Category Archives: Amazon

How did I get here?

Last night I found myself tucked into the corner of a table at 44 and X, a very stylish little restaurant over in Hell’s Kitchen, surrounded by some big name authors and editorial people from Thomas & Mercer and Amazon Publishing.  The night before, it was a cocktail party at Ink48 Press Lounge. And I asked myself… how did I get here?

Yes, it is me, dressed up. It happens once in a while.

I received an invitation from my publisher to both events, and though I wasn’t attending Book Expo America, both the cocktail party and the dinner were a short train ride from my side of the Hudson, and this would be my chance to finally put faces to the people I’d been dealing with since last summer. Oh, and to network, I suppose, though anyone who knows me knows I’m not really a ‘network’ type person. I’m a solitude type, and the moment I stepped out into that loud, crowded lounge, filled to bursting with wall-to-wall laughter and unfamiliar faces, my first instinct was to U-turn it right back into the elevator. It’s amusing how pressing through Penn Station at rush hour doesn’t faze me, and I’m perfectly comfortable wandering the streets of Queens, but set me in the middle of a social event like this and I start backing towards the exit. But I was there for a reason, and armed with a glass of Glenfiddich, I braced myself and headed in. From the looks of it, everyone there seemed to know most everyone else…everyone except me.  No name tags, no means to tell who was who, no idea where to start. This was my first foray into the world of publishing, and I was completely out of my element. Ultimately I retreated to a quiet corner and stared longingly out at boats making their way up and down the Hudson.

I realize these events, from the writer’s groups and conventions to the cocktail parties, are part of the landscape many authors navigate along their way to publication.  It goes with the territory, this process of making connections, networking, and I began to wonder if I might have overlooked something I should have been doing from the beginning. I eavesdropped on the animated conversations swirling around me and wondered if I’d missed some critical step in the process. I wrote a book simply because I enjoyed writing. I never really though much beyond that, and the last year had been a whirlwind of amazing and unexpected changes. But now I was on the outside, looking in.

Throughout the room, books from Amazon’s various imprints lay scattered across the low tables, including, ironically enough, a copy of Last Exit in New Jersey on the table beside me. As I sipped my drink a tall fellow wandered over and picked it up, flipping through it. I warned him that it was an awful book, and it was receiving some terrible reviews. Great icebreaker, huh? We started talking, and I caught that his name was Johnny and he was also an Amazon author, though through the noise I didn’t clearly hear his last name. But I was able to learn he was quite at home in this setting and he knew a good deal of the people there, including my editors and various marketing team members. I was delighted to finally meet Jacque, Eleni and Leslie face to face – they’re a wonderful group to work with, and even more fun to hang out around. And before long I found not only was I surviving my first night, but I was actually having fun!

Compared to the cocktail party, I figured the second night would be a breeze.  Only a dozen people at dinner together, strictly the Thomas & Mercer crowd, including a few familiar faces from the first night.  But I quickly discovered myself surrounded by some of the biggest names in the T&M stable, all heavy hitters with years of publishing behind them and reputations to match.  And me. The noob. The lone self-published author that somehow caught Amazon’s eye. The more I looked around, the more I listened to the other conversations, the more I felt like I was way out of my league. I did my best, I joined in when I could, but I began to wonder if I had any business being there.  And that’s Vincent Zandri, the author of numerous international bestsellers, made it clear to me that indeed I did. He told me to look around at the  other authors with whom I was dining, all well-regarded in the publishing world. Amazon signed each and every one of them for a reason, and they signed me for a reason as well. “These are very smart people at Amazon,” he told me, “They know what they’re doing, and they wouldn’t have picked you if they didn’t believe in your work.”

Writing can be a lonely business, but as we spoke I realized it didn’t have to be. And thanks to a great author offering me precisely the encouragement I needed, I began to see that I’m right where I should be, and I’m just getting started. He made me understand I shouldn’t sweat the little things. I should focus on what really matters and what I truly enjoy: my writing. Reputations like Vincent Zandri’s are built step by step, book by book, reader by reader.  And for an author at the beginning of this amazing, often intimidating journey, connecting with someone like Vincent Zandri helped me to put things into proper perspective, and for that I am grateful.

For more of Vincent Zandri’s wonderful wisdom and insights, check out his blog: The Vincent Zandri Vox

Getting closer…

I’d been looking forward to February, knowing that things would start to kick into high gear. And sure enough, just as I’m plotting and scheming my way into the start of book three, Evacuation Route, advance read copies, cover designs and release dates are coming in for the last two books. So here they are.

The very polished and re-edited edition of Last Exit in New Jersey will officially re-launch on March 6, 2012, and No Wake Zone is set for release on May 8, 2012.

Thomas & Mercer wanted to give Last Exit a new, grittier, more hard-boiled cover that hinted to the nautical angle of the story, and to keep a consistent look with both books. And while I was fond of my cover, with the actual Parkway sign for the title and hood of my old Dodge on the Parkway at 3 a.m., I think their design is a better match for the story.

Yesterday I received four concepts for No Wake Zone’s cover, and one really jumped out at me. I suggested a minor change that they are currently addressing, and I should have a finalized cover in the coming days, and we’ve finalized the promo text as well. So for all of you wondering just what happens after the conclusion of Last Exit, here’s a hint:

Hazel Moran, the tough truck-driving amateur sleuth introduced in C.E. Grundler’s debut novel, Last Exit in New Jersey, returns in this dark and twisting sequel.

Seven years ago, someone destroyed Jake Stevenson’s dreams when they murdered his fiancée, Helen Matthews and her family. Since then, tracking down the one responsible – finding them and making them pay — has consumed his life. Stevenson thinks the truth behind the killer’s identity and motive might still lie in the most elusive place – buried within the mind of a semi-mad man. But Stevenson may have found the means to access Hammon’s suppressed memories, and cleverly he draws Hazel into his hunt. Can she trust Stevenson, or does he have a hidden agenda? Hazel has her suspicions — but she has her own reasons for playing along.

Hammon and Annabel also question Stevenson’s motives. To protect Hazel from becoming the next casualty of a forgotten history now repeating itself, they must retrace a treacherous path of deceit and murder. But Annabel thinks Hammon is going about everything entirely wrong, and she’s decided it’s her turn to start calling the shots, whether Hammon likes it or not. And when, again, someone very close to Hazel dies, she’s pushed to the edge. The facts all point to suicide, but Hazel isn’t buying that. She’s determined to prove it was murder, and she’s closing in on answers, only to find someone is changing the questions. No one she trusts will hear her out; they’re all certain she’s in denial and becoming potentially unstable. But when has presenting a serious threat to herself and others ever stopped Hazel?

As her hunt travels from New Jersey to a Manhattan rave and a vacant construction site outside LaGuardia Airport, it’ll take all of her tough, fearless, no-nonsense smarts to navigate a complex and dangerous trail of clues. How far will some people go to hide the truth? And how far will she go for vengeance?

Are we there yet?

It’s official. As of today, the edited draft of No Wake Zone heads off to the nice people over at Thomas & Mercer. I still have more tasks ahead, finalizing the promotional text and looking over cover designs. The wheels are already turning at T&M for a spring release, and as soon as I have more official info I’ll be posting it here. But as for writing No Wake Zone, I’m done.

Done. Time to kick back, catch my breath, and catch up on life outside the madness of my fictional world. Yep. Done. No more dealing with my admittedly insane characters, who really need some lessons in communication skills and still refuse to play nice. I’m done.  Finished.

I can relax.

Or not. Already my muses are whining like a bunch of bored, restless children on a long road-trip. They won’t shut up. No. They want mayhem! They want chaos! They’re plotting away; they want my crazy characters to pull off a heist, and not get themselves killed or kill anyone else (unless absolutely necessary, and we all know how that goes,) in the process. And the forecast doesn’t look good.

So yes, the gang will return. We’re out of the No Wake Zone, and now it’s time to make some waves. Lots of waves, in fact, because there’s a hurricane headed this way, and as of this morning, I’ve already started work on book three:
Evacuation Route.

And here’s my last two posts at Write on the Water:

But how did you get here??

Prepping for launch day…

Taking a momentary breather…

…to mention that it’s Friday, which means yesterday was Thursday, and yesterday’s Write On The Water post pretty much says it all. And with that, I’m back to work!

Author C.E. Grundler signs a two-book deal with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint

Yes, kind readers, it’s true. Last Exit In New Jersey and No Wake Zone will be published in Spring 2012 under the Thomas & Mercer imprint. I would like to thank everyone out there who has helped me reach this point, from those of you who have to deal with me first hand as I walk around plotting murders to the growing number of readers who have enjoyed my story. I do wish to apologize; you’ll all have to wait just a bit longer for No Wake Zone. I originally planned to have it out by late fall of 2011, but my publisher (wow, did I just say that?!) will be putting the professional polish on both books for a Spring 2012 launch.

Being that it’s Thursday, you can find a bit more on this subject over at Write on the Water.

Fire Away!

In less than a year over 16,000 people have purchased Last Exit In New Jersey. It was slow in the beginning — most of these readers have come along within the last few months. Occasionally, people who love my book are kind enough to take the time to write me personally. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is as I sit here alone working away on the next book, to hear just how much someone enjoyed the last one and how they can’t wait to read the sequel. Fan letters like those are even better than caffeine for keeping me up and working late into the night! Overall I’ve been thrilled by how well my quirky tale has been received, though it doesn’t surprise me that on occasion a reader has left a less than glowing review on Amazon.

There’s no such thing as a book every reader will enjoy. Unfavorable reviews go with the territory and as authors we should expect and accept all feedback, not just the positive. Every review has its validity; it is that reader’s honest opinion and among them have been some constructive points. I’ll admit good reviews make my day, but fair, critical reviews help me to see what I can work on for the next book. The only reviews that truly bother me are ones that reveal spoilers.

So, for those who have already posted reviews, I would like to say thank you. For everyone who has told a friend how much you enjoyed my story, you have my sincere gratitude. And to those of you who have read my book but haven’t posted a review on Amazon, why not let other readers know what you think. Did you find my book absolutely awful, meh, or enjoyable? What did you like or hate, and why? And please, feel free to speak up: what one reader can’t stand might be what others prefer. Many readers chose books based upon the opinions of others, and as an author I value hearing your impressions of my writing. So fire away! I’m from Jersey… I can take it!

Pulp fiction!

last exit paperbacks
Yes, it’s official. Due to repeated requests, Last Exit In New Jersey is now available in PRINT! At last, all 250 pages of murder and mayhem neatly bound up in a beautiful full color cover, and no batteries required!