terrorize an elderly woman. They ride motorcycles over her lawn, sit at her table and put their booted feet up, etc. And one of them climbs a tree, puts a noose around his neck and drops, hanging himself but not dying because these guys are, in fact, immortal. Maybe vampires though there were no scenes of bloodsucking. In any event, the old lady wasn't afraid of them. In fact, I got the impression that she was also an immortal. It was about three in the morning, so I didn't finish watching it. Clearly, however, I should have.

My guess is the movie was a late 1960s or early 1970s production. If it rings a bell, please let me know.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Bill Crider Said...

I'll let Mr. Crider speak for himself when it comes to his thoughts about my book. I'm honored that he would take notice of The Concrete Maze.

Now if i can just get the rest of Texas to read the book...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This Day in History...

I remember. I wawalking from my house to the bus stop in the Bronx to get to work when one of the workers at the corner store came out and asked if i wanted to see the news - a plane had hit the twin towers he told me in Spanish. "Los torres gemelos." I quickly said things like that happened - I was thinking of a Cessna. He said it was a jet. I was surprised, but getting to be late for work.

The bus came quickly and people were talking about the accident. That's what it was at first. Just an accident. Oops. One man said the plane was stuck in the building and a piece had fallen off and killed a pedestrian. I was back to thinking it was a Cessna.

Round about Tremont and Webster Avenues, the bus pulled over for a stop and a half dozen squad cars and a half dozen fire trucks and a couple of ambulances passed us. Roaring through, lights blazing, sirens blaring and people were pulling over, uniformly. Doesn't always happen that way in NYC.

More emergency vehicles passed us on the way to work. The bus was supposed to cross the Fort Washington bridge into Manhattan but police pulled it over just short and we were told no vehicles were entering Manhattan unless they were emergency vehicles. That seemed odd. Betcha a dollar fifty thousand delivery trucks enter Manhattan on an average Tuesday.

Walked across the bridge. Plenty of talk about the mysterious plane. I don't think anyone knew about the second plane or the Pentagon or anything else. Enough fear though. From ten miles north we could see the plume of smoke listless, hanging there. Made you want to walk down there.

At work the students at Yeshiva College were all better informed than I. They'd been watching the news or listening to radios. The YC guys were wandering the halls, gossiping. Some said they would go down. A fair number had already served their time in the Israeli Army. They knew what to do in an emergency. They were young and anxious the walk down and the walk back only burned off some of their energy.

By the time my boss came in in the early afternoon, I knew the score. The internet had told me about the hits, the collapses, the Pentagon, Pennsylvania, other possible planes not yet accounted for - were they headed to Chicago? To L.A.? Was Paris going to be next? Were Navy pilots flying around with orders to knock jumbo jets into the water? Each of the towers housed 25,000 workers. Did anyone survive the first hit? The second? Was NYC looking at tens of thousands dead? Would so many bodies choke the rivers of New York? Were there subway trains trapped beneath the towers with passengers roasted? You can see how uncertain things were.

My boss was from Oklahoma. She was a bit surprised I was at my desk in the Writing Center. Told me to go home. The city was closing from pain and grief (my words...I have a poet's license...)I told her no such thing could happen. The city didn't close. NYC didn't run and hide, didn't cry or give in to pain, didn't do anything but conduct business. Stores, restaurants, offices closed a bit early, but they opened the next day, many of them. I left work at four. It took less than two hours to get home, but more than the usual one. Then I watched the news on the one channel Osama bin Laden left me. CBS I think. There was hope that people would be rescued. A seventh building collapsed as I watched.

NYC took a hit, no doubt about it. But if the bad guys thought it was a knockout blow, they were seriously deluded. In fact, their sense of reality and reality itself were animals of two different species.

That day was a bad day. In the following days, the city knit together so tightly Osama would have repented picking on us if he'd seen it. Not that he could. Blind, he is, and dumb besides. He should have picked on a city with less life in it, a less hardened target. He should have picked on a people for whom weeping came easier than spitting. In short, anywhere not New York City would probably have worked better for his purposes. Had he been there, he would have been gobsmacked to see the city back at work the next day while taking on the extra task of rescuing and reconstructing, consoling, nursing, fixing. Anything but giving up or rolling over. In fact, if he'd come into the city today and see it repaired and repairing, making new and making life, he'd be gobsmacked now. If if gobsmacking wasn't enough, I'd drive into the city special to deliver a literal smack...I wouldn't be alone at it either.

Friday, September 07, 2007


The McCann parents are being treated as suspects in the disappearance of Madeline McCann. Can't say I'm surprised. Of course, when I first heard the girl was missing under strange circumstances, I instantly figured the parents had done it. Same as with the Jon Bonet Ramsey case. Also, when I heard OJ Simpson's ex-wife had been murdered. I wondered "where was OJ"?

There was also news this morning of a mother in Ohio who drove her toddler to work, left her in the car for eight hours, and found her dead in the car at the end of the day. Stunning. I assumed it was murder. On the news, they showed a clip of the mother talking with police. I was shocked to see that the police were treating her as though she were a friend of the family, essentially "accidents happen even to the best of us..." I was expecting that they would have leaned on her at least a little harder - eight hours is a long time to forget that your child is essentially roasting in the car...

But then I have to check myself, don't I? I mean, at this point, none of these people (including OJ) has found guilty in a court of law. The McCanns may be guiltless entirely. The lady whose child died in the car may also be guiltless. Having a suspicious mind, being cynical, doesn't make me smarter. Cynicism is not a straight line to truth. Being jaded is just as bad as being naive. Cynicism and naivete lead to falsehood at equal rates. And strangely, both probably feel good to the person who is practicing it. And both will feel justified by whatever results they find.

Ah well, maybe part of the human condition.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Story on Shred of Evidence

Haven't blogged much lately - start of semester, etc - but I do have a brand new story up on Shred of Evidence. Take a look. It's good stuff - based, in part, on a true story AND a darn good use of scurvy in a story. Have fun and leave me a note.