Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

I just want to join Marilyn Meredith and Monti Sykes and second and third their plans for 2010. I just created my own blog and I plan to be much more active. I've been reading tons and watching the "mavens" and what they do and am ready to launch my own marketing frenzy on the web. I've created my own blog at and have my first post there talking about A Case of Infatuation and the next book in the Mitch Malone Mystery series. I plan to set up a blog tour and talk about my successes and failures and look forward to hearing about others. I'm a big believer in learning from others!

Twitter is next on my list but I'm not sure I can be that brief but will be giving it a shot. Any help for Twitter would be appreciated. I've heard great things about what it can do on Murder Must Advertise group.

As 2009 comes to a close, I would also like to thank Oak Tree Press and its fabulous publisher, Billie Johnson, and the great group of writers under its masthead. We are a potent force and will continue to create more buzz working together and promoting each other. Here's to more cross promotions in 2010 and sales that skyrocket.

(As I raise my glass of Spumante) Here's to 2010 and writing success.
(Big gulp here and feeling the bubbles tickle my nose) Everything is possible . . .

Once in a Blue Moon

My mother used the expression "once in a blue moon" quite often. She would say that something only happens "once in a blue moon." As a child, I didn't know what she meant. Now I do.

Tonight, we will have a "blue moon" for New Year's Eve. That's a second full moon in the month and a very rare occurrence on New Year's Eve.

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions--at least ones that I'm able to keep--so my New Year's resolutions are a once in a blue moon event. Thanks to Marilyn Meredith, here are my resolutions that I intend to keep. You may want to claim some of these as well.

1. Blog more--a lot more. Not only here but on "Notes Along the Way" and other places as well. Whenever an opportunity to blog pops up, take it. As authors we need to be out there and available to our readers.

2. Write more, paint more, and promote more.

3. Complete three manuscripts and send them out.

4. Follow the book markets. Learn what the trends are and take advantage. Read what reviewers are saying and note the books drawing most attention.

5. Realize the world is changing. There is a shift in the direction of e-books. Take advantage of these changes and promote with them in mind.

The photograph at the top is a "once in a blue moon" picture (for me) taken from the window of a B-757 en route to San Jose on our recent California trip. I love photos of clouds from above and admire the Georgia O'Keeffe paintings of that subject. Regarding our "once in a blue moon" New Year's Eve, in Virginia we do not expect to see the moon through the clouds.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

2010 is almost here. Are you making any resolutions? If so what are they?

I never formally sit down and write out resolutions, but there are some things I'd like to work on this coming year.

One is to get more exercise. Right now the extent of what I do is when I do any cleaning. Since that tends to be about once a week, that's not quite enough.

Another is to get busy with my writing before I start reading emails and getting on Facebook. Don't know how well I'll do with that.

On my blog--which I try to write something new every day--I plan to put more writing tips. I started today:

I'm going to spend some time reminding people about the PSWA Conference. We have such wonderful speakers, I don't want anyone to miss out. March 31 the price goes up and if you want to be on a panel, you need to be signed up by then.

Writing two series has become a major challenge. So I really need to spend more time writing.

And for my regular life--I want to continue hubby's and my date day once a week. We go to the movies and out to eat.

Guess that's enough for now--what are your resolutions?


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

This year my Christmas card has become my New Year's card. That's because I didn't get my painting for the card finished until yesterday. I love angels, and every year, I try to create a new angel painting for the card I send out. This is one of the largest canvasses I've created yet with a card in mind--36 x 24 inches.

Wishing all the Oak Tree authors, staff, and friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I look forward to reading your blogs and books in the new year.

Mary Montague Sikes


Here's some news from our friend (via PSWA!), Sarah Cortez:

Editor, Sarah Cortez and Arte P├║blico Press, the world’s largest publisher of U.S. Hispanic voices, will bring together today’s most exciting Latino/a fiction writers in an anthology of original mystery fiction for the YA reader. This volume, tentatively entitled “You Don’t Have A Clue,” will feature all types of mystery short stories. There will be stories guaranteed to pull in the reluctant reader and stories to delight the high school student gearing up for admissions tests. A Teacher’s Guide will facilitate classroom use by teachers and library media specialists.

Join us in creating the first anthology of edgy, fast-paced mystery fiction written by Latino/a authors for high school students.

Nuts and Bolts
Word Count: up to 6,000
Format: standard (double-spaced, one-inch margins, numbered pages)
Unpublished: this includes both print and online
Simultaneous Submission: no
Compensation: yes
Deadline: March 31, 2010
Electronic Submission: no
Bio: one paragraph which includes your publishing history and your ethnic heritage

Mail a hard copy of your submission to: Sarah Cortez
P.O. Box 980579
Houston, TX 77098-0579

Please include the following info with your submission: mailing address, email address, two contact phone numbers.

Note: your submission will not be returned unless an SASE with sufficient postage is provided. Unreturned copies will be shredded and recycled. You will be notified by email if your submission is accepted or rejected.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

I hope you’ll join me in creating a unique volume of excellent fiction for our young people!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

Since no one has posted for awhile, and I'm procrastinating from working on my latest, I decided I'd be sure and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and if you celebrate something else this time of year that it'll be a joyous occasion.

Our plans to attend a holiday party were dashed when we were too tired from three days of living without water thanks to a broken well pump and a crazy feral cat loose inside the house. Both issues were finally resolved.

I'm as ready for Christmas as I'm going to be. We'll open presents on Christmas Eve and have decided to just serve pizza since no one is ever much interested in eating beforehand. And I don't like cleaning up afterwards.

Christmas Day our church decided to have dinner for anyone who doesn't have a place to go, so I'll be cooking a turkey, dressing, green beans and candied yams for that. All my family is going there to eat and to help. Frankly, that will be easier because I only have those things to make, others will be bringing other parts of the dinner.

So what are your Christmas plans?

Next it'll be time to make your New Year's resolutions.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things Do Multiply

This past weekend I spent Friday and Saturday in the Porterville Art Gallery among all the artists and craftsmen. I had my own table with all my books, though I was at the back of the building by the Christmas tree. Actually, not a bad spot as there were free refreshments in the next room as well as sign-ups for door prizes.

I didn't sell a ton of books, 8 the first day and 6 the second--actually not too bad considering it poured both days.

The newspaper sent over a reporter and a photographer and the reporter came both days. She's a darling young woman (looks like she's 16) who is a stringer. I feel like I know her as she's turned up at a lot of events where I've been selling my books. She asked me loads of questions so I figured there'd be something about me and my books in the paper.

Yesterday, there was an article on the front page titled, Marilyn Meredith Authors New Mystery Novel. It was quite a long article and told a lot about me and both my newest books, No Sanctuary, from Oak Tree Press and Dispel the Mist from Mundania.

Whether I sold a lot of books or not, having that great article on the front page of the paper was worth all the time I spent at the Art Gallery.

I have no more appearances this month but I do have a week long appearance on a blog called Mysterious People. The owner of the blog asked if she could put up a repeat of one of my interviews from December 19th through the 26th and would I give away two books? Of course I said yes. So I'll be promoting that like crazy.

I'll spend any free time I have during the holidays working on my next book. Then after the first of the year, An Axe to Grind will be coming from Oak Tree and I'll be back in the saddle promoting it like crazy.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

buying incentives

One way to approach speaking engagements before clubs, organizations, etc. is to offer them a percentage of profits from books sold. I have donated 20% of profits to several groups and the members are enthused to buy books when they know their group will also benefit. It's a win/win situation!


Monday, December 14, 2009


Promotion seems to be more of a bear the longer the book is out. It becomes increasingly difficult to find websites I haven't hit already. One that I did get a mention on a while back was Book Club Queen, with a date set for December 8th or 9th for an interview and a feature. Luckily, I put it on my calendar to check on it, because when the date rolled around, I hadn't heard from them again.

Doing a lot of promotion over the last six months, I couldn't recall if I had already sent in answers to an interview, if I had provided them with the book cover, etc.. (Lesson for December, write down actions I have already taken when I calendar something.) I kind of felt stupid emailing to see if I had already sent in something or if I was waiting for questions.

Fortunately, Desiree was extremely nice/apologetic about missing the date, and it turned out she had fallen behind in sending out the questions. I answered them quickly, sent her everything she asked for and today it showed up at

Desiree emailed me to let me know it was up, with links to the book review and the interview. I've put the links on my twitter, facebook, and my own websites. After this I'm going to have to start trolling the internet for new sources, however.

I also had the opportunity to sell my book at a holiday bazaar for my kids' school. It was a fund raiser, so I had to pay $25 for the table. We also found out we had to pay parish taxes, apparently someone from last year must have ratted out the group, so the sheriff's rep was there, handing out little forms to make sure we sent in our 4.5% by December 26. (We'll also have to match that and pay the state another 4.5%.)

The weather was iffy in the morning. It had been raining the night before and was really cold, but it cleared up to a beautiful, if nippy, day. (Probably high 30's, which is like below zero to us.)

I sold enough books to make it worthwhile, and got to talk to some interesting people. I met another parent who is also an attorney, who sells shutters he paints to look like fish and fleur de lis. I also met a lady whose son is writing a book, and several of the teachers bought copies for relatives. (You'd be surprised at the number of teachers who don't really like to read. Well, maybe in Louisiana you wouldn't be.)

In any event, it was fun, since I knew a great many of the people, and most of the stuff people were selling was so overpriced it made my book look like a Christmas bargain. I am now contemplating checking out some local venues that charge a nominal fee to vendors to sell books and other merchandise. I am not much for the whole selling myself face-to-face to the public thing, it feels too show-offy, but my husband could sell water to a drowning man, so we make a pretty good team. Hopefully, next time the temperature will be a comfortable 65.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Address for Pot Thief

I apologize for using the blog like this, but I want to inform everyone that thanks to Mediacom's incompetence, I and millions of others have no access to our email accounts which of course includes our contacts list. Mediacom seems to have had its entire email operation hijacked, so I am switching to You can also reach me at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Laissez les bon temps roulette

Marilyn keeps saying she thinks she won't win the EPIC award because she's up against my book, and I keep saying I won't win because I'm up against hers. Not to mention that she is the real pro in this business and I'm a novice. But regardless of who wins, being in New Orleans with Marilyn and Billie will be great, and Holli lives there, so I imagine we'll all be getting together for some famous New Orleans food. Now that I think about it, if I didn't know Billie was from Illinois, I would have pegged her to be from New Orleans. She has that easy-going, you only live once, do-right-but-enjoy-it-along-the way philosophy that defines Nawlins. I can picture her riding one of those floats and tossing doubloons.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Billie Johnson, OTP publisher will be a speaker at Epicon! Woo hoo!

For those of you who don't know, Epicon is Epic's convention. Epic is an international organization for electronically published authors and publishers. They have always been the leaders of e-publishing.

I've been an e-published author since books were first e-published. Now, with Kindle, electronic publishing has finally been accepted.

Besides being invited as a speaker, Billie has two other good reasons to attend, two of her books are finalists in the mystery category--that's two books out of the four finalists! One is Michael Orenduff's, The Pot Thief, and the other is my No Sanctuary.

I've been a finalist before but never a winner. Because I think The Pot Thief is a fantastic book, I don't expect I'll be a winner this time either, but it's always an honor to be a finalist.

And yes, I'll be in New Orleans at the Epicon. I'm a speaker too, going to do my interactive talk on "How to Write a Mystery" for the adults and on Saturday for the young writer's track.

Any of you who have books on Kindle can join Epic. It's
for information.

Now that I know Billie will be there, I'm looking forward to Epicon and New Orleans even more.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Forgot to say the most important thing... I've been with three publishers now--this is the second POD and the middle one was traditional. THIS, our OTP, is TERRIFIC. The book looks great and I couldn't be more pleased. The traditional press I was with had a huge distributor (National Book Network) that did a great job on orders, PERIOD. Never did another thing. Their printer went out of business in the middle of my last print run. WOW! Give me POD any day. Why there's still any controversy about the technique is beyond me. POD is perfect for mystery authors since we don't need huge, expensive print runs where the, and it happens, huge, expensive returns mean that the publisher has to foot the bills. I've been fighting for POD for ten years, to little avail, but it's right for me and for my books and I'll bet it's right for you all, too.

Thanks, Billie!!!!!!!!!!

ahhh, PR

With my new one, The Fat Lady Sings, just out, I've been re-working my PR. Any book that has a particular "hook" (mine revolves around a light opera repertory company's performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta) provides its own suggestions. My story got me Googling G&S productions worldwide and an easy search provided multiple addresses of G&S companies. I sent each one a flyer with postcard attached saying that "this story could prove profitable if offered during intermissions," or something like that (I hand wrote it 48 times and should remember!) So far the famous Lamplighters Musical Theater of San Francisco has already told me they're interested in my signing for them during intermissions in their January season. We shall see how this works out.

Then I utilize my online sources, the main one being DorothyL, the librarian-readers network of over 3000 people. DorothyL is not for the faint of heart. Half the time they seem to dislike writers, but the other half of them are usually are interested in new titles and I've been with them for ten long years so a lot of these people "know" me. I also do a small giveaway of, this time, three copies of the book in exchange for being reviewed on the list. 3000 readers with one posting. That's a good PR venue.

I live in a very rural part of Northern CA and the nearest bookstore is a gooooood hour away over a 4600 ft. mountain! So I concentrate on local venues that don't require daylong trips. I keep a pack of my latest postcard on me and put a pile of them at every coffee place (we may not have bookstores, but we have FOUR coffee spots!), and on every bulletin board. The cards are great, colorful and shiny and two-sided with all the pertinent info on the back and I've watched people take off with half a dozen. I believe Overnite Printers online did them. It took longer than overnight, but they are really a keeper.

Aside from the above, I'll see what else turns up. I do quite a bit of public speaking and enjoy that a lot. I read the local papers and see who invites speakers. 90% of the time they want you to bring and sell your books.

I do think for new authors the main attack should be getting your NAME out there. That's the only thing readers have to alert them that you have something they "should" read. NAMES! Non-fiction has SUBJECT. Fiction only has NAMES. I'm not a blogger (except for here), but there are diverse ways of doing this getting recognized bit. Not easy, but possible. So try EVERYTHING! That's what I do and then I discard those venues that are too time-consuming, costly, or don't do a thing for me, PR-wise.

It's all a matter of trial and error and evaluating it all, all the time, and then adjusting so it fits your lifestyle, pocketbook, and mental health!


www.kitsloane. net

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Wings of Murder- St. Thomas Photos

If anyone is interested, there is a photo of what is left of the St. Thomas Housing Development from Gumbo Justice on the On Wings of Murder website at
These are the projects where the first couple of murders occur. I took the photo, so please ignore the big pole in the forefront. My talents do not lie in photography.

The two buildings in the photo and a third building on the left which makes up a kind of horseshoe of buildings are the only buildings left in the development. The rest of the area is now a Super WalMart and a large neighborhood of pretty nice houses. The neighborhood was supposed to be "mixed income," but my feeling is the only "mixed" income part is what you see in the photo, because the new houses are pretty much market value houses.

Tips About Blogging

To keep people interested in a blog it's best if there is a new post every day. That's one of the reasons I blog here when I see a few days have gone by without fresh material.

A blog also should be plugged on Twitter and Facebook--so if you have your own blog be sure you let people know what you've blogged about each day. (Of course if you are on any other social sites, go ahead and promote your blog there too. Or use and your post will go wherever you're signed up.

When you blog always check to see if anyone has left a comment. You might want to acknowledge with another comment. If you've been asked to post on someone else's blog, be sure to thank them through the comment and check to see if anyone else comments.

When visiting anyone's blog, leave a comment. Sign up as a follower on other people's blogs. I'd love to have you sign up as a follower of mine: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot. com

Blogging is another way of gaining name recognition. As an author that what you want--name recognition.

When responding to a blog, make a comment rather than a short blog unless you have quite a lot to say on the subject.

Anyway, that's my advice and tips for the day.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Wings of Murder

I'm the guest blogger this week at On Wings of Murder,

The first blog is up today, but the rest of the blogs will be up after the Thanksgiving holidays. There are five total, and include some local photos I took. After I submitted the info to Norma at the website, I thought of a bunch of other photos of places in Gumbo Justice I could have photographed.

I did include a photo of the Criminal Courthouse in New Orleans, the District Attorney's Office, which just reopened since Katrina, a local cemetery, and what is left of the St. Thomas Projects, basically a couple of small buildings.

The first blog is about the difficulties I had in getting Gumbo Justice published, the part before I signed with Billie, and the part where the car wreck put me on my back for six months afterward. The photo is of my car the day after the wreck, and is the only photo I didn't take.

The future blogs include some hints as to what is to come in future novels, the factual versus the fictional in the book, how the novel evolved from what I had originally intended, and a New Orleans tour of the locations in Gumbo Justice. I hope everyone enjoys.

Holli Castillo

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Creating a Traveling Trio

I just read the Sisters in Crime newsletter and was intrigued by the article on the Minnesota Crime Wave and how Carl Brookins, William Kent Krueger and Ellen Hart became a traveling show. I really like the idea. I've done some publicity for my book, A Case of Infatuation, and really excel at speaking engagements and would like to capitalize on that. The problem is trying to get invited as a speaker at places where there is a good number of people. I like the idea of having three people which makes it more newsworthy and also shares the expenses and divides the efforts. To work well, all authors should be in the Mystery Genre because of the appeal to the same audience. I also would like to do it with fellow Oak Tree Press authors. That being said, I'm in Michigan. I would love to tour with Holli Castillo but she is in New Orleans and everyone else I've met is out west. Does anyone else live in the Midwest that would be interested? If not, does anyone have suggestions of people who may be interested? Other ideas? I have limited amount of time and dollars to travel so really want to get the biggest bang for my buck. Would really like any feedback, positive or negative. Thanks!
W.S. Gager
A Case of Infatuation

Exciting Times Ahead

Sometime toward the end of January I'll have another book from Oak Tree Press, An Axe to Grind.. It's another in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series written under the name F. M. Meredith.

Whenever I have a new book it means planning more promotion. That's an ongoing job. I will definitely have a book launch and I'll probably hold it in a new little place in town called, Kimble Farms, that sell homemade pies, cookies, muffins, and coffee--as well as produce. (I ordered my Thanksgiving pies from them.)

There's also a new used book store in Porterville--the next biggest town to Springville where I live and I hope to have a booksigning there too. Haven't asked yet, but will soon.

Epicon is in March and since my previous Rocky Bluff P.D. book, No Santuary, is a finalist in the mystery category I'll be there pushing that book and will be handing out cards with the cover of the new book on it. (I'm up against Mike Orenduff's first Pot Thief mystery, so I'm not too hopeful--but it's an honor to be one of the finalists.

In March I'm also going on another virtual book tour, popping in one blog after another. If there's anyone who'd like to host me, just email me and I'll give your information to my tour guide.

I'm also going to have a booth at the Celebration of the Whales in Oxnard.

In April I've been invited back to speak to the Ridgewriters out in Ridgecrest. We're hoping to see the desert wildflowers in bloom, hubby wants to go to the space museum on the China Lake Naval Base while we're there.

I'll be speaking at the Tulare County Library in Visalia. May is Mayhem in the Midlands, a small mystery con where I have lots of friends and fans. It's in Omaha and we've come to love Omaha.

June I'll be speaking at the Hanford Library--one of my favorite venues, and then of course, it the Public Safety Writers Association's conference and you all know what I think about that one--my very favorite and the best place to find out all your questions about law enforcement, forensics, and whatever you might be writing about if you have anything about crime in your books. This one is information and fun, fun, fun.

If you're planning to come and want to be on a panel, you need to register by March 31.

That's about it until Bouchercon in October. It's in San Francisco. Bouchercon is huge, but I can get there on the train and I already have a roommate. Not hubby, because he doesn't like San Francisco.

Anyway, that's what I've got so far and I'm looking forward to it.

Tomorrow I'll be forgetting all this book stuff and concentrating on getting ready for Thanksgiving. Everyone, have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your family and friends.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

RWA Recognition and Harlequin

For several years (it seemed), Billie and I tried to get RWA recognition. When Hearts Across Forever was released, I didn't understand why Oak Tree could not be a recognized publisher.

Yesterday and continuing today, there has been a great stir because the RWA Board has removed Harlequin from the publisher approved list. The turmoil all came about, as I understand it, because Harlequin has decided to open a self-publishing line for authors whose books are turned down by them. The new line, which RWA considers vanity publishing, will not be edited unless the author pays a big amount for that service as well as the cost of publishing the book. On top of all that, they are saying that Harlequin will get 50% from the sales.

For years, Harlequin has been the major player in romance publishing. When I first started writing, Harlequin and Silhouette were the two top companies to which authors aspired. Soon after, Silhouette was bought by Harlequin, making that publisher the romance giant.

That RWA took such a strong stand against what Harlequin decided to do surprised me and a lot of other authors as well. It will be interesting in the world of publishing to see what comes from all of this.

Mary Montague Sikes
Night Watch

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oak Tree Press Authors, Attention!

Do you realize how lucky you are to be in Oak Tree Press' stable?

Over the years I've been published by all sorts of publishers, beginning with a major house.

Besides being completely ignorant about what I ought to do for my book, the publisher never gave me any hints nor did they do anymore than just publish the book. It did get into some bookstores and I did one signing I set up myself and sent out flyers to friends. No shock when I didn't get any royalties though years later they did manage to send me royalties from foreign sales.

I've been with publishers who turned out to be crooks--the count is three.

I had a wonderful publisher for awhile--books looked great, we became friends, we went to one book festival together, but as I began to learn about what needed to be done to promote a book and shared the information, she wasn't interested in trying new things. Sadly, she passed away.

I won't go into details with the others I've been with, its enough to say that they either weren't interested in promoting, had no ideas to share, weren't business oriented, or just decided publishing wasn't for them.

Right now I with two great publishers--one of them is Oak Tree.

What is so wonderful about Billie is she is enthusiastic about the books she publishes. She wants them to sell--seems obvious, the more our books sell, the better it is for her too--not all publishers seem to have that concept.

She is also innovative--she keeps trying new things. Putting our books on Amazon's Kindle is one of the new things. The big publishers are now catching on to the fact that this might not be a bad idea.

She has all sorts of other promotion ideas up her sleeve--and we should champion whatever she comes up with.

Promotion is part of the authors job. Not everyone is going to like or enjoy doing the same things.

I must confess, I don't like to make phone calls so arranging booksignings with bookstores is at the bottom of my list--unless I can contact them via email.

This is what I do like to do as far as promotion is concerned:

In Person:

A book launch for any new book. I've tried all sorts of spots from gift stores to coffee shops. I usually do most of the promotion for these and try to get a write up in the local newspaper.

Book and Craft Fairs--the free ones are best, but I'll do any that are under $100 for the spot or booth.

Bookstore Signings with two of my favorite stores, or any that come to me (yes, I have one or two that do that)and even better if they want me to speak.

Library talks and signings. I always give them copies of the books I happen to be promoting.

Last December and this I'll be spending two days in the local Art Gallery with my books.

Attending writing conferencs and mystery conventions. My mystery No Sanctuary is a finalist as an e-book at Epicon in New Orleans. Yes, I'm going, and I'm also giving a presentation about How to Write a Mystery. I'm signed up for Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha too--and of course, the Public Safety Writers Conference which is where I met Billie and talked to her about publishing my Rocky Bluff series after the last publisher quite being a publisher. I'm also signed up for Bouchercon because it is in San Francisco this year--kind of in my neck of the woods.

On line:

These are the promotions you can do without getting dressed--though I usually am.

Blog Tours--I pay for mine because I like the woman I work with and she creates wonderful book trailers--you can see them on my website.

When I'm on a blog tour, I post everyday about where I'll be.

I'm on Facebook, My Space, Twitter and numerous other places and usually just use to get the word out.

I have my own blog, and try to write a new blog everyday. I am also on every Tuesday and Make Mine Mystery, the first and third Tuesday of the month.

I post on DorothyL about books I've read (have to be mysteries) and sneak in promo about my book. I also offer free books when one comes out to the first five who email me from that list.

And when no one has posted for awhile on this blog, or I come up with a good idea, I post here.

What everyone says is that you want name recognition, and this is one the way to get it.

After all, I spent the time writing my books so I'd like for people to read them.

When Billie suggest something to try, I'm going to try it. If she's willing to do something for my book, something that requires me doing some promoting, I'll do it.

Anyway, whether you realize it or not, our publisher does far more for her authors than a lot of small presses do.

And that's my fifty cents worth.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I was a warmed up act for Sarah Palin

I had a signing at Barnes and Noble tonight and was pre-empted in almost everything I did by a rogue, or should I say "Going Rogue!" The BN new bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was one of the first locations for a Sarah Palin signing tomorrow. Sarah would only sign stock from Barnes and Noble and it came out today and people poured in to get them before they ran out. I had a great spot and I directed dozens of people inside the store to the stacks and stacks of the former McCain running mate's tell-all book. One of the good things was mine was one of the few mysteries available. They mystery section was covered in blue partitions for privacy for the signing the next day.

I can't say it was bad although I wish I could have sold as many books as she did, but I did do okay. People were really nice and I had some great chats and hopefully have some new dedicated fans.

I couldn't help but think what my character in "A Case of Infatuation" would have thought about it all. Mitch Malone, crime beat reporter extraordinaire, would have been in the thick of things. I did get to watch all the police professionals figure out escape routes, security issues and how to deal with the masses of people and press. Mitch would have been in his element and will be using this knowledge in a future book.

Now if I could only have given a book to Sarah and she could have given me a hand. Now that would have been truly rogue! Alas, I was a day early!

W.S. Gager

No Sanctuary

I told you No Sanctuary was a great read when I reviewed it on this site and elsewhere, so I'm not surprised it was selected as one of four finalists for the EPIC Ebook Award in the mystery category. My Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras has the misfortune to be one of the three other finalists up against Marilyn's excellent book. Talk about no sanctuary!

Well, at least there's a fifty/fifty chance the award will go to an Oak Tree author.

Mike Orenduff

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Pot Thief, A Fat Lady, A Walk In, and a Beheaded Corpse

If you're thinking I am referring to new OTP titles, you are right! And as usual, I am preening, gloating with the total fabulosity of the covers...Check this out:

The second in the POT THIEF series finds Hubie plotting ways to burgle a high-rise, high-security building while Susannah explores the world of Internet Dating. Several new players join Miss Gladys, Father Groaz, Tristan, Martin Seepu and the others as Hubie de-tangles his latest complication...we're going to press on Monday!

And THE FAT LADY is singing now...just out a week or so. Margot is drawn into working with a Gilbert & Sullivan troupe that has its eye set on winning an international competition. Max wrestles with writer's block, but by the time they fly to England for the final round of the contest, his creativity is percolating again...but the murderer is still on the loose!

NIGHT WATCH is Monti Sikes' latest Passenger to Paradise novel. This time Monti takes us to exotic Trinidad through the eyes of Lily Henri, a young photo journalist who is trying to shake off the gloom of some life-changing upsets. Lily stumbles into a dangerous situation, which is complicated by her uncanny resemblance to another woman.

The Rocky Bluff PD really has its hands full this time! The victim is found headless, and there are plenty of reasons that he doesn't engender a lot of sympathy, despite the brutality of his demise.

What an exciting lineup!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday 13th!

This is supposed to be a hazardous day--for me it was a fun one because hubby and I sort of took the day off. We went to town, did some errands, and had lunch at our favorite Thai place and then went to see 2012. This was one movie hubby did not fall asleep in despite it being three hours long!

I always check my trusty iPhone (used to be Blackberry) no matter where I am--not in the movies folks--and received a message from our wonderful publisher, Billie. She wondered what I was up to--haven't bugged her lately--and also asked about the PSWA conference.

So, I figured this was a good time to remind you all about it. It's not until next June, but for the next price break and if you want to be on a panel, you need to sign up by the end of March.

For any of you who are writing mysteries of any kind, this is the conference to attend because of all the law enforcement professionals who come as speakers and attendees. This is one conference where you'll feel like you are really a part of the group--everyone is friendly and approachable.You will not be disappointed, I assure you.

The registration price also covers three great lunches. We'll be at the Orleans Hotel this time and there is a break for PSWA attendees, you just need to let them know when you make your reservation.

Registering for the conference would make a great Christmas present for yourself--just a suggestion.

Remember, a writing conference and all the expenses related to attending the conference are income tax deductible.

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MCCC Writers Confernce

I again had the pleasure of attending the Montgomery County Community College Writers Conference just outside of Philadelphia on November 7. The event has had many noteworthy keynote speakers in the past, including Norman Mailer, Edward Albee, and Michael Cunningham. This year there was a talk by Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts. The conference offers a bountiful continental breakfast and a tasty buffet lunch. There are many free samples of magazines and small press journals to fill up the free tote bags which the college provides. Only the writers who conduct the workshops are allowed to sell books, but, of course, I brought a large number of my bookmarks promoting my OTP book, A Lesson in Murder.

The workshop on memoirs emphasized using place as a character in the writing. The leader emphasized the use of smells, foods, religious and ethnic backgrounds, class structure, and topography. We did exercises on writing about visiting and leaving different locales.

The workshops on novels discussed the use of using alumni groups and ethnic bases for promotion, and soliciting endorsements from other writers. In the writing department, we dealt with the importance of developing character by the use of signature speech, actions, and appearance.

I always learn something at these conferences, and realize how I must work harder at my craft.

One more thing. I'd like to know how Mike Orenduff got Gov. Bill Richardson to review his book? That is so cool!

Gus Cileone

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Erle Stanley Gardner Mystery Weekend Writers Conference

I've presented at this particular conference at least five times, maybe more.

This time I was given the general topic of "Novel Writing" and tried to cover as many aspects as I could in one hour. I told the gal in charge, next year let me do one of the many things I talked about such as Characterization instead of trying to clump it all together. As I usually do, I gave out handouts which I hope helped.

Feedback was great.

This was not a good selling venue because there was no time between talks to sell books--none. The book selling was supposed to be between 12 and 12:45 and authors were tucked away in a tiny room off the beaten path. I sold three books, two to one of my former Blue Birds from eons ago, and another to one of the people who heard my talk. Hardly anyone came into the room, much less bought any books. I saw one other person sell a book.

Now, I'm going to put in my plug for the PSWA Conference because I can assure there will be 15 minutes between each talk or panel and books are on sale all day, everyday.

I hope to go back to the ESG Mystery Weekend Writers Conference because it's a paying gig. Last year attendance was low. It's always been free, I told her to charge a fee and she'd get more people. Guess what? It worked.

I love speaking in front of groups whether it be a writing conference or a service or social group. Today I'll be talking to our local Rotary Club.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gumbo Justice Review

Reviewing the Evidence has a nice review of Gumbo Justice at

There is a general rundown of the new books reviewed, and then a scroll down to the bottom leads to links to the individual books.

I don't know how many people actually look at the reviews when you post a link to it, but I always think it's respectful to do for the website that published the review. Unless of course it's a crappy review, then I probably would pretend like I didn't see it, but that's just me. So far, I haven't had to test it, although I have had two reviewers that wanted to read more about New Orleans.

That's a dilemma, because the places people might want to read about, like the French Quarter, Jackson Square, jazz clubs, are not places locals go on a regular basis. When I read books by people who don't live here, I can always tell, because they'll have locals doing things locals don't normally do. I mean, unless your work in the Quarter, or are out at bachelorette or bachelor party, a local past the age of 25 isn't going to hang out down there.

Also, it's a difficult setting to add in to a mystery series like mine, because we don't have that many murders or rapes in the Quarter, because the police actively patrol it. (How bad would that be for tourism if tourists had to face the same dangers as us locals?) But being that I have had that criticism, I am keeping it in mind as I am plowing away at Jambalaya Justice, the second in the series.

I'm curious as to what other New Orleans settings people would like to read more about. I've covered uptown, the projects, and the courthouse. What settings in New Orleans interest people the most, or what other New Orleans settings do other people find mysterious or potentially suspenseful?

Holli Castillo

New Book Title and Author Exchange Blog

My blog interview with Linda Faulkner is up on Author Blog Exchange today. Thank you, Sunny Frazier, for the push. I had hoped my next book, Night Watch, would have been released before my blog appeared, but that didn't happen. Billie and I have changed the name of my book. The name, Night Watch, is more appropriate for this book, set in Trinidad, with gunrunning and intrigue a major part of the plot. It is scheduled for release January 15, 2010 which will give me time to plan launch activities without running into Christmas season events. It also will give us more time to develop a good cover. As an artist, I can think of nothing more important than the cover when a potential reader is considering the purchase of a book. Cover design draws me to a book. Then, the title gives me an idea of what kind of book it is. Reading the back blurb is another big part of the purchase equation.

If you have a chance, please look at the interview at and make a comment. Remember that Linda Faulkner is interested in interviewing lots of authors. Please contact her about an interview, if you haven't already.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Albuquerque Book Launch Notice

The Book Launch For The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy will be December 4th in Albuquerque’s Old Town beginning at 4:00 PM and running until 9:00 PM or whenever Treasure House Books and Gifts decides to close for the night. The date was chosen after consulting Ptolemy’s epicycle drawings and determining that Jupiter would be the only planet visible to the naked eye from Albuquerque during that time span. Jupiter plays a role in the mystery as does New Mexico’s beloved astronomer Clyde Tombaugh to whom the second book in the Pot Thief series is dedicated. Author Mike Orenduff (UNM ’69) was president at NMSU during the last years of Tombaugh’s association with that institution and spoke at Tombaugh’s memorial service. “He was the embodiment of that old phrase ‘a scholar and a gentleman’,” said Orenduff.

According to owner John Hoffsis, the first book in the series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, has been the best selling book at Treasure House since it hit the shelves in July. In addition to the planetary alignment, December 4th was also chosen because it is the date of this year’s Holiday Stroll, the annual event when Old Town is at its festive best marking the start of the Christmas shopping season. The Pot Thief mysteries are humorous and family-friendly and a signed copy would make the perfect holiday gift for young and old alike.

According to Governor Bill Richardson, “Orenduff successfully captures the essence of New Mexico through humor, romance, and even a little philosophical musing. New Mexico’s rich history, people, food, and landscape come alive on its pages.” The Gallup Herald headline on June 29 proclaimed that Orenduff “may fill Hillerman’s shoes.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Reason number 9 to attend PSWA - the presenter on the book covers session will perform magic.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Public Safety Writers Conference and Other Stuff

The best deal for the PSWA conference has passed, but there's yet another break that will there until March 31. For anyone waiting, if you want to be on a panel, you need to sign up by that time.

If you're wish-washy about whether or not to come, one of our new attendees and a New York published mystery writer emailed me to let me know he'd been to this past Bouchercon and thought the PSWA conference was a lot better and more fun.

The big difference with our conference and a big mystery con--is 1. that our is for writers 2. it's small so there is only one track and you don't have to make any choices 3. the presentations are so interesting most people stay for them all whether it's a topic in their field or not 4. if you want to be on a panel you will be 5. you have plenty of opportunity to network and ask questions of anyone who is there 6. you can bring your books for sale and PSWA only takes 10% 7. you'll meet lots of folks and have time to get acquainted with them 8.and I guarantee you will have a great time!

And P.S., there are three great lunches included in the conference price.

On to something else, I have a fun book trailer for my latest mystery from my other publisher //

Sunday, November 1, 2009

List Yourself and Your Site Here!!

Here's a great site for mystery writers, publishers, readers and pals to connect. THE WEB OF MYSTERY

Their mission: to bring together mystery website administrators and others in an attempt to create the most comprehensive database of mystery-themed links. A noble pursuit, it seems to me.

It goes without saying that Marilyn Meredith, Kit Sloane and a several other OTP authors were already there...but if you aren't on the site, take a moment and add yourself. It's fast, it's easy and it's free!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oak Tree Playwright

Congratulations to Gus on having his play awarded honorable mention by Writer's Digest in their annual contest. Not only can you see his name on their website, his name will also be included in the book they publish with the winning writing in ten categories. Last year there were over 30,000 entrants, so receiving an award in this competition is quite an honor.

Now, Gus, you will learn another challenge of being a writer. Getting a play produced is even harder than getting a book published. Hope you succeed.

Mike Orenduff

Thursday, October 29, 2009

PSWA Writers Conference

Okay, folks, October 31 is almost upon us. Yes, that's Halloween, but it's also the last day for the lowest registration fee for the Public Safety Writers Conference

This is a real writing conference--not just for mystery writers. We have speakers covering all aspects of writing from Point of View to What Your Cover Ought to Look Like. (That's not the title, but you get the idea.) If you're interested in writing for magazines, we've got an expert to tell us the best approach. There will be panels with publishers, including our own, discussing what they are looking for and what turns them off. We'll have a panel on promotion--with all the new things that you can do to promote your book. And yes, there are experts in the mystery and law enforcement fields.

Because it is a small conference there is only one track so you don't have to make up your mind.

You can be on a panel if you let me know and a clue as to what might work for you, you can put that right on the registration form.

Bring you books for sale, PSWA only takes 10% of the price.

And, folks, what a neat place for a vacation. Flights to Vegas are cheaper than anywhere else, the Orleans hotel has a rate for the PSWA conference, and remember, you can take all the expenses for a writers' conference off your income tax.

Rub elbows with Oak Tree Press Publisher, Billie Johnson. Get your photo taken with her.

What a deal! Sign up now!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lteft Coast Crime

I'm planning to be at LCC in March. It's my favorite conference, just big enough, but not so big you miss seeing all the people you want to see! I'm lucky to have family in L.A., so will be able to avoid the hotel expense. Hope I'll meet some OTP'ers there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Left Coast Crime 2010 Booked in LA

Who's planning to go to this conference?

I am looking at taking some ad space in the program booklet.

So, are you penciling in the weekend of March 11-14? Let me know!

And no, the newest Rocky Bluff cover doesn't really have a direct tie to this post, but I just couldn't resist seeing what it will look like online...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good News and Not So Good News

Hi all,

Best to start with the good news, right? I submitted a play which I wrote to the 78th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. I received notice recently that I was awarded honorable mention for it under the Stage Play Script category. It was a validating experience since there were thousands of entries in the contest. You can see my name on the website.

Also, I recently attended my first meeting of the Delaware Valley division of Sisters in Crime (they call me a brother in crime). It was an interesting meeting with a number of Philadelphia authors and mystery enthusiasts in attendance. The speaker for the day was a state trooper. She said that during her career she never had a medical examiner solve a crime and be so active in the investigation as is depicted in some novels. She also stated that the type of technology that is shown on television shows, such as CSI, just isn't out there. The data bases are not that detailed either. When she stops a car, she runs the license plate, and the computer shows the owner and if the car has been reported as stolen. She then has to get the driver's license number to check his or her information, and it won't even provide a criminal record. It only states if there are any current arrest warrants outstanding.

OK, the not-so-good news is that my daughter contracted the swine flu, and had to be hospitalized. I had to travel to Baltimore where she is living and help out. Hopefully, she is now on the road to recovery. So I definitely have not been on top of the writing scene lately. Hopefully, I will be getting back in the game again.

Gus Cileone, A Lesson in Murder

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I am no longer a Bouchercon Virgin

I have all kinds of things I want to blog about, but time hasn't been on my side. Marilyn's blog has forced me to at least get something out there. My Bouchercon experience was wonderful. I had no idea what to expect. What I found were tons of wonderful mystery fans and handed out so many postcards about my book, A Case of Infatation, to people who really seemed interested in buying it. I also met some great authors. My first night out, Michael Black invited me to dinner with some Mystery Writers of America friends and I met Julie Hyzy who won two major awards. I can't wait to start her book. I also met Hank Phillipi Ryan and am in the middle of hers and am enjoying it. I received a hot ticket to spend an hour with Joseph Finder and that was great. All the authors I met were friendly, approachable and great fun! I also had two great roommates who taught me the ropes!

For information to share, the Amazon presentations had the most interesting information or at least validation that ebooks are making a difference. One statistic was the 15 percent of book sales for bestsellers is from downloads compared to only 5 percent last year. That is a big jump. Also, Amazon is rolling out new things for authors to get them more on the page. I will dig out my notes and do a whole blog on that soon, I promise. Amazon also says Kindle numbers are going through the roof and don't seem worried about competition. (Should be an interesting Christmas season! I can't decide which one I want on my list but am leaning toward Kindle.)

Other things I learned a lot about were getting reviews from three of the top Mystery Review publications. Really want to look at doing more of that but they want Advance Reading Copies of the book at least eight weeks if not 12-15 weeks prior to publication.

I took pages of notes and will be featuring them soon. Just need to get out from under the mountains of laundry, bare cupboards, and giant dust bunnies as well as trying to get some writing done to dig in. Hope this enough to whet you appetite for more.
W.S. Gager
A Case of Infatuation - now available

Hoping to Hear About Bouchercon

I've been reading all sorts of blog post about Bouchercon and I know that Billie went and also Wendy--when are you going to let us go how it went?

I've been to several Bouchercons and had a great time at all of them. They can be overwhelming however, in that there are so many people, it's hard to find those you know. Because I had a good friend who was published by a major publisher, I learned early on that the big name writers have special parties to attend that are put on by their publishers and dinners with their agents. But there is plenty for everyone to do without having the extra parties.

Bouchercon is not a place to learn about writing, its purpose is to revere the mystery genre and those who write mysteries. And believe me, it is a thrill to hear your favorite mystery writers talk about all sorts of intriguing subjects. It also isn't a place where an unknown writer or author from a small press is going to sell many books. In the first place, you have to find one of the bookstores who is willing to sell your book on consignment and they will want 40%. If that's the discount you got from your publisher when you bought the book, you aren't going to make any money on the few you sell.

If you are lucky enough to be on a panel you should have some books in the book room, because there will be some readers who hear you on the panel and want to read your book. I've made some fans in exactly this way.

I will be headed to San Francisco for the 2010 Bouchercon--it's in my own backyard so to speak and I'm planning on getting there via the train.

However, if you want to go to a writer's conference where you can learn more about the craft of writing, and especially about writing about crime, and how to promote the books you already have, and sell your books with only 10% going to the organization, then plan on coming to the Public Safety Writers Association in June of 2010 in Las Vegas. And if you want to be on a panel, all you have to do is say so on your registration form. The Early Bird registration fee runs out on October 31, so get signed up quickly.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Michigan Notable Books Committee "Infatuated" with WS Gager!

This morning I received notice that Wendy's sly, sexy, suspenseful novel is being considered for selection by the Michigan Notable Books Committee! The finalists will be invited to go on a state-wide authors tour to libraries in the State of Michigan and are also invited to the Night of Notables held at the Library of Michigan. Check their website at

Way to go, Wendy!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Blog New Blogger...Heather Smith Thomas!

The lady here is Heather Smith Thomas, an OTP author since we published her book, BEYOND THE FLAMES in 2004. Heather and her family live and work on a ranch in Idaho. Her book takes the reader through the shock, horror, and recuperation of a burn accident, the story of her daughter's injury and battle to survive.

While working the project, doing the layout and so on, I learned so much about a lifestyle completely different from mine, both from the text, and the cover letters she sent with materials, whatever. Heather definitely has a knack for sharing, for giving a reader a window into her unique world. So, it was a given that when blogging erupted, I began to pester Heather about setting up a blog where she could share these vignettes. Now we have done that!

Heather's first post is up at So, get yourself a nice cup of coffee and check it out!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Tours

Anyone who gets emails from me or is one of my Facebook friends knows that I am now on a Blog Tour for my book Dispel the Mist from another publisher.

Do blog tours work? Not sure about this one because I'm only half way through. During my previous tours the numbers on Amazon went way down which means that a few folks were buying my book and I attributed it to the blog tour.

One thing you must do though is let people know that you're on a tour which is really time consuming, but a bit easier now with the advent of Twitter and Facebook. The big thing with Facebook is not to play all the games--because they can take over your life. Otherwise both of these sites are great for promotion. I'm not as fond of MySpace though I am on there too.

I use iPing to post most things which automatically posts all the social network sites I'm signed up on. Saves a lot of time.

These are the last stops for this blog tour:

Oct 16
Oct 19
Oct 20 and
Oct 21
Oct 22
Oct 23
Oct 26
Oct 27
Oct 28
Oct 29
Oct 30

I've gotten a few other stops on my own but haven't inserted them into the schedule. As you can see, there are a couple of days where I have two stops.

I used PumpUpYourPromotions to arrange my blog tour, but you could certainly do one yourself.

Because I'm also busy promoting the PSWA conference, I've been busy on the Internet.

This weekend though, I'll be sitting in my booth both Saturday and Sunday for the Springville Apple Festival which means an 7 to 5 p.m. commitment both days. I always do well selling books here so it's well worth the time and effort.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New book--new promotions!

While Billie toils away getting my THE FAT LADY SINGS ready for prime time, I've been researching new ways to promote it. Since the story takes place against the background of a light opera Gilbert & Sullivan repertory company, I Googled the companies that regularly put on these productions and found at least a hundred, both in the US and around the world. Good old Google.
I'm starting off with the San Francisco Lamplighters, one of the oldest G&S companies in the US, and since the play in the story is PATIENCE and they're putting on PATIENCE in their upcoming winter series, they're interested in using my PR items (postcards and flyers) to include in info to their ticketholders. Then my saintly husband does a short course at St. Mary's College in January on Gilbert and Sullivan. Bless his heart. He's going to include me and my book in his course. How I do not know, but I'll give him a few suggestions!

Isn't it exciting when a new book is on the horizon? And with the ease of new technology we can try so many new avenues for promotion.

Looking forward to reading about your PR ideas!


What I've Been Up To Today

Spent the morning deciding which books and how many to take to the Springville Apple Festival which will be this Saturday and Sunday right here where I live. Of course I'll be taking my latest Oak Tree Press mystery, No Sanctuary. In honor of Halloween, I'm also going to give away one of my Christian horror novel to anyone who buys two books. And yes, I'm going to have a black tablecloth and yellow crime scene tape again, the combination seems to attract people. Pray for good weather this weekend. It's raining now, and goodness knows we need it, but I don't want to freeze.

Also I put some information together about next year's Public Safety Writer Association that I'm going to take to Hanford on Thursday where I'm meeting with Kate Anderson and Sunny Frazier and will be enlisting their help on the program and other things. Remember, to get in on the Early Bird registration, you need to sign up by October 31!

Because I'm on a blog tour this month, I also went to Facebook and a few other places to let people know I'm visiting Cicero's Children today at

Next on my agenda is putting together some handouts I'll be using the first weekend in November when I'm giving a talk about Novel Writing in Temecula on Saturday for the Erle Stanley Gardner Mystery Weekend. This is an event I've been participating in for years. I found it because I was a great fan of Erle Stanley Gardner and searched the Internet to see if anyone did anything about him. When I found this annual festival in Temecula I volunteered to come and do something about writing. Sunny has joined me twice. This year Sheila Lowe who presented at PSWA this year is going to talk about handwriting analysis there. Guess who told her about it?

I have another incentive for going there. I always spend Friday night with one of my adult granddaughter and family and Saturday night with her brother and his family. Isn't that fortunate that they both live in the area?

And that's what I've been up to today, what about you?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Joining the 20th Century

I have joined the high-flying world of the Internet, via my own couch! I don't have to have a hankering for coffee to check my email or see what is happening in the world. I just have to touch a few keys and the web is at my disposal. I'm not staring at the screen for minutes for the information to appear! Mitch Malone would never understand my angst to get the high-speed, but he will profit from engaging more readers for his first tale of woe in A Case of Infatuation.

In my first hour of web searching, I googled myself and found a wonderful review that I didn't know was out there. You can check out the interview at

See you on the net!
W.S. Gager
A Case of Infatuation - A Mitch Malone Mystery

The Pot Thief at Murderous Musings

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras is currently featured at Murderous Musings: This is the blog of Pat Browning, author of Absinthe of Malice, and her blog has an impressive professional appearance.

Mike Orenduff

Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, January, 2009
Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, NEXT MONTH!

“Mike Orenduff is a wordmeister. Old Town Albuquerque is a perfect setting for his memorable characters as he weaves the through the story like the threads on an old Navajo blanket.” Marie Romero Cash, author of Tortilla Chronicles

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Promotion in the Most Unexpected Places

Two promotion stories- one short, one long, but both, hopefully, interesting.

I was supposed to attend a continuing legal education seminar today on identity theft. I have this horrible cough and didn't want to disrupt the entire class, so I emailed the administrator to see if I could switch my registration to a different course next month.

She emailed me back with the new registration and said no problem. Then I got an email from Paypal with the administrator's name, saying I had money in my account. I was confused for a moment, and then realized she had purchased a signed copy of Gumbo Justice from my website.

The administrator had apparently purchased a copy because of my signature link. Being she is an administrator at the law school I attended, and the people she works with may have an interest in buying my book if they see hers, or if she likes it and tells them about it, she is a good contact to have made.

Second story-

While I was incapacitated for six months from a car accident in 2008, I wrote a screenplay. The screenplay is a science fiction, big budget monster called Angel Trap.

When it was finished, I entered it into screenplay contests that provided feedback, so that I could see what needed work. Based on critiques, I edited, and entered it in additional contests. It has done relatively well, placing as high as 1st runner up in an international contest, and making it to the quarter finals or higher in six other contests.

Somewhere between my original draft and my current one, there was a contest where it did not make the cut. I received the feedback, and although I agreed with the content, the manner in which it was given was sarcastic and condescending, and did not seem as if it was written to assist me in the editing process, but designed to entertain the reviewer.

I reviewed this particular contest on a website that provides information on screenplay and film contests. In my review, I mentioned that I did not disagree with the substance of the review, but with the presentation to me. I likened the reviewer to the chimps at the zoo who, when they realize zoo goers are watching them, throw their poop at them for entertainment.

What I didn't realize was that this particular website e-mails those reviews in a newsletter to anyone who signs up. The first review listed in the newest emailed newsletter was my poop-throwing analogy one.

Of course, I was a little amused, but also slightly horrified. I didn't mean for the world to see my review, only the people who specifically went to the website to see what that particular contest was all about. I had a little chuckle anyway and went about my life.

Fast forward to last week. The contest creator who critiqued me saw the review, and emailed me, apologizing that I felt it necessary to review them negatively. The email was a little in the sarcastic vein, but seemed genuine. The original reviewer said he re-read my script, and tried to clarify his criticism.

I emailed him back and reiterated I never had a problem with what he said, but the unprofessional manner in which he said it. I told him I did respect the fact that he followed up with me to attempt to rectify the situation, and I would do a follow up on the review site to let the readers know this. And I did.

I thought this would be the end of it, but his contest partner emailed me next. She said for my trouble, she would give me a complimentary entry into their next contest with another script. I emailed her back and thanked her, but told her I don't have another script, that was my first one and I was still in the editing process.

Now I'm about to get to the promotion part. She emailed me back and said she would hold her offer open for when I had another screenplay ready, or I could send them the edited version of Angel Trap and she would personally give me her unsarcastic opinion.

Then she said she noticed the link in my signature to my website, liked my website, and was going to check out Gumbo Justice.

These may only be two book sales, providing the second one even buys the book, but these were promotion opportunities I received without doing anything other than going about my normal business, and having a link to buy my book in my email signature.

While I would love to be one of those chart-topping book sellers, even they generally sell books only one at a time. I always wonder if it doesn't come across as show-offy to have the links in the signature. I'm still not entirely sure, but I guess I don't care as much if it garners sales.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tying Together Books and Art Work

Last week, my Hotels to Remember art exhibit opened at The Griffin in Old Towne, Fredericksburg, VA. We hung ten original pastel paintings from my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember, published by Oak Tree. I also have some of the giclees of the original art available at the bookstore/gallery where the show will hang through the month of October.

The response to the book was so positive, it made me wonder why I have not followed through on promotion by exhibiting this art work. Since the book became available, this is the first time I have shown a large number of the paintings in a solo exhibit. Several years ago, I had a show featuring 13 of the paintings from HTR in the Gellman Room of the Richmond Public Library. At that time, the book was not yet available.

The book and the art should be put together as a promotional tool. I am wondering if any of the hotels would welcome an art exhibit of some of the work. I am wondering why I haven't already contacted some of the hotels located in Virginia to see if I can arrange such an event. As a co-author of Published! Now $ell It! I am wondering why I have not followed through on all the good advice from that book.

Hotels to Remember
is a snapshot in time. The artwork is timeless. It's not too late to follow through with art exhibitions that will promote my book. A tie-in between art and writing is always a good investment. That's why authors often create large posters featuring the art from the covers of their books.

What have I been thinking?

Mary Montague Sikes

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Covey Cover Awards- Gumbo Justice

The cover of Gumbo Justice is up for vote on the New Covey Cover Awards until October 16, 2009, just as Sunny's cover was up last month. If you get the chance, you can vote for Gumbo Justice at It's number two. Once you choose the cover from the list on the left, you have to scroll down to enter the vote. The covers are all pictured as well, with blurbs for all of the books. I have found some interesting reading on this site, particularly in genres I don't ordinarily read.

This is a pretty interesting contest and promotional opportunity, because everyone who votes can see all of the covers. The covers also contain a blurb about the book, so someone who may never have heard of my book may see it here. Check it out, and if you haven't done so, submit your book cover. It's free and easy and only takes a few minutes to do.

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Promotion on the Net

This month's Colophon, put out by our wonderful publisher is full of great information.

Though I do think most of us seek our comfort zone for promotion--all of us need to do a bit of stretching. I was especially taken by Sunny's comments about the author who thought she was too old to learn new tricks.

I'm not sure who Sunny was referring to, though I've heard more than one person make similar comments. Folks, I'm probably the oldest of the Oaktree Press author's--but I've learned lots of new tricks. Of course it takes time, just ask me about my new iPhone!

Why someone wouldn't want to learn how to do things to promote a book that you can do right in front of your computer I don't understand.

Right now I'm on a virtual blog tour for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist. I went on one for No Sanctuary and I plan on doing one for the next book in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Axe to Grind. I paid for this blog tour, but you can arrange one for yourself by finding blogs that do interviews and book reviews of the kind of book you write. Of course you must plan dates and do some back and forth emailing to set the whole thing up.

It does take time, even if someone else is arranging the tour, because you want fresh content for each of the blogs you visit.

Today I'm here where my main character Tempe Crabtree is interviewed.

When you are on tour, you need to let everyone you know where you are stopping each day. Also time consuming. But when I do one of these tours my numbers on Amazon go way down--which is a good thing.

I also do a lot of the in-person marketing that was mentioned in the Colophon. I'm not going to Bouchercon this year because it landed the same weekend as the Apple Festival in Springville where I live. I know I'll sell a lot of books there.

Last weekend I was at the Central Coast Book and Author Fest. It was cold and windy so not as many people came as usual. I sold quite a few books despite the weather as did the author on my left side, and the authors in the Sisters in Crime booth on my right side. However, the people in the booths directly across from us didn't sell anything and I can tell you why. They never once got out of their chairs to talk to anyone. Folks, if you are doing an in-person event and are behind a table you must stand up when people pass by and engage them in a conversation. That's the only way you can interest them in your books. The man directly across from me had books with beautiful covers but that wasn't enough, people looked, he sat, people walked on by.

No, it isn't easy, but put a smile on your face and start talking about your wonderful book(s).

We are really fortunate that our publisher is willing to go to Bouchercon and promote our mysteries. This isn't the norm.

I've never done what Michael Orenduff did with his bookstore tour and probably won't. But it's a great idea and turned out successful for him.

It's certainly okay to find your comfort zone with this promotion business--but you still have to stretch a bit if you want to sell books. And as far as the Internet goes--goodness there are so many opportunities and it's so easy and in most cases, free, why wouldn't you take advantage of it?

Sunny keeps sending out great places where people are willing to interview you and/or read and review your book. I've been taking advantage of them and because I see some familiar names, I know some of you are doing it too.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stop You're Killing Me

Check out the great review of The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras at the website, Stop You're Killing Me.