How have you been? I know, I’ve been gone (again) a LONG time. But this time, I bring back good news.
My Urban Fantasy novel, Lost Wings, is about to arrive next month, via Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. It’ll be out as both an E-Book, and a Print On Demand (P.O.D.).
The story: “When derelict Iraq War vet Richard Eastman comes home to find a wingless angel in his bathtub, he realizes that there is only one option: help her to reclaim her wings, or die trying. It’s a mission that will take Richard from San Francisco’s Tenderloin district all the way down to the lowest levels of Hell.”
Here is the finalized cover:
I wrote this novel over ten years ago, tried and tried to find an agent or publisher, but no go. Every so often I would take it out and rewrite it to the level of my writing abilities at that time. I just couldn’t give up on it (obviously, lol).
If you’re wondering about the “Don M. Vail”, my agent told me that since it is in a genre SOOOO far from my usual one (Mystery/Thriller) that I should take a pen name and do the, “Robert K. Lewis writing as Don M. Vail” thing.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. It’s been SUCH a long road. I’ll show you the back cover copy when it’s finalized.
Like I said, been a long time coming.
Update, you say?
Well, a pretty small one, I guess. However, I wanted to share the below photo of where I am with this current book. The theme of the book is not new, however, for me it’s incredibly cathartic: Death and dying, grief and grieving.
And of course, since I write mysteries, there’s a murder. A few of ’em, actually.
I’m still at it, just keeping my head below the bush-line for now, but still working hard. This one is going to be good, and I’m very excited about it. I’m finally learning an entirely new way to go about writing a book.
So, I just wanted to peek over the bush-line for a moment, to scan around and see how everyone was doing.
And I hope, especially with all The Crazy going on in the world right now, everyone is making their way as best they can.
I leave you with a photo of what my brain looks like at the moment:
Wait. I also want to leave you with a John Watson quote, a quote I feel is incredibly apt given the days we seem to find ourselves living in:
“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
I’m sorry to have to bring you this news, however, there will be no more Mark Mallen novels. We submitted a three page synopsis to my editor, and even though they tried to make the numbers work, there was just no way to make it happen.
So, goodbye, Mallen. When I learned of his demise, I actually felt like I’d lost a friend. And as I’d spent over seven years with Mallen, I felt this made sense.
What’s next, you’re wondering? Well, writers write and so I began another novel. It was a struggle to make these new characters NOT sound like my old characters. I slugged through the first draft, and then began all the work that I do before starting the second draft:
This is where I was when something happened, a real game-changer. My wife showed me an article in the NY Times about something I found incredibly beautiful and compelling. (And no, I can’t tell you what that is as that would ruin the novel) I knew there was a story in this article. I just knew it. Then I suddenly remembered a character from a screenplay I’d written over fifteen years ago. The story hadn’t work, but the character had.
And there it was. Right there. I melded the NY Times article with the character and BOOM! Instant idea. I worked up a pitch and then emailed my agent and pitched it to her. Her response was: “DROP EVERYTHING ELSE! I LOVE THIS!!! This is your big book, go out and get it.”
So, I put the above project away and began working on the new one. Here is the synopsis I worked up for this new novel:
Yes, that’s an original Robert K. Lewis synopsis.
This new book even has a title already: Coda
It was phenomenal.
Met and spoke with so many incredible authors. Got to hang out with my amazing agent, Barbara Poelle. Here is a picture of me, Barbara, and the great writer Sophie Littlefield the night of her nomination for the Macavity award:
I made friends with the Sheraton hotel bartender, a very spiritual man, and we bonded over the fact that we both have the Tree of Life tattooed on our arms. That led to many incredible discussions about numerology, the flower of life, and the intersection of lives.
(As a side note: I don’t want to seem to hedonistic, however, I have to say that the hotel bar ended up being my hangout. It was a blast.)
The panel I was on Friday morning, “The Appeal of the Hardboiled Novel” went well. I’m still so nervous when doing these kinds of things. And to be up on stage with writers such as Matt Coyle and Steve Hamilton only added to the nervousness.
But Bouchercon is a GREAT experience for fans of mysteries as it is for those who write them. I couldn’t recommend this convention more.
And no, I didn’t win the Shamus award, however, it was really an honor to have been nominated along with so many writers I’ve admired. I know people say stuff like that all the time when they don’t win an award, but you know? Now I know why they do.
I have to say though, that getting to Raleigh on the red eye from Oakland, with a layover at JFK was a terrible decision on my part, as was on our return flight, having to get up at 2:30AM so we could be ready to get our shuttle van at 4AM to get us to the airport for our 6AM flight. This wouldn’t have been so bad, had we not still been jet lagged from arriving. We each got about three hours of very interrupted sleep that night. By the time I got on the Raleigh plane that would take us to JFK for our connecting flight, I was delirious. The three day hangover didn’t help, naturally.
As an added special surprise, VW Tapes taped the panel I was on.
“Audio used courtesy of Bouchercon Writer Conference
And VW TAPES Recording. To Buy full sessions
See you soon.
Panel alert for Bouchercon! I’ll be on the “The Appeal of the ‘Hardboiled’ Mystery” panel at 10AM, Friday, October 9th. I’ll be there with some really great writers (Rick Mofina, Philip Reed, and Matt Coyle), and the moderator will be Steve Hamilton. Come on by, as it’s sure to be a great time.
Next month, man. Hope to see you there. Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Private Eye Writers of America hand out The Shamus Award every year at Bouchercon. This year, Critical Damage has made it to the final five entries in the “Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel” category. (see here for a complete list of all the finalists). The winner will be announced in October at an awards dinner during Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Shamus Award is handed out to recognize outstanding achievement in private eye fiction. I have to be honest here and say that I am both stunned and amazed and incredibly happy by this nomination. And this is also incredible for another reason, as Critical Damage was a very cathartic novel for me, written during a very painful period of my life. It’s the Mallen novel that is closest to my heart.
Trust me, I’ll keep you posted. If you happen to be going to Bouchercon this year, please let me know. The hotel naturally has a bar, and that’s where you will find me.
Except of course, Friday night.
It was a wonderful night, spent with very dear friends. Here’s just a few pics. It was a great launch, and I’m sure Mallen would’ve enjoyed it.
Oh, and I was on the radio. Suspense Magazine’s radio station. Hope you like that, too. 🙂
Have a good one.