my work ethic

Fool on the Hill now available on Kobo and iTunes

I announced last month that my first novel, Fool on the Hill, was finally available as an ebook. It showed up initially on Kindle and Nook, and has since appeared on Kobo. This weekend Lisa noticed it was available on Apple’s iTunes store—so if, like us, you prefer the native iPad reader, your wait is over.

Also this month, my current publisher, HarperCollins, renegotiated its ebook contracts with retailers, which means they can now discount the ebook editions of The Mirage, Bad Monkeys, and Set This House in Order. There’s already been a mini-price war as a result—as of this writing, The Mirage is available for just $9.99 on Kindle and iTunes, and Bad Monkeys and Set This House are both around $8.

In other news:

* I’m still hard at work on Book #6, hence the light blogging. I’m somewhat more active on Twitter (as @bymattruff), though I suspect a lot of my tweets over the next few weeks will take the form of cheap jokes about the election, so, fair warning.

* Lisa and I saw The Cabin in the Woods and loved it. Lisa was leery at first, because she’s not a slasher-movie fan, but Cabin is not a typical slasher movie—it’s Joss Whedon channeling the Aaron Sorkin version of The Evil Dead. Worth a look if you missed it in the theater.

* Last night I started watching (alone) La Casa Muda, a more typical horror film about a father and daughter who take a job cleaning up a house in some remote region of Uruguay where they still use scythes to cut grass. The film’s gimmick is that it’s done in one continuous tracking shot, which sounds very Hitchcockian but in practice means that the pacing is slow, and I’ve already taken to livening it up with Cabin in the Woods references, like, “I see Dad just got a whiff of the Let’s Be Stupid gas.”

* Season one of Homeland, now out on DVD, is awesome. It really deserves its own post. When I have time.

* Standing cat stands for you. (via @anamariecox)

Fool on the Hill now available on Kobo and iTunes Read More »

The pilgrim’s progress

I broke ten thousand words on a new novel this week. Still not certain it’s The Next One, but it’s looking promising. I’ll see what my editor thinks in another month or so.

Meanwhile, five things make a post:

* As part of the research for the new book, I spent some time earlier this summer poking through back issues of the Chicago Defender. The Defender archives are available digitally through ProQuest, which the University of Washington library subscribes to. If I were a UW student or faculty member I could access the archives from home, but because I’m not, I had to physically travel to the campus and use a guest computer. Which had me wishing, on more than one occasion, that I could subscribe to ProQuest directly. Unfortunately, they don’t sell database access to individuals, only to institutions. I’m sure with enough money there’s a workaround for this—e.g., get the home office accredited as a research library—but it’d be simpler if one of you Internet startup wiz-kids would just create a Rhapsody for newspaper and magazines. (I know a lot of publications, including the Defender, actually do sell individual access to their online archives, but it’d be great to be able to do one-stop shopping.) ETA: The always helpful Lee Drake notes in comments that ProQuest now does offer a service for individuals, called Udini. Thanks, Lee!

* In a weird bit of synchronicity, the night before Neil Armstrong died, I rewatched Capricorn One, a 1977 movie about a faked Mars landing. There are some serious plot holes and plausibility issues (one of the most glaring being the use of an Apollo-style command module and lander for the months-long Mars mission) but if you can suspend your disbelief it’s a fun ride with some great character moments. I loved the banter between Elliott Gould and Karen Black, and David Doyle (Bosley from Charlie’s Angels) has a nice snarky turn as Gould’s boss.

* Along with the Neil Armstrong obituary, today’s New York Times breaks the news that dancer, artist, and writer Remy Charlip has died. Charlip was the author of one of my favorite (and most surreal) children’s books, Arm in Arm: A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia. He also wrote and illustrated many other baby boomer classics.

* Speaking of surreal things, the mystery of the floating feet has been solved. (It’s been solved for a while, actually, but I was on book tour when the news broke.)

* Can you imagine a world with Hover Bacon?

The pilgrim’s progress Read More »

Notes from the ferment

Apologies for the long silence, but I’ve been in my head for the past month, trying to work out what book #6 is going to be. (Still getting there, but the road ahead is clearer now.)

Some random quick notes:

* Lisa and I saw The Dark Knight Rises. I feel like I need to see it again before making up my mind on what I really think about it. My initial impression was that there were some great individual elements, and on a purely emotional level it did work, but there were also some serious thematic and plot incoherencies that I couldn’t quite bring myself to overlook. This Film Critic Hulk essay touches on some of the issues that bothered me, and offers an interesting theory about what might have gone wrong.

* Speaking of Film Critic Hulk, if you aren’t already a fan, you should be. Here’s a nice archive post linking to all his greatest hits. Some good pieces to start out with: Why you should never hate a movie (applies to novels, too); Why the Campbellian “Hero’s Journey” is a lousy template for storytelling; and an amazing explication of What the hell is really going on in Mulholland Drive.

* If you’re looking for something different to rent on Netflix, check out Errol Morris’s documentary Tabloid, a bizarre true-life tale about a Mormon missionary kidnapped by a former beauty queen. If you’re not already familiar with the case, you may want to avoid spoilers—Lisa and I went into it cold, and part of the fun was guessing at what point the story was going to stop getting weirder.

* My pal Neal Stephenson will be appearing in Kane Hall at the University of Washington tomorrow night at 7:30 PM to promote his new book, Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing. Paul Constant will be interviewing him.

* The Curiosity landed safely on Mars last night. It was fun following the collective nerdgasm on Twitter, but I have to confess, having experienced Viking as a kid, I’m feeling strangely jaded. The space probe I really want to see before I die is an ice-fishing expedition to either Europa or Enceladus. In the meantime, Hollywood, how about a remake of Capricorn One?

* Moose Snow leopard and squirrel. Bonus video: A goat smaller than a house cat. Thanks, evolution!

Notes from the ferment Read More »

Two months and counting

Sixty-two days till publication. Sorry to be so quiet lately, but I’ve been in that inevitable low-energy lull that comes between the high of last-round copyediting and the high of actually seeing the book out in the world. On the plus side, I finally understand the appeal of Twitter.

Some news:

* If you haven’t seen it yet, the Mirage book tour schedule is here. For now, it’s strictly a West Coast tour, but I’m hoping the novel will do well enough to justify adding more dates east of the Rockies.

* I’ve added an Odds & Ends tab to the site navigation bar. It links to an updated version of the “Unpublished works and ephemera” page from my old website.

* I’ve converted my personal Facebook page to a fan page. If you were feeling shy about sending me a friend request, now you can just “like” me.

* Those of you who’ve been asking when/if Fool on the Hill will be available as an ebook, it’s in the works. I’ll post more once I have details.

Two months and counting Read More »