Double Whammy

August 17th, 2011

Today is a double-barreled day.

LITTLE ELVISES, the second Junior Bender book, is up on Amazon for the Kindle, and will be on B&N as soon as they get their act together.  (Sheesh.)

The jacket above is the jacket we (with your help) chose and then adapted — picked 3-1 here, and then by almost precisely the same margin in a survey of about 200 people who subscribe to my almost-sort of-nearly monthly newsletter.  I was actually happy with both variations, but three to one is a hard margin to ignore.  My thanks to Dustin Ashe a/k/a Indy Armada, who designed both variations.  Now all we need to do is sell some.

Here’s a description, from Chapter Two, of the motel room he’s staying in.  Junior lives in junk motels and has ever since his divorce from Kathy, with whom he shares responsibility, at least biologically, for their 12-year-old daughter, Rina.  He loves Rina more than anything else in the world.  He stays in each motel a couple of weeks to a month, staying ahead (he hopes) of the many people who would like to kill him, and this month he’s hit rock bottom: he’s at Marge ‘n Ed’s North Pole, in the north end of North Hollywood, where the rooms are named after reindeer and everything — literally everything — is themed to the biggest, cheapest, worst-taste Christmas anywhere, a “Glee” Christmas if there is such a thing.  So here’s Junior.

I’d wanted to stay in Donder, but it was taken.

Donder is a convincing name for a reindeer. “Blitzen” sounds to me like the name of some Danish Nazi collaborator, someone who committed high treason in deep snow. But Donder was occupied, so I was stuck with either Blitzen or Dydie. I chose Blitzen because it was on the second floor, which I prefer, and it had a connecting door with Prancer, which was unoccupied, so I could rent them both but leave the light off in one of them, giving me a second room to duck into in an emergency, a configuration I insist on. This little escape hatch has probably saved me from a couple of broken legs, broken legs being a standard method of getting someone’s attention in the world of low-IQ crime. And as much as I didn’t like the name “Blitzen,” there was no way I was going to stay in Prancer. It would affect the way I thought about myself.

Blitzen was a small, airless rectangle with dusty tinsel fringing the tops of the doors, cut-outs of snowflakes dangling from the ceiling, and fluffs of cotton glued to the top of the medicine cabinet. A pyramid of glass Christmas-tree ornaments had been glued together, and then the whole assemblage had been glued to a red-and-green platter, which in turn had been glued to the top of the dresser. Marge ‘n Ed went through a lot of glue. The carpet had been a snowy white fifteen or twenty years ago, but was now the color of guilt, a brownish gray like a dusty spiderweb, interrupted here and there by horrific blotches of darkness, as though aliens with pitch in their veins had bled out on it. The first time I saw it, it struck me as a perfect picture of a guilty conscience at three AM: you’re floating along in a sort of pasteurized colorlessness, and wham, here comes a black spot that has you bolt upright and sweating in the dark.

I have a nodding acquaintance with guilty consciences.

The book, which I actually like a whole lot, is a Los Angeles thriller-with-a-laugh-track about old-time rock-and-roll, the Philly mob, missing persons, the world’s oldest still-dangerous gangster, and a terrifying if somewhat hapless hit man named Fronts.  And a whole bunch of other stuff.  And it’s ONLY $2.99.  Get on down and buy it!!!  And if you do, PLEASE REVIEW IT ON AMAZON, because those reviews are molto importante.

Now, we fire the second barrel:

This is the one-year anniversary of the publication of THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, which Beth Crowley (bless her soul) reminded me this morning.  In celebration of the anniversary, Beth re-ran her original review here, on her really excellent site.  I recommend it to all of you – she’s a wonderful reviewer, and not just because she likes my books.

It’s been an interesting year.  I wrote a book (PULPED) that didn’t really work; QUEEN got nominated for an Edgar (and lost), then got nominated for a Macavity (I’ll find out whether I’ve won or lost on September 15 in St. Louis); I finished LITTLE ELVISES;  twenty wonderful mystery writers and I came together to create SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN, which is still raising money for earthquake and tsunami relief; I wrote about 47,000 words of a Poke novel that refused to come together, and then wrote 65,000 words (so far) of another Poke novel, THE FEAR ARTIST, that seems to be coming together very nicely. AND I moved from HarperCollins to Soho, which is great because the people at Soho are pretty remarkable.  I liked everyone at HarperCollins quite a lot, but there was always the specter of Rupert Murdoch wisping wraithfully through the hallways.

And I stayed married which is more to Munyin’s credit than mine.

I want to thank Zoe Sharp for a great interview and for setting a new standard of interactivity in her replies to your responses.  I loved having her as a guest.  Next up is the wonderful, protean Brett Battles, and then we’ll hand the talking stick back to Robb Royer, who’s focusing on some new (to us) aspects of his really extraordinary life.

See ya.

23 Responses to “Double Whammy”

  1. Jenny Milchman Says:

    Sounds like it’s been a heckuva year–congrats on the release and the anniversary and the move and the continued marriage. May the new book continue steaming along!

  2. Suzanna Says:

    Congratulations, once again, Tim for putting out more fun stuff for us to read!

    I love the little bits I’ve read so far of LITTLE ELVISES. Ed’s North Pole sounds like the kind of place that you’d need to see to believe.

    I am pulling for you to win the Macavity for QUEEN!

  3. Beth Says:

    Thank you, Tim.

    I am looking forward to reading LITTLE ELVISES which is now lurking in my laptop courtesy of Kindle for PC. It costs nothing to download this from Amazon to laptop and it happens in an instant.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    It has been a year, hasn’t it? Fingers crossed for you in September, and I managed to download “Little Elvises. From the excerpt above, I will laugh a whole lot which is good. What I love about your writing is your ability to capture the essence of a setting, and a character’s frame of mind. Just great.

  5. Gary Says:

    Many congrats, Tim. It must be very satisfying to have all this stuff coming together after so much hard work. Very best wishes for the sales of LITTLE ELVISES, and I hope the latest Poke keeps going well for you.

  6. Usman Says:

    Some year! Wow! I envy you. Mine looks like the visit to the dentist in contrast.
    But hey, still 4 months to go. Thinking of dentists I’m rooting for your cavity.
    Well, I thought that was funny.

  7. EverettK Says:

    Writing from my Xoom tablet, so I’ll be unusually brief.

    Little Elvises: BRAVO!!! A fine follow-up to CRASHED!!! It’s about time you got it released. 🙂

    QUEEN: I’ve been saving it, as it’s the last of your published books (under your real name 🙂 ) that I haven’t read, but it’s next up after I finish the current book (MEDICUS).

    My crossed fingers and best wishes didn’t help with the Edgar, but they’re back in operation for the Macavity!

  8. Sharai Says:

    Tim, you have always been a phenomenal human being. Now to read along as you’ve grown into a phenomenal writer has been pure joy. Thanks also for more gritty Hollywood stuff. Congrats on a terrific year.

    And way to go Munyin!

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, folx. (Innovative spelling of “folks,” just an uncontrollable creative impulse foaming at the edges. Okay, I won’t do it again.)

    JENNY Milchman, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the world’s nicest and most supportive people and a NEWLY SIGNED MAJOR-HOUSE NOVELIST. It’s funny, because there’s an enormous online community of writers who don’t know each other personally, and when Jenny broke her news, you could almost hear the applause. I’ve literally never seen so many heartfelt congratulations in my life. So thanks for the comment, Jenny, and how’s the editing process coming?

    ZANNA, I had you in mind when I wrote a few scenes of LITTLE ELVISES — I could hear you laughing in my mind’s ear. But the thriller stuff in this book is pretty rough, so it’s not a whimsical cozy. Fronts is possibly the most grotesque character I’ve ever written, and he HAS to come back in a future book.

    BETH, isn’t the world of digital books amazing? (That’s a rib, everyone; Beth is a diehard traditionalist when it comes to books, and I’m actually honored she is reading mine in pixel form.) And
    if it weren’t for Beth, I wouldn’t have written this blog — I had no idea today was the QUEEN first anniversary.

    LIL, it’s been a 24-month year, just amazing, and Mun and I feel so blessed to have all this stuff going on. And I really hope this book makes you laugh repeatedly. It has one of my favorite lines in it — tell me if you laugh when Junior says, “Suggest something.”

    GARY, thanks — you and Everett are acknowledged gratefully at the beginning of the book (they combed it for mistakes and found 1.37 zillion). You guys really helped to set my mind at ease, and I expect you to do the same with MUTHER’S DAY, which is going to be Junior #3. I wrote about 30% of it before I signed with Soho, and it’s just sitting there waiting for attention.

    More tomorrow — it’s almost midnight and I’m fried.

  10. Dana King Says:

    It’s up? Sweet. I’m in.

  11. Jody Says:

    Will be downloading Little Elvises as soon as I get back upstairs to my Kindle. I saw your note on DL. Looking forward to another Junior Bender adventure!

  12. EverettK Says:

    I thought it was only 1.33 zillion, but I may have lost count after the first 1.28 zillion somewhere, I’m not sure… Nonetheless, I was honored to be able to help in any small way.

    By the way, my Junior pastiche from last Christmas was set after the events in Little Elvises.

    And yes, Tim, “Suggest something” was a great line in a great scene!

  13. Robb Royer Says:

    Everett… do read Queen. It’s great.

  14. Zoë Sharp Says:

    Hi Tim
    Congrats on LITTLE ELVISES. Can’t wait to read it. And I’ll be voting for you at B’con. Erm, don’t suppose you’d consider voting for me and Charlie in the Barry Best British, would you?

    But I have to ask, guy, where did the name Junior Bender come from. Surely it can’t mean the same over there as it does over here …?

  15. Tom Logan Says:

    Hooray, Tim, for all the successes. I can’t wait to read Little Elvises and will let Amazon know asap how I feel about it. Good luck with the Macavity. And, once again, thanks for sharing all this with us.

  16. Larissa Says:

    Congratulations on such a fulfilling year! It makes me want to quit my job and just sit around and get caught up on reading and do something interesting myself. (C: Lots of hard work is paying off it seems! And yes, do thank your wife-if being this successful requires as many man hours as it seems, then your wife is a very patient and very understanding person indeed (c:

  17. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I’m BAAAACK, although it’s now almost midnight the following evening. Sorry! Have a bit too much on my To Do list, which is too long for a legal tablet.

    USMAN, you really do need to be writing. “Rooting” for a cavity, indeed. Made me laugh. But I still want the bucket.

    EVERETT, what is it with you and all this off-brand hardware? The Xoom tablet, the Westinghouse steam-powered e-reader. Thanks for the good wishes for the Macavity, but you should really read QUEEN. Robb, who’s no pushover, says it’s great, and he’s someone whose taste I trust absolutely.

    SHARAI (AND ALL THE WINNERS OF O’MALLEY ARTWORK)– first, thanks for being yo own sweet sef and be patient — Mike’s in his busiest time of the year, the Sawdust Festival in Laguna, and he’ll mail everything out as soon as it’s over.

    DANA — Thanks for dropping by and thanks for buying LITTLE ELVISES, assuming you did. And if you didn’t, no problem. Mun and I are doing just fine in this down economy. Seriously. Nothing to worry about.

    JODY — I actually like LITTLE ELVISES better than I like CRASHED, and I like CRASHED a lot. Part of it is that these books are so much fun to write — I’m pretty much laughing all the time. But I actually think they both work pretty well, and some of the bits in it are (to me, anyway) genuinely funny.

    Okay, I’m so tired I’m dizzy. Will finish up tomorrow and then make way for BRETT BATTLES, followed by ROBB ROYER. Good as I been to you. (One of the best of Dylan’s album titles.)

  18. EverettK Says:

    Xoom tablet: I don’t have a smartphone (no wise-ass remarks required), as I’m an old fart and don’t need to be in CONSTANT touch with the net and texting and twittering and so on. But, given the rapid growth in Android phones and tablets, I wanted to start porting some of my logic puzzle games to the OS, and I also wanted to have a tablet device. So, two birds, one device. I’m getting close to having the first of my games ported (should be released within a month). At some point in the future, I may buy an I pad for the same reason, but as good as Apple’s hardware and designs are, from a software developer’s point of view, their analness and draconion “We get 30% of everything, or you don’t sell anything” really sucks.

    Anyway, I’ll post my Little Elvises review on Amazon as soon as I get back from this all too brief vacation. (It was really quite nice of you to move me for a few days to a dungeon cell with a small barred window high up on the wall. Just yesterday I actually saw a bird fly past!)

  19. EverettK Says:

    “I pad” Crappy damn too-smart-for-it’s-own-good auto-correction software. That’s what I get for not proofreading my own writing! 🙁

  20. Usman Says:

    Announcement: all readers please note that I am returning Tim’s bucket.
    Tim, your next blog shall be on life without a bucket in a dungeon cell. That’s the least you can do for me.
    Everett, man you’re living the high life… a bird, a real bird, you say.
    PS: Tim, please keep on saying the word writing. Every time you say that, I finish a chapter.

  21. Mike Schimmer Says:

    I downloaded Little Elvises and will definitely post a review on Amazon. There are authors who sell a zillion books, but they just don’t resonate with me. I will read a book or two, and move on. On the other hand, I read everything Hallinan, and can’t wait for more (FEAR ARTIST, anyone?). Thanks for a great year and fingers crossed for Sep 15 in St. Louis.

  22. Stephen Cohn Says:

    Love the excerpt from Little Elvises – I’m on way to Amazon.

  23. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Stephen — I really hope you like it.

    Mike, thanks to you, too. I have no expectation of winning, but it’s an honor just to be in the same sentence as James Lee Burke.

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