August 16th, 2010

Whither the bookstore?

The New York Times reports, “Readers have gone from skipping small bookstores to wondering if they need bookstores at all. ... For readers, e-books have meant a transformation not just of the reading experience, but of the book-buying tradition of strolling aisles, perusing covers and being able to hold books in their hands. Many publishers have been astounded by the pace of the e-book popularity and the threat to print book sales that it represents. If the number of brick-and-mortar stores drops, publishers fear that sales will go along with it. Some worry that large bookstores will go the way of the record stores that shut down when the music business went digital.”

I worry, too, and do what I can about it. I do buy books at independent bookstores. Just last week I purchased Super Sad True Love Story from Powells. On the flip side, because I am awash in review copies, I don’t buy as many books as I used to. And since the downturn in the economy, I use the library a little more as well.

At the same time, my ability to afford to buy any books at all depends in part on these very bookstores that are struggling. It’s a conundrum, and I’m afraid the future is going to catch up with us before we can figure it out.
Read more here.

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How you can still be busy every day and still not actually add to your WIP

In the last two weeks, I've:

- Written 1,500 words for Sisters in Crime’s next edition of Breaking and Entering
- Written a guest blog post about my career
- Written guest blog post about writing mysteries and thrillers
- Writen guest blog post about the inspiration behind Girl, Stolen
- Read a book I promised I would consider for review
- Prepped for a 75-minute class I’ll teach at Wordstock (Portland's literary festival)
- Prepped for a nine-week class I’ll be teaching about writing mysteries and thrillers
- Prepped for my portion of a Sisters in Crime class on writing mysteries
- Reviewed page proofs for Heart of Ice
- Created a reading group guide for Heart of Ice
- Prepped for and done a radio interview
- Had online meetings about a top secret project I’m involved in - one that launches August 17

What I haven't done:
- Write my next book

I take that back. I have written a little. A very little. I was reviewing the 20,000 or so words I had written ("Good, good, ooh, that's really good) when I came across a conversation and realized it was all wrong. For one thing, it shouldn't have taken place eight hours after something happened. It should have taken place eight minutes.

Which means I have to fix it.

After taking two weeks off from writing-writing, diving back in is scary!

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Want to win a copy of Shock Point?

There's a new place to connect with and learn about authors. It's called Books on the House. And I'm one of the featured authors, as is Shock Point.

Here's what Booklist had to say about it: "The wicked stepmother motif is altered to wicked stepfather in this contemporary chiller. Cassie, 16, has suffered a year of upheavals: her parents' divorce, her mother's remarriage and new pregnancy, and the discovery that her stepfather's psychiatric practice revolves around an experimental drug that may have led to the suicides of several of his teen patients. Leading off is a horrific scene of Cassie's abduction, masterminded by her stepfather, who planted crystal meth in her room and arranged for her to be taken to a juvenile "rehabilitation" center. Organization is a strong point here. In the first part, Henry effectively shuttles between Cassie's imprisonment and the discoveries that lead to it. In the second part, Cassie must free herself and obtain evidence to save other teens from the deadly drug--all but impossible tasks in the Dickensian atmosphere of the teen facility. Along with solid plotting and suspense comes a likable heroine who's a good match for the nefarious adults in her life.

Click here to learn more and enter the drawing for one of three copies of Shock Point.

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James Hynes’ Next: The most surprising book

I just finished reading Next: A Novel. I almost gave up on it. I complained on another thread that it seemed to be all one long reverie. Boy, am I glad I kept reading to the end.

It’s about Kevin, a smart, somewhat self-absorbed editor at a university press. He has hit 50 without ever marrying or having children - although there have been several long-term girlfriends along the way. In fact, he is living with one, Sylvia, although there’s a great deal about her that he finds shallow. When he sees an ad for a high-paying editorial job in Texas, he impulsively applies. Sylvia will be traveling on business, so he doesn’t even need to tell her about the interview when he gets called.

But the flight he books leaves him with several hours to kill. Basically, in the first part of the book he wanders around Austin reliving all kinds of memories, most of them involving women he has been involved with. The writing is fluid and evocative. The author writes well about sex, which isn’t easy to do.

But still, I was growing a little bored of past reminiscing. And then came the last third of the book. I don’t want to give away what happens, but it was if I had sat down to read a mystery and a wizard showed up in the last third. Except - the wizard made perfect sense. That’s a poor analogy, and I’m sure the author, James Hynes, could do much better. But what was a story that was stuck in the past immediately landed in the gritty present and the uncertain future. And everything that had gone on before made it just that much more fitting.

Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

(PS And email if you do! Would love to discuss!)

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