Friday, August 26, 2016

Weekly Roundup: August 26, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! Our blog featured excellent posts this week from Lorna Collins (Ghost Writer), who wrote an in-depth overview about writing critique groups, and Marilyn Meredith (A Crushing Death), who used the occasion of her birthday to talk about the changes she's observed during her many years as a publishing writer. Don't miss this insightful content! And please leave your thoughts and comments.

Our Roundup is short this week, as many authors have been taking summer vacations and scheduled breaks from book promotion and others are busy working on their next books. OTP is in transition as well. Longtime public relations manager and promotions coordinator Jeana Lomprez has moved on to tend to family responsibilities. She has helped many authors bring their book projects to completion and make them available as e-books during her time with OTP, and she will be greatly missed.

OTP publishes compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal storiesmany of which have been acknowledged as prizewinners or finalists for regional and national book awards. Browse through our bookstore and find a great new book to read, review, and share with friends! 

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.


"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."
~Philip Pullman 
 

All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Manic Readers!
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured.



~~~~~


CONTESTS


Did you know that our 2016 writing contest is open? We're accepting entries in four categories: Cop Tales, Dark Oak Mystery, Timeless Love (Romance), and Wild Oaks (Western).

Three winners are selected from each genre. The grand prize winners in each category receives a publication contract for the release of their novels in both paper and ebook editions. Second-place winners will be published in our ebook catalog. Third-place winners receive a selection of Oak Tree Press books valued at more than $100. 

The entry fee is an affordable $25, and the deadline for entry is September 30.

You can find the complete rules, information, and instructions for entering the contest here



UPCOMING

Lynn Hesse will be participating in a panel at the the Atlanta Writer’s Club Track at the 2016 AJC Decatur Book Festival being held September 2-4 at in downtown Decatur, Georgia.

In eleven years, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has become America’s largest independent book festival and the fifth largest book festival in the country.


Lynn is the author of the forthcoming novel Well of Rage. In the novel, Carly Redmund, a Mobile, Alabama, police recruit is about to mess up her first major crime scene. Her training officer, J.C. Grey, orders her to give up the evidence found in the bottom of a well, a high school class ring. She does.

Grey tucks the ring in his pocket. What happened to the bag-it-and-tag-it evidence procedure? Carly is left guarding the crime scene tape as a news van pulls in and the crew sets up. She overhears the female reporter tell the cameraman that the bones in the well might be Terence, a missing African American kid from the ‘70s, and that heads need to roll at PD, the racist SOBs.

Why hasn’t Carly read about this case?

As she remembers the initials TWW inscribed on the inside of the ring, Grey walks back and tells the rookie to keep her mouth shut, and he’ll handle everything, including the report. That doesn’t make any sense. Rookies handle the grunt work. Grey is hiding more than the ring.

If he doesn’t put the ring in the property room, Carly will be blamed. She could lose her job. Worse, she could be charged with withholding evidence. Carly is in big trouble.

What Carly doesn’t know is that a white supremacist group is involved -- and also mayoral candidate Derrick Grey, Officer Grey’s brother. While dealing with her own personal demons, Carly must learn to survive in a hostile environment, develop friends fast in a new city, and solve a cold-case murder to bring justice to a grieving mother. 

*

Mary Montague Sikes has three paintings in the Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center's exhibit of art work created by members of the Metropolitan Richmond Artists Association. The work will be displayed on the Slant Wall near the entrance for the month of August. All the work is for sale.

Mary also has work for sale in the center's sales shop. If you ask at the desk, they will open the sales shop for visitors. The shop is always open during theatre productions and other events there.

Mary's most recent novel is Evening of the Dragonfly. Threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?





~~~~~

That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
We look forward to your emails! If you have a news item you'd like to submit to the Weekly Roundup, please send the details to Nancy at weeklyroundup.items@gmail.com.

Photos and your personal commentary about events, expectations, and outcomes are encouraged!

Big or small, old or new, your news helps us keep our blog updated and showcases the great books and talented authors we're so proud to have published. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome too. Please do drop us a line!

Like us on Facebook! And click on the icons below to share the Weekly Roundup on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media sites!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today is my Birthday! Marilyn Meredith

"How long are you going to keep writing?" is a question I'm often asked.

To me the answer is simple--as long as I'm able. No, I'm not going to tell you how old I am; all you need to know is I've been around for a long time.

Recently I was told by another OTP author that I was intimidating. That one startled me. She said it was because I knew so much. Wouldn't it be sad if I didn't know very much after being around so long?

Truly, I do know a lot--but far from everything--even about writing. Of course I do know a lot about writing and publishing, and how things change.

Years ago when e-publishing first began, I spoke up about it at writers' conference and was booed, told to be quiet, that nothing like that could possibly happen, no one would ever buy electronic books. When the Rocket E-reader came about, more people came around to my way of thinking.

Now I wonder with the Kindle and the Nook if anyone remembers me being mocked and made fun of because I tried to tell people an e-book revolution was coming.

That's the way writing is--things keep changing. Writing styles come and go. New ways to promote your book pop up. So-called writing rules change. Nothing ever stays the same--in life or with writing.

Because I learned so much from other writers--and still do--please don't think of me as intimidating. If you want to know something, ask me. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find it.

I was privileged to represent Billie Johnson and Oak Tree Press at the PSWA Conference in July. I shared the fact that she's not taking any new submissions until the first of the year, what kind of books she likes, and her submission guidelines. Of course people would've much rather have seen her than me--and everyone asked for her because she's a great asset to the conference.


In this photo I was on my way back to my seat after taking a photo of a panel.

Right now I'm working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, which as yet has no title.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Critique Groups

We belong to a critique group which has been around for well over twenty years. It is one of the main reasons we were able to complete our books. They are our first-level resource during the writing of our books.

Our group consists of professional writers. Nearly all are published, most multi-published. We have an established procedure.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Expenditure of time
We are all busy, whether with a day job, promoting previous books, or meeting editor or publisher deadlines. Writers are busy people. Critique group meetings may intrude on the time you have set aside to write, but the offset may be a savings in rewriting time.

Receiving criticism
You’ve poured your heart and soul into your writing. Now you’re not sure how good, or as bad, it is. No one likes criticism. Can you accept criticism of your work without being defensive? If you are in the right group, mutual respect should be the rule.

Your ego may suffer
Your ego may be a bit fragile. If so, you may not want to hear the truth about your work. The right group will tell you about the good things as well as those areas which need improvement.

Fear of stolen ideas
This seems to be a major concern of some writers. If it is your concern, you may want to carefully consider joining a group. But you might look for a trusted critique partner and trade manuscripts

Know-it-all member
As W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Ernest Hemmingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
If the group has a dominant know-it-all, it’s not a group. It’s a class with a dictator teacher. In writing, almost anything can be good, and any rule can be broken under the right circumstances. If you encounter this situation, find a different group.

Dominating or needy member
Run like crazy or be prepared to set and enforce firm limits.

WHAT TO EXPECT
Analysis
Character, plot, story structure, mechanics, etc.

Line Editing
Spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.

Suggestions
For improvements, for better construction, etc.

YOUR RESPONSE
Listen carefully
Analyze each suggestion for change
Clarify your intentions and ask for additional suggestions
Incorporate those suggestions you feel are right for your work

WHEN YOU ARE THE CRITIC
Read objectively. Recognize the writer’s voice. Reject the temptation to rewrite in your voice.
Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and make suggestions from your strengths.
Know the genres you are comfortable with, and reject any group which accepts those genres you are uncomfortable with.
Don’t take offense if your suggestions are not accepted.
Give honest feedback, both positive and negative.

GROUP CONSIDERATIONS
The size of the group and the amount of time required for each meeting
How often the group meets, the day of the week, and the time
How much material will be expected
What kinds of writers are in the group
Genres to be reviewed
Number of pages required per meeting
The group’s goals

OUR GROUP
Meets every week except holidays and when many in the group are on vacation
Each attendee brings one chapter of no more than ten pages, double-spaced, twelve-point serif font with enough copies so each attendee will have one.
Each writer with material to be critiqued passes out copies to all attendees.
Someone other than the writer reads the chapter aloud. This is very important since the writer can hear where the reader is confused or hesitates.
Each person uses a red pen to mark up their copy.
Major issues are discussed briefly before the copies are returned to the author.
Once all material has been critiqued, the group enjoys a snack and catches up on everyone’s news.
Nearly all participants are published authors.
We recognize each writer’s unique abilities.
The group’s goal is to see all members successfully published.
We emphasize the positive and encourage each other. We also share information about contests, publishers, editors, marketing, conferences, etc.
The author always owns the material and makes the final decision about which suggestions to accept and which to reject.

FINDING A GROUP
Ask local authors about groups they belong to.
Take a writing class at adult education or a local junior college. (Our group started as a college writing class.)
Mention your desire to find a group on your social media groups.
Meet authors at conferences and ask them about groups.
Some groups are online, so even if you don’t live in an area with other authors, you may be able to locate a group or partner online.

I have found our critique group one of the most valuable contributors to our being published and to the quality of our books. I recommend finding one you trust and listening to their suggestions.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weekly Roundup: August 19, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! This week Eileen Obser (Only You) posted on the OTP blog about sharing one's writing and why you should choose your critique partners wisely. Then Amy Bennett (At the Crossroad) chimed in again with a post about author branding. Don't miss these insights into the writing life! And please leave your thoughts and comments.

OTP publishes compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal storiesmany of which have been acknowledged as prizewinners or finalists for regional and national book awards. Browse through our bookstore and find a great new book to read, review, and share with friends! 

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.


"They say everything that can be written has been written. I say we are just getting started."
~ Andrew Barger, Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles: A Collection of Dark Tales 
 

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Manic Readers!
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured.








~~~~~



AWARDS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The results of the 2016 Public Safety Writer's Association Writing Competition were announced at the organization's annual conference in July. Now the results have been posted online, and OTP is proud to announce that its authors featured prominently among the winners. 

In the Fiction Book, Published category, OTP had two winning authors take three of the four awarded prizes.

J. L. Greger received first prize for Murder: A Way to Lose Weight and an honorable mention for I Saw You in Beirut.

Dieting is hard. So is fitting into a new job where you aren’t wanted. In Murder: A Way to Lose Weight, Dr. Linda Almquist is trying to do both as she investigates two diet doctors who are endangering the lives of their obese patients. When she finds one diet doctor dead, she and the police suspect the other diet doctor.

Maybe they’re wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past—something involving the dean of the medical school. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.  

In I Saw You in Beirut, F, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” As Sara Almquist is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran, she is forced to remember and re-evaluate characters from her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist.

Which of her past decisions put her in jeopardy? Or is her current friendship with Sanders, an urbane state department official, the real reason she’s being attacked? 









John Taylor won second prize for OIS: Officer Involved Shooting. August, 2014. Oakland, California. A white police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black man. Protesters march and their rallying cries echo through the streets:  “Black lives matter! Hands up, don’t shoot! I can’t breathe!” Outside agitators swarm into the city to incite unrest. Police mobilize to prevent mob violence and looting. Rioting erupts. Oakland teeters on the verge of anarchy.

Buried under an avalanche of scathing criticism is OPD Officer Shane Barrow’s account of that fatal encounter.  A routine traffic stop escalates into a fierce life and death struggle between the driver and Shane for control of his holstered pistol, compelling Shane to shoot his attacker in a desperate fight for survival. But the Black Lives Matter movement scorns his version of the controversy and brands him as just another racist, trigger-happy cop guilty of murdering a defenseless black man.

This unjust persecution and relentless negative media coverage traumatizes Shane, cripples him with self-doubt, and sets the stage for a stunning conclusion with tragic consequences.









In the Fiction Book, Non-Published category, Thonie Hevron received third prize for her forthcoming OTP title With Malice Aforethought. Thonie is the author of Intent to Hold and By Force or By Fear.

In Intent to Hold, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Reyes answers a call from his estranged wife in Mexico to help find her kidnapped brother. When he and his partner Meredith Ryan arrive, they find the crime is not as simple as they were told. Betrayed and caught by the police, they are expelled from Mexico. 

Returning to Puerto Vallarta by boat at night, Nick and Meredith battle nature, Federales, crime cartels and even Nick’s own family to rescue his brother-in-law. To complicate their mission, Nick must face the end of his marriage while Meredith hasn’t yet put her own nightmares to rest. 








In the Creative Non-Technical, Published category, OTP had two authors win three prizes.

Jackie Taylor Zortman was awarded first prize for her piece "Memoriam," which was published in the anthology Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides (edited by Marilyn Olsen).

Jackie also received an honorable mention in this category for “Legacy of a Fallen Comrade,” which was published in American Blue (edited by Ed Nowicki).

Jackie's latest novel is
Footprints in the Frost, a first-place winner in the 2014 Public Safety Writers Association Writing Competition. The novel introduces homicide detective, Max Richards, and involves his life  both on the job and away from it.  When he is hand picked by the chief of police to work a long and complicated serial rape case involving five beautiful victims with whom he must spend much time, his life with girlfriend and bookstore owner, Sami Murphy, becomes extremely complicated.

Escaping from the city hustle and bustle to his beautiful and remote Colorado mountain cabin, the two of them attempt to relax and try to untangle the knots in their relationship.  What will happen to this couple who are tremendously bonded, but have to decide if their jobs and lives can meld permanently or if it  would be better to go their separate ways?






David Cropp was awarded second place for his piece "Not ‘Just the Facts’: How Cops Can Effectively Communicate." David is the author of Valley Heat.

In the novel, where Dante’s "Inferno" meets the streets of Sacramento, police sergeant, Jack Kavanaugh faces a soul-searching journey through hell within the backdrop of the streets and alleyways of the Capital City in the 1970s and 80s. In Valley Heat, Jack’s journey is analogous to Dante’s journey through hell, inferno. As a young man, Jack faces expulsion from a family laced with alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

He is eventually accepted into the Sacramento police academy in 1974 and soon begins the struggle between his risk-seeking soul, alcohol abuse and the deviant underworld of crime, prostitution and murder. Various scenarios and characters that Jack faces represent a downward spiral through each of Dante’s circles of inferno: “Behold Dis, and behold the place Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself.” "Inferno" XXXIV, Lines 20-21.





In the Creative Non-Technical, Non-Published category, Ron Corbin was awarded first prize for his piece "When Pigs Fly."

Ron is the author of the memoir Beyond Recognition. Ron is a former Army combat helicopter pilot and Vietnam veteran who becomes a Los Angeles policeman, and eventually a pilot for LAPD’s Air Support Division (ASD). His military training and unique combat flying experience as a “Slick” Huey pilot, and background as an instructor pilot is recognized by the ASD captain, but not without creating fierce jealousies.

After an accident that puts Ron in the hospital, the LAPD assembles a Board of Inquiry. Ron’s detractors seek revenge--feeding misleading statements to the Board. It evolves into a “kangaroo court,” but Ron exposes a cover-up that has the attorneys scrambling to settle.








Finally, in the Poetry, Non-Published category, Joseph Haggerty Jr. won first and second prize for his poems "Walking a Beat" and "My Smoky Mountain Woman," respectively.

Joseph is the author of An Ocean in the Desert. In the novel, two private investigators specialize in finding missing children. If they find the child has been involved with a sexual predator, they indirectly offer the family an additional service that will guarantee there will be no future problems with the predator.

The investigations into locating the child and identifying the predator as well as law enforcements’ investigations as to who is eliminating these vultures.









Congratulations to all of the winners. You make us proud, and we're excited to be bringing your notable writing and books to the reading public.


UPCOMING


Children’s book author and artist Beryl Reichenberg will present a paper craft class for children on Friday, August 19, from 3:30 to 4:30 at Studios at the Park in Paso Robles, California. The children will be completing a book in a box project.

Beryl will also have her books available for sale. She is the author of Ants on a Log, Butterfly Girls, Camouflage, The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake, When Caterpillars Dream, and Clowning Around.

Clowning Around is the story of Charlie, a young clown fish who delights in performing antics for the children who come to the aquarium to watch the action in the fish tank.

On Saturday, August 20, Beryl Reichenberg will be attending a critique session sponsored by SCBWI, a national children’s book association for writers and illustrators. “I’ve been writing a chapter book for middle grade kids. This is my first attempt as I usually write and illustrate picture books for younger children.


"Chapter books run from about 10,000 to 20,000 words and as the name implies is a book with distinct chapters, many different scenes and a more complicate story line than picture books with fewer illustrations. These books are designed as the next step toward encouraging kids to read more advanced novels like the Harry Potter series. Some are called easy readers and are gaged to a particular age and reading group and others are for middle grade kids who already know how to read but find a regular novel too involved or long. They can also be read by adults to a younger child as bedtime stories or can be used to be read by both child and adult alternating  sentences.

"I’ll be sharing parts of my new story (probably the first chapter), The Mysterious Ghost in Room 422, with the group for feedback. I’ve attended other critique groups in the past through SLO NightWriters but am attending this group as they are all children book authors. I am looking forward to their comments."
 


*

Mary Montague Sikes has three paintings in the Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center's exhibit of art work created by members of the Metropolitan Richmond Artists Association. The work will be displayed on the Slant Wall near the entrance for the month of August. All the work is for sale.

Mary also has work for sale in the center's sales shop. If you ask at the desk, they will open the sales shop for visitors. The shop is always open during theatre productions and other events there.

Mary's most recent novel is Evening of the Dragonfly. Threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?




BLOG CORRAL


Lorna Collins updated her blog this week with a post about her roses. She writes, "As I look on their roses, I am always reminded of the two most influential women in my life. Even though I miss them very much, their roses are a reminder of these special ladies.

"Have you ever noticed how flowers reflect the people who love them?"

You can read the full post (complete with photos) here. 
  
~~~~~

That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
We look forward to your emails! If you have a news item you'd like to submit to the Weekly Roundup, please send the details to Nancy at weeklyroundup.items@gmail.com.

Photos and your personal commentary about events, expectations, and outcomes are encouraged!

Big or small, old or new, your news helps us keep our blog updated and showcases the great books and talented authors we're so proud to have published. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome too. Please do drop us a line!

Like us on Facebook! And click on the icons below to share the Weekly Roundup on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media sites!