One of the best aspects of the eBook revolution is the revitalization of the short story.  With the advent of Kindle Singles and other outlets for writers of short fiction, writers can once again take a breather from the longer process of writing a novel and just have fun.  A short story can be written quickly, but still maintain the same integrity of plot and character as its full-length counterpart.
Which is just another way of saying…I’ve just made available two short stories featuring my con man hero, Todd Gleason.  I’ve cleverly titled it TWO TODD TALES and it comes with a fabulous cover (see attached!).  The first story, “The Perils of Penelope Pittston” was written for an anthology called CRIME SQUARE, but I’ve revised it a bit.  The second story, “The Antics of Anton Ardno” was written at the request of a friend and will appear in an anthology he is editing. The two stories appear for the first time together in this collection.

While I write the next Todd Gleason novel, I wanted to give readers a “sampler.”  This eBook-only edition is an exclusive through Amazon’s Kindle program, and will be part of a five-day promotion where you can download it…for FREE.  After that, the price will fluctuate.

Speaking of the next novel, at the end of TWO TODD TALES I’ve included a teaser chapter from the next book, called THE CANNES CON.  Hope you enjoy it.

When you write in different genres, one of the biggest challenges is making each book unique, and that begins with “the voice.”  I’m not talking POV, like first or third person…but this over-riding feeling of being immersed in a world that look, sounds, and feels like none other.

When I sit down to write about Linden Corners and the windmill, I have to dig deep for the language.  It’s a more lyrical approach, more heartfelt, and the imagery has to have a poetic feel to it.  The character of Brian Duncan fuels that voice, and he’s as good a companion as anyone could ask.  Hard-working, kind, always thinking of others.

Then there’s Todd Gleason.  For readers familiar with LONDON FROG and CALIFORNIA SCHEMING, Todd is the polar opposite of Brian Duncan…but yet, you still like him.  At least, I hope you do.  He’s opportunistic, just a bit vain, and always out for that big score. But not completely at the expense of others.

Pittman-California-SchemingFor the past couple of years I’ve been concentrating on Linden Corners, with the writing and publication of A CHRISTMAS WISH, A CHRISTMAS HOPE, and the forthcoming THE MEMORY TREE.  So when it came time to start writing about Todd Gleason again, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find that snarky, flippant voice that pervades those crime novels.

Silly me.  Maybe it was the practice I got earlier this year when a friend asked me to write a Todd Gleason short story for an upcoming anthology or maybe Todd is just part of me. But this week when I started playing around (finally!) with the third full-length Todd Gleason novel he just appeared, as if…the wind had brought him to me.  Maybe he’s got a couple things in common with Brian.

I’m just a couple chapters into the new book and busy outlining the next few, but already I feel that creative energy pulsing from my fingertips to the keyboard.  My brain is swirling with ideas on how to twist the story to near-impossible levels.  How am I going to get Todd out of this latest situation?

Trust your instincts, trust that voice.

At some point this summer, I’m going to release in eBook format TWO TODD TALES, which feature the only two short stories I’ve written using this character.  It’s a fun sampler of a character who will hopefully see lots of play in the coming years.  He’s so much fun to write about.  I’ll keep you posted on that release, as well as that of the book I’m writing now, THE CANNES CON.

Ah, New York City.  The allure of the lights, the glamour, the pursuit of fame and fortune…

That’s the dream anyway.  The reality is…subways that don’t show, tourists who nearly poke your eye out as they point at tall buildings, high rents and $12 glasses of wine.  You either love it…or you get out.  NYC has been my home for 26 years (not counting the first seven of my life), so yeah, guess I love it.

I came to NYC to pursue my publishing dreams, and many of them have become a reality. But somewhere along the way, another world found me, or I found it.  So on the eve of the 67th Annual Tony Awards, I’d like to give a big shout out to the Broadway community, one that has welcomed me and embraced me and been there in the background while I chased my other career(s).

Back when I was a young editorial assistant, I moved into my Manhattan apartment and realized I might need a second job to help pay my monthly bills.  So I started ushering on Broadway; how I fell into this gig has to be one of those “meant-to-be” moments in life and is a story for another time.  I worked my first show in April of 1990, at the Marquis Theatre.  Since then I’ve worked countless shows, most of Broadway’s 40 theaters, and made some great friends and experienced more than I could have imagined.  Opening Nights, Closing Nights, mega-hits and memorable flops, all of these experiences are a book unto themselves.

My current gig is as ticket-taker at Broadway’s oldest theatre, the Lyceum, opened in 1903, working THE NANCE starring a Tony-nominated Nathan Lane in a fabulous performance.  But I’d be remiss in not mentioning the other great theaters I’ve worked long runs at:  the Virginia (now the August Wilson), Circle in the Square, the Plymouth (now called the Schoenfeld), Cort, Golden, and of course, my beloved, beautiful Belasco, where I will return in the fall when a new show comes in.

New York is about taking advantage of opportunities that come  your way, but more so, it is about making those opportunities happen in the first place.  In pursuing a publishing career, I made contacts that enabled me to get my novels published, and on Broadway I’ve learned so much about a business that works like none other.  One of these days these two worlds will collide in a book…I’m working on it.946965_587168161314899_1887880806_n

For now, I say Happy Tony Weekend, and best of luck to all the nominees. Watching you all play out your dreams on stage only fuels mine.

FYI, the accompanying photo is from a party for the musical CITY OF ANGELS, circa 1992.  That’s me on the right.

When I first discovered reading and had developed a list of favorite authors, I can remember looking at the ads in magazines like Parade and TV Guide for The Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild.  I would look at the dozens of new books they offered–Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, Sidney Sheldon, Robin Cook…all the blockbusters and I wanted them all.

So in college I joined, and my hardcover 9781617569487collection began.  What a thrill it was to receive that initial shipment of books–6 books for $1, plus shipping.  Then I only had to buy a certain number of books over the course of the next two years or so.  No problem for me.  Each month I would receive the mailing, and the editors there would hand-pick certain titles, introducing me to new writers I might not have discovered on my own.

Cut to 2001, and the release of my first novel, TILTING AT WINDMILLS.  I couldn’t believe it, but my novel had been chosen by Doubleday Book Club as a Featured Alternate.  When I received the catalog and saw my book for sale, I felt like I’d really joined an exclusive club…so to speak.  Years later, Mystery Guild offered LONDON FROG as an “Editor’s Choice” and again I felt like I was in special company.

During the course of my publishing career, I also had a chance to work at Bookspan–the company that owned all of these wonderful, eclectic clubs.  Suddenly I was making recommendations to the members, as I was editor of a couple of their smaller clubs.  It was a great learning experience on the marketing of books, and a job where I met a group of wonderful, book-loving people who I am still in touch with today.

So where is this love-fest for the book clubs going?  Well, they continue to support me, even as they meet a challenging marketplace and competition from online retailers.  My serialized suspense novel, THE ORIGINAL CRIME, available now only as an eBook, has been selected by the clubs for an all-in-one volume.  Quality Paperback Book Club, Mystery Guild, and Book-of-the-Month 2 will offer the book as an exclusive trade paperback, coming this summer.

So for those readers who haven’t joined the eBook revolution, well, it may be time to go a bit retro and instead join a book club.

BEYOND THE STORMWhen you set out to a write a book, you never know when it will see the light of day.  BEYOND THE STORM, which celebrates its official publication today, was written nearly three years ago, begun on an early August evening when I realized I wanted to write about other people, a new town and a different situation from the Windmill books.  It wasn’t a mystery, it wasn’t a traditional romance, it was…beyond anything I’d written before.

After trying to sell the finished manuscript (with the aid of an agent), the book failed to catch an editor’s eye.  A friend suggested the book was missing something to make it stand out, and so I rethought the approach and created an entirely new backstory.  Again, the book wasn’t a mystery, not a traditional romance…but it had taken on a completely new identity.  By the time that draft was completed, I’d signed with Kensington for the Linden Corners books, and I asked them to publish BEYOND THE STORM.

And here it is, with it’s beautiful and evocative cover.  You can read an excerpt of the book at STORM’s page on his site, and then you can click on to your favorite retailer and pick it up.  Trade paperback, or eBook.

BEYOND THE STORM is about reunions, about missed opportunities, and about taking that leap of faith in life.  Thanks to the Fayetteville-Manlius Class of ’82 for inspiring the reunion theme.

Wquestion-markho says you have to be pigeon-holed?  You hear actors say all the time that they don’t like to be up for the same kind of roles–they like to be challenged, not wanting the audience to think it’s all they can do.  I feel the same way as a writer.  I never know what my next novel will be about. Will I write a feel-good, small-town novel set in Linden Corners?  Or will my snarky side emerge and suddenly I’m laughing out loud as a Todd Gleason crime story emerges?  Or will it be something completely unexpected…like the high-school reunion relationship drama, BEYOND THE STORM, or the forthcoming HIDDEN IDENTITY.

Years ago, a publisher might have asked me to create a pseudonym to help differentiate between styles of writing.  The author of TILTING AT WINDMILLS couldn’t possibly publish LONDON FROG.  The idea was that you didn’t want to confuse the readers. But back then the publishers took care of much of the marketing and promotion of the books on their list.  So it made sense.  Today it’s hard enough to grab attention for yourself and your books without having to create an entire new personality.  So much of spreading the word about your books is left to the author.  So, I am Joseph Pittman, and I write whatever pops into my mind.  It’s more fun that way.  I think it’s more fun reading that way, too.

I think today’s readers are more savvy than ever–after all, in a world where lots of people get their entertainment from watching movies or television, or just surfing the net and playing video games, there are still people in this world who will automatically chose a book first.  So I like to hope that these same readers will forgive me for changing styles and genres from time to time.  But if you look a bit more closely at my stories, you’ll see a common theme, and I think it’s one we can all relate to.  Whether it’s Brian Duncan or Todd Gleason or Matt Clark, or my new creation Jimmy McSwain (my, I do love my Irish names, don’t I?), everyone I write about is on a journey.

So too am I, and in this blog I hope to capture part of that journey. Check back often, Dear Reader, and see what other insights, thoughts, and features I’ll post about.  Thanks for visiting.