Sunday, March 1, 2015

First Chapters

The International Thriller Writers organization hosts weekly blogs on questions they put to their member authors and readers. Coming up on March 9, the blog question is: “Do some writers tend to work too hard, too long on the first chapter? How do you avoid that pitfall?”

Here’s my response.

Certainly, there is tremendous pressure on authors, particularly those aspiring to be published for the first time, to write a smashing first chapter; a chapter that sells an agent on reading the whole manuscript and convinces an editor to buy the novel.

While a fast moving, well written first chapter—suspense launched and tension crackling—is necessary, it’s not sufficient to ensure your novel will sell well, a key goal for most writers.  

I would suggest that the climax chapter is at least as important, if not more important, than the first chapter. The climax pulls together all that has gone before it into a deeply satisfying moment of revelation and/or emotional release, making the novel memorable and recommendable, a word of mouth phenomenon to drive rewarding sales. 

How would you answer the questions? 
Douglass Seaver, Author
The Fourth Rule 

Friday, February 27, 2015


Welcome to the Weekly Round-Up everyone! As always, thank you for dropping in. Oak Tree Press has lots of news in our corral today. Be sure to check out our website,, for a complete list of all the great books we have available. But now, for your reading pleasure, our authors have news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs and more to share with you as we head into the Round-Up…

Need help choosing a great book to read? 

Check out our sample chapters on MANIC READERS! 

We have plenty to choose from.... Click on the title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters will be updated frequently and new releases will also be featured: 


The following titles have become available on Kindle this week also they are available on Manic Readers as a free read now.

Scratch by Nicholas Checker
"Scratch is a chilling tale of loyalty, friendship, and courage – set in the mysterious world of feral cats. It also contains reflections of how cultures too often misread and mistrust one another, leading to ends that might have been avoided. White Saja, a renowned tomcat of the wild woodlands, returns to his old haunts to rescue his onetime clan from a gruesome fate. It leads him on a fearful quest into the brooding Dark Woods where he and a reluctant rival must seek the aid of a dread creature whose very name has long invoked terror in them all. Enter the pages of Scratch and discover unrelenting adventure!" 

Evening of the Dragonfly by Mary Montague Sikes

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?

My Dad's the Wrestling Coach by W.V.Quarters
All Kristen Brockport wants is for her father, the legendary local high school wrestling coach, to stop destroying her burgeoning social life with his intimidating stares and grumpy disposition. She truly loves her dad, especially since her mom walked out on them without warning years before, but his reputation and general demeanor have caused her problems no high school freshman should ever face. When she develops a teenage crush on his new assistant coach, Mitch, Kristen decides to join her father’s wrestling team, against his stern wishes, but as the season progresses, Kristen forgets about Mitch, and instead focuses more on mysterious senior standout Cal who is hiding a tragic, dark secret. All is going well until her cancer-ravaged mother returns to rekindle their relationship and Kristen is placed in the middle of an awkward reunion. As the championship match unfolds against her dad’s hated rival, Kristen is forced to actually wrestle in the deciding match, a nightmare she never imagined. More importantly, however, she is forced to face some harsh realities about her family and, ultimately, herself.

Something for Nothing by Robert Richter

“Something for Nothing is set in the swampy lowlands of coastal Nayarit. Its locales are perceptively observed, the background history entirely plausible, and the dialogue faithfully echoes the voices of its motley crew of colorful characters. Seeking revenge for the killing of his drifter buddy Gabby MacLean, and hoping to be the first to find the treasure, Cotton Walters steps into a world of danger. An entertaining read from beginning to end!”

Eva Pennington by Walter Luce
"Suspenseful, riveting, as brilliant, vivacious women take on the banking industry. Born unwanted because she is a girl instead of a boy, into a banking empire, Eva Pennington, at the age of twenty-three, inherits three banks, after her father commits suicide. While computerizing her banks, Eva realizes that women control ninety percent of the deposits in her banks, yet men make all of the decisions as to what to do with those deposits. She uses this knowledge to form a woman’s bank, securing huge deposits, and power, to become the largest banking institution in Florida." 

No Vacancy by Amy M.Bennett

 “Close the campground saturday. This is your only warning. Your life is in danger.” So reads the note shoved under the door of the Black Horse Campground store as Corrie Black and her staff celebrate the first “no vacancy” day of the season. But is the note meant to be a warning... or a threat? When a man suspected of writing the note is found dead in a cabin, it seems that the threat is averted."
The Tucson Festival of Books is coming up soon! It's right around the corner and we hope to see as many people there! The festival is at the University of Arizona, March 14-15. We shall be set up at booth 116. hope to see y'all there!

Marilyn aka F.M. Meredith, author of over 10+ OTP books, will be a part of the Local Author’s Day at the Madera Library (Madera CA) on Saturday, Feb. 28 from 11-3. She’ll have many of her books with her, including copies of the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

On Friday March 6, Tekla Dennison Miller, author of Mother Rabbit, will be the keynote speaker for the Women's Resource Center's annual Extraordinary Woman luncheon at the Henry Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado. This year's theme is "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives." This luncheon is one of several programs celebrating Women's History Month. Wednesday March 18 at 7 am I will presenting at the Day Break Rotary at the Durango Colorado Recreation Center.

Nicholas Checker: "Oak Tree Press has thus far been a blessing in that my two novels, Druids & Scratch are making headway in online purchases and at book stores in my region. The store owners have been very eager to carry my books and to allow for promotional events. In the coming weeks I have a major event coming up at the Bean & Leaf/Carmelo's Cafe which is letting me use its large community room for a presentation of both novels -- and as a means of encouraging literacy and a greater funding for the New London Public Library. The mayor will also speak at this event which should prove to be one that draws a large, appreciative crowd. The banner of Oak Tree Press shall be unfurled that day!"

Beryl Reichenberg, OTP children's book author and artist, will be returning to Studios on the Park in Paso Robles on February 27 for a children's  book making class. Featured this week is a Hungry Dinosaur book. "We will be talking about dinosaurs. I will read one of my stories, Ariel, the Littlest Dinosaur and teach the kids how to make this new book form. They will then be able to draw and write in their new books."  Studios is at 1139 Pine Street and the class will be held after school from 3:30 to 4:30


Larry K. & Lorna Collins (author of Ghost Writer) were recently speaking to a writing class at Laguna Woods Village about their journey in publishing and how drastically the industry has changed in the last ten years.

Read about their books: 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, Murder... They Wrote, Murder in Paradise, Lakeview Park, Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, The Art of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, ...And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, award-winning Directions of Love, Ghost Writer, and The Memory Keeper at 


This week's Blast From The Past book is by W. S. Gager: A Case of Volatile Deeds. "Mitch finally scores a weekend dinner with a cute receptionist, but true to his reporter instincts, an explosion in a high rise office building makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive. Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date and her work aren’t what they seem.

His world continues to twist when the police captain asks for his help and a city hall informant is found floating in the river. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.


The Authority, the monthly newsletter of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association, ran the cover for The Fourth Rule and an announcement of its publication in a recent newsletter that mentioned Oak Tree Press and the book’s availability on Amazon.  
Douglass Seaver will be featured in the March issue of The Big Thrill, the monthly magazine of International Thriller Writers, as a debut novelist in the suspense/thriller/mystery genre. The interview by Dawn Ius, Assistant Managing Editor, will be available the first of March at or immediately on my website at

J. L. Greger, author of Malignancy, offers advice on using facts to enhance fiction on her blog. Check it out here:

In case you're looking for Ilene Schnieder in the next few months, you can find her here:
Ilene Schnieder

J. R. Lindermuth, author of Fallen From Grace and Sooner Than Gold, recently posted on his blog on the topic of Black History. It is a new blog on honoring African-American mystery writers for Black History Month. You may read more on his blog:

Dac Crossley, author of various Revenge of the Ranger novels, has posted on his blog about "Defending the Alamo." Here is what he had to say: "last of February and there's hope in the clouds. It will get better. And I'm blogging about February 1836 - and San Antonio de Bexar, and the Alamo fortress. Join me for a 'what if?'

There's a trip to Corpus and to San Antonio on the drafting table - stay tuned."

That wraps up the Round-Up for this week. I hope everyone enjoyed this week's Round-Up! I look forward to your emails!

If you have something you would like to submit to the Round-Up, send me an email at
Big or small, old or new, I would like to keep our blog updated! Comments, questions or suggestions are welcome too.

  Oak Tree Press Facebook! Like us on Facebook!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015


This Post is about Oak Tree Press and an author who is thankful that a midsize press would publish his work.  My name is Walter Luce and I’m a real estate developer.  I buy dirt and build buildings.  I’ve been doing that for over forty years.  In 2006, the declining economic conditions forced me to lay-off over eighty employees. 
  After going to the office every day with my dog, Sydney, (since passed) with little to do, I would come home and complain to my wife, Bonnie; I was bored, borderline depressed with no real estate deals on the horizon. Finally one day, she said, “Stop your complaining and write that novel you’ve always talked about!
I said, “How can I do that?  I never read a novel until I was twenty-three, and growing up, there wasn’t a book in the house.”
Bonnie said, “There you go whining again. Write about what you know.”
I thought about this for a few minutes, and then I said, “Okay, I’ll write a novel about a woman banker I once knew; I’ll call her Eva Pennington, and if that gets published I’ll write some more.” 
            She said, “Well, there you go. Why don’t you do that?” Then she left me stewing and went to finish dinner.
I wrote Eva Marie Pennington, and sent it off to a very competent editor, and talented author, Arlene Uslander (since passed, bless her).  I dedicated Eva Pennington to her which was just released.  She marked it up with her red pen until I could hardly recognize the type, with comments scratched on every page.  She suggested changes and more changes, until I got the feel of what we felt the reader would like.  We developed my first query letter and I sent it to Billie Johnson, publisher of Oak Tree Press. I waited for her to call me and tell me it was the greatest manuscript she’d ever read, you know, the next great American novel.  Instead, she sent me a note, and that said, “I’m interested in publishing Eva Marie Pennington, please contact me.” I was elated. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe it!  Since that note in 2010, OTP has published six of my novels.
*      *      *
Meet Billie Johnson, publisher of Oak Tree Press, who spent 20-plus years in corporate America before launching the book company in 1998. To date, OTP has published more than 300 books in paperback, and 200 in digital formats, most of which are still in print.  OTP’s catalog lists mysteries, crime-fiction, true crime, romance, paranormal and westerns. Billie recently relocated to California from Central Illinois, where those rare leisure-time moments, she spends gardening and seeing to the contentment of her beloved cat, Frida Khalo.

Her talented team includes a Press Manager and marketing guru, Jeana Lomprez recently happily married.  Jeana is a lifelong resident of Taylorville Illinois.  She handles book orders and OTP Ebook programs.  Jeana  assists OTP authors in promoting their newly published work.  In addition to her role at OTP, as the Public Relation Manager, she works part time for her hometown school district as a Recess Supervisor and crossing guard.  Jeana enjoys the outdoors with her husband Steven and her two children.  Jeana is also an avid animal lover ....her pets include two cats, Nibbles and Sassy, and a dachshund named Dash, plus her favorite - a squirrel, Roo who she rescued as a baby.
Marilyn Olsen manages OTP Acquisitions Activities.  She focuses on acquisitions of crime fiction and true crime, plus other genres.  Marilyn also provides editorial support and manuscript vetting.  Marilyn Olsen is a free-lance editor, marketing consultant and president of the Public Safety Writers Association.  She is the author of two published books, Gangsters, Gunfire and Political Intrigue. For 15 years, she was publisher and principal writer of Indiana’s Finest, an 80-page quarterly magazine about the Indiana State Police.  She has written numerous magazine articles on a variety of subjects and has been a newspaper reporter and copy editor.  She and her husband live in Bellingham, Washington.

Jesus Martinez's a talented addition to Billie’s team evidenced by our well designed Website.  His duties include the Weekly Round Up, Blog Roster and managing our DROPBOX which houses author pics, bios, description blurbs, review blurbs, front and back covers, acknowledgments and dedications, along with author notes.  Jesus has two dogs, named Oreo and Little Dog. He enjoys music of all types, but especially hip-hop.  He graduated cum laude from CSU Bakersfield with a BA in Political Science.  Jesus is making applications to law schools, and if all goes well he will attend this fall. Let’s wish him good luck in that process. 

Why am I writing about my publishing house, Oak Tree Press? Because Billie Johnson gives an aspiring writer like me an opportunity; she sees something in each of us beyond our basic query letter, and she and her staff motivates us to market our work. Billie Johnson is generous to a fault, and I’m so lucky to be one of her writers.  Thank you Billie Johnson, Jeana, Marilyn and Jesus!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Latest Book Signing

My book signing and kid's book making project at The Granada Bookstore in Santa Barbara was a huge success. Over a two hour period, I had some twenty children and a few parents creating and decorating their own hanging butterfly book. They arrived a few at a time, so I had to change my lesson plans and wasn't able to conduct a "proper" class. Rather, I moved around working with small groups or individuals as they progressed from the paper cutting, to construction, to decorating or writing in their books. Sitting around a large table loaded with colored paper. decorative punches, pens, markers, crayons, and stencils, these "artists" were happily engaged in their creations.

The youngest child was three, an independent, determined little girl helped by her mother. The oldest children were ten, and over the two hour period made three books each and even helped teach others the book making steps. I was happy to see some of the parents making their own books along side of their kids. It was truly a family event.

One unexpected highlight: A woman, who had heard about the workshop, arrived with a box of live Monarch butterflies in different stages of development. The children were able to hold the caterpillars, watch a newly emerged Monarch flexing its wings and see chrysalises in various stages of development. She passed out packet of milkweed seeds for the kids to plant in their gardens, as this is the only plant the Monarch caterpillars eat.

The two hours passed quickly. At the end, the children and parents seemed happy to spend a Saturday afternoon making books. The bookstore was delighted because I was able to sell some books, and I was tired and pleased with the turnout and reception. I find that having a craft project as a focus for a signing is much more rewarding than sitting alone at a table hoping someone will approach and buy a book.
I wanted to express my thanks to Oak Tree Press for giving me my start in the world of published fiction. I won the Dark Oak Mystery contest several years back for my mystery, A Lesson in Murder. Since then I have received recognition from Annual Art Affair, Hidden River Arts, the annual Writer’s Digest writing competition for two plays, The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, the Montgomery County Community College’s Annual Writers’ Club Poetry and Fiction Contest, Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards, and the Annual StoryPros International Screenplay Contest. I also published another novel, Feast or Famine, and had had three short stories published in collections.

My latest novel (sorry, not published by OTP), is Out of the Picture, a mystery for movie lovers (as well as for animal lovers). It is loaded with film references. It also has an anti-animal abuse theme in it. All author earnings will be donated to Kitty Cottage, an animal shelter. You can find out about this organization at

Vince Singleton, a writer, part-time English professor at Philadelphia Sacred Covenant University, and huge movie fan, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He witnessed the accidental shooting of his wife by a policeman during a robbery. Vince, however, suspects that her death was intentional. Now, an old friend of his is found dead amid unusual clues. Vince helps the lieutenant working the case, despite his wariness of policemen. Faculty members associated with animal abuse and motion pictures are murdered, and strange items are discovered near the bodies. Vince discovers the meaning behind the clues, and, with the help of his daughter, his journalist brother, and a female professor, tries to find the killer before another person is taken … out of the picture. 

The Amazon link is:

The Barnes and Noble link is:

You can read my film blog at:

A Story About The Story

I always have had an unexplained fascination or connection with the Titanic disaster and my lucky number is 12 (perhaps because I was born on the 12th day of the 12th month). What do those two things have to do with my debut novel, Cracks in the Cobblestone, which Oak Tree Press is releasing in March? Plenty.

When I set out to write my book, I looked at the calendar the day I started writing, April 12, 2010. I already had decided to set the novel in two different timeframes, starting with 1912. Because it was present-day April 12, I started at April 12 . . . of 1912.

I did not even think about the year’s significance until I researched important events and realized the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, three days after I had determined my written journey would begin. At that point, I knew I had to include an undercurrent theme of the Titanic.

Additionally, the building I use in my novel that houses Mug’s Pub is inspired by a real local pub along the cobblestone street I also depict (fictionalized), a place I have spent a great deal of time. While researching the building, I discovered that the landlord has a replica model of the Titanic on the second level.

If that is not weird enough, this past Christmas, my brother gave me the book, I Survived the Titanic, by Lawrence Beesley. Beesley described how he had survived in lifeboat No. 13 and I became spooked.

In my novel, I used a boarding pass I had received at a Titanic exhibit a few years ago of a real passenger who had survived. I researched the woman and pay homage to her. Beesley was in boat No. 13 with this woman, and my brother did not know I describe this woman in my book.

There is one more twist associated with this woman and the title of my book, but you will have to read it for yourself to find out that tidbit.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Welcome to the Weekly Round-Up everyone! As always, thank you for dropping in. Oak Tree Press has lots of news in our corral today. Be sure to check out our website,, for a complete list of all the great books we have available. But now, for your reading pleasure, our authors have news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs and more to share with you as we head into the Round-Up…

Need help choosing a great book to read? 

Check out our sample chapters on MANIC READERS! 

We have plenty to choose from.... Click on the title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters will be updated frequently and new releases will also be featured: 


The Jaguar Tree shall go to press within the next few days! Be on the lookout for the book.
"A novel in which tropical storm winds topple a tree in Nicaragua, unearthing the bones of three men killed twenty years ago. Frank Alvarado, an American cop who’s come to Central America on a personal mission to retrieve a little boy, is urged by a priest to help in the murder investigation. Traveling down the San Juan River in search of the boy, Alvarado gets entangled with drug-runners in a web of deceit leading to the boy’s whereabouts: the hidden compound of El Tigrillo (The Jaguar), a sadistic mercenary commander. Here, in the heart of the jungle, Alvarado finds the source of old crimes and new as he discovers the identity of the triple murderer."


The Tucson Festival of Books is coming up soon! It's right around the corner and we hope to see as many people there! The festival is at the University of Arizona, March 14-15. We shall be set up at booth 116. hope to see y'all there!

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, Ann  K. Howley, author of Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, will be the featured guest and speaker at the McGinnis Sisters Book Club at their Monroeville, PA store at 6PM. After dinner, she will talk about her book, growing up, and "going bad... in a good way." Sounds like a good event to attend if you are in the immediate area!

Beryl Reichenberg, OTP children's book author, will be sharing her two butterfly books with children at the Granada Bookstore in Santa Barbara on Saturday February 21 at 2 PM. She'll be reading and signing the books as well as talking about Monarch butterflies and showing the children how to make their own butterfly book. 

Both stories, Butterfly Girls and When Caterpillars Dream are about the life cycle and migration patterns of Monarch butterflies. The central California coastal area has several places where these incredible butterflies winter over, most coming from the Rocky Mountains. Butterfly Girls is a story about two sisters who learn to fly with butterflies and their adventures. When Caterpillars Dream is a story about one caterpillar's dream of the long journey south she will take once she emerges as as a butterfly.


Dac Crossley, author of Guns of theTexas Ranger, was recently in Georgia promoting and selling his book! He was signing copies of his western novel, Guns of the Texas Ranger, to the Irish musicians, who were performing at The Globe, Athens, Georgia. This is what Dac had to say about his evening: "A cold morning here in Athens, Georgia. Nothing beats settling down in front of a nice warm - computer?"


J. R. Lindermuth, author of Sooner Than Gold, recently received positive marks on Amazon. B. Hauser is an Amazon reviewer with over 200 reviews. He gave J. R. a 5 out of 5 star review! It is always good to hear about OTP authors receiving praise for their work. Good job Mr. Lindermuth! Here is a snippet from Mr. Hauser's review: 
"Sooner Than Gold is a nice mixture of genres. Definitely a mystery, it also feels like a Western—either way, I found it totally entertaining. You get a real sense of history here, perhaps the precise moment America shifted from ice-cream, church socials, farmyards and social fabric to something more unsettled and sinister." You may view it here:

Ken Oxman, author of Reluctant Assassin, was featured in The Big Thrill Magazine online form the International Thriller Writer's organization. Here is a bit more about the section: "From escaping the marriage clutches of a Spanish beauty to being taken in the night and dumped in an Indian village deep inland along the shores of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, debut author Ken Oxman has lived a thrilling life of adventure.

Back in his days as a Navy officer, Oxman became fascinated with the dark and dangerous. This, coupled with the stories told to him by his father, a WWII RAF navigator on the British Mosquito and Sunderland Flying Boat, sparked the idea for RELUCTANT ASSASSIN, and his protagonist, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Nathan Blake."


Fallen From Grace, by J. R. Lindermuth, is this week's featured Blast From the Past book! 

Here is the synopsis of the book: "As the 19th century winds to a close, Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman of the small Pennsylvania town of Arahpot ponders his biggest problems: finding a new deputy and convincing his true love, Lydia, to marry him. But an early autumn day finds Arahpot’s usual tranquility shaken when a stranger is fatally stabbed."


Dac Crossley, author of Guns of the Texas Ranger, recently published a new post on his blog about the Texas War for Independence. Here is a snippet of the blog Dac posted: "Mid-February, and my mother’s image appears to remind me of the approaching anniversary events in the Texas War for Independence. The gauntlet had already been tossed with the Gonzales cannon episode – “Come and Take it.” Mom recited for us those events so crucial in Texas history – Santa Ana’s advance from Mexico, the perfidy of Fannin at Goliad, the storming of the Alamo, the Runaway Scrape, and the Battle of San Jacinto. (We Texans pronounce it “Jay-cinto,” don’t you know). February led to March." Read more on Dac Crossley's blog

That wraps up the Round-Up for this week. I hope everyone enjoyed this week's Round-Up! I look forward to your emails!

If you have something you would like to submit to the Round-Up, send me an email at
Big or small, old or new, I would like to keep our blog updated! Comments, questions or suggestions are welcome too.

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