Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What You Say About SAY NO MORE!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I wish I could show you what I'm writing right now, because it might be fabulous. Or not. But I'm not sure, and you'll be the first to know when I decide. (It has to be done in three months, so I'd better decide pretty darn fast.)
But I am thrilled thrilled thrilled to be about to go on the road with SAY NO MORE--which is getting one hundred per cent fabulous reviews! (PW called it "Engrossing" (among other laudatory words) with a "conclusion that thrills and gratifies" and Booklist called it skilled and compelling and timely! And Kirkus starts with "Boston's smartest and sexiest team is back.." and continues just as wonderfully.) 
So see below to win an advance copy of SAY NO MORE!
Anyway.  One of the things I love about his book (as the reviewers also do! :-) is not only the Jake and Jane team, but the three other major characters. One is Willow Galt. And in this part of the book, she's just witnessed a murder--or has she? And she called the police. 
Now her husband is not happy.
So read this snippet below.
And then afterward, I have a question. Because I need your help.

 Willow Galt
“I’m so glad you’re home.” Willow buried her face in Tom’s shoulder, clutching his arm, breathing in his citrus and coffee fragrance, feeling the damp skin of his neck on her cheek. They’d be fine. They would.  She’d done the right thing. The police were gone. She’d explained it all the moment Tom walked in the door. As they climbed the stairs to their bedroom, together, her voice following him, she’d told him the whole story. Most of it. And now she was safe, safe in his arms.

 “They hardly stayed ten minutes.” Her words—fudging on the time just the smallest bit, but how could that matter--went into the wilting collar of Tom’s pale blue shirt. She felt the knot of his loosened tie against her own throat. He was home, and everything would be all right.

“Willow.” Tom’s voice had a knife edge, her name a slash as took one step away from her. “Why in hell would you do that?”   

She felt his words, cutting through her very being. She couldn’t move.

“Honey? I’m sorry.” Tom came closer again, put his hands on her, one on each bare shoulder.

She could feel his heat as if he were the sun, her private sun. As long as he kept touching her, she’d be fine.

 “I know it’s nerve-wracking for you,” he said. “But why would you call the cops? It’s the last thing… You allowed the cops into our house?”

“What else could I do?” She would float off the floor without those hands grounding her.

But Tom had turned away again, back to the window, flattening his palms on the pane, peering out.

Willow tried to look through his eyes, see the tree, Avery’s back yard, the forsythia hedge, that dark blue watery corner of the pool. Her brain revved with anxiety, she needed another pill, so maybe she hadn’t really seen it? But she had.  The dog barking and barking. The dark shape in the water, and someone leaving. Maybe.

It was wrong, and awful, and she, a human being, could not ignore that.

“No one’s down there now,” Tom said, talking to the window. “Are you sure? What you saw? What time was it? The person who calls 911 is always a suspect, Willow. Haven’t you learned anything?”

She felt her resolve failing, her knees unreliable. Should she have turned her back on Avery?

“I had to call, didn’t I?” She needed to explain. “I had no idea she was dead. What if she wasn’t dead? What if there was a burglar? The dog was so upset, and I’m here by myself, and--”

Tom touched one finger to her lips. “Shhh,” he said.

He kissed her palm, then lowered her arm to her side. She stood, still feeling the ghost of his kiss as he moved away from her and went back to that window.

“I can’t cut myself off from the world, Tom,” she whispered. “No matter what happened back home.”

“We’re not talking about that.” Tom turned, then straightened the lampshade, tilting the white pleated fabric. “This is home. All the other is gone, over, in the past. No, not in the past. It never happened. It’s erased.  We weren’t there. I’m Tom, you’re Willow, and so it shall be.”

Willow. She’d bend like a willow in the wind, whatever she had to do to survive, she’d do it. That’s why she picked the name. And maybe Tom was right. Maybe she’d been wrong to call. Maybe someone else would have called, and then the police would have gone to someone else’s house. But now she’d made her bed, their bed, and they’d both have to face the consequences.

“The police will come again. They said so.” She felt the tears welling, tears of fear and uncertainty. “What will I tell them? What will you?”

Tom pulled the tie from around his neck, then silently coiled the strip of fabric around his hand, pulling it, striping his hand in red and black silk. Willow saw his fingers flex. Then he unwrapped the tie, one loop, then another, then another. Hung it on a steel hook next to his others in his closet, smoothed it flat.

“We’ll tell them the truth.” Tom unbuttoned his shirt, one white button at a time, as if it were a difficult task, important and significant. “Our new truth."

HANK: So here's my question. Reds and readers: Do you think this would be a good section to read out loud if someone on book tour asks me to?   Do you enjoy when an author reads from their book? 

(And don't forget, Bouchercon-goers: WHAT YOU SEE is an Anthony nominee!)

And one lucky commenter will win an ARC of SAY NO MORE!


  1. Goodness, now I can hardly wait to read the rest of the story!

    I think this is a perfect selection for reading aloud. It immediately draws the listener into the story and, like a good mystery, leaves them with unanswered questions.
    With Willow’s uncertainty and the tension between Willow and Tom, listeners are certain to feel the strain and feel the building sense of dread as they wonder just what their new truth might be . . . and exactly what was the old truth they seem to have abandoned?

    Yes, I do enjoy listening to authors read from their books; they always bring their story to life in such a special way.

    1. Oh yes! Joan is so right! It draws you in wanting more...more of what the past and future has in common!

  2. Hi Hank - how I wish I could be at Bouchercon this year!

    What an intriguing excerpt. Yes, this would be a great section for you to read. You know there is something going on here, but you can't tell what. Makes you want to read the rest right now! As for whether or not I like an author to read from their book, usually yes. Not a long excerpt, I can read the book myself, and I want to ask questions or just listen to the author talk, but I also enjoy listening to them read what they wrote and a little peek into the story is fun. And you are so expressive ;-) I can almost hear you reading it right now in my head.

    Can't wait for the release! xoxo

  3. 1, Authors reading from their works.. It depends on the author. If they have had some training then yes. If they stumble and mumble or read to long.. then no. I assume given your other career, you would have no trouble with any presentation.

    2. I did enjoy the selection . the vocabulary is such that it would be easily understood by the majority of English speakers. There was enough information to make it intriguing, and enough suspense for a listener to wonder if Tom is the bad guy.

    ps. I used to be a book reviewer, nice to see that their works is still appreciated.

  4. So exciting that it's coming soon and getting such stellar reviews! The excerpt is very suspenseful...Coralee, we can all assure you that Hank would never stumble or mumble:)

  5. This is SO GOOD! Love that turn of phrase: ghost of a kiss. Mmm hmm. Perfect for a reading. Short and very sweet and intriguing.

  6. Great excerpt, Hank! I have mixed feelings about authors doing readings. Some do it well...I am sure you do, Hank! But some authors mumble or don't really think much about what section of the book to read aloud, and it doesn't work.

  7. Oh this is so reassuring! The days before the book comes out are so nerve-racking… And it is so lovely to have you all cheering me on! Bxxx

  8. Grandma Cootie, that is so lovely of you! Yes, I have heard some authors who read as if they are just trying to get through it, and that is too bad… I agree it is a good way to introduce readers to the tone of the book! But choosing the selection is so critical… and shorter is better, right? I have heard people read entire chapters. Yeesh.

  9. Coralee-- thank you! And what is especially funny, reading this now, is remembering that when I wrote it, I did not know if Tom was a good or bad guy!

  10. It makes me want to read the book, and isn't that the point? Tom feels like a bad guy to me right now, but I'll reserve my opinion for the time. As for authors reading their own works, I like that a lot. Who else knows the nuances better? Bonne chance!

    Enjoy Bouchercon. We plan to go next year in Toronto.

  11. I have one word for authors who plan to do readings: Practice. Practice in front of friends and family before you get up to read for fans in a bookstore or other venue. Hank is the Queen of Prior Preparation--learn from her! (Great excerpt!)

  12. SO true, Ann. I have heard people reading from other author's books, and so often there is inflection and parallel structure that they miss. And yes, Laura, it's all about practice! (And thank you Hope you are selling millions of CLOSE CALL!) (And see you in Toronto, Ann!)

    In fact, I am teaching a class in reading out loud for SinC New England in a few weeks. It'll be fun--and I hope beneficial. It's such an simple-sounding thing--but it's a minefield. (YOu can still sign up! Check the SinC website.)

    What's the worst mistake or misstep you've heard from an author ? (I know you won't use names…) The person I heard who read a WHOLE CHAPTER was one of the first author events I ever attended--and I wondered: are they all like this??

  13. I love this! Cannot wait to get my hands on this book. Which is what you want, of course, when you're reading to an audience. This hits every mark: Willow is easy to relate to, but mysterious, I'm left wondering why Tom is being such a jerk, and I have about 15 questions I want to read more to answer from just this short passage.

    As for author readings, I've seen wonderful ones (Brad Parks does accents and sometimes sings) and not wonderful ones, all depending on the author's presence and confidence. Which is why I'm sure you would rock it.

    Congratulations on the Anthony nomination and the new book!

  14. I agree that it is a great excerpt - I can't wait to read the book, to find out their new and old truths, and whether Tom is a good or a bad guy, but mostly because you are such a fabulous and entertaining writer!!! Also, in my experience, always a great speaker, and reader of excerpts ...
    Hope to see you soon - xox

  15. Hank asked another question (goody) I can post again. My worst experience was with a speaker who had developed dementia and for some reason s/he was still 'on the circuit'. It was so painful to observe, I had heard the person before and could witness the prior brilliance. I know you only asked for one, but the other experience was listening to someone who was "high". Please please, no alcohol before a speaking engagement. The audience(me) can smell the fumes. I sat in the audience thinking I paid a shiny dollar to hear a drunk? grrrr.

  16. Hank, wow!!! That is a great excerpt and I think it's perfect for reading aloud! I dare anyone at the event to not buy a book after that. And I agree with everyone's comments. Reading should be short, and they should be practiced, and no author should do them when impaired in any way... I'm not crazy about reading from my books because I won't try to do fake British accents, but the lines don't sound right to me spoken in my Texas drawl.

    Cannot wait to read Say No More!!

  17. This would be a GREAT passage to read! I do love when authors read from their books. One author reads in each character's voice as he hears it. ��

  18. I love listening to writers read their work because it gives an idea of how it sounds in their head, where the emphases go. But if I were asked if I like to hear writers read, I'd say no, I'd rather hear them PERFORM. So many are uncomfortable reading their material or uncomfortable with a dramatic scene that they read fast, almost breathlessly. The words and moods all moosh up together, and pretty soon I find myself not listening. If they're brave and perform the scene verbally, put in pauses and stresses, it's wonderful and they'll sell far more books because people will get caught up and just have to read more.

  19. I think that passage would be perfect to read -- as LynDee said, it raises many more questions, and it definitely grabbed my interest. I have never heard an author read from any of their works before, but I think it would be a wonderful experience. I'm sure the ones who aren't so great are few and far between, and as this is your own work, so you can really read all the emotions you want to convey into it. Okay, and that bit at the end where Tom took off his tie, that freaked me out a little! I can't wait to read it!

  20. I agree with all those who have encouraged you to read this selection... it's intriguing and leaves me wanting more! Can't wait to read the whole thing. Have a wonderful time in the Big Easy!

  21. Definitely. Read it. Clearly there's a lot going on and there's more that's gone before. I have to read it all.

  22. I am not a giant fan of reading - I much prefer a talk about theme, maybe how the theme was chosen, the characters, setting, etc. After selling books for close to 25 years I can honestly say there are only 2 or 3 writers who I enjoy hearing read, usually because their speaking cadence adds to the experience and actually creates an involvement with the text that is unique. Hank, as you are a pretty darn experienced public speaker, this may also apply to you. On another note, this is a great passage, and the book is wonderful so no matter what folks should be looking forward to it!

  23. Thank you,Robin! And your kind words mean so much. Yay! xo And it was such a fabulous time at the Kerrytown Festival! I hope you were showered with rose petals and champagne afterward. I had a perfect day, and so did everyone else.

    And yeah, I agree--when it's horrible, it's really horrible. And that can mean long, or boring, or monotonal, or out of context, or--so many things. I have seen attendees FALL ASLEEP during readings. Yeesh. Just like a bad performance of anything--it hurts more than it helps.

    But I heard Gregg Hurwitz once hit it out of the ballpark reading--people were clamoring for the book afterward. So, as you say. It depends.

  24. And yes, reading dialogue is iffy. I need thought about that, Debs! Your accent versus a British accent. Hmm.

    ANd too much dialogue in a reading is very difficult to follow. Unless you can do voices, in which case it might be incredibly --what. Silly? Distracting? So you just have to vary the voice a little. ANd I certainly wouldn't read a scene with more than two people talking.

    What do you think?

    Yes, Jean that's the thing--it has to look like the author is having fun reading it. Enjoys it. ANd that it's not torture..xoxoo

  25. All the best with the Say No More book tour! I think that the excerpt would be a great read aloud. I wanted more when I got to the end, and that's a good thing for an author. I am one of those odd people who do not like being read to--strange because some of my most magical memories are of my dad reading to me. Somehow in the aging process I lost the ability to pay strict attention, my mind wanders down all the "what if" paths as the narrator reads and I always hope there won't be a quiz at the end. The section you quote here is the perfect length to keep this listener's attention.

    Good luck with Say No More, the book aborning, and B'con!

  26. Hank, this is fabulous and I want to read SAY NO MORE right now!! It's short enough to be a wonderful appetizer when you're at an appearance without going on too long (or giving anything away.)

    As to the performance angle; I took a class on reading as performance in college (Thank you, Ithaca, for preparing me for a career requirement I couldn't have imagined back in '83!) and I was taught, when reading dialogue, to vary my voice for each character and to face in a slightly different direction as I spoke each character's lines. So if I'm reading a scene where Russ and Clare are talking, I'll shift to the right every time Russ speaks, and to the left when I'm reading Clare. It's a subtle move, but it's amazing how well it works to help your listeners identify who is saying what.

  27. I love short and fascinating sections like this one read aloud well, as I know you will. My appetite is whetted and I can't wait for the book! Hugs! <3

  28. Just saw the voices conundrum. In a storytelling workshop the presenter said much could be done with higher/lower pitch and faster/slower pace. Regional/national accents are hard, but those variations are fairly simple, just slight change in register, not enough to damage your voice.

  29. Oh, brilliant, Julia and Mary. (Both experts!) I do try to vary the voice and tone, just enough to be noticeable but not enough to be "imitating." I love the idea about body shift--that's great. And probably helps you as a reader, too.

    I mean-it's a "real" discussion, so each person is going to sound different by necessity. (We hope…)

    Thank you Georgia and Kait! xoxo

  30. Yes. That section will suck your audience right in. They'll have to buy the book to get the backstory.

  31. Pat D--hurray! Thank you! And the front story, too..xooo

  32. OMG, the tie! The loops of the tie!

    Hank, I'm hooked! If you read that I guarantee EVERYONE will be hooked. I cannot wait to find out more about Willow and Tom and how they fit with Jane and Jake and everything!

    As far as reading out loud - once upon a time (and quite a long time ago it was)I was trained in college in Oral Interpretation and Reader's Theatre. I was taught that the major difference between Oral Interp and acting was that in Oral Interp I was there to let the AUTHOR speak through me as opposed to my becoming a character. So my advice would be that you as the author let your passion for your work come out in your voice and everyone will be riveted. I wish you would come to Dallas sometime so I could hear you in person.

  33. OH, Jayna, that is brilliant. (and thank you SO much, I am very fond of the loops on the tie. xoxo)

    ANd you know what? I am speaking in Dallas (ish) on Sept 25! It's open to the public, and on the website:

    "What I Wish Someone Had Told Me about The Writing LIfe"
    Sep 25, 2016
    2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
    Frisco Library (Frisco, TX)
    4th Floor, McCallum Room

    LOVE to see you all!

  34. Okay, WHEN can I get this book??? Oh, and you asked about authors reading from their books. I don't think I've yet heard an author read from his or her own book. I heard you read from manuscripts at a CAPA event once and I remember that you were concerned about reading them the way the authors would want them read. (And you did a great job, by the way.)

    As long as the author is comfortable with reading in front of an audience, I suppose it's okay. But hearing the author read from his or her book isn't really that important to me.

    As to the excerpt that you posted here today, if I heard it at an author event and I'd never heard of you, I would not leave without my own copy of that book!

    Deb Romano

  35. DebRo--you are such a good pal! Yes, I remember that--and I remember thinking how frustrating it would be to have your page read by someone who wasn't making it sound as good as it could possibly be. So I gave it my all! xoxo SO lovely of you to notice..

  36. Absolutely I'd read that out loud. I love hearing an author reading their own work, especially the book I'm buying. It gives me the tone and attitude behind the book. Besides, that section has me very intrigued, and I'd probably buy the book to find out what happened. I my case, I buy audiobooks, but that's not YOU narrating. Nothing better than the best to judge from. Besides, it's an extra goodie for anyone who has taken the time to come out to your signing. Sandie Herron

  37. AND THE WINNER of the ARC is Jean Jenkins!

    Jean, email me at hryan at whdh dot com with your address.

    I'll have one or two more ARC giveaways..make surer you like my Facebook page so you don;t miss the chance!

    Off to Bouchercon--see you soon!