Michael Haskins

Friday, November 25, 2011

Miami Book Fair

 Last Saturday, 11 a.m., I was on a panel at the Miami Book Fair with fellow mystery writer Jack Harney (center in photo). Bob Williamson (left in photo), a friend and MWA member, was the moderator. It was a great opportunity for me but I think the whole set up was a little off. Anyway, it seemed like that for my panel.

The third guest never showed up but the schedule was never fixed. I emailed the fair contact earlier about it, they sent an email back saying Jack and I now had an hour to fill. Never notified Jack or the moderator, I had to tell them.

Also, originally I received an email saying there was another email coming with more information, a contract to sign and lodging information. I’m still waiting for it. So is Jack. Maybe they all went to guy that didn’t show up.

I had to send three copies of my book, a photo and brief bio. I know they kept the books, probably for sale since someone from the fair said I needed to sign the fair’s copy. When I opened it, the book was already signed. It was one I had sent them, I guess.

I didn’t go expecting to be the talk of the show or to sell a truckload of books – though it would’ve been nice. I went for the exposure and expected something a little more from the fair. I noticed that the panel was recorded and I wonder for who. Will the tapes or CDs be sold? Will MWA, which paid a good sponsor fee, get some of that money?

I guess I would’ve liked them to follow through on the things they said were coming. Kind of what I expect from everyone. It was like going to a restaurant, ordering a meal and having something else delivered. The waiter/waitress tells me it’s delicious. But it wasn’t what I’d ordered  . . . Oh well, I guess I am spoiled living on a small island where what you see is what you get.

The thing that irks me the most is that the fair doesn’t allow MWA to choose panelists or panel subjects. What was the subject of our panel? If the fair doesn’t tell us, why not allow MWA’s Florida chapter decide on the panel subjects and panelists? It works well at SleuthFest.

Whatever hype they had for mystery writers didn’t help me sell books. At least not at the signing afterward. I know the fair is well run and well attended. It baffles me why our segments were not so well attended. Maybe those readers attending are more interested in cookbooks, or travel books, or . . . Well, there are a lot of books out there to choose from. Maybe it would help if I wrote my mystery about a cookbook author instead of Key West characters. Let me know what you think.

I wonder if other groups had this problem or was it me. I guess I’ll have to wait ‘till the January luncheon or SleuthFest to find out.

Finally, Stairway to the Bottom, my newest Mick Murphy Key West Mystery, is on Kindle and Nook and should be a trade paperback on Amazon right after Thanksgiving. Books make wonderful holiday gifts. Check into it.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Novelette and the eBook revolution

My friend and fellow writer Jochem Steen is the guest blogger today and he  has something to say about the novelette's place in the eBook world. 

I’d like to talk about the novelette and why it should be making a return with the rise of eBooks.

According to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula awards for science fiction a novelette has a word count of between 7,500 and 17,499. It’s the ideal word length for a fast-paced thriller. The fact that it has more words than your average short story gives the writer the opportunity to show more character conflict, introduce more twists.

In the old Black Mask days  a lot of writers worked within that format, like Erle Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett. It catered perfectly to their spare style. This style was born because they were getting paid by the word and the editors tended to cut away as much unnecesary words as possible. The pulp writers wanted them to mess with their work as little as possible, so they wrote their stories in a very spare style.

For ebooks this style is great because there’s a lot of stuff out there at low prices. Readers want to experience as much fiction as they can. Novelettes give them everything a novel can, just in less time. It’s just what this generation, used to fast-paced movies and TV, needs. Longer novels might not hold the coming generation of readers’ attention, but the novelette has this chance.

So that’s why I wrote my novelette, The Alabaster-Skinned Mule. In an action-packed story Noah Milano, ex-mob fixer and son of LA’s biggest gangster, signs on to protect  a beautiful girl that was used as a mule by Mexican druglords. It’s this girl that puts the friendship with his sidekick Tony Hawaii in danger.

 Offering both pulp-style action and character conflicts this fast read is available for Kindle at the low price of 99 cents, http://www.amazon.com/Alabaster-Skinned-Mule-Milano-Novelette-ebook/dp/B005T0UC3G/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stairway to the Bottom is now available on Kindle. Be the first in your neighborhood to have a copy! Please let me know what you like or dislike after reading it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Writers must have thick skin or the rejection slips and none-returned phone calls will penetrate to the heart, not to mention what negative reviews will do!  Writers also need to practice humility.  I have these past few days.

Last week was the gathering of Jimmy Buffett fans – ParrotHeads. They’ve been gathering here in Key West for more than 10 years, celebrating Margaretaville. Remember, Buffett has to be in his early 60s now and most of his fans are close to that or have past it by. Kind of strange seeing these people behaving like teens.

Scott Kirby, a Key West singer-songwriter, is popular with this crowd and since I took the title of my latest book – Free Range Institution – from one of his songs, he thought it would be a good idea if I signed the book the nights he performed at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon.

I thought it was a great idea! Scott’s fans would buy copies of my book like salmon swimming upstream!

Thursday night I showed up, Angela the night manager helped me with a table and chair close to the stage, and I was prepared to sell books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for only three sales. Come on, I thought I had it all going for me. The ParrotHeads are mostly empty nesters, spend like drunken sailors and dress like it’s a costume party – which is really, kind of, is.

Saturday night was a little better, but not much. I remember Dennis Lehane speaking at SleuthFest in March about showing up for signings and only a half dozen people came. It even happens to writers of Lahane’s stature.

While I didn’t make the sales I hoped for, I did meet a dozen or so people who’ve read my work, some on Kindle and we talked about the story lines and characters. Some like Murphy, some Padre Thomas. My bubby Texas Rich took photos for my website and people talking to me or buying books had someone take their photo with me too. One woman said she was happy to meet me but needed the photo of us together so her friends in Ohio would believe she met me. Words like that are good for the ego! If I had walked out early because of no sales, I wouldn’t have met her. Feeling good that meeting me had made her day, made my day – or in this case, my night.

I learned humility because of book signings. I want to be popular and sell more and more books, but it hasn’t happened – yet – and it may never. I like book signings because I enjoy talking to readers. I like finding out what attracts them to the book, or their favorite character or least favorite.  I think those that show up at signings are a little envious of writers too. If they only knew how tough a road we travel.

So, when your book is published, and you go to your first signing or your 100th, go in humbly because those people waiting to meet you and hear what you have to say are the most important people you’ll ever meet. If they see a phony, they’ll tell friends. If they meet someone that impresses them by giving them time and listening to them, they’ll tell friends and they’ll be looking forward to your next signing. 

Learn humility, the road to success is paved with humble bricks.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
Dorothy Parker.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

13 Shots of Noir

My friend and fellow writer Paul Brazill will have a new collection of short stories as a eBook later this week and I suggest you give it a try. 13 short, sharp stories of booze, bullets &  bodies. What not to like? Check out his blog and find out more. I am anxiously waiting for my copy!

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