Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Don't Have to Own A Kindle

Did you know you don't have to own a Kindle to read Kindle books? There are now free downloads for PC, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, and Android available from Amazon. That means people who prefer to read e-book versions of novels can do so without the added cost of the Kindle.

I was interested to know that because my first e-book, Dangerous Hearts, has been released and I'm learning about a whole new market. Many people, especially the younger generation which has grown up with the Internet and a multitude of electronic devices, actually prefer e-books. While most authors still want a book to hold in their hands, before long we may see e-books overtaking print books in the marketplace.

You don't have to own a Kindle. That's a good thing for the Amazon market and a good thing for authors, as well. Let your computer-savvy friends know about this option.

Our Oak Tree publisher has made all our books available as Kindle books, so this widens our marketplace. A very good thing...

Passenger to Paradise Books

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Days 43-44

The next-to-last signing was at Bookworks in Albuquerque, a great independent bookstore in the North Valley next to a Flying Star CafĂ©, a popular chain in the Duke City. I showed up early to check in and told the staff I’d be next door eating dinner and would be back by the start of the 7 PM event.

Halfway through my meal, a lady approached me hesitantly and thrust out a copy of one of my books. “I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your meal,” she said, “but the people next door told me you were here. Would you sign this copy of your book I just bought?”

Of course I did so and thanked her for buying it. The people at nearby tables heard this exchange, and I think a few of them showed up at the event. This is the sort of personal touch you get only at Indie stores.

The final event was at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas (the one in New Mexico), another Indie store in the home of New Mexico Highlands University. The manager, Michael, introduced me, and it was obvious from his description of my books that he had read them. I did a talk and a reading. Then there were cookies made by a woman from El Salvador whose baked goods have made her an important part of the community.

We spent the next day in Carlsbad where we descended 750 feet below the surface of the earth to do the hour-and-a-half walk around the Big Room of Carlsbad Caverns. We had intended to stick around for the bat flight at sundown when the evening sky is darkened by the thousands of bats emerging to feed. No wonder there are no mosquitoes in Carlsbad. But I was tired after the walk and perhaps also feeling the effects of too many days on the road, so we made an early night of it.

Today I stopped in to say hello to Julie at Front Street Books in Alpine, Texas because she had ordered some books a couple of weeks ago during the tour, and I wanted to say thanks. Also, I like her and her store, and Alpine was a convenient stopover. To my surprise, she wanted more books, and I left the last ones I had with her on consignment. I guess that marks the true end of the Pot Thief Tour for 2010. I’ll post one more time – a summary of the whole thing - after I get home and have time to organize my thoughts.

Contest to Go Along with Blog Tour

For my blog tour for Lingering Spirit, I'm holding a contest for anyone who leaves a comment on the most blogs I'll use their name as one of the characters in my 2012 Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel. I'm working on that book right now.

It's going to focus on Officer Gordon Butler because I've had so many people tell me that he's their favorite character.

Anyway, if you'd like to be a character in that book, get busy when the tour begins and visit as many blogs as you can and leave a comment. I'll keep a list and let people know once the tour is over.

Here's the schedule, you might want to copy it to your computer to make it easy to visit the blogs.

July 6
July 7
July 8
July 8 Paperback Writer
July 9
July 12 Writing Daze
July 13
July 14
July 15
July 16
July 19
July 19
July 20 If Books Could Talk
July 21
July 21
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 23
July 26 A Room without Books is Empty
July 26
July 26
July 27
July 27
July 28
July 29
July 29
July 30

We'll see how many people take me up on becoming a character in my book.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

OTP Author Wins Big at PSWA Conference

No, surprise that Michael Orenduff won the firs prize over all the published for his Pot Thief book.

W.S. Gager won a prize too, but at the moment can't remember what it was for. I have a photo of her accepting her prize, but I'm having trouble with downloading photos on blogger for some reason.

PSWA contest is a good contest for authors to enter. It's inexpensive and there are lots of categories for published and unpublished works--even poetry.

As one of the judges I can't enter, and it's a good thing--I'd hate to keep getting shut out by Mike. (I'm joking, folks. Mike's writing is wonderful and he deserves every prize he wins.)

Don't forget Lingering Spirit is now available.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Days 40-42

We left Los Wages, Nevada on Sunday with nothing to do until Thursday. As tourists, we enjoyed the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Or maybe it was the painted forest and the petrified desert. Either way, it looked like the surface of one of the moons of Jupiter.

Then we went to Zuni, New Mexico which looked like the wrong side of the tracks on one of the moons of Jupiter. I’m not wise enough to know what our national policy should be regarding Native Americans, but I do know that the current policy is not working. The U.S. joined the rest of the world in condemning South Africa for their proposal to establish “homelands” for their indigenous people. But that is exactly what our reservations are. This is too big an issue for a short blog on my Pot Thief tour, but I think we need to rethink the reservation system

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Publisher's Periodical

June 24, 2010

I'm just back from Las Vegas and the fabulous PSWA conference...if you are not up to speed on this event, check them out at and begin making plans for next year...I know I am!

We released five new titles there in Vegas, which was a first for OTP, and a thrill...however, now that I am back at planetary headquarters ( it is really a small town in central IL...allow me some illusion!) it is time to get my feet back on the ground and get busy on the next batch of books...FAIRY TALES ARE FRAGILE, SEX AND DEATH, I SUPPOSE, THE LAST OF THE RAILROAD POLICE and NO EVIDENCE OF A CRIME, plus finishing up JETTA'S JOURNEY.

In further news, we have a change in our Acquisitions Department...Sunny Frazier is no longer reviewing submissions for OTP. The email link for our queries remains the same...we simply did one of those high-techie things and re-directed it back to an OTP mailbox monitored in this office, essentially the reverse of the thing that was done to fold Sunny into our submissions loop. This should be seamless, but in the event it is not, please contact me directly at

Summertime is great for vacation reading and there are some great choices and great savings in our bookstore... check it out at BOOKSTORE

Billie Johnson, Publisher

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

July is around the corner

Tonight I saw the temporary cover for my upcoming book, Fairytales Are Fragile. It is very exciting to see a book come to life. Writing is such fun, following an idea and making it into a reality. One thing I have learned recently though is to go with the old fashioned print after writing or save on a disk. I had started a new book and was into page seven when my computer crashed. I was hit by lightening and lost all my pictures, stories, email contacts etc. I had a back up, but it also was wiped clean. I now refer to it as the Great Computer Crash of 2010, my family has heard way too much on the subject.

Besides the book angle, I also am a freelance writer for several antique tractor publications. If you like old iron, check out the Red Power Round Up at LaPorte Indiana going on this week. It is fun to learn the stories people have about their equipment and their lives. I guess it all comes down to being fascinated with the who, what, when and where and mysteries of strangers, okay, I admit it, I am just plain nosey!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Days 36-39

We spent four days in Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual Public Safety Writers Association Conference. It was great fun because we knew most of the attendees from last year. I was on a panel dealing with promoting books despite the fact that I know little about the topic. That is part of the charm of the conference - beginners and pros share the stage. On my panel, Marilyn Meredith and Sunny Frazier were the pros.

We had a big-time writer as the keynote speaker. Simon Wood told us how to create suspense. I try to avoid suspense, so I didn’t find his talk useful. I did find it interesting, however. He is a bright and engaging guy.

If I were to rate the conference as a novel, I would say it was thin on plot, had a good setting, and great characters.

My favorite presentation was by Professor Lai Orenduff who talked about understanding visual images and how that applies to book covers. I confess to some bias, but the presentation was riveting.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy won first prize in Fiction Book category of the PSWA annual writing contest.

I managed not to lose a cent in the casino by using the foolproof method of not playing.

PSWA Conference

I attended the PSWA conference in Vegas and think it was even better than last year. In fact, I learned several things I can incorporate immediately into my writing to help me move my second novel along faster, as well as make it even more suspenseful.

I also met some cool people and made a few new friends. I'm not sure what my favorite part of the conference was, other than listening to the captivating British accent of Simon Wood. (Of course, the soothing tone of Keith Bettinger's New York vocals placed a close second.)

My favorite thing about the conference would ultimately have to be that it is small enough to not feel lost in the shuffle or overshadowed by authors who have been around for years, or even decades, longer, but is big enough that it draws those authors who have been around for years. It is such a nice, casual, friendly atmosphere, and egos are checked at the door for the most part.

And of course it's in Vegas, baby. What else is there to say?

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice

Saturday, June 19, 2010

East and West Linked

The Public Safety Writers Conference in Las Vegas opened on Thursday with a brief history of the organization. What fun to hear about its beginning with Roger Fulton serving as the founder.

Roger was a member of the Chesapeake Bay Writers Club (in Virginia) at the time. Jane Deringer was his mentor. Roger, Jane, and I were all founding members of the CBW. In fact, Roger came up with the name--Chesapeake Bay Writers. Jane was also instrumental in the founding of the Police Writers Association. I remember her advising Roger, judging contests, and attending some of the earliest conventions, at least one of which took place in Williamsburg, VA near my home town.

Roger moved away from the area, and I lost track of him. Jane died a few years ago--a tremendous loss to the Tidewater Virginia writing community.

As I attend the excellent conference presentations, I think about how things have come full circle and how pleased my friend and writing teacher extraordinaire, Jane Deringer, would be to see the evolution of PSWA. East and west are well-connected here.

Mary Montague Sikes

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Days 34-35

It took two days to drive from Santa Fe to Las Vegas, and the thing I noticed most was how much Arizona differs from New Mexico. They were one territory in the late nineteenth century, and they are both largely desert punctuated by mountain ranges with pine, spruce, aspen, and cool air. But when you cross the border just west of Gallup, the mesquite and juniper disappear. Only chamisa and sage remain, resulting in a prairie-like vista. Signs of human habitation are rare. In New Mexico, Interstate 40 passes through half a dozen Indian reservations, each dotted with small villages, a scattering of isolated houses in the countryside, and – unfortunately – several casinos along the way.

The Navajo Nation starts in New Mexico, but most of it is in Arizona, and it is huge. The Navajos have no casinos and their major population areas are not along I40. At one point west of Winslow, we could see a hundred miles in every direction and there was not a single man-made structure in sight.

When you leave the high desert and climb to Flagstaff, you enter a distinctly western town with wide streets, cowboys, and lumberjacks. There are Hispanic residents of course, but the city lacks the Hispanic flavor so obvious in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Still, it has a charm all its own, and the historic downtown remains a thriving center.

As you continue west, the drop from Flagstaff is precipitous. Runaway truck ramps are frequent, and we understood why when we saw a truck with smoking brake using low gear to try and make it down the mountain in one piece. The drop continues until you reach the Colorado River, only three hundred feet above sea level. We chose to cross at Bullhead City. Having spent three hours crossing Hover dam last year, we didn’t want to risk it again while the construction of a new road there continues.

Across from Bullhead City on the Nevada side sits Laughlin, a miniature Las Vegas with gleaming high-rise casino/hotels, their air conditioning, glitter and gaming machines powered by the electricity generated by the river they face. Two hundred miles downstream, the river shrivels to a saline trickle, robbing Mexico of the drinking water and agriculture the river once provided them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pot Thief Tour 2010 - Day 33

Today we had a swat team in the motel with their pistols drawn yelling for people to get down on the ground and put their hands behind their backs. Maybe I need to rethink saving money by staying in cheap motels.

We leave today for Las Vegas, the one in Nevada, not the real town by the same name that is in New Mexico. I look forward to the drive across Arizona. My cell phone will be off, and I’ll try to avoid Interstate Highways.

Mike Orenduff