Mar 26, 2009


These days everyone seems to be online and everyone has an opinion. I think the fact that there are so many opinions to choose from is pretty cool, but just having them on the web doesn;t give them legitimacy, mine included.

And in print there are a lot of opinions that are also just as questionable. Reviews are just opinions, some more informed than others. I have never read a lot of reviews simply because I prefer to form my own opinion while reading.

I think that a review should help people decide if they want to read a book, it should not give things away, and it shouldn't make personal attacks on the author. At Crimespree we do our best to be fair and generally avoid negative reviews because we'd rather not devote any space to a book we don't like.
I don't expect people to read a review I write and let that be the only deciding factor in buying a book. What I hope to do is point people to books I enjoyed and hope that they look into the books further.

With more and more newspapers closing down, or at least getting rid of book reviewers reviews are harder to find. Thus the internet is a place people turn to. I think that the best way to approach looking for reviews is to find a person who shares your taste, see what books they 've reviewed positively that you enjoy also. And as with any opinion, take every thing you read with a grain of salt and an open mind.

There are a lot of great reviewers out there, so find a few youreally agree with and try not to get overwhelmed by the volume of reviews.

On that note, the new Brian Wiprud book, FEELERS is really fun, the new Barry Eisler is great, Laura Lippman has another winner with her latest.
And if you haven't read Dave White yet, pick up one of his books. And JT Ellison has a number of great books out.

And don't forget, if you are near Minneapolis this Saturday head over to Once Upon A Crime for Write of Spring, a boatload of authors will be there,and so will we!

Happy reading!

Mar 20, 2009

The Joe Konrath Blog Tour-palooza 2009

JA Konrath Interviews Jack Kilborn

JA: Thanks for taking time to answer some questions, Jack.

Jack: I’ve heard of you. You write those chick novels, right?

JA: I write about a female cop who chases serial killers. Some folks think they’re pretty scary. Both men and women enjoy the series, but it’s a bit harder-edged than the average suspense novel.

Jack: Aren’t you the guy that visited 600 bookstores in one summer? Signed thousands of books?

JA: That’s me.

Jack: I haven’t seen your name on any bestseller lists.

JA: So, how would you describe AFRAID?

Jack: I tried to write a thriller that included every kind of fear possible. Fear of the dark, or being chased, of drowning, of authority, of burning, of losing a loved one, of pain, of disfigurement…and, of course, fear of being horribly murdered.

JA: What’s the plot?

Jack: A helicopter crashes near the small town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin. It’s so tiny it has a population of 904. But not for long.

JA: So the helicopter lets something loose in town?

Jack: Something horrible. The town can’t defend itself either—no police force. Soon it’s quarantined, and everyone is fighting for their lives.

JA: I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy of AFRAID. It scared the hell out of me.

Jack: Thanks. I’m predicting that at least 25% of people who start the book won’t be able to finish it because it’s too frightening. It gave me nightmares when I was writing it.

JA: There certainly are some memorable scares.

Jack: I didn’t use any chapters in the book. My goal was to go from one high point to another without any breaks. I hope it worked.

JA: It worked for me. You call it “technohorror.” What is that?

Jack: The technothriller genre is about fusing modern day science and technology with big thrills. Michael Crichton perfected the form, which has been used to great success by Dan Brown, James Rollins, Steve Berry, and many others. Technohorror views technology in a more sinister way.

JA: Do you think the scenario in AFRAID could happen?

Jack: I wouldn’t be surprised if it already has.

JA: You’ve sort of come out of nowhere. Care to share your writing background?

Jack: It’s probably similar to yours. Bitten by the writing bug at a young age, getting a lot of rejections, finally landing a two-book deal with a big publishing house.

JA: Are you going on a book tour to promote AFRAID?

Jack: Not like you do. I’ll attend a few signings, go to a few conferences.

JA: I like the Afraid Game on your website.

Jack: Thanks. It’s a fun little Flash thing I did. People seem to enjoy it.

JA: There’s also an excerpt from AFRAID on

Jack: Almost forty pages worth. A healthy dose of horror. I’ve already gotten some hate email, people saying it’s too graphic. But it’s not really graphic. It’s violent, sure, but I leave most of the details up to the reader. Do you have excerpt on your website?

JA: Yes. I have entire books on my website. I’m not doing an excerpt for CHERRY BOMB, though. That’s because at the end of my last Jack Daniels novel, FUZZY NAIL, there was a cliffhanger, so I don’t want it to leak out early what the big secret is. The book isn’t out until July.

Jack: Can’t people just go on eBay right now and buy an advance reading copy of CHERRY BOMB for like five bucks?

JA: So what’s next for Jack Kilborn?

Jack: I just finished TRAPPED, my follow up to AFRAID. It’s not a sequel, but it is technohorror and explores many of the same themes. The people who have read it believe it’s scarier than AFRAID is.

JA: I don’t see how that’s possible.

Jack: I’ll send you a copy.

JA: Thanks. I’d be happy to blurb it.

Jack: I’m sort of holding out for blurbs from bestselling authors, if you don’t mind. No offense.

JA: No offense taken. Maybe you’d like to blurb one of my books, if you have time.

Jack: One of those chick books? Sure. But I can’t promise I’ll like it.

JA: CHERRY BOMB has a four page sex scene, several torture-murders, and an extended female fist fight.

Jack: I’ll give you my address so you can send me a copy.

Jack Kilborn is the author of the technohorror novel AFRAID, already released by Headline Books in the UK, and coming to the US on March 31 from Grand Central Publishing. Visit him at

JA Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jack Daniels thrillers. His sixth, CHERRY BOMB, is being released by Hyperion in July. Visit him at

Mar 17, 2009

The Best 24 Hours

So there times when it becomes so clear to me why Jon and I love whatever it is we actually do in this community and the last couple of days has to truly represent those feelings. Firstly, I got to read books from Ace Atkins and Megan Abbott before the pub date. Secondly we had a lovely Sunday brunch with great new friends we would have never met if not for our love of mysteries. We got a note from another mystery friend and it was all great news. But last night was truly the best as I dove into the anthology edited by sister Jennifer Jordan. UNCAGE ME has an impressive cast of authors, a great theme and the stories I've conquered so far may well have contributors vying with one another for award nominations. I cannot wait for everyone to be able to read this and share with me. Proud? You bet your sweet ass.

And right now I'm wallowing in the memory of another St. Patty's day with a house full of people celebrating each other and Ken Bruen. That night was snowy and cold, this one finds us with all the windows open and a temperature of 65.

Life is great here in the hinterlands, Happy St. Patty's Day. Stay away from green beer. It changes the color of your urine and that can't be a good thing.


Mar 16, 2009

It's Coming

Uncage Me

Jen Jordan's second Anthology
The follow-up to 2007's Expletive Deleted. New stories from Scott Phillips, Allan Guthrie, Christa Faust, Victor Gischler, J.A. Konrath, J.D. Rhoades, Declan Burke, Brian Azzarello, Steven Torres, Stewart Macbride, Simon Kernick, Patrick Bagley, Greg Bardsley, Stephen Blackmore, Tim Maleeny, Nick Stone, Martyn Waites, Talia Berliner, Maxim Jakubowski, Gregg Hurwitz, Blake Crouch, and more! As if all of that wasn't enough, there's an introduction by New York Times best selling author John Connolly.

Mar 13, 2009

Pop Goes the Culture

I don't know if I'm starting to be just a little more alert or if my mind is coasting to such a degree that "pop culture" is all it can handle in it's spongy condition. Beginning last Thursday Night and ending last night with the late night news I've been quite pleased on a number of fronts and so I'll share

The Book: LIFE SENTENCES by Laura Lippman.

Long time fans know of Laura's Memory Project which is updated at least monthly on her web site. She is definitely interested in Memoir as a form. The fiction writer in her has put this to extremely good use in this year's Stand-alone novel LIFE SENTENCES. The story of a memoir writer who hears a name from her past while on tour for the first novel she probably should have never written leads to another compelling read for both long time and new fans. One of Lippman's greatest strengths as a novelist has always been her character development and there isn't a character within these pages who doesn't get the Lippman treatment. Add in a compelling story and the flawed memories of a group of people and the result is a novel that explores everything from forty years of race relations in our northernmost southern city to the tragedy of unconditional love.

The Movie: The Watchmen

Yup, there I was in line for the midnight showing of Watchmen last Thursday thinking I was way too old to sandwich a midnight movie in between two 12 hour work shifts. And then the credits rolled. It was grand and I've enjoyed all of the reviews pro and con. The movie is true to the characters and to the spirit of intent with which Moore penned the original novel. It isn't meant to be super hero grand but rather to show the fallibility of those we'd deem super. Roger Ebert wrote a great review from the perspective of someone who'd never read the book & EW is covering ever facet of viewer. If you haven't seen it yet go this weekend and let us know what you think.

The Channels:

I mentioned the brain mush and I've become addicted to two television channels. First is the Food Network which had me doing my first ever shredded pork, complete with brine and rub and my own mac and cheese but with little goldfish for the crust instead of my go to croutons. and second is the Style Network's Clean House. I love watching other people clean up their debris while I snuggle on my couch with a cat.

The Reunion:

Yes I watched ER last night and I haven't seen the show in years. But the writing was top notch, seeing old "friends" memorable (a gentle Benton, a well adjusted Ross and Hathaway). Ernest Borgnine broke my heart just a little and Susan Sarandon was subtly understated as she let go of her grandson. The scene between her and Doug when he asked, "Was he generous?" Was as compelling an argument for organ donation as I've ever seen. Best of all was seeing private practice surgeon Benton observe surgery on his close friend and be unable to stop himself from teaching. So I was chuffed.

I also bought newish music from The Fray, The Killers, Franz Frednand and Morrissey. Pop goes the culture, now back to the books.


Love Your Independant Bookstores

Joe Hill is doing something very nice and very generous.
In order to help independent bookstores he is running a contest to help them drum up more business. Details are here on his blog.

And you should just read his blog anyway, he's a sharp guy that Joe Hill.

The contest is pretty simple, buy books at an independent bookstore. Follow the simple instructions and you could win really cool stuff.

And don't forget, we're running a contest as well. Send me a phot of you buying a new book, with the bookstore in the shot and you are entered into a drawing to win some of the extra books we've been buying. Some authors are sending us books to give away as well.
Send your photos to
The original blog post for the contest is here.

I think the message is getting pretty clear,

Mar 8, 2009

Marketing in a down economy

Depending who you talk to or listen to the world is collapsing around us, doing ok, and in a few rare case everything is groovy.

Over all adult Fiction sales are still good. Some bookstores are hanging it up, but others are doing ok, and I even saw one source that reported sales down only 5%. I'm pretty sure that isn't reflective of independents, but thats what I saw.

So, here's what I want to talk about. The economy being what it is means a few things, people not spending as much money (though still buying mysteries apparently). Publishers are spending a lot less money promoting. This means that promotion more than ever falls into the hands of the authors. There are things you can do, even without a big budget.
Naturally I think advertising in Crimespree is a great idea and we are running a anniversary special right now.

There are other things you can do. First decide how much time and money you are willing to commit to your promotion.

Second, you need to work within your own comfort levels.

Play to strengths. Focus on book stores that have been supportive of you. If you can't afford to visit them this year, come up with something special to get them excited that will make them want to sell the book. And I'm not talking about sending them bookmarks. Come up with something to motivate them.

Touring on your own cash reserves requires careful planning. Go to place you can drive to. Stay with friends. Try to book events with other authors and increase the chances of people coming to the event. If you are going to spend the money on airfare and hotel, do it in places where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. A city where you can also do drive bys, or somewhere that will also open to library events is a good idea. Maybe pick a town that you know to be media freindly.
You need to do signings and events, but it can be done carefully and almost affordably.

Reach your readers. Get your readers excited about your book. Utilize your blog and website. Have contests with incentives for people to buy the book.

I think the most important thing is to be smart about your spending. An expensive book trailer won't be as cost effective as a well run ground campaign. Laying out big bucks on a video and then paying a bunch of money to place it is not as economically sound as other ideas which would probably reach more people.

Internet presence is important, but don't forget, everybody else is on Twitter, facebook, myspace and has a blog. While that should be part of your plan, that sure better not be the whole plan. You'll get lost in the crowd.

You need people to get excited about your book and you. Come up with a hook that will grab attention.

I have some ideas that I'm talking to some people about and I think they are going to be pretty helpful. I don't want to be open with all of them because obviously they are less effective if everyone does them.

Keep optimistic. The business may be going through some changes, but everything changes. In the end, I think this could be a real chance for some people to really try some new things and open up some great doors for themselves. Think outside the box, get yourself noticed.


Mar 6, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen?

We did, at midnight last night, and I thought it rocked.

Mar 5, 2009

Mar 4, 2009

MaRcH MADNESS!!! - Free Books?

I've been reading and hearing an awful lot of talk about the state of publishing. Everyone has an opinion and a lot of people think they have the answers. I've talked to people actually in publishing, I've talked to authors and people in publicity and marketing. I've read many a blog post on the subject.

Well... We here at Crimespree Magazine have got it figured out.
Our team of research scientists have determined what needs to be done to ensure the future of publishing, and even how to pinpoint the help towards our genre.



It sounds so easy doesn't it?


Tonight we went to a signing event. To support the author and his publisher we bought two copies of his book. You can't tour and you can't publish if people don't buy books.
We bought a bunch of other books to. That helped support other publishers and authors we like.
And it helps the bookstore we bought them at. Bookstores rock, they help me find books, they carry books that I would not see on the internet because I'm not looking for them.

Times are tight, and you certainly don't need me to tell you that. But almost everyone should be able to afford to buy books every now and again.
Make your money count.

Spend your money where you want it to do the most good. Pick a favorite store, pick a favorite author or publisher and BUY A BOOK. Buy a paperback, a hardcover, buy a trade paperback or audio book. Every little bit will help.

It's probably no surprise that here at the Crimespree Magazine world headquarters in lovely downtown Milwaukee we receive free books to review. In truth, we get a lot of books. There are very very few books we would need to buy because we get them free.
But tonight I went and bought books anyway.

Next week Bryan Gruley is coming to Milwaukee to sign his debut novel for folks at Mystery One Bookstore. We have received 4 free copies of this book already. Next Thursday night I'll but a few more copies anyway. Why? Because I want Bryan to be able to write more books and I want Touchstone Publishing to keep publishing books.

So here's what I propose to you dear readers.

Go to a bookstore. Go to a signing.

Send me a picture of you in a bookstore with a new book and I'll enter you in a drawing to win some of these extra books I'm buying.

Simple no?

Picture of you with a new book in a bookstore sent to me, and a chance to win a free book.

Any authors interested in donating books for this drawing feel free to contact us.

Email me at:

Drawing will be held on Tax day, April 15th

We may even run the pictures in Crimespree.

Mar 3, 2009

The late night wars ?

I'm not sure why they called it that the first time, and I don't know if it really is one this time.
Leno on at 9:00 pm.... Ok, no NBC for me.
Letterman is still good, but I think a bit past his prime.

So who do I think is the king of late night TV?

CRAIG FERGUSON hands down.
He's funny, he's smart, he makes his guests feel great, and almost always makes them laugh. He's even well read. he has had a lot of authors on the show and he's actually read the books. Ferguson is a man having fun and making sure everyone near him is having fun with him. The man should have a three hour show every night.

Mar 1, 2009

The State of the Written Word


I am having a truly remarkable session of Spring reads. Many are not out there for the public yet and so I'll refrain from going into detail but if the mystery community is alarmed at the state of all things published I need to Reassure readers... from picking up established favorites, to delving into new names the caliber of what I'm reading is outstanding. Bruen, Child, Atkins, Stabenow, King, and the list goes on. New books coming from Rucka, Hurwtitz, Connelly and Connolly are all remarkable.

Not only that, I'm hearing good news on other fronts. Long time friend Joe Wallace has a book deal. It's the story of the girl who struck out Babe Ruth. We're eagerly awaiting this. And maybe best of all... crossing our desk not long ago DARK PARADISE by Lono Waiwaiole. The writer of the fabulous Wiley series is back and has a great story for readers.

And while my fellow mystery fans get ready to leave the Big Island and say good-bye to Left Coast Crime, I'm here in the hinterland seeing the first true signs of Spring. Tim Dorsey is making his way to Milwaukee on Tuesday night. If you're here in Wisconsin come join us at Mystery One. Mystery One also has Barry Eisler ushering in Spring on the 23rd, and of course on the 28th of March Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis will hold its annual Writes of Spring.

Almost five years ago I penned a little column for the first Crimespree, directing readers to author signings and asking them to hunt out their favs, stop by their favorite bookstore to visit and lend support. That hasn't changed. In fact now more than ever is the time to make your way to book signings; Library, Storefront, or a s part of a lecture series, meeting your favorite authors on tour is harder now than five years ago. Fewer authors are touring period and the extensive tour is nearly non-existent this year. Only our numbers at these events will change the Publishers minds. It's on us people, so get to work and find one more event to go to this year than last. And please support someone new. Touring is always long, time away from writing, time away from home. But that first tour can be pretty challenging with low turnouts and mediocre book sales. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

In this time where the base line of quality product seems to be growing, and the community itself holding it's own, it's time for us to give back. So write a letter to a fav author or a post on their latest book for the internet. Spend when you can and visit the library often. We can read and we can share great experiences. That's what we, THE READERS do for the people trying to figure out the industry and the people writing the books in these uncertain times.

Hayseed Dixie - Hells Bells

Parody at its best