Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writing and Promoting

Hi all,

I have been trying to find that proper mix (as have all of you) involving writing and promoting. I have joined a writing group and received some very helpful comments from its members. But, I also talked up my book, A Lesson in Murder, as well as Oak Tree Press at the group meeting. I attend film classes and reading groups, and do some promoting there. There will be a discussion of my book at the local Barnes and Noble on May 12 (they already have the signs up, and it will be in the May newsletter), and I will be one of a number of local authors signing books at a community-wide summer library festival on June 4. However, I really have to get cracking on the novel I am currently writing. It's another murder mystery, hopefully the first in a series. Besides the writing and promoting, I hope everyone will be getting out and enjoying the warmer weather.

Gus Cileone,

PSWA Conference and Other Comments

If you figured you'd missed out on one of the lower rates, fear not, we moved the deadline to May 31. We have so many good speakers this year, I hope if you'll truly consider joining us. All the information is here:

Several Oak Tree Press authors will be there along with our fearless leader.

Joining PSWA means you get a better rate on the conference, and you also have the ability to contribute to the PSWA newsletter, which includes promotion of your latest book. Not only is that a free perk for being a member, the newsletter is available to anyone who visits the website.

My own personal promotion schedule marches on: This Saturday, May 2nd, I'll be the speaker for the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime. On May 16th I'm headed to Bakersfield to tell the Writers of Kern all about electronic publishing. (I'll be giving the same talk at the PSWA conference.) On the 20th, hubby and I are heading to Omaha Nebraska and one of our favorite mystery cons, Mayhem in the Midlands. We've been going since the second one. Like PSWA, I'll be taking my own books for sale. Because we've gone so often we've made friends with readers who also attend. Far more fans attend this conference than writers. I'll be on two panels and moderating a third. Hubby is going to be on a panel too, Spouses of Writers. This is the second time he's done this and it was a riot last time.

By the time that's over, I'll be pulling together the last details for the PSWA Conference program. Looking forward to meeting some of you there.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

With many Oak Tree books available in the Kindle format, I found this NY Times article interesting ("With Kindle, Can You Tell It’s Proust?"):

Secrets by the Sea takes Second Place!

Monti Sikes has shared the great news that her novel, Secrets by the Sea has placed second in the Virginia Press Women's Communication Contest!

SECRETS is the third in Monti's PASSENGER TO PARADISE series...and she is up to her gollyhoppers finishing number four, due out this summer.

Monti's novels have a paranormal edge to them, for those who enjoy that element. And OTP is getting quite a collection of novels with a paranormal edge... just CLICK HERE to see!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Play's the Thing

When I’m not writing murder mysteries, I write plays. If you think getting a book published is challenging, try getting a play produced. My latest play, The Christmas Visitor, was a finalist in the Solano Repertory Theater Playwriting Contest, won honorable mention in the McLaren Comedy Playwriting Contest, and made the Top 100 of 2008 in Readers Digest. Now, it has finally garnered a first. I just received word that it won the contest sponsored by the Jewel Box Theater in Oklahoma City, an organization that has been doing theater there for over fifty years. But will it be produced? Maybe. Winning the contest means it is one of the plays considered for the next season. But now that I have a book in print, I saw a way to use the play to promote the book. The Jewel Box will announce the winning play at some kind of a gala on May 15th. Almost all the entrants each year are from other places, so they don’t expect the winner to be present for the event. They offered to mail me the plaque and the check. But I thought about the Oak Tree Authors’ Creed: Pursue Shameless Self-Promotion. So I contacted the leading bookstore in Oklahoma City, and because I won the Jewel Box contest, they were willing – indeed, anxious – to have me do a book signing. The fact that there will be publicity paid for by the Theater no doubt helped. Of course I’ll have to pay my own way to Oklahoma, but the travel will be a small fraction of the prize money, funds which I didn’t even know I’d have until yesterday.

Mike Orenduff

p.s., concerning that creed, do any of you have any connections with a theater group interested in producing a Christmas comedy?

Monday, April 27, 2009

The HANDS won!

All feedback was unanimous...the hands got the wave! Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Help Us Choose a Cover!!

Gosh, I really hate to cover up Marilyn's spot on post about blogging and your sig and commenting, but we are urgently in need of a vote on some covers.

This will be for THE JELLY BEAN PRINCIPLE...Barry Thomsen's business advice book that could easily be a MBA course in compact form. Organized into 100+ vignettes, each section focuses on one element which can help your business stand out from the competition, acquire and keep loyal customers, earn word-of-mouth validation and more, more, more.

Barry's point is that you need to do things to make your business stand out from the crowd, much the way a black Jelly Bean stands out from the other flavors.

Here's the link VIEW THE COVERS

Take a look and surf back her and leave your vote in the comments!

Once the decision is in, I will delete this post, so more people can read Marilyn's Blogging Broadcast....'cause you just can't say this enough and some people still don't get it!


Some Tips About Blogging and Other Such

When you write a blog, be sure to always sign off with your name and your website. Yes, your name is automatically there, but sometimes it's hard to read. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to let people know who you are?

When you blog, go to Twitter ( and leave a tweet (that's what they call messages on twitter0 telling people to go to your blog with the subject and address. To do this to all the social networks you may be on at once, like Facebook and My Space, sign onto and let them know where you want the ping to go.

When you visit a blog like this one and read someone's post, for goodness sake, leave a comment. Doesn't have to be long, but it sure is nice to know someone is reading what you've written. When you leave the comment, sign your name again, along with your website or blog URL.

Because it drives me nuts that people don't leave comments, I signed up for something that lets me know once a week, how many stopped at my blog each day. That lets me know I'm not doing all this in vain.

If you have a personal blog, you ought to write something new on a regular basis. If you can't do it everyday, at least try for two or three times a week.

I've had some dandy people on my blog lately, yesterday was Sheila Lowe, a forensic handwriting expert as well as a mystery author. She's also speaking at the PSWA conference. Take a look, just click on Marilyn's Musings on the sidebar here.

That's my tips for today. I'm headed to the L.A. tomorrow for the big L.A.Times Book Festival on the UCLA campus Saturday and Sunday. I have three signing times and I'm looking forward to getting away.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call me Compulsive

On the advice of Billie and her other authors, I entered into the blogosphere where I became immediately lost and disoriented. No problem; I feel that way every time I go to Chicago. At, I read about a writer (and small publisher) who did a tour through New Mexico to promote his book, Roswell or Bust, a sci-fi book for young readers. I was amazed that the tour consisted entirely of what salespeople term ‘cold calls’. Henry would just walk into a bookstore or gift shop and ask if he could leave books on consignment or, failing that, leave flyers about the book. He found a few takers, three books on consignment here, a handful of fliers there, a library that accepted a free copy for their stacks, etc. He’s an intrepid fellow and I enjoyed reading about his trip, but I can’t imagine actually doing that. You see, I believe that people who believe if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves end up in the poorhouse with big glass jars full of pennies. I believe people who start a journey with one small step don’t go very far. I want long strides and big denomination bills. So I’m trying to maximize my New Mexico signing tour by having all events booked well in advance, by having the local paper in each signing venue do a timely review of the book, by sending sample books and posters in advance so that people can see the book and the poster can be in the window before I get there. But what if Henry had it right? What if all my planning comes to naught? What if I discover I’d have done just as well to throw the books in the backseat and start driving? I’ll let you know in Vegas.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And Now SomeThoughts from Sunny...

To cyber-socialize or not to cyber-socialize? That is the question.

My New Year's resolution for '09 was to finally, seriously and extensively take a look at all the social sites I kept hearing about. My Space. Face Book. Crime Space. Twitter. Blogs. No more letting the info slide by, no more shaking my head and saying, “Who's got time for all this bulls__t?” I would do an investigation, just like my sleuth Christy Bristol. I would finally find out what all the fuss was about.

First, I had to learn to put on the brakes. I was painstakingly setting up my profile, tentatively adding friends, photos, an opinion or two. People responded. “Will you be my friend?” Uh, yeah, guess so. Messages began to flood my mailbox.

I found myself overloaded with all these strangers clamoring for attention. I decided to create a folder to stuff the socializers in until I could find time. Sunday mornings were free because business emails slowed on weekends.

As I took time to look at blog sites, I noticed links listed. My former training as a narc secretary kicked in. Where I once sifted through allegations to detect clues on drug trafficking, I now investigated these links for info. I speeded the process by copying the entire group and creating a new folder titled Blog Sites. I could already see where this was going to become unwieldy, so as I checked each one out, I discarded what I couldn't use and put the “possibles” in alphabetical order.

Yes, I'm a bottom feeder. Let others do the work, I'll reap the rewards. I discovered an incredible number of sites and slammed profile on in record time. I tossed in photos, never the same as the other sites. I recycled good blogs, figuring I'd find a different readership at each site. I insisted my friends from my publishing house (Oak Tree Press) join me. I was a brat.

The work immediately paid off. People invited me to guest blog. Would I consent to be interviewed? Would I like my newest book, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, be reviewed? My Murder Circle was named a professional site by Linked In (yes!). My googled hits tripled in two weeks.

But, with success comes controversy. Those I left behind in the dust, the naysayers, carped that I wasn't doing any “real” writing. Or, why should they follow my lead without a book to market? On a panel in Hawaii, two major authors cautioned, “You should all be writing books, not wasting time on these sites.” Even the moderator let out a gasp (and befriended me as soon as we returned to the mainland).

Waiting means playing catch-up. Smart writers create a presence that will be ready when their first book is published. The rest of us, late to the game, are running to keep pace. Being aggressive pays off when it comes to selling books.

The way I see it, writers are now divided into two categories: Those who “socialize” with the possibility that their efforts will pay off in the end, and those who are “unsocial” and assume hard work will eventually be rewarded in sales.

My opinion? Do nothing and nothing is all you get.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

OTP Authors Donate Royalties to Vets Organization!

*** From a letter to the mother of a Marine killed in action in Iraq ***

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, a 501(c)(3) organization, recently received a most generous and thoughtful charitable gift in memory of your son, Lance Corporal Shane L. Goldman, USMC, resulting from the sale of a popular book, Scurvy Dogs, Green Water & Gunsmoke. I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with book contributor, Robin T. Smith, and book editor and contributor Terry Miller, the Executive Director of the Tin Can Sailors, Inc. It was at this luncheon that Mr. Smith presented me with the generous check to honor your son. It will be used to provide financial assistance to the tens of thousand of Sailors and Marines who seek assistance from our organization each year. During 2008 the Society provided more than $44.2 million in interest-free loans and grants to more than 77, 754 clients.

You and your family remain in our thoughts and prayers.

/ s / Steve Abbott
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret)
President and Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Take On Blogging

Besides blogging it's important to lead people to your blog sites. How can you do that? Through social networks like Twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc.

Think it takes too much time? Go to Ping, you can put one message there including a website address (they'll make it shorter so your message will fit at Twitter) and voila! the message goes everywhere you've signed up for.

Offer to host other authors on your website. I love doing that because then I don't have to think something new up to write. For my personal blog, Marilyn's Musings, I try to have something new every day. Not an easy assignment. Today on that blog, Rob Walker is visiting. He's written an interesting blog about behind the scenes of his trilogy.

Once a week on Tuesdays, I do a blog for the Stiletto Gang

The other members are writers of cozies. They are a great group of gals and I've met two of them in person. One of them made a bookmark for the Stiletto Gang with all the covers of our latest books on them. For those attending The Public Safety Writer Association's conference, you'll receive a bookmark in your conference folder. Other authors have also sent bookmarks that will be in the folder. (A good and easy way to promote.)

Today's blog from me is all about panel assignments at Mayhem in the Midlands and my husband's and my fondness for Omaha, the site of Mayhem.

Every other Tuesday, I do a blog at Make Mike Mystery

Another important thing to do is when you visit a blog, make a comment, and in the comment put your name at the end along with your website address.

In your signature on your email, be sure to have your website and any blogs that you participate in.

Guess that's all I can think of on blogging at the moment.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Between Blogging & Writing

Okay, blogging is writing. I'll give you that. But when I'm blogging, I'm not working on my upcoming novel and I have deadlines to meet. Yet, suddenly, I can't stop. I am becoming addicted to the possibilities inherent in reaching out through the Internet to an audience of readers and reviewers that seems never-ending.

Yesterday, I found a few new blogs and two folks interested in reading my novel, Field of Destiny, with the intent of posting reviews on their sites. That's worth the price of sending them a book. One has invited me to be a guest on her blog. And on it goes. AND, my numbers on Amazon have put me back on a sub-best seller list, all because of this added exposure.

What's scary, and exciting, is that I've just hit the tip of the iceberg. I have found more sites than I can post to and still have a life. It's a little like playing the slots, the next pull of the handle could net the big one. I'm not stopping, and I encourage you to start -- pick a couple of new ones every day and post to a couple of established ones. Make it a Power Blog Lunch and see what happens. That's my plan and in between, I'll work on my new novel, A Thousand Whispers. - ps

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BookTV Listing...A Double Edged Sword?

Shouldn’t you be delighted if noted author and Lincoln historian Frank Williams recommends your book on CSPAN2’s Book TV ? Maybe…maybe not. One of those good news/bad news things that sometimes occurs in the media. Book TV Program

It appears the Judge’s recommendation for my book “The Last Stop: Lincoln and the Mud Circuit” was placed under the heading of Lincoln Books for Children amongst “Abe Lincoln Loved Animals” and "Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker". Not exactly what I would call ‘heady’ Lincoln material. (No offense intended to the respective authors)

Chagrined…perhaps, amused…some, but rather bemused actually. Mr. Williams is a very serious type guy as most judges are and I hope he wouldn’t consider my book fitting only for children. There are lot of adults who read books too Mr. Williams.

The Judge is currently working on an annotated bibliography of Lincoln books and pamphlets written since Lincoln's death (16,000 and still counting). Let’s hope my book is moved to a different heading by then. May I suggest under Law …just above "The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases" by Daniel W. Stowell. It would fit nicely there.


Book review: Lincoln Bicentennial Website

Midwest Book Review

Information on historian/author Alan Bower and "The Last Stop"

Happily Ever After

This morning a segment on the Today Show caught my attention. While overall book sales are down, the program said, the sales of romance novels are up! The sales of Harlequin books are up 30% over last year. During times of recession, readers want "happily ever after." They want romance, not the latest gloom and doom news reports, those readers who were interviewed pointed out.

Of course, I was delighted to see this report. My novels all have happy endings. Stranger in My Heart, the book I am working on right now, has a happy ending as well!

While reporters love to poke fun at the romance industry, romance authors smile. Money talks. Everyone is looking for a happily ever after.

Mary Montague Sikes, Author
Hearts Across Forever, Eagle Rising, Secrets by the Sea

Marketing on a Budget

I'm kind of skimping on the blog a little bit this week but will caulk it up to traveling for Spring Break. Besides a writer friend of mine did it so eloquently. I can't improve on it and I don't have the experience she has to recommend it. Visit titled Secret Handshake and Thursday's post talks about places to get get inexpensive marketing items like bookmarks, business cards, and other items and best of all, how she uses them. A word of caution: These four writers and editor who take turns posting each day write erotic romance and they promote themselves well. Their covers are all over the blog and they are steamy. It was interesting to see how she converted less than $300 into a great marketing package complete with chotskis (sorry, just had to use that word!). I have already taken a few notes. I will be investigating her suggestions and using them to help me promote Infatuation, coming out in June from Oak Tree Books. And off course I will be bringing my version of chotskis to PSWA conference in Vegas to share and looking for your great ideas!


WS Gager
Infatuation coming out in June from Oak Tree Press

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do You Twitter? is a great place to do a bit of promoting, venting, or just having fun. You can only write 140 characters and spaces count.

Because I have a lot of places that I need to post, I use which you can set up so that whatever you post there will automatically post to the other social sites you are on like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace etc. Certainly saves a lot of time. Another thing, if you put a long URL (website address or blog address) it will shorten it so it can post on the Twitter limited character site.

Of course you can also go to Tiny.URL and change any long URL address to a tiny one.

Just another handy hint to put in your promotion bag of tricks.

http://marilynmeredith.blogspot where I blogged about Tarnished Silver today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Working Together

This past week I did three events in California. The West Hills College hosted me in Lemoore. I spoke at the Hanford Library; and before the San Juaquin Sisters in Crime in Fresno. I met many nice people, and hopefully made some friends and fans.

These wonderful events were set up for me by our fellow OTP author, Sunny Frazier. She did a great job and I'm most appreciative. Sunny shares my belief that if we're willing to help each other, we'll all benefit over time.

When I'm contacted by an author planning a trip to Las Vegas, I use my contacts to arrange for speaking engagements, signings and interviews whenever possible.

I also have a Meet The Author show on Blog Talk Radio and would be happy to book OTP authors as guests. If you're interested, just send me an email at and we'll book a date.

Again, my thanks to Sunny for a job well done.

Those Pesky Press Releases

We send out press releases because we want free publicity for our books which, we hope, will generate sales. Newspapers publish those releases for one reason only: they are in some way newsworthy and provide value to their readership. Frankly, they care very little about you or your needs, unless you can find a way to make them care. Unless you can make it newsworthy.

Years ago, I was the Communications Director for the Connecticut American Heart Association. Every year, I would send out press releases announcing that May is High Blood Pressure Month. I would then follow up with phone calls to ensure coverage. This one May, the science editor for our major daily paper said, "Honey, there's nothing new about that. Make it newsworthy and I'll print it. I might even run a whole story." I hung up, got a committee together and worked to create Stroke Awareness Week, an entire campaign designed to help lower the incidence of stroke during May (high blood pressure month). We had press coverage across the state!

So, translate this to the release of your book. First, do the leg work. Find out the deadline for every paper you want to send a release to. This is critical. Keep a log for future reference. Then find out if they prefer fax or electronic submission. Very few today want snail mail, but you never know. If you're sending books for review that's another story.

Second, slant each release to the intended paper/publication. For your hometown paper, the lead might read "Newtown resident publishes first novel." For your college paper it would be "Yale Graduate Has Best Seller." You get the idea. Make it even more newsworthy by inviting the public to a signing. And, by the way, you can — and should — send out a release for each book signing, ensuring that you get continued coverage, even if it's only a line listing. Always offer two photos (one of you and one of your book cover).

Third, be ready for a phone call that asks for an interview! That's happened more than once to me, with a photographer and all. Be gracious and be ready to meet their timelines. It's all about making their job easy and giving them something to fill their paper. You'll discover that your local papers are especially happy for the news.

Good luck.

Patricia Sheehy
author: Field of Destiny, Veil of Illusion, Giving with Meaning

Local Press

How far in advance of publication should the local press be contacted to see who will plug your novel? We have several resources here that may give me face time, we have four local television news stations and a local newspaper, but I'm wondering at what point do I contact them? And what do you tell them when you don't have the exact release date for the novel?

Off topic, the truth is stranger than fiction down here in New Orleans. Somehow, New Orleans prosecutors have only won a handful of trials so far this year, yet Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. Murderers and rapist walk free but we have shoplifters who are serving ten and twenty year sentences because of prior shoplifting convictions. Male inmates tend to get released without bond pending trial because of overcrowding, but females stay in jail for minor offenses because there aren't as many females in jail.

New Orleans is one of the most fun places you can visit, and we definitely have the best food, but life on a daily basis can be insane. A lot of it makes good fodder for writing, except for the fact that most people wouldn't believe it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Writing Press Releases

In my last post, I promised to blog every week. I'm sneaking in just under the deadline. I'm chalking it up to nerves.

I've been struggling all week with writing a press release for my upcoming book, Infatuation, coming in June from Oak Tree Books. I'm combining business and pleasure tonight by going to an event at my alma mater, Central Michigan University, and giving them the press release to use in their alumni publications. Hence, why I have been stressing and working on the press release. Now if the subject had been anyone but me, I wouldn't have a problem but when it comes to promoting myself, I can't think of a thing to say. (Now if you knew me, you would know that is a rare occurrence.)

Luckily for me, I had some help from my critique group who pointed me in the right direction and helped me get over the "it's all about me" writer's block. I guess my morale here is don't be afraid to ask for help with promotions and that's what this blog is all about.

I finally finished the press release Friday night, was able to read again this morning before printing it out and now am sitting in a hotel room, waiting to head out.

What is it about being our best fan that makes it so difficult to toot our own horn? I know as a PR professional, you have to do it, but it is TOUGH. I'm sure now the initial one is over, it will get easier.

WS Gager
Infatuation coming in June

PS: Thanks for linking my website to your websites. I'm sending the websites I received to my webmaster to add.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Recommendation

Hi all,

I would like to recommend a book I just read from a fellow Philadelphian. It's entitled Open Me. The author is Sunshine O'Donnell. (Sorry, not an OTP author). I attended a book discussion with her at the local Barnes and Noble last week. The style of the novel is wonderful, very poetic. Although almost entirely fictional, it explores the nature of grief by creating a story about a female cult of professional mourners. The author is very interesting. She teaches all sorts of subjects to disadvantaged youth, including quantum physics. There will be a book discussion of my novel, A Lesson in Murder, later this month as we focus on local writers. I will put in a plug for other OTP writers.

Gus Cileone