Last night, I took part in yet another episode of the KISSFAQ podcast. This time around we talked about the upcoming KISS fan-film from Andrew Sgambati entitled One Last Time. Airing May 15 on YouTube and Vimeo, One Last Time is an excellent documentary focused on Andrew’s KISS fandom and the band’s End Of The Road World Tour. As always, it was a blast being part of the KISSFAQ podcast. I hope you enjoy it!
I just returned from New York City where I attended, for the third year in a row, ThrillerFest, the premier annual conference for mystery and thriller writers. This event, hosted by International Thriller Writers (ITW), is heaven for established writers, aspiring writers and fans of the genre. Attendees get to learn from and network with the best writers in the industry. It’s a fabulous environment that inspires everyone to take their reading and writing to the next level.
I captured a ton of great content during this amazing conference, and over the next several weeks and months I will share with you what I learned and experienced, including photos, videos, highlights from panels, and interviews.
On Thursday night I went to go see the Robin Zander Band (RZB) perform in New York City, and it was a terrific show. I had first seen Robin with Cheap Trick a few months back on KISS Kruise IV, and I also attended one of his solo acoustic shows during the cruise. Both concerts were great, and the RZB performance this past week was just as compelling. It was two hours of fun classic rock in an intimate setting, and I got to meet Robin after the concert. Check out the band’s website for upcoming tour dates as they put on a show you don’t want to miss.
In addition to attending a great concert and meeting Robin, his band and his son, I had the opportunity to interview Robin Zander on Friday right before he hit the stage. We talked about everything from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to KISS to new Cheap Trick music. Also included below are photos and videos from the RZB concert in New York City. Enjoy!
On Wednesday night I went up to New York City to catch Night Ranger’s concert at B.B. King’s. I was fortunate enough to meet the band backstage, as you can see from the photo above with me and Jack Blades…and Kelly Keagy peering over our shoulders.
Today was the start of the first pre-sale for tickets for the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Of course, I was in a meeting when they went on sale and so was my cousin, who is joining me at the event. To solve the problem, I enlisted the help of my girlfriend. At 10 a.m. she was logged in and was ready to buy the tickets and after clicking “search,” she was greeted by a message saying no tickets were available. After persistently searching for what felt like an endless amount of time, she finally secured two tickets and bought them.
Where did all the other tickets go, you ask? Well, they were snatched up by sites like StubHub, which is essentially legalized scalping. Tickets similar to the ones I got for $92.50 on Ticketmaster cost $244 on StubHub. How could they possibly justify such an exorbitant increase? They can’t, which is why it’s a rip-off that only harms the fans.
I’m thrilled that I’m attending this event because I’m going to see two of my favorite bands – KISS and Hall & Oates – get the respect that they deserve from an institution that has ignored their great artistic contributions for far too long.
If you’re looking for tickets to the ceremony, avoid StubHub and try and purchase them during one of the sale dates below:
Onsale to General Public
Start: Sat, 03/01/14 10:00 AM EST
Start: Mon, 02/24/14 09:00 AM EST
End: Fri, 02/28/14 10:00 PM EST
VIP Packages Presale
Start: Mon, 02/24/14 09:00 AM EST
End: Fri, 02/28/14 10:00 PM EST
VIP Packages Post-Sale
Start: Sat, 03/01/14 10:00 AM EST
End: Thu, 03/20/14 05:00 PM EDT
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Member Presale
Start: Fri, 02/21/14 10:00 AM EST
End: Sun, 02/23/14 09:00 PM EST
Yesterday was a great day. I went to New York City with my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day weekend and we saw an excellent movie – American Hustle, went to a great restaurant – The Writing Room – and capped off the day with a Melissa Manchester concert.
In December 2013 I interviewed Melissa for my blog and she was as nice as could be and full of great stories. For those that haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. One of the topics covered in the interview was yesterday’s concert in NYC. Melissa said, “you never know what I might sing” and boy was she right. The set list included a variety of her biggest hits, including “Midnight Blue,” “Come in From the Rain” and my favorite, “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” She also sang “Something Wonderful” from The King and I and new material from her upcoming album, You Gotta Love the Life. There were countless other songs during the hour-and-a-half concert, including a blistering performance of “I Know Who I Am,” a song that was featured in a trailer for the Tyler Perry movie For Colored Girls. And after the concert came to a close with Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York,” Melissa and her talented musicians were met with a well-deserved standing ovation.
As you can see from the photo above, I had the chance to meet Melissa in person after the show and she was as lovely in person as she was on the phone. She took the time to meet and take photos with fans, as well as autograph items. The line to meet her went to the back of the room but she stuck around until every fan was satisfied. I was very impressed.
If you ever have the opportunity to see Melissa Manchester, go for it. In addition to having a spectacular voice, she’s got great stage presence and an appreciative personality. It was a terrific evening of music and I wouldn’t hesitate to see her again.
Below is a live performance of the aforementioned song, “I Know Who I Am,” from a 2010 concert. Enjoy!
The fourth and final day of ThrillerFest was just as enjoyable as the ones that preceded it. As you can see from the photo above, I left the conference with a ton of books. Below are highlights, photos and videos from the final day of ThrillerFest, including the entire 43-minute interview with Michael Connelly. I’m attending next year’s conference, which I’m sure will be even better. Now I have to try and finish these books before next July. Wish me luck!
Does Speed Kill?
Does Speed Kill?
“Writing expository material in my books makes me feel like I’m running in mud.” – Andrew Gross
“I don’t like to write books that feel like screenplays.” – A.J. Hartley
“If you have a sprint from the beginning of the book to the end, without slowing down, there’s no depth to it at that point.” – Sheldon Siegel
“If my wife stops reading my book in the middle of a chapter, I ask her why.” – John Gilstrap
“I love to go to plays to see where the acts end and whether or not people get up from their seats during the intermission. It’s a great way to learn about pacing.” – Heather Graham
Meeting T. Jefferson Parker.
T. Jefferson Parker Interview
“I decided to be a reporter so I could pursue my passion for writing and in my free time work on novels.”
“I didn’t want to be a series writer. I didn’t see myself in that place, at that time.”
“The great thing about being a writer is you can be sitting on the boardwalk in Laguna Beach, minding your own business, and the main character in your next novel can walk right in front of you.”
“When it comes to the writing process, I’m a Monday through Friday kind of guy, from 7 to 5 pm. If I can get five pages done, it’s a good day.”
“The hardest part for me is not writing. It takes me three months to come up with an idea good enough to start writing. Then it takes me about six months to finish the first draft, and another three months to make it as good as I can before I send it off to my agent.”
“The shortest outline I wrote was on a bar napkin. After explaining the outline to the publisher, my agent called me the next day and said, ‘I don’t know what you wrote on that napkin but the publisher just bought it.’”
“For Laguna Heat, I threw away 2,500 pages over a five year period. I never worked so hard to make a book readable. In total, there were six drafts.”
“I love to read; it’s nourishment for me. I usually have two or three books going at a time. If I didn’t read while I write, I’d never read.”
Young writers’ first goal should be to find their own voice, and stop trying to write like their heroes.”
“I still feel that my best work is ahead.”
Are Young Adult Novels Meant For Adults?
Are Young Adult Novels Meant For Adults?
“A lot of my readers are adults because they grew up with me. I’m nostalgia to them. I’m Hall & Oates.” – R.L. Stine
“There was a statistic saying that 52% of YA readers are adults. But if you remove The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, I’m not sure that’s true.” – Michelle Gagnon
“I wrote my first young adult book in five weeks.” – Barry Lyga
“I write YA because that’s what I like to read.” – Linda Gerber
“Young adult novels have a direct, powerful and emotional point of view.” – Allen Zadoff
“On social media, 30% of my followers are adults.” – Lissa Price
“I don’t think it’s so remarkable that adults read YA. We all used to be teenagers.” – Kat Rosenfield
Next week I’m attending my first ThrillerFest, and it should be a blast. I’ll have the opportunity to network with and learn from some of the best writers in the business. I’m sure I’ll have many great photos, videos and stories to share. Stay tuned to my blog for full coverage of the event.
Last night my girlfriend and I went to New York City to see best-selling author Dan Brown speak at the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall about his illustrious career and new novel, Inferno.
The evening’s festivities started with an introduction by TODAY Show anchor Matt Lauer. He was his usual charming self and showed a clip of a recent interview he did with Brown at his home in New Hampshire. Speaking of which, Brown’s opulent abode features multiple secret passages and a “fortress of gratitude,” which contains the myriad versions of his books that have been published around the world.
The Lincoln Center steps were used to promote Dan Brown’s new novel. They said: “9 circles. 7 sins. 1 secret. Inferno. The new novel by Dan Brown.”
After the clip ended Lauer introduced Brown, who was met with a warm round of applause. Brown’s hour-long presentation covered a variety of topics, including his childhood, feedback from fans and critics on his work, and a humorous story about what it was like to have Tom Hanks fasten Brown’s kilt prior to a social gathering for the film version of The Da Vinci Code.
The underlying theme that’s weaved through many of Brown’s most popular novels are whether humans should turn to faith or science for answers to challenging questions. He explained that being the son of a “church lady” and mathematician had something to do with his fascination with this eternal struggle. It was also interesting to learn that Brown grew up in a household with no TV or junk food, but plenty of books.
His new novel, Inferno, takes place in Florence and it focuses on the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century poem, Divine Comedy. “With the exception of the Bible, no book in history has influenced more art, music or literature than the Divine Comedy,” said Brown.
The most interesting part of the evening came at the end, when Brown said the following:
“There is nothing in our DNA that predetermines our beliefs. We’re not born into this world believing that a particular god is the true god; we’re born into a culture. We worship the gods of our parents. If all of us in this room had been born in the mountains of Tibet, most of us would be Buddhists. And we would hold onto that Buddhist philosophy with the same passion that we have for our current beliefs. We worship the gods of our parents. It’s truly that simple.
The world is getting smaller every day. And now, more than ever, there is enormous danger in believing we are infallible, that our version of the truth is absolute, and that everyone who does not think like we do is wrong and are therefore enemies. For our own survival, it is critical that we live with open minds, that we educate ourselves, that we ask difficult questions, and above all, that we engage in dialogue, especially with those whose ideas are not our own.
So in the name of the dialogue we share and ideas, I just wanted to acknowledge that tonight, what has brought us together in this space is quite simply, books. Those magical artifacts that share ideas across borders, across cultures, across languages, and most importantly, across time. So for all of you in the audience that write books, publish books, sell books, and above all, read books, thank you.”
Overall, it was an enjoyable event that provided a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most talented modern-day authors. As a parting gift, everyone in attendance received a free copy of Inferno. Since most people read books based on recommendations they receive either in-person or online, this was a smart idea.
Look out for my review of Inferno within the next several weeks. From what I’ve heard thus far, it’s an epic yarn.
This July I’m attending my first ThrillerFest, and I can’t wait! What is ThrillerFest, you ask? According to the website, it’s “a four-day celebration of thriller books, the authors who write them, and the fans who read them.” This year’s event features an endless list of bestselling authors, including Anne Rice, Michael Connelly, R.L. Stine, Lee Child, and, Andrew Gross, just to name a few.
The conference is broken into different parts. The first day-and-a-half is CraftFest, which is essentially a writing school featuring top authors, agents and editors. These individuals lead educational panels and workshops about almost any topic a writer could be interested in when it comes to writing fiction. Whether you’re looking to learn about blogging as a novelist or what point of view you should write from, CraftFest has you covered. Since I’m working on a novel of my own, I’m looking forward to soaking up all sorts of good information during CraftFest.
Starting Thursday afternoon (July 11), AgentFest begins, which is best described as speed dating for agents and authors looking for representation. While my novel is nowhere near being finished, I still look forward to observing these interactions and speaking with a few agents and authors about their experiences during this event.
Thursday night, once AgentFest has come to a close, the ThrillerFest opening reception takes place. Then the following two days (July 12 and 13) are filled with panels from bestselling authors about a variety of interesting subjects. Last year some of the topics covered included:
Writing Opposite Sex Characters
Is Indie Publishing For You?
How Do You Build A Thriller Brand?
What Makes Them Scream?
Is It Really That Hard To Be Funny?
I’ll also be attending the first-ever FanFest on Friday, July 12. It’s a two-hour portion of the conference where fans can drink and chat with a roomful of bestselling authors. I look forward to speaking with many authors whom I’ll be meeting for the first time, including Andrew Gross, who I recently interviewed for my blog.
ThrillerFest is bound to be a terrific experience that will yield fascinating stories, photos and advice. Stay tuned to my blog for extensive coverage of the event. It’s going to be something special.