Sam Hawken Posts

No drama llama.This month I got to see another author flame out on social media, annihilating their career in essentially seconds by failing to understand one, simple rule: social media is incompatible with professional life.  Facebook was designed for college kids looking for dates.  Twitter was designed for… actually, I don’t know who it’s for, but it’s turned out to be a receptacle for the absolute worst of the online worst.  These are not venues for professionals to discuss anything of substance, and that goes doubly for anything beyond the most superficial.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I fell into all the online traps, like flame wars and political posts and all that, though I was self-aware enough to know when enough was enough.  In at least a couple of cases over the last few years, I’ve seen authors who really ought to know better put their whole head in front of the social media shotgun and pull both triggers.  An ugly image, but not much less so than the offending online behavior in question.

Want to post pictures of your dog?  Your food?  Sunsets in Tahiti?  Go nuts.  Want to present yourself as a person who knows what’s appropriate to share with strangers and what isn’t?  Stay away from social media.  The temptation is far, far too great to step over the line of propriety, and once that line is crossed, there really is no coming back.  Maybe some of the biggest and most powerful figures can put their foot in it repeatedly, but not you, dear reader.  You are going to burn in Internet Hell.

It’s important to remember that the online world consists of millions of people you don’t know and will never know.  If you wouldn’t stand directly in front of every single one of those people and say the exact same things you write, you are asking for trouble.  Don’t share your politics.  Don’t share your personal travails.  Do yourself a favor and don’t even name your favorite Beatle.  Not only does no one care about any of that stuff, but it’s really none of their business, anyway.  Every person’s heartfelt opinion is another person’s outrage, so keep yours to yourself if you want to keep working.

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Make Them Sorry (UK)Just when I think I’ve read the most positive review I’m ever going to read for Make Them Sorry (link), someone sends me one that tops it.  Previously the record was held by Kristin Centorcelli at Criminal Element (link), who made me blush with her high praise.  Now comes Paul Burke at Nudge, and his words make me want to hide under my chair in embarrassment.  I don’t do well with effusive compliments, is what I’m saying.

The full review in Nudge (link) is worth your time, so please check it out, but here are a few choice tidbits to whet your appetite:

[A] top notch blend of domestic nightmare, drug running, money laundering and even a touch of paramilitary politics.  Hawken is a consummate story teller and this is a silky smooth read. You won’t want to put it down until you finish. The plot is beautifully crafted, there’s enough action to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader and it will stimulate the grey matter at the same time.

If I’m ever in a tight corner I want Camaro Espinoza by my side.

Her reticence to be a hero makes her all the more appealing as a character.  Hawken is particularly good at portraying the victims of crime with dignity, of building their story and making it seem real.

I left out a lot of good stuff there.  I encourage you to read more.

In other entries on this blog, I’ve made it pretty clear I don’t think I’m any great shakes as an author.  I think I do my job well, but not with any particular flair.  Clearly some disagree.  I’m certainly not going to argue the point.  I’ll simply say thank you and keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully this will continue to keep people satisfied.

Be sure to get your copy of Make Them Sorry, the latest Camaro Espinoza thriller, available right now from your favorite bookseller. (link)

 

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Camaro

A man writingI’m finishing a book tomorrow, and it puts me in mind of an essay (link) Stephen Hunter wrote for The Daily Beast (link) a year or so ago.  It inspired a goodly amount of bitterness among what I’ll charitably call the “writing community,” as Hunter pulled no punches about what it takes to succeed in this business.  It hurts for some people to hear, but writing is not about touchy-feely things, but about production.  If you want to make it, writer, you need to write.  Otherwise you will not get to the point where you’re doing this professionally.

And let’s be clear: this is not a comment on the skills of any particular writer, not even you.  But if you’re complaining about not having the time or the inspiration or whatever it takes to complete salable fiction, the problem isn’t people like Stephen Hunter.  He’s figured out what it takes, and he’s doing it.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s what used to be called a work ethic.

As Hunter himself says in the essay: “[T]he most difficult test of the author isn’t his mastery of time or dialogue, his gift for action or character, his ability to suggest verisimilitude in a few strokes, but his ability to get back into the book each day.

I have said time and again over the past eight years, as my career has slowly crept upward with critical and commercial recognition, that I am no great shakes as an author.  I get the work done. That’s all.  Other writers are more brilliant, more charismatic, and have great tweets.  All I do is grind it out, day after day, and in the end I have something to sell while they don’t.

Yes, it sounds cynical.  People think about writers in this exotic way, as if they spend their hours daydreaming, and then capturing those dreams on a page for the delectation of readers.  It really, really isn’t that way.  Maybe some folks might manage to get a book or two out in their lifetimes after lounging in their salons, smoking cigarettes and waiting for the Muse, but most will fail because it’s about work, work and more work.  And that work never ends.

Writing