Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bouchercon 2012 Schedule

Well, fellow crime-types, Bouchercon is nearly upon us. I, for one, am crazy psyched. For those of you who might like to stalk me in the course of cavorting about the land of Cleve, my panel information is as follows:

Morally Challenged Heroes
Friday, October 5, 2012
2:45-3:35 PM
Whitehall Room

Lou Berney
Elizabeth Hand
Seth Harwood
Chris F. Holm
Wallace Stroby
Ali Karim (Moderator)

A fantastic group, to be sure, and a topic that's close to my withered, blackened heart. You can read the inimitable Mr. Karim's thoughts on our impending panel here. Oh, and I expect I'll be signing copies of DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE afterward in the book room.

You'll also find me at the sure-to-be-fantastic panel on crime-solving writers, which is moderated by my lovely, talented wife. (I'll be the one trying in vain to start a wave whilst said lovely, talented wife glares adorably at me.)

Murder He/She Solved
Friday, October 5, 2012
9:00-9:50 AM
Ambassador Room

Robert Olen Butler
Joy Castro
Hilary Davidson
Hannah Dennison
Bruce DeSilva
Cathy Wiley
Katrina Niidas Holm (Moderator)

For those playing along at home, that's an Edgar, an Anthony, and a Pulitzer Award-winner, all on one panel! I may be biased, but I think it's gonna be a barn-burner. Hope to see y'all there.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Crimespree on THE WRONG GOODBYE!

Dan Malmon of Crimespree was kind enough to take a peek at THE WRONG GOODBYE. Click through to see what he had to say:

"An undead agent of Hell? Relatable to the reader? As written by Chris F. Holm? You bet."

Thanks, Dan!

Names: A New Perspective

Today, I'm over at Abhinav Jain's blog, participating in his Names: A New Perspective series by talking about the inspiration behind character names in my Collector series. Swing by and give it a read!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CM: Paging Mr. Schmatterson

Today at Criminal Minds, I'm talking collaborations of the Clancy and Patterson variety. You know, a big name on the cover, followed by a very little one, literally and figuratively, only the little one's the guy who wrote it. Kosher? Exploitative? Pop by and see what I think. Then yell at me in the comments if you disagree. (You can yell agreement, too, I guess, but what would be the point?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Favorite Bit

The lovely and talented Mary Robinette Kowal was kind enough to let me sully up her blog today, talking about my favorite bit of THE WRONG GOODBYE. Pop on by and take a gander. And thanks, Mary!

THE WRONG GOODBYE is now available!

I confess, as I write this, I'm a little dazed. It's been a whirlwind of a day. Book two of my Collector cycle, THE WRONG GOODBYE, is now available in print, ebook, and audio format - in the US and Canada, at least. Look for it (nay, pound on the counter and demand it) wherever books are sold. Or, you know, don't. But I'd prefer it if you did.

For what it's worth, I think this one's really, really good. But since there's a teeny, tiny chance I'm biased, here's a peep at what the ever-wonderful Elizabeth A. White had to say about it:

"Holm set the world on fire with DEAD HARVEST, and now he absolutely burns it to the ground with THE WRONG GOODBYE."

And lest DEAD HARVEST feel like the forgotten older sibling, supplanted by the new baby in the family, Angie over at Open Book Society was kind enough to give it a peek just yesterday:

"This book is everything I would want in the first of a series. It had action, romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and most importantly an awesome plot! I loved this book from the moment I read the synopsis to the moment I finished the last paragraph."

Thanks to Angie and Elizabeth both. Thanks also to all of you who took the time to hype my books today, or dropped a line to wish me well. You made this release one to remember.

Now, I do believe it's time to pour a drink. Tonight, I celebrate. Tomorrow, I get back to work.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let the Authorial Freakout Begin

One day.

Just one day until the US release of THE WRONG GOODBYE.

If you want to pick up a copy, my website's got links: US and UK, big-box and indie, you name it.

If you want to learn more about it, you can read a nice, long excerpt here. Or check out my guest post over at the ever-lovely Elizabeth A. White's blog. (Thanks, Elizabeth!) And keep stopping in here; there'll be reviews and guest posts aplenty in the coming days, and I'll do my best to post them as they become available.

Hope y'all dig it. If you need me, I'll be hiding under my desk...

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Value of Free Redux

A while back, you may recall I wrote a post on the value of (cautiously, judiciously, and occasionally) giving work away. Today, a version of that post is up at Writer's Digest's Guide to Literary Agents blog, courtesy of Chuck Sambuchino. Thanks for having me, Chuck!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CM Post and Twofer Review!

Today, at Criminal Minds, I'm talking about my sordid past (not really) hustling pool (really), and how that relates to my writing quirks or deliberate lack thereof.

Also, DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE got a two-for-one review over at Untitled*United! Here's a taste of what they had to say:

"Two books in, and so far the Collector series hits plenty of high notes. These books are a lot of fun, very well plotted and expertly paced. They’re a great addition to the Angry Robot family of books, and they’ll make a great addition to your library."

Thanks kindly!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Crimespree Interview

Dan and Kate Malmon, Crimespree Magazine's other dynamic duo (side-note: whaddup, Jon and Ruth!) were kind enough to invite me by for an interview the other day. And much to my surprise, my cat, Binkley, makes a cameo; you can check out my dubious mind-fruits and the accompanying cat-pics here. Thanks, you two! You're both aces.

Friday, September 07, 2012

When it rains...

Two posts in one day? Madness, I say! But it seems the day is flush with news 'o me. In addition to the Friday Reads/Crimespree contest I mentioned this morning, allow me to point thee toward these sundry other Collector-centric pleasures:

First off, Erin Mitchell was kind enough to review DEAD HARVEST, and had this to say:

"Because I knew author Chris Holm’s short stories, I knew already that he is a talented storyteller. If I’m honest, though, I underestimated his power to create characters and worlds that are as compelling as the one we find in DEAD HARVEST."

Benoit Lelievre takes a peek at DEAD HARVEST, too, and said:

"Chris F. Holm's pen reminds me of Stephen King's. Take note, fans of the legendary writer, you may have found a new champion in Holm... If you're shopping for a hot new series, look no further."

Finally, my main character himself, undead soul collector Sam Thornton, sat down with Erin for an interview, and thankfully she lived to tell the tale. You can read the result here.

Crimespree/Friday Reads Contest!

Wanna win cool stuff from the likes of Sean Chercover, George Pelecanos, Greg Rucka, Bill Willingham, and, um, me - not to mention free registration to Murder and Mayhem in Muskego, where you'll get a chance to meet many of those folks in person? Of course you do. So click here and get entering! And many thanks to Crimespree and Friday Reads both for including me.

Note: Crimespree knows not everyone lives near enough to Muskego to take advantage of that last prize, so you have to enter that one separately. No worries on winning anything you won't love.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

THE WRONG GOODBYE Excerpt and Review!

Thing the First: wanna read the first chapter of THE WRONG GOODBYE? Civilian Reader's got you covered. Click through to check it out.

Thing the Second: Sean Cummings, author of the forthcoming POLTERGEEKS, took a peek at THE WRONG GOODBYE, and had this to say:

"THE WRONG GOODBYE is everything that’s right about urban fantasy and one of the best books of the year."

You know, so there's that. Click through to read the rest.

Thanks to Sean and Stefan both!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Civilian Reader Interview

Just a quick post to point y'all toward my interview at The Civilian Reader. Stefan, the titular civilian reader, was kind enough to invite me by, and asked some damn thoughtful questions. Swing by and see if I did 'em justice.

Monday, September 03, 2012

On Common Decency

Recently, the writing community has been rocked by a series of revelations surrounding the abuse of user-reviews by authors and other industry professionals, both to champion their own work (or, in the case of paid "reviewers," the works of their clients) and to denigrate the work of their perceived rivals. And a number of writers have responded with what I believe is a very thoughtful and right-minded open letter condemning such behavior, one whose contents I wholeheartedly support.

Now, I suppose I could, as some have done, copy said letter to my blog and sign my name to it as well to show my support for it, but a) I was not consulted in the writing of it, and would not like to foster any misapprehension that I was, and b) I occasionally fancy myself something of a writer; since this scandal is one that's close to my heart, I thought I'd spill some ink of my own on the matter.

First, a couple clarifications. This is not the publishing equivalent of inside baseball, of interest only to those who make their living writing, editing, or marketing books. This issue affects every single reader who's ever bought a book based on customer reviews or sales rank. Because what we're talking about isn't simply a couple petty pot-shots or fake-raves to soothe an author's tattered ego. The folks who're buying or penning fake reviews aren't faking one or two. They're faking dozens, if not hundreds. The more good reviews, the higher up the results list a book hits on a given customer search. The more bad ones, and the farther down the list it falls. And if there's one thing I've discovered in my two years of obsessively monitoring my Amazon sales-ranks (first for my self-released short story collection, 8 POUNDS, and now for DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE), it's that the best way to sell books is to've already sold a bunch of books - or to've garnered a bunch of good reviews.

You drop your price, your sales go up. Your sales go up, you start hitting top ten lists. Top ten horror anthologies. Top ten hard-boiled crime novels. Top-ten cat-based mysteries. And reviews work the same way. Pick your favorite genre. Sort by best-rated. You find some fantastic stuff that way. And no doubt a couple hucksters as well.

My point is, these ratings are life-and-death for an author. And the people who take the time to leave honest reviews do the authors they support a great service. The people who slag authors, on the other hand - be they sock-puppeteers or simply folks who hate-read for sport (they're out there, believe me, and their naked vitriol sets them apart from those who legitimately write tough-but-fair reviews) - are no-shit taking money out of authors' pockets, and food off of their tables. But big-shot authors can afford it, many of the latter no doubt think. To which I say this: how many of your favorite authors are also reporters/doctors/lawyers/TV writers/whatever? Do you think it's because they don't find writing fulfilling? No. It's because as a whole, writers don't get paid nearly as much as most folks think. And that's part of what infuriates me about this whole scandal. Hate-readers assume authors are all rich. Fellow authors ought to damn well know better.

When I decided to make a go at writing professionally, I made a pact with myself. If I was to chase my lifelong dream, I was going to do it right. No schmoozing just to get ahead. No backstabbing or shit-talking. No public airing of dirty laundry. No lying, misleading, or double-dealing, no matter how minor. And sticking with it hasn't always been as easy as you'd think. As an example, early on in querying, I was fool enough to grant an agent an open-ended exclusive on my manuscript. They sat on it for months. In that time, other agents whom I'd queried expressed interest in reading it - one of whom, as it happens, now represents me. But I'd made a promise, so I kept it, gritting my teeth and asking if the others wouldn't mind waiting until I heard back on the exclusive. Damn if I wasn't tempted, though.

I confess, that pact has left me reluctant to solicit reviews from folks I know liked my books, because I felt like I'd be stuffing the ballot box; the closest I've come as far as I recall is generically encouraging folks to review authors whose books they've enjoyed. It's led me to insist my wife not review my books online, despite the fact that I believe her when she says she quite liked them. (In the interest of full disclosure, I suspect she's rated me favorably on GoodReads regardless, but, God bless her, she's never been one for taking orders from me or anybody.) And I have never, ever reviewed my own books at any venue anywhere. Not under my own name, nor any other name, nor anonymously, and I never will.

But here's the thing: my position is a personal one, and has no ties whatsoever to this scandal. Nor do I suggest the hard line I've taken is the right path; Lord knows I've been tempted to tweet, "Like my book? Kindly say so on Amazon/GoodReads/B&N/your nearest street corner!" And frankly, I don't think any less of folks who do. I've also never written a scathing review of another writer's work, even when I really, really hated it (yeah, it happens from time to time), but that's simply because I don't get anything out of tearing others down. I like to like things. And when I do review something, I put my name on it (or, on Amazon, my initials; my reviews appear under the name "CFH"). As for the stuff I read that ain't my thing, I tend not to bother, since it a) mostly fades with time, and b) informs my taste and hones my writing near as much as the stuff I love. On the rare occasion it's so bad as to offend, I set it down and never (publicly) speak of it again. If other folks that hate it do the same, stuff like it'll disappear without anyone having to be a dick about it. (Okay, I confess I've taken a couple joking Twitter pot-shots at latter-day George Lucas and Thomas Harris, but they come from a place of love. Jilted, tainted, squandered love. But I digress.)

If you ask me, the sockpuppetry and assorted skullduggery that's recently come to light is but a symptom of a greater problem: namely, the breakdown of civility that arises when people are free to conduct themselves anonymously, without fear of reprisal. Many comport themselves with class and decency whether speaking anonymously or not. But those who don't wreak havoc, and lead to rambling posts like these.

Please note that none of the above applies to serious, professional reviewers (be they big or small, print or online, paid or merely passionate). They are tastemakers and gatekeepers, and the vast majority of them have earned their post as such. In fact, I find it funny that the very user-reviews many thought of as their death-knell have only served to underscore their import. In an era of "FUKYEAHTHISROXXX" and "OMGsukk!" I'm grateful there are still proper critics out there who can contextualize a novel in complete sentences, much less convey their passion or lack thereof for a given work without unfair bias or hidden agenda.

I only hope they all dig mine. Because in case you haven't heard, good reviews sell books...