Category Archives: Brett Battles

BOOK TOUR, BOTH REAL AND VIRTUAL

After what can only be described as a fantastic evening at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Phoenix last night, my real-world tour for the release of SHADOW OF BETRAYAL is almost done. I’m not sure what the exact audience count was, but it had to have been north of 75. That was thanks, in large part, to the amazing Barbara Peters and her staff who not only scheduled a great three author event, but also publicized it far and wide. I was there with John Lescroart and Steve Martini, two great authors who are also a lot of fun.

I’ve got to say, I think multi author events are really the way to go. It’s great for the people who attend because they get exposed to authors they might not be familiar with, and it’s great for the authors because of the very same reason. It becomes a cross-pollination of audiences. I know that many people who came last night for either Steve or John ended up also buying my books, and I also know the same happened for in reverse.

Anyway, as I said, I’m almost done. I do have an event this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Lancaster Library in Lancaster, California, where I’ll be appearing with our own Robert Gregory Browne. (If you’re around, I hope you can make it!) Then another event in mid-September. And that’ll be about it.

But as the real-world tour is winding down, my virtual tour is just getting into full swing! I’m in the middle of a blog tour that will last all month. I’ll be doing interviews, writing a few articles, and generally having fun. One of the more interesting things I did was an interview where I was the interviewer and my main character Jonathan Quinn was the interviewee. You can read it here.

I’m also the victim…eh…subject of Murderati regular commenter Karen Schindler’s TEN QUESTION TUESDAY. That was a lot of fun, too!

http://miscellaneousyammering.blogspot.com/2009/08/ten-questions-tuesday-with-brett.html

That’s just a couple of the places I’ll be. I’ll be posting a list in the next day or two on my personal blog. So check it out when you have a chance.

Finally, I just wanted to also thank all of you who came out and saw me as I was out on the road, and to the wonderful bookshop owners and employees who do such a great job for all of us (fans and writers) everyday!

And for those of you I didn’t see, hopefully we’ll do it next time.

Rolling with the Punches

~Quickly before my post, just wanted to say if you’re in the San Diego are today, I’ll be speaking and signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 7 p.m. tonight with fellow author Julie Kramer. Mysterious Galaxy is located at 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 302, San Diego, CA 92111. Hope to see you there.

And since I’m on the road today, I may not be able to reply to comments, so I ask your forgiveness ahead of time. ~

 

One thing we writers need to be is flexible. This is especially true in our current economy and in the rapidly changing world of publishing.

We all know that the traditional routes to publicity – newspaper reviews, printed ads and the like – are quickly disappearing. Now we all must try to get as many online reviews as possible. Each of these may have a smaller readership than the newspaper reviews, but added together can potentially deliver as many readers as the traditional reviews used to.

Publishers are now starting to catch on to this whole online world, too. And it’s not just the reviews. My own publisher has organized a blog tour for me through the month of August on sites that will, hopefully, expand my fanbase. We’ve seen these blog tours before with such folks as J.A. Konrath and M.J. Rose, and my guess is we’ll be seeing many, many more. In fact, the whole area of marketing is evolving, and I’m sure we will see new oportunities and paths to get our names out there that haven’t even be thought up yet in the near future.

But when I say we need to be flexible, I don’t just mean marketing-wise. A sad fact is that some publishers are cutting mid-list writers, setting us adrift into a void where the future is far from clear. These untethered authors are forced to reinvent themselves or face the reality that our published years are behind us. Maybe this means a switch of genre, but more likely it means writing under a pseudonym for true reinvention. If we wish to continue in the business, we must be willing to take that step, and adapt…to be flexible. 

Even authors who are under contract, with publishers who support them, need to not just sit still as if everything is fine. If we do, it’s like driving a car with our eyes closed. We need to do whatever we can to help our careers by being proactive with our publishers, presenting ideas that will benefit both them and us. We need to also listen to their suggestions, and work together more than ever to build the brand each of us are trying to establish. We also need to recognize opportunities that are presented to us, even if they are scary, and mean we have to take chances. We need to be willing to jump, because we can’t afford to assume everything is going to be fine.

And for those of us who are not yet published, we need to realize that, especially this year, times are tough, and a lot of authors who might have gotten deals in a normal year, have not. But this doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We need to be patient, flexible, and always persistant.

Going forward we all also need to keep flexible with publishing itself. Over the next decade things are going to change. At some point, digital book sales are going to overtake sales of physical books. What is that going to mean to the traditional publishing world? Who knows? But whatever world we find ourselves in doesn’t have to be bad. it will just be different. We have to be ready for it.

And if we are flexible, and roll with the punches, it can also be good world.

Okay writers, where are you in your careers? What do you see the future bringing?

And readers, does the future of books concern you? How do you see yourself reading a book in ten years? Digitally? Or the traditional current method?

A Quick Reminder and Some Motivation for Those Who Want It

First, before I forget, if you’re in the L.A. area on Saturday afternoon, I’m having my book launch party for SHADOW OF BETRAYAL at the Mystery Bookstore in west Los Angeles. It starts at 5:30 and should go on for an hour or so. I really hope you can make it! Here’s the info:

Mystery Bookstore
1036-C Broxton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

310.209.0415

I’m also off on a book tour starting on Monday, hitting San Mateo, CA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, San Diego, CA, and Phoenix, AZ. For more info, check out my booktour.com listing.

Now, a little bit of encouragement to some of you out there. This isn’t directly related to writing, but it will help you with it. I know. It’s helped me. Feel free to ignore.

I’ve been walking around for several years with a little too much extra baggage around the waist, if you know what I mean. And not just the waist. My neck, my face, my arms, my legs, all were sporting more flesh than necessary. Well, I finally decided to do something about it last April, and since then I’ve lost nearly forty pounds. You read that right, but please don’t congratulate me. That’s like congratulating the klutz who backs into your car, but then makes sure it’s fixed properly. Sure it’s nice he got it fixed, but if he’d been paying attention in the first place, it would have never happened.

I’ve been wanting to loose it for a long time. In fits and starts I would try, and then give up. But this time I wasn’t going to let that happen. And I have fellow author Jeff Shelby from our friends over at First Offenders to thank for it. You see I read a post he put up last spring where he said he’d started running again, and had lost 25 pounds. I realized then and there that I needed to just do it.

I’ll admit right here if I weren’t writing full-time, my weight loss would not have been as dramatic. I’m exercising more than I could have when I had a full-time job, but that doesn’t mean it would have been impossible. So don’t let that stop you. Find the tool that works for you and use it.

The one that worked for me, surprisingly, was my iPhone. See, I found this free application called Lose It! It helps me track my calories and my exercise. It’s exactly what I needed. I even look forward now each day to filling in what I’ve been eating and how much exercise I’ve done.

The results have been wonderful. I have more energy. My back doesn’t bother me. I sleep better. One slight problem (a problem I’m happy to have) is that I’ve had to buy some new clothes, because my old clothes fit me like a tent.

Anyway, I thought I’d share in case any of you out there could take motivation from this just like I took from Jeff. By the way, thanks, Jeff! I owe you big time.

So, ‘rati, any tips? Methods that work for you? Ideas?

It’s time to be BETRAYED

To quote Louise from a couple of months ago, “I only get to do this once a year, so you have to bare with me.”

It’s publication time for my third novel, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, and I couldn’t be more excited. SHADOW hits stores next Tuesday…just in time for Thrillerfest next week, which I will be attending! And for those of you in the U.K., you get it even earlier, albeit under a different title…THE UNWANTED should be available in U.K. store as of today! That’s right TODAY!

“The best word I can use to describe his writing is Addictive. Razor-sharp prose bits deep, cuts to a raw nerve, and leaves you…craving more. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.” — James Rollins, New York Times Bestselling Author.

About SHADOW OF BETRAYAL

The meeting place was carefully chosen: an abandoned church in rural Ireland just after dark. For Jonathan Quinn—a freelance operative and professional “cleaner”—the job was only to observe. If his cleanup skills were needed, it would mean things had gone horribly wrong. But an assassin hidden in a tree assured just that. And suddenly Quinn had four dead bodies to dispose of and one astounding clue—to a mystery that is about to spin wildly out of control.

Three jobs, no questions. That was the deal Quinn had struck with his client at the Office. Unfortunately for him, Ireland was just the first. Now Quinn, along with his colleague and girlfriend—the lethal Orlando—has a new assignment touched off by the killings in Ireland. Their quarry is a U.N. aide worker named Marion Dupuis who has suddenly disappeared from her assignment in war-torn Africa. When Quinn finally catches a glimpse of her, she quickly flees, frantic and scared. And not alone.

For Quinn the assignment has now changed. Find Marion Dupuis, and the child she is protecting, and keep them from harm. If it were only that easy.

Soon Quinn and Orlando find themselves in a bunker in the California hills, where Quinn will unearth a horrifying plot that is about to reach stage critical for a gathering of world leaders—and an act of terror more cunning, and more insidious, than anyone can guess.

Fast, smart, sleek, and stunning, Shadow of Betrayal is vintage Brett Battles: a gritty, gripping masterpiece of suspense, a thriller that makes the pulse pound—and stirs the heart as well.

After I get back from Thrillerfest, I’ll be going on a mini-West Coast tour. If you’re near one of these locations, stop by and say hi. I’d love to meet you.

Saturday, July 18, 5:30 PM – BOOK LAUNCH PARTY
The Mystery Bookstore
1036-C Broxton Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tuesday, July 21, 7:00 PM
M is for Mystery
85 E 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA, 94401

Thursday, July 23, 7:00 PM
Powell’s Bookstore at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR, 97005

Friday, July 24, 12:00 PM
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
117 Cherry Street Seattle WA, 98104

Thursday, July 30, 7:00 PM
Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 302, San Diego, CA 92111

Tuesday, August 11, 7:00 AM
Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ, 85251

Saturday, August 15, 2:00 AM
Lancaster Library
601 West Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster

October 15 thru 18
Bouchercon Conference
Hyatt Regency, One South Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, IN

Saturday, November 21, 9:00 AM
Men of Mystery
2701 Main St, Irvine, CA

And if anyone’s been waiting for the paperback of my second book, THE DECEIVED, it’s now available!

Hope to see you all on the road somewhere!

A Moment in the Spotlight

by Brett Battles

 

Two years ago almost to the day I was chomping at the bit because my debut novel was within a week of coming out. As I near the release of the paperback of my second novel, THE DECEIVED (out next Tuesday!…makes a wonderful gift!), and the release of the hard cover of my latest novel, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL (out July 8th…also makes a great gift! – for those of you in the UK, this book is entitled THE UNWANTED and will be out July 2nd!), I started thinking about what my old friend and new Murderati blogger, Steven Schwartz, is going though in these next few months leading up to his debut release date.

The excitement, the nervousness, the feeling like the day will never get here. I’m sure all of that is starting to take hold of him. It’ll build up, and build up all the way to that release date to the point he’ll almost burst. If he’s like me and a lot of other novelist I know, he’ll see that date as this awesome stone marker on the timeline of his life. And it is. But the actual pub date will more likely come in quietly than with a roar.

Unlike when a movie opens, or a TV show debuts on the tube, a book launch is gradual. There is no public notification that something big has happened. No mass rush to the theater (or in our case, the bookstore) to get a view of your story. Most people probably won’t even buy your book on the first day it’s out. And if you go out to do some drop-in signings (that’s visiting bookstores just to sign stock), you’ll find that more than one doesn’t even have your book out on the shelves yet. Hell, I went to one place nearly a week after my pub date, and they hadn’t even unpacked my novel yet.

Still, there is nothing like that first pub date. And I’m so excited for Steve as he goes through his.

None of that is to say that subsequent publication days are not exciting. They are. They all are.

With SHADOW OF BETRAYAL coming out soon, I’m once again thrilled. I can’t wait until it comes out, and I hear what people think. There are things in this story that set up things in the next book, and in books three or four down the line. And, yet, like always, it stands alone so that new readers don’t have to read the first two Quinn books to know what’s going on.

But unlike when my debut came out, I also now feel other things.

I’m concerned about (in no particular order): how the fans of the Quinn series will react to the new story, the state of publishing, how well will the new book sell, a new contract that’s still a year away, what do I need to do to extend my reader base, writing a new stand alone or series so that I can up the amount of output I have each year, writing a new Quinn novel, not loosing track of all the ideas that keep jetting through my mind, the future of publishing, the future of publishing, the future of publishing…

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Most other authors I’ve talked to have the same reoccurring thoughts and concerns. Our own Tess has often blogged both here and at her own blog about her worries each time a new book comes out.

By saying all this, I’m not trying to belittle the struggle all writers go through to try to get published. I’ve been there for sure. And I know I’m lucky to be where I am now.

What I’m really saying is that I envy Steve in the fact that he’s living in the moment of his debut year. It’s a great time, and Steve, you should cherish it all! But in even so, I kind of like being where I’m at now. As much as the future scares me, it also excites me. There are so many possibilities, so many potential opportunities. In a way, it’s like reading a good book, you really don’t know where things are going to go, but you can’t help turning the page.

For all of you who are still chasing that first pub deal, I hope for you the best so that you, too, can experience that rush that comes with your first book release. And when it comes time for your subsequent releases, you’ll know what I mean about the other stuff.

If all has gone as planned, I’m back home now…but just barely. So if I don’t answer comments right away, it could mean I’m still asleep, or just…well…loopy. (No cheap shots, Rob!) Still, would love to hear your thoughts.

The Sound of a Distant Train

by Brett Battles

I’ve mentioned this before, but when it comes to research my favorite by far is the type that involves getting to know a new location. And since I write international thrillers, those locations are usually far from home.

In THE CLEANER, I used my experiences in both Berlin, Germany, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to guide my descriptions of the locations, making both characters within the story. In this case, these were two places I’d gone to prior to writing the book for reasons other than story research. Did I think at the time I could use them in my work? Yes, the thought did crossed my mind, but I had no idea in what context that would occur. So I just kind of soaked them in, noting things without actually realizing what I was doing…at least not until I recalled them later.

The first time I ever purposely traveled to a specific location for story research came when I was getting ready to write THE DECEIVED. I had a good friend who, at the time, was living in Singapore. I had always thought the island nation would be an interesting place to set a story, so off I went. I had a fantastic time, and my friend Rick was a wonderful guide. I was pretty happy, too, with how Singapore took shape on the pages of my book.

In SHADOW OF BETRAYAL (in the U.K. entitled THE UNWANTED), I once again used places I’ve visited in the past. For example, in the opening scene Quinn is at an abandoned church in the Irish countryside. I vividly remember this church for a visit I made many years ago with my friend Tom. In the years since that trip, I’ve often thought what a great location it would be for a scene. So when I needed something interesting for the opening of SHADOW, the church was the first thing that came to mind.

QUINN 4, due out summer 2010 and tentatively titled THE SILENCED, is already done…less some edits, of course. For this one, I took a planned trip. Last fall, I traveled to London and, via the Chunnel, to Paris. Both locations play large roles in the story. And even the trip on the train under the channel makes a small appearance. Though most people won’t get a chance to read it for another year, I can tell you I’m very excited how it all turned out. I even ended up using a house just outside of London where a friend of mine lives as the location of the climactic scene. I love when stuff like that works out.

I’m now starting to work on QUINN 5, which won’t hit stores until 2011. At this point it’s a lot of ruminating, and imagining. To help myself along, I’ve planned a new location research trip. In fact, that’s what I’m doing at this very moment. For the first two weeks of June I’m away getting to know the lay of the land of someplace unfamiliar to me, but a place that will play a major role in the new book. Though I’ve only been on the road a couple days when you’re reading this, I can guarantee you that I’m having a great time observing everything.

Because that’s how I like to do it…I like to walk around and watch. Sometimes I’ll sit at an outdoor café or bar and let the world go by. I take with me both a digital still camera and a palm-size video camera. I shoot tons of photos, and let the video run for minutes. You see, I never know exactly what I’m going to need when I sit down to actually write. When I find a particularly interesting location…say an intriguing alley or a backstreet restaurant…I’ll shoot images of EVERYTHING. The video will run and run, but it’s not just the images I’m interested in. It’s also the sounds – the sounds of the place, the voices, the vehicles, the city sounds itself…and sometimes the narration I through in so that I don’t forget something important.

In addition to the cameras, I also carry a little notebook. Inside I’ll jot down notes, maps, and rough (VERY rough) sketches. But in the end, it’s the pictures and video I rely on the most…those and my memories.

When I come home, I’ll download everything to my computer, creating folders of research photos…sometimes specific, sometimes just general. And then I don’t look at anything for several months. Not until I actually get to the point where I’m writing about the place.

Ideally, I’ll have a few months between the trip and when I need to use the research. During this time I’m back to that percolation of ideas time. Scenes start developing, taking on lives of their own. Often even the plot I had developed before the trip changes based on what I’ve come across. I love this time almost as much as I love the trip itself…Almost.

For a travel lover, nothing beats the trip, though!

Oh…and where am I right now? Well, I’m just going to keep that secret for the time being, but I’m sure I’ll have a very nice tan when I get back!

Also, apologies if I don’t answer your comments in a timely fashion today…let’s just say our time zones aren’t exactly lining up, and I’m unsure of my computer access.

So…let’s talk research. What’s your favorite type? Why? What’s the most interesting thing (or thing that immediately comes to mind) that you’ve used in a story based on research you’ve done?

BONUS: The June Sweepstakes to win an advance copy of my new book SHADOW OF BETRAYAL is underway! Click here for details.

Here’s listening to…

By Brett Battles

I’ve always been a big fan of audiobooks. I used to listen to them as I sat in near motionless traffic every day during the morning commute on Los Angeles freeways. One thing I learned early on was that a good book could be ruined by a bad narrator, and a so-so book could actually come across pretty entertaining with a decent one. And when you had good on both ends?…Wow!

When I finally got my deal at Random House, one of the things I secretly hoped for was an audio deal. It would be a dream come true, kind of a full circle thing for me. I was lucky, that dream did come true when my debut novel was picked up by Books on Tape.

And to top it off, I was truly honored to have the great Scott Brick on board as narrator.

For those of you unfamiliar with Scott, he is one of the top narrators in the audiobook business. Quite simply, he is fantastic. And as an added bonus, he also brings along a built in fan base that follows his work.

The audiobook of THE CLEANER was a big enough success that Books on Tape signed up for my follow up, THE DECEIVED. Unfortunately, Scott was over booked last year, so he was not able to narrator. The person who did was good, but I have to say that I was ecstatic when it came time to record this year’s release – SHADOW OF BETRAYAL – Scott was once again onboard.

But that wasn’t all …

I then found out that they would be recording here in Los Angeles. A couple of quick emails later, I was invited to observe for a couple of hours! I could hardly wait.

Finally, when the date arrived, I made my way to the Random House Audio studios in Woodland Hills, and I brought with me our own Robert Gregory Browne.

The studio is located in a well landscaped business park that houses God know what else, but I imagine the same kind of businesses that populate similar parks across the country. Though few, I’m willing to bet, have audio studios as tenants.

On the day of our visit, Rob and I were a little early, so we got something to drink at the café located next door, then showed up right at the appointed time. We were led back to a small studio that consisted of a sound proof booth, and a larger space for the director and guests (us.)

Studio

The first person we met was Tony Hudz, director and recording engineer. He’s been in the audiobook business for many years, and he and Scott have recorded over 30 books together. We didn’t meet Scott right away, but we could see him on the other side of the large window in the wall that separated the sound booth from us. He was in the middle of reading, but soon he came out and joined us.

Both Scott and Tony made us feel right at home. We spent a good fifteen minutes talking and joking and getting to know each other. Then Rob and I settled back in a couch along the wall, and Scott went back in the booth to continue reading.

It’s a truly surreal experience to listen to a trained actor read your work. There were times when I couldn’t even remember writing the words, and one time when I realized I’d used the word “still” in to successive sentences, making me cringe.

Scott is amazing. He reads near flawlessly. Occasionally he’ll stop and re-read a sentence, but that is more to give different emphasis than he did the first time instead of stopping for a mistake. The way he works is to read two pages, then take a break, and look over the next two pages. The whole process was a complete pleasure to watch.

As the recording went on, Tony would explain some of the finer details to us, telling us about his role, and describing Scott’s methods. I don’t know about Rob, but I learned a helluva lot that day.

About twenty minutes before we were to break for lunch, Scott came out of the booth, and I went in. See, since I was there they wanted to interview me. The interview will be included at the end of the book. So for about ten or fifteen minutes, I was the one behind the mike, while Scott fired questions at me from the other room. I was a little nervous at first, but it turned out to be a ton of fun. Not sure how well I did…guess Rob can speak to that.

Second Career? Doubtful…

When I was done, the four of us went back to the café Rob and I had stopped in earlier. We had a great lunch. For the most part I just listened as Tony and Scott told us stories of recordings they’d done in the past. Then Scott and I realized we shared a love of sci-fi, and talked about that for a while.

As you can imagine, it was a fantastic day, and one I will not soon forget.

Here are a few more pics:

Scott Brick and Me

Me, Scott, Tony Hudz, and Rob

If you’re interested in audiobooks, here are a few links to check out:

scottbrickpresents.com – Scott has his own company that he uses to record some of his favorite books, you can learn more about him and those book here.
Buy THE CLEANER at Audible.com
Buy THE CLEANER at Booksontape.com
Buy THE DECEIVED at Audible.com
Buy THE DECEIVED at Booksontape.com

So, do you enjoy audiobooks? Do you have a favorite narrator? Is there an audiobook you’d suggest those here who read Murderati might want to check out?

A Family Story

Before I start…wanted to let you know I’m holding another sweepstakes to win an advanced copy of my new Quinn novel SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, due in stories July 7th (July 2nd in the UK under the title THE UNWANTED.) Details here.

 

By Brett Battles

 

This week my parents are up in Seattle visiting my mom’s dad. He’s going to be 97 this summer, and while he’s obviously been a pretty hearty guy, he’s starting to slowdown. Still, come on…97? That’s some pretty good gene stock to be from. Way to go grandpa!

Even more interesting? Until about 12 years ago, he wasn’t even part of any of our lives.

See my grandmother was a bit of a flighty gal, God love her. By the time she died, she’d been married 3 times. The man I now know as grandpa was the first. He apparently came around during a break grandma was having with her boyfriend, a guy she got together with again after grandpa was out of the picture. Boyfriend, a nice guy my mom tells me, became husband #2.

That didn’t last either. After he was gone, and this was when my mom was still a girl, grandma met and married the man who would stay with her to the end, the man that for many years I thought was my mom’s dad, not step-dad.

Husband #3 was one of those step-parents who insist that they come first ahead of pre-existing kids…in other words my mom. For some reason, my grandmother indulged him. Needless to say, he and my mom didn’t have the best of relationships.
For some reason, my mom’s step dad took a liking to me, and we bonded over a love of baseball, so I have nothing but good memories of him. But if you ask my brother and sister, their experience with him was much the same as my mother’s growing up.

Anyway, circling back to husband #1 – the man I now know as grandpa. It was the mid 1930s in Los Angeles…depression time. Grandpa was having a hard time finding a job, plus I have a feeling he could already read the writing on the wall, so he picked up and moved back to the northwest where he had family and knew he could get work. He did ask his pregnant wife to come with him, but grandma had no interest in moving out of L.A.

So that was the end of that.

Unlike these days, it was very easy back then to loose touch. And that’s what happened. Grandpa, who was a thousand miles away when his daughter was born, did exchange a few letters with my grandmother’s sister, but after a while even that stopped.

When I first heard that the grandpa I knew wasn’t my mom’s biological dad I was probably 15. My immediate reaction was, of course, surprise. Over the years since then, I’ve made the suggestion now and then that she should try to find her biological dad. For years she said she might, but I could tell she was reluctant, so I didn’t push too much.

Then, after my grandmother passed away, I got a call from my mom. She told me she’d hired a company that looked for people. Within less than a week they had an address for the man who had moved away before she was even born. We were all surprised that he was still be alive, it meant he was somewhere in his eighties…(turns out he was 85 at the time).

Mom hesitated again, just a little bit this time, but finally wrote him a letter. I believe he called her right after receiving and reading it. And the next thing we knew, he’d driven down from Seattle to my parents’ house in California.

To my mom’s credit, though she had some tough questions about why he never got back in touch with her, she put that to the side. It helped that Grandpa is actually a really nice guy, and easy to like. In the twelve years since they reconnected, their relationship, and all of our relationships with him, have deepened.

And, on top of everything, we have this really cool family story now.

While this probably sounds like it’s a post about my grandfather, what it’s really about is my mom – the life she had to put up with, the willingness to take a chance and reach out, the ability to put old hurts aside, and, ultimately, the decision to not let any of the bad stuff affect her outlook on life.

She’s been one of my biggest supporters, always encouraging my writing and anything else I wanted to try. In fact, and this is a true story, after they named me when I was born, she said to my dad, “Brett Battles…that would be a great name for an author.” HA! Hilarious, but true. I guess I was predestined from almost Day One. Everything I’ve become is due in large part to my mom.

Thanks mom, and have a great mother’s day!

Post Draft Analysis

In honor of this weekend’s NFL draft, I thought I’d do a post draft analysis. Now, of course, if this was a post about the NFL draft, it would be a pre-draft analysis. But it’s not about the NFL. What I thought might be interesting…well, at least to me…is to take a look back at the draft of my fourth Quinn novel, finished on Tuesday, from a technical standpoint.

First, a big sigh of relief, and an internal, “Oh, yeah!”

Now let’s start with some loose stats:

Book proposal written: July, 2008
Book started: approximately September 22, 2008
Book research trip to London and Paris: October 20 – 30, 2008
Hit 100 pages: approximately December 19 (I had a lot of distractions during the fall so didn’t write nearly as much as I had planned)
Hit 200 pages: approximately January 16
Hit 300 pages: approximately February 27
Spent most of March doing tweaking and rewriting
Hit 400 pages: approximately March 30
Finished Rough draft: April 7
Rewrite: April 7 – 21
Off to agent: April 21
Off to editor: Probably April 24
Plus or Minus on Deadline: 1 week early (deadline May 1)

Initial analysis:

Not happy with the amount of calendar time this book took, especially since I’m supposed to be doing this fulltime now. There were several reasons why: research trip, laser eye surgery, the holidays, and just the general distractions of starting your life as a fulltime novelist. What I am happy with is that around mid January, I buckled down and began spending large amounts of time each day at my computer. Probably 80% of the book was written after New Years.

Moving Forward:

Don’t waste so much time, and plan things so that I don’t have things like research trips coming in the middle of writing the book. Since my goal is to write as much as I can every year, doing this will help me create more time to write more than just the Quinn books.

So, based on this, here’s my plan for Quinn 5:

Write Proposal: Next week (April, 2009)
Research Trip: In the next two to three months
Start seriously writing: September
Rough Draft Completed: Christmas
Submit Draft Completed: January, 2010
Plus or Minus on Deadline: 3 to 3 ½ months early (deadline May 1)

Worst case I want to be done with it by sometime next February. None of this should be a problem as long as I put my mind to it. And what this does is free me to work on other things also.

So, by analyzing my performance and making adjustments, I should be able to create holes to work on other things this summer (though summer is going to be pretty busy, see below) and then late winter next year.

Here’s what the next four months look like:
L.A. Times Festival of Books (This coming weekend!)
That research trip
Thrillerfest
A couple of weeks up at my parents with my kids
The release of THE DECEIVED in paperback (June 23rd)
The release of THE UNWANTED in the UK (July 2nd)
The release of SHADOW OF BETRAYAL in the US (July 7th)
(No, that’s not two different books, SHADOW and UNWANTED are the same, just different titles…maybe I’ll discuss that next time.)
Book tour for SHADOW OF BETRAYAL on the west coast (details here: my Book Tour info )
AND work on one of those non-Quinn projects

I know this all seems kind of clinical, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look. By writing it, it’s actually helped me focus more on what needs to be done. So thanks for hanging in there as I did that!

So what do you think? Am I crazy? Did this help you? What’s your writing plan?

SWEEPSTAKES!!! I’m giving away 2 ARCs of SHADOW OF BETRAYAL a month starting this month through June. Details for entering are here: SOB Sweepstakes

And here’s this week’s inspiration. Imagine the amount of time and planning that went into this!

(Right) Place, (Right) Time

By Brett Battles

Last Friday I got a call from an old college friend who had an extra ticket for that night’s pre-season baseball game at Dodger Stadium. It was the Dodgers vs. the Brewers. I’m a big baseball fan, but not necessarily a fan of the Dodgers. (I’m more an Angels fan.) But I do enjoy going to a game, and it was going to be a great opportunity for my friend and I to catch up. So, of course, I say yes.

In the bottom of the first inning, Manny Ramirez comes to bat. Now you may not be a baseball fan, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Manny Ramirez. He was the guy who made a huge stink to be traded from the Red Sox last summer that they finally sent him to the Dodgers. And no matter what you think of him, he also happens to be a helluva hitter.

Back to the game…

On the third or forth pitch to Manny, he takes a swing and hits a line drive that is definitely going into the stands. How do I know this? Because as I watched the ball, I realized it was going to hit near our seats. Awesome, I though. Foul balls always tend to fall far from wherever I’m sitting. (I should say this wasn’t one of those pop up foul balls that leisurely arc into the seats. This was a line drive, a ball travelling at high speed and heading on an almost straight line for it’s final destination.)

So as this ball, this line drive that’s screaming toward our section, got closer, I realized something new…not only was it heading toward my section, it was going to hit close. Wait…hold on…not close…not even in the seat next to me. That ball, off the bat of Manny Ramirez, is heading straight for my…

WHAP!

The sting was UNBELIEVABLE. Son of a–

If I hadn’t thrown my hand out, the ball would have slammed into my chest.

Did I catch it?

No. After hitting my right palm just below my index and ring finger, it bounced off into the empty seat in front of us. Thankfully my friend was able to grab it before anyone else could.

Suddenly, I was very popular. The fans around us suddenly talked to us like we were old friends. The usher checked if I was all right. (First we said a free beer would make me feel better. She laughed. But then I started thinking I could use an ice pack.) Next thing I knew there were paramedics and security and everything. Whoa.
(It was probably a good think I got the ice pack. My hand was definitely sore and the next day there was a bruise.)

So what does this all have to do with writing? Two things, actually.

First: It wasn’t until we were leaving the game and my hand was starting to feel better that it crossed my mind I could have easily broken my fingers or my hand. Which would have meant that I wouldn’t have been able to use it to type. Which would have meant that the May 1st deadline which is staring down at me on my next book would be in SERIOUS jeopardy. Which would have meant pushing other things back that I didn’t want to push back. Double whoa!

Thankfully that didn’t happen.

Second: (And this, ultimately was the point I was trying to make, meager as it is) Getting published takes a lot of hard work, sweat, perseverance, and often seemingly endless trips to the mailbox to send of queries. But there’s also another part, a part that’s often has nothing to do with us. And that is, for lack of a better word, luck.

Hitting the right desk at the right time.

While we can’t always create our luck, we can, to a certain extent, help control it. By this I mean being ready when it comes our way.

In my Manny story, if I’d been sitting in the upper deck, that ball would have never gotten to me, not as a line drive anyway. If I’d chosen not to go, it wouldn’t have hit me either. But the seats my friend got were in prime foul ball territory. That didn’t guarantee we’d have a ball hit to us. But if we kept coming game after game, if we were persistent, there would be a good chance a ball would at least land in our area. And let’s say we worked hard, had spent years playing catch, and were actually pretty good at it, so good that we even took our glove with us to games. Let’s say Manny hit that ball at me again, only this time I caught it.

Luck that it would come in my direction, but a conscious decision to put myself in a place where it might happen, and hard work that I allowed me to catch it.

So if you’re out there and still hoping to be published, just keep working and getting better. You never know when luck might come your way, but when it does, you want to be at your best.

Okay…maybe I’m stretching the analogy here a bit. But it’s valid, and, come on, I couldn’t waste such a great story, right?

All right, brushes with fame stories…let’s have ‘em!

Today’s fun video…KILL BILL Vol. 1 & 2 told hilariously in 1 minute: