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.