Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Facebook friends. So 2009!

OK, I've finally relented to the pressure. Last week, I joined up. I actually made a facebook account. My editor at Howard has been telling me that I needed to do this to communicate with readers, other writers etc.
So I've started. I even listed my relationship status: "Married to Kris". My oldest son sent me an email saying that he was glad that our relationship is now "official". Never mind the twenty-five plus years we've been married. What counts in relationships these days is that you're official on facebook.
I'll have to say, I have a few initial impressions.
It is fun.
It is another time vacuum. I should be writing, reading or doing surgery or something else of value, but I wonder if someone has posted something on my wall on facebook?
And what about those game applications? Check out Twirl, an on-line game where you try to make as many words as you can from the six or so letters given. You've got two minutes. Go. Didn't do as well as you like. Try again. This is good for at least thirty minutes of wasting time.
Or play Lexulous. It's an on-line version of that old favorite, Scrabble. My wife and I have actually sat in the same room, each with a lap top open and played a game. Cool. Neat, and you don't have to put away the board when you're done. So 2009!
Or cruise your friends pages and spend time laughing at their photos.
Or be amazed at the details some people prefer to show. Do I really care if they are washing dishes? Alert the media, I'm going to Walmart.
But it is cool. I can message my friends, talk to my reader's group about books, and catch up with old school buddies. Do I have more gray hair than my classmates? Does this really matter? No, but it is cool.
So my hat is off to my editor. Time will tell whether I get anything out of this except a lot of fun.
So are you on facebook? Befriend me! Join the Harry Kraus Reader's group and talk about books. I'd love to meet you there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Salty Like Blood

Readers often wonder about the ins and outs of the publishing business. What goes on behind the scenes? How did you get a book contract? Did you write the novel before or after the contract was signed?

The process may be different for each novel. My upcoming release with Simon and Schuster (Howard Books), Salty Like Blood is the first of a two-book deal. For over a year, my agent, Natasha Kern, had been searching for the right fit for a novel that I'd written, The Six Liter Club. That novel was looked at by several Christian publishers who felt the content was too "edgy" for the Church market. That said, no secular publisher wanted it either. The faith element was just too strong! Alas, I'd hit upon a familiar trap with inspirational fiction. How was I to write realistically about the seedier side of life that needs to be touched by God's grace without offending those who were already Christian? My desire was to write from the viewpoint of a non-believer as she encountered difficult times, suspected abuse issues and eventually....the Christian faith. My protagonist was a tough lady, the first African-American female to become a trauma surgeon at a major university hospital in the South. She was smart, sexy, hardened by life experiences, and tough enough to make herself stand out in a man's world.
As sometimes happens in the publishing business, my editor at Zondervan, a great guy who pushed me to the next level in a series of books beginning with Could I have This Dance?, moved on to take on a new challenge at Howard Books (Simon and Schuster). When he was approached with taking my novel, The Six Liter Club, he was enthusiastic. We'd worked well together in the past and he relished the idea of acquiring another Kraus novel. But, as expected, Dave had a few ideas of his own: "I want that novel, but we don't want to do it as the first Howard book of yours. Give me something else first. Then, the market will be ready for The Six Liter Club.
It just so happened that I'd written the opening to a new novel, and my agent was thrilled that I seemed to be capturing a unique voice while launching towards the rough-water issues of a child abduction and the resultant marital pressure that often accompanies as a result. That novel, Salty Like Blood also delighted my potential editor. The deal was sealed. I'd deliver a new novel, Salty Like Blood, and a year later, Howard agreed to publish The Six Liter Club.
I'm getting excited to see the final product. You can see the cover on this site under "news" or go to www.simonsays.com and see a thumbnail. Simon and Schuster has even made a little video trailer for the book. It seems a bit cartoonish and cheesy, but it is fun. Go watch it at: http://www.simonandschuster.com/multimedia?video=10275992001&search=salty%20like%20blood&type=Video
Salty Like Blood is about forgiveness.
Is it possible to forgive someone who has done the unthinkable?
Salty Like Blood is about how life's successes are precarious: one domino falling results in a string of catastrophe.
As always, there is a thread of medical realism. My protagonist is a family doctor. The story is predominantly told through his eyes and the eyes of his wife.
Finally, I can say, it will be here next month!