Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Biblioholic's Bookshelf: The Doomsday Bag - Sixties Espionage

This week's sort of a sequel to last week's Biblioholic's Bookshelf post.
During the sixties spy boom, Michael Avallone's fifties private eye Ed Noon began to get assignments from the president. This edition was one of the first Michael Avallone books I  found when I haunted used bookshops back in the day. It must have been a really popular entry in the series, because I saw in several shops after I bought it.

The Doomsday Bag by Michael Avallone

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Interview: - Aidan Minter, author of the true crime memoir Carved

I encountered Aidan Minter on the Kindle Boards when I put the word out for authors who had a couple of books under their belt. Since the Robert Lory interview was popular here, I was thinking of doing more interviews that covered several books by writers old and new. Aidan, who works in the computer game industry, noted that while his first book was about to come out, he hoped it might be of interest since it was a personal memoir.

It did seem to be a dark and compelling true story, and I read more of the case to which Aidan was exposed. New developments in the investigation were being reported earlier this year. It is a sad and unsolved crime known as the case of "Adam" for many years in Great Britain because the victim was unidentified.

I'll let Aidan, in his answers, tell more about the case and express his experiences related to it.

Could you give me a brief bio and a little information about your book?

CARVED is a memoir of sorts, a short but very personal account of my experiences of finding the torso of a murdered boy in the river Thames 10 days after the 9/11 attacks on New York. This year will be the 10th Anniversary of the event, and I thought it would be a way for me to get a degree of closure in writing about my experiences of that day and the subsequent police murder investigation which was one of the largest in UK history.

Where can your book be purchased or when will it be released?

The book will be published by Orb Entertainmant and will be available on Kindle, Smashwords, Nook B&N, Createspace and Overdrive from September 11th.

Since this is a personal account, could you tell us a little about how you found the River Thames victim? You were walking on the Tower Bridge? How did you come to be there at that moment, and how did you see the body?

I was on my way to a creative meeting with a design agency, the river was coming in from the estuary and it was high tide, because it wasn't long after the 9/11 attacks there was nobody around, normally at that time of day on a Friday afternoon the bridge is full of tourists and commuters but I guess the attacks on New York had shattered peoples confidence in standing near large landmark buildings. Looking out towards the East as I crossed the bridge, I noticed a pallet and some drift wood moving quite fast in the flow of the river, beyond that about twenty feet away was what I thought was a beer barrel because it was rounded and bobbing in the water. I had stopped on the bridge by this point right at the point where the bridge opens to let tall ships pass and looked over; it was then that I could clearly see that it wasn't a barrel or a tailors dummy but the torso of a small boy, his head, arms and legs had been hacked off and he was dressed in a pair of orange shorts.

I know there had to be a considerable emotional impact. Was it difficult in the time immediately after the discovery?

Funnily enough no, straight after wasn't so bad, I gave a statement to a detective who drove down from Catford CID and the body had been recovered from the water somewhere close the Globe theatre. I was offered counselling in a sort of half hearted way, due to the Stephen Lawrence case the police were obliged to do more for victims of crime, but I declined it initially. It was years after the incident when my own problems began, much of it was triggered by the traumatic birth of my daughter which unbeknown to me acted as a sort of a trigger to the Thames case, I was ultimately diagnosed with an acute form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and sought help with the Priory clinic.

Has it been frightening given the strange and ritualistic nature of the death?

Not really, although for a very short time I was wary that if the murder was linked to child trafficking or sex crime. I had a young daughter and I was concerned someone might convince me to look the other way if things went to court. By this time the case became such a high profile one and the police investigation was huge to the extent that figures like Nelson Mandela became involved that I'm pretty sure that whoever killed the boy had gone to ground and the inevitable wall of silence started to hamper the police investigation from the outset.

Has there been a long term impact on your life?

Well I'd like to say it hasn't but I'd be lying, you put a different perspective on life after something like that, because the event took place only ten days after Sept. 11. I thought that there couldn't possibly be anything worse than seeing those American Airline planes being flown into the World Trade Center live on TV, unfortunately I was proved wrong.

The discovery was in 2001. How closely have you followed the case over the years?

The police contact me every so often, they called me in March to check I could still be reached and the case had been active for 10 years so I got an update of sorts to how things had progressed. A detective called John Weyhill is in charge of the investigation after the original detective retired.

What was your first thought when you heard new information had developed?

Well what people don't realise is that police embarked on some amazing forensic work on this case that had never been used before in a murder case. This was London's worst crime involving a child for more than forty years, in the book I explain what some of those processes were and its truly amazing that they can identify where you come from just by what we eat.

How did you decide to write about the case?

The tenth anniversary of the case comes up in September and I was looking for something that would give me a sense of closure on it, the boy was called Adam by the police because he didn't have any identity and when his name (Ikpomwosa) was revealed in the news earlier this year I thought it might be interesting to tell my side of the story.

What period does your book cover? The immediate time after the discovery or the entire case until now?

The book starts from the day I discovered the body and then goes through the investigation and primarily covers the key events in the police investigation, its a novella size so it's quite an easy read.

Anything else to add about the case and your experience.

Only that I'm glad his (Ikpomwosa) identity is now known, the mystery of who he once was is finally over.

Do you see this as a one-time memoir, or do you have plans to do other writing?

As a memoir yes, I don't lead a life of wanton adventure and wrestle sharks or climb mountains for a living, but I do have a fictional novel that's nearly done called Patriot Down about Navy Seals in Afghanistan, that's nearing 70,000 words on the first draft so that still needs a fair bit of work to get into shape and has taken me about three years so far.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Biblioholic's Bookshelf: The Tall Dolores, Fifties Private Eye

Michael Avallone was a prolific writer under his own name and a host of pseudonyms. He wrote many, many movie and TV novelizations including tales of The Partridge Family and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  I first encountered him because of a tape he did for Writer's Digest, So You Want to Write a Mystery Novel. He offered great pointers on suspense, while referring to a host of his books including Tales of the Frightened and The Tall Dolores.

I had to look a long time to find Dolores, the first adventure of Avallone's hero Ed Noon, who has some fun poked at him in Gun in Cheek. Adapting with the paperback times, he made Noon a spy in the sixties, and most of those titles were the ones on the used book shelves when I started shopping. Happily I found this edition in a catalog a few years back. Like Stand In For Sex, it's on my shelf because of the piece Avallone played in my learning experience. It has a great first line. "I'll begin by telling you she was the tallest girl that ever came into my office."

The Tall Dolores by Michael Avallone featuring Ed Noon

The Tall Dolores Perma Star Back Cover

Killer Covers - A look at the cover for The Voodoo Murders plus an alternate Tall Dolores cover.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Zombies of the World

A series of short films were produced to promote Zombies of the World. This is the teaser, and more are available on You Tube. It's a fun way to promote a book, and the clips are fun and entertaining on their own.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fright Night Impressions

(Warning: Includes spoilers! Read after you've seen it.)

I was pleasantly blown away by the Fright Night re-make, just as I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh and silly excitement of the original back in the day.

The 1985 film, as I recall, came along during a time when there weren't any fun chillers of its ilk.

The new version, penned by Buffy showrunner Marti Noxon, sets a new tone of  zaniness tinged with chills and excitement and carves its own niche.

Colin Farrell's a great Jerry the vampire. David Tennant, formerly The Doctor, makes for a great update of Peter Vincent, a Vegas stage magician more relevant to these times than Roddy McDowell's late-show horror host that was a bit nostalgic even in the eighties.

Set pieces
It's a trio of set pieces that really provide the remake its own energy, however.

Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) realizes fairly quickly in this outing his neighbor's a vampire. His attempt to rescue an imprisoned victim produces a surprising and dazzling result that also establishes some of the vampire ground rules that are in play.

In the original, Charlie's slightly smitten mom invites the vampire into the house. When Jerry fails to gain entry this time around, he takes matters in a new and explosive direction.

The final confrontation and how of killing Jerry provides some cool surprises. You can't just wrap a movie up with the staking of a vampire these days, and Fright Night doesn't. It's a blazing finale to be sure.

Those familiar with the original are still in for plenty of new fun. Those with a taste for horror who are coming to the material cold should really enjoy it, and as the new version of Evil Ed notes, it's not Twilight. Thumbs up from me anyway.

I saw the 3D version, and I do agree with the assessment many are making that, except for a a couple of spots, it's not that much of a plus for the extra bucks.

As I've said before, we need collectible, branded glasses instead of a new set to recycle at each show.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Biblioholic's Bookshelf: The Phantom - The Mystery of the Sea Horse - Seventies Comics Novelization

The Phantom has always been a favorite of mine. The mythology is pretty fabulous: a long line of heroes, starting in the 16th century, all donning the same guise to fight crime and evil. Superstitious types could only assume The Phantom or Ghost Who walks was immortal.

I had many different incarnations of The Phantom comic books as a kid, even a pretty good stack of Charlton issues, which weren't the best.

I found only this installment in the series of novelizations in the spots I bought books as a kid. It's based on the original Lee Falk stories but penned by Ron Goulart a prolific author and adapter. He did several of The Avenger titles and the Vampirella novelizations.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Biblioholic's Book Shelf: Stand In For Sex - Sixties Sleaze Noir

I believe I'm telling the truth on this. Bee-Line Books was a sleaze imprint that grew into the first incarnation of the more legitimate Pinnacle Books, the incarnation that kicked off The Executioner, The Destroyer, The Death Merchant, The Dracula Horror Series and a host of other titles. 

Pinnacle was bought by Kensington Books back in the day, and my early books were published by that incarnation.

That's why I picked up this title, copyright 1967, for the novelty and six degrees or whatever. Lynn Martin is byline on several Bee-Line titles including one called Sin Girl. My guess is that it's a house name, though I've read message boards that wonder if it's the same Lynn Martin who was a friend to Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia. My supposition is no, but it would certainly be ironic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Restraint With Stephen Moyer

I'm going to depart from book trailers this week to share a trailer for an interesting New Zealand flick I discovered via Netflix. It's an interesting three-character crime thriller with Stephen Moyer of "True Blood" as an agoraphobic.

It has a little bit of Shirley Jackson flavoring and reminds me a little of a tale called Half Broken Things by Morag Joss, which was made into a British TV movie. It's clever, dark and has lots of dark twists. It also stars Teresa Palmer of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Sunday Interview - Jeff Rutherford of Delabarre Publishing

Jeff Rutherford and I met at one convention or another more years back than I can count on my fingers. We've been in and out of touch over the years, talking books and writing and the like. We recently crossed paths again via the miracle of social media. Since he has many interesting things going on including the release of a book by the great crime writer Clark Howard, I thought he'd be a great person for a Sunday interview.

A little about Jeff
Jeff worked in traditional publishing for 3-4 years in the 1990s with the Denise Marcil Literary Agency, Inc. For the past 15 years, he has worked in public relations - managing and developing PR campaigns for digital lifestyle companies at the intersection of technology, media, and publishing. In 2010, he founded Delabarre Publishing, an independent publisher of quality eBooks. In addition, Jeff has recorded 43 episodes of the Reading and Writing podcast - where he interviews writers and authors about their latest books, their writing habits, and what books they love and enjoy. In addition, he is revamping and recording new episodes of the Book Marketing podcast which examines how publishers and authors are using digital strategies to market and sell books.

A father of two, Jeff lives with his family in the hills of Western Massachusetts.

Tell us a little about how Delabarre Publishing and what you’re doing in the realm of e-book publishing.

I had long dreamed of starting a small publishing company over the years. I've observed and participated in the publishing industry intently for the past 20 years. However, the financial costs of traditional publishing (print and production costs, the returns issue) stopped me from jumping in.

I've long been fascinated by eBooks. In 2000, I bought a Gemstar ereading device. It was a clunky, early, early predecessor of the Kindle or iPad. The screen wasn't all that bad, and I read several books with my Gemstar device. I moved from that to downloading books for my PalmPilot and watching the business models and success of companies like Fictionwise. So, when Sony launched their eBook devices and then Amazon made the big splash with the introduction of the Kindle, I knew that eBooks would have a huge impact. I don't think I would have predicted the traction this quickly, but I think Amazon made a very, very smart move by pricing current titles at $9.99. While traditional publishers tried to figure out a strategy and response, Amazon built a sustainable business in 18 months or so.

Then, when these various eBook platforms began introducing self-publishing programs, I knew I wanted to participate as a publisher. I've written fiction, and I've won some prizes and published some of my short stories. However, I just didn't feel that my own fiction efforts were ready for prime time as eBooks.

I started thinking about how and what type of books I could publish electronically. I knew that whatever I published, I wanted to emphasize quality - quality in the writing, quality in the production/formatting, and quality in the cover design. I have a 7-year old son who loves riddles, puns, and wordplay. One day when I was in a bookstore with him, I glanced at a shelf of joke books, and I knew that those could work really well as eBooks. I went home, researched the current market for kids joke eBooks. Then, I contacted a friend who is a freelance writer, and paid him an advance to write 101 Short & Hilarious Jokes For Kids.

After working with a cover designer and an eBook formatter, I published my first eBook in August 2010. Since then, I've published a wide variety of kids joke books, including 102 Hilarious Jokes for Kids, 103 Hilarious Halloween Jokes for Kids, 102 Hilarious Christmas Jokes For Kids, 500 Hilarious Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids, 101 Hilarious Animal Jokes, 102 Hilarious Jewish Jokes For Kids, 101 Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes for Kids.

What are your thoughts on cover art? How do you develop the cover for a title you’re going to release?

I've worked primarily with one cover designer, and we have a great working relationship. She has developed a very consistent style and tone for the joke books. But that's not all I'm publishing. She's also designed covers for novels, travel books, etc.

I'm not a graphic designer. I've never used Photoshop. But over the years, I've looked at literally thousands of traditional book covers, and I think I have a gut feel for what looks good and "pops" as a cover. Thankfully, the designer I work with, can take my ideas and turn them into eye-catching covers. When I email my designer initially, I usually try my best to describe the tone and feel of the cover artwork I have in mind.

I know you have a title from Clark Howard, Hard City. How did that come about? Were you an admirer of his work at the outset?

After the kids joke books began selling well, I knew that I wanted to expand my eBook publishing to include a variety of titles and topics, including fiction. I've read many of Clark Howard's novels, but Hard City was the first novel of his that I read. It was purely by accident. In 1990 or so, I was in the library at the University of Georgia. I spotted the title Hard City on a new release shelf, grabbed the book and read the first page or so.

The book is an amazing coming of age novel - based on the real-life story of Howard's troubled childhood living on the hard streets of Chicago in the late 1940s. Over the years, I bought multiple copies of Hard City, and I re-read the novel four or five times over the years.

I thought about Hard City as a potential ebook, and I confirmed that the book was not available as an eBook. In fact, after its initial hardback publication by Dutton, the book was never even published in paperback. I tracked Howard down through Mystery Writers of America and sent him an email. A few weeks later, in January of this year, I was at home on a Saturday afternoon, and he called me to discuss publishing Hard City as an eBook. That was a very exciting day, and now Hard City is available as an eBook for a new generation of readers to enjoy.

And, now, Howard and I are collaborating on publishing a multi-volume collection of his many, well-regarded and award-winning mystery stories. Stay tuned for the first volume later this year.

Also, I want to add, that thanks to working with Clark Howard to publish Hard City, that opened the door with other, established writers to discuss publishing some of their backlist. I've also had the great privilege to publish two young-adult novels written by Bill Crider, the popular mystery writer. Crider's A Vampire Named Fred is now available, and we'll soon be publishing A Werewolf Named Wayne. A Vampire Named Fred was previously published a small, defunct publisher, but the sequel A Werewolf Named Wayne is previously unpublished.

Any dream authors you’d like to publish or any particular book you want to resurrect in an e-edition?

I'm in discussions with several authors currently. Some I can't discuss publicly at this point. I will add that regardless if I publish them or not, there are plenty of series that I think warrant eBook publication. For example, I know that some of Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective novels are available as eBooks, but not all of them. That's a series that's ripe for eBook publication. Also, I've always been fond of multi-volume definitive collections of short stories. I'm not in discussions with them, but I think all the great science fiction collections that NESFA has published over the years would make wonderful eBooks. The same goes for the current Subterranean Press multi-volume collection of Robert Silverberg's short stories.

Tell us about your joke books and developing those. Are there more on the horizon. I know the supply of humorous public figures is almost infinite.

In addition to the kids joke books, I have published 2 collections of "political" humor - 99 Sarah Palin Jokes and 101 Donald Trump Jokes. Those haven't sold quite as well as the kids joke books, but I do have plans for other adult and political joke books.

What else is on the horizon for Delabarre?

I've got a lot of eBooks in production. I haven't even mentioned The Italy Plane Reader. I partnered with GoNomad, a great online travel site that features travel articles about destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The Italy Plane Reader, as the name suggests, is an eBook featuring numerous articles about Italy - the perfect read on the plane ride to Italy for your travels. In partnership with GoNomad, I'm going to be publishing more "Plane Readers" including eBooks about Central America, Cuba, and a guide to nudist travel and resorts - Travel Naked.

I will also be publishing - very soon - the eBook of a book that I sold to HarperCollins in the 1990s when I worked as a literary agent in NYC - 50 Great College Drinking Games by Ross Bonander. Ross has also written another book that I'll be publishing which I'm very excited about - a quote book similar to a Bartlett's-style collection. But, Ross' new book is collecting strictly quotes from the 2000s. We haven't settled on a title yet, but it's moving close to production.

You’ve worked in traditional publishing and now you’re part of the e-book revolution. What do you see down the road? Any predictions?

Predictions. Hmmm. I'm certainly immersed in book publishing, but I'm never confident about my own crystal ball of predictions. Nonetheless, here are my predictions:

1. I think there will be many more independent publishers similar to Delabarre Publishing. Traditional publishers aren't moving fast enough to publish their backlist. In some cases, they don't have electronic rights to their backlist. And, when they do publish their backlist, they price the books too high, because they're working from a traditional pricing structure.

2. With traditional publishers, I just don't know. I've been struck recently at several industry events that I attended where publishers, authors, and editors spoke, and there was almost no discussion about eBooks and the impact of eBooks. While they may not be discussing eBooks, I'm certain that the accountants at major publishers are discussing them. How do you continue along as if nothing has changed when you're selling fewer hard copies of books, and the pricing pressures keep going lower?

And, I want to point out, very strongly, I have no animosity whatsoever towards traditional publishers. I love publishing. I love books. I have a house filled with books (too many according to my wife). But, it's inarguable that the business model is changing much faster than any publisher ever dreamed it would.

3. Bookstores. Used bookstores will continue to exist. However, the outlook for bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble is grim. Yes, B&N has moved aggressively, much more so than many publishers insiders ever dreamed, with the Nook, but again with pricing structures, they're making less money on lower-priced eBooks. And, they're selling fewer print books. With Barnes & Noble, I think in 5 years, they'll have half the stores they do now - if not less.

4. Writers will continue the rush to publish self-published eBooks. The vast majority will sell only a few copies. Unfortunately, many authors write their books, but then they're willing to settle for sub-standard formatting and cover design. If they settle for poorly designed covers and formatting, their books won't rise above the flood of self-published books. In addition, the ease of self-publishing as an eBook is just too much of a temptation for many aspiring writers. They're going to publish poorly edited drafts hoping to be the next John Locke or Amanda Hocking, and they're only going to sell a few copies.

However, the good news is that there will be A LOT more successful self-published writers. eBooks and self-publishing technology have democratized book publishing. If writers spend the necessary time to write the best book they're capable of, and pay an editor for valid editing, and spend the time to design an eye-catching cover, there's nothing stopping them from succeeding very well.

5. Reading and books overall. I'm excited and ecstatic! To quote that song, "The future's so bright I've got to wear shades." As more and more backlist titles are published, the rich depth of novels and non-fiction will be available to just about anyone with the click of a button, including libraries as Amazon rolls out their library lending plans later this year.

6. While optimistic, let’s not forget the digital divide. If there are fewer bookstores, there will be communities that are underserved by having books readily available, and those same neighborhoods don’t have the affluence for teens and adults to run out and buy a Kindle or an iPad. I don’t like the idea of two Americas – haves and have nots – and I think it’s something we all have to be mindful of as technology races ahead.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

On the Soul's Road - Short Story Collection For Kindle

My buddy Cody Luff, who was in my graduating class at Goddard College, recently decided to put together a collection of short stories authored by those in the Goddard ranks.

The result, Soul's Road, went on sale this week exclusively for Kindle. It includes a story by me called "Telephone," and 12 other stories by writers I fully believe you will be hearing more about.

When you crack open Soul's Road you'll find a collection of journeys leading in many interesting directions - sensitive and surprising family dramas, humor, literary science fiction, a slice of life from an office in a slightly different world, a tale of loss set in Poland, a criminal's journey, a tale that will remind you of Marquez and much more.

Sadly you won't find a tale by Cody, who is a truly brilliant and gifted writer. As editor he decided it didn't set quite right, but his words will find other homes and you will read them and be amazed and moved.

Here are the stories and authors included:

Chimera: John Schimmel
Tax Code: Natasha Oliver
Emperical Facts: Isla McKetta
Heap: Karen Hugg
Confluence: Phil Paddock
That Girl: Deb Staley
Singing of the Sun: Ann Keeling
Sanctum: Peter McMinn
Funny Think Happened When My Mom Died: Paula Altschuler
Some Kind of Apocalpse: Joey Pierce
Of Love Death and Marriage: The Rumored Reputation of Don Armando Mejia: Isis Fernandez
Campaign Trail: Nathan Chang

Soul's Road is a collection of truth, and I'm happy to march on the path in their company.

Buy it here

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - Tony Rome AKA Miami Miami Mayhem - Early Sixties Private Eye

This is obviously the movie-tie-in edition of Miami Mayhem by Marvin Albert, a Gold Medal writer who penned three adventures for Tony Rome. Two of those were filmed with Frank Sinatra. An adaptation of The Lady in Cement with Raquel Welch followed Tony Rome. That's Jill St. John on the cover below.

I bought this in a used shop I used to frequent called The Book Nook. A nice lady ran it for many years until she retired. She was robbed once, so she started locking her door and letting you into the shop only if she recognized you.

The reason I bought it stems in part from the prominence Jon Tuska gives the Tony Rome movies in his book The Detective in Hollywood, a great book on private eye movies.

Tony Rome Movie Edition - Miami Mayhem

Tony Rome Movie Tie In Back Cover - Miami Mayhem

Further reading

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