Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Secret Diary

HANK: Ooooh. Hey. C'mere.

Alex Sokoloff is letting us look into her secret diary for THE UNSEEN. Of course it's scaaaaarrrry....and of course it's hilarious.

It starts in...

December 2008

Dear Diary: You will be thrilled to know I’ve made an actual decision. No, I mean it, stop laughing. Really.I’m just not going to kill myself promoting THE UNSEEN when it comes out. No more of this stress. I love this book. I know people want to read it. Who wouldn’t want to read it?

John Lescroart says the only viable thing you can do to sell your books is to write another book. So that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to write another book. In fact, I’m going to write two books.

And the Screenwriting Tricks for Authors book, too – I can do an hour of that every other day. It all stops now. No more traveling, no more craziness, just workshops close to home. That people pay me for. I’m going to write. That’s it. Write. And have a personal life, remember that? And then maybe Michael won’t leave me for alienation of affection? That would be good.

PS. You won’t be hearing from me for a while. I have writing to do. And affection.

------------------------Five months later------------------------

May 1, 2009.

Well, Diary, I am thrilled to report I have finished Book of Shadows and Scott loves it and SO DO I. I got that paranormal proposal in to HQ Nocturne and I will easily be finished with Ghost Ship by the end of the month and get that in to St. Martin’s ON TIME. I have an entire first draft of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, and am psyched to launch into revisions. I am so golden.

Lescroart is so right. We need to be writing.

May 2

Woke up to panic attack. OH MY GOD, THE UNSEEN is coming out in twenty-four days. How did that happen? Who scheduled this?

I haven’t done anything. Nothing. I haven’t even thought about doing anything. I forgot about promotion. Who do I think I am, a screenwriter? I’m an author now, I have to promote.

What’s promotion again? How did I do it before? OH MY GOD.

May 3

Woke up thinking about Konrath. OH MY GOD. Konrath is doing a 100-stop blog book tour for AFRAID. I should be doing a 100-stop blog book tour. Wait. I can barely write one blog a week. I’d have to have started 100 weeks ago to do a 100-stop blog book tour. 100 weeks ago is – um, years, I think.I can do ten. No, twelve. No, eight. In two months. No, one. No, six weeks.

Is it worth it to do that? Does that even count as a blog book tour?

Note to self: check Blog Book Tour site for… specifics. Wait. Wouldn’t I rather just write more Screenwriting Tricks blogs? Won’t everyone hate me if I stop those for a month to do blogs on… whatever I would be doing blogs on? On somebody else’s blog site? Didn’t I start Screenwriting Tricks because I had nothing left to say about myself? Do blog tours really work? Konrath says it’s working.

Well, of course it’s working for Konrath, I’m talking about for REAL people, do they work for REAL people?Note to self: You are NOT under any circumstances going to try to pull a Konrath here. Just get a grip.

May 4

OH MY GOD. “The Edge of Seventeen” got nominated for a Thriller Award for Best Short Story. I can’t believe it. I mean, I love that story, maybe more than anything I’ve ever written, but… it’s supernatural. It’s got a teenage GIRL protagonist. I’m so overwhelmed it got noticed.

Lescroart is right. I need to be writing. Nothing matters but writing. And affection.

May 5

OH MY GOD. Thrillerfest is the same weekend as ALA. HOW DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN?How can I not go to ALA? How can I not go to Thrillerfest? I’m going to be just out with THE UNSEEN in hardcover, I have to go to ALA.

But I’m nominated for a Thriller award, how can I not go to Thrillerfest? How can I be in New York and Chicago at the same time?

May 6

Woke up thinking about social networking.OH MY GOD. I haven’t posted on Facebook in weeks. I haven’t Twittered in longer. And I can’t remember the last time I even signed on to MySpace. I need to update my sites. If I can remember them. Amazon blog, Red Room blog, MySpace blog, Haunt blog, Backspace, MWA something or other - Margery said we all had pages somewhere and that I haven’t done anything on mine; Pretty Scary, Authors Round the South, Indie Bound something or other, Library Thing?

Am I on that? Or was I supposed to do it and forgot? And what about that Facebook page thing? Did anyone ever figure out how to find my page as opposed to whatever the regular Facebook thing is? Is that page thing just going to open up a whole new spate of old boyfriends?

May 7

Woke up thinking about…. I can’t… think…

May 8

OH MY GOD. Romantic Times is in two days. Did I book a flight? What state is it in? Do I have bookmarks? Oh my God, I never ordered bookmarks for THE UNSEEN. I have to e mail Kelley at Iconix and order more NOW TODAY so they’ll come in time. Will they get here or do I have them delivered to – whatever state RT is in? Kelley will handle it. IF YOU REMEMBER TO TELL HER.

Where are my business cards? OH MY GOD. I have to learn all the songs for the Vampire show. Shut up. Slow down. What you need to do at RT is WRITE. Go rehearse the Vampire show and then go back to the room and write, write, write. Five pages a day, minimum.

(Pages done at RT: 7 total, done on the plane en route. Hours spent rehearsing Vampire Show: 20. Hours on the dance floor: 3 per night. Hours in hot tub after dance=2. Parties… a lot.).

May 9

Woke up thinking about website. Hmm, worrisome. Most Awesome Webmistress is not returning e mail on website update. Starting to panic. Better call.

OH MY GOD. Most Awesome Webmistress has been sending e mails on website update that have disappeared into the ether. Website needs complete overhaul.

OH MY GOD.Must send in all updates by tomorrow and decide on design.


May 10
Have to get announcements of THE UNSEEN in to all the organizations I belong to for their newsletters. What organizations do I belong to again? Who do I send this stuff to?

Have to send updated list of all reviewers I know to new publicist so she can send reading copies.

Have to send updated list of all media contacts I have to new publicist to she can send reading copies.

Have to send updated bookseller/librarian list to new publicist.

Have to do author questionnaire for Little, Brown for UK releases.

Have to do new author questionnaire for St. Martin’s.

Have to do AT LEAST FIVE PAGES on Ghost Ship today. I have to. I have to.

(Pages written: 0)

May 11
Woke up thinking about bookstore mailings. Elaine Viets does bookstore mailings. Elaine swears by bookstore mailings, and everyone loves her. Does that mean I should do bookstore mailings? What is a bookstore mailing?

Books? Still don’t have them. Bookmarks? Bookmarks are great if you march them into the store and set them on the counter yourself, but if I were a CRM and got bookmarks in the mail I would just toss them in the trash. I don’t even open my own mail, how can I expect anyone else to?

May 12

Woke up thinking about book club mailings. Jenna Black swears by book club mailings. Do I need to do a book club mailing? What is a book club mailing?

May 13
There’s a book club coordinator at St. Martin’s. Who knew? I give her my targeted list of rabid book clubs and she will send books with my letter that I send to her. I love St. Martin’s.

Lesson learned: Ask, Ask, Ask.

May 14
Going through old promotional files and discovered Sisters in Crime has a bookclub database with specific contact info for mystery book clubs nationwide. Most want e mail contact first. I can do that. I can do that in a night and pretend to be watching whatever movie Michael wants to watch.

I love Sisters in Crime.

May 15
OH MY GOD. I haven’t worked out in two weeks. Have you somehow for gotten that you have the personality of a rabid armadillo when you don’t work out for TWO DAYS?

Has it somehow slipped your mind that a BOOK TOUR means you will be dealing with THE PUBLIC for all your waking hours? Has it not occurred to you that if you don’t get an injection of endorphins, not to mention muscle tone, then too soon to contemplate you will not be fit for viewing?

May 16, 2009
OH MY GOD. I haven’t updated my mailing list in six months. And I need to do a newsletter. How does Vertical Response work again? What’s my password? Why can’t I log in? Oh, right, I have to use Firefox to get into that one. Um, I think. But do I have any news?

Did I for sure take that guy off the list who wrote me that horrible letter about how he didn’t know me and how did I get his e mail and why am I spamming him? Does he know how many nights of sleep I lost lying awake wondering the same thing?

May 17
OH MY GOD. I have to be at BEA next week. What state is BEA in this year? I need a pass. I need books. Did I book a flight?…. Frantic e mailing ensues ....HAH! St. Martin’s has sent books and is sending me a pass.

I will do my Quail Ridge launch then drive up to NY with Natasha and stop at bookstores along the way to sign stock.

A Garmin would be good, though. Konrath swears by his Garmin. Note to self: need to get a Garmin. More to the point, need to figure out how to use it before I hit the road. Can I realistically do that? I mean, really?

May 18
OH MY GOD. Right after BEA I’m due in L.A. for the HWA Stoker weekend and So Cal MWA conference and Dark Delicacies signing and Mysterious Galaxy signing. Did I book a flight? OH MY GOD - must do bookstore drop-ins. Must do TONS of bookstore drop-ins. I can do 200 easily in two weeks before I have to be back for my Southern tour stops. Even without a Garmin. No Garmin required here at all. Konrath may be Konrath, but I know California freeways.

I wish I could say that’s as bad as it gets but it’s not even close. Multiply the chaos above by twelve thousand and you have a rough idea of my mental state at the moment. There is no order to anything.

The funny thing is, I just did an interview in which the eminently sane interviewer posed the question: “You’re a great business networker. What’s your strategy?”Which I guess is encouraging because no matter what is happening inside me I have the APPEARANCE of control and organization. So that must count for something.

But you know what? I was so fine while I was just writing. I really did get – almost - two books, a proposal, and a rough draft of another (non-fiction) book done in five months. This last month I’ve managed to do some editing, but that’s about it. And I am miserable about it. I could so easily have had my new book done by now.

So I really, really want to know. Are we really doing ourselves any favors doing this kind of insane promotion?Or is John Lescroart right, and we should just always be writing the next book, period?

What do you think, Reds? The Unseen did come out Tuesday, May 26, with or without me.

(HANK: I think we're going to post this blog EVERY YEAR on this date. I think it's an instant classic.)

As a screenwriter, Alexandra Sokoloff has sold original mystery and thriller scripts and written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studios. Her debut ghost story, THE HARROWING, was nominated for both a Bram Stoker award and Anthony award for Best First Novel. Her second supernatural thriller, THE PRICE, was called “some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre” by the New York Times Book Review, and her short story, “The Edge of Seventeen” is currently nominated for a Thriller award for best short story. Her third spooky thriller, THE UNSEEN, is out now, and is based on real-life ESP experiments and poltergeist investigations conducted at the parapsychology lab on the Duke University campus. She is currently working on a fourth supernatural thriller for St. Martin’s Press and a paranormal thriller for Harlequin Nocturne, and is writing a book on SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS, based on her popular workshop and blog at:


  1. Oh my. That sounds so familiar, expecially the waking up with the birds and saying, OMG I didn't do (fill in whatever you want).

    Obviously what we all need is faithful assistants (I refuse to call them secretaries) who will keep all this straight for us--and who do not write!

  2. Yeah, I decided to come clean becaue I just KNOW I'm not the only one.

    Sheila, you are too right. Assistants would solve everything.

  3. "Pull a Konrath."

    Hmm. A new phrase to add to the lexicon that already includes "Nuke the Fridge" and "Jump the shark." :-]

  4. Hank's right - INSTANT classic!!!

    The part about that guy wanting to know how you got his email address and why were you spamming him - and you having sleepless nights wondering the same thing?? Coffee through my nose. RIGHT through my nose.

    Yep. Instant Classic. I love this post.

    Continue having a ball in NYC - I'm enjoying your other diary, and enjoying BEA and NYC vicariously. Jealous though. VERY very jealous.

  5. Alex, I laughed, and chilled, my way through this because my new book comes out on July 7th, I'm off to Canada tonight and I've been going through everything that's been happening to you--so many sites, bookclubs, mailings etc and SO LITTLE TIME. We all need full time assistants, who are brilliant enough to read our minds.
    Good luck and stay sane!

  6. Alex, stay calm. You'll be fine. Your book will be a huge success. As for bookstore mailings, don't worry about those. I now do e-mailings. Easier on the pocketbook. I send them to IMBA booksellers and a few chain stores.
    Don't stress. Just write. For your fans and yourself.

  7. I'm so happy OTHER people find this whole thing funny.

    Yes, R.J., I'm surprised I've never heard anyone use that particular phrase before.

    Kaye, we miss you here. Bouchercon will be great, though.

  8. Rhys, I so sympathize! Exhausting as having the book out is, it's better than the time just before the book comes out.

    You're right - we need to specify "mind reading" on that assistant ad.

  9. Thanks, Elaine! Yeah, there's a balance there somewhere. At this point promo is feeling like a break, so that's kind of nice.

  10. I have the internet back! I'm absurdly happy.

    BEA wonderful and crazy... more to come.

    And whew, glad to hear that, Elaine..

  11. Thanks for reminding me of everything I need to do over the next three months!

  12. Hank was a glowing presence at BEA as usual! Saw her all too briefly.

    One of these days...

  13. LJ, PLEASE don't do it my way! ;)

    Making a list would be a sane start...

  14. And, in the midst of all of this, we did manage to overhaul Alex's website, complete with spooky opening movie, easier-to-navigate links, and all sorts of new content. I need a nap after just reading Alex's secret diary, and I was there for part of it.

  15. Ack! If an award-winning, prolific, thoughtful, literary-horror author goes through this angst (as opposed to "Why, yes, darlings, the new book IS coming out. (Yawn) Yes, I'll do Letterman again, if I can work it into the schedule.") what hope is there for the brand-spanking newbie (i.e., me) with her very first book? I thought panic was just part of my naivete, not an author's way of life!

    Gayle ;-)

  16. And Webmistress Beth did not kill me in the process. Moral of story - surround yourself with brilliant people who manage to tolerate authors!

  17. Gayle, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but panic IS the author's life.

    But there's an upside, too...

  18. Aw, thanks, but talk about Glowing presences...Alex was a stah of BEA! Also shining in the mystery firmament: Karen Olsen with her new tattoo mystery, Ken Isaacson, Meredith Cole, Reed Farrell Coleman (fresh from NPR) Mary Jo Maffini, the ever-elegant and debonair David Morrell, Lee Child (who posed in the MWA photo with a tube of my lip balm) Chris Grabenstein, Steve Berry (whose books were snapped up almost before they were put out and I didnt get one, sigh,) Liz Berry, MJ Rose, Cara Black, Jim Benn, the *Fantastic Flax's*, Steve (thanks for the lanyard!) and Margery. Marvelous Margery, who made it
    all work in the MWA booth!

    Plus! Carla Neggers, Joan Johnston, and and amazing array of authors at Harlequin/MIRA. Ally Carter. Paula Munier! And um, um, Kathie Lee Gifford. And a huge Clifford the Big Red dog balloon.

    Anyway, I know I've missed many someones. An those are just the ones I saw! Photos to come.

  19. While Alex was in my hometown I've been in her neck of the woods. She's a goddess everywhere of course, but even more so down here. The folks at Quail Ridge can't wait for her visit.
    I, myself haven't Pulled a Konrath, but I've done a Modified Joe, my version of the legendary touring strategy.
    So...Thrillerfest or ALA? Or both?

  20. whew Alex, thanks for telling us all this (yeah right!) I'm a day late because I was writing and forgot to look at my own blog. It's a crazy-making system, isn't it? thanks for giving us the inside view and a laugh!

  21. Hank's BEA list makes me realize how many people I missed! The booth was totally hopping for two days straight - the Fantastic Flaxes really know how to do this.

  22. Rosemary, isn't Quail Ridge the best? I'm so sorry we missed each other!

    Roberta, forgetting your own blog couldn't be more apropos. This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about, here!!!!

  23. Well, Dave, I was telling it like it is! ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  24. JT Ellison. Her husband Randy. Toni Kelner! Alex and my signing mate Keith Raffel. Yes, yes, my list continues...

    ANd this borgetting your olwn blog thing. I'm telling you, the forgetting thing is beginning to haunt me. (When I remember.) For years, I never forgot anything. Now I do.

    It'll just hit me--wham. It isn't like the thought was just simmering under the surface. It's just--gone. And then, (so far so good), it returns. But yikes.