I am celebrating for many of my friends who can now be married thanks to the Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage across all 50 states. While this puts me strongly in the majority of my publishing friends and colleagues and many of the friends I grew up with in theater and choir, it also puts me at odds with much of my family and many more of my childhood friends.
For some historical context, I was raised in an evangelical Christian household and went to private Baptist schools until high school. I made some very close friends during this time who still are active in this religious tradition as well as most of my immediate family members including my parents and my sister. I love these people dearly and it hurts me that they can’t celebrate this great moment in our country because of their interpretation of the Bible. It also hurts me to see so many people I respect who are celebrating this decision also expressing judgmental and angry opinions about anyone who disagrees with it. While there are many, many people who come to that view from an ignorant and hateful or manipulative place (I’m looking at you entire slate of Republican presidential nominees), there are others who are truly conflicted between their desire to love and their desire to live their view of a biblical life.
It’s easy to knock on evangelicals for being so aggressive in spreading their view of the gospel and their view of the world, but as someone who grew up in that world I can emphatically state that almost all of them do it from a place of love and a desire to save the world from a fiery eternity. What the world sees as annoying and aggressive Bible thumping, they see as yelling to the world about an impending danger.
This doesn’t mean they’re right, but it means that, like most things in life, there is no black and white, no good guys and bad guys. These are complicated humans with emotions and fears and desires and failures. I’m saying this to myself as much to anyone else. It’s easy to get frustrated and condemn dissenting voices, but this is America and the wrong voices get to have as much say as the right voices.
So I will celebrate my gay friends and my secular straight friends and I will have lively and engaging discussions in person with friends and family about these issues at family holidays, but this is likely all you will hear from me about this issue on social media. This is not because I’m ignorant or afraid of defending my positions, it’s because social media discussion of complex issues is like defending yourself against a murder rap using old episodes of Law and Order in a language you have only a passing fluency in.
Becky and I went to see Jurassic World on Saturday and it was everything I could hope for in a summer popcorn movie about killer dinosaurs. Due to scheduling and babysitting needs, the only show we could go see was the 3-D IMAX one. That turned out to be a key point in our enjoyment of the film. That look on Chris Pratt’s face above is how we looked up at the giant screen the whole time. IMAX 3-D has come a long way in even the 3 years since I last saw Tron: Legacy.
But really, this movie was awesome. It was funny and scary and sweet and intense. It had all of the major plot failings of summer movies, of course, but the CGI wasn’t nearly as distracting and fake looking as I had been led to believe. Even in the giant versions we were looking at. Aside from giant plot holes though, the film was also really smart is some spots, especially it’s commentary on theme parks, and greed, commercialization (I REALLY want to see what a PepsiSaurus would look like) and sequels. Anyone who has spent significant time at a massive theme park will find special delight in these moments.
And the world of Jurassic World really feels alive and lived in. I feel like this was a park I could actually go to after the movie (you know, if everyone hadn’t been eaten recently). Even what was put forth as the stupidest part of the movie – why in the hell would anyone create such a horribly misguided dinosaur as the one that highlights this film – had a logical, believable answer.
The best part though, is how this movie deals with the original in both scathing and sentimental ways. There is a phenomenal cameo at the very end that really made me smile. This was by far my favorite in the series since the first one. It had all of the wow and commentary about humanity as the first one, with the zip bam pow action and humor of the third one. And let’s talk about how HUGE Chris Pratt is going to be.
First, let me say how much I love indie bookstores. So far I’ve had incredible support from my local indie Aunt Agatha’s as well as Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale and Murder by the Book in Houston that gave me spots on their event schedules, but I’m also looking for an audience outside of just the core mystery audience and that means sales from big chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble.
When Murder Boy first came out in March, I went around to the local Barnes and Noble stores to ask them to carry the book and was met with mixed to disappointing results. Aside from the Flint store where I had my book launch, no other store carried any copies, including the two closest to my house. That was disappointing. But the thanks to the unceasing effort of Jason and the sales reps at The distributor, over the last week or so, it’s start showing up on the New Mystery shelf at all of the Michigan stores which is just cool. That picture above was taken at the store down the road from me in Northville but I’ve been in the Ann Arbor and Brighton stores as well where I was received graciously when I asked to sign their copies.
As disappointed as I was in the beginning when the book wasn’t showing up, this gives it new life after the initial wave of publicity was starting to wear out. So all that crap writers spout about patience being vital in this business really, really is true.
You’ve seen the Riot Load cover, right? RIGHT? Well now I’ve added a summary to go with it so you can get an idea of what sort of trouble Dominick gets into. Again.
But before you get all geeked about Riot Load, you need to read Murder Boy. And as part of my publisher’s Big Summer Sale, you can get your very own digital copy of Murder Boy for just $2.99 at your favorite online retailer ( I know we’re supposed to be retailer neutral here and that link to my publisher provides all of the relevant buy links, but Amazon is HUGE and making their digital bestseller lists helps with visibility so if you have a Kindle or can read Kindle books on your phone or computer I’ll add an easy link here. Don’t tell anyone, okay?). Go buy many copies. Please. And leave a review. Pretty please.
In other news, the event at The Mysterious Bookshop went great. I had so much fun talking with Patti and seeing all of our friends and being in new York City for a book event. That’s lifetime dream stuff, folks, and I got it with my first book. I’ve had a very charmed experience so far and won’t soon forget it or the people who helped get me here. But that event officially ends my event schedule for Murder Boy so now we’re in full-on GetTheNextBookDoneASAP mode. I talked a bit about it at the event and people seem to be excited to read it.
The kids liked parts of New York City, but I think they were too young (and too suburban) to really get the full experience. It’s an inconvenient city under the best circumstances, but adding tired kids and a schlep from New Jersey to the mix proved fatal to our ultimate enjoyment of the trip. We did have some fun memories (see some of them in my Flickr album) though and the kids have cool Statue of Liberty toys, but I think it’ll be a decade or so before we return as a family. Also, if I never drive another mile in the State of New Jersey I’ll be a happy man. What a confusing stew of insanity.
Here’s a picture Jason took at the Mysterious Event. People were shocked that I looked professional and that was cool. I look high/or tired but really I was just looking in the wrong direction when Jason took the picture.
Instead of a view from the hotel room, this is the lobby of the hotel we’re staying at off the highway just outside of the Poconos resort area in Pennsylvania. This place has Stephen King written all over it, but more 1408 than The Shining. It’s dated as all get out, but doesn’t really seem run down or dirty.
Our original plan was to drive straight through, but the mix of torrential rain, exhaustion, and the ever-baffling New Jersey highway system but the squash to that so here we here at the very first Howard Johnson’s I’ve ever stayed at. If no one hears from us again, blame the hotel.
I’ll be doing the tourist thing in New York City most of the day with Becky who wanted to come here for her birthday. But in celebration of my awesome signing last night at The Mysterious Bookshop I have a surprise for you: The fancy schmancy official cover reveal for RIOT LOAD. Oooohhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhh. Am I right? Thanks to Jason Pinter and his team of awesome designers at Polis Books for putting this together. My amazement at what Polis is capable of increases every day.
But wait, you say, wasn’t this trip supposed to end in New York City? You’re right random Internet question asker, and it will in a few hours. But since I have Becky and the kids with me, we needed more space than what we can afford in Manhattan, so New Jersey it is. The Embassy Suites in Secaucus to be specific. We’re right across from a New Jersey Transit bus stop which I will be taking in a few hours to Manhattan for my signing at the Mysterious Bookshop.
So far I can’t say I’m all that impressed by New Jersey. Not even ten minutes into the state we were almost killed twice by NJ drivers. And the highway system is a baffling mix of confusion and stupidity. I have never seen exit signs so small and so poorly placed. But for now, I have a shower to take and a smell to cover up so we’ll talk soon.
That’s me with Heather Ash, Secretary of the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the woman who did a great job getting me set up for two signings in the MWA tent at the Printers Row Lit Fest. I had a blast hanging out with my new friends in the tent and at a Mexican buffet party afterward, but the key moments for me were getting a chance to talk to readers who would likely never step into a mystery book store or the mystery section of a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million
Because the Lit Fest is sponsored by the Chicago Tribune and located in a chunk of town home to at least three universities, the crowds swarming by the MWA tent were loaded with readers of all stripes and lots of writers as well. Two key demographics I was able to hit at this event were teenagers, specifically teenage girls, and college writing students.
MURDER BOY is not just about a disgruntled creative writing student, it’s about figuring out what being a writer means in the real world and the dichotomy between the type of writer we want to be and the type of writer we end up being. It’s also A LOT about identity and maturity and failed attempts at adulthood. This is the stuff that resonates with lots of readers outside of the genre, but who I may never get the chance to come across except at events like this.
The mystery community is great and I love signing at conferences and great indie bookstores, but the excitement of selling books to two sisters who liked my tattoo and had no idea who Elmore Leonard was and selling a book to a passing guy who had a Tom Robbins and a Charles Buckowski book under his arm were a different kind of thrill and one I’d like to do again. The crime fiction genre is in a desperate need of youth and diversity and I think events like BEA (next year in Chicago) and The Associated Writing Programs conference can be great for this, but I’m at a loss after that for how to get in these readers’ orbits. Any suggestions are welcome.
I’m in Chicago to sign books at the Printers Row Lit Fest with my new friends at the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter. I am staying at the Palmer House Hilton in quite possible the smallest hotel room ever. It’s just big enough for a twin bed, a desk, and a TV stand. It has a small bathroom and closet as well and it’s perfect for $134 smack in the heart of the city.
My original plan was to stay with a friend about an hour outside of the city, but since I am up to my eyeballs in deadlines and in the middle of the Great Illness Catch Up Of 2015, I don’t really have the luxury of spending that much time driving and socializing. When I found this place online this morning I took it as a sign. Between the perfect size and the crappy wifi reception, I have gotten SO much stuff done.
But now I need to finish up the last of that work and then get to the MWA Party. More tomorrow.
I need to get off of social media for a good long while because I have A LOT of stuff due this month, including finishing the first draft of RIOT LOAD. I’m done for a while trying to sell folks copies of MURDER BOY and I don’t imagine anyone will complain too loudly about me being scarcer around Facebook and Twitter for a while. I can still be reached by email for gossip and social faffery and I’ll likely find myself writing here more to communicate what I’m eating and what sort of banal thoughts I have while cooking instead of doing it in real time on social media. Lucky you.
I do have a few events though this month in Chicago and New York City so check out the Appearences page and lock me into your calendar.