Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Are You Doing New Years?

The New Year celebration has always been much more significant to me than Christmas. Maybe it's because I am not religious, or maybe it's because because all that gift-giving excess is just so...excessive. Maybe it's because the meaning of the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne are still a puzzle. I'm not sure. I only know that while still in my teens, I realized that the whole "ring out the old...ring in the the new" scenario took on a magical quality, one which enchants me still.

For me, there is no night out quite like New Year's Eve...and I prefer to put on the Ritz and have even been known to occasionally (gasp!) wear a dress and make-up. It's like Oscars night for regular people. A nice dinner, followed by some clubbing, maybe dancing, and of course, the raucous scene at midnight. I love that line...the moment...that was then, this is now.

Then on New Year's day, I'll watch the Rose Bowl parade, searching the scene in the wide shots, hoping for a glimpse of my old Southern California stomping grounds, and "gather wool" about the upcoming twelve months. In the afternoon, I'll settle down with my GOALS folder and a fresh yellow tablet and make notes which ultimately will be my objectives for 2009.

But right now, it's late afternoon on the 31st and I am recalling all the many Eve's...the Vegas ones, the cruise ship one, the San Francisco one, the house parties (both hosted and visited), the one in Manmouth when there was so much snow we couldn't get out to go out, the Big Bear one, and all the other ones whose details escape me now. In a little while, I'll meet my pal Yolanda at One East Market, Taylorville's one worthy restaurant and jazz club, and add another Eve to my long list of Eves.

So I ask you, as crooners from Sinatra to Nancy Wilson, Diana Krawl, Harry Connick Jr. and countless others have asked, "What are you doing New Years?"

My favorite is Margaret Whiting...I still have the old 78 rpm version!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I think it is now official; I'm the last writer on the planet without a website. Time to take the plunge. I've looked at the websites of other Oak Tree Press authors. They are all good. I've read scores of articles about websites. They are all boring. I think I'm ready, but how do you select from among all the folks offering to host your site?

Another Promo Idea from Bob Cohen

DeviantArt is an online community for artists:
I've displayed my art photography in a DA gallery for years. The gallery consists of a "click on the icon" array of jpeg visual files along with explanatory text posted at the discretion of the artist. I've never much used the option of explaining my photos, but last month it occurred to me that I might use this feature of the site to promote our book Scurvy Dogs, Green Water & Gunsmoke. Click on this link
and it will take you to the subfolder I've used to showcase artwork that's thematically related to the book. Read all the prompts and you'll see one that will display full views of the art - if you want the best look, click on this. You can also see the promo info that I've posted along with each piece (depending on title and subject matter, these pieces will display separately on searches by other members or users of DA). A useful feature of the site, particularly in this application, is that it maintains a running tally of the number of "views." While that might not necessarily equate to sales figures, it will give me an idea who's reading this OTP blog posting...
Bob Cohen, Ed.
Scurvy Dogs, Green Water & Gunsmoke

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is enjoying the day and the season!

I've been without wireless service for several days...just me and my laptop sitting in one of the few geographic spots where there is nothing to hook onto! What a shock!

Tomorrow should find me back at my desk and busily answering the jillion emails that came in while I have been off line.

The pic here is one of the many many displays lighting up our park this Christmas season...cute, huh?
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Being a Blog Hog and Season's Greetings

I don't really want to be a blog hog, but I know that to keep people coming back to a blog, there has to be new content every day or so. So that's why I'm back here again. Come next year, I have to get busy writing my next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, so won't be popping on this blog quite so often. My plans are to be writing and promoting the one that's coming out at the beginning of the year from Oak Tree Press: No Sanctuary.

Recently I read a blog about building your platform. A platform is all the things that make you an interesting writer--the reason why people might want to interview you or ask you to speak before their group.

For a police officer writing a police procedural mystery, someone in forensics writing a novel or non-fiction with forensics, an artist writing a mystery with an artist for a sleuth, I'm sure you get the idea, you already have your platform.

For someone like me who is not in law enforcement but writes police procedural crime novels I've had to build a different kind of platform. The foundation is the fact that I had a son-in-law who was a fifteen year veteran of a police department who liked to tell me stories about his job. He also was willing to take me on ride-alongs and I went on other ride-alongs in the city that's next to where I live now. I belong to the Public Safety Writers Association ( and have made friends with other police officers, both active and retired.

The first house we bought was in a neighborhood of sailors, firemen and police officers. I was an observer as to how the job of being a policeman affected the family, and what was going on in the family affected the job. Something I've tried to portray in each of the Rocky Bluff P.D. books.

You'd be surprised how many stories I can tell based on these experiences--most of them a bit on the funny side.

With the book that's coming out in January, I can boast being involved with many churches through the years. Churches and the people who attend have their own dynamics. And though neither church nor the preachers depicted in my novel are like any real church or membership, there are some resemblances.

And that's my platform for No Sanctuary. Though I'm not an expert, I have enough exposure to be able to talk about how the book came about and what experiences I drew upon to write it.

Now, for the most important part, I wish you all the best of the holiday season no matter which way you may be celebrating. Remember to spend time with your friends and family and enjoy each moment.

Merry Christmas to all and my your New Year see you selling lots of books!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Going to Be Interviewed This Afternoon

For me it'll be 5:30 p.m., but when you go to the site, the time will change for your time zone.

Also, I think once it's over you can go to the site and listen if you care too.

Don't have anything else to say today, but remember, it's a good idea to have a new blog everyday, so folks jump on here and share your thoughts about your book and whatever.

Oh, by the way, I will be having the launch for No Sanctuary, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and coming from Oak Tree Publishing in the fellowship hall of our church. I think it will be fun.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Can your book group do this!?

Interesting article in the NY Times recently about book groups.

Seems some folks in some book groups get a bit carried away with themselves. Or show up for the group meeting not having done the reading and just want to schmooze.

Some others, called "ayatollahs" here, just HAVE to dominate the proceedings. And God forbid if others want to read a book this ayatollah isn't interested in.

I've known a few....

I was in a writing group once and there was one who just had to dominate all conversation, shouting over others as they tried to say something and interrupting other times..

I think these types are just out of work talk show hosts, you know?

See what you think:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Infamous Date

I'm old enough I actually remember listening to the radio on December 7th with my folks when President Roosevelt broke the horrifying news about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Because I was still pretty young, the impact didn't hit me quite then, but as time moved along, everything in our life changed. I grew up in L.A. where we had black outs, great fun driving at night during a black out with no headlights on or streetlights (fun for a kid not for my parents), if we were home, the blackout curtains were on every window, and the only place we could have light was an inner hallway. There we played games and ate snacks that were store in the cupboard just for the occasion.

Food was rationed, mom had to use food stamps for lots of things. It was impossible to find bubble gum anywhere, I once paid 50 cents for a piece when I was in grammar school. Since it was only a penny, that was really highway robbery and tells you how badly I wanted bubble gum.

Gas was rationed too, so my dad rode his bike to work so we could save our gas stamps for our vacations. It was a long bike ride from E.R. to Paramount Studios.

We went to the movies every Friday night, double features, saw everything about the war in the newsreels (a lot was horrifying), saw propaganda war movies, musicals, B-gangster movies, whatever was playing, no restrictions for us. (Had nightmares a lot too.)

We grew vegetables at school in the Victory garden, everyone worked in it. We had air raid drills and air raids and all went to the first floor of the brick school and waited for the all-clear siren while the talented members of our school entertained us. I remember one boy in particular who played the accordion very well. Just think how fortunate we were not to have been bombed, we'd have all been killed under that pile of bricks. The school was later condemned for being unsafe during an earthquake.

Every week, the air warden had a get-together at his house to teach the grown-ups how to grow veggies, wrap bandages, first aid, recognize enemy planes and I don't know what all, while we kids had a great time playing hide'n seek, spies, and whatever else we could think of.

I was at the zoo in Griffith Park with my 9th grade class, when the war was declared over. They announced it over the loud speaker system and the lion's roared.

Change of Subject: I had a wonderful book signing in the back room of the antique store yesterday. For details, read my blog.


Friday, December 5, 2008

With my book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, due out next month, I've been collecting all the helpful hints about promoting a book that have been posted here. Thanks to all of you for the good ideas. Now I finally have one to offer, although I'd guess others have thought of it. The alumni magazine from the University of New Mexico where I received my MA has agreed to list the publication of my book in the section that notes what alums have been up to. Even better, they are going to run a full-page ad for the book. Since it's set in New Mexico, I'm hoping many other Lobos will buy the book.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thoughts on new Spenser; Houghton and Hachette

This blog has been terrific of late. Forgive me, one and all, for not chipping in more often.

Just finished Robert Parker's latest Spenser novel ("Rough Weather"). I always like starting a new Spenser book. It's kind of like being among old acquaintances again, in some way -- Spenser, Hawk, Susan et al.

It's familiar ground but Parker avoids having it become predictable ground. Don't know how he manages to do that. (Hint: I think it's called talent!)

In case you missed it, I also include here the link to an article in last week's NY Times entitled "Publishing Displays Its Split Personality."

The article contrasts two recent announcements from publishers:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced its editors "were temporarily not acquiring new books."

On the refreshing other hand, though, Hachette Book Group is giving bonuses equal to one week's pay to all its employees.

Analyzed somewhat in the article, but not fully answered, is how a publisher like Houghton Mifflin can stay in business, let alone profit, if it stops acquiring titles.

But it would be nice to work for Hachette these days, wouldn't it?

The Wow Factor

We're all trying to figure out our holiday gift-giving, wanting our presents to have a wow factor without breaking the bank or being too impractical. Everyone is over-worked and over-worried, so this seems the perfect time to honor our struggle for balance.

How about a Body-Mind-Spirit gift for that working mom in your life? Buy a lovely warm throw (look for sales/use those coupons) and get it in blue (for healing) or rose (for love) — ideas from my book Giving with Meaning — add a book (for the mind) and a box of chocolates or after-dinner drink (for the spirit) along with a note that says something like this: Blue is the color of healing. Curl up after a long hard day and know that you are loved and being sent wishes for good health. A gift to honor your body, mind and spirit.

This thoughtful gift works for men and women and definitely has the WOW factor.

Warm Wishes,
Patricia Sheehy
author, Giving with Meaning

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just Can't Resist

Now I don't really want to give Billie a "big head", but I want to make sure all of her authors realize how fortunate they are to have her for a publisher. She truly wants every one of the books she's put her heart and soul in to succeed. Because of that she does far more than any publisher that I know of.

Because I've been published by quite a few different houses over the years, beginning with a New York publisher, I know for a fact that most of them do very little to promote their books. Oh, yes, most of them have websites. If you are a big name, they might send you on a book tour--but only those with big names get that sort of treatment. Even the mid-list authors are expected to do most of their own promotion.

Billie has given us all ideas of things we can do to promote our books via her great newsletter. I can't even count up the number of publishers I've had over the years--but none published a newsletter with promo ideas. Most of the things I've learned have come from the Internet and hearing what others have done and from writers' conferences.

I'm just embarking on this great adventure with Billie and Oak Tree Press. I met Billie at the Public Safety Writers Association Conference. At the time I wasn't looking for a publisher have one for each of my mystery series. The more we talked, the more I realized that we had a lot in common. (We have some big differences too, but that hasn't mattered a bit.)

Saw her again at the next two PSWA conference and we became better friends.

Then I learned the publisher of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series was quitting the business. You can guess how I felt. However, it was probably a good thing. Amazon and I were the only ones selling the trade paperbacks, she was only interested in the e-books--and did little if anything to promote.

I'd promised Billie I'd come back for her writer's conference this past September. I approached her with an email query about perhaps Oak Tree picking up the next in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, No Sanctuary. When I met with her in Taylorville she gave me a contract--which I signed.

Now, it time to start planning what I'm going to do to market No Sanctuary. For the launch, I hope to use our church's fellowship hall, serve refreshments, and hopefully introduce some new people to the folks on the Rocky Bluff P.D. and their families.

I already have a list of people I always send review copies too, and I'll be talking about No Sanctuary on all the blogs that I'm on. Once I'm fairly sure when it'll actually be available, I'll put information on my own website about how it can be ordered. I'll do a blog tour too like I've done for all my books.

I've already signed up for some conferences where I'll be on panels: I'm going to Epicon, Mayhem in the Midlands and of course, PSWA's conference:

I've already got a talk scheduled with a library and a bookstore in March. (By the way, you'll do much better at a bookstore if you give a talk along with your signing.) I'm also talking to a Romance Writers group in April and plan to attend the L.A. Time Book Festival.

Hopefully, this has given some of you ideas for selling your book. And for those of you with books already, hope you're taking advantage of all the holiday sales opportunities in your own backyard.