January 24, 2015

HOLLY WEST – Mistress of the Query Letter

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:49 am
Elaine head shot


HOLLY WEST landed a book deal for MISTRESS OF FORTUNE with Carina Press (a division of Harlequin) based on a strong, clear query letter–and she’s agreed to share it with Ashedit readers. How open and generous! But that’s Holly. She volunteers for the Mystery Writers of America as well as Sisters in Crime and everybody knows her smiling face. A better team player, networker, and historical fictionista, you won’t find anywhere. Over to you, Holly…



HOLLY WEST: At the time I was querying the title [of my book] was Diary of Bedlam. (Elaine’s note: obviously, Holly and her agent or editor, revisited the title and renamed the book MISTRESS OF FORTUNE before going to press.) Overall, this query letter was successful for me. About 50% of those I sent out received a request for more material, which is pretty good. What I quickly learned, however, is that a request for additional pages is just that–most of those requests ended up in rejections. Ultimately, my agent made an offer of representation after I’d already secured a deal with a publisher. My agent had already requested the full manuscript but it took a long time for her to get around to reading it. Once the publishing deal was offered, she moved it up in her reading queue and offered representation a few days later.

VOILA, the finished book cover. Letter below.


Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my 80,000-word historical mystery, DIARY OF BEDLAM, a standalone novel set in 1678 London with series potential.

Isabel, Lady Wilde, a former English spy and occasional favorite in King Charles II’s bedchamber, has a secret: she makes her living disguised as Mistress Ruby, a fortune-teller who caters to London’s elite. Charlatans, rogues, villains, and swindlers lurk in every corner of the city, and Isabel concedes she is one of them. But hard experience has taught her that women have few enough advantages in this world, and her conscience does not often bother her.

Everything changes when Sir Edmund Godfrey, a London magistrate, seeks Mistress Ruby’s counsel and reveals his accidental involvement in a covert plot to murder the King. Shortly after his visit, her diary, the sole record of her illicit activities as a soothsayer, is stolen, and Isabel must locate it before anyone connects her to Mistress Ruby. When Sir Edmund’s corpse is discovered a few days later, Isabel suspects whoever committed the murder also has her diary.

Unwilling to trust the investigation to a royal court infamous for its schemes and intrigues, she begins her own inquiry and learns that Sir Edmund’s murder is only a small part of a conspiracy that leads all the way to the throne. A series of increasingly violent threats against her and her loved ones convince Isabel that her business is not the only thing at stake and that she must find Sir Edmund Godfrey’s killer before she becomes the next victim.

Headshot 2About me: My short story, Once a Loser, appears in the Fall 2011 issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. My short fiction has been featured online on Shotgun Honey and is forthcoming in the Shotgun Honey Both Barrels anthology and the Feeding Kate charity anthology. I am an associate member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

The complete manuscript is available upon your request. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Holly West

Address and contact info goes here.


This is more or less my first draft. I wrote it based on the successful

"La Lettre" by Delphin Enjolras

“La Lettre” by Delphin Enjolras

query letter of a publishing-savvy friend and had her look it over when I finished mine. She had a few small suggestions, but nothing major. The only change I made to my original query letter happened later in the process. When replies to the query seemed to be drying up, I added this statement right after my first paragraph:

Historical note: On 12 October 1678, a popular London magistrate named Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey left his home in Westminster and never returned. Five days later, two local tradesmen found his slain body in a drainage ditch at the base of Primrose Hill, a London suburb. To this day the murder remains unsolved. DIARY OF BEDLAM is based upon these events and their aftermath.

My thinking was that the fact that the book was based on a real unsolved murder would provide a hook. I didn’t see a noticeable uptick in requests for more pages after I added it, and honestly, I think the letter is stronger without it.

As far as drafts of the novel itself are concerned, there were probably about five (not including my publisher’s edit). After three drafts, I declared the manuscript finished at 106,000 words, which was way too long. But I began querying anyway and soon found that agents were rejecting it based solely on the word count. I stopped querying and revised the manuscript down to 81,000 words and made some changes based on suggestions from agents. After querying this manuscript for about three months with no offers of representation, I decided I would self-publish. As part of that process, I had it edited by a professional freelance editor who said she thought I could get a traditional deal with it. So I did a final edit based on her suggestions and sent the manuscript out into the world one final time.

The query I sent to Carina Press included this query letter and the full manuscript. I received “the call” about four weeks after I submitted it.

Here’s the cover of the second in the series, MISTRESS OF LIES:



Thank you, Holly. This is valuable insight into the process.–Elaine Ash

January 13, 2015

Keith Nixon – International Man of Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 5:49 pm

Keith NixonProlific book reviewer and author, KEITH NIXON lived for a while in the tiny coastal town of Broadstairs in the UK (where Charles Dickens spent holidays and wrote several books). Nixon is considered a top reviewer at the influential e-book blog called Big Al’s Books and Pals. Nixon first became known with a humorous crime novel called THE FIX. Described as “Murder. Theft. Sociopaths. And Margate. Just another day in banking pre-crash 2007…” Most recently, Caffeine Nights publishing released RUSSIAN ROULETTE, Nixon’s second novel in a hardboiled series about a Russian emigre by the name of Konstantin.

ELAINE ASH: Welcome to Ashedit, Keith. Fill us in on the state of Brit Grit these days.

KEITH NIXON: You know what? I hadn’t even heard of Brit Grit until after I published my debut novel, The Fix. I guess the nearest genre to Brit Grit is noir. Ultimately it’s British based crime with a rough edge. Brit Grit is growing, there are so many authors writing really excellent, gritty crime novels. From the best-sellers like Ian Rankin, to the fast risers such as Tony Black, Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Charlie Williams and more. It’s a genre I love being part of.

Your series centers around a Russian emigre named Konstantin Boryakov. Why choose a man from this background?

 Initially Konstantin was added as a piece of humour–a tramp who claims to be KGB and hiding from Putin. [1st in the series is DREAM LAND.] He leaves his homeland because of political and internal pressures, the result of internal Cold War hierarchy, politics and threats. He’s an enigma with a dark history and darker future. I have read widely on the subject in books by Martin Cruz Smith.

You self-publish some books but also have a publisher for others.

Yes, I am still with Caffeine Nights. Russian Roulette is my second book with them. Initially I self published The Fix, had it properly edited and went through a couple of covers, the final one by Scottish designer Jim Divine. A couple of author friends read it and recommended it to Darren Laws at Caffeine. I haven’t looked back since.

As a reviewer you cover the whole waterfront! You have a presence in the US and also the UK. 

the Fix


I review for two sites – Big Al’s Books and Pals and Crime Fiction Lover. They’re quite different in their approach. Al, one of the nicest and best guys out there, leans towards indie and self publishing (he also runs the influential Indie View site). Al is US based and not genre specific. Crime Fiction Lover is firmly in the crime genre, UK based and tends towards the larger publishing houses.

I started with Al approaching 2 years ago initially as a way of reaching readers and writers as I’d just self published. What I gained was far more. I really enjoy ‘discovering’ writers who are new to me. What I soon found is that the adage that everyone has a book inside them is only partially correct. Not all self published books are well written. Part of my job is to advise people, with a constructive argument, what to potentially avoid as well as pick up.

So ultimately reviewing has generated many unexpected benefits besides finding great writers and readers. It’s also been about friendships.


Thank you Keith! Elaine HS

October 28, 2014

The Muse of Tennessee Williams, Ms Mia Phoebus – Coming Soon!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 11:58 am

One of the wonderful things about living in Los Angeles (I have to say something

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

nice from time to time, don’t I?) is the rare and wonderful people one stumbles over, lots of times by accident. Sometimes there’s an instant, delightful connection. This sums up my meeting with Mia Phoebus; poet, mezzo soprano, stentorian speaker, philosopher, and back in the summer of 1940, the muse and housemate of Tennesee Williams. He called her his “womb girl” (back then she as known as Ethel Elkovsky) and the Provincetown Tennesee Williams Theater Festival verified that she was, ” the basis for the character of Miriam in TW’s The Parade.” The New York Times also wrote about their relationship. But there’s never been a complete chronicling of the story and that’s about to change…

Elaine & Mia,  Los Angeles, 2014

Elaine & Mia,
Los Angeles, 2014

Here in Los Angeles, Melody Jackson, CEO of Smart Girls Productions planned the lunch outing (more on how this came about later) and if it weren’t for her, I’d have never met Mia. What a conversation it was! What a time 1940s Provincetown was!

(She’s still, at 93, a magnificent raconteur and speaker, sharp as a tack and can even read the menu without glasses.) There’s so much to say, so much to remember… Coming soon…


If you would like to hear her story, PLEASE leave a comment or question for Mia, or just say hello. It will mean a lot to her and I will make sure she gets every one.

October 27, 2014

E-book Formatter – CRAIG DOUGLAS

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 4:53 pm
Tags: , ,
Craig Douglas

Craig Douglas

CRAIG DOUGLAS has formatted and designed three of my books so far (under the pen-name Anonymous-9). He is located in the UK, and the faraway location has not made any difference to our excellent working relationship. I count him as a key member of my book production team. Unflappable, diligent, and more than reasonably priced, Craig formats e-books, designs chapter headers and more. Here’s a conversation with the e-book production expert himself.

ELAINE: Would you start by explaining what you do?

CRAIG: I take an overall look at a manuscript and from this I get a basic understanding how the author wants their work presented. I can help an author get their work published, step by step. I’ve formatted work so that it can be printed from Createspace. I’ve done Kindle Children’s books where the whole page is used up instead of a white border. It took me ages to work that out.

ELAINE: You designed beautiful headers and added graphics to my books. I love Craig Paul Brazill
those little touches and additions. How would someone approach you with a finished manuscript that they want to self-publish?

CRAIG: They’d simply email me and send their manuscript along, in .doc format preferably. I need to know any special formatting needs such as additional pictures needed or if there’s a special font they like for headers.  I’d need to know what outlets they want to use such a Smashwords or Amazon. If a client needs additional help publishing a formatted book online we can discuss that. I can take them through the process step by step.


Craig2ELAINE: And for the technically minded, can you explain a little of the nuts and bolts?

CRAIG: I begin by encoding and encapsulating all the bold and italicized words in HTML tags. I ASCII code all the symbols including the dashes. I used to work straight out of Notepad, but like to keep everything Chaptered and Versed in Scrivener.  From this I save to Notepad and check it all out on Amazon Kindle Previewer. The images are all chopped down to a respectable size and I turn the whole thing into a .mobi file.

There’s Smashwords too, which takes your work and batters it in its conversion process. I don’t like the feeling of being out of control, so this is my least liked process.  My favourite is the use of Sigil to create EPUB books – these can be used for just about all ebook readers including and are available to buy from Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

Sigil helps me get work into EPUB format.  You can then upload to Smashwords and Nook.  iBooks/ Barnes& Noble requires the use of an Apple Macintosh to upload. I don’t have one but I’ve thought about hiring one on iCloud… that’s a real possibility but at the moment I don’t have the custom to warrant that.

Here’s a link to my book which I designed and coded myself.

Craig Douglas was a Firing Sergeant for an Artillery Troop in Afghanistan

ELAINE: Any other “bookish” stuff you do?

CRAIG:  I’m the co-editor for an online Magazine ‘Near2TheKnuckle’ and have, along with my colleague Darren Sant released an Anthology.  We have another in the pipeline with a release date of 1st April 2015.  Oh yeah, we’ve formed a company called ‘Gritfiction Limited’ and on top of conversion services we will offer a Publishing Service to any author who wants the process hassle free.  You can check out our site at

ELAINE: Thank you Craig! Please drop him a line at

September 22, 2014

SANDRA MENDEZ Psychic Investigator and Medium

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:44 am

I met Sandra Mendez in 2008. When I called her up and explained I was conducting research as a crime writer she spent an hour on the phone generously answering questions. At the time the Grim Sleeper had resurfaced in Los Angeles and police had gone public with information about cold-case murders they felt were related to him, reaching all the way back to 1985. Sandra relayed to me that flashes of inspiration were coming to her relating to the Sleeper. She could feel him “out there” in the underbelly of Los Angeles, engorged with the satisfaction of taking lives and “getting away with it.” It was the first time she had plugged into the thoughts of a serial killer and in this case, her psychic ability was chilling. 

 The Grim Sleeper was captured about eight months after we spoke.



 Interviewing a psychic can be a rambling, quixotic experience. But sudden flashes of insight are golden and add up to real value. Here is our exchange of 18/06/2014:

How did you get started as a medium?

SANDRA MENDEZ: I’ve lived this way since I was 5 years old with no guidance from my parents. When I sensed a voice coming to me I called it “spirit” and learned not to interfere; to listen, to trust, and see what happens.

My understanding is the deceased victims want help, they want someone to speak for them. The way I learned to accept this contact is to ask first for verification that I’ve heard them clearly or understood them correctly. Over the years I have met other seers and trained quite a few for investigation work. It’s a process of trusting that you are actually hearing a nonphysical inner voice, thoughts and mental movies.

Tell me about your first case.

 SANDRA MENDEZ: A man in his fifties asked me if I could tell him how his mom passed. He was only a five-year-old kid at the time and felt no one told him the truth about it. The mother’s voice came to me the following morning and said her husband had killed her saying, ‘If he couldn’t have her no one would.’ He took her life, and she told me how, and later my client verified that his mom and dad had been separated at the time. When the death certificate was ordered it also matched the way I’d “heard” how she died.

I worked on many cases, and all were as if the spirits become your friend. They love and appreciate you [in a way] unlike any live person, and this is something that many of the intuitives I’ve met felt the same way about.

Do clients ever get a second opinion?

SANDRA MENDEZ: I’ve had clients get second opinions from famous readers like John Edwards, Sylvia Brown and James Van Praggh. We all saw the same story. Truth is truth no matter who sees it.



Another case that figured in Sandra’s cold case files was the Jana Carpenter-Koklich murder case. It went unsolved for many years until Jana’s husband Bruce was ultimately convicted as the slayer. Sandra was contacted by a detective, told that Jana, a senator’s daughter, had gone missing but her SUV had turned up with blood in the cargo area and Jana’s purse and gun left behind. She was presumed dead but with no body she was considered officially “missing.”


 SANDRA MENDEZ: The homicide detective on the case called me up and wanted to get my reading on the case. I was so happy to show this guy, and I trusted in my skill even though he said the LAPD doesn’t work with seers. So I gave him my read on the case and he tells me I’m wrong, wrong, wrong. I told him off. I said “Why are you asking if you already know?” I was angry but I was also right. They just didn’t care about finding Jana’s body. They only wanted the killer.

The case was on the news so I was able to find out more information as it got released. Jana did tell me the truth. Her husband took her life and he got life in prison.

The last thing I want to say is it’s my belief that spirits look for whomever will listen. When they trust their contact they will stick with those who can help. Dead people can move things, take things, put things in other places, touch you, and speak to you through telepathy. I’m sure there’s more, too, so for these reasons, I keep open to contact.

Find out more about Sandra and her work at:



June 23, 2014

AJ Hayes Writing Contest at Noir @ the Bar L.A.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:20 pm

The essence and style of AJ Hayes was very evident last night as crime writers and readers hoisted toasts at the bar, read excerpts of his work, and celebrated the winners of the first annual crime writing contest named after him. It was an event within an event, hosted by Noir at the Bar L.A. and held at the Mandrake Bar in Los Angeles. First, the Hat…

To the side of the stage, a battered chair sat with a brown fedora on the seat. This was the designated place of honor for AJ's hat.

To the side of the stage, a battered chair sat with a brown fedora on the seat. This was the designated place of honor for AJ’s hat. Just a few seats away, in the front row, sat Thury Hayes, AJ’s beautiful wife, anxiously waiting to hear the names of the winners.

Thury & Nestle

Eric Beetner(L) announced the talented recipients of cash prizes made possible by the excellent promotion and publicity of Steve Weddle and the Do Some Damage crew.

Angel Luis 
1st Place: Angel Luis Colon SHOTGUN WEDDINGJen Conley

2nd Place: Ray Nessly THE BALLAD OF BILLY HAYES  (Ray is pictured above with Thury Hayes)

3rd Place: Jen Conley THE REPAIRMAN (right)


Winners will be featured on DO Some Damage and also Col Bury’s Thrillers, Killers & Chillers site. CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS!

Richard Godwin sent a recording of a poem that was played out loud and Josh Stallings read some of AJ’s work to the audience:

AJ Josh


Josh 2

Below: Travis Richardson, Christa Faust, Eric Beetner (far right)

AJ Travis + Krista

Organizer Stephen Blackmore has an expressive moment with Christa Faust and friend.

AL Krista Stephen

Also reading were IVY POCHODA (L), CRAIG FAUSTUS BUCK (r),














TRAVIS RICHARDSON (shown above, seated) and SAMUEL GAILEY (L) The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore staff ably crewed the book table.


Another terrific Noir @ the Bar organized by Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmore. Thanks guys!




April 24, 2013

You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve Been Trashed

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:38 pm

A-9 Skull2When I first blogged back in 2012 about “You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve Been Screwed”  I thought it was a stand alone piece about the realities of the business-end of writing. Now that I’ve received my first one-star review on Amazon, I realize it’s a series. My latest hard-won truth is: “You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve been Trashed.”

It doesn’t matter what the reader (a verified Amazon purchaser) said about my book (HARD BITE). Everyone is entitled to an opinion and has the right to express it. Of course I disagree with the review, but that’s not what this column is about. It’s about coming to terms with reality—accepting slings and arrows right along with bouquets, and not getting too influenced by either. In my opinion, you’re not a real writer until you can handle it. At least in public. In private it’s okay to break plates and turn the air blue—along the lines of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

I write fiction that tends toward experimental. The potential for readers to “get it Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 8.29.12 PMwrong” or dislike it is higher than traditional works of genre. But I’m not a writer that likes to play it safe. That’s not where I’m happy. When I get it “right” I hear words like, “fresh, different, unique” tossed around, and I get compared to some very cool people.  Just the other day, over at the Dead End Follies blog, Benoit Lelievre wrote about one of my short stories: “I don’t think Philip K. Dick could have written this idea better, if he had been into crime fiction.” Before  my head had the chance to swell up,  a one-star review appeared on Amazon saying (among other choice nuggets),“… a pain in the butt to even read until 30% where I finally gave up and dumped the thing where it belongs. The dust.

If I were a different kind of person, I could mash up these two opinions and bring down the experimental edge to my stuff while shoring up the easy-reading part. The end result might be solid 3-star material. Agents would probably like me better if I did. But that’s not who I am. Experimental writers have always been part of the pantheon of fiction—there’s a place for me in the world. I accept my slower career trajectory—first a digital deal with Blasted Heath, then a print deal with New Pulp Press. These are smaller, more cautious deals than, say, Hilary Davidson or Frank Bill got but I’m okay with it. I’m not mainstream. My quantity is unpredictable out in the broad marketplace, and we live in a time of extreme caution among publishers. They want to “wait and see.” So my books advance by increments into the world. As long as I get to write what I want, I’m okay with that, too.

One of the milestones of getting a book distributed to a broader reading public outside the polite sanctum of the crime- writing community is getting reviews from strangers who have no vested interest in saying something nice. The first time I hit #2 on Hardboiled Mysteries, Paid in January ’13, I got 4 and 5-star reviews. The second time I hit #2 on the same list in April, and #90 on the hotly contested Thrillers, Paid list, I got my first one-star review. There it was, bonafide proof I’d reached the wider spectrum, and when that happy day came it also arrived with the truth that you can’t please everybody.

I accept my one-star review and consider it a badge of honor because the truth is you’re not a real writer until you’ve been trashed. From Edgar Allan Poe to James M. Cain to Joyce Carol Oates, bad reviews are the hallmark of any and every writer who ever made a mark. (Not that I’m anywhere near that company but I aspire to be near that company.)

Now get out there and get yourself some bad reviews.

March 25, 2013

Todd Robinson HARD BOUNCEs Los Angeles

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:01 am


ThuglitA fresh breeze blew into Los Angeles for the weekend, bringing with it the accent of New York and vigorous raconteury in the Irish tradition powered by good old American testosterone.  This heady intoxicant radiated from the person of Todd Robinson,  creator of Thuglit, one of the first  online crime publishers. Todd and his crew at Thuglit launched the careers of countless writers, (myself included under my pseudonym Anonymous-9). As long as he remained in town, Los Angeles was transformed, and writers attended his readings to listen, pay respect, and warm ourselves at his fire.

Todd’s first novel THE HARD BOUNCE is out in hard back from Tyrus Press after a ten year slog through the wilderness. Los Angeles turned out to celebrate. There was more kissing, backslapping, handshaking and hugging than an Irish wake. Comments are enabled at the end of this piece.

Elaine/Anonymous-9 & Todd Robinson at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. MG is on the cutting edge of the crime writing scene.

Elaine/Anonymous-9 & Todd Robinson at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. MG is on the cutting edge of the crime writing scene.

L to R: Erica and Josh Stallings, Dirty Words

L to R: Erika & Josh Stallings, Sabrina Ogden and Richard Ogden, who made the trip from Utah to be with us.
London, singer/songwriter with band of the same name and Todd. London had fond memories of New York club nights with Todd.

London, singer/songwriter with band of the same name and Todd. These guys had fond memories of New York club nights back in the day.

LA author CHRISTA FAUST [Butch Fatale] sparkled the party and offered props to organizer-and-exhibit- one-of-urbane-cool, ERIC BEETER, (The Devil Doesn't Want Me).

LA author CHRISTA FAUST [Butch Fatale] sparkled the party and offered props to organizer and exhibit-one-of-urbane-cool, ERIC BEETNER, (The Devil Doesn’t Want Me).

L to R: JULIA MADELEINE [The Truth About Scarlet Rose], STEVE?, ELAINE ASH [Hard Bite] and her fabulousness, ERIKA STALLINGS. fabulousness

L to R: JULIA MADELEINE [The Truth About Scarlet Rose], STEVE?, ELAINE ASH [Hard Bite] and the fabulous ERIKA STALLINGS.

AJ HAYES and lovely, well-read wife THEORY traveled up from San Diego. A gathering of noir-istas would not be complete without them.

AJ HAYES and lovely, well-read wife THEORY traveled up from San Diego. A gathering of noir-istas would not be complete without them.

Todd headlining at The Mandrake, holding the room with an excerpt from his short story collection. A bravura performance. We wanted more.

Todd headlining at The Mandrake, holding the room with an excerpt from his short story collection. A bravura performance. We wanted more.

JOSH STALLINGS gave an inspired reading from his upstart memoir, All the Wild Children, a noir memoir. There's heat around this one, as Stallings finds his stride.

JOSH STALLINGS gave an inspired reading from his upstart memoir, All the Wild Children, a noir memoir. There’s heat around this one, as Stallings extends his stride.

TODD  and co-organizer STEPHEN BLACKMORE (Dead Things].

TODD and co-organizer STEPHEN BLACKMORE (Dead Things].

Me and ALDO CALCAGNO, one of my very first editors at POWDER BURN FLASH. Aldo was introduced from the audience to huge applause from grateful readers and writers.

Me and ALDO CALCAGNO, one of my very first editors at POWDER BURN FLASH. Aldo was introduced from the audience to huge applause from grateful readers and writers. THANK YOU, Aldo.

Christa and Stephen share a bon mot at THE MANDRAKE on La Cienega, where there's always a seat for a drinking writer.

Christa and Stephen share a bon mot at THE MANDRAKE on La Cienega, where there’s always a seat for a drinking writer.

L to R: TODD MORR who read from Captain Cooker, TODD ROBINSON, eith JACLYN of Mysterious Galaxy who expertly juggled mobile book sales with an air of  effortless cool. (It ain't as easy as she makes it look.)

L to R: TODD MORR who read from Captain Cooker, TODD ROBINSON, with JACLYN of Mysterious Galaxy who expertly juggled mobile book sales with an air of effortless cool. (It ain’t as easy as she makes it look.)

Film director JOHN ALTOBELLO (find him on IMDB) engages STEPHEN BLACKMORE who appears to be signing Dead Things. John is an old friend of Todd's and dropped by for the noir.

Film director JOHN ALTOBELLO (find him on IMDB) engages STEPHEN BLACKMORE who appears to be signing Dead Things. John is an old friend of Todd’s and dropped by for the noir.

Bright young things at the party. (My fav photo of the night.) LONDON & JACLYN TAYLOR

Bright young things at the party. (My fav photo of the night.) LONDON w/ JACLYN TAYLOR

Please feel free to leave comments, below. Anything that you didn’t get to say to Todd last night, leave it here.  BUY HARD BOUNCE HERE.HARD BOUNCE

January 14, 2013

Andrew Byers – The Reviewer Interviewed

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:33 am


Andrew Byers is a book reviewer of genre literature — crime, horror,
science fiction, fantasy, pulp, etc. — and blogs about all things
bookish at Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair .  I met Andrew when he reviewed HARD BITE for . That’s when I hit upon the idea of “interviewing the interviewer,” which rarely happens. Andrew’s full bio is at the end of this piece, including an interesting tidbit about his own micropress in the works. Elaine Ash

How did you get started?

Andrew Byers: I am a reader, first and foremost, and a voracious one at that.  I am also a collector of books (5,500 books and counting) – in her more uncharitable moments, my wife would say that I am obsessed with books and that my library has taken over our home.  I am also a writer myself.  It was probably only natural that I would start reviewing books.  I think I started writing book reviews for publication at some point in the mid-to-late ‘90s and have been doing it sporadically ever since.  A few years ago I put my book-related blog together (Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair, ) and have posted many of my reviews there.  Earlier this year I also became a book reviewer for Hellnotes ( ), and you’ll see my recent reviews of horror-themed works there.

Andrew & his Assistant Editor, Crisco

Andrew & his Assistant Editor, Crisco

Elaine Ash: How do you choose a book?

Andrew Byers: I buy a lot more books than I could ever possibly read in a lifetime.  That’s kind of sick, I know, but I can’t help it.  I just love books too much to let them stay on store shelves.  I’m also a completist, so when I like an author, I generally try to collect everything they’ve ever written.  So I never lack for books to review.  But increasingly, the books choose me, at least in the sense that in the last couple years, more and more authors and publishers have contacted me directly with book review requests.  I don’t mind, of course, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to read some of the best new fiction that’s being written today.

I feel very lucky to be a book reviewer and to share my thoughts on the books I read with other readers.  It’s never been a better time to be a reader, with the increased (and unprecedented) availability of fiction today.  The biggest downside is that with the growth of self-publishing, epublishing, and small presses, it’s harder and harder for readers to find good books and good writers who may not be published by the big, traditional publishers.  That’s where people like me come in.  The cream will rise to the top, even if the books are self-published or put out by tiny presses, and reviews help people find good books to read they otherwise might never notice.


Elaine Ash: Who are the reviewers you think are the best in the land?

Andrew Byers: Would you think I’m a terrible person if I admitted that there really isn’t one particular reviewer I read obsessively?  When I’m considering picking up a new book, I Google it and try to find as many reviews as possible for that book.  I look at places like Amazon, LibraryThing, and GoodReads as a starting point, as well as independent book review sites and try to sample a cross-section of the reviews to get as broad as possible of a set of views on the books.  And frankly, sometimes negative reviews help me make my decision – if a reviewer trashes a book for doing something, then I decide if that thing bothers me too.  Many times the things that might turn off another reader don’t bother me at all.  Having said all that, the reviews on places like Hellnotes and Bookgasm are very useful because they bring together many different reviewers in one place.

Hellnotes logo

Elaine Ash: Any do’s and don’ts if you’re a writer with a book looking for reviews?

Andrew Byers: I receive review solicitations directly from authors once or twice a month.  Most are authors I know, or have previously reviewed, or at least read, but sometimes entirely unknown authors contact me.  That’s perfectly fine, I like discovering new authors, but it’s pretty clear on my website and from the books I review, that I review the kinds of books I enjoy reading: genre literature in almost all its forms, meaning science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, crime, etc.  Every now and then I receive a review request by a very well-intentioned novice romance author who has clearly sent a mass email to everyone who has ever posted a book review online.

So, rule #1: know your audience. 

Rule #2 would probably be to make your novel available to reviewers in a decent array of file formats: PDF, Kindle/MOBI, and Nook/EPUB at a minimum.  Also, it’s OK to pester me after a couple months if you haven’t seen my review pop up or heard back from me that the review has been posted, but please don’t harass.  Also, please understand if I decline to review your book.  It may just not be to my taste, so it’s probably better from your perspective that I not post that review.  Having said that, I do post negative reviews all the time, though almost never for reviews that were solicited by an author directly.  In those cases I would probably be more likely to read the book, hate it, and contact the author to let them know that I couldn’t in good conscience write a favorable review, and leave it to them if they still wanted me to write the review.

Unlike the infamous “Harriet Klausner,” I do read books I don’t care for all the time.  When I do post negative reviews, I try to clearly lay out why I didn’t like the book, with an emphasis on why the book didn’t work for me; my reasons for disliking a work might not be shared by other readers, so my negative review could still help readers find good books they enjoy reading.  Perhaps the biggest “don’t” for an author: if you don’t like a review, don’t respond in a snarky way, insult the reviewer, etc.  That’s extraordinarily unprofessional.  You will only come off looking like a chump.  This has only happened to me once, but the author in question ended up looking very bad in the exchange and lost a lot of my respect.  (And, ironically, the author was responding to a review in which I gave his book four stars out of five, but corrected some factual errors in the text.)

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about books, Elaine!  They are my true passion, and I love being able to interact with other book lovers.

Andrew Byers headshot

BIO: Andrew Byers is a book reviewer of genre literature — crime, horror,
science fiction, fantasy, pulp, etc. — and blogs about all things
bookish at Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair .  He is also an occasional guest
book reviewer at Hellnotes ( ).  He plans to
launch his own micropress for genre fiction in 2013.  A native
Virginian, he currently lives in exile in North Carolina teaching
history at Duke University with his wife and a retired Chihuahua

October 25, 2012

HARD BITE by Anonymous-9 Launches

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:12 am

Jan. 9, 2013 HARD BITE reaches #2 on AMAZON US BEST SELLER list,

Hardboiled Mysteries, Paid

October 26, 2012 HARD BITE debuts on AMAZON UK BEST SELLER ranking

at #48 in Hardboiled Mysteries!





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