Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Hi, E-guerrilla followers-- Just wanted to let you know that E-Guerrilla is now at www.booksbnimble.com/blog . Well, actually I couldn't take the name with me, so I think I'd have to say E-guerrilla IS the blog  now known as  www.booksbnimble.com/blog/ . I'd sure appreciate it if you'd "follow" me there as well. It sure is nice having you here!

Just to complicate things further, I also have a second site and second blog as well! It's http://cursebustersbook.com/, where I blog as myself as well as the two characters in my new YA book,  CURSEBUSTERS! But that's all a huge job. So I'm trying to mostly post at  the cursebusters site during the next couple of months, since the book is just out. I'd love it if you could follow me there as well. (I'll also try to double-post on bbn  for your convenience, but I may not have time for the
pix! )  Love you, appreciate your kind attention, and hereby inviting you to stick with me!  Julie

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weekend With the Grandes Dames

Margaret Maron
I seem to have grown up.  Last Thursday I took off for what I thought was going to be a weekend with the girls--aka Malice Domestic, a gathering of mystery fans and writers--and ended up hanging with the distinguished grandes dames Nancy Pickard,
Nancy Pickard
Margaret Maron, and Sue Grafton. About three days ago we were the Class of '82,  more or less ( that year, definitely, for Sue and me, '81 for Margaret and somewhere around there for Nancy).  We were all so bright-eyed and hopeful. Who knew what the next zillion years would bring?

Sue Grafton
But looking at the way the fans worshipped those ladies, I realize that, yes, my friends really have achieved grande dame status, and how lucky I am to have been in that class. We kicked some butt. We woke up the tired old cliche-ridden detective novel and breathed new life into it. It was a Renaissance!  So imagine my surprise when, about a year ago, I heard those exact same words come out of the mouth of  Dennis Lehane, with regard to HIS class, not surprisingly all boys except for Laura Lippman and S.J. Rozan, who received only glancing mentions. Maybe every generation of writers feels that way,

But I digress. (Sorry, that incident made quite an impression.) What I meant to say is that if you want a weekend of laughs and giggles, spend it with the grandes dames. What a great time!  Now Malice is a convention celebrating the "traditional mystery," which generally means one a good deal tamer than either Sue or I write. But she was there to be honored for  Lifetime Achievement and I was there actually as her most devoted friend, but officially to interview her.

Which I did, amid many more laughs and giggles, and if I do say so, I was able to uncover a major scoop regarding the iconic mystery writer.  I harangued her in the manner of Barbara Walters until she gave up the Youtube channel that uncovers the heretofore closely guarded secrets of her private life and revealed it to the assembled masses. Thus, the cat, to severely mix a metaphor, is out of the bag. This cat has feathers. For enlightenment, proceed instantly to YouTube and plug in the secret code:
stevenhumphrey6100 . And then eat this blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

E-Book Pricing and Big Bucks

Mike Shatzkin
Mike Shatzkin, who knows more than anyone about digital books just wrote about pricing, and also dropped a dynamite plug for self-publisher John Locke.  (That is, he's a self electronic publisher) Has anyone read him? Shatzkin seemed to think he was the new Lee Child. (Well, he didn't say that--he just pretty much said Locke's as good as they get.) Where have I been?

He MUST be good. According to Shatzkin, Locke made over $100,000 in March! Jeez. If he does that every month, he's raking in $1.2 million a year!

But pricing. Well Mike had a lot to say, so first, the link:  http://www.idealog.com/blog/  .  Locke sells his books for 99 cents and challenges Big Six publishers to prove their books are ten times better. You can bet Mike has some ideas about that.

This, to my mind is the most fascinating thing he said: "Sooner or later, a big publisher or two will start seriously experimenting with this. They will gain knowledge that will enable them to tell an author or agent, “we know things about pricing that are worth real revenue to you if you publish with us.” When that happens, it will likely be more significant to an author than an increase in the ebook royalty rate would be. Maybe a publisher can even add enough value with pricing savvy to pay for their cut!"
John Locke

Now that is a thought!

But wait, I can't thinking about Locke. I  just Googled him.

He's only written four books! (Well, four in his best-selling series.) Mike based his piece on a Wall St. Journal story built around Locke--http://on.wsj.com/dYer7A  --that indicated he was being conservative. The WSJ said Locke's March take was $126,000! Get this: "In March, he sold 369,000 downloads on Amazon, up from about 75,000 in January and just 1,300 in November."

'Bye, now. I'm off to download a Locke title. Just gotta see what I'm missing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


CURSEBUSTERS!, my YA paranormal time-travel, coming-of-age adventure, complete with feisty teen-ager and talking cat,  isn't out for almost another month, but you gotta see the trailer anyhow.
 You just gotta. It can't wait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Good girl goes bad: Abby Buchmeyer as teen-age burglar Reeno Dimond
We're got a new video! Almost got it loaded up. But here's the news:  We produced our first video (other than author interviews) in a cool eleven months. The new one: Four days flat! We might finally be getting the nimble part down.

This one's a trailer for my upcoming YA book, CURSEBUSTERS!, an actual print book published not by us, but Bold Strokes Books.  But publishers usually don't do videos. We're exceptional that way. So who ya gonna call? Us, of course. Despite past glitches. Like the time the streets ran pink with blood. Light pink. What we learned from that one:  1) Always check the props. 2) No need for that phony stuff anyhow. Ketchup works just fine.

On the set with Monster Kitty Boy and cat wrangler Adrienne Parks, b.g. ; that's Andy Forest getting down to the co-star's level
For this one, we were a little unnerved by the W.C. Fields admonition never to work with kids or animals. Because the CURSEBUSTERS! trailer had to have both--a kid star, a roomful of kid extras, and a cat. Actually, a talking cat. But guess what? Everything went like we were MGM! What we learned--get the right personnel. The kid actors came from the acting program at Metairie Park Country Day School, the star recommended by a teacher, the others recruited by the star. And that would be Abby Buchmeyer, who proved the very personification of my unruly character Reeno. Well, I mean she proved able to PLAY Reeno; there was actually no indication whatsoever that Abby is the type of girl who'd ever consider burgling as a career.

The cat? Well, we just plain made a feline discovery, that's all. Our co-star didn't come out of any acting program, but he did turn in a great audition. Meaning he didn't take anyone's face off. However, we still had our doubts. A.B., the ninja assassin cat in the book, is a gigantic orange beast, while the co-star, Monster Kitty Boy, is a well-bred Siamese. But a great actor can make you believe anything. If the lovely brunette Abby can make us think she's a pink-haired burglar, then a Siamese could make us believe he's not only murderous, but British. Aha! Didn't see that coming, did you? Well, Monster Kitty Boy does an amazing British accent.

As for  our intrepid guerrilla videographer, Andy J. Forest  deserves his own blog entry. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Sam Spade recently attended church, though if he weren't immortal, he'd probably be spinning in his grave over it.  (On the other hand, a lot of people might think it's high time.) What happened was, I gave a talk on THE MALTESE FALCON at a library and one kind attendee decided to try the book out on her church reading group.

Can you imagine the scope? I don't know if they approached it in a churchly way, but, really, the moral ambiguity! There's sure plenty to talk about. What I'm pretty sure about (from her subsequent letter) is that they approached it in ways that were different from the way a writer might. This writer anyhow. I'm hardly ever one to analyze what a writer was thinking (like that green light in Gatsby. Unless Fitzgerald actually said what he meant it to mean--and maybe he did, I don't know--I'm just not crazy to second-guess him.)

I learned to be leery about this when Eudora Welty came to speak to my college writing class and some kid asked her about symbolism.  In that gorgeous lilting southern accent she said innocently, "Symbolism? Why, I don't use symbolism in my books."  She drew out the "I" to about three syllables.
"Uh...Miss Welty, hello? Phoenix?" the kid said. "As a character's name?"  "Oh, Phoenix," she said, "I've always thought that was such a LOVELY name."

Well, no doubt she was having fun with him, but still, a writer looks at things differently. If I'm analyzing why a writer did something, I'm much more inclined to look at a mechanical reason--he needed a vehicle to make X happen, for instance--than a fancy metaphorical reason. This is because the writer's focused on telling the story rather than obscuring it, I think. But the brain is what it is, it  tells stories differently and it loves symbols; so they end up in a work of art whether they're intended or not. It makes connections that the simple and hapless writer might not have even suspected. And so I pass on to you the questions that my correspondent asked me after taking Sam to church:

"1.  What was the purpose of the Flitcraft Story -- I found it fascinating -- but no one was really able to understand its role in the novel.

2.  What was the role/purpose of The Fat Man's daughter in the novel?"

I could  pretend I know my asterisk from my apostrophe and walk all over those with big clumsy writer shoes, but the hard-boiled truth is, I'm just not qualified. Isn't there a scholar out there with a better grasp of this sort of thing? Come on now, it's not every day Sam Space goes to church!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


It’s all PHONE KITTEN all the time, now that we’ve got the second edition out. The one featuring the hilarious video.

But enough about the video already. How about the book? Well, I love it. I want to say it’s a nice cozy read, but that connotes knitting and quilting books, washed down with a cup of tea. This is more like a book you want to curl up in a quilt with, along with a box of chocolates. A book that makes you feel good because Emily makes you feel good—Emily being the intrepid phone kitten protagonist. Just how does a book about a phone sex worker accomplish the high wire act of  being completely wholesome and impossibly dear and adorable? Well, hell if I know. First-time author Marika Christian’s a magician, that’s all. Here are my…


10. A laugh a page, guaranteed-- Marika’s a terrific new comic talent .
  9. Unlike many comic mysteries, which often seem to  flame out on the mystery part, it actually has a satisfying plot.
  8.  It has a cover by a best-selling mystery author. I won’t say who, but her credit’s  in the book.
7. We’re hereby offering the free giveaway of your choice to the first person who gets back to us with that name:  a booksbBnimble flash drive ; an inscribed copy of one of my books (you get to pick); a polo shirt once owned by Carl Hiaasen. KIDDING! I do not have such a T-shirt!  But wouldn’t you love one? And seriously, we can accommodate you on the other two.
6.     Great across-the-board appeal—hard-boiled, cozy, chick-lit, and mainstream readers who’ve read it so far have loved it, but truth in advertising here—so far as I know they’ve all been female.  Not sure guys would have the same appreciation.
5. But they’ll be amused by the embedded video.
4.  You’ll pick up a whole new category of slang—phone kitten jargon’s pretty entertaining. Example:  A whale’s a big-bucks caller.
3. IT’S GUARANTEED SQUEAKY CLEAN.  You will absolutely not be grossed out. But you might be a little…titillated.
2. It’s got a good love story to go along with the mystery.
1. You have to know what a looner is.

 * Available in all electronic formats at  www.booksBnimble.com,  or at Amazon, B&N, iBooks etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Having bragged yesterday on finishing a video that should have taken a day in only one year (due to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune), I managed to continue the curse by posting a broken link! I was kind of wondering why no one had commented on it. So I went to youTube and discovered it wasn't loading properly either.

All righty then.  Here's a link that probably works (fingers crossed):


And today it's loading just fine. Pleeese go watch our video! And if you think it's funny,  share it--that;s what it't for!  (But if you don't, tell us. This isn't a book we're talking about. We probably won't go on a three-week drunk or kill ourselves or anything.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Hottest Video On This Blog Today

Got a hot movie for you. Seriously. It's a three-minute video that we at booksBnimble have made over the course of a year. We've made many other three-minute over the course of twenty-four hours, but there was...just..something about this one. My dad used to use the expression "snakebit", a word that meant a person with no luck at all. Or a project that just wouldn't go right. That was "Emily's Day (or The Truth About Phone Sex.)"

It eventually got done and it's right here if you don't want to hear the story, but for those in it for the yarn,  I've linked again at the end:


It started out all opitmistic and fun with silly auditions involving sangria and ending with the casting of the perfect actress to play Emily, a phone sex worker who really should be in another line of work. She was so fresh, so innocent! So much so, it turned out, that she had to have a little vodka to say her lines, but that came later. First we had to wait a few months for the videographer to free up.

Okay, that accomplished, we got a gaffer,  spent days gathering props, turning my house into Emily's,
and rehearsing. All was well. That is, until we got the call, twelve hours before the shoot, that the Star had developed cold feet. Uh-oh. Snakebite Number One. But no problem! E., in a bar when she got the call, promptly hired the bartender--maybe not so innocent, and as it happened, on a deadline, but hey,  cute, willing, and available.

Snakebite Number Two occurred when the gaffer turned up too sick to work. Totally green. Had to be sent home. Have no fear, he said, I'll send you another. He did, a great one. Once again, the show went on. But of course it had to be cut short due to the new Star's deadline (the start of her bartending shift) so we only got it half done. Okay, only a few more months till the videographer freed up again--we could handle that.

And then SHE quit the day before the shoot. Oh, woe. Snakes on the rampage. But we made a quick recovery and ended up with the best thing that ever happened to Emily's Day--a new videographer with our own guerrilla mentality--which is, basically, to substitute imagination and creativity for a big budget. This was none other than Andy J. Forest  http://www.myspace.com/andyjforestband, whom you may know as a great blues harmonica player, but he's multi-talented. Andy wrapped up the shoot in about two hours, and we were good to go.

Only one thing left to do--finish editing E's Day and get it in the book. What followed next I'm not sure, but I guess you could call it a comedy of errors. Things got misplaced, misunderstood, put off for one reason or another, there was an issue with a distributor-- nothing big you could point to. Just more snakes nibbling way at Emily's ankles.

But now we've got it! We've remade the ebook--PHONE KITTEN--with Emily's Day as the embedded video, and in our opinion, it was worth waiting for:


You be the judge. (But a word of warning: Our movie is rated Pg-13. Go no further if you are offended by euphemisms.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011


 The least a so-called historical novel should be is accurate, right? Doesn’t the reader have the right to expect that? Even if it’s lousy. I mean, you might not be a good writer, but at least you can look things up. I heard a panel discuss this at the Tennessee Williams Festival and it got me thinking.

One of the panelists told a story about not being able to make his plot work during the historical period he needed, so he just made historical events time-travel. Whathehell, it’s a novel, he reasoned. Who’s gonna care? Nobody’s going to read it anyhow. But to his surprise, it got published. People did read it. And to his even greater surprise, he learned year later that it was required reading at a historical museum! And it was a tissue of lies.

It was a pretty funny confession and I was expecting the self-deprecating coda in which he said he sure learned his lesson, but instead he said what he’d actually learned was that if you wanted to write a really successful historical novel, you should just say history-be-damned and  do whatever you want. His novel, he said, was character-driven and literary and THAT was what was important.

There IS a kind of historical novel that depends on how things looked and  what it was actually like to live in a time period, but those novels don’t count because they’re genre, he said. Or something, anyhow, that his wasn’t. He even had a name for them, something like paddlewheels-and-magnolias. I’ve forgotten the exact phrase, but that’s close.

My personal opinion? That he’s a lazy and dishonest writer who can’t be bothered to do his job. I think he should be humiliated that docents at that museum are probably giving out false information because of him and  he should be working 24/7 to correct it. I think writers like him are one of the reasons there’s so much misinformation out there. But maybe I just have a guilty conscience.

Full disclosure: I recently finished a time-travel novel in which I couldn’t, after some twenty or so books, find out some things I needed, so I made up a few details. I confessed in an author’s note, but I still feel bad about it. Dammit, I think the reader deserves an accurate portrayal! I so much wish I could have done better. My book’s genre, no question, so by his standards I SHOULD have done better.

I wonder where genre leaves off and “literary” begins. Is “Gone With the Wind” genre? Is “Cold Mountain”? I honestly don’t know.  Historicals aren’t my field. Any opinions on where you draw the line?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Listen up, mainstream writers: You don't get to call yourself "literary" just because your book sold fewer copies than it has pages. (Can anyone tell I'm just back from a literary festival?)  If it's not a fan con, which, so far as I know, are events held ONLY for genres, at every single literary event, some mainstream writer on his first or second book--usually twenty or fifty--will be sure to tout himself as a literary artist. (Hmm. The pronoun may not be accidental, although I've occasionally seen women do it.)

It's always wince-worthy. Gentlemen, please! "Literary" means "having literary merit", and what makes you think you get to say that in polite society when you'd never mention how hot you are? (Though I think we're just supposed to know that if you're literary, you're hot). But still, you wouldn't say it! That would be embarrassing. Well, so's the other thing. You have to earn it, you can't just claim it by virtue of not being genre, which, it goes without saying, you consider something akin to icky stuff that gets on your windshield.

Having an MFA or teaching at an academic institution doesn't qualify you. Neither does having a publisher  so small it can't even pay advances. You know how many truly awful writers meet those criteria? Of course you do. You probably spend half your time being snarky about them.

But if you're such a person, you may be thinking I'm incredibly stupid, there's  a definition of "literary" that involves style and not merit, and that's all you mean. True, there is.  But who says you meet those criteria? "Literary" is neither a genre open to anyone nor a party you can crash. You actually have to be invited.  To repeat: You don't get to say it about yourself any more than you get to announce how great your rear end looks in a tight pair of jeans. But not to worry. Aunt Julie is hereby setting out a set of criteria under which you may call yourself or your novel "literary," even though it would be altogether tacky and a lot better to let someone else say it:

8. You have been favorably reviewed on Page One of the New York Times Book Review.
7. Or at least by Michiko Kakutani.
6. You have had a short story published in the Paris Review or The New Yorker.
5. Your novel was brought out by Grove, New Directions, or some other once-cutting-edge, now-venerable press that's made a reputation discovering literary stars.
4. Sonny Mehta is your editor. But be careful here. You could paint yourself into a corner. Mr. Mehta has been known to edit genre authors and we know what you think about THEM.
3. Your novel has blurbs from both Philip Roth AND Jonathan (Oprah-is-for-peons) Franzen.
2. You have been nominated for a Pen/Faulkner, National Book Award, or National Book Critics Circle Award.
1. You have won a Pulitzer,

Novelists not meeting these criteria yet bragging on themselves in public will henceforth be sentenced to wear a scarlet "P." For pretentious. And "poseur."

Monday, March 28, 2011


This morning came word of Amanda Hocking's movie deal http: http://nyti.ms/hoXcUk  .  Never has so much happened in such a short time to one so young. Or at least not that I can remember. You just have to be happy for the kid who naively self-published her way into millions and now seems poised to become the new Stephanie Meyer. Last year:  $2 million sales online. Last week: A $2 million publishing deal. This week: the movie announcement.

Check out this amazing quote: “I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do,” Ms. Hocking said in an interview on Thursday. “People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.” http://nyti.ms/h2YzVI .  Wow! How about that word "still"?  As if Big Pub is so yesterday. How long ago was it that any new writer on earth would have killed for the contract she just got and never questioned that it was the only way to go? Six months ago? Three months? A week?

Ms. Hocking's timing is amazing and maybe a bit ironic, coming as it does a week after her very own new publisher, St. Martin's Press, lost one of their other big authors to self-pubishing. Everybody's got something to say about it. Here's lee Goldberg: http://bit.ly/g1DcrZ .  He notes that a lot of the coverage of all this is  inept. Which is intimidating, considering I even blogs are coverage I guess. But here's what I think: This is a fantastic illustration of what publishing's become, and a look into the future. What we have here is an example of amazing symbiosis. Big Pub made Eisler and now he's going off to be an entrepreneur. Hocking turned her mom-and-pop venture into giant bucks and now she can reap the benefits Big Pub can give her. I say, you go, girl! And you too, Mr Eisler. Not to mention, dear old SMP-- they certainly recouped Eisler's loss about as flashily as possible. But I still bet they got a double dose of food for thought this week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


 This week I've had occasion to think on this subject, because I was asked to give a library speech about THE MALTESE FALCON; seems they had a reading program in which everyone read the same book and then they got speakers to talk about it. Like the Big Read, for which I gave a MALTESE FALCON talk last year.

I learned then the kids didn't particularly care for it. They thought Sam Spade was a big fat sexist--even the boys, and this is Louisiana! And it wasn't lost on them that he was also kind of a jerk. The Big Read itself didn't seem to have much respect for mysteries in general. "Some people," said their own flyer, "were surprised when THE MALTESE FALCON, a mystery, appeared on The Big Read list." Well, it's a classic, no question, but dated. And most people know the story anyhow--though from the movie, alas. If you actually set out to introduce new readers to mysteries, is this really the place to start? So I got to thinking, what have mysteries done for us lately? What would happen if you could choose a contemporary one--and only one--for a large group to read together?

Of course it's hard to say what I mean by contemporary. Sometimes we don't really recognize how good a book is until years later. I've got a little list up my sleeve, but some of the books are ten, even twenty years old. If I went back and read, say, Sharyn McCrumb's  terrific IF EVER I RETURN, PRETTY PEGGY-O, would I find it dated? I think maybe not, but when I think of that first stunner by Elizabeth George, A GREAT DELIVERANCE (1988), I know it couldn't help but be a little disappointing to contemporary readers, simply because the subject matter, childhood sexual abuse, has become shopworn in the intervening years. I have more candidates, even more recent candidates. But I have a terrible memory for this kind of stuff. If someone asks my favorite authors, as someone always does at a signing, my mind goes blank. Like it's going now.

So help me out here. Shall we limit it to the last 25 years? The more recent the better.What's the one book you'd choose? Your very favorite of that period.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


 Barry Eisler's amazing walkaway from a $500,000 advance to self-publish electronically seems to have left the publishing world gasping for breath. ( http://bit.ly/enaJUP ) As for me, I'm not merely astounded, but aghast. As a publisher of ebooks, I guess I should  be rubbing my hands in glee, but instead I'm just not. I feel like I'm watching publishing as we know it commit suicide. Slowly and deliberately, like Virginia Woolf filling her pockets with rocks and walking into the river. (Did she really do that? I don't think I've ever seen it actually written down.)

I don't know. If I said this to St. Martin's, the brand-new publisher he left at the altar as the Wedding March was starting, maybe they'd shrug and say, so what, he's only one guy. But he isn't. He's about the third guy that everyone knows about. (There might be others. But the other two I mean are J.A. Konrath and Seth Godin.)  Godin's a best-seller; that had to hurt. If SMP was willing to offer Eisler half a million dollars, that had to hurt too. Not to mention the shock of  making the offer, going through the negotiation, and...well, getting stuck with a runaway bride. And his poor agent! All that work for nothing. Is he or she getting a cut of the ebook revenue? If not, I bet he'd like to kill Mr. Eisler.

 Not, to be clear, that I actually think Eisler did the wrong thing. His figures add up. It seems a smart business decision. It just seems so sudden. He said he did it because publishing changed so radically in the three months since he accepted the offer and the "paperwork" was competed. (Meaning, I presume, the final negotiations.) Looking behind the scenes, it probably wasn't sudden at all. I expect Mr. Eisler  asked for a better percentage of his electronic royalties than SMP was willing to give and they've been arguing about it the whole three months. If you look at what Mr. Eisler says are the figures (http://bit.ly/f1yhj0 ) , the other guy in the negotiation had to see this coming.

So it's St. Martin's I'm horrified at. I think. Couldn't they have picked up the pace if they wanted the deal? Why were they so intractable? (I don't know what he asked for--but couldn't they just bend a little?) No, I bet they'd say, that would set a precedent. Well, maybe it's time. Does Big Pub really want to bet the ranch it can bully writers into the tiny percentage of electronic rights they're offering?

They'd probably say, "We need to. Economics demand it. Our overhead and all." I'm thinking they better think of ways to streamline their overhead and accept reality.  I used to be published by St. Martin's, and I love them. I  sure don't want to see them go down. But, hello? Is it possible they're being unrealistic here?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Earlier this week I was so mean I'm compensating by being nice today. I'm listing my faves for the year, or maybe just lately. Who keeps track of dates? This is a totally no-holds-barred list, in which I indulge my penchant for YA, doggie books, chick-lit (if it's funny), bestsellers some may call cheesy, and  my friends' books. Not to mention mysteries, but nobody has to apologize for mysteries.
1. Number One has to be Nancy Pickard's THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING, partly because this terrific book wuz robbed in not receiving an Edgar nomination. Sure, it could still get an Agatha, but really! It could be Pickard's best, and that means we're talking terrific. (Did I mention Nancy's a good friend?)
2. Tied for second--  THE QUEEN OF PATPONG by Tim Hallinan, and Greg Herren's VIEUX CARRE VOODOO. Now Hallinan IS nominated for an Edgar and Herren's up for a Lambda Literary Award. (Disclosure: Greg and I work out twice a week together, and plot mischief, much of which we perpetrate, the rest of the time. Okay, okay, another good friend.)
3. MOCKINGJAY by  Suzanne Collins. I think I'm not alone here.
5. A DOG'S PURPOSE by W. Bruce Cameron.  I rate dog books by the number of tissues consumed.
6. MORE OF THIS WORLD OR MAYBE ANOTHER by Barb Johnson. See, I read something besides popular fiction. If it's by a good friend. Kidding! I hardly know Barb. But boy, can she write.
7.  THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I'm an Ole Miss girl, I'm not gonna like it?
8. PHONE KITTEN by Marika Christian.  Actually, she said, hanging head, I published this one (www.booksBnimble.com).  But, listen, it's my blog; I can name my own author if I want to! (She said, stamping tiny foot.) Such is the democratic force of the Internet. But it really is a seriously a fun book. Kind of reminds me of Jennifer Crusie's stuff.  But why believe me?--Check out our trailer -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0faZl9lchM
9.  MAYBE THIS TIME, by Jennifer Crusie. Aha! This explains THAT.  I'm not much on ghost stories, but this one was delicious.
10. DEEP SHADOW by Randy Wayne White.  Quite the  tour de force-- it takes place in about four hours, most of it underwater. White's definitely not the kind of author who lets his series get sleepy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Help! Author Intervention needed!

What to think when you read a book written by God himself and all you can do is pray it'll end soon? Okay, it wasn't really God. Actually just a god of literature, the kind whose reviews always include words like "greatest" and "best" and once, "greatest...ever." (By the way, this is NOT a review, more like a musing, a quiet wonder at what the author was thinking and why no one staged an intervention.)

Perhaps, whatever it is, it's a bit schoolmarmish. I'm in writing-teacher mode these days, working on turning my erstwhile writing course into an ebook, so right now, just at this moment, I'm the kind of prissy little nobody who might have the nerve to stand up and point a finger at a giant of letters for splitting an infinitive. Only that isn't what he did. If one of my students did what he did, I'd have to commit ritual suicide for having failed him so badly.

First, he sets the scene: Gorgeous filmmaker and getting-on but savvy and daring assistant are courageously setting sail (though in a powerboat)  to do a documentary on Somali pirates. They'll be out there, helpless and vulnerable for 27 days. This takes Mr. god four chapters and thirty-four pages , and he has me on the edge of my seat. Great set-up!  But here's how Chapter Five begins, slightly paraphrased:  "They were out on the boat for 27 days."

HUH? Hold it! I was ready for action. Totally locked and loaded. What happened here? Has the author just changed directions? Is this book about to be about something else entirely? Well, in fact it pretty much is, which almost no author could get away with but this one, because most people will go wherever he takes them. But he doesn't take them anywhere for the next ummm....sixty pages. Roughly. 

What he instead perpetrates is  a sixty-page flashback told in dialogue by two people watching film clips together. Like this:
"Remember this? Here's where the pirates boarded us."
"Yeah, the timing wasn't so hot. That was just after your gun fell overboard."
"Only because you got me drunk."

Those are actually my words, but trust me, I've been true to the spirit. I'd liked to have SEEN those three actions--and in reverse order, like in, you know...a story. Sixty pages of exposition through dialogue! (As the schoolterm term goes.) What was he thinking? And flashbacks at that.

 Are you there, god? It's me, Julie. I sincerely apologize for dissing such an Olympian as You, but could you let me know why did You did this to me? Couldn't You have just sent a plague of locusts?

Friday, March 11, 2011



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My 10 Favorite Things about Mardi Gras

 I took literally hundreds of no doubt fabulous Mardi Gras pix, only to discover I’d lost my download cord (or whatever the technical term is), so no pix today, Instead a musing or two about why Mardi Gras's not only so much fun but such a gift  (see 8 and 9):

                     My 10 Favorite Things about Mardi Gras 

1.     You don’t have to wait till night to dance in the streets—or even till noon.
2.     You can drink breakfast with impunity.
3.     You can flirt with strangers. In fact, it’s pretty much expected.
4.     You can even kiss them—and in front of your husband!
5.   People give you presents. My favorite from yesterday: A wooden doubloon from   the Skeleton Krewe that says, “Sin, Repent, Repeat.”
      6. Normally dignified professionals in clown outfits and fake moustaches.
7. The rare and special opportunity to opportunity to use the word “revelry”. And the verb “to revel.”
8. Impromptu street theater. Like the James Dean and the Marilyn Monroe who met on Esplanade yesterday, and proceeded with a highly amusing courtship, particularly on the part of Mr. Dean. And the lion who charged the lion tamer (who happened to be Lee, always delighted to work out with his whip.)
9.The amazing creativity and focus of ordinary people devoted to the idea of letting their imaginations run rampant—if only for one day of the year.
      10. It’s the only day of the year that I actually like the way I look. (There should REALLY be a picture here!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Million Ways to Do Mardi Gras

I guess I’m taking a day off to digress. Because it’s Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras is too great not to share. If you’re from somewhere besides New Orleans, it’s possible you think Mardi Gras is lifting one’s shirt in return for plastic beads in the midst of a baying and unruly crowd. You may also think it’s a sloppy and drunken event resembling a twenty-four-hour fraternity party, and that you’d never be interested in such a thing. Actually, both notions are entirely correct. But you’ve got a blind man/elephant thing going on here.

The truth is, Mardi Gras varies by the block. Even by the household. Say you’re out running the streets. On St. Charles Avenue, you’ll see your families watching the parades, the little kids sitting on ladders with homemade benches built on top, and just about nobody in costume. Go to the lake side of the avenue and you might get a glimpse of Mardi Gras Indians These are…well, it can’t really be explained here.  Suffice it to say they’re the most amazingly costumed individuals you’re ever going to see, at Mardi Gras or anywhere else. For more info, check out  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardi_Gras_Indianshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardi_Gras_Indians  
 Or better yet, watch Treme,   http://www.hbo.com/treme/index.html , David Simon’s  excellent HBO show set in New Orleans.

Move on to the French Quarter, and there’ll be a new Mardi Gras around every corner.  Here, unlike Uptown, everyone’s in costume except the tourists. On upper Bourbon, you have your tourist Carnival, the one with the beads and boobs (possible pun intended). On lower Bourbon, you have the Bourbon St. Awards , http://www.gaymardigras.com/bbb.htm    the gay costume event. Uh, wait. Did I say the Indians were…okay, the Indian suits are folk art; museum pieces. They’re beautiful, artistic,  and jaw-droppingly original. These guys’ outfits are some of those things too, and funny to boot. But so far as I know, no museum exhibits them. Maybe they should.

But the real delight is in the tiny marching groups, the neighbors or friends who get together to form their own themed mini-parade, like one I just read about (but haven’t yet seen) called the Krewe of Red Beans http://topics.nola.com/tag/redbeans%20krewe/photos.html      . They make elaborate costumes out of red beans, in partial homage to the Mardi Gras Indians.

Here’s my Mardi Gras: Up at eight o’clock to squeeze into the costume, slather on the make-up, comb out the wig of the moment (I have five so far and this year, I’m going with the green.) Then, mimosas in hand, my demon lover and I sally forth to wait for the Society of St, Anne  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHg7ZUtKVsUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHg7ZUtKVsU , the most beautiful parade of all. This one—no floats, just gorgeously costumed marchers--looks like a medieval pageant. It’s a neighborhood tradition to wait for it in front of the R bar on Royal Street. EVERYONE’S there. But you can’t tell who they are.

Now about the demon lover—actually, he’s my handsome husband on normal days, and, unlike his restless spouse, he wears the same thing every Mardi Gras: A strange and somewhat fearsome mask; a black cape (he has a selection, but I like the purple-lined one) and—this is the main thing—his special Mardi Gras whip. You’d be amazed at the number of ladies—and quite a few gentlemen—just dying to indulge in horseplay with a man with a whip. Which is what he loves about the outfit. Mardi Gras is all about horseplay. Having silly, spontaneous fun with perfect strangers.
            With luck, Pix tomorrow!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Literary Mardi Gras

Tomorrow is the great feast of my people, and I have corrected galleys due at noon Ash Wednesday. Ha! It is to laugh! It is to guffaw. Has anyone ever set a deadline on the day after Christmas? Certainly not, and certainly I won’t be home with my nose in a book on Fat Tuesday. Naturally, I’m gonna have to blog about what goes on out there, but how to make it literary?

Let’s start with the time I caught a panel at a literary festival in New Orleans in which the panelists  somehow got on Carnival. To a woman, they agreed they’d never write about Mardi Gras, because it was far too clichéd for their exalted selves. That made me squirm a bit, due to the fact that the very first book I ever wrote set in New Orleans was about Mardi Gras. I mean REALLY about Mardi Gras; not just about an event (murder, of course) that occurred at Mardi Gras. But about how the culture’s imbued with it. Who writes about that? In fiction, that is. (Well, the Treme people, actually, but this was at least a dozen years before the show was conceived.)

Try as I might, I could only think of one other story I’d ever read set at Mardi Gras—a piece of erotica about two masked people who didn’t know each other and…etc, etc. and ho-hum. Now that WAS a cliché. Even if no one but the author has ever actually written it. Because everyone’s thought it.

Since NEW ORLEANS MOURNING (my opuscule), Greg Herren (www.scottynola.livejournal.com) has gifted us with the highly amusing MARDI GRAS MAMBO, but a Google search shows there’s still little else on the subject except children’s books and non-fiction. Oh, yeah, except for that time I did it again, in another book, but that was the African-American Mardi Gras, which is wildly different from the white one.

So I guess those guys were wrong, except in theory. Just FYI. To get it on the record.

But I digress. My point is this: Even if there were a thousand Mardi Gras books a year, they’d only be clichéd if the authors stooped to cliché. Just as love stories are only clichéd if the author’s lazy. Because there are a million ways to write about love, some of them fresh and new. And everybody’s tried it. Who thinks love is clichéd?   Tomorrow: Running the Streets on Fat Tuesday

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Literary Mardi Gras

Tuesday is the great feast of my people, and I have corrected galleys due at noon Ash Wednesday. Ha! It is to laugh! It is to guffaw. Has anyone ever set a deadline on the day after Christmas? Certainly not, and certainly I won’t be home with my nose in a book on Fat Tuesday. Naturally, I’m gonna have to blog about what goes on out there, but how to make it literary?

Let’s start with the time I caught a panel at a literary festival in New Orleans in which the panelists  somehow got on Carnival. To a woman, they agreed they’d never write about Mardi Gras, because it was far too clichéd for their exalted selves. That made me squirm a bit, due to the fact that the very first book I ever wrote set in New Orleans was about Mardi Gras. I mean REALLY about Mardi Gras; not just about an event (murder, of course) that occurred at Mardi Gras. But about how the culture’s imbued with it. Who writes about that? In fiction, that is. (Well, the Treme people, actually, but this was at least a dozen years before the show was conceived.)

Try as I might, I could only think of one other story I’d ever read set at Mardi Gras—a piece of erotica about two masked people who didn’t know each other and…etc, etc. and ho-hum. Now that WAS a cliché. Even if no one but the author has ever actually written it. Because everyone’s thought it.

Since NEW ORLEANS MOURNING (my opuscule), Greg Herren (www.scottynola.livejournal.com) has gifted us with the highly amusing MARDI GRAS MAMBO, but a Google search shows there’s still little else on the subject except children’s books and non-fiction. Oh, yeah, except for that time I did it again, in another book, but that was the African-American Mardi Gras, which is wildly different from the white one.

So I guess those guys were wrong, except in theory. Just FYI. To get it on the record.

But I digress. My point is this: Even if there were a thousand Mardi Gras books a year, they’d only be clichéd if the authors stooped to cliché. Just as love stories are only clichéd if the author’s lazy. Because there are a million ways to write about love, some of them fresh and new. And everybody’s tried it. Who thinks love is clichéd?   Tomorrow: Running the Streets on Fat Tuesday

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Five Fave Writing Peeves

When all hell breaks loose, does it smell like rotten eggs?  It must, because of the brimstone. All that sulphur, ick. But who knows? No one ever talks about it, or mentions what it sounds like (an earthquake on Dolby?), or feels like (the inside of a blender?). The visuals must be amazing—all those damned souls flying around—wait a minute, was that Hitler who just went by?

Okay, end of writing exercise. I started thinking about it because I had one of those jangled, phone-ringing mornings, and the phrase popped up in my mind. But it also occurred to me that Elmore Leonard said “never say ‘all hell broke loose.’”  So naturally I went from there to  why not and…well, sometimes it’s better to just put your imagination back in the teapot.  Elmore (although I think his intimates call him Dutch) also said never say “suddenly.”  We all have our little peeves. Feeling masochistic?  Here's a couple more:

  1. “Visibly shaken”. Isn’t just “shaken” enough? I mean if you can tell I’m shaken, it must be because you’re seeing something. I’m pale, is that it? Why didn’t you say so? I think we can blame this one on reporters—nobody wants to read “pale” in a newspaper. It’s just too wimpy.

  1. “Yummy”. (To describe an attractive person of the opposite sex.) Well, actually a man. No man would describe a woman that way; that would be sexist. YOU know who does this— lazy romance writers.

  1. “Made my mouth water”. Ewwwwwww. Same thing, only worse.

  1. “I did just that.” You did not, you did “it.”  Isn’t “it” the same as “that” and isn’t “that” the same as “just that”? And doesn’t it sound a lot better?

  1. “And then it happened.” Nobody really writes that. Do they? You wish.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kindle Unmasked

Kindle has a dirty little secret. So do other ereaders. It's something I had to find out for myself, something no one ever talks about. Because it's just too disturbing.

Even committed brick-and-mortar readers admit one thing—a cute little Kindle would sure be nice to travel with. But what if they knew that just as they’re settling in for takeoff,  counting on Nevada Barr’s latest to distract them from the raging storm out there, the flight attendant’s going to say: “If it’s got a switch, turn it off”? 

And it’s gonna happen on landing too, just at the denouement.  Eeeeeeeee! Your book just got snatched from your very hands.

Why didn’t anyone tell me? And what to do about it?  Ironically, so far, the only solution I’ve found is to make sure I always have a bricks-and-mortar back-up. Something non-fiction; “Blogging for Dummies”, say. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose? You still have to carry a heavy book on your trip.

So these are my questions: How is an innocent ereader going to interfere with takeoff or landing? Is this for real or a blanket admonition to get compliance from cell phone outlaws? And if not…Mwahahahahaha!---can you just defy the law and see if you get a ticket? Without risking a crash, that is.

Sure would like to hear from anyone who’s got any ideas—or explanations.

And on a related note—who knew TSA had a blog? They have actual good news about traveling with your ebaby.  http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/04/traveling-with-e-readers-netbooks-and.html   Here’s the gist—when going through security, “Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple.”  That’s an actual quote. Don’t they sound friendly?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


 So I’m writing one. As avid readers of  E-Guerrilla will know (and I’m sure there must be one), I’m on a true confessions kick about what I’m writing. I’ve already thoroughly harangued everyone about my forthcoming YA novel and mentioned my writing book-to-be (BTW, got a lot done over the weekend), and now I need to tell you about the most fun thing I’m doing. Because I just can’t keep quiet any more. It’s way too much fun.

It’s a love story. Actually, I think you might even call it pretty much a classic romance, except that it’s really, really different from anything you ever read. Yow! How could it possibly live up to that? Well, for one thing it isn’t just up to me. One thing that makes it different is I’m team-writing it with two other authors, and boy, are they turning out amazing stuff. For another, neither of the two lovers is really the protagonist.

Did I just lose you? No, no, stick around. This is a protagonist anyone would love. Even if you don’t love her writing, there’ll be  irresistible embedded videos. (This is an ebook, did I mention that?)  Okay, that’s another way it’s different—it’s going to have embedded videos. I’m so excited about this I can barely type.

 But enough about me.

I still need a romance.  But do I want it just to read, or do I want to publish it? Both maybe. I’d settle for reading one, but I’m up for submissions (ulp!), I think. Anyhow, you could query me at info@booksbnimble.com if you’ve got something wildly different. I want to read a romance like Jennifer Crusie writes—really funny and un-putdownable. (Tall order, huh? Her blog’s hilarious too.  http://www.jennycrusie.com/) I'm not looking for just straight-up love-and-kisses, maybe a bit of  suspense. With a really outrageous heroine. Much stronger on laughs than sex. Got one for me? Please, please leave titles in the comments section if you have candidates. Because I really need a romance!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Cure for First-Chapter Blues?

Narcissism alert: Today’s entry is all about me.  Just because I haven’t written a mystery in five years, people ask me if I’m still writing, can you imagine? So I thought I’d answer them. Yes! Yes, I am,  I can’t imagine NOT writing. Not only am I still writing, I’m writing things I’m excited about. The Big One (big because it’s the WIP) I’ll leave till another day, but I thought I’d report that I’m  proud to join the ranks of young adult writers, with CURSEBUSTERS!, out in May. It’s about an unrepentant teen-age female burglar and a sort of …hmmm—paranormal ninja cat who bullies her into stealing something really really dangerous to steal. This is because it’s temporarily stashed in 1519, where they have to time-travel to get it. (Grammar Girl, where are you? Is 1519 a “where”? Should I have said “when”? “Whence?”)

CURSEBUSTERS! is what’s increasingly being called a “P” book (as in print), and my esteemed publisher, Bold Strokes Books, wouldn’t give up the electronic rights, isn’t that a nerve? But I love them anyhow, and I really, really love the cover they did, which I  can’t resist showing you. It’s my favorite ever.

The other thing I’m doing that I want to mention is something I see a greater and greater need for every day—a book on writing. Why, you may ask, do we need another book on writing? Well, YOU may not, but I need one for the people who come to me for help, one that I know reliably covers all the bases and gives  new writers a vocabulary for the techniques they need to master.  I don’t know—what caused  a nice girl like Mignon Fogarty, the aforementioned Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ ) to start doing podcasts? Did the world really need more grammar tips? Maybe she just thought if you want a job done,  you do it yourself.

There are plenty of great books on writing already, many of which I intend to quote in mine (which I’m adapting from a course I teach), but the point of my book is that you can’t really listen to writing teachers, even me, in your quest to find your own best writing method. So I’m calling it WRITING YOUR WAY. The other reason I’m writing it is that I don’t think anyone else has properly tackled first chapters. At least not to my satisfaction. Especially me. I kind of overlooked it when I first started teaching writing.

But when I started seeing students’ work, I knew I needed to get on that right away. After all, what’s more important than your first chapter? NOTHING. Anybody knows that. Why are they so neglected?  I’m wrestling with it. Coming soon. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Mysterious Walker Percy Successor

Patty Friedmann’s such a popular and respected writer in New Orleans that I temporarily forgot the Internet is international when I mentioned her in the context of Walker Percy’s comment about a Jewish mother  leading the next Southern literary revival.  So for those who wondered who I was talking about, let me first say, rush right out and read her! And then I’ll mention that she’s the author of  eight novels (including a new one, TOO JEWISH, which, it must be disclosed, booksBnimble publishes),  and she’s a funny and wise writer. To further clear up any confusion, I asked to explain herself in her own words:

  1. I've heard you say you've lived in New Orleans all your life except for education and natural disasters. Prove your New Orleans "cred."
When the Booklovers Guide to the city came out I had to make a list of any five things I wanted. I chose my favorite smells from childhood: the molasses factory, the Sunbeam bakery from the expressway, the inside of the streetcar, the Lusher school cafeteria on Monday, and the Edgewater Hotel drugstore. You can't beat Proustian senses for ownership of a place.

      2. Proust? I thought you were the new Walker Percy.
I'm not Walker Percy! For Chrissakes, I'm not Catholic. Though I grew up knowing that everybody on the streetcar made the sign of the cross when we passed the statue of Jesus in front of Loyola. That's the kind of Jew I am. Walker probed where he fit in the universe; most Jews I knew probed where they fit in uptown.

      3. Your book's titled Too Jewish. Sounds as if you're not Jewish enough.
As a matter of fact, I once visited my brother in Georgia where he was--get this!--a rabbi. We did a program at his synagogue that we titled "Jew/Counter-Jew." Our dialogue pitted his liturgical approach against my secular one. Afterward his congregants hugged all over me, and quite a few came up and whispered, as if consoling me, "I don't think Rabbi really believes in God."

      4. As a writer, are you at a big juncture with Too Jewish?
It's an e-book! For someone who wrote her first novel on a Selectric II, I have to say I'm glad I kept writing long enough for this possibility. I have eight other books in print, the operant word being "print." My main publisher was a known genius, which meant "deep" (read that in your inner baritone), ambiguous cover images. Crummy shelf appeal. I was proud but I wasn't a zillionaire. This book can go viral, as the cognoscenti say.

       5. Otherwise, is it a typical Patty book?
Uh-uh. I've been a comically dark writer, a contemporary New Orleans writer, the class clown at clown college. After Katrina, I've gone to the past. Sadly, my own life is now part of history--I'm getting up there--so I plumbed my own story. My father's tragedy has been sitting in the part of me that I'm too afraid ever to explore in therapy, and now it's in this novel, fictionalized. Not funny, but I have a feeling you can hear my voice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to Buy an Ebook

 Two weeks ago off I went to the sophisticated Digital Book World conference, in which I learned the glittering state of the ebook market. A wonderful future for all of us! Fantastic success stories! A good time had by all!

And then I came back to what I laughingly call my market. The one in which customers are still struggling to figure out which version of an ebook to buy, and how to open it.  That is, those who are buying directly from publishers like us instead of Amazon or another etailer.  Those buyers (the ones at the big boxes) have already selected ereaders and are buying books specifically for them. But there are lots of  other people who want to read ebooks on their computers or phones and don’t know how. Also, there are lovely people who do have ereaders, yet are kind enough to want to buy directly from  the publisher.

So I thought it might help if I outlined a few basics. We (meaning booksBnimble) sell three kinds of files, which I expect is what most publishers offer—one for Kindle, one for iPad, and one for everything else. This is because iPad is the only platform that supports video and Kindle does not support the format everyone else uses. To further complicate things, a) that format  (the all-purpose one) is called ePub, which sounds so generic I get the impression plenty of people think it just means “ebook” and b) there are several names for  Kindle-friendly files. These are  mobi, prc, and azw .

Sufficiently confused?  Really there’s nothing to it—Kindle, iPad, or Everything Else, aka ePub. But there’s another wrinkle. If you buy a book from a publisher, you’ll have to “sideload” it to your ereader, since it’s not synced to it like books from the etailers. Probably the best deal there is to get in touch with the publisher you bought it from (for us, info@booksBnimble.com ) , or  just Google it. You’d be amazed how much info’s online about this. A quick example of sideloading: You can get a mobi file on your Kindle the same way you do a Word document or pdf --by emailing it to your Kindle address.

If you have no ereader,  no problem! There’s an app for that. (A free one.) You download the Kindle app first, then save your file anywhere on your computer, click on it twice, and magic occurs. Or if the file’s ePub, Firefox has an add-on called ePubreader that works the same say. Really and truly, this can be done and done easily—by the most tech-tarded person in America, with no more than a click or three. (But happy to hold your hand  if you run into problems.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The New Jewish Walker Percy?

To me, there are two kinds of New Orleans writers,  those who remind us of Walker Percy and those who evoke John Kennedy Toole. The Percy breed is cool, literary, philosophical,  professorial; the Toole types are like an Italian family at dinner—noisy, street smart,  practically smelling of  red gravy and sweat. I’m exaggerating, of course, and now I’m about to get reductive: Percy=cool, Toole= warm.

Like this maybe:

Team Percy--Valerie Martin, say; or John Biguenet. Team Toole--Andrei Codrescu, perhaps;  James Nolan, Amanda Boyden. I don’t know, I’m probably blowing it. What I mean is, a certain reserve, a sly subtlety, as opposed to an unbridled exuberance, a great ear for street speech. Weirdly, I could think of more Percy descendents than Tooles, though in my heart I feel sure we  have more Tooles. But we’re always looking for the  successor to Walker Percy. It’s kind of a primal yearning around here. (Could  have been Martin, I think,  but she doesn’t write much about New Orleans these days. And Biguenet’s off doing plays.)  I was astounded to see the late great one himself was on the lookout for us before he croaked. Someone just sent me this quote from the man himself:

"I make no claim to prophetic powers, yet I make bold to predict that the next Southern literary revival will be led by a Jewish mother, which is to say, a shrewd self-possessed woman with a sharp eye and a cunning retentive mind who sees the small triumphs and tragedies around her and has her own secret method of rendering it, with an art all her own and yet not unrelated to Welty, O'Connor, and Porter."
 Signposts in a Strange Land--Walker Percy

Wow, I thought. Patty Friedmann! But—full disclosure here—booksBnimble just published her ebook, TOO JEWISH. So of course I’d think of her. But I would have anyway (really I would) because she’s the real deal. Sharp eye? Check. Cunning? Watch out! Secret method? Damn her-- I’m always trying to figure out how she does it. And boy does she have an ear. Wonder if Mr. Percy was onto something. But let’s discuss. Got any more candidates?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Short Story Contest: A Vampire for Valentine's

Is that love in the air, or just more precipitation?  I’m going with love. We can always use that. In honor of Valentine’s Day, booksBnimble’s February/March contest theme will be “Romeo or Juliet as a vampire.” Just this once, in honor of the sweetness of the season,  you have a choice.  Either lover can be undead. Or you can make them both vampires–that could be raucous. But sexy’s good too. The deadline’s March 15, and the winner will be announced at the beginning in April. This is part of  our 2011 series of vampire contests, the winners of which we’ll publish as an anthology at the end of the year. Don’t forget  the best part:  Along with publication, there’s a $50 prize.  Rules at 
While we’re at it, congratulations to Karla Henderson of Palmdale, Ca., winner of  our December/January contest. Her hilarious story, “Overbite,” which chronicles the life of Elvis as a vampire, can be enjoyed along with a short interview with  the writer herself at:

For the really intrepid among you, we have a second contest, but so far nobody’s ever had the nerve to enter it.  It requires an imagination, at least one pet, a video camera, and a ton of patience. If you think you qualify, click here http://www.booksbnimble.com/contests/vidlet-instructions/