Friday, December 24, 2004

Books For Soldiers and More

This holiday slideshow of American troops abroad was sent to me by a soldier buddy of mine. I found it gave me a good perspective shift as we enter the holidays:

Regardless of politics, I think most people support the troops on the ground and wish for their safe return. We have a few opportunities this holiday season to make the soldiers' time in the Middle East a little easier, and to provide resources for Iraqi children.

Send a book or two at:

As you know, many of the soldiers are getting by short on equipment and necessities. The Wounded Warrior project, at is great - they let you send backpacks filled with everything from T-shirt to razors.

This organization, sponsored by actor Gary Sinise and Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, provides soldiers and volunteers the resources to reach out to the Iraqi people by building schools and providing learning supplies:

Fisher House helps build homes near hospitals so family members can stay close to injured soldiers after their return to the United States:

We're pretty goddamned lucky over here, and I think it's worth taking a minute to send something to those people—Iraqis and Americans—whose lives are at risk every minute of every day.

Have a great holiday season.


Friday, December 17, 2004

Updike's Got the Right Idea

So a few days after my last post, I read this article (below) about what Mr. Updike decided to do with his book overload problem. Seems a rather clever solution. It would be pretty great to buy a novel with John Updike's thoughts in the margins. I've long wondered what people would think if they came upon a book I used for research. I've scrawled many an idea in the margins of poison textbooks, CSI sourcebooks, and explosives manuals and I firmly believe that if a secondhand reader came across some of those notions in the course of their reading, it might keep them up nights. But I suppose that's my job anyways....


Author John Updike Sheds Old Books

By The Associated Press

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. - John Updike, like many a good book-lover, found the cellar of his house and shelves in his barn were being overrun with books he and his wife have collected over the years.

"They were just collecting dust and mouse droppings," the author told The Boston Globe in Friday's edition.

Their solution? Find someone who would pay for the used books, and haul them away.

"I'm at an age when you think about lightening your load, rather than dumping it on your heirs," said Updike, 72, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

Mark Stolle, owner of Manchester by the Book store, bought Updike's collection. But not all of them will be re-sold cheaply.

In some of the books' margins are handwritten questions and analogies from the novelist and essayist — writings that Updike called his "scribblings." Those editions will go for between $200 and $1,000.

Updike, who counts himself a supporter of independent bookstores, doesn't mind that Stolle is making a profit.

"If he's able to make a few dollars on a few of the review copies scattered in there, all the better. He paid a fair price."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Book-Space Continuum

One of the great advantages to being a writer is that you collect books in an accelerated fashion. Before I was published, I used to get books all the time as gifts and from fellow readers who passed along their “must-reads,” knowing I loved nothing more than to dig into a good narrative. When I sold The Tower to Simon & Schuster and paid my first visit to that great, gray building, I couldn’t believe it when my editor waved a hand at wall after wall of filled bookcases and said, “You can pick anything you want and take it with you.” I took a collection of Hemingway short stories, F Scott Fitzgerald letters, two anthologies, a host of thrillers, two science books, and a dictionary (I think he was expecting me to grab a paperback or two for the plane ride home, but he didn’t know who he was dealing with—a days-from-zero-bank-account-balance twenty-two year old). Since then books arrive, blissfully, in fours and fives, sometimes in tens. Galleys for blurbs, packages from agents and lawyers, sets from fellow authors, filled bags from bookseller events. It’s like heaven. The only problem is, the "to-be-read" stack, which used to maintain itself, by some ratio, to the “read” stack, is wholly out of control (I've had to start feeding it). I finally realized I don’t have to save and read EVERY book I’m given, so if something’s outside of my range of interest (which is a damn wide range), after much deliberation, I’ll part with it, but only if I can find it a happy home. After all, you can't just entrust a book to anybody. They’re like puppies, my books, and they keep breeding. I just built in wall-to-wall bookshelves in the biggest room in my house, thinking that would buy me and my wife some relief from the mounds rising from the floor, but to our chagrin, the shelves were almost immediately filled. And the books keep pouring in in gobs. And my friends keep writing them.

If you’ve got to have problems, though, I suppose this ain’t a bad one.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

David Montgomery's Author, Blogger, and Reviewer Best Fiction List for 2004

Prominent reviewer David Montgomery polled 50 authors, journalists, and fans, asking them to name their favorite five books they read in the year 2004. The list includes Laurence Block, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Harley Jane Kozak, Lee Child, Barry Eisler, Robert Ferrigno, Lee Goldberg, Denise Hamilton, Terrill Lee Lankford, David Morrell, T Jefferson Parker, George Pelecanos, Thomas Perry, Scott Phillips, Gary Phillips and dozens more—not to mention yours truly. It's quite a list and a good chance to see what the writers are reading. And the bloggers and reviewers.

I must confess I left out one of my favorites: Olivia...and the Missing Toy.

The link to the Mystery Ink article is:

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Source Code

I was flipping through some of TD's old journals the other day, and I came upon his notes enumerating several axioms which later evolved into the Program's Source Code. For those of you who've yet to Get With the Program, here's a starter course....

But please remember, mind control is a dangerous business. Do not try this at home.


1. Take sole responsibility for your life. You alone cause all outcomes in your life.
2. Delete your Old Programming. Your Old Programming is everything your family and society has downloaded into you that you’ve never considered critically. Your Old Programming is the part of your past that’s holding you back.
3. Overwrite your Old Programming with the Program. You can always recover your Old Programming. It’s in the trash. You can always recover points from it and use them again.
4. Maximize your growth by minimizing your negativity, especially about the Program
5. Reject victimhood. Reject actions to please, to gratify, to ingratiate.
6. Your behavior should be for you. Nothing is more useless than behavior intended to ingratiate yourself to others. It is the epitome of powerlessness.
7. Exalt strength, not comfort.
8. Strive for fulfillment, not happiness.
9. Get with the Program.