The First Review Is In

I’d planned to get in a few non-novel related posts, but Publishers Weekly went and reviewed The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (Third review at the link.)

Sure, I don’t care about reviews. I don’t care what the critics think. I also don’t care much for oxygen or Jack Daniel’s! I saw the subject line from my editor this morning reading “FW: PW Review!!” my cheeks clenched a bit. (But the two exclamation points were enough to give me hope.) Here’s the verdict:

Wheaton writes with an infectious energy, and his affection for the characters and culture is authentic without being overbearing or cheesy. Do the bon temps rouler? In Wheaton’s hands, they sure do.”

Some Thoughts on Building Book Buzz

TFAGPRFAs some of you may know by now, there are a handful of advance copies of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival floating around the U.S. And some of you may be asking yourself, “How do I get my hands on a copy before Dec. 29?”

The short answer is: “You can’t.”

The longer answer is: “You can’t unless you find someone who has one of those copies and steal it from them.” (The truth is, I’m all out of those precious, precious copies.)
Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Building Book Buzz”

Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 4

TFAGPRF“You have to watch these Louisiana boys. They can drink you under the table, and some of them can write you under the table. Ken Wheaton can do both. He’s a wild one, and this is a sparkling debut.” — Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North

This particular blurb is 99.9% gold. (I’ll get to the 0.1% later.)
Continue reading “Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 4”

Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 3

How about a blurb comparing the book to bourbon? Would you like that?

TFAGPRF“Warmed my chest faster than a double shot of Wild Turkey and kept me laughing through the night. This is a rollicking, wonderfully irreverent debut. It’s also a charming love story with a heart as big as Louisiana. I am a huge Ken Wheaton fan.” –Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook

You all recognize Matthew Quick’s name, right? Because when I told you earlier this summer to go out and buy his amazing book, you immediately did so. Right? (Well, if you didn’t, I suggest you do so now.)

So how did Matthew Quick come to get his grubby paws on a copy of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival?
Continue reading “Early Acclaim for the Novel: Part 3”

Early Anecdotal Field Research on a Book Cover

TFAGPRFSo Saturday afternoon, I stopped by Book Court to drop off an advance copy of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. I practically live upstairs from the store and it’s known throughout the city as one of the finest independent book shops around. They’re shooting something from Eat, Pray, Love there this week. Lots of big-timers do readings at Book Court … and lots of little-timers, too. I did a reading there from The Subway Chronicles.

So I thought I’d stop in, say hi, drop off an advance copy and beg them to please stock the book. None of the folks who actually do book order were there, but I left a note in the book. (As luck would have it, my friend Peter Melman, who’s book The Landsman came out last year, a) worked at Book Court and b) lived in the exact same apartment I’m living in … so weird coincidence and all).

Anyway, after leaving said book with the counter person, I stood back while I waited for Susan. Counter person was then ringing up someone else, but had left the book on the counter. The someone else picked up the book and said, “Hey, what’s this? It looks interesting.” And then showed it to her friend. She then asked counter person if it was hers. And she said, “No, actually it’s his. He wrote it. But it’s not for sale yet.”

Sadly, all I could think to say was, “Yeah. That would be me. It’s on sale in December.” Ken Wheaton: Brilliant Salesman!

Gladly, I had the presence of mind not to blurt out in Book Court, “You can pre-order it on Amazon right now!” Not exactly the way to win over your friendly independent bookseller.

But, yeah, guess that cover illustration by Tim O’Brien is doing the trick.

In the Mood for a Great SciFi Read?

So last week, while the wife was away, she received an envelope from a friend of hers by the name of Darren Campo. I knew what was inside: a galley copy of his sci-fi novel, Alex Detail’s Revolution.

After getting permission from Susan, I ripped it open and stared at it with that weird mix of emotions I’m sure all writers get when confronted with a friend’s work (or a friend of a friend’s work).

1. How dare you write a book too? I’m the novelist around here.
2. Man, I hope this doesn’t suck because boy is that going to be awkward next time we meet.
3. Well, I hope it’s not TOO good, because then I’ll just be jealous.

At any rate, I started in on the manuscript and, well, holy shit. It’s been awhile since I’ve read science fiction. I don’t know why this is, because I generally enjoy it – when it’s good. And this was good. If I had to blurb it, it would go something like this.

Alex Detail’s Revolution starts out as if Douglas Adams had decided to write Ender’s Game. But what develops isn’t a cosmic lark as much as a riveting thriller that delves into examinations of time, space and, interestingly, the human capacity for faith – or the lack thereof.

That’s my blurb, right there.

What’s it about? From Amazon: “Seventeen-year-old Alex Detail has been kidnapped and sent off to fight in a hopeless war against The Harvesters, an alien force that is trying to extinguish Earth’s Sun. Unfortunately for Alex’s kidnappers (and the world) he has lost the mega IQ that allowed him to win the last war with The Harvesters ten years ago when he was just 7 years old.”

And there’s more! Including a star turn by former planet Pluto.

I read it in a day. I think you should, too. It’s out next month, but you can preorder it on Amazon right this very minute. I suggest you do so. You’ll end up with a great book and you’ll give him a bump in the old Amazon ratings (which, for obvious reasons, I’ve become obsessed with as of late).

And yeah, I did become a little jealous. But that’s a good thing.

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Last night, I finished reading Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. As a writer it gave me a warm, smug feeling that writing matters. As a reader, it inspired me to at least pretend to consider giving Henry James another shot. And, as a regular guy, it made me feel far superior to all of you who’ve spent the last few days jabbering like idiots and crying over the death of a skin-bleaching pervert with a drug problem because once long ago he made music that made us dance. (Sure, go ahead and accuse me of being Peter King, but ask yourself this: Would you have let Michael Jackson babysit your children?)

But I digress. Reading Lolita in Tehran is not a new book by any means. But in light of recent events, it struck me as being even more relevant. Though I do think Nafisi gets a little too writerly for my tastes from time to time, the book was beautiful, a stark reminder of the power of literature and a reminder too that whatever you believe about Iran, women bear the brunt of oppression in such cultures and countries. There were a couple of times when I almost put the book down and fired off passages to the sort of people who claim that women in such places are somehow happier because they’re given more respect. Yes, such people exist — and it’s usually someone trying hard to be some kind of progressive.

At any rate, it’s a great book. Go read it. Or I will slap you.

First Reading for My First Novel Scheduled

So this afternoon I received an e-mail from my editor at Kensington Books asking me to confirm whether or not I’d be able to do a reading from “The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival” at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance show in Greenville, S.C., in September.

Um, let me think abou… Hell, yeah! I get to do a reading at a major Southern trade show three months before the book comes out? Most excellent.

Of course, once I agreed, the thought of public speaking got me nervous for something that’s not happening for months. Thankfully, this reading will be in the evening and I’ll presumably be able to knock back two drinks to steady the nerves.

I was in Greenville earlier this year for a conference that involved lots of brilliant people, lots of fancy food and racing BMWs at the BMW Performance Center. The one drawback to that trip was there was no time for barbecue. Not this time around!

Barbecue, booze and book-reading … from my own novel, no less … well, slap my ass and call me fanny. I don’t know if it gets much better than that.

For Your Summer Reading Consideration

Remember the days when you could just sit down and read an entire novel in one sitting? You found a book that just drew you in and excited you, perhaps delighted you, made you laugh or just scared the living crap out of you. And you either had the time — or, as you’ve grown older — made the time. Maybe you blew off work or social obligations. Maybe you just said, “Fuck it. I’m not sleeping tonight.”

I’ve done that twice recently, first with Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel and just this past Sunday with Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North

Continue reading “For Your Summer Reading Consideration”