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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Selling sand...



It's tough plugging books, seriously, I think it's harder plugging them than it is writing them. There's twitter, there's blogger, there's Goodreads and there's even new platforms like Medium (plus a load I've probably not even heard of yet.)

It's a constant battle of keeping the pot boiling, asking for retweets, shares, google+ (yes I've even tried Google+, and yes there is an echo in there when you cough.)

If I'm in a room full of readers I can sell books, I'm lucky in that years before I wrote stuff, I sold stuff. If you chuck in the stand-up comedy years I can pretty much get by with an audience of 100 or 1 (thank you Madeline in Brooklyn).

Stick me online though, and it is another matter.

I hate being the guy who tweets endlessly about his book.

I hate being the guy who clogs your timeline so much you reach for the mute button.

I hate being the blogger who blogs about nothing but stuff like this.

I'm sorry, forgive me, I want to say sorry.

But...

My dreams have come true, Harper Collins believed in me, I published a book and I've watched it fly.

I just need to sell it so the dream can go on, so thank you for understanding.

Tony.

The Darkest Hour on Amazon


Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Darkest Hour.


I know this isn't really a blog post, but I am rather proud of these quotes, so I just thought I would share it with you!
Tony

Saturday, 29 November 2014

I love you...

When I was a kid, like so many other kids, my Dad taught me how to ride a bike in the garden. I remember it was warm, spring time warm, but not so warm he was able to take off his cardigan.
Then again, he never took off his cardigan.
He was laughing, I remember that.
I can feel his hand on my back right now, all these years later, sitting in my office with the rain tap tapping on the window, and my keyboard and coffee pooled in the light from my lamp.
I can remember he was laughing, but I can’t remember what it sounded like.
I’ve forgotten the sound of my father’s laughter.
In my memory, I turn around, I see him, laughing like he’s in a silent movie running behind me, his hand on my back.
I can feel his hand.
But I can’t hear him.
I’ve forgotten the sound of my father’s laughter.
He died twenty five years ago.
I can’t remember the sound of his laughter, but I do remember the sound he made when his battered and tattered heart gave out that night all those years later. He cried out, eyes closed, head tilted forward, chin in his chest, fists balled, at the edge of the end and not wanting to go.
I remember that.
I miss him.
I’ve an old car, a desperate for attention busted up old thing, that needs more jobs than Detroit.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been under that car and wished my Dad was there to pass me a wrench and give me some advice. Although deep down I know he’d give me a nudge, and tell me to get out of the way while he did whatever it was needed doing.
I’m not very good with cars.
My Dad was.
Like a shadow creeping across the grass on a bright summer’s day. memories fade and move away. As time passes, in the setting sun of a late afternoon, memories become difficult to focus on, their edges soften, they bleed into the darkness of the gathering night.
And then they are gone, forgotten, or at best hazy dreams you have to squint at.
Hazy memories of hazy memories.
My Dad didn’t like having his picture taken. He’d frown and quietly shuffle out of shot, and nobody would notice he wasn’t there until it was too late.
Now it is too late.
I’ve inherited that frown and shuffle, but I don’t have kids to look for me in old pictures so I guess it doesn’t matter all that much.
They’ll be nobody to look at pictures I’m not in.
My Mother once told me she could feel the weight of my Dad lying in bed next to her years after he had gone. She said every night his side of the bed was empty, she could feel his weight, the tilt, take comfort from it, every night he was there, even though he wasn’t.
He wasn’t there, even though the weight of him was.
I feel that weight, heavier than his hand.
A weight of expectation, the weight of his hopes, the dreams he never got the chance to have.
They are heavier than his hand.
I want to make a ghost proud, I want to show it what I’ve done, what I can do, and ask for help when I can’t.
But it is too late.
He’s gone.
Take a look around the room you are in right now.
Go on, I’ll wait.
Was there someone you love? Was there a phone, a pc, a tablet or even a pen and paper?
Was there a chance to reach out?
To tell someone you love them?
I’d give me life for that chance.
You shouldn’t waste it, shuffle into their photo, shuffle into their hearts, shuffle into their memories, let them hear you laugh, and make sure you listen to theirs.
Remember their laugh.
Tell them you love them.
Say that you’re proud.
Say that you’re happy.
Say it again.
Say I love you.
Before it is too late.



Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Darkest Hour UK release.



     
Hello everyone.

I hope you're all having a lovely evening? I'm busy still working, it's been a crazy old day for me here. The Darkest Hour was released, hot on the heels of the US version, in the UK today.
A really special moment for me to have my first novel released in my home country by Harper Collins after all these years of writing.

To celebrate, I took over the Harper Collins twitter feed to chat with readers and reviewers about the book for a couple of hours and had great fun. I decided to collate some of the highlights of the chat for you to take a look at, you can find them on the below link on Storify. 


Oh, and while I am on, I should mention that the book is only $2 for a limited period in ebook form!

Thanks for your support and have a great weekend!

Tony x






Saturday, 8 November 2014

I love books.


     I love books.

     Honestly, I love them.

     I love the feel, I love the smell, I love the way they change color as they get  older.

     I love the way they fan out, pages like rings on the tree they once were.

     I love running my fingers over spines in book stores, softly, like caressing a  lover's back under the covers when the lights go out.

     I love opening a suitcase and laying them on the bed, wondering which  one to open first?

     I love the same books when I get home and hold them to my nose, and  they whisper of sea breezes, suntan oil and memories.

     I love when a box arrives and I open it and find a note from my publisher,  and precious things bearing my name.

     I love dusty piles of books in corners, waiting to find a home. 

     I love books that are old friends, waiting to picked up and held again.

     I love books on the table, books on the floor, books by a window, books by  a door.

     I love lazy afternoons, silent in the sun, with a book like a fat cat purring  on my chest.

     I love books introduced by friends or lovers given as a gift, something that  they've thought about, something that you wished.

     I love books stumbled on in a store, like a puppy at a pound, waiting for a  home.

     I love the sound of rain on a window, a house creaking, a fire crackling,  and a page turning.

     I love old books, new books, undiscovered books, hidden books, naughty  books, good books, and bad books.

     I love them all.

     
     I love books.



Saturday, 1 November 2014

#NaNoWriMo






     It isn’t the start, that’s the easy bit.

     It isn’t the middle, that’s a little more difficult than the start, but it still isn’t the hardest part.

     The hardest part? That’s getting to the end.

     I’m not the fittest guy you’re likely to meet, if you think about it that’s hardly surprising, I spend my day drinking coffee and sitting at a desk. Even if I stick the coffee at the far end of the kitchen, in the highest cupboard at the back of the shelf, there is only so much exercise I’m going to get.

     Last month I spent some time in the south of England with a friend of mine. He’s a fit guy, he’s one of those people who cycle to work and run up the stairs, even though we have internal combustion engines and elevators.

     You know the kind of person I mean? The really irritating kind.

     Paul took me to a place called Lulworth in the county of Dorset. It’s beautiful there, so beautiful that even though I write for a living, I wouldn’t try tell you how beautiful it is. 

     We got out the car and looked at the view.
     
     “Wow,” I said. “It’s amazing, really beautiful.” (see?)

     “This isn’t it, the view is up that hill,” Paul said, lifting his arm at an alarming angle, pointing at the top of something that I would call a mountain. “Come on.”

     Paul started walking.

     I started whining.

     “I can’t go up there? Look at how steep it is!”

     Paul didn’t answer, he was already about sixty feet away, shaking his head.

     “Seriously, there is no way I can get up there!”

     He carried on shaking his head for the next two hours, as we made our way along the path. I trailed behind, moaning softly to myself, stopping frequently, pretending to admire the view while actually getting my breath back.

     The beginning was hard, the middle was harder, making it to the end nearly killed me.

     But I was glad I did.
    
     Because that was where the satisfaction lay.

     I looked out across the English Channel and I knew the pain of that climb, I knew the time it took, 

     I knew all of the effort and the number of blisters I had.

     And I knew it was worth it.

     A bit like writing a book.

     “I could never write a book.”

     I can’t tell you how many times people have said that to me when I’ve told them I’m a writer (I always wait till I’m asked by the way, I don’t go around shouting “I’m a writer!” at strangers.)

     Whenever someone say it I always reply:

     “You can, anyone can, you just have to sit down and do it.”

     Nobody believes me.

     I get all the excuses:

     “I’m not smart enough…” (A useless excuse, you’ve only got to look at me to see you don’t have to be smart.)

     “I don’t have enough time…” (I was working over seventy hours a week when I started mine.)

     “I don’t have enough of an imagination…” (If you played as a child, if you’ve daydreamed out the window, you can write a book.)

     I feel for those people, I really do, because they’ll never know, the struggle up the mountain, the pain in the middle, and then the hardest part, the final few feet to the top.

     And because of that, they’ll never know how amazing it is at the top of the mountain looking back at what you’ve achieved.

     I guess what I’m trying to say to you is if you are on the mountain that is writing a book, don’t give up, no matter how much it hurts, takes up your time, taxes your brain and causes you sleepless nights.

     Just keep going, it’ll be worth it when you get there.




Buy the Darkest Hour on Amazon.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Robert Crais

When you create an author profile on Goodreads, one of the first things it asks you to do is list your "influences."
They give you a great big box and say "help yourself," and they then stand back while you stop, and then stare out the window, sucking your pen.
I've got to say, I didn't suck for too long before I came up with the top name on my list.
The first book I read by Robert Crais was one of those anthology ones. You know the kind? Those big bulky blocks that have three novels squeezed into them. Those ones that are a nightmare to pick up, let alone open, and read.
Now I’m a fairly big guy, so I shouldn’t complain, but when I got that book I was lying in a hospital bed recovering from an injury I'd received as a police officer. It is fair to say I wasn't really in the mood for lifting great weights. But I was bored, and a guy in the next bed passed me the book (block) across and I wasn’t going anywhere, so I dug in.
Since that morning all those years ago I've read everything Crais has written. In fact, aside from my own, I think it is fair to say his is the only website I check to see when the next book is due out!
What I am saying is that he isn’t just an influence, what I’m saying is:
I love Robert Crais.
What is it that I think makes him special? I could say his stories, which are a mile a minute and packed full of thrills. I could praise him for the way he brings hot and humid Los Angeles to life all around me, even when I’m sitting in cold and wet Liverpool, England.
I could talk about his humour, or his sharp snappy dialogue.
I could say all of that, but the thing for me that sets him apart is the warmth he imbibes into his characters.
That for me, is what makes him special.
Let’s take a look at his main protagonist Elvis Cole.
Elvis is an LA based private dick.
Nothing new there, there are more books about private detectives in Los Angeles than there are actual, private detectives in Los Angeles. Elvis though is different, he is warm, he has depth, he cares for his friends, his clients, and they care for him. Sure he drinks, sure he is lonely, sure he can be violent, but, and this is the thing, he isn’t too much of anything.
And that is where I think Crais gets it just right, he doesn’t try too hard to make his characters interesting.
Elvis, and countless other characters in the book, don’t have too many ingredients. Of course they are complex, but they are like a perfect soup, packed full of ingredients, but too much of anything, the balance is always perfect.
Perfect.
Speaking as a writer it is sometimes easy to drift into giving your characters too much “character.” It is easy to make them pained, lonely, angry, despairing, and sad, and then to set them off into the world with all that hanging out of them like an overstuffed couch.
But the problem is, real people are seldom like that, real people are normal people. Real people exist in ordinary situations, getting through the day, doing their best to get by.
Real people are normal and Crais’s characters are nearly always “normal”, it is just that they are in extraordinary situations.
And that’s why I believe in them.
And although I don’t write about private eyes in LA, I do try to follow his recipe, because I think a reader will care about a real person, and if they care about the character, they’ll care about the book.
I’m not saying there isn’t space in the world for Jack Reacher, of course there is, fourteen million people who buy the books prove that. But what I’m saying is would you miss Jack if you never met him again?

Because I’d miss Elvis.

Thanks for reading.
Tony

The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher