Friday, August 10, 2012

Where I'm going to be on the book tour

Here's where I'll be doing readings and signings.  Come if you can.  Bring a friend. Heck, bring a bus full of friends.

Aug. 11: Flyleaf Books:  752 MLK Jr Blvd,  Chapel Hill, NC , 2 p.m.
Aug. 12: Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.  
 Aug. 14: Fountain Books, Richmond, 6:30 p.m. 
Aug. 18: Griffin Books, Fredericksburg, 2-4 p.m.
Sept. 11: Bon Air Library, Chesterfield County, Va. 7-8:30 p.m. 
Sept. 13: Twin Hickory Library, Henrico County. 7 p.m. 
Sept. 19: Chop Suey Books in Carytown. 6 p.m. 
Sept. 27: Central Rappahannock Library, Fredericksburg.  7:30. 
Oct. 27: Fayetteville, N.C.: Cumberland County Public Library, Cliffdale Branch, 2 p.m.
Nov. 1: Prince George County (Va.) library.  Janet Anderson. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Getting close to pub date

Oregon Hill comes out (about) July 22.  The pre-pub reviews have been good.  Three of them hoped a sequel was coming.   Working on that right now.
I don't have all the signings/readings set up but will very soon.  None of them is before early August.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More good reviews

These are some more pre-pub reviews for Oregon Hill. (They like it.  They really like it.) I'm lining up signings and readings now. 

Booklist  June 1, 2012
Oregon Hill.  Owen, Howard (Author), Jul 2012. 240 p., Permanent Press, hardcover, $28.00. (9781579622084).

Willie Black, a reporter who’s about as close to washed up as a guy can get while still being employed, stumbles onto the story of his career when a young woman’s decapitated body is discovered, and Willie, unlike nearly everyone else involved in the case, doesn’t believe that the man arrested for the crime is the killer. Owen, whose first book, 1994’s Littlejohn, may also be his most well known, is a careful, precise writer, creating characters so real that we have to keep reminding themselves they’re fictional, and stories
so haunting that they stay with the reader long after the books are back on the shelf. As usual, his latest has a stellar cast: down-and-almost-out Willie; shifty local cop (and Willie’s antagonist) David Junior Shiflett; the dead girl’s father, who receives his daughter’s head in a UPS box; Martin Fell, the accused killer (whose name, not to put too fine a point on it, suggests he might be a fall guy). Character-driven crime fiction executed with style.           — David Pitt

New York Journal of Books
Oregon Hill is a wondrous trip into the world of sarcastic newspaper reporters, bad cops, and murder most foul.
Having worked as a newspaper reporter, Mr. Owen writes in a captivating voice, his acute observations granting authenticity to the bullet-speed pace of the story. Newspaperman Willie Black is masterfully created, ink and dark humor coursing through his hardboiled veins. It is hoped that this is the beginning of a series of books staring Willie and crew. Bring on the sequel!

Small Press Reviews

In Oregon Hill, Howard Owen pulls double-duty by crafting a compelling page-turner
and offering commentary on the dying art of investigative journalism. His protagonist
is an aging reporter named Willie Black who's recently been assigned to cover the night
cops' beat—a demotion that places him squarely at the center of a murder investigation
even as his career teeters on the brink of oblivion. Shortly after a missing co-ed turns
up decapitated in the South Anna River, Willie is as relieved as anyone in Oregon Hill
when the apparent murderer is apprehended. Haunted by a miscarriage of justice he
witnessed in his younger days, however, Willie can't leave well enough alone, and his
investigation leads him into increasingly dangerous territory. Meanwhile, his best friend
is under investigation for robbery, his mother's lover is drifting deep into senility, and his
latest ex-wife is hounding him for the rent. In short, Willie has struck the perfect work-
life balance insofar as his work and his life are equally thorny. Indeed, that Willie has
so much to juggle speaks volumes for the author's prowess as a storyteller: Owen never
misses a beat or leaves a narrative thread untended for too long.

While the narrative is certainly compelling, what gives ​Oregon Hill​ a degree of heft
is its commentary on the fate of print journalism in the digital age. To an extent, the
novel decries the sad state of affairs created by the dwindling readership for traditional
newspapers. At the same time, however, Owen is careful not to indulge in too much
hand-wringing, as his protagonist is quick to recognize the value of so-called "new
media" even if he's somewhat reluctant to embrace it. In this sense, ​Oregon Hill​ looks
forward as much as it looks back, and offers a fairly complex look at our culture's current
relationship with journalism.

Reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen's ​Basket Case, ​Oregon Hill​ is as smart as it is thrilling, a
true literary page-turner.
—Marc Schuster

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gooood review

It's always a relief to get a good pre-publication review from Publishers Weekly. What you really want is one that says good stuff without a "but" or a "however" in sight, and the review for "Oregon Hill" was all that.  (I've attached it to the bottom of the info about the book on the web site.)  It gives me a mainline shot of enthusiasm and encouragement as I work on the final part of the first draft of the next one.
I'm lining up some readings and signings and will put those here as soon as everything is firmed up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm

Sorry to see that Levon Helm has passed. In a world with a better perspective, he'd have a more prominent obituary than Dick Clark.  Newspapers always worry about how to play obits.  How do you gauge someone's worth after he or she has died?  I was working for the newspaper in Richmond when Jerry Garcia and Mickey Mantle died within (my memory) a week.  I think we played the Mick a little higher, but what a quandary: Many of the Grateful Dead fans probably didn't know who the hell Mantle was, and a whole slew of Yankees fans probably thought Garcia was the guy who founded Ben and Jerry's!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sleep when I'm dead

One of the more interesting things about being a novelist--or at least doing it the way I do it--is that you are sometimes juggling three books at once.
 Right now, for example, I am getting closer to the pub date for Oregon Hill, which means I just received the bound galleys, which go out to pre-publication reviewers and others. I check those for the kind of glitches that can happen even after reading it five or six times already. (Once, an entire chapter was missing from the bound galleys.  Somebody neglected to click and drag that chapter, I guess.) I'm also lining up readings/signings for August and September.
At the same time, I'm coming closer to the end of the first draft of the sequel to Oregon Hill.  I hope to finish it this summer, after which my wife and most trusted editor, Karen, will read it. Then, I'll act on (most of) her suggestions and polish it.
And, if things are flowing well, by the time I'm through doing all it the readings and signings for Oregon Hill, I will have sent the next manuscript to a publisher.
And it will be time to start assembling the pieces for the one after that, which I'm already thinking about.
At the same time, I'm working on a couple of short stories for two collections.
I do this between about 6:45 and 8:30 most mornings (have to stop then and get ready for work), with occasional longer stretches on weekends.
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Oregon Hill coming up in July

Willie Black has squandered a lot of things in this life—his liver, his lungs, a couple of former wives and a floundering daughter can all attest to his abuse. He’s lucky to be employed, having managed to drink and smart-talk his way out of a nice, cushy job covering (and partying with) the politicians down at the capitol.
Now, he’s back on the night cops beat, right where he started when he came to work for the paper almost 30 years ago.  The thing Willie’s always had going for him, though,  all the way back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed-race kid on Oregon Hill, where white was the primary color and fighting was everyone’s favorite leisure pastime, was grit. His mother, the drug-addled Peggy, gave him that if nothing else. He never backed down then, and he shows no signs of changing.
When a co-ed at the local university where Willie’s daughter is a perpetual student is murdered, her headless body found along the South Anna River, the hapless alleged killer is arrested within days.  Everyone but Willie seems to think: Case closed.  But Willie, against the orders and advice of his bosses at the paper, the police and just about everyone else, doesn’t think it’s closed at all. He embarks on a one-man crusade to do what he’s always done: Get the story. On the way, he runs afoul of a nightmare from his youth, a city cop named David Shiflett, and another dark force, one everyone thought disappeared a long time ago. And a score born in an Oregon Hill beer joint’s parking lot 40 years ago will finally be settled.