12.31.2007

Rust Street house sold

Closed this a.m. Not a bad way to end 2007.

12.26.2007

Boston Globe

Not sure what the header means, but they ran a nice little blurb on 12/23.

A debut with feathers

"High Season" (St. Martin's) is a campy debut mystery set in Provincetown. What impresses Kate Mattes, owner of Kate's Mystery Books, is how well author Jon Loomis captures the town in all its out-there glory - from the drag queens to the fishermen to the denizens on Commercial Street. Clearly, Loomis, who lives in Wisconsin, made the most of his time during two fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.


On edit: I'm sure FAWC's official position is all congratulations, but it's worth noting that their summer teaching program turned down my offer to teach a mystery writing class for free. For free! That means that if the class filled they'd make around $6,000 clear; if the class didn't fill but had enough students to run, they'd still make plenty of dough because they wouldn't have to pay me. Essentially, they declined a donation of my time worth as much as $6,000 during what is apparently a financially stressed period for them (big deficits, shrinking donations). That's what a bunch of snobby assholes they are. Still, I love the place. Sort of.

12.18.2007

Boston Glob

Review this coming Sunday, apparently. Just in time for Christmas. Not.

12.13.2007

Bat II

So, bat hides all day in the 1" gap between the bathroom cabinet and the wall. We don't know this. Bat waits until about 1:00 a.m., after the lovely A_______ has finished grading papers and come to bed and turned the lights out, and then scritchy-flutters out of his crack and into the bedroom, where he flies mad loops around the ceiling, one end to the other. Bat is bigger, seems to me, than your standard brown bat. About the size of a pterodactyl, in fact. So the lovely A_______ trots downstairs, more or less to hide; very sensible, given her condition. I watch bat for a minute, hoping he'll land. He does, perching on the top of the window molding where he can keep an eye on me. He looks like a miniature gargoyle up there, all ears and weird, backwards elbows. I go downstairs to get gloves and something to catch him in: a pillowcase.

Back in the bedroom, it's obvious the pillowcase is useless: bat is up too high, the pillowcase opening's too small and floppy. I grab a towel and fling it at bat, hoping to knock him down. He orbits frantically around the room, doing these wobbly figure-eights. I pick up the towel and give it a good locker-room snap as bat flies past. A miracle occurs: I make good contact, bat's furry-leathery self splats against the wall and bounces onto the floor, stunned. Decent wingspan, as I said. I toss the towel over him before he can recover, scoop him up and hustle him outside, where I release him. He flutters out into the night, takes a hard left turn, and presumably flies right back to his nest in our eaves, along with fifty or sixty or so of his cousins. Did I mention the bat guy said they can't do much about a bat colony 'til spring?

12.12.2007

Bat

So, I wake up at about 3:30 last night to small, rustling sounds in our bedroom. At first I think it's the cat, farting around; he does a fair amount of running up and down the stairs, clawing the rug, etc. in the middle of the night. "George," I say. "Shut the fuck up." More rustling, about a foot from my head. I look down and a good-sized bat is climbing up the side of our box-spring, presumably trying to get into bed with us (warm in there). "What is it?" says the lovely A_________, half-awake now. "Bat," I say. Hilarity ensues. We jump out of bed, turn on the light. Bat flies in wild loops around the room, disappears. We go downstairs to sleep on the couch (it's a sectional, thank God). A________ drifts right off, but not me. I'm wide awake, listening for more weird shit. Meanwhile, the cat's doing his nocturnal comedy routine, charging around. It's really the cat this time: I can see him. Bat still nowhere to be found as of this posting. With any luck he's crawled back into the wall via one of the missing light fixtures/smoke-detectors. I turned the big walk-in closet inside out: he's not in there. Called the bat removal guy: turns out there's not much we can do 'til spring. The little fuckers are supposed to be hibernating, but tend to seek warmth when it gets really cold in their exterior wall. Ack.

12.07.2007

12.05.2007

HIGH SEASON makes the WaPo's "Best Books of 2007"

Scroll down to "mysteries/thrillers." They mangled the description a bit (okay, a lot), but who cares. It's still a nice thing.

12.03.2007

Offer

So, we've gotten an offer on the Rust St. house, thank God. It's a tad on the low side, but we're coming back with a counter that should be acceptable. It is, as everyone tells us, a buyer's market.

The good news is that if it all goes through it'll free up a good bit of cash. We can restore a bit of the account we've been drawing from to finish up the Garfield house, and still have a great Christmas.

Dear Santa,

About that flat-screen TV. Please make it a Sharp Aquos; the one with the fast refresh rate.

Also, I'd really like one of those new Barber Trifecta fuzz boxes.

Thanks a million,

Jon

11.14.2007

Good progressives don't buy used books online.

It's not something that's affecting me at the moment (zero used copies currently on Amazon), but it's evidently pretty bad for the biz. Authors only get paid for new book sales, obviously, so the used book thing can really take a bite out of a writer's livelihood.

Buying used books at your neighborhood used book store is fine, apparently.

11.13.2007

Moderation off.

Comments back to normal. The recent weirdness outburst seems to have subsided, for now.

Amazon's taking orders again

For your holiday book-buying needs. They say they'll ship on 12/4, but they should have them on the dock late this week. Which should mean they'll be able to ship late next week. I think.

11.12.2007

3rd printing ordered.

It makes sense—the 1st is completely sold out, the 2nd's already half sold between Amazon's order of 350 and other online sellers' likely orders. Store demand is probably in the range of a couple of hundred, too, and we're not even talking holiday shopping yet, really. Bet we're into a 4th by Christmas, but you never know.

11.11.2007

From the Cape Codder

The Cape Codder is a pretty good little weekly paper out of Orleans. The link may not work:

Provincetown sleuth: Local author gains national attention

By Steve Desroches

Provincetown, Mass. - A televangelist is found dead on Herring Cove Beach wearing a multi-colored muumuu and high heels and a Provincetown detective who gets queasy at the sight of blood is not so hot on the case.

In a town that is stranger than fiction this tale may sound vaguely familiar, like it actually happened, but it is the premise for author Jon Loomis’ fun and campy Provincetown-based mystery “High Season.”

The poet’s brilliant first crack at fiction introduces us to Frank Coffin, a former Baltimore homicide detective who returned to his native Provincetown after starting to have panic attacks at crime scenes in tough and gritty Baltimore. The return home was just what Coffin needed, as his new beat’s most sensational crimes are limited to “break-ins, bicycle thefts and domestic disputes.”

After almost a decade on the job in freaky and funky Provincetown in walks Melinda Merkin, wife of homophobic, fire-and-brimstone televangelist Ron Merkin, to report her husband missing. But there’s a secret, the good Reverend has a penchant for wearing women’s clothing. Shortly thereafter, Merkin, clad in over-the-top drag, is found dead, strangled with a taffeta scarf.

Coffin and his partner, tough talking lesbian Officer Lola Winters, enlist the help of townies to help solve the crime. But after interviewing fishermen, drag queens and the eccentrics that stroll up and down Commercial Street, Coffin realizes that the Merkin case is not an isolated incident. There is a murderer loose in the town and it’s up to Coffin to find the killer before he strikes again.

Meanwhile, Coffin’s girlfriend believes she has a stalker, his mother is the Alzheimer’s ridden loudmouthed bully of the town’s nursing home and the townspeople are all busy playing armchair detectives in a town where gossip is a blood sport.

Loomis spent a couple of years in Provincetown as a poetry fellow at the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center. Though now lives in Wisconsin, where he is a poetry fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Loomis accurately captures the lovably twisted character of Provincetown. If you’ve never visited Provincetown, you’ll love this story for its clever twists and excellent writing. If you live in or spend a lot of time in Provincetown, you’ll chuckle as Loomis reveals some of the town’s worst kept secrets.

For instance, though not mentioned by name it’s obvious that the Merkins are in Provincetown for Fantasia Fair, the annual October festival where cross dressers come to celebrate. The locals lovingly call the cross dressers “tall ships” because as the mostly straight men unsteadily walk down Commercial Street in high heels they sway like tall ships in the harbor. Unlike drag queens, “tall ships” shy away from the glamour and settle more on suburban practicality in their dress. Through Coffin, Loomis translates what many locals say in private.

“Drag queens he could understand, sort of; there was something tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing, all that glitter and flash, a kind of burlesque-on/homage-to the whole idea of glamour in all its blowzy, tittering goofiness. The straight cross-dressers were harder to figure out – the just plain transvestites everyone in town called tall ships. The tall ships tended to be large men who strode up and down Commercial Street in plus-sized tweed skirts, support hose, and pumpkin-colored lipstick; craggy faced and lonely-looking men with dispirited wigs and five o’clock shadows poking through pancake makeup. Sometimes they had their wives, even their kids in tow. They reminded Coffin of his Aunt Connie after she’d been through several rounds of chemotherapy.”

The dark comedic mystery is a veritable road map of real Provincetown institutions, both visible and hidden, though in many cases given fake names, much like a literary witness protection program. Coffin and Winters sling back coffee at the Tip Top Diner, which is obviously Tips for Tops’n, a favorite townie breakfast place in town. Billy’s Oyster Shack sounds like a mix between Clem and Ursie’s and the Governor Bradford bar; and Dawn Vermillion, a fictional drag queen who sees all and knows all, resembles popular hometown drag star Pearlene Dubois.

Since its publication at the end of September, “High Season” has been creating buzz, likely to get louder now that the New York Times Book Review named it as an editor’s choice.

Loomis, who previously published two books of poetry “Vanitas Motel” and “The Pleasure Principal,” is working on two new books – a mystery titled “Mating Season” and a memoir called “King of Hearts.” His next mystery is set to come out in January 2008.

“High Season” is much like Provincetown, a gleeful mélange of joyous contradictions and peculiar characters in a community with a dark underbelly and glittery joie de vivre.

- Cape Codder

11.09.2007

Photo from Volume One



Eau Claire's local alt paper. They did a little story about the book.

Photo credit to Kim Acheson. Not his fault I look like that.

11.08.2007

3rd printing on the horizon. Maybe.

Looks like Amazon's ordered 350 of the 1,000-book second printing, so a third (perhaps larger) printing is reasonably likely. So the fabulous K suggests, anyway.

11.06.2007

WPR/Spectrum West

So, I taped a little radio interview today out at WPR, which is next to the Shipshape car wash. Which is shaped like a ship. It was fun; nice people there. Should be on shortly after Thanksgiving.

11.05.2007

Going to paperback.

In July. The fabulous K just informed me. Don't tell anybody, or they won't buy the hardcover.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

They liked it:

Brimstone-breathing, homophobic televangelist Ron Merkin has shed his gospel armor for a more interesting outfit: a pink and yellow muumuu. And he has also departed this vale of tears, strangled with a raspberry taffeta scarf.

In Jon Loomis' debut novel, High Season (304 pages, St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95), Provincetown, Mass., police detective Frank Coffin must investigate the pastor's passing amid the quirkiness of Provincetown, where the large gay community lives in mostly peaceful co-existence with old-time fishing families -- and where the full-timers disdain the hordes of summer tourists (but not their money).

Coffin suffered a mental meltdown as a homicide detective in Baltimore and had hoped, when he returned to his Cape Cod hometown, that he'd never have to work a murder case again. But events intervene, and he and his partner, officer Lola Winters, track a killer who's not content to stop with one victim.

At once hilarious and unsettling, "High Season" combines a complex story with a cast of colorful eccentrics to create an exciting first installment in a projected series. It's a model mystery, told in winning fashion.

11.02.2007

HS reviewed in Bay Windows

which bills itself as New England's largest GLBT newspaper:
High Season
Jon Loomis
St. Martin’s Press

You may have heard this on the news: Provincetown has straight people, too. Yes! This Cape Cod murder mystery (written by a straight man from the Midwest, no less) looks at P’town through the eyes of a straight sheriff who’s returned to the seaside resort after he couldn’t hack it as a homicide detective in Baltimore. His dreams of a relatively uneventful slide towards retirement are derailed when a prominent anti-gay preacher is found dead on the beach - in a dress! The wacky beginning is something of a red herring, as the religious hypocrisy is just a bit of color, and the book has the faintly dark tinge you’d expect from a police procedural, especially when the detective has to contend with several more murders, along with his messy personal life. Some of the supporting characters are a bit vague (and the sardonic take on mildly homophobic state troopers is a well-meant touch, but would Cape and Islands Staties really be so ostentatiously bewildered by P’town?), but the central sheriff is a compelling creation, and Loomis’s slow unveiling of small town corruption and dirty politics feels right on. Loomis steadily raises the tension and keeps you guessing almost till the end, making High Season a fun read.

This is a very good thing; should help out a lot with word-of-mouth in the GLBT community.

Update: I am a bit puzzled by the fact that no reviewer has said much about Lola, Frank's sidekick. I'm not sure, but I think she's fairly unique in mainstream crime fiction as a strong, sympathetic lesbian character. Who, as our friend Laura said, "kicks ass."

11.01.2007

House-o-ganza 2

So, Jim and Travis are wrapping up the entry-way: we should have the new door ready to install tomorrow, maybe. The counter guy came and installed the Cambria today: it took him something like forty-five minutes: all the pieces are perfectly fit and formed. It's really pretty amazing stuff, and quite handsome. The Cambria/cherry/stainless combo is working better than I pictured it, so that's good. Still to do in the kitchen: hook up gas to stove and electric to range hood; install dishwasher, sink and dispose-all; screen and final gloss-coat on floors. Dave, Jim and Travis are finishing up the kitchen/pantry trim as I write this.

Other stuff: Dan's got two coats of our fabulous terra-cotta color on the dining room; it looks pretty great. He'll move into the living room as soon as Jim and Travis finish up and move their gear out. The plumber's got the tub and sink re-installed in the 2nd fl bath: once the washer/dryer are installed we'll be pretty much done in there. The tile guy comes tomorrow, maybe: he should be able to whip right through the installation. God knows what it's all going to cost. Dave's looking to trade some labor for Mr. & Mrs. Knut's washer/dryer and dishwasher, which sounds like a good deal to me. We need to do a few other little things like call the phone and cable companies, order light fixtures, etc. Long story short, we're hoping to move in about ten days.

10.31.2007

St. Martin's orders a reprint.

A small one (1,000 copies), but still. Nice.

Sold out at walmart.com

Seriously. I mean, not that they were stocking many to begin with, most likely. But still.

10.30.2007

Sold out at B&N, too.

No one could have anticipated that a little comic whodunit set in P'town would actually sell.

10.28.2007

Amazon sold out of my book.

I'm thinking this is a moderately good thing: it has to mean that the book's selling at least a bit better than their buyers expected. On the other hand, if they don't have mine, does that mean people will buy some other book instead? Some will, no doubt.

Update (Monday a.m.):

Amazon sales rank: 1414
Barnes and Noble sales rank: 357

As Jack Nicholson said in Mars Attacks, that ain't bad.

Moderation off

Comments should be back to normal. Sorry about the brief interruption.

10.26.2007

Chicago Tribune

Another nice one (no link yet):

High Season
By Jon Loomis
St. Martin’s Minotaur, $23.95

Blending razor-sharp wit and laugh-out-loud comedic elements with a hellacious whodunit, this debut novel from Wisconsin poet Jon Loomis is reminiscent of Gregory Mcdonald’s first few Fletch novels as well as early works by Carl Hiaasen (“Tourist Season," “Double Whammy”).

Set in Provincetown, Mass., and featuring quirky, 43-year-old police Detective Frank Coffin—who is afflicted by nightmares and panic attacks from years working as a Baltimore homicide police officer—the mystery begins when the body of a strangled 240-pound man wearing a pink and yellow floral muumuu (and size 12 dove gray pumps with sensible heels) is found in the dunes. The murder victim turns out to be the vacationing Rev. Ron Merkin, a televangelist famous for his anti-gay tirades. Once the scahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifndalous story breaks, the tranquil gay resort community will undoubtedly be inundated with frenzied reporters from all over the country, and it falls onto Coffin’s shoulders to quickly and quietly track down the killer. But when other locals start turning up gruesomely dead, well, “weirdness ensues.”

Although the murder mystery is suitably challenging, it’s the brilliantly irreverent peripheral characters (a cantankerous, Surrealist painter/madman; a yoga-practicing vegetarian stalker; a foul-mouthed parrot named Captain Nickerson) and innumerable twisted witticisms (“The baby was fat and waxy. It looked like Don Rickles.”) that make this debut one to be cherished. The book features an impressive diversity of murder weapons—from a raspberry-colored taffeta scarf to a pneumatic nail gun—and fans of humorous mystery à la Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich should thoroughly enjoy this darkly comic Cape Cod caper.

Update: Link.

10.25.2007

Acoustics



Left to right, Gibson L-200, actually the lovely A________'s guitar, bought for her as a wedding gift, very pretty curly maple back and sides (the guitar, I mean); Martin HD28V—terrific guitar, huge sound, plays great even strung with mediums; Gibson J45, mahogany, circa 1998, beautifully set up, very nice for clubs, open mics and such, fishman under-saddle pickup sounds excellent with a little EQ.

10.24.2007

More gear porn


This thing really is the holy grail—certainly the best low-medium gain overdrive pedal I've ever heard. I paid retail for this one (on order since May of last year), not the ridiculous prices they're selling for on eBay.

'56 NOS Strat, fiesta red, 9.5" radius, medium jumbo frets.



It's a thing of beauty, and plays like it's smeared with yak butter. The actual color is slightly more tomato-soupy than it looks here.

Koan #88 from the Shaseki-shu: How To Write a Chinese Poem

A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem.

"The usual Chinese poem is four lines," he explained. "The first line contains the initial phrase; the second line, the continuation of that phrase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this:


Two daughters of a silk merchant live in Kyoto.
The elder is twenty, the younger, eighteen.
A soldier may kill with his sword,
But these girls slay men with their eyes."

It's always been about form.

Dumbest Amazon review of the week:

And the winner is: Natalie H. Mcdonald (sic), a.k.a. "mzfaustus," of Philadelphia, PA, for this ingenious offering:
Sounds a lot like Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance: A Novel, a murder mystery involving a fictional town sheriff set in Provincetown, MA. (The Tough Guys Don't Dance film adaptation starred Ryan O'Neal and Isabella Rossalini.)

Sounds a lot like Natalie H. Mcdonald (sic) hasn't read the book she's allegedly reviewing. Criminy.

10.23.2007

10.21.2007

Amazon # (9:22 P.M.)


#594 in Books

#1 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#21 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery

Anything under 1,000 is gravy, as far as I'm concerned.

10:47 p.m.:

#547 in Books
#1 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#20 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery

And off to bed. It's been quite a weekend.

Amazon # (2:30 p.m.)

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,770 in Books

#5 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#47 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery

Not bad, and trending lower. Two big reviews will do that for you.

Update, 3:20 p.m.:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,064 in Books

#3 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#30 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery

Also #2 in bestselling new & future releases in Police Procedurals, and #46 in bestselling new & future releases in Mystery & Thrillers.

Update, 4:26 p.m.:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #897 in Books

#2 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#27 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery

It's just a "good review spike," I know, and no doubt things will slow way down in the next day or two. But damn, this is fun.

Update, 5:24 p.m.

882. Slowing way down. Time for a martini.

Update, 7:23 p.m.

719.

10.20.2007

New York Times Book Review

Nice little mention by Stasio. Should cue a lot of P'town visitors/enthusiasts, which is a very good thing.

As a first novel with an easygoing sleuth and a not-too-tough mystery to solve, Jon Loomis’s HIGH SEASON (St. Martin’s Minotaur, $23.95) is the kind of book that can be overshadowed by its heavyweight competitors. And that would be an undeserved fate for this entertaining whodunit set in Provincetown, Mass., which warmly captures the free and funky spirit of that famously tolerant beach community. Frank Coffin, its first and only police detective, thinks he can handle the case of a married televangelist who turns up dead at a gay men’s beach in a flowered muumuu. But can he deal with all the nosy and bossy characters who push their way into the investigation? Although the body count runs too high for serious credibility, Loomis drenches the narrative with so much local color that the reader comes away feeling like a native.

Washington Post Book World

Definitely worth the wait:

HIGH SEASON By Jon Loomis St. Martin's Minotaur. 286 pp. $23.95

In Jon Loomis's fiction debut, it's High Season on Cape Cod, and in freaky-deaky Provincetown, things are even freaky-deakier than usual. The corpse of homophobic evangelist Ron Merkin (think real-life anti-gay minister Fred Phelps) is found on a beach, dressed in drag. Laconic sheriff Frank Coffin is faced with a media storm when a few other bodies crop up, possibly threatening the tourist trade. Then there's Coffin's louche uncle, who reappears in the resort town after a mysterious absence of many years. Is he connected to the murders, or is he there to help?

Coffin is an enormously appealing invention, a traumatized former homicide detective in Baltimore now working the (normally) quieter streets where he grew up. P-town proves a plum setting for lighthearted crime, with its frenzied real-estate wars, its 24-karat oddballs and its inexhaustible supply of "tall ships," the heterosexual transvestites who vacation there with their stoic wives. (The Rev. Merkin himself feels shoehorned into the mystery, but his flamboyant demise in a dress catapults the story into action from page one.) Along the way, Loomis, a prize-winning poet in his other literary life, tosses off some wonderful descriptions (sunflowers like "bright prehistoric showerheads," laughter hanging in the air "like a small but lethal cloud of poison gas"), yet none of his wordsmithery gets showy or interferes with this debonair, dry little mystery. With his honed sense of humor and keen mise en scene, Loomis is a keeper, and so is Coffin. Puckish Provincetown innkeepers would do well to tuck this one away in the guest room drawers next to the Gideon.

10.18.2007

The P'town Banner Writes About HIGH SEASON

This review isn't currently available online (it's behind the Banner's subscription-only firewall), so I can only legally quote four paragraphs, I'm pretty sure. But the whole thing's very nice.

In “High Season” we are introduced
to the corpse of the Reverend
Ron Merkin, a preacher devoted
to railing against the evils
of homosexuality. However, as
the saying goes, “thou doth protest
too much,” since his body
has been found on the beach
clad in a gaudy muumuu, tasteless
pumps and a stylish scarf
wrapped around his neck in a
death knot. It seems the saint
was no saint at all; in fact, he was
— shudder — a cross-dresser,
and his wife, who has reported
the murder to the authorities,
was not in the dark about this
most secret of secrets. (“There’s
something fundamentally sad
about the Reverend Rons of the
world: they’re hypocrites, but
they’re tortured hypocrites,” explains
Loomis.)

The case is assigned to Detective
Frank Coffin and his sidekick
Lola, a strong and gentle
lesbian on whom he has
a schoolboy crush; both
characters will be reappearing
in the new book.
A burned-out hometown
boy who was previously
a detective in Baltimore,
Coffin stretched
his abilities too far and
cracked — hence the
return to the womb of
Provincetown, where he
joined the force under
the cloud of his uncle,
the corrupt former chief
of police. Coffin has his
demons to deal with on
every level as he fights to
solve the case and come
to terms with a personal
relationship with
a young woman who
would very much like to have a
child with him. Hmmm…

During the course of the investigation,
we are led down a
road where more murders occur
in a most unusual fashion. It
seems greed and real estate gluttony
are at the core of this thriller,
which moves along with precise
speed and a firsthand knowledge
of the town where all the
action takes place. This author
does indeed write about what he
knows, at least geographically,
for we doubt Loomis has firsthand
knowledge of murder.
In the course of researching
the book, Loomis had some experiences
that were eye-openers.
“I’ve had lots of fun drinking at
the A-House and Vixen and the
Crown and other clubs in P’town,”
Loomis says. “I actually stumbled
into the Vault once with a girlfriend,
who was curious about
what might be going on in such
a place. We were asked — very
politely — if we might not prefer
to go someplace else, please. We
did, but the glimpse I got of that
scene was pretty interesting.” And
fodder for the future.

“High Season” is a fictitious
account peppered with some
juicy glimpses into good and
bad, evil pitted against “right,”
and in the telling you can see
that the author had some fun
with his subject.

10.17.2007

Housteria

Things are moving along at their usual, semi-glacial pace. Dave's finished installing the kitchen cabinets and is working on the pantry cabinet now; the Cambria guy came and measured for the countertops yesterday. He'll use the measurements to make molds, and the Cambria material will then be poured into the molds. Who knew? The new fridge should arrive in a week or so (the one we originally ordered didn't work with Barb's design—the freezer door hit the wall, alas); the plumber should be able to install the dishwasher and the new 3rd floor toilet any day now. Joe's done repairing the 2nd fl bath, and the washer-dryer hookups are good to go. The dryer vent goes upstairs and out through the big closet—very innovative. Apparently there were too many wires/pipes to vent it out the 2nd floor wall. Dan's finishing up the master suite, as we call it, so we should be ready for the tile guy there any day. We've made a few decisions about light fixtures, though many more are still on the to-do list. Joe's supposedly going to start on the upper stairway repair in the next day or so. Jim and Mike have dry-walled the entry-way, and are working on the closet/cabinet configuration. The front door w/ sidelights and transom should arrive soon. Still on the list: back steps, front porch/steps, a bit of chimney work (sweeping, etc), paint and more paint, and then some paint.

10.04.2007

Trying out the trackback thing with Lucy's blog

Apparently it works sort of like this.

Just wanted her to know I'm linking... crap. It doesn't seem to have worked.

Cousin Sara has a blog, too.

Nice pictures of someplace called Three Lakes.

Cousin Lucy has a blog.

And apparently lives in Barnstable. And posted about my book. I haven't seen any of my cousins since my grandmother's funeral, back in 1990. My father and his brother Elliot (father of said cousins) were not close, which is a WASPy way of saying they pretty much hated each other. But I always liked him (he owned every issue of Playboy ever printed), and I adored those girls of his when I was ten or so and we all gathered in Ruxton for my grandmother's eightieth birthday. I was this goofy hick kid from southeast Ohio, and here were these three fine looking redheads with their bell-bottom Levis and straight-backed Yankee names—a few years older than me and very sophisticated, having grown up in exotic California. Oy. They say memory opens up like a big video scrapbook when you hit seventy or so. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to that or not.

10.01.2007

The new baby

I haven't been talking much about the new baby. I'm not sure why; I think partly I haven't wanted to jinx anything, though now that we've gotten happy amnio results that shouldn't be a worry anymore. There's a way in which it all feels a bit expected and known, after the big unknown of the first pregnancy and birth and infancy, and the whole two-year-old thing, holy shit. I worry a bit that we're just not going to have time to do these crazy jobs and write books and have TWO kids (holy shit!), but the lovely A_________ assures me that everything will be okay, and it goes without saying that I trust her implicitly, even if she's wrong approximately .03 percent of the time. We're going to have to rustle up another babysitter or two, I suspect, and hire a mother's helper to do laundry and wash the breakfast dishes, etc. Things will be a bit chaotic and hectic and crazy for awhile. That said, I'm very pleased that we're having a little girl. She is, according to all reports, a genetic marvel, perfectly on schedule in every way. I'm looking forward to meeting her.

Amazon Reviews

A nice bottle of pinot to anyone who takes the time to write me a good one. And yes, that goes for HIH, too.

House

The only thing I'm worried about right now is the damned chimney. Otherwise, everything's moving along. Dan's painting in the master bedroom(s), and seems to be moving much faster now; a good thing. Jim and Mike are working mostly on the front entry-way. They've got the tall east windows installed, and have used one of Knut's ugly steel doors as a temporary exterior door. They'll start working on ceiling and interior walls tomorrow, I think. The actual front door arrives in about three weeks or so. Meanwhile, Bruce is finally done wiring the kitchen, and Joe's about halfway done with drywall repair/finishing. Once it's all sanded, he'll apply a couple of coats of paint and we'll be ready for cabinets, which have been piled up in the living room for a couple of weeks now. The dishwasher came today (along with the new washer/dryer), and the Wolfe stove, range hood and refrigerator will be here by mid next week. Basically, we'll have most of a kitchen by the end of next week, touch freaking wood. Counter-tops three weeks after that. We're moving by 11/1, no matter what. Probably. By then we'll really have almost everything done, thank you God. Big party when we get moved in. I'll buy the cigars.

Washington Post Bookworld

Didn't review me after all. Not sure why. The fabulous K, my editor, may be able to offer some insight tomorrow. Also, it appears that Borders isn't carrying the book at all. I recall not being able to find another SM/M title at Borders some months ago; it's possible they've had a falling out over discounts or something. If so, bad for everyone. Especially me. Our local Borders has promised to stock it in the local author's section, if nothing else. Nice of them.

Update: Hector (my publicist) called the Bookworld folks, and apparently they bumped the mystery roundup due to lack of space. They'll let us know, they say, when it's coming out. Ack. About what I figured.

We're #47!

On Amazon's bestsellers in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals list. Amazon sales rank currently below 9,000 and still trending downward, which seems like a good sign. Blink, and it'll pop back up to #79,847, or whatever.

Update: it's popped up a bit since then, as expected.

9.28.2007

Phil Bebb

I've just learned that an old friend and professor is dead, stabbed to death by his adult son. The son apparently had a history of psychosis. Phil was a genuinely kind and decent man, and a good friend to me and my mother. He was stabbed over forty times, apparently. He was stabbed in the eyes. I can't think of any more horrifying way to die. Jesus.

9.26.2007

Don't you hate it when people compare you to Parker and Leonard?

Hector sent this one along today, from Claire Ernsberger of the Sullivan County Democrat:

HIGH SEASON by John Loomis ( St. Martin's Minotaur). Here's a change of pace--a wryly witty, tense and suspenseful mystery set in the great resort town of Provincetown, on Cape Cod. The hero is an emotionally scarred former big-city homicide detective now working this quiet small town because he's plagued by panic attacks and nightmares. This is a first novel, and very promising of a sort of Robert Parker or Elmore Leonard career--laconic and smart, with moments of shocking violence and moments of thoughtful and wise observation.


The Democrat is located in Callicoon, New York, which appears to be in Catskill territory, along the PA border. Next time I'm out that way, I'd like to stop and buy Dr. Ernsberger a beer.

Amazon

Current sales rank: #20,713 in books. I announced at poker the other night (after a large martini) that those Amazon sales numbers rank all Amazon merchandise together: books, electric shavers, snow-shoes, you name it. That was obviously wrong, though it generated an interesting discussion. Still, the current number ain't bad, and it seems to generally be trending downward.

Currently #81 overall in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals, and that ain't bad, either. Currently #15 in bestselling new & future releases in Police Procedurals, updated hourly.

Amazon's weird and dangerous for obsessives like me, mostly because of its frequently updated sales feedback. It's very mysterious, too—the numbers seem to be all over the map, veering from 250,000-something, say, to 50,000 in under twelve hours. There's also the business of reader reviews, which are fine and democratic in theory, though one worries a bit about the handful of compulsives who instantly post reviews of thousands of books every year, the moment Amazon releases them. But hey, whatever floats they boat.

9.24.2007

I hate my shirt.

It's got spandex in it. Blargh.

9.20.2007

Washington Post Book World to review High Season

Sunday, Sept. 30. Somebody get me a martini and a Xanax.

9.19.2007

Her Infinite Harshness Reviews HIGH SEASON

"I didn't get much sleep last night and I blame your goddamned book."

Then she compared it to Harry Potter. Not sure how I feel about that.

9.18.2007

HIGH SEASON officially released!

So, do I look any different?

Am I walking funny?

Current Amazon.com sales rank: #65,596

Okay, I'll stop checking every three minutes.

Update: regarding sales ranks: anything under a hundred large seems pretty good to me. Compare HS's 65,596 to my two books of poetry, at 1,659,446 and 1,889,237.

9.14.2007

Houseophrenia

The kitchen cabinets arrived yesterday, apparently, all wrapped in brown paper. They're stacked up in the living room. Bruce has to come finish the kitchen wiring before Jim and Mike can do the drywalling and Joe can do the drywall finishing and Dave can install the cabinets. We're also waiting for Bruce to wire in a 220 outlet in the upstairs bath/laundry room. So where the hell is Bruce? Nobody knows.

Meanwhile, the floor guys appear to be donw with the screen porch, finally, Dan's almost done on the 3rd floor (he swears he can wrap it up today, which means next week sometime), and the front entryway is framed in. Windows will arrive in two weeks, door/sidelights/ transom in something like six weeks. Ack. But in the meantime, much of the interior work on the entryway can get done.

It's going to be a great house, but not before November.

We're #44!

On Amazon's list of bestselling new & future releases in Police Procedurals. A couple of days ago it got as high as #25. Somebody's buying it, apparently.

Weird.

My book's for sale at walmart.com.

I'm guessing no one there has actually read it. Nice while it lasts.

8.24.2007

Library Journal

More self-googling. I know—I'll go blind.

Loomis, Jon. High Season. Minotaur: St. Martin's. Sept. 2007. c.286p. ISBN 978-0-312-36769-5. $23.95. M
Eight years ago, Frank Coffin, a burned-out Baltimore homicide cop, returned home to the Cape Cod resort of Provincetown, MA. The headaches start with the murder of a vacationing, dress-wearing TV evangelist. The state police claim the case as theirs, but the mayor orders Coffin to conduct a quiet investigation that could get him in serious trouble. Either way, the elusive murderer is still in town. Written with humor and pathos and incorporating small-town philosophy, this is a terrific mystery debut. Fans of Chris Grabenstein's Jersey Shore mysteries (Tilt-a-Whirl; Whack a Mole) may enjoy. Loomis lives in Wisconsin.

Something my editor said

“I love finding a new crime series for all the reasons that HIGH SEASON personifies: sharp dry wit, fully realized setting, oddball cast, a puzzling whodunit, and a truly original literary-quality narrative voice. Oh, and the nail gun doesn’t hurt the story either.”

This is the kind of thing you stumble across when you google yourself.

Grace Paley died

Two days ago. She was a lovely person--a lively and gentle soul--and one of my favorite contemporary fiction/prose writers. Very sad that she's gone.

8.23.2007

Blues Breakthrough


Most of my early musical background is in bluegrass/country/"folk" (of the singer-songwriter variety), and I'm actually an okay bluegrass guitar picker, if not exactly one of the several thousand red-hot next Tony Rices. As a natural lefty playing right-handed, one of the limiting factors for me has been right hand speed/strength—the hardest thing about bluegrass guitar is keeping up the relentless flow of eighth notes from one end of a solo to the other, and I've never been able to put in enough practice time to fully overcome the off-hand handicap. My left hand makes up for some of the deficit, but there's only so much you can do with pull-offs, etc., on acoustic guitar without sounding frilly. I also don't have Rice's harmonic sense, or Norman Blake's connection to tradition, or Doc Watson's astounding timing.

I started listening to the blues (again) a few years ago; I'd forgotten, somehow, how expressive blues guitar was, what a compelling mix of raucous grind and soulful wail good players could produce. I could do that, I thought. How hard can it be? Pretty damn hard, if you're coming from a bluegrass background. Until about a month ago, I had no idea how to play a solo over a standard blues shuffle; the timing was just too weird. I could do the boogie stuff okay, and fake my way through a slow blues (who can't?), but a medium or fast shuffle just threw me into a panic. Blues is a much more vocal way of playing than anything I was used to. This summer I went back and started listening carefully to Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, and a few of the other early electric blues greats, and I realized that they were playing these bizarre (to my hillbilly way of thinking) three, five and six note patterns over the four-beat rhythm of a standard shuffle; playing on the off-beats, and playing phrases over the edges of each measure instead of within the measure. Totally counter-intuitive, coming from my Anglo-Celtic-Appalachian way of doing things. But of course it works—while playing on the beat and strictly within the measure doesn't work. At all.

But now, after a summer of listening and frustrated noodling, I can finally do it. In a very basic (but reasonably effective) way, nothing fancy, but by God it's blues, and I can play it, finally. I'm very excited. Now where in the hell's my new guitar? The Custom Shop is freakin' killing me.

8.20.2007

Mudville

It's been raining for four days straight; the backyard is a giant lake of mud. Jim's getting bummed out. Still, amazingly, he's working away on the screen porch, him and Mike. In the rain. Soaking wet.

Dan's still cleaning nicotine off the 3rd floor woodwork. Those crazy ladies loved 'em some smokes. Yeesh.

Tim the chimney-sweep delivered a passel o' bad news today re the LR fireplace; basically, he said, the whole chimney's about to topple over. If you've seen the chimney (it's massive), you'll understand my alarm. Tim further allowed that because the flu's unlined, it's basically unsafe at any speed, although a $4,000 liner system would pretty much fix me up. I called a brick mason who does chimney work to come and take a look. He hasn't seen it yet, but said he could pretty much rebuild the chimney from the roof-line up for four grand. So I'm a bit skeptical regarding Tim. Most of the folks we've dealt with have been exceedingly honest and have done excellent work at fair prices (seriously—it's almost shocking, the honesty of these Wisconsinites), but we've also had a couple of disappointing encounters, mostly to do with fireplaces. We'll see. I don't think we're going to spend $8-$10k to make the fireplace safe for wood-burning.

Still, Tim threw enough of a scare into me that I'm thinking gas insert at this point, though the lovely A_________ is determined to burn logs. "I want to burn a log," she said. "Okay," I said. "We can burn a log. Then we'll get a gas insert." The trick, I'm pretty sure, is not to burn the house down. If you can do that and still have a working fireplace—gas, wood, whatever—then you're swimming in gravy. A wood-burning insert isn't possible, I don't think, with an unlined flu. They're all butt-ugly, anyway. Three thou for the gas insert, roughly. Oy.

There have been good days and bad days on this house renovation project; today's kind of a bad day. The good news, to the extent that there is any, is that after all this rain the roof ain't leaking and the basement's dry. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

8.19.2007

House-o-ganza

Jim's made what seems like fantastic progress on the screen porch; unfortunately the weather this coming week looks bad (rain 'til Thursday, apparently). The second floor floor is done and looks great, though I may ask Gordy about buffing it once, just to see what he says. Dan's back and still prepping the 3rd floor; we may be ready for actual paint up there. Woo hoo. Back yard on hold 'til screen porch is done; fine with me.

Meanwhile, all of our appliances are ordered--a fine thing. Kitchen cabinets should come around 9/15; won't take long to install them, allegedly. Before then Jim will build the corner-wall and trim out the new windows, the electrician and plumber will do their thing, and Jim et al will repair walls and ceiling as needed.

Accidentally left the upstairs fireplace blasting (on high, pretty much) for six hours yesterday; did not explode or burn the house down. That's one way to test the installation, I guess. The underside of the mantle shelf was warm to the touch; the dura-rock surround was cool. All good.

May paint the LR myself. Sage-y green, maybe?

The lovely A________'s aged grand 'rents are sending us some moolah. Nice of them—we need furniture, it turns out. Buying a bed for us, a bed for el frijolito, maybe a couple of rugs, maybe a dresser or two, maybe a chair or two.

Can't wait to get the screenporch/backyard done (looks like we'll do the fence after all), and move on to the front entryway. Then finito, as I've said, until we can make more money.

8.14.2007

Houseapalooza

Jim installed the mantle today (looks great!). He also did the pantry and north kitchen windows and the out-opening kitchen door; all pretty cool. The kitchen already looks a lot lighter with the new windows in. Dave the cabinet guy had some success leveling the kitchen floor; also a fine thing. Yard guys returned, briefly, to clear out the remains of the huge grapevine along the west property line; more work to do along that side, including potentially leveling up to the fence line. I'd love to put in a 6' privacy fence there; the lovely A__________ is feeling the financial pinch a bit, and doesn't think a fence is a big priority. She's smarter and has better taste than me, so I don't argue.

We also met with Barb again this a.m.; turns out the tab for the Cambria countertop is about half what I'd expected. Good news, after a round of electrician sticker-shock. We may come in under $100k on round one, yet. Certainly we'll be under that in terms of our own money spent.

Tomorrow the floor guys will come to work on the kitchen/pantry. Jim and Mike will start the vertical work on the screen porch, weather permitting. It should go fast. When the screen porch is done (next week?), we're down to the front entry as the last major job of this phase: good news, as I think we're all running out of gas a little bit.

8.13.2007

Housecapades

The two kids' rooms should be completely finished in the next day or two; fixtures, floors and all. That's a good thing. Dan will start on the 3rd floor today, I think; the lovely A_________ is re-reconsidering her wall color choices for the master bedroom (mb) and fireplace room (fpr), so they're on hold for the moment.

Much in the works today: the electrician should be moving the electric service (meter boxy thing) out of the way of the screen porch; floor guys should be sanding/finishing porch floor; yard guys should be finishing perimeter clean-up and hydro-seeding; Jim will be doing lots of little stuff—installing windows, maybe installing the mantel, etc. Sam may be finishing up some electrical stuff inside. The cabinet guy (Dave) comes tomorrow to level the kitchen floor—even a small improvement would be a great thing. Also, Joe appears to be finished with the dining room, so all we need there is crown molding (on order) and paint (still to be selected).

I've got a number of calls to make this a.m.; chimney sweeps, fence installers, Barb the kitchen designer, tile guy 2, etc.

The bad news, to the extent that there is any, is that several big bills have arrived or are about to arrive: the first porch installment, furnace/ac/boiler, back yard, etc. The estimate for electrical stuff (porch, kitchen, service move) is astounding, and Dan's estimate for the rest of the 2nd floor is also a bit of a shocker. Still, we're only about $20k into our own money for everything we've done so far, thanks to the generosity of the 'rents. That'll change—big time—once we write this next round of checks. Still, total bill for this first, big round of rehab will likely be under $100k, and that ain't bad. Everything we're doing will add value to the house, so assuming we manage to avoid a total collapse of the housing market we should be okay.

Update: Dan's putting primer on the 3rd floor; very exciting. The floor guys are there, working on the screen porch; also very exciting. Mike's putting up ceiling fans in the kids' rooms; thrilling (though the one in the yellow room misses my head by about two inches. The light, not the blades.) Joe's finishing up the dining room; woo hoo! Jim's working on the fp/mantle; yee ha!! Landscapers didn't show up; boooooo! They suck. But they'll be back tomorrow, and with any luck will finish everything then. I'll be glad to be done with those guys, frankly; the work's been okay, but the communication has been crappy.

8.10.2007

Why I suck at poker

I'm the first to admit that I'm one of the three or four weakest players at our weekly (for funzies only, of course) poker game. I figure I'm doing pretty well if I can keep the (theoretical) losses down to single digits, eat a few Cheetos, drink a little bourbon, and not go face down in my few remaining chips while I wait for Presto Shang (aka Pokey) to bet. There's genuine camaraderie, of course, in addition to booze and snacks—actual laughs among like-mindeds, and the occasional interesting flare-up of difference, too.

That's why I play (plus, it's about the only regular social outing I get now that I'm a dad); but why do I play so poorly? I think the real answer is that I just don't care enough about the game itself—which is ultimately pretty boring most of the time—to take the time to study things like betting strategy, pot odds (not to mention implied pot odds), and all the other nuances that make the difference between the poor-to-average player and the competitive player. Anyone that's ever tried to read one of those "How to Win at Hold 'Em" books knows what I'm talking about. My eyes start to glaze over just thinking about it.

8.07.2007

House-o-rama

So the tree guys came and took out the dead walnut at the back of the property today; a fine thing. If I'm not still feeling like crap tomorrow (summer cold), I'll stack the wood up along the east property line, most likely. Jim and Mike made great progress on the screen porch; meanwhile, I'm still dithering a bit on the fp tile situation. My impulse is just to have Larry do it, even though he's overcharging us, just for the sake of getting it done.

Meanwhile, we have to call Barb, order the rest of our appliances, and a million other things. Gack.

Dan the painter gets back on Thursday. Time for a little come to Jesus moment, I think.

Why I like Zen (Koan #82 from the Shaseki-shu)

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

8.06.2007

Backyard blues

Oy. The backyard grade looks like it's done, though it interfered with the first day of screen-porch framing. More backyard next week, including clearing out the fence along the east side, taking out the big grapevine nightmare on the west, and hydro-seeding before the weeds kick in. The screen porch should be well along by then, weather permitting. The big issue that we'll have to iron out with the landscapers is that the guy driving the bobcat broke the sewer line clean-out in the middle of the driveway; potentially an expensive fix, and not something I'm inclined to pay for. It's unfortunate, because except for that our experience with these guys has been pretty good.

Called a tree service today for an estimate on removing the dead walnut in the NE corner of the yard. Can they do it without tearing up big chunks of the new grass? Oy.

Upstairs fireplace is temporarily stalled; Larry's estimate for installing the tile came in at $700, which the lovely A_________ says is too high. We'll order the tile and have one of Jim's guys do it. The 2nd fl flu still smells like smoke/ash/cigarettes when the wind direction is right (or wrong); should've had it swept/cleaned before the gas insert was installed. Balls. You can't get to everything.

Dan's on freaking vacation 'til Thursday or so. Will talk to him about hiring an additional painter when he gets back. He'll just have to be okay with it, I think.

Update: Things are looking a bit better today: Jim and Mike have started framing the screen porch, and you can already get a sense of its wonderful hugeness. The tree service may get in late today, which would be great. The cabinet guy should come on Friday to take a stab at leveling the kitchen floor, then the floor guys will do their thing. Really we've been very lucky (touch wood)—very few setbacks, and so far they've all been minor.

8.05.2007

Charlie Simic Named Poet Laureate

There was a time when the whole battle of the lyric/elegaics vs the experimental/academics vs the neoformal/anachronistics seemed important to me, partly because as a lyric surrealist free-verser I felt that the wrong people (everyone who was writing stuff I didn't like) were getting all the attention, and partly because I was too close to the poetry melee to see how ultimately absurd and undignified it is—the cattiness, the hair-pulling, the whole eye-gouging scramble after the pitiful crumbs that are the reward of a big-time poet's "career." I'm glad I no longer feel invested enough in the whole business to worry much qabout the outcome, or to believe that any kind of meaningful outcome is even possible.

Still, every now and then, if the wind is blowing right, I can still make out the occasional rumble of the poetry wars in the far distance; a whiff of cordite, the faint boom of cannon-fire rumbling up from Madison. Another neoformalist jackass writes yet another rant against modernism or the MFA programs; someone wins a big prize based more on his/her life story than on his/her life's work. Sometimes, though, the news is good. I'm very happy to hear that Charlie Simic's been made Poet Laureate, and in the same week won a big-deal $100,000 prize. Simic is one of the best of his generation (and better than anyone in mine). I'm very pleased that his work is getting this kind of late-career recognition.

Here's one of my favorite Simic poems:

Crazy About Her Shrimp

We don't even take time
To come up for air.
We keep our mouths full and busy
Eating bread and cheese
And smooching in between.

No sooner have we made love
Than we are back in the kitchen.
While I chop the hot peppers,
She grins at me
And stirs the shrimp on the stove.

How good the wine tastes
That has run red
Out of a laughing mouth!
Down her chin
And on to her naked tits.

"I'm getting fat," she says,
Turning this way and that way
Before the mirror.
"I'm crazy about her shrimp!"
I shout to the gods above.

7.31.2007

House 'til you puke

So, the jungle's completely cleared, and the yard's rough-graded, by the look of things. They'll do more grading later this week, then fill w/ topsoil, then hydro-seed.

Jim came up with a quote on the screen porch—we're talking roughly $15k for a 2400 sq ft structure, w/ fir tongue-in-groove flooring, bead-board ceiling and interior finish, and probably cedar back wall. Replacing the kitchen/pantry windows and moving the electric service will be separate expenses, as will replacing the kitchen door with one that opens out. A quote for the front entry-way is really the last big thing for this go-round; Jim gave us a basic design, but I suggested tweaking it so the entry door is centered under the upstairs window. That simple change will improve the look of the front of the house a lot, I think.

The furnace/boiler/AC install is almost done, they tell me. It's all Cadillac, high-efficiency Lennox equipment which should work great for years and years.

Concerns: Dan is doing beautiful work but moving excruciatingly slowly. May have to look into additional painters, though I hate to.

Little stuff: we've all-but settled on tile for the FP, thank God—I'm actually the one having second thoughts this time.

7.29.2007

Foreign.

My fine agent Maria says that we should know something about the sale(s) of foreign rights for HIGH SEASON in the next few weeks (the good reviews will definitely help, she says). One thing I've learned about this business is that the big lump sums are hard to come by, and it's silly to get your hopes up. But would a smallish number similar to the U.S. advance be too much to ponder? And can I ask to be paid in Euros? Even failing the latter, it would be great to make enough to help pay for, say, fixing up the entry-way. Or maybe rehabbing the garage, even.

Explanatory note: It's worth mentioning that time operates on a different set of principles in the publishing world. When someone tells you that something is likely to happen "in the next few weeks," what they really mean is "sometime in the next six months to a year."

7.28.2007

Holy Grail. Ish.



The latest addition to the pedalboard: a Hermida Mosferatu, little sister of the legendary (and hellaciously hard to come-by) Zendrive (scroll down a bit on the above link). The Mosferatu is a great little overdrive with just the right kind of hair and plenty of blues/rock nasty on tap. Dr. Tao wondered if I'd still take delivery of the Zendrive I have on order (they're backordered something like a year, and selling in the $360-400 range on eBay). Hell yes, I said. I didn't tell him I also have an Analogman King of Tone on order, which will arrive shortly after judgment day.

Etta James is in the hospital.

Blues singer Etta James hospitalized in LA

Wed Jul 25, 10:21 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Blues singer Etta James is in stable condition in a Los Angeles hospital, suffering from complications following abdominal surgery, her manager said on Wednesday.

The 69-year-old rock 'n' roll pioneer was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, following the mid-June surgery, Lupe De Leon wrote in an email to Reuters.

James hopes to be well enough by the end of August to join blues icon B.B. King and soul veteran Al Green on a tour that began in Florida on Tuesday.

"If it had been left solely up to her, she would have checked herself out of the hospital and started the tour regardless of her delicate health," De Leon said. "However, her doctor advised that were she to do so, it would put her at very great risk."

She's one of the greats. I hope she's doing okay.

7.26.2007

House again

Furnace/AC install tomorrow; landscapers also tomorrow (delayed a day because of heavy rains forecast for tonight). Dan painting away. The lovely A_______ has made some bold color choices for the fireplace room. I'm going with something bland and basically invisible for the 3rd fl. Fireplace tile probably a solid color, since the color-matching and size requirements turn out to be a bit daunting. We'll have plenty to look at w/ our gorgeous antique oak mantel installed.

God, even I'm getting tired of these posts.

Update: About 60% of the yard's been cleared; it's pretty amazing. One thing that's revealed as a result is the east side of the garage, which is sorely in need of repair/paint. We'll get Judy's husband Don going on that, I hope. In the meantime, grading, filling w/ topsoil and seeding are just around the corner.

Dan's finishing up (finally) the two back bedrooms—says he'll be done next week. Then on to the master bedroom and fireplace/sitting room. A_______ promises she'll come to the tile store with me on Monday to pick something out for the fp surround. Oh, happy day. I'll be very glad when the 2nd fl is done. Then up, I think.

7.25.2007

Red guitar update

Dave says it should be in this week sometime. Wa. Hoo.

Further update: false alarm. Not 'til mid-August. Thanks, Dave.

More house

The furnace guys came today to install the new boiler. A good thing. They'll do the rest—forced air and AC—next week, I think.

Tomorrow, believe it or not, landscapers! A freakin' miracle. I'm looking forward to a dramatic change in the backyard, which is busy trying to revert to prairie. I'm a little sad that we're taking out a lot of flowers and disrupting the habitats of small woodland creatures in order to plant a non-edible mono-species. But only a little.

Meanwhile, Jim and Joe are putting 1/4" sheetrock on the upstairs bathroom. We'll have to figure out how to vent that sucker at some point. But not now. As I said to Jim today, we're now developing a list of tasks not to do. That's one of them.

7.23.2007

Crack house ahoy

So, Jim's finishing up the inside work—just a few details left like taping the dr ceiling and putting up crown molding (Joe's going to skim-coat the whole thing, too, to get rid of the god-awful texturing that's spread like a fungus through the whole interior of the house), ordering new windows for the kitchen, dry-walling the 3rd fl bathroom (500 clams--can you believe it?), replacing the basement door, etc. We're ready for tile on the upstairs fireplace (the gas insert has been framed in and dura-rocked by Sam), and a couple of small electrical jobs are still in the works. All little stuff. After spending a few days on another job, Jim's coming back to build our big screen porch on the back; then we'll get a number from him on the entry-way in the front, then, except for paint and the back yard, we're pretty much done for this year. The lovely A________ and I have a few small jobs left to do, too—picking tile and paint colors (ack! Harder than you'd think), picking and ordering stuff like light fixtures, getting in touch with Excel Energy to have the electric service moved from the back of the house, staying after the freaking landscapers, etc. I also need to call the furnace guys and add a couple of small items to the already massive furnace/boiler replacement job. But that's really about it. Except for the kitchen. Oy.

A note about landscapers:

They appear to be curiously hard to pin down on matters of cost and time-line. They also have an inexplicable reluctance to return the phone calls of people who are anxious to pay them a lot of money. You wouldn't think it would be harder to get a landscaper than, say, a guy who's a genius with drywall and interior trim--but it is. Go figure.

This has been a note about landscapers.

7.21.2007

Crack house mania redux

Stopped by in time today to talk to Sam (Jim's cousin?) who's working on framing in the upstairs fireplace. He and Jim stopped by Dell's earlier in the a.m. and got the mantel—it's going to look spectacular. Just need to prod the lovely A________ into making a decision or two about tile, and we'll be all set. It'll be one of the nicest rooms in the house when it's all done. Sam's also working on the two ceiling fixtures on the 3rd fl (they don't work at the moment—apparently it's a bit mysterious), and has advised us to put a sconce or two in the upper stairway, which sounds good to me. Jim's working up the numbers on the screen porch, which will be giant--around 220 sq. feet when it's done. We're also looking at rehabbing the front porch; we'll change the design a bit by bringing the east wall back to the end of the foundation (it currently extends three or four feet past the foundation, and rests on a short pier which has subsided a good bit and appears to be failing), but we'll keep the spirit of the thing with tall windows around two sides, etc. Nice tile floor, padded window-seat and a big coat/boot closet and we'll have a great little mud-room/entry that doubles as a small sun-room, probably for less than $15k. After that (and everything after that would be a project for next year, or the year after) we turn our attention to the exterior front: a nice stone stoop, siding, walkways, front garden, and my pet project--awnings for the big downstairs windows.

On a side note: everthing we've done so far has cost WAY less than we'd anticipated, back in May. There are some big expenses coming up—furnace/boiler, yard (if the freaking landscapers ever send us an official estimate), kitchen—but everything we've done with the Seymours has been a stone cold bargain. They're amazing—top-notch work at incredibly reasonable rates. We couldn't be happier.

7.17.2007

And another. Booklist:

[STARRED] High Season.
Loomis, Jon (Author)
Sep 2007. 320 p. St. Martin's/Minotaur, hardcover, $23.95. (0312367694).

Loomis’ debut novel, starring Frank Coffin, the only somewhat-willing sheriff of the resort town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, displays the sureness of pace, dead-on atmosphere, and effortless wit of a veteran pro like Robert B. Parker. Coffin fits into the Melville tradition of someone trying and failing to escape the pull of the sea and of fate: the Coffin family jinx goes back through generations of whaling accidents and extends to Coffin’s brother, killed on a Swift boat in Vietnam. Inevitably, Coffin, after being landlocked as a Baltimore cop for nine years, is pulled back to the Cape and to an inner circle of hell, a tiny office in the town hall basement, right next to the boiler room. Coffin’s dream of coasting by on tiny, tourist-time infractions is burst when a TV evangelist, of virulently antigay persuasion, is found strangled on a gay beach, dressed in drag. Coffin’s investigation puts him and his girlfriend in ever-escalating peril. So many things are rendered perfectly in this novel: the depiction of police politics (Coffin was moved from a harborview office to the basement when his uncle, former chief of police, was ousted after bribery and extortion charges); the love-hate tensions of a Cape Cod tourist town; the sharp but not artificially bright dialogue; and Coffin’s own rueful self-reflections. Very funny and very tense. A great read.

The sheriff thing that will not die (oy). But hey, if they're going to compare me (favorably) with Robert Parker, they can call Frank the Lord High Inquisitor for all I care. The Melville thing ain't bad, either.

7.16.2007

HIGH SEASON review from Publishers Weekly

Poet Loomis (Vanitas Motel) makes an auspicious fiction debut with this mystery starring an aging Baltimore cop who becomes sheriff of his native Provincetown, Mass. Frank Coffin has to deal with a new boss intent on running the tourist town with an iron fist, a younger girlfriend uninterested in marriage but intent on having a child, a car that’s about to fall apart and memories of a multiple murder so horrific it drove him from his old job. Then, the strangled body of a vacationing TV evangelist, clad in an unflattering dress, turns up on the beach. Though the state police take over the case, various town worthies, including his boss, pressure Coffin into tracking developments. When he does, he discovers a powerful group has designs on the community and is willing to do anything to bring its plans to completion. Full of entertaining twists and sly observations, this is a perfect book for late summer reading. (Sept.)

Again with the sheriff thing, but what the hell. The fabulous K says it's a rave; who am I to contradict her?

7.15.2007

More house


So, the 3rd fl is moving along in great shape, although we found that the forced-air returns in at least two of the rooms are stuffed with what appear to be bits of gnawed carpet—did I mention the house used to be home to a large-ish colony of, um, rats? Yeah. Rats. Dan has disappeared for the moment, apparently taking advantage of this week's nice weather to finish an exterior job. The fireplace guys finished their end of the installation, and the unit looks great. It appears we'll be able to use the mantel we found at Dell's, as long as the projecting shelf is high enough (too low and there's a risk of fire). More tile to pick out—maybe we'll go with these. The lovely A_______ has selected the above tile mural for the kitchen backsplash: quite nice, I think (I'm especially fond of the lion eating the oryx, or whatever it is), though I would have argued for something delft-y from the solartile website (she is smarter and has better taste than me).

We meet with Barb the kitchen designer tomorrow for a final look at the plan, and some quotes on cabinets and counter—so we'll see if we can really afford the cherry/cambria combo we're thinking about, etc.

My big goals for next week: the two back bedrooms finished, cabinets ordered, upstairs fireplace fully installed with dura-rock and ready for tile. Also we should have some of the new windows in by then. And maybe the dining room ceiling taped-off, and the walls skim-coated. I think A_________ and I are both feeling the weight of some big fix-up expenses coming just down the road (furnace/boiler, screen porch, kitchen), which makes us a bit anxious to get things done and start winding down/moving in. Probably not quite by September 1st, I'm guessing.

Update: the meeting with Barb went fine—the numbers on the cabinets actually came in slightly below my educated guess, which is a great thing. We made decisions about materials and style and range size (36"); now we're down to countertop, other appliances, sink, lighting and wall color. Just that.

Dan's back (it rained this a.m.), working away. All good.

7.12.2007

Crack house mania

A few developments:

We have a kitchen design, looks like: it involves a corner stove and a not-quite island (more of a peninsula) that extends into the space from the k/dr wall with seating for four. We're getting close on materials, too, so we should be ready to order cabinets, etc., early next week. Some open questions about who does the installation work and what kind of prep we need to do in advance (floors first, I assume--but what do I know?).

Bids on clearing/grading/seeding the backyard are in, and considerably higher than I expected at $4100 to $5000. Perhaps the geothermal thing would have made sense after all. What can you do? Got to have a backyard.

The windows for the 3rd fl, dr and stairwell have arrived; Jim will start installing them next week.

Work on the 3rd fl wall repair is moving fast; I'm particularly excited about reclaiming that space from the entropy gods. It's going to be quite nice when we get it all done.

The gas fireplace guys come tomorrow to finish the installation. We're happy with them so far--they seem serious and efficient and glad to have our business. Once it's in we can order tile and buy a nice antique mantel from Dell's.

Several neighbors have expressed an interest in the kitchen things we're getting rid of. The cabinets and fridge are spoken for, but we'll also be selling the stove and the dishwasher. First offer takes them.

Dan's working steadily at painting the two 2nd fl back bedrooms. On to the master br from there, then 3rd fl, then dr, I think.

The screen porch is still just a wacky dream at this point—we're hoping to get Jim going on the design in the next week or so. And that, with any luck, will be the last thing on this go-round.

7.09.2007

The murder thing

I'm getting pretty interested in this weird denial phenomenon among some of my fellow writers of "crime fiction." Some of us want to pretend that we don't really have a greater than passing interest in murder-as-entertainment. Never mind that we spend great whopping chunks of our lives thinking about, planning and describing murders, learning the grisly details of the various means and methods (for the first book I had to research arson, asphyxiation, crucifixion, exit wounds, gaff hooks and lobster boats, among other murder-related topics), not mention reading up on autopsies and everything that's new and cool in the forensic world. But no, what we're really fascinated by are the great universal truths and a certain amount of deep emotion. It's just that the murder mystery (sorry—"crime novel") is the best possible vehicle for character development and the expression of human drama. Oy. If you catch me writing a genre novel about meaning, truth and a reason to go on living, please just shoot me.

I'm mystified, sort of, but I think there are two likely sources: first, there's a very strong desire among a lot of crime writers not to be dismissed as mere purveyors of gore. No one (except me, I guess) wants to be thought of as a callous exploiter of sensational crime—even if it's entirely imaginary. Second, there's a great reluctance among some of my crimespace buddies to examine the darker bits of their own psyches—they can write the most blood-curdling things but really, they're just fine thank you very much (dark side? What dark side?). To each his/her own, of course. But I don't think I could do this unless I was comfortable with what it says about me: yes, I hope to exploit my readers' fascination with sensational crime (turns out that I'm kind of fascinated by it, too). And yes, there are some dark, cobwebby things scurrying around in my psyche, and every now and then I like to let them come out and play.

Crack house update

A few developments, still (weirdly) all positive, touch (funky, warped) wood. We meet with Barb the kitchen designer tomorrow--the only one out of the three we've consulted who's actually been in the house. Somehow the other two didn't quite seem to get it. We're hoping Barb will. She seems very nice, in any case. We've resolved not to let her go tomorrow until we've got a design we all agree on, and have ordered cabinets. There's a screenplay in there somewhere.

The gas fireplace guys are coming to install the gas line to the 2nd floor bedroom tomorrow, which seems like a good thing. That way when the insert, etc., comes in they'll have a much quicker installation. This makes me feel that they're on top of things, and that's encouraging. The gas insert thing turned out to be a bit tricky--the old coal-burner inserts were taller than they were wide, and most conventional gas inserts are wider than they are tall--which makes installing them in a fireplace like ours kind of complicated (they have to cut brick, etc). Fortunately I was able to find a fireplace/insert manufacturer who makes a "portrait" style retrofit for coal burners. The first guys we got an estimate from claimed that no such thing existed. They wouldn't lie about something like that, would they?

Dan the painter should start tomorrow (fingers crossed) on the two smaller 2nd floor bedrooms. He seems like a very able and hard-working guy, so we have high hopes. So much depends upon a guy with a caulking gun and a can of latex paint.

We should have quotes from the two landscapers anytime. It's been over a week now. Hello?

The floor guys are done for the time being--they sanded and put two coats of poly on the stairs up to the 3rd floor, and also did the entire 3rd floor floor, if that makes any sense. They're doing a good job, I think. They'll come back when all the wall repair and paint is done and do a final screen and coat.

Joe the wayward drywall finisher is scheduled to return this week, so work on the 3rd floor wall repair should begin in earnest. Jim's already up there, trimming out doors. It's going to be a great space. New windows are due to arrive this week or next, which will also make a huge difference.

The furnace/AC guys should also be calling relatively soon (a couple of weeks) to set up a day to come in and do the furnace/boiler/AC install. Do we want a humidifier? Yes, said the lovely A________. Yes we do. Bartender, put it on my tab.

We've tracked down some cool period repro tile and lighting fixtures online. It's kind of nice that my mad internet shopping skills are good for something other than acquiring more guitar gear.

Full novel jacket



Here's the full book cover, officially complete. I'm happy with it, in general--a couple of spots in the flap copy that still seem a bit awkward, my hair's doing something weird in the author photo, and what, no credit for helping with the jacket design? (Kidding on that last one). Still, it's a good-looking book, I think. If that matters. And apparently it does.

Up to page 118 on the new one, as of today. How in the hell people write a book a year is the real mystery, if you ask me.

Update: Okay, it's not quite final. They forgot to insert the money quote from Kirkus; that's still going in, apparently.

7.06.2007

A note about romance novels and their place in the literary/artistic hierarchy:

Somewhere between lap-dancing and oompah music, I'm pretty sure.

(Post in reference to a crimespace thread I started, here.)

Update/apology: it's been brought to my attention that I've insulted a lot of strippers and tuba players with this post. Not my intention at all. Sorry.

6.27.2007

Coming soon from a guitar shop near me



'56 NOS Strat in fiesta red, special ordered with 9.5" radius and medium-jumbo frets. On order since February. (Hello...?)

I love recent American-made Strats and good, low-wattage tube amps. I don't really get the vintage thing. Why anyone would pay tens of thousands of dollars for a guitar just because it's old is a mystery to me. Maybe it's the notion of exclusivity—the idea that it's somehow better and more meaningful to own a thing that not every chump off the street can afford. But if you pay $25k and up for a vintage guitar ('59 Les Pauls in good shape are apparently auctioning for as much as $500k these days), you're not really buying a guitar—you're buying a complex and demanding relationship with a museum piece. You're also buying insurance, and a climate-controlled storage space. I'd rather just play the damn thing.

Although a climate-controlled guitar room would be nice...

And the pedalboard



Top left to bottom right: Xotic RC Booster, Fulltone OCD (great for lead-playing in a band with other guitars--lots of cut without being shrill), Xotic AC Booster, Voodoo Labs power supply, yer basic tuner, Clark Gainster (simple, cheap, sounds great), Jauernig Gristle King (this thing is pure genius: super fat overdrive plus smooth, rich clean-boost switchable to pre or post OD, so it's usable either as a gain boost or volume boost (or by itself), kind of like an Analogman King of Tone. Once you hear this pedal you will hate your Full-Drive), Keeley-modded TS808 (probably the runt of the litter; very midrangey, not much bass), and the $75 one-knob wonder (made in China, no less)—the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, which makes your Strat sound humbucker fat, and makes your Deluxe Reverb sound like a Twin or a Vibroverb. Yes, they're all overdrives. Call it a fetish, I don't mind. Now, if I could only get my hands on a Zendrive...

Gear porn



This is most of the electric geargasm currently on hand. Reading guitars left to right: Jerry Jones shorthorn (a great-playing Danelectro homage); Fender American Vintage '62 reissue thin-skin Strat, very unusual in seafoam green (sorry about the brutal lens-flare); Gibson Les Paul Standard (60s neck). The amps: Dr. Z Maz 18 Jr (truly amazing little amp); Fender Deluxe Reverb '65 reissue, bought cheap and in perfect condition on eBay; Mesa Lonestar Special—great amp, but I love the Dr. Z so much I almost never play it.

Good bad books

I've been trying to track down the origin of the "good bad books" construction, which seems to go back to G. K. Chesterton, and was then amplified a bit later by Orwell in his essay Good Bad Books. I wish I could find the exact Chesterton quote—it may be paraphrased from his essay A Defence of Detective Stories, which opens with this very funny paragraph:

In attempting to reach the genuine psychological reason for the popularity of detective stories, it is necessary to rid ourselves of many mere phrases. It is not true, for example, that the populace prefer bad literature to good, and accept detective stories because they are bad literature. The mere absence of artistic subtlety does not make a book popular. Bradshaw's Railway Guide contains few gleams of psychological comedy, yet it is not read aloud uproariously on winter
evenings. If detective stories are read with more exuberance than railway guides, it is certainly because they are more artistic. Many good books have fortunately been popular; many bad books, still more fortunately, have been unpopular. A good detective story would probably be even more popular than a bad one. The trouble in this matter is that many people do not realize that there is such a thing as a good
detective story; it is to them like speaking of a good devil. To write a story about a burglary is, in their eyes, a sort of spiritual manner of committing it. To persons of somewhat weak sensibility this is natural enough; it must be confessed that many detective stories are as full of sensational crime as one of Shakespeare's plays.


No doubt Presto Shang will be able to provide the actual provenance. In any case, the basic idea is that there are four kinds of books: Good good books, bad good books, good bad books, and bad bad books. The only kinds worth writing (and reading) are good good books and good bad books. The distinction falls along the high art/low art faultline that my father used to talk about: "good" books are literary fiction, "bad" books are everything else. Examples of good good books are easy to come by, of course, and bad good books are numerous and quickly forgotten, though not quite as numerous or quickly forgotten as bad bad books. Good bad books are the great guilty pleasure (the best kind, as we all know): Chandler and Wodehouse and other such brilliant "entertainments," as Graham Greene used to call them. I may, at some point, consider writing a literary novel (I've got a few literary short stories under way, God help me), but at the moment I can think of no higher (or guiltier, or more pleasurable) calling than to become a writer of good bad books. Suits me right down to the ground.

One note of caution: if you're ever in a gathering of crime writers, actual or virtual, don't talk about mysteries as "bad books." The whole G. K. Chesterton thing won't cut a whole lot of ice in that company, most likely.

Slight update: it's worth noting that Orwell thought Uncle Tom's Cabin would "outlive" the work of both Virginia Woolf and George Moore. He was half right, anyway. His interest in the notion of the good bad book may also tell us something about his view of himself as a writer, and the place he imagined his own work held in the literary hierarchy.

Further update: And the fact that I'm thinking about this ought to tell you something about where I see myself in the pantheon. Which is to say, several blocks away, in a good bar with Elmore James on the jukebox.

6.26.2007

What we've learned about home renovation

in the five weeks since we closed on the crack house:

1.Unless you're a skilled contractor, don't do it yourself. Don't even think about it. It's extremely likely that you'll have to pay someone to undo everything you just DIYed, which will be costly and embarrassing.

2.Don't live in the house while the work is being done. It will cost you more in the long run than paying two mortgages or renting. Contractors don't want to have to work around you and your stuff. You don't want to pay them to clean up the same mess day after day. Plus, the noise and dirt and dust and bad 70s rock will drive you insane. Stay the hell out until they're done.

3.This ought to be obvious, but apparently it isn't (at least not to everyone): don't do anything that doesn't add value to the house. That's really the cardinal rule: everything you do should make the house worth more to a potential future buyer, even if you plan to live there for the next thirty years. We actually figured this out some months ago, while observing a home renovation disaster being perpetrated by friends of ours who shall remain nameless. They're $80k+ into a mostly unfinished project, they've run out of money, the house is barely habitable and it's worth considerably less than it was when they started. A nightmare.

4.Beware that which is trendy. Remember all those knotty-pine basement dens from the 50s? That's your kitchen island.

5.Round up your contractors early (otherwise, if they're any good, they'll all be booked). We had our lead guy signed up weeks before we closed. If you're on a tight schedule, it's the only way.

6.Figure out how much you can spend, and add 30%. We actually caught a few breaks (touch wood)—the initial 2nd floor renovation cost less than our contractor originally estimated, we didn't need a new roof, and nobody thinks we need to completely re-drywall the third floor rooms; total savings of $16-20k. We also "saved" about $10k up-front by deciding not to go with geothermal heat (I'm a bit sad about that one). So, are we banking our savings on the project and figuring we got away cheap? Um, no. We're putting in a fancy kitchen instead, which will end up costing us more by about half than the $30k we "saved." The psychology is, once you've set aside a chunk of money to spend on fixing up your funky-ass old house, no matter how the project unfolds, you will never spend less than that initial amount. For all intents and purposes, it's spent (and then some) the moment you name a figure: you'll never see that money again except in the form of range hoods and window treatments. But again, what the hell—where else are you going to put your money these days?

7.When minor disagreements crop up, defer to your wife. She's smarter than you, and has better taste.

Little crack house on the prairie






Okay, so it's not REALLY a crack house, it's huge, and we don't live on the prairie. But still. Are we crazy, or what?

Kirkus McGurkus

Kirkus is notoriously snarky, so I was braced for a mixed review, at best. I was pleased and surprised when the fabulous K (my editor at St. Martin's/Minotaur) emailed me with the actual review, which came out in the 6/21 issue. As you can see, it's relatively (entirely!) snark free:

Loomis, Jon
HIGH SEASON

Multiple murders rock peaceful Provincetown.
Sheriff Frank Coffin lands a sensitive missing person’s case when Melinda Merkin asks him to investigate the apparent disappearance of her husband, the Reverend Ron Merkin. A charismatic leader in the fight against gay rights, strapping Ron is a hardcore cross-dresser, a fact Melinda would like to keep under wraps. Before long, his body is found, clad in a floral muumuu and strangled by his raspberry-colored scarf. Facing Provincetown’s first murder in six years, Coffin questions his decision to relocate from the Baltimore Police Department to this gay mecca and tourist magnet. Much of this series kickoff is devoted to fleshing out Coffin’s supporting cast: longtime girlfriend Jamie, who issues a sudden ultimatum for a baby; reliable deputy Lola, a lovelorn lesbian who’s Coffin’s closest confidante; Coffin’s mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s in a nursing home; and a volatile old painter named Kotowski. Undercover efforts by Coffin’s deputies in drag yield humor but few leads. The identity of a second victim, a local high roller named Sonny Duarte up to his neck in shady deals, shifts suspicion away from the grieving widow but onto Kotowski, whose house has been seized by local developers. The death toll grows before Coffin deduces the identity of the ruthless killer. Loomis (The Pleasure Principle, 2001, etc.) writes with warmth and wisdom, auguring well for further Coffin adventures.

****

Now, there are a couple of small inaccuracies here (Coffin is a police detective, not a sheriff), but in all I'm very pleased—kind of in the way that one is pleased when one has walked through a bad neighborhood at 3:00 a.m. without getting mugged. Okay, it's better than that. I love the last sentence—that bit about me being warm and wise. Heh.

The blurbs

One of the weirdest things about publishing is the little ritual of the blurb. Other, more senior writers—often complete strangers—consent to read your book pre-publication and write a snappy sentence or two in praise of it, which is then printed on the back cover. It's a little marketing oddity surrounded by incredibly complex layers of protocol (we can ask X, but we can't ask Y; you could ask Z, but it wouldn't do much good, etc.). All anthropological musings aside, I'm very grateful to have gotten these two extraordinarily kind blurbs, the first from Chris Grabenstein: "Witty, gritty and full of unforgettably colorful characters, HIGH SEASON is a highly impressive debut!" And this one from William Tapply: "In HIGH SEASON Jon Loomis absolutely nails Provincetown, arguably the funkiest and most interesting town in the United States, and stakes it out for what I hope will be many more Frank Coffin yarns to come. Loomis is a terrific writer. He's funny and wise, and he knows how to build tension. I really liked this book." Huge thanks to Chris and Bill; very generous of them.