Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome Beverly Johnson to OTPblog!

My book, “A Door Opens”, by Bispo, is an e-book and I’m receiving great reviews from those who have read it. Letting people know about my book, is a challenge, because there is no book signing and nothing tangible for anyone to see or hold, but the book is there and it’s real.

When I announce to my friends, I have a published e-book, they look puzzled and ask, what’s an e-book? When I explain, they’re skeptical, and say they would miss turning pages, holding the “book”, and many more excuses.

What they don’t understand is, we are moving forward. The world doesn’t stand still for anyone. When the horse and buggy became obsolete, the new auto owners felt comfortable with the horse whip mounted close at hand on their new car. Not long after, the car owners learned to love their cars. I’m sure, one day; everyone will love their e-book; a huge library at their finger tips.

Libraries are going out of business every day. We had three book stores in Santa Maria, California. Now we only have a dollar book store and a used book store. We’re there folks.

The real winner is, our children. One day they won’t have to lug, to and from school, all those books on their backs. This is truly a blessing.


Beverly Johnson

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good news

I just wanted to share some good writing news. One of my short stories received honorable mention in the Annual Art Affair competition. Also, another of my short works will be published in a book collection entitled South Philly Fiction by Don Ron Books. It probably will be out in the fall of 2011.

Also, I wanted to know if any of you belong to the Good Reads web site? I just joined. There is an author corner for writers in the mystery and thriller section and it has a blog section for authors also.

Gus Cileone

Soon to be an Oak Tree Press author

For many years I have spent 2 to 3 months in Florida in the winter time and have made a lot of friends among the writers community. Last year I joined the Sebring Writers Circle and gave a talk to them as a result of which the Writers and Scribes of Highlands County have asked me to do something similar.
So this Sunday from 3.30 at Brewsters Coffee House, Sebring I will be carrying out signings followed by 'a chat with Jack' where they can ask me questions on ony subject under the sun. I will then read from three or four of my books following this with a forum about the writings and what it is like to write in partnership. Anyone of you or anyone you know will be made welcome if you can attend. I happen to feel that this is the way forward now that the bookstores are disappearing.
God bless all of you and your writings.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crazy internet!

So there I am fiddling around writing my new story and I get a Google Alert. Yes, you can sign up for these and every time something is mentioned about you on Google you get, right, a Google Alert email with the corresponding URL. Usually, for me, it's people on EBay selling my old books... But this alert is from Publisher's Weekly online, so I move over to that and there on the front is a review they did in 2002 (!) of my second book which is totally out-of-print, GRAPE NOIR. Why on earth??? I have no idea. A vapor mistake or someone pushed the wrong button, but there it is. Crazy!!! But, heaven knows, I'll take the publicity, mistake or not!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Preparing for the Launch of Angel Lost

ARCs were sent out to review sites and other authors and the reviews have been coming in, all good. (It's always scary when you're waiting for that first review.)Some of the blurbs from authors will appear on the back cover of Angel Lost.

I'm getting things ready for the launch of Angel Lost, #7 in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the third one that Oak Tree Press is publishing.

I've ordered my business card with a picture of the cover on one side and the book and my info on the back so I'll have them to hand out at all the events I'm attending.

During the month of March I'm going on a blog tour I paid for and I've lined up some other blogs to continue the momentum in April.

I'll have the physical book launch for Angel Lost at the little used bookstore in town. Haven't gotten the actual date set, but it'll be toward the end of the month.

April is jam packed. I'll be spending two days in Fresno (9-10) at the Jane Austen Fest. I went last year and was well received even though my books have nothing whatsoever to do with Jane Austen.

I'm also headed to a reading club that Sunny Frazier told me about and have had that date set for a year. On the 16th of April I headed to a Burbank Library to be part of a panel of the LA Chapter of Sisters in Crime. (I belong to 4 chapters of Sisters in Crime and have opportunities like this from each of them because I'm a member. The LA Chapter has a Speakers Bureau and I signed up for it long ago.)

On the 18th I'll be speaking (actually doing readings from several of my books and telling where the ideas for the books came from) at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt.SAC) in Southern California. Again, Sunny told me about this college professor and I wrote and offered my services.

On Mother's Day, I'll be in Las Vegas speaking to the Sisters in Crime chapter there. I met Morgan St. James at last year's Public Safety Writers Association's conference and offered my services as a speaker to that chapter.

I'll be attending Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha at the end of May. This is one of my favorite mystery cons. This will be our 11th year to attend and I have lots of fans at this con.

In June I'm heading to Sedona AZ. Actually, I have several reasons for going. First off, it's going to be a vacation with my daughter and her husband, we've always planned to visit Sedona again. I plan on spending some time with my good writing friend, Willma Gore, and in fact, we'll be speaking togeher at the Sedona Library on the 7th. On Saturday the 11th, I'm speaking about working with small presses at the Well-Red Coyote Bookstore.

In July, of course, I'm headed to the PSWA conference and that's a good one for Oak Tree Press authors to consider too.

All I've got for August so far, is a book fair in Nipomo, one I do every year.

September, I'll be a presenter at the Central Coast Writers Conference on the 17th and I'll have my books at the Central Coast Book Fair on the 18th.

October is the big Apple Festival in Springville and I'll have a booth there for two days.

On the 30th of October I'm heading out with Billy and a lot of other authors on the mystery cruise.

Though I don't have a date yet, in December, I'll have a table with my books at the Porterville Art Gallery.

I've already signed up for Left Coast Crime in Sacramento for 2012.

My point in writing all this is to perhaps give some of you ideas about what you might do to promote your books. A lot of the things that I've done were planned way ahead of time.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Interview

Mitch Malone, protagonist reporter from Wendy Gager's A Case of Infatuation and A Case of Accidental Intersection, both in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series, interviews protagonist New Orleans prosecutor Ryan Murphy from Gumbo Justice, the first in the Crescent City Mystery Series, in a special Valentine's Day interview.

Interesting, there was just a several day discussion thread about cursing and sex in novels on DorothyL. I say it's interesting because Ryan Murphy likes to do a bit of both, although she does watch her language for interviews.

Mitch's interview can be found at Stop by and leave him a comment.

Holli Castillo
Jambalaya Justice coming 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Most writers are always looking for ways to improve their skills. Recently, thanks to an article in Freelance Writer's Report, I came across a technique new to me. It's called the "Page 99 Test," and, according to the text, "novelist Ford Madox Ford once said you can 'open the book to page 99 and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.'" In fact, a web site,, allows an author to upload the 99th page of his/her book. Readers then comment on whether they would read the rest of the book or be inclined to purchase it.

Not only am I now reading page 99 of books in stores and libraries, but I'm definitely paying more attention to the midsection of everything I write.

Beverly Lauderdale
In Franklin's House

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cha . . .Cha. . .Changes

Some of you know me as that weird gal who thinks her muse is a three-legged alligator named George.  I live in Florida part of the year and in upstate New York when the weather is good.  This year that might mean two days in July and several hours the end of August.  It’s understandable that George inspires me here among the palmetto.  He’s grown to almost six feet and doesn’t seem impeded by the missing leg.  When I’m up north on the several sunny minutes there, my muse is a ghost named Fred who inhabits my 1874 cottage.  I have no idea where he goes to spend the winters, but I received a postcard from San Diego the other day.  I guess he’s a kind of bi-coastal ghost/muse.

My point is that I count on George to be around to inspire me, so when he disappeared in December, I found my creative juices waning too.  I tossed it off because I was busy doing the business side of an author’s life, you know, the part where you blog, edit, join internet groups for promotion, set up signings, contact libraries, book groups, and other organizations for appearances, the part that doesn’t require you to be literary beyond a press release, poster, business card, or book mark.

Coincidental with George’s absence, or so I thought, has been the appearance of the developers who have cleared the land across our canal.  I like the jumble of weeds, trees, grasses, dead plants, and other organic stuff that is a part of the rural Florida landscape.  Add a few cows, some horses, and a cowboy or two and you’ve got the perfect setting for murder, at least my kind of murder.  Now it’s so sparkly clean over there that I’m thinking I should write romance.  The herd of horses and cows that roamed that pasture has migrated to a more distant field where the vegetation is still a hodge podge of unidentifiable, but obviously yummy bovine and equine stuff.  Suddenly I got it.  George was gone.  Life was changing here, becoming, heaven forbid, more upscale.  They even started running upscale cows in the field, Black Angus rather than those mixed breed, floppy-eared, tough Florida cows.  My inspiration to write old Florida was fading.

Then the other evening, a small, three foot alligator appeared in the canal.  A George baby, sent as a sign for me to begin writing again.  Perhaps only a short story?  As the youngster peered at me from his watery post, I spied movement farther down the canal.  George, all six feet of him, and not happy about the kid invading his territory.

I haven’t seen either of them since, but I’m content to know somewhere nearby George waits for me to get busy again.  And just in case I don’t, he’s got reinforcements he can send in.  So I think I’ll name the little one Bailey. 

I’ve dealt with that change in my life.  Now, I can take my anger out on the changes they’ve made in the point-counting system from my diet program.  I mean, four points for the worst bagel on earth?  Who are they kidding?  Sic ‘em, Bailey.

Lesley A. Diehl, author of Dumpster Dying, visit me at and

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thanks to an OTP'er

Thanks to our own W.S. Gager for having her character Mitch Malone interview me on her blog. It was lots of fun. He's quite a guy! Stop by and see what we came up with.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Final Checks

As I near completion of a manuscript, there are a few things I do that I consider quality checks. Of course spell check, although as we know it doesn't catch everything. I'll read the manuscript backwards at least twice, once when I think I'm finished, and once before I send it in, because it's the easiest way to catch typos that spell check doesn't. I also do a grammar check, although often, depending upon the voice of the piece or character, the grammar may intentionally not follow the "rules."

One other thing I also do at the halfway point, when I'm near the end, and also when I am finished writing the manuscript, is a check for word length and sentence length. Fifteen to twenty words per sentence is considered an average or good sentence length. My sentence average is 14 words per sentence. I am not sure if dashes in sentences count as words on my processing system, or if it ends up counting the sentence as two, but I feel that 14 is probably close enough to the acceptable average. My computer also tells me my longest sentence. Right now, it's 82 words. I am reading carefully to find that sentence, because it seems incredibly long to me.

I also look at average word length, although I haven't seen anything that sets out what a good average word length is. My average word length is 4 characters, although I don't know how important that is, because the computer averages long, complicated words with such words as I, if, and, or, it, he, she, and all those other common short words that appear frequently in novels.

It may seem overly analytical to double check these kinds of things, but I think it helps with readability. My premise is that the more complex the story, the more you need to work to make sure it's easy to read. I want people concentrating on my plot and subplots, not on deciphering my sentences.

I wonder if anyone else has something like this they do when they are completing a work, other than a final proofread, or if I'm just crazy-- not that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive.

I am not quite finished Jambalaya Justice, but am nearing the end, and hopefully my quirks will pay off with a clean manuscript.

Holli Castillo