It's been a while, I know. Summer appeared rather abruptly, offering its various distractions. Plus, I've been trying to catch up on my reading, which has been lovely, to be honest. I'm getting ready to head east for a week or so, first to visit family and then to travel to New York City for ThrillerFest, as well as a reading event at the New York Center for Independent Publishing.

The NYCIP event will be Wednesday, July 11. It's called LITERARY CAGE MATCH: WHO’S THE MOST CHILLING THRILLER WRITER: CHICAGO NEWSHOUND, NEW YORK EDITOR, OREGON ARTIST? I'm the Oregon Artist, and I'll be reading along with Jason Pinter and Shane Gericke, two writers you'll want to pay attention to if you haven't already. Jason's debut thriller, The Mark, just came out and it's terrific. Shane debuted with the award-winning Blown Away, and his new novel, Cut to the Bone, was just released to great reviews. Learn more about the event here.

At long last, I've last settled on the title for my second novel. It's to be Chasing Smoke. I've delivered the final draft to my agent, and she's doing the agenty stuff she does. Once I know something, I'll be sure to wave my arms and yell. You can read an early draft of chapter one here, though I have to admit the final draft is considerably different, having changed in the interim at least as many times as I changed the title.

For the record, the titles I've considered are, in chronological order: Death with Dignity, The Five Dead Men, Skin, Rat, Oblivion of Hummingbirds, Tin Man, and Smoking Women, before settling on Chasing Smoke. The two finalists were Oblivion of Hummingbirds and Chasing Smoke, and in some ways I like Oblivion a little better of the two. Both work thematically, but in the end I have a feeling Chasing Smoke will be more effective in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, I've begun work on my next novel, tentatively titled The Paths of the Dead—though heaven knows how many times it will change before it's through. It's still very much in the development stage, so I don't want to say very much about it. As in Chasing Smoke, Skin Kadash returns, but a number of new characters will join him, including a new antagonist who I think will make Jake of Lost Dog seem like an Eagle Scout.

That's all the news for now. I'll be posting from New York at InkSpot next Thursday, and at Killer year after I return from New York.

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