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.