Tag Line Haiku

by Michelle Gagnon

Ah, the tagline…how I love it. For those of you who don’t know, a tagline is that little nugget on a book cover (or movie poster) that serves as a branding slogan, that memorable phrase that persuades you to buy the book (or purchase a ticket to the movie). The following are a few of the most  famous cinematic taglines:

  • “In space, no one can hear you scream.” -Alien
  • “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” Jaws 2
  • “There can be only be one. -Highlander
  • “One ring to rule them all.” -The Lord of the Rings 
  • “The truth is out there.” – The X-Files 

One thing most people don’t know is that authors rarely get to choose their own taglines. So far, my books have been graced with the taglines, “Anyone can end up in the…BONEYARD,” and “We are our greatest enemy.” (THE GATEKEEPER). My latest release, DON’T TURN AROUND, actually had the tagline changed once some of the top buyers weighed in on it; we ended up with, “Off the grid/On the run” (which I love).

It struck me, as I recently perused the vast array of titles at my favorite independent bookstore, that there’s a game in here somewhere. A way, if you will, to combine two of my favorite things: taglines and haikus. And you’re all invited to participate.

Just so we all understand the rules: a haiku is, according to the standard definition, “A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five.”

For the sake of simplicity, feel free to combine book tag lines with film tag lines, if they seem to belong together. But make sure to attribute the tags to the appropriate sources.

I’ll be composing my haiku with a nod to some of my favorite titles (I excerpted the first part of the tagline when necessary; feel free to do the same).
Have fun, I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

Past evil still lives.  
Beauty is only sin deep. 
Everything ends here.  

(Respectively, Heather Graham, THE UNHOLY; Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, SLIDE; and Patrick Lee, DEEP SKY.)

On a side note, if you’ll permit a digression: my publisher is currently giving away galleys of my upcoming release, DON’T TURN AROUND. There are a few different ways to enter, and each only takes a few minutes. 

On Twitter, just retweet this:
@EpicReads Off the grid. On the run. DON’T TURN AROUND by @michelle_gagnon http://vsb.li/zJ3A8c RT for a chance to win!

On Facebook, Like this page.

And/or on Goodreads, Click here to enter.

Feel free to forward to anyone who might want a free book!

Jason Starr’s Hollywood Glossary

by Jason Starr

TKZ is thrilled to host Jason Starr today, an award-winning author who has written everything from graphic novels to novels to screenplays. His first series just hit bookstores this week, leading off with THE PACK, of which PW says, “Manhattan receives a lustrous varnish of black, black humor in this sly urban fantasy thriller.” His last thriller, PANIC ATTACK, was recently optioned by David Fincher (yes, THAT David Fincher, director of THE SOCIAL NETWORK and SE7EN), with OCEAN’S ELEVEN screenwriter Ted Griffin attached to write the screenplay. Here, the aptly named “Starr” offers helpful tips to navigating the Hollywood quagmire…

It’s widely known that in Hollywood people very rarely say what they are actually thinking, so the next time you interact with any agents or producers this glossary may come in handy. Here are some comments you might hear during your next trip to Hollywood, along with their actual meanings.

HOLLYWOOD: “Everyone’s really excited about your script.”
TRANSLATION: “I haven’t brought up the script with anybody yet except my girlfriend, but she thought the concept sounded pretty dope.”

HOLLYWOOD: “I like your script.”
TRANSLATION: “I think I read part of that script a couple of weekends ago. Didn’t I? Eh, maybe, maybe not. Wait, yeah, I did read it. I can’t remember much about it, but I think I remember not hating it.”

HOLLYWOOD: “I love your script.”
TRANSLATION: “I read your script. It was okay. I think there’s a five percent or less chance any studio will want to do it, but what the hell? If you’ll let me go out with it for free, I’ll give it a shot.”

HOLLYWOOD: “I’m obsessed with your script.”
TRANSLATION: “I like your script. I think it’s pretty good. I’m not sure anybody else will like it, but I actually think there’s a decent shot of other people liking it.”

HOLLYWOOD: “I have notes.”
TRANSLATION: “This script sucks. I pretty much hated everything about it. Did you really write this garbage? I have no idea what you can possibly come up with to salvage this total mess but I’ll have my assistant come up with some notes to send you.”

HOLLYWOOD: “We’re approaching Leo.”
TRANSLATION: “I’m going to discuss the idea of Leo, or some other A-list names we have no chance in hell of actually getting, with some other people here. Maybe I’ll do that sometime next week? Or maybe not. It’s probably a waste of time anyway.”

HOLLYWOOD : “Leo’s people are interested.”
TRANSLATION: “I think Leo’s name came up at that party at Cannes two weeks ago. Didn’t it? I don’t know, I was pretty wasted that night. Also, I think I was talking about like six projects at once, all bigger than yours, and I can’t really remember if I mentioned Leo in connection with your project or something else, but people totally seemed into the idea of trying to attach Leo to something. Yeah, this definitely sounds like a good idea.”

HOLLYWOOD: “Leo’s attached.”
TRANSLATION: “No one has actually made an offer to Leo yet. Leo’s manager is into the idea of Leo taking this role, but his agent will probably talk him out of it. Maybe I can figure out a way to get to Leo directly. Do you know anybody?”

HOLLYWOOD: “I want to make your movie.”
TRANSLATION: “I really do want to make your movie, but I’m broke and I’ve burned a lot of bridges lately. I think it would be a cool project to shop around though. Can I have a free option?”

HOLLYWOOD: “I want to make your movie in the fall.”
TRANSLATION: “Yeah, I want to make your movie in the fall. I want to make all my movies in the fall. You have fifty million dollars to lend me?”

HOLLYWOOD: “I’m going to make your move in the fall.”
TRANSLATION: “I’m not going to make your movie in the fall. I can guarantee you that.”

HOLLYWOOD: “There’s heat on me.”
TRANSLATION: “Fox hired me to write something five years ago. My deal has long since run out and I’m desperate to get back in the game.”

HOLLYWOOD: “I lost my offices at Fox.”
TRANSLATION: “Fox fired my sorry ass.”

HOLLYWOOD: “We have access to German money.”
TRANSLATION: “We don’t have a development deal anywhere and we have access to no money. But I met some guy from a German fund last year at that party at Sundance, and maybe if he’s still with that fund and they’re still interested in new projects they might want to do this. It’s worth a phone call anyway, right? Or, the hell with it, I’ll just have my assistant email the guy sometime next week. Hopefully by then you’ll forget this conversation ever took place.”

HOLLYWOOD: “It’s a go picture.”
TRANSLATION: “We’re hoping they greenlight this thing soon, but we haven’t heard anything yet and we’re all starting to seriously panic.”

HOLLYWOOD: “The movie’s been greenlit.”
TRANSLATION: “I hope the movie’s been greenlit. But everybody’s such a liar in this town, I hope people aren’t lying to me, but they probably are.”

HOLLYWOOD: “The movie is shooting.”
TRANSLATION: “The movie is shooting.” *

*This may mean the movie is actually shooting, but must be confirmed by an actual visit to the set.

JASON STARR is the author of numerous novels including THE PACK, the start of a new series, which is on sale now in hardcover and e-book from Penguin/Ace. He has several film and TV projects in development, including adaptations of his recent books THE FOLLOWER and PANIC ATTACK. For more info check out www.jasonstarr.com. Connect with Jason on Facebook and Twitter.

Sony introduces potential Kindle killer

Jason Starr joins us today, filling in for Michelle Gagnon. Jason’s latest thriller, PANIC ATTACK, is on-sale now from St. Martin’s Press. Michael Connelly calls PANIC ATTACK "the ultimate page-turner" and Jerry Stahl says PANIC ATTACK is "the perfect thriller." It’s a terrific beach read, so be sure to pick up a copy today.

Für Berlin live / Jason Starr/ Foto: Promo Hey, great to be back here, and thanks to Michelle for letting me fill in and blog for her while she is, no doubt, lounging on some exotic beach somewhere, sipping drinks that have little umbrellas in them. Ah, the life of an international best-selling thriller author… Meanwhile, I’m here in dank, sweltering Manhattan, pounding away on my keyboard, like a bad parody of Mickey Spillane. But who said life is fair?

panic-attackWith a new book, PANIC ATTACK, out I’ve had marketing on my mind lately, and I think this week may turn out to be a key moment in book publishing history. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating…a lot…but I think the announcement of Sony’s new Daily Edition reader is really going to shake up the electronic publishing landscape, and maybe the entire publishing landscape.

The Daily Edition is a far cry from Sony’s old reader, which wasn’t as sleek at the Kindle and couldn’t download content wirelessly. Early reviews say the Daily Edition is a potential Kindle killer as it does one big thing the Kindle can’t (and won’t) do–it lets readers download books for free. That’s right, via their local libraries, customers will be able to take e-books out on loan for two or three weeks for no charge.

With so much free content available, how will publishers and Amazon be able to charge full price for books? For example, if Michelle, on her exotic beach vacation, wants to read a copy of James Patterson’s latest, where is her incentive to buy the e-edition of the book when she can download it (and as many other books as she wants) for free? Will publishers have to change the way they sell books to libraries, and alter the prices of their e-books? It’s hard to imagine that if readers have a free option for e-books that they will continue to shell out the 10 dollars or more that Amazon is currently charging for new hardcover titles.

image Daily Edition also allows for other booksellers to distribute their content onto the device. This could be a great chance for Indy booksellers to get into the e-books game, but it could also create even more price competition.

But the main question about e-readers remains–are these devices here to stay and are books as we know them on life support? A little disclosure here. Late last year, I received a Kindle 2 as a gift. When I’m traveling and commuting it’s amazing. The ability to send Word files to my Kindle is a God’s send for reading manuscripts on the go. Lately, though, I find when I’m home and want something to read I go for an old fashioned book. I guess I feel like I look at a computer screen all day long, and when I want to relax I don’t want to hold a gadget, no matter how easy the screen is on the eyes. So, while a few months ago, I was telling people e-books are the wave of the future, I’m not so sure anymore. I see e-books becoming mainly for travel and commuting, and the regular book sticking around for every other use.

As an author, though, I’m excited about the potential proliferation of e-readers because they create the possibility of infinite book sales and could potentially make "book distribution" obsolete. For example, if The Today Show calls tomorrow and wants me on to discuss PANIC ATTACK, my publisher would have to reprint to satisfy the sudden demand. By the time the books arrived in stores, the demand would no longer exist. But in a world where everyone on the planet has an e-reader, a big national media appearance could generate tens of thousands of sales instantly.

So what do y’all think about all this? How are publishers going to price their books in a landscape where Sony is going to effectively start giving away many titles for free? Are you authors out there embracing e-books or would you rather they disappeared?

Tonight, August 27, at 9pm Eastern Time you can "see" me–well my well-endowed Avatar anyway–on the Second Life Talk Show "Virtually Speaking" I’ll discuss PANIC ATTACK and lots of other stuff. You also can listen to the broadcast live at 9 pm Eastern Time on Blog Talk Radio.

Find out more about Jason Starr and PANIC ATTACK at www.jasonstarr.com


Photo of Jason Starr in Central ParkThe Kill Zone is thrilled to welcome author Jason Starr as our guest blogger today. Jason’s book THE FOLLOWER was just re-released as a mass market paperback, and I can attest that it’s a dark, funny story that absolutely everyone should read. Bret Easton Ellis said, “The Follower is Jason Starr’s masterpiece,” and The New York Times described it as “Extremely chilling.” Think of it as a dating “how not-to.”

Without further ado…

Our TV broke last week. It was an LCD set—an old model—and when the inverters go, that’s it, the set’s dead. We have a new TV now with one of the best home music systems, but for several days we were forced to go TV-less. I know, the horror, the horror, right?

Actually, going without a TV was a bit of a shock. My family and I live in a fairly small Manhattan apartment and the sudden quiet was startling. SuddenFollowerly I felt like I was back in the 1800’s, living in the Little House on the Prairie, and I had to entertain the family at night with my fiddle. I was able to read more, which was great, but it didn’t really fill the void.

I mainly watch sports and movies on TV, and cable series such as Entourage, Dexter, and Californication. Not so-long ago there was a big stigma among people, especially writers, about admitting to television watching at all. At parties, if the subject of television came up a writer would say proudly, “I’m too busy to watch TV.” Some went further and claimed, “I don’t watch TV at all.” Others—the really busy people—would boast, “I got rid of my TV.”

I always suspected that people who claimed they didn’t watch TV were closet TV- aholics. They probably sat with their asses glued to their couches four hours a night, watching the entire lineup of the dumbest sitcoms.

But something happened, I think around the time The Sopranos got popular. Suddenly it became socially acceptable to admit to TV watching, and a big stigma to not watch TV. If you didn’t watch The Sopranos, you were considered to be some kind of freak, and if you didn’t watch the finale–fuggedaboutit. I think there’s no doubt that the quality of television in general has improved greatly over the years, but there has been a change in our attitudes toward TV as well.

Now being TV-literate, especially cable TV-literate, is much more socially acceptable, even vital. I actually feel wiresorry for the writers who don’t watch TV because at parties and mystery conferences they’ll inevitably hear: “What, you haven’t seen every episode of The Wire? Oh my God, what’s wrong with you?…“What, you don’t watch Dexter? Really? You have no idea what you’re missing.”….“What, you’ve never seen Californication? You’re kidding me? Really?”….“You’ve never heard of The Shield?”

I’ve seen some television-deprived writers embellish their TV watching, smiling vaguely and nodding a lot, not wanting to feel left out when people start discussing the latest shows. That’s right, writers have now come full circle and they actually exaggerate the amount of television they watch.

So I’m wondering, how much television do you watch? And do you find that lately it’s more socially acceptable to admit it?


JASON STARR is the Barry and Anthony Award-winning nine crime novels which have been published in ten languages. His latest thriller from St. Martin’s Press, THE FOLLOWER, is on-sale this week in a new mass market paperback edition. Visit www.jasonstarr.com and sign up for Jason Starr’s newsletter for a chance to win a 50-dollar Amazon gift certificate, and other exciting prizes. Newsletter subscribers will also be eligible to win free advance copies of Jason Starr’s next thriller PANIC ATTACK, which will be on-sale in August, 2009.

Charmed Nearly to Death

Below: Harlan Coben hits me up for a blurb.

He knows I’d never blurb an Amherst grad…

I’ll say one thing, Bouchercon ’08 held the appropriate moniker. People sent to the hospital with food poisoning, people tumbling down flights of stairs, people consuming alcohol in levels roughly equivalent to those experienced at college frat parties (far be it for me to condemn that behavior, however, as anyone who saw me in the bar on Thursday night can attest).

Bouchercon ’08 was truly one for the record books. As has already been noted on various blogs and lists, the Jordans and Judy Bobalik did a phenomenal job of organizing something that makes herding cats look easy. Let’s call it the equivalent of herding parrots. And despite the few inevitable mishaps, it went off largely without a hitch. Here, then, are my belated comments on the experience…

The Panels: Wow, I ended up on some great panels. Those bribes really paid off. Booze and books (or something like that) with Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, Liz Zelvin, Con Lehane, and the inimitable Ali Karim moderating, Gordon’s Gin in hand. Lively and lots of fun. I also loved the one on “Psycho Killers,” here I thought I was an expert but I learned some things (like the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Seriously. Ask Mark Billingham if you’re curious). My only complaint was that my fellow panelists were all far too witty and well-informed. I much prefer to be partnered with dullards, it makes me look so much better in comparison.

The Food: I might be alone in this (although I suspect Robert Gregory Brown would agree with me), but I could not seem to get a decent meal in Baltimore. Part of that might be due to the fact that I ate a fair portion of my meals at the hotel restaurant, Shulas. Never expect a good meal from anyplace bearing any relation to football (I should have learned from all those years I ate at Boomers in NYC.) Lots of salt, copious amounts of butter. I escaped relatively unscathed (although the girl who vomited on Alison Gaylin in Burkes came dangerously close to hitting me as well). But I was definitely a little disappointed in the cuisine: I don’t mind a mediocre entree, but I do mind paying $30 for it.

Baltimore: I didn’t see all that much of it, not having a rental car, but wow– the Harbor? Awesome. I quickly learned, however, that there was only one proper route back from the harbor to the hotel. Take the street running parallel to that one, and you were quickly in the midst of seedy bars and places named things like “The Jewel Box.” I might be wrong, but they didn’t appear to be selling jewelry. Though I’m a hard core fan of The Wire, stumbling on set is unnerving. I kept expecting Snoop to turn the corner with her nail gun.

Lee Child: The man throws the best parties. Do whatever you must to get invited, they’re amazing. And Lee is always a class act.

Harlan Coben: Next time you see him, tell him Amherst is a safety school. He loves it, I swear.

My Voice: Started out normal, went through a series of phases from Lauren Bacall to Kathleen Turner on two packs a day to Froggy from the Little Rascals. I’m still recovering.

It was incredible linking faces to all those familiar names from various groups and blogs (such as this one), and I love it when people come up and introduce themselves by saying, “I’m your Facebook friend.” How 21st century is that?

Anyway, I returned home as always with no voice, twenty extra pounds worth of books (no checking the bag on this leg of the journey), a few photos, and a miserable hangover from lack of sleep and general overconsumption of liquor and salt. Whew. Thank god I have a full year until Indianapolis, this time I start training early…

PS- Stay tuned: next week I’ll tell you all about my tour of the FBI Academy in Quantico, including an interesting tidbit I picked up about what tomato sauce resembles under a black light.

Louise Ure, under attack by a rabid fan. Note her calm demeanor, this woman is pure steel…

Ghosts of Bouchercon Past

I’m heading back east this week for Bouchercon, the conference that is de rigeur for crime writers and fans. This year’s event takes place in Baltimore, burial site of Edgar Allan Poe, and there are a staggering number of people attending. Which got me thinking about my first experience, lo those many years ago…

Not really. I was one of the happy few who braved the cold (and, apparently, the Russians) for the conference in Anchorage, Alaska last year. The ringing refrain appeared to be, “This isn’t a normal Bouchercon, no one’s here!”
But it was my first, and having nothing to compare it to, I had a rip roaring good time. Sure, the panels weren’t necessarily packed, but how could you complain when sidewalk vendors sold reindeer sausages, there was a late night Karaoke bar directly across the street from the hotel, and at least two “police actions” occurred nightly within a three block radius? For better or worse Anchorage appeared closer to “Deadwood” than “Northern Exposure.” So I thought I’d take advantage of this post to reflect on the high- (and low-) lights of Bouchercon 2007, aka “Bearly Alive.”

-Wandering down the streets at night looking for the next publishing party that featured an open bar (which seemed to consume a good chunk of every evening,) we ran into a drag queen in full Wonder Woman regalia. Here in San Francisco, that would mark an ordinary stroll, but in Anchorage?! Kudos to her for braving the cold, those wrist bracelets couldn’t have been doing much to keep her warm.

-Brian Thornton bringing down the house with his rendition of AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I’m starting a petition to get Brian on American Idol, he was a giant among ants that evening.

-Apparently the Anchorage zoning laws mandate that every block have ten bars, ten gift stores selling virtually identical souvenirs, and one run-down restaurant with the ubiquitous reindeer sausage. God help you if you need a pharmacy, although considering that number of assaults and stabbings that occurred during our stay there, a pharmacy would seem to be a valuable addition to downtown.

-Why was I one of the only people who didn’t manage to see a moose? To hear others tell it, they were tripping over them every time they left the hotel. I suspect they were confusing moose with drag queens in superhero attire.

-Alexandra Sokoloff, Jason Starr, and I badly mangling Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” What Brian Thornton did to elevate the art of Karaoke, we erased with a few verses. I blame a lethal combination of reindeer sausage and whiskey, which combined to convey the delusion that we, too, might be able to sing. We couldn’t, as it turned out. Seriously, it was grim.

-Best panel: the one with the drug sniffing dog chasing David Corbett out of the hall (that didn’t really happen, but wouldn’t it have been funnier if it had?)

-Best author 30 minute slot: Declan Hughes. There’s a man who puts on a show when he’s reading. And there was juggling at the beginning. A tough act to follow.

-2nd Best author 30 minute slot: Rumor had it that Laura Lippman took everyone who showed up for her session out for drinks. Classy. And again, tough act to follow (I’m raising this argument with my publisher to explain why I need a bigger advance next time. How else am I supposed to buy rounds?)

-Worst 30 minute author slot: mine. My flight arrived late, and I didn’t receive the programming schedule until breakfast the following morning. At which point I discovered that I had been enlisted to spend 30 minutes entertaining strangers, and I had to be there in five minutes. I killed five minutes reading the paper with them, them mumbled for the duration. Awful. I promise to do better this year.

-Lukas Ortiz, Alex Sokoloff, Jason Starr, and I managed to get completely lost on a bike ride that began as a three-hour tour of the shoreline and concluded with us pedaling onto the tarmac at the Ted Stevens International Airport. And still, no moose.

Like I said, a rip roaring good time. I can hardly wait to see what happens during “Charmed to Death 2008.” Baltimore is going to have a tough act to follow, at least in my book. Perhaps they should import some drag queens, and maybe a moose…

PS: if you’re attending the conference, here’s where you’ll be able to subject yourself to more of my non sequiturs:

10:30AM Thursday: Author Karaoke with fellow kill Zone authors Kathryn Lilley and Clare Langley-Hawthorne. We WILL NOT SING, this I promise you. We will discuss book blog tours. And we might juggle.

11:30AM Thursday, Int’l E: I CAN’T STAND UP FOR FALLING DOWN: Booze, hootch & firewater in crime fiction. Ali Karim(M), Ken Bruen, Michelle Gagnon, Con Lehane, Elizabeth Zelvin

11:30AM Saturday, Int’l D: PSYCHO KILLER: Why are we so fascinated by serial killers? Brian Lindmuth(M), Mark Billingham, Michelle Gagnon, Jonathan Hayes, Alan Jacobson

PPS: For truly brave souls…
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