Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Many of us create New Year's Resolutions. Many of us don't keep them.

For 2012, my resolutions will be all about writing--especially marketing and promotion. I've made that decision based on studying comments from the numerous writers groups that I follow. It appears that sales of e-books are up mightily! With that in mind:

1. Study the market for e-books. Look at results for Kindle, Nook Books, and more.

2. Make a plan and follow it. Spend 30 minutes a day, twice a week, checking out leads for marketing.

3. Keep a book with records of marketing leads. Record what works.

4. Blog about marketing and promotion one day a week--probably on Fridays.

5. Work on a new book with the e-book market in mind.

What about you? Do you have New Year's Resolutions? Do you have marketing plans for 2012?


Thursday, December 29, 2011

the "famous" poem about booksignings!

To illustrate that we are not alone out there!

And, since this gem dates back, way back, I'm sure some of you haven't read it. Written by English author Rhys Bowen, the internationally known mystery writer (we should be so rich and famous!), it says it all and always makes me laugh:

"If only you'd come yesterday.
I'm sorry no one's here.
It's always slow on Saturdays
and at this time of year.

Too bad tomorrow's Father's Day
and everyone's out shopping.
Too bad the heat is so intense
that everyone is dropping.

I wish you'd come on Friday night,
it's always such a lark.
We had a line around the block
for Mary Higgins Clark.

I'm sorry that it's been so flat.
Let's take a picture with the cat!

Rhys Bowen (who has been there and done that)"

Now, from me: Good luck to all of us and a very Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thinking About 2012 and Book Promotion

This is the time of year when everyone starts considering resolutions for the new year. At the top of my list, I have written, "Find ways for better book promotion."

Hmm. A list of ways for better book promotion might comprise my complete list.

I wonder where book signings should be on that list. Probably not at the top.

One of the authors at a group book signing in which I participated earlier this month commented rather grimly, "This is not the best way to sell books." She went on the explain that although she wasn't getting many sales that day, book signings were good for the independent book store owner. To remain in her good graces, she would continue to do signings there, she said.

"What is the best way?" I asked.

She replied by telling me about a program she gave last month at a college in New York state. Part of the prearranged agreement was that copies of her book would be placed on each chair for attendees at the meeting. Not only did she get the sales for those books, but she was paid as a program presenter and her expenses were covered as well. She told me about another author friend of hers who will not agree to speak to a group unless her book is given to each person who attends. What a wonderful way to promote a book and gain new readers.

What is on your list for book promotion? Do you have a list?


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Sunny here. I'm headlining Emerging Novelists, although I believe I emerged quite some time ago. But, the rest of you might contact Mike Murphy, terrific guy, and see if you can "emerge" on his site.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Sunny here.

Patricia Gilgor, one of the members of the Posse, has done a terrific blog spotlighting members titles. The Posse, for those of you who don't know, is a marketing group I set up (I'm the Sheriff) that consists of potential OTP authors, current OTP authors and pretty much anyone who wants to fast-track their marketing skills. We even have badges!

In this week's post, I spotlight nine of the books that were published by
> Posse members in 2011. I hope you'll stop by.
> Next week, I'll be posting the books that are scheduled for 2012
> publication - again, written by members of our wonderful Posse.
> --

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My OTP Books and Holiday Greetings

My Oak Tree Press books on display at a book fest--though I'm not exactly sure which one it is, I did so many last year. I went wherever we didn't have to drive too far and didn't cost too much.

One thing abut any kind of book or craft fair, you never really know how it's going to go, but you're bound to sell a few books if you have a good display, something to attract people to your table, and you get up out of your seat to talk to folks who pause and look.

This is the time of year when we are or should be celebrating with your family and friends whatever holiday you favor. For me, it's Christmas, always has been and always will be.

But keep in the back of your mind, once the holiday season is over,  you should get busy and map out your promotion strategy for 2012.

Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy and Profitable New Year.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Season's Greetings

For my last post of the year, I send out a 55-word story, told in code: read aloud to crack the code. For those of you who know "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut," this story is written in the same genre.

To all of you, I wish a happy holiday season!

Rude Off duh Rad-Nodes Raingear

Pour, pore Rude Off. The mother raingears left atom, wooden plywood hem. Rude Off wordy sadist raingear inner hole white whirl. Sopped end sopped tillers nodes tern dread.

Sandy Claws sore Rude Off’s rad nodes end sat, “Aw ride! Yukon guy mice lay!”

Pour Rude Off. Pore guise gutta were call knight!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunny's Website

I've finally updated my website. I have a new link called "Mission: Acquisitions." The covers of some of the books I've discovered in my role as acquisitions editor are on this site. The video Billie and I made is also on this page.

In the NEWS section, there are various photos from different conferences: San Francisco, Puerto Vallarta and Victoria, BC. You can also see what Jeffrey Deaver looks like!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Launch Party Jambalaya Justice

After months of trying to plan a book launch, I finally settled on tonight to officially launch Jambalaya Justice. I'm having the book launch party at our bar, the Last Stand, at 424 Destrehan, in Harvey, LA, at 7:30 p.m. if anyone happens to be in the New Orleans area. (We're across the river from downtown New Orleans, about a 10 minute drive.)

We're doing a jambalaya cook off, with the winner getting to name a character in the third book, Chocolate City Justice. We did the same for Gumbo Justice, so if you read Jambalaya Justice, the character Christie Bouvier was named by the gumbo cook off winner last year. (One of the strippers in the book was also named by a contest winner in an auction on ebay to benefit the First Amendment Project.)

I think it's going to be slow, because there are a lot of Christmas parties in the area, but I didn't want to put it off any longer. If nothing else, it'll be a nice chance to get out and relax for once, even if I don't make a lot of book sales.

I did sell a few books at the Holiday Bazaar last Saturday at my youngest daughter's school. Vendors paid $30 (it was a Pre-K fundraiser) for a spot in the school yard. It had a nice turnout considering the weather was a little cold for here and sort of dreary. Most vendors had to provide their own tables but I was working our co-op table (equivalent to PTO or PTA), because I am president and didn't have enough volunteers, so at least I didn't have to bring or set up my own table.

My only regret was that I have been operating on such a schizophrenic level lately between the co-op, my "job-job", my article writing job, working on my third book, Chocolate City Justice, and general family duties (two kids, husband, dog, deaf cat, fish), not to mention Christmas, that I forgot to order copies of my first book in time to have them for the event. A lot of the people who bought Jambalaya Justice wanted to buy a copy of Gumbo Justice, the first book, but I only had one to sell and my first customer bought it.

The only negative to this particular venue is that the sheriff sends a tax collector deputy with forms to pay our parish sales tax within 20 days, and she checks our name off a list to prove she gave us the form. So we do have to pay the sales tax relatively quickly.

My advice if you are planning an event--make a list of what you might need and don't assume you've got everything covered just because you've done it before. Especially around the holidays or other hectic times where something you might ordinarily remember may slip your mind.

This brain only holds so much, and I'm pretty sure it's full to capacity at the moment.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

guest blog

Today (Sunday) I am Mike Murphy's guest on his blog, Emerging Novelists, thanks to our PR gal, Jeana. Please visit and leave a comment if you aren't too busy watching football. It's an interesting site for readers and writers, for sure.

And I love the "emerging" part. After nine books I wish I had already "emerged," but it's a slow process and actually "emerging" is probably optimistic!

Happy Holidays to all,


Monday, December 5, 2011

A basket case

Each year my parish hosts a charity fundraiser with a silence auction for gift baskets of goods and services donated by members and neighbors. This year I donated a "Mystery Lovers" basket with a signed copy of my book and four other mysteries written by people I know--novels that people would not find in a bookstore. The basket received four bids (one woman bid twice) for a winning bid was $48. The winner was excited that she won and I said I would personalize the book for her if she wanted. I don't get any of the money BTW--all of it goes to the church, the local food pantry and the homeless center.
OTP authors may want to consider donating your books to local service clubs for charity raffles or fundraisers. It's a great way to help a worthy cause, generate good will in your community, and promote your work. And for anyone making a gift basket of books, why not ask OTP authors for a contribution?
Sally Carpenter
"The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper"

local signing

I had a GREAT time at the annual Xmas Fair here at our local golf course restaurant. I've been doing this for ten years and it was so terrific to meet, again, lots of my readers. Sold LOTS of books, both new (CLOSE-UP) and earlier stories and chatted with all my devoted readers who are so interested in my characters or, as one asked, "How are the kids doing?" The kids being Margot and Max through 9-adventures!

It's such a treat to meet my readers again and share our stories and answer questions. I always give a good discount. It only seems fair in this day and age. It's worth it when I know 32 more people will be reading my series!

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New England Crime Bake X

I recently attended the tenth annual New England Crime Bake—Crime Bake X—convened recently in suburban Boston (Dedham, to be precise).

Comparing notes and experiences with other writers was probably the most enjoyable and helpful aspect of the weekend.

Barry Eisler and Nancy Pickard were Guests of Honor. Past honorees have included Sue Grafton (2009), Harlan Coben (2008) and Robert B. Parker (2004).

Eisler is the author of “Requiem for an Assassin” and “The Detachment,” among many others. He was a participant on several panels. On “Top Guns: Five of Mystery’s Best Discuss the Keys to Success,” he was joined by Pickard, Donald Bain, Renee Paley-Bain and Michael Palmer.

Eisler encouraged the authors in attendance to remain open to suggestions and criticisms.
“You can’t be too possessive of your words,” he advised. “[They] may not be perfect.”

By the way, Eisler’s web site,, is chock full of excellent tips and links for writers.

During that panel, Bain talked about his writing schedule that consists of 10 pages each day, seven days a week—a good way not to lose writing momentum, he explained.

Palmer is a practicing physician who has written several thrillers. He was among the authors who conducted a “master class.” His was about “Creating a Thriller from Alpha to Omega.”

Other authors participating included Gerry Boyle, Margaret McLean, Lynne Heitman and Hank Phillipi Ryan. Phillipi Ryan has a large following in the Greater Boston area and New England. She is the author of four mysteries and is also an on-air reporter for WHDH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Boston.

I found the weekend very enjoyable and informative in an informal and relaxed way. Crime Bale shop talk included various ideas and opinions about publishers, web sites and the debate of Kindle vs Nook. (Even though I’m still confused about which one, if any, to get! Any suggestions?)

And it was great to be among other writers and authors who have all fought the battle of the blank page—be it paper or electronic.

Along these lines, Michael Palmer confessed still to having anxiety whenever he begins a new novel, and drew knowing laughs when he reminded the Crime Bake audience, “It’s not supposed to be easy.”

Letting libraries do the selling as well

To piggyback on Mike's previous post, writers shouldn't overlook libraries as a good promotion tool. I told my city library about my new book and that I was a local author. Within a month the library ordered five copies of the book, set up a display of the books and had me appear on an author panel. I've also donated copies of the books to other libraries in the county. One librarian contacted me today and said the book has been catalogued and is already circulating. Also, would I be interested in appearing in the library's once a month local author Q&A series? I also plan to mail a copy of the book to my hometown library in the midwest. People who read a library book and love it are likely to buy it, plus the libraries I contacted will no doubt be willing to purchase future books in my series as they come out.
Sally Carpenter
"The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letting bookstores do the selling

What follows is a slightly modified version of an email I sent to the participants of the Murder We Write blog tour I am currently on. I’m not as sanguine about blog tours as most authors are these days, but I have to say the camaraderie with the other writers (many of whom are with OTP) has been worth the hard work.

The background was that we were talking about people pricing their kindle books at ninety-nine cents.  I rely primarily on bookstores to sell my books.  I know I’m swimming upstream. And I hear the stream is about to run dry.  But that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it. There are approximately 100,000 mysteries on offer at Amazon and no staff who consult with customers. Yes, you can do a search. But if you’ve never heard of Mike Orenduff or the Pot Thief (and about three-hundred-million Americans fall into that category), the chances of you selecting one of my books on Amazon are slim. But I know that every book I place in a bookstore will sell and lead to more sales.  Of course bookstores I’ve never heard of order my books, and I’m grateful to them. Most of those books sell, but some are returned. I can hear Billie uttering a bad word at this point.

However, the signed books I personally leave at bookstores are never returned because I don’t take returns. And every bookstore that has taken a signed book from me has eventually ordered more. In some cases, the order may be for just four books. Other orders have been for as many as a hundred. And those orders repeat periodically. Some stores order once or twice a year. Some order every month.

Earlier this fall, I did a signing at The Bookshelf and Gallery in Thomasville, Georgia.  The Bookshelf is an appealing store run by an energetic young couple in a town of about 25,000 that still has a bustling downtown.  There was a lot of traffic, and the owners and staff seemed to know most of the customers by name. I sold only three books, but that didn’t disappoint me because they asked me to leave eight books  – two of each title. Those are gone, and they have re-ordered. Last month, I placed 4 books at E. Shaver Bookseller, a fine little independent store in the historic district of Savannah. I did not do a signing as it was a cold call, but they were excited about the books and displayed them by the front door before I had even left the building.

Lai and I had reasons to be in Thomasville and Savannah, so placing the books was a bonus. But even had special trips been required, I would have made them despite the fact that the gasoline would have cost more than I made on the books. Those few books are merely a beginning. I see every bookstore signing and visit as an investment.

Some of you have heard me explain my strategy – get books in as many stores as possible and let them do the selling. And since this strategy works mostly with indie stores, the loss of Borders was not an issue for me.

I grew up in an age when talk about personal finances was considered tacky, but I have to mention it to finish my point. I get a 50% royalty on Kindle sales. So if my books are priced at .99, that’s half a buck. But when a book sells in a bookstore, I gross $8.97 (60% of the cover price). I can buy the books for $6.50 including shipping costs if I order in bulk, so I make $2.47 on each sale. It costs me about fifty cents a book to mail them, so I make almost $2.00 a book for every book sold in a store. Traveling to a new store costs money, but once I have secured a retailer, all I have to do is receive the orders – almost all by email – and mail the books. And all the costs of this operation come off my income tax.

And the best part is spending time in all those bookstores.

I know this may not last. Bookstores may go the way of record stores. I figure bookstores are not likely to be here in twenty years, but then neither am I. So I’ll continue to let booksellers sell my books and concentrate my time on writing. And looking for my glasses. And getting up out of a chair. And all the other wonderful challenges that age brings along with wisdom. I think I’d trade the wisdom for a bit of youth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beatlemania strikes again!

Fab Four expert Steve Marinucci gave my book a nice review on his Beatles Examiner website in "A murder mystery at a Beatles fan convention? Help!"

Sally Carpenter's book, "The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper," creates a whodunit in an unlikely setting -- a Beatles fan convention.
The central character is Sandy Fairfax, a former '70s teen idol who, in his prime, played a young adult TV detective. He now becomes the chief suspect in the murder of a tribute band musician and decides to try and clear his name.

The book is filled with numerous Beatles references ("Who was that?," Scott asked. "The Blue Meanie," Bunny said") and stereotypes anyone who has been to a Beatle convention will recognize ("That's Valleri. Most of the fans steer clear of her. She hates anyone that knows more about the Beatles than she does or has gone to more concerts or has a better record collection").

And in the end, the case is solved, but not before Fairfax meets some unusual characters and plays in a rooftop concert all in one weekend.

The murder and convention angles add unusual elements to what is definitely a very unconventional Beatles-related novel and retro mystery that will be of interest to fan fiction fans.
Continue reading on Review: A murder mystery at a Beatles convention? Help! - National Beatles

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunny here.
The blog has become book promotion. However, I spotted this tidbit and thought I'd share.

Seems Penguin has decided to start doing self-publishing. This used to be called "Vanity Press" and a lable that small, or indie presses, have fought against for years. If you want to have the name of a quality outfit like Penguin on your book cover, it will only cost you between $99 and $594.

Is this what it's come to? Really? I mean, when it's possible to download your books to Kindle for no cost, how is Penguin able to justify this ploy?

The more I read, the prouder I feel about what we're accomplishing over at Oak Tree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

John Daniel - Behind the Redwood Door

John Daniel's Blue Heron, the sheriff in his novel " BEHIND THE REDWOOD DOOR", is interviewed by Paula Petty in her blog Paula's Coppers:

Michael Orenduff " The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy"

We have another review of one of our authors. It comes from Manic Readers , a website that has reviewed many of our books as of lately. They score with a 5 star system. Mike has recieved a 4 1/2 star review! Great Job!

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy centers around extremely rare and beautiful Ma pots from the mysterious San Roque pueblo. San Roque is the Spanish name; the Indians refer to themselves as the Ma and these pots are sacred to them. A former UNM professor, Masoir, believes the recently retired head of the Anthropology Department, Gerstner, never returned them; that he, in fact, stole them.
This sets Hubert off to find out if the pots are indeed in Gerstner’s apartment in the Rio Grande Lofts and another adventure.
The Pot Thief mysteries are intelligent without being condescending. There’s a wonderful sense of humor with Hubert often leaning toward self-deprecating, but never mean. The flow is easy and laid back, the writing clean and uncluttered even while being descriptive enough to make me feel I’m in Albuquerque. I love Hubie’s description of the sound of the Ma language, “I liked hearing the sibilant consonants that sounded like dry leaves being chased by the wind across sandy ground.” I’ve never heard the Ma language but this gives me such an incredible sense of the sound that I can hear it in my head. I never fail to learn quite a few truly interesting tidbits when reading the series.
The characters are a joy to spend time with. Susannah and Hubie’s relationship is delightful. I love the laugh out loud banter between them and look forward to 5 o’clock margaritas at Dos Hermanas Tortilleria. Susannah is steadily working her way through the university’s catalog while she searches for “a nice guy.” Hubert is, well Hubert.
Ms. Gladys and her casseroles, Tristan the techno geek (but adorable to women) nephew, Father Groaz (of the thick accent), Martin Seepu of a local pueblo who sells Hubie pots his uncle makes, Whit Fletcher the cop who often bends the rules for Hubie, Layton Kent big shot lawyer extraordinaire, and last but not least Consuelo and Emilio to whom Hubie is devoted. Then there’s Albuquerque, NM itself; the landscape, culture, food, peoples past and present, the lore all permeate The Pot Thief mysteries creating an indelible sense of place as important as the wonderful characters.
For someone who claims he isn’t a burglar, Hubie is becoming extremely adept at breaking and entering. Once again the book he’s reading, Ptolemy, plays into his mental efforts to solve the problem of the Ma pots and the murder that just happens to occur along the way. Can Hubie, with the help of Susannah, margaritas, Tristan, and a few other friends solve the mystery of the missing Ma pots? Who is the beautiful and successful Stella? She keeps telling everyone they know her but Hubie doesn’t have a clue, though she does look familiar. He has to wonder why she’s so interested. After all, he’s not the type of fella women like Stella are usually attracted to. Will Hubie solve the mysteries of the Ma pots, the murder, and Stella? You’ll just have to read The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy to find out. You won’t be disappointed.
The second in the series is stronger and even more enjoyable than the debut. I’m so hooked and looking forward to the next two.
Simply put I LOVE The Pot Thief mysteries.

If you would like to see the review in its original form you can at

Monday, November 14, 2011

This appeared on the Creatures and Crooks Blog (a wonderful site for reviews by the way)

Angel Lost
F. M. Meredith
Dark Oak Mysteries, February 2011
ISBN No. 978-1610090056
Trade Paperback

The small town of Rocky Bluff in Ventura County is abuzz with excitement.  An angel is sighted in the window of a downtown store.  Residents gather to view the angel and give their opinion as to the reason the angel has appeared.  Most agree that it is a miracle but no one knows how the angel happened to appear.

There’s also a lot of excitement regarding the forthcoming marriage of Officer Stacey Wilbur and Detective Doug Milligan of the Rocky Bluff Police Department.  The wedding has been planned down to the smallest detail with Stacey’s family and friends all pitching in to make Stacey’s wedding a day to remember.

Abel Navarro, Stacey and Doug’s fellow worker, has a lot on his mind.  Abel’s mother is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s.  The new addition to the Rocky Bluff Police Department, Vaughn Aragon, a transfer from Los Angeles, is having  second thoughts about requesting the transfer to Rocky Bluff.  Vaughn is haunted by a shooting that happened in Los Angeles but is not comfortable enough to share his experience with his fellow officers.

However, there is more going on than the angel miracle and the personal happenings of the officers in the close knit community.  The department has received several complaints about an early morning jogger who is flashing women on the beach.  When Stacey takes on the job of attempting to catch the jogger, she runs into more trouble than she ever expected.

This is the seventh book in the Rocky Bluff series.  The book can be read as a stand-alone.  Many of the characters have been highlighted in previous books in the series and readers will be glad to see their return.  Although a lot of the book dwells on happy events, there is plenty of crime going on in Rocky Bluff to keep the readers glued to the book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2011.

(Patricia let me know about the review which she sent many places--but for some reason it took awhile to appear on this blog.)


Friday, November 11, 2011

Yet another older title comes alive....

Manic Readers has been very busy reviewing several of our authors books, and many of them have been our older titles. Here is yet another for your reading pleasure. Great Job Augustus Cileone !~~

Maxwell Hunter is an English teacher for Eastern Friends School in Pennsylvania. Hunter has a keenness for mystery solving and is a perfectionist who specializes in detail. Because of Hunter’s position at the school and his familiarity with the people involved, Lt. Frank DiSalvo decides to ask for his help in solving the murder of George Wheeler. But, as it turns out, Wheeler isn’t the only one to be murdered as other bodies begin to pile up, each with bazaar circumstances and each in some way connected with the school. Because of his sharp eye for detail and his ability to assemble pieces of a puzzle, Hunter is able to identify a literary modus operandi. Can he use his knowledge to predict the next attack and prevent another murder?
I felt an immediate dislike for the protagonist Hunter, to me an aging hippie with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and in most instances would have stopped reading at that time. I’m glad I didn’t. A Lesson in Murder is a good story, the other characters are interesting and well developed and the plot is good as well. Overall it’s a good read and was well worth overlooking my aversion for one main character.

If you would like to See the review you can at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now the Real Work Begins!

I now see how publishing a book can become addictive. Seeing my first Oak Tree book, "Ants on a Log", on the Amazon and Barnes and Nobel Websites is a thrill. It makes me want to write and publish more children's stories. I'm sure all you established authors know this feeling.

Although I have self-published over 30 titles on, it doesn't compare to the wider circulation and exposure Oak Tree has provided. Thanks to Billie and all the great staff at Oak Tree for your assistance in making this happen, Beryl Reichenberg

guesting with our Marilyn Meredith

Today on Marilyn's always interesting blog,, I write about the "inspiration" for my new book, CLOSE-UP. I know inspiration is an amorphous word meaning almost anything to anybody, but I went back over my other eight standalone mysteries in my Margot & Max series, and I realized that each story had it's OWN story of why I decided to devote all that time to it!

For CLOSE-UP, I was privy to a backstage conversation between a director of photography and the makeup artist on a shoot for I forget what, probably a TV commercial. What I heard between these two production professionals was interesting to say the least. Out of context conversations always seem curious to me. They can lead to misinterpretation and misunderstandings or in this case, the couple of sentences I overheard led me to write 75,000 more words!

Thanks, Marilyn, for letting me describe how it happened!


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Astral Gift

I thought just for fun, I'd promote The Astral Gift which is available from Oak Tree Press on Kindle.

This was the first mystery I ever wrote. It has quite a varied history. First it was published by a publishing company in Canada that turned out to be crooked. At first they acted like any publishing company--then they began doing strange things. When they published The Astral Gift, I had a great book
signing set up and the company sent 50 books. Nearly all were sold. When I approached them for more books, they disappeared off the face of the earth. That meant no more books and no royalties at all.

Then I found a small publisher in Bakersfield who published the book as a mass market paperback as it had been previously. It sold moderately well. (This is the publisher who published the first of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and later passed away unexpectedly.)

I found another publisher, this one published the book as an e-book and trade paperback. Though I could tell the book was selling, I received no royalties. This publisher had other books of mine and still no royalties. I finally asked for an accounting and he sent me a really small check, but no accounting. Time to sever the relationship--and I did.

Eventually, I met Billie, she published my Rocky Bluff P.D. series that had been published by the publisher I just spoke about, then another publisher who did two of the books then decided to go out of business. When Kindle books became so popular--Billie agreed to put that one on Kindle which really hasn't done much.

I had a great time writing it, it's all about a young woman who was abused as a child and used astral projection as an escape. When she's grown, the astral projection returns unbidden and she has no control over it. When her roommate is murdered, she becomes the primary suspect because she knows too much about the crime. Of course there's some romance thrown in.

Have I ever astral projected? No, but you can research anything. I had a reader tell me that he knew I had because I described it so well. So--if you want to try something different, order The Astral Gift for your Kindle.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Manic Reader Review of The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras

We just had another book reviewed through Manic Readers..... wonderful review for Mike Orenduff !!! " The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras "

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fab four fans love 'Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper'

This review was recently posted on Readers can sign up at this site for a giveaway drawing for a free copy of the book. The signup deadline is Oct. 29.

Book Review: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter
What a delight this book was to read! I had seen this book mentioned on and decided to find the author and ask for a review copy. Ms. Carpenter said she’d contact her publisher about getting a copy to me, but after several weeks my mailbox was still empty, so I just bought my own. I prefer buying my own copies to review anyway so I don’t feel obligated to the authors/bands/producers.
Though not really a Beatle book, this fictitious murder mystery takes place in 1993 at a Beatles convention in southern Indiana. When a member of the local Beatles tribute band is murdered, Sandy Fairfax becomes suspect #1 in the eyes of the local police. Sandy is a childhood TV star turned popstar in the 70′s. Pulling from his four years on TV as Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, Sandy sets out to clear his name and find the real killer.
This is author Sally Carpenter’s first book in her ‘Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery Series’ and I think she’s done a great job depicting the nuances of a Beatles fan convention. Throughout the book, we Beatles fans will find many similarities to the well-known Fest for Beatles Fans that take place every year in NY and Chicago. In fact, Ms. Carpenter even mentions Mr. Lapidos’ conventions in her book. Another nice touch is the chapters are named for Beatles songs and Beatles lyrics are hidden within the text of the book.
I find this book to be a great little easy and leisurely read. I only wish Ms. Carpenter were going to write more stories with the Beatles as a theme.
By the time I was halfway through this book, my review copy showed up in the mail! So, I’d like to share this copy with my readers. Anyone posting a comment in the comments section of this post will be entered to win a copy of ’The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper’! Contest entries will only be accepted until 11:59 pm on Saturday, October 29, 2011. I will use the random number generator at to pick the winner and post it on Sunday, October 30th. Good Luck!
You can read another review of this book and an interview with the author here.
This book is available on
I rate this movie: 3 out of 4 Beetles

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Emerging Novelists and other interviews

Thanks to Jeana, Emerging Novelists has posted an interview with me as well as background information about Jambalaya Justice. The site is at and the interview is at

Every time I do an interview, I wonder what information I should include. Obviously, I want to include things readers might find interesting about me, and those things that might make a reader want to take a look at one of my books. But there's always that hesitancy about how much personal information to include.

Some things to stay away from are obvious, such as no names of my kids or my pets, address and phone number off limits, school names and direct employers name avoided, but there are other things that are not quite as clear cut.

I try to include things I consider public record, such as things people could find out about me anyway. While I clearly want to avoid drawing the interest of stalkers and serial killers, especially because I write about stalkers and serial killers, I also want to spice up my background a little to seem interesting enough that someone might want to know what I write about.

Holli Castillo

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Great Review of an older title

I have added most of our books on a website called manic readers. A review of an older title came through today. I wanted to share it with all of you, it is a wonderful review the best this site will give.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Denise Solter's "Jetta's Journey" just had a Big review, in Healthy Pets Magazine ! This is such fabulous news I wanted to share it with all the Oak Tree Press authors. Way to go Denise !!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disappointed with Book Store Signings?

This is a photo from a couple of years ago at Nipomo.

I seldom do a traditional bookstore signing anymore. For one thing we don't have any traditional bookstores anywhere near by. We do have a used bookstore and I've done and will continue to do bookstore signings there. For a couple of reasons, I really want the owners to make it and they are wonderful about furnishing refreshments, setting everything up for me, though I'm the one who does all the advertising. The last one I did wasn't all that great, only 4 books were sold. However, the owners have me leave books on consignment and the do sell them. Just received a nice little check today.

There's a bookstore up in the mountains above Fresno that I really like to go to and I usually give some kind of presentation on a subject the local writer's group has asked for. Unfortunately sales haven't been all that good lately, so I may scratch it off my list.

In my little town, I have books on consignment in our local thrift shop. Once a month I get a check from the organization that runs the shop.

Where I seem to do best selling books is craft fairs and book festivals. This weekend we have a big one in our town, The Apple Festival. It's work because we have to put up our own tent, I have some great banners that I hang, we haul in a table, the table decorations, two chairs, a cooler with water and snacks, and of course the books.

 I always attend the Central Coast Book Festival, another good one and they furnish the tables, table cover, and 2 chairs. I like to go to the craft fair put on by the Friends of the Library in Nipomo also. In fact, I'll do just about anything that involves going to the Central Coast.

I know that there are these sorts of events in every state because I see postings from other authors.

Any other ideas folks for selling your paper books?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Photo from Bouchercon

My good friend, Radine Trees Nehring, sent me this photo taken at Bouchercon.

I didn't get to go this time, but Radine did. I had recently seen her at Killer Nashville, and in face Billie went to dinner with us and our spouses one night while we were there.

Jeana, Oak Tree Press's fearless publicity person, is in the middle, and on the left is our great publisher, Billie Johnson.

Billie and Jeana took the opportunity to drive down to Bouchercon and spread the word about OTP's book. I thought you'd all like to see this.


Sunday, October 9, 2011


As arranged thanks to Jeana, a new interview with yours truly just went up today at Mike Murphy's . Same site will soon be featuring other OTP authors, so please give it a look-see.
Hope everyone is getting out and about on these lovely weekends and enjoying the fall colors (which, unfortunately, are rather sparse out my way). It won't be long before the primary color for many of us is going to be white.

Persevere --- WD

A Good Time To Read

What are you reading?

Note I didn’t ask what you’re writing, which might be the obvious question on a blog like this.

The reason for my question is because October is National Book Month—a time to honor and celebrate the book.

One of the key ingredients of advice to aspiring writers is to read. The neophyte might then ask, what am I to read? Does it mean how-to books? Books written by the advisor? What?

Personally, I’d say a writer should read the types of books he or she wishes to write. Most would-be writers are already readers. Inspired by the books they read for pleasure or edification, they strive to emulate, feeding both an innate need and a desire to share their thoughts and imaginings with others.

What moves a person to become a writer or engage in other creative activities is a matter for the psychologist and not our interest here. What is obvious is not every person who loves to read becomes or wants to become a writer. What is also obvious is the person who wants to write will eventually do so, regardless of advice or lack thereof.

I’ve never met a writer who wasn’t a reader. I think most of us would agree it was love of reading that first stimulated our desire to write. How, then, should a writer read? The answer, of course, is alertly. No writer worth his/her salt should ever read without a notebook at hand.

As Dumas put it a long time ago: Writing can not be taught; it can only be learned. One learns, initially, by reading. Anything you read will influence your writing style, either consciously or subconsciously. That’s why many novelists refrain from reading while working on a book. However, it has been found that reading good writing can provide the impetus for recharging the creative juices when you’re stalled or suffering a block. Even junk can be beneficial, but if you want to do creative writing, then you should read the best writing available. You can improve your style, your language and rhythm by the subconscious influence of good literature.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Can Sleep When I'm Dead

I've been crazy busy (as you might be able to tell from my title), between handling cases for my "job-job", writing articles for my second "job-job," working on the third in my series, Chocolate City Justice, doing what I need to as president of my youngest daughter's school Co-Op (similar to PTA or PTO), and trying to squeeze in a little promotion around helping with homework, making sure everyone has clean underwear, and scooping out the litter box. I do lead a glamorous life, don't I?

With the limited time I have had for promotion I was excited to get an email from Morgen Bailey this morning reminding me that an interview on her blog was up today. I did the interview a few months back, when things were a tad slower, and am glad I did. At the time, it seemed October as such a long way off, but now it seems as if it flew by. Her interview can be found at

In the interview, I also have an excerpt from Chocolate City Justice.

My contest winner from Ebay's First Amendment Project auction finally came to the Big Easy and enjoyed a few drinks with us at our bar. I was a little nervous, hoping she and her husband wouldn't think we were all crazy, but we got along famously and had a great time, despite the fact that we have rival football teams. I now consider her a new friend. She ended up naming a stripper in Jambalaya Justice, Pamela "Bubbles LaRue" Briggs. Pam was a hoot and I couldn't believe how much we all ended up having in common. I'm getting ready to send her a copy of Jambalaya Justice as part of her auction winning, and hope she comes back down when Chocolate City Justice is out.

I also have three things coming up on my agenda. First, I'm going to plan my book launch for Jambalaya Justice at the bar now that I have copies of Jambalaya Justice with the edited cover showing the seal from the PSWA fiction award. I think I'll stick with what worked already and let the attendees compete in a jambalaya cook off, with the winner getting to name a character in Chocolate City. (Last year's gumbo cook off winner for the book launch party for Gumbo Justice named a punk rock internet cafe clerk in Jambalaya Justice, "Christi Bouvier.")

I also am going to be revamping my blog. I think I am going to have one day a week to do post interviews, and one day a week see if I can get someone to guest blog, and one day a week post a review of a recent read. The other days will have to be downtime, maybe a thought of the day or let someone post a writing sample for others to critique, I'm not quite sure yet. I will let everyone know when it is up and running the way I want it to be, because I am hoping some of you will want to participate and get a little free publicity.

And speaking of publicity, I also want to do a virtual book tour, but am torn between paying for one or setting up one myself. Without having the time to do the research, I am thinking it would be better to pay to have one set up for me. There are also other free promotional opportunities, as well as inexpensive pay ones, but I have to make time to fit them into the schedule.

If anyone has a particularly good or bad experience with any particular virtual tours or promotion sites, I would appreciate the information. I previously did an inexpensive package with Apex for Gumbo Justice and my book sales went up, but it is difficult to know if that was an anomaly, or actually related to what the company did. The price did include a book trailer and a few other things. If anyone else has had experience with them that differed from mine, please post. I think everyone wouldn't mind knowing if there are inexpensive promotional pay sites that are worth it, or more expensive sites worth their price.

Holli Castillo
Jambalaya Justice

Become a Better Blogger

It's great that we have this blog for Oak Tree authors. I'm guilty of not visiting as often as I should or could. Recently I posted the following tips on my blog, and I think they can be useful for all of us.

Here are some of the tips I have learned that can help one become a better blogger:

1. Focus. Pick a topic and become known mostly for that topic. Alex is known for his movie reviews. And, no, scattered is not a good topic!

2. Visit the blogs of others. Follow the blogs you like.

3. Tweet about your blog and the blogs you follow.

4. Post regularly, even if it is only once or twice a week.

5. Write often about those things that will help others. Write sometimes about the things you love. Although I don't believe I have many artists among my followers, I sometimes cannot resist writing about art. Occasionally, I need to write about baseball as well. That's definitely breaking the rule on focus.

6. Join blogfests that interest you. You'll meet new people there and make friends. You'll expand your horizon.

7. Spend an hour a day, if you can, developing your blogging skills. If you can only spare 30 minutes, use that time to your advantage. It will be time well-spent.

8. Take a look at your blog statistics and see which posts attract the most visitors. I have never topped the number of visitors I got the day I posted my thoughts on the sudden ending to the Medium television series.

Today, my book, Jungle Jeopardy  is highlighted on Michael Di Gesu's In Time blog.

Mary Montague Sikes
Passenger to Paradise books

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New blog post

I have a new blog post up on Morgen Bailey's writing pages site. I'm discoursing on the Power of Names, if anyone is interested.‘power-with-a-capital-p’-by-carol-crigger/


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sally Carpenter

Lorie Ham over at Kings River Life Magazine has been very good to many of our authors here at Oak Tree Press, having our books reviewed and then doing many interviews and giveaways.

Sally Carpenter and her book "The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper " was just interviewed you can read her interview at


Clark Lohr

Mike Murphy over at Emerging Novelist has begun to work with me featuring our OTP authors. This week the featured novelist is Clark Lohr "Devil's Kitchen"

The Arizona Daily Star had this to say about Clark and his book... " A mix of local history and heady intrigue introduces trigger-prone Many Aguilar, a Hispanic-Yaqui sometime sheriff's deputy and sometimes P.I.who gets mixed up in a border drug war. Well written and well plotted, Lohr focuses on a violent slice of Southwestern life."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

From Sally Carpenter

I have my first review of my first OTP book! Terrance McArthur wrote a terrific review of "The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper" for the online magazine Kings River Life. OTP's own Marilyn Meredith interviews me as well. A big thank you to both! Earlier this year the magazine published my short story "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet," something I wrote to amuse myself while waiting for my book's release. "Faster" can be found in the KRL archives and concerns a murder among the costumed characters who work for tips among the tourists in Hollywood.

The review link is

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lingering Spirit is a Finalist for An Epic Award

Lingering Spirit is a romance with a touch of the supernatural.

It is now a finalist in the Supernatural/Metaphysical category in the Epic awards.

Lingering Spirit has a long history. The story is based on something that actually happened in our family long ago--and in fact, the book itself was written a long time ago. Then it was published as an e-book with a publisher that will not be named--it's enough for me to say that for various reason I pulled the book.

When I became acquainted with Billie Johnson and she'd published my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel (which was actually #5 in the series), she asked me if I had any other books. And of course, I gave her Lingering Spirit which became a trade paperback and then more recently appeared on Kindle, within the right time frame to be entered in the Epic contest.

I've had other books final in the Epic contest--some up against Mike Orenduff's wonderful Pot Thief series--and I've never won. Maybe this time will be a charm, who knows.

In any case, I'm thrilled. It's great to be a finalist again.


Monday, September 26, 2011

News Flash from Bouchercon

Boy, I really don't like coming in on top of the news about LINGERING SPIRIT! But I need to share a little about our trip to Bouchercon!

Jeana and I arrived about noon, and headed straight for the dealers room. Along the way, we bumped into Beth, the conference organizer for Killer Nashville, and had a chat with her. Also we spent a lot of time perusing the goodie tables and picking up interesting things, and notices of upcoming events.

In the dealer room, we chatted with several booksellers and Jeana handed out our catalog ... our BEAUTIFUL catalog. And presto! There was Radine Trees Nehring and her husband!

Then we connected with Mike Black and Shauna, who passed on celebrity bowling (I think!) to spend a little time with Jeana and me in the hospitality room.

It was a fast trip, but excellent. Now we are scheming to see if we can pull off attending LOVE IS MURDER!

Bouchercon is HUGE, but this one seemed really well-organized and well-laid out. This is a "movable feast" conference, so when it comes to your area, attend!

Billie Johnson

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fun with Floods!

Water coming to create my underground pool!
Water leaving to create my moldy basement!

I’ve been thinking about things like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, and forest fires.  Well, actually, I’ve been obsessed with floods lately especially since a recent one in my area turned my basement into a swimming pool, then into a swamp, and now it’s just damn damp with accompanying mold and mildew and bugs, and…  Well you don’t want to know.

I write a lot about disasters in my work.  Since they’re on my mind now, I thought I’d give consideration to why I include them and how I use them.

  1. There’s nothing like a really good wild fire to spice up a book.

Obviously, you say.  But it’s got to be more than that.  Natural disasters do make a read exciting, but they need to grow out of both the plot and the setting.  Since I write about small towns, these cataclysmic events seem to emerge naturally from the setting.  Drought in an area can become a raging wild fire chasing people out of their homes and creating, well, romance for me.  In Dumpster Dying a wildfire chases my protagonist Emily Rhodes along with her friend Donald into an alligator-infested slough.  Should they become shrimp on the Barbie or bouillabaisse with the gators?  Or just kiss before dying?  A writer can use a natural disaster in any setting, as long as the groundwork is purposefully laid so that the disaster works with the plot and/or the writer uses it to say something about the character(s). 

  1. Disasters are opportunities for character development

In my example above, the reader may have suspected Donald was romantically inclined toward Emily although I suspect Donald himself was surprised by his actions (the guy is not too in touch with his feelings).  Put a character in a life and death situation and a flagging libido is set aflame.  For Emily, the presentation of a fire brings out her courageous side, an aspect of her personality she is discovering as the story evolves.  A writer can make the emergence of a personality trait especially significant if the disaster is one the character is particularly terrified of such as heights or fear of drowning.  Using the disaster to throw this challenge at the character produces great tension and will get the reader rooting for the individual to conquer this fear.

  1. Bad guys think they can harness catastrophe

A tornado in one of my manuscripts seems to be just the right moment for the villain to take advantage of the heroine and her lover.  It’s a great writer’s ploy to have the protagonist encounter the disaster paired with the evil workings of the killer.  It gives the killer a moment of glee to think he or she can have their way.  To the reader it seems as if evil will triumph, but Mother Nature can turn in a second.  Not only can one not fool Mother Nature, but one ought not to mess with her either.  A disaster can become the “Black Moment” for the protagonist, but in the hands of a writer who chooses to align the protagonist with cataclysmic events, it can bring down the villain.  My villain couldn’t swim, so his pursuit of the protagonist in a boat damaged by the storm is his undoing.     

      4.  Humor comes after

Don’t think because you write humor that you can’t use disasters to your advantage.  The aftermath of a storm, fire, or flood is the perfect place to let your reader breath a sigh of relief and laugh at the same time.  In the sequel to Dumpster Dying, Emily and her detective friend Stanton Lewis have abandoned their car because a storm has dropped a tree limb on the hood.  They prepare to walk to shelter when Lewis notices Emily is not beside him.  Emily, who is barely over five feet tall, has stepped into water up to her waist.  When he asks her in exasperation what she is doing, she replies, “swimming.”

      I’ll bet you can think of other ways disasters add to the story.  I’d add more but I’ve got to buy another bottle of Clorox and get to the basement.  Now where did I put that bug spray?  Die, you little bugger, Die!

Lesley A. Diehl, author of Dumpster Dying  “I like to put my characters in harm’s way.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Your Promo Plan

Laurie McLean, an agent with Larsen Pomada Agency, was one of the main speakers at the Central Coast Writers Conference. She had a lot to say about promotion and the promotion of e-books. She also helps people with their promotion plan.

Here are some of the tips she gave:

Decide what your goals are. Check your publishing contracts. See if you have back lists title, books that you wrote but never got published that could become ebooks.

Develop your brand. Decide what you unique brand is. Make yourself stand out. Always put your name in the labels or tags on your blog.

If your going to prepare your ebook manuscript for posting on Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble PubIt, format your book correctly for each ebook distributor. Select the best ebook sites. Create POD copies for printed books. (Frankly, I'm quite happy to have a publisher who does this for me, yay, OTP. I have enough trouble finding time to write two books a year and do a good job promoting them.)

Be sure to have a good cover--pay for someone to do it. (Again, aren't we fortunate to have a great publisher who does the cover?)

Create cover and inside blurbs.

Solicit endorsements.

Post your ebooks. (Can take a long time.)

Use effective online and offline marketing to increase sales potential.

You must have your own blog and website.

Book reviews especially form online reviewers.

Guest blogs.

Comments on others' blogs.

Video book trailers

Use social media.

Boodreads/Library Thing, be an active part of these communities.

Business Cards. (They are my favorites, I handed out close to 100 at the CCWC and CC Book Festival this weekend.)



Press Release--she said this was old school and prefers HARO.

Amazon Author Central (If you haven't done this one yet, be sure to put it on your to-do list.)

Kindle Boards (Be careful with this, they aren't happy about authors' promoting, but do have special places you can do it.)

Be flexible.

You decide where you are going to do your marketing. (Not all things work for all people--figure out what you enjoy and what actually seems to have results for you.)

Be yourself, be nice, be a friend, don't spam, just interact.

If you ever have the chance to hear Laurie McLean speak or take a workshop from her, do it, you won't be sorry.

(My comments are in the parenthesis.)

Books by Marilyn