Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Person Book Appearances

This is my upcoming schedule. I'm mainly posting in case it might give some of you ideas. Sunny Frazier pointed me in the direction for a few of these.

The day this appears, I'll be headed to Southern California and Mt.San Antonio College, more commonly known as Mt. SAC. It's a long drive from our house, 3 1/2 hours, but is well worth it. It's a paying gig, few are, and I'm able to sell books.
(Because I have relatives in the area, we'll be doing a bit of visiting after.)

On Thursday, May 5th, I'm headed to West Hill College in Lemoore to talk about the promotion authors have to do these days. Not a paying gig, but only about an hour 1/2 drive.

The very next day we're leaving for Las Vegas, first stop my sister's. On Sunday, I'll be speaking to the Las Vegas chapter of Sisters in Crime at 2 p.m. about Where I Get My Ideas. (Think this one is at Barnes and Noble.)

On Friday, May 13, we're putting up our tent and selling books in Mooney Grove Park in Visalia for an all day event called Young at Heart geared at Senior Citizens.

On Thursday, May 19th at 5 p.m. I'll be appearing with two other mystery writers at the Cedar Clinton Library in Fresno.

I was supposed to be headed for Omaha and Mayhem in the Midlands at the end of the month, but it was cancelled. Boo hoo! One of my favorite conference. The good news is I'll be here for my great-grandson's high school graduation.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A writer’s magical mystery journey

The old adage says to “write what you know” and that’s what I did.

Most mystery writers create a series based on their passion. What am I crazy about? The Beatles and The Monkees.

I’ve been a Beatles fan all my life. I grew up in the Midwest in the 1960s during the group’s heyday. My parents had one radio in the house, always set on the local queasy listening music station. When mom was out shopping, I’d change the dial to the rock and roll station to catch the hits. When her car pulled into the driveway, I’d switch back to the snooze station.

In college a friend gave me my first record, a Sgt. Pepper’s picture disk (the album cover photo is embedded into the vinyl). I figured since I had one Beatles album I may as well collect the whole set, which I did.

In the late 19902 the Fab Four took a back seat to the Prefab Four when VH-1 began running The Monkees TV show every weeknight. I’d watched the show as a kid but hadn’t seen it for decades. After viewing the show daily for several weeks, I was hooked. Full-blown Monkeemania! I was buying videos, records, memorabilia, subscriptions to fanzines, you name it.

At the time Micky, Davy and Peter were performing extensively and I was frequently off to concerts (as well as off my rocker). I had a blast and met many nice fans as well as one not-so-nice person, who became a character in my book.

During this period I went back to college for a theater degree,. In the playwrighting class I penned a short script about an obsessive fan sneaking into a hotel room to meet her fave rave, an aging, burned out teen idol. The play was selected for a college playwrighting competition and my script was read at the regional conference. Although I didn’t win, the adjudicators complimented the script and one said, “I can see a bigger story with these characters.”

After college I followed another old adage: Go west, young woman. I moved to Los Angeles to write, although I had no contacts, no job and no sense. After several near misses with writing projects that didn’t blossom, I returned to my teen idol character from the play. I knew I could write some kind of story about him—but what?

At my job with a community newspaper I came across a press release about a mystery writers panel discussion at the library, sponsored by Sisters in Crime. I thought, “I need to go to that.” At the event I met the authors, connected with my local SinC chapter and started writing. But what kind of mystery could involve a teen idol?

A few years prior I had attended a Beatles fan convention in Pasadena. Micky Dolenz of The Monkees was one of the guest speakers. During his talk I stood by the edge of the stage with the other fans and took photos. Why not place my fictitious teen idol at a make believe Beatles fan convention? And so my book was born.

The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, due out this fall, is the story of Sandy Fairfax, a middle-aged teen idol unwittingly drawn into a murder investigation at a Beatles fan convention when a member of the tribute band is shot.

Sally Carpenter

Moorpark, Calif.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I am back from my trip and ready to get to work. I thank you all for your good wishes, Beryl Reichenberg.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mike featured on Barnes and Noble.com

Our own Mike Orenduff is featured today on the Barnes and Noble mystery blog at http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Mystery/Guest-Blog-by-Author-J-MICHAEL-ORENDUFF/m-p/976850.

The mystery link is hosted by Becke Davis, a wonderful woman and a joy to know. She loves mystery and is eclectic in her reading and does a lot for small indie authors giving them exposure. When you do a guest blog, your post stays on the site indefinitely at the link above. You can have comments months later and she updates it when you have new books.

Becke is another great contact and I met her at Bouchercon in Indy almost two years ago so this tags well with Billie's last missive.

Yes, big conferences are expensive and you might not sell a lot of books but the contacts you make and the people you meet are priceless. (It was a great conference and I was supposed to meet up with Billie there but so many people, we never connected. St. Louis will definitely be better!)

Check out Mike's blog, leave a comment and connect with Becke!

P.S. Reading all the information on the post, I garnered a couple of things for my book information and press releases. There are several posts and his blog is near the bottom. The top is all information he provided or Becke found on his website and from other sources...Priceless!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

THE EDGE OF WHITENESS

The year is 1973.The first day of our freshman year in highschool. Me and my cousin, Skinny, stand by ourselves in the foyer checking out our new surroundings - fresh faced, spindly- legged girls chattering excitedly among themselves, blond crewcut jock types boastfully talking football, scientific braniacs nervously expounding on the latest mathematical theories. Classic paintings of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson adorn the foyer walls. Everybody - everything  had one thing in common, though. They were all white. Painfully white. The kind of white people who should never be exposed to bright sunlight. Thank God me and Skinny had some color, I thought to myself, owing to our Sicilian heritage. At least we  were olive-skinned. At least we could get brown in the summer. These other kids - no hope.
  Suddenly, a dilapidated school bus from like - the 1950's - comes chugging up the street, spewing clouds of black smoke everywhere, immediately followed by another equally monstrous relic. The gears groan and the buses screech to a thumping halt right out in front. The joyous buzz inside quickly dissipates, replaced by a thunderous crescendo of Earth, Wind & Fire, as the doors to the ancient vehicles creak open.
  One by one they pour out. Giants. Imposing Black giants - and those were the girls! Then the boys swagger off the bus - grown men compared to the rest of us, actually. Me and Skinny glance at eachother, then back to the stunned crowd among us - now looking even whiter than before. They advance towards us, sporting wild afros, black du-rags around their heads, confidently displaying cut-off tee shirts. Even their tatoos had muscles. Smoking Kools, boomboxes hoisted upon their shoulders, one of them gulps down the the last drop of a mysterious brand of grape soda - then smashes it to the ground.
"Oh shit!! A chorus of cheers and shouts arise from his friends.
At that moment, I am sure that everyone of us boys standing in that foyer experienced the same basic sensation - that of our pre-pubescent wee wees shrinking up into the recesses of our white Fruit of the Looms. The era of busing had come to Roselle, New Jersey - and nothing would ever be the same again.

This is a sample of my memoir - THE EDGE OF WHITENESS. Although a sort of a quirky coming of age story, it is also a humorous and edgy social commentary on one communty's reaction to the inexorable march of change which defined a unique time period - the funky, soulful early 1970's. It is available on Amazon Kindle and also my website - http://www.joemontaperto.com/  -hope you enjoy it!

Joe Montaperto

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Screenplays

I have always loved movies, and have taken a number of film courses at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute just outside of Philadelphia. I recently completed a terrific class in writing scripts for films. The instructor, Marc Lapadula, teaches film studies at Yale, and taught at the U. of Pennsylvania and was educated at Oxford. Not only was his knowledge encyclopedic, he was very entertaining. We looked at the scripts for Psycho, Rebel Without a Cause, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and others. If you want to really train yourself in being economical, learning the ability to show, rather than tell, I recommend you take a course or buy a book about screenwriting. It helps to have a software program, such as Final Draft, to help you with the complicated formatting needed to write a script. I am doing a screenplay of my OTP novel, A Lesson in Murder. I always thought my book would be a good vehicle for director Brian DePalma, since it involves murders associated with a Philadelphia Quaker school. DePalma went to Friends Central in a Philly suburb, and he obviously knows how to tell stories about murder and mayhem. Brian, are you listening?

Gus Cileone
www.augustuscileone.com

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Upcoming author event

This coming September, I am part of a team that will be at a local author event in Springfield, Illinois. The opportunity to be part of an event like this is a wonderful one to share your book with readers and other authors. I also enjoy events like this because of the potential educational benefits. Closer to the time of the event I will provide the details in case anyone is interested in attending. Just a quick note to say, if you like to write, never pass up a chance to get the word out about your book or learn from other more seasoned pros! Hopefully Fairytales Are Fragile will sell off the shelves after the event and I will be kick started to work harder and more ferverently on my next project, Greiving for Johnny!

WESTERN-TIME AT OTP

            As a new author to Oak Tree Press, allow me to introduce myself and provide a bit of background.
            I have been a published author for nearly three decades now, my first story having appeared in 1982. That first story and most of my subsequent work has been in the detective/ mystery genre, featuring my Midwest PI, Joe Hannibal, who has so far appeared in seven novels and over two dozen short stories. Joe and I are growing old together and, if nothing else, are proving to be a couple of durable old rascals.
            I've also done a handful of non-Hannibal short stories, although still primarily crime/mystery-related.
            For a long time, however, I've wanted to branch out into the Western genre as well. Which isn't much of a stretch, really, when you consider that the two themes most distinctly attributable to American literature are the Western and the PI mystery. Further, there is a pretty direct link between the two. After all, isn't the tarnished-knight PI looking to right wrongs as he prowls the neon-stained fringes of a city little more than an updated, urbanized version of the iconic Western loner "doing what a man's gotta do" on the dusty streets of the Old West? Both genres, of course, have been polished and expanded over the years considerably beyond those basic premises … but you get the idea.
            At any rate, after moving to west central Nebraska a few years back my hankerin' (got to work in the vernacular now as I switch genre hats from fedora to Stetson) to do a Western only increased. I now live in the once-notorious old cowtown of Ogallala, which was the last of the famous rail-head destinations during the final years of the great cattle drive era. It was referred to as "the Gomorrah of the Plains" in those days, although I can assure you it has since tamed down considerably. In addition to the colorful history of the town itself, the paths of the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express, the original Union Pacific route, etc., all run close by. I can almost literally walk out my back door and stand in ruts left by wagons following the Oregon Trail.
You can imagine how such a setting would be inspiring to a writer.
            The end result of all this is my first Western novel, Dismal River, due out shortly as part of OTP's new Wild Oak Western line. Naturally, I am delighted by this and excited to join the ranks of other fine writers already working under the OTP banner. Somewhat ironically, it was at a mystery convention last year that one of these writers, Marilyn Meredith, first told me about Oak Tree Press and that they were looking to launch a Western line. True to her word she gave them advance notice (maybe it was a warning) that I would be making contact, and when I did the reception by Billie and Sunny was nothing less than gracious and has remained such ever since. My thanks and gratitude to all of them.
            I think the timing for launching a line of new Western books is very good, considering a number of indicators that the "Western" in general seems to be making a comeback. I hope so. I hold that hope for OTP/Wild Oak, for myself, and for all others who still find enjoyment and excitement in tales from that grand old time. I hope Lone McGantry (my protagonist from Dismal River) and me get to ride out on many more adventures and I hope to meet some or all of you on the trail.

Persevere --- Wayne D. Dundee
website: http://www.waynedundee.com/
blog: http://fromdundeesdesk.blogspot.com/
           

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"N" is for Night Watch and the Trinidad Setting

Because I'm participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge, I wrote this as my "N" post today and wanted to share it on the Oak Tree blog as well. For the Challenge, I'm writing about destinations the Passenger to Paradise has found special.

Pounding Ocean Waters MM Sikes
As the Passenger to Paradise, I discovered Trinidad and Tobago a couple of decades ago. Trinidad, an exotic island with ancient caves that once served as hiding places for Caribbean pirates, became the setting for my last book, Night Watch. There was so much to remember about my journey to Trinidad that I had to use our adventures in my writing somehow.

Our arrival in Trinidad was unlike anything I'd experienced before. We were met by two unlikely resort escorts who took us in an old car down a dark, remote road all the while using walkie-talkies to communicate with their base on an off-shore island. The two of us then traveled in a small leaky row-boat equipped with an engine and a flash light over rough ocean waters to reach the island resort.

Much of what happened is woven into the plot of Night Watch which is available in paperback, Kindle e-book, and Nook Book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It was truly an exciting time, but we've never gone back to Trinidad. I wonder what it's like now.

Mary Montague Sikes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Great Day, Thanks to Sunny


Several years ago, Sunny told me about going to a Reader's Group in Turlock. She gave me the email address to contact and said it was a great gig and I ought to go there too.

Of course I did exactly what she said. I heard from the program chairperson and we discussed a good time for me to come which ended up being over a year later. She was good about keeping in touch, telling me how many people to expect, and directions.

Turlock is about 3 1/2 hour drive from my home so I asked my daughter-in-law to come with me as the driver. Thank goodness, the highway was crowded and under construction in part. We arrived a scant 10 minutes ahead of time for a beforehand lunch with two of the officers of the group.

From there we went to the church where they meet and over 40 women gathered. I had a great time telling them about the inspiration for each of my books and making them laugh. Afterwards I sold 23 books. And even better, I was paid quite well for my efforts. I'm sure Sunny told me about that part, but I'd forgotten so it was a wonderful surprise.

It was a great day that wouldn't have happened if Sunny hadn't shared with me.

Sunny and I have done several gigs together, but my point is, when something great like that comes up for you, pass the information along to another writer who might be able to take advantage of it. Of course it's possible the group might not be in the market for what you write, but the more we share this kind of information among ourselves, the better it is for all of us.

So--once again, thank you, Sunny Frazier.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New to Oak Tree Press by Beryl Reichenberg


I am a new author to Oak Tree Press, so I would like to introduce myself with this first blog entry. I am an artist living in California. Recently, I have been writing and illustrating children stories. These stories are for young children up to ages six or seven. At the present time, I have more than 30 titles, all of which have been self-published. I am delighted to have this opportunity to publish my stories through Oak Tree Press.

The first book Oak Tree will be publishing is titled “Ants on a Log,” a tale about Jack the Rabbit who learns to like vegetables after eating a snack at school called ants on a log. For those who never heard of ants on a log, visualize a piece of celery filled with peanut butter topped with raisins. This story is based on a personal story about my son who refused to eat his greens until he discovered this healthy snack.

A former high school teacher, I am now retired. My first story was written four years ago for my two-year-old granddaughter. Now with four young grandchildren, I collect many more ideas for tales from things they say, their ever-changing interests and my own imagination. Sometimes, they are included as story characters. Using photographs of my grandchildren, I draw other animal characters floating them on drawn or photographic backgrounds with the computer, thus blending fantasy with the real world. Some of my books are in prose and some in verse.

I have also written a series of books about different kinds of animals and cultures based on personal, world travel experiences. In these books, I use my photographs and information gleaned from my travels to describe the habitats and lifestyles of various animals and people.

I look forward to meeting other members of the Oak Tree team in the coming months on this blog or in person.



Beryl Reichenberg

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Steady Writing

by Jean Henry Mead

When I sat down to write this morning, I thought of a long ago interview with bestselling romance novelist Parris Afton Bonds for my book, Maverick Writers. Bonds emphasized the need to write every day. The mother of five lively sons, she wrote between diaper changes as well as on the job, which cost her several secretarial positions before she decided to write full time.

“I write when I’m sick,” she said, “and even as I shove that turkey into the oven on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are no legal holidays for [professional] writers.”

A steady writing schedule is one of the most important aspects of publishing one’s work. Whether you rise two hours early to write before leaving for your day job, or at night before you go to bed, it needs to be done at least five days a week. Women with small children can schedule their writing time when the young ones are down for a nap, if only for an hour, but the same hour each day until it becomes a habit. But if you only have a few minutes now and then, use that time to jot down notes or bits of dialogue as the late Don Coldsmith did on the backs of prescription pads during his daily medical  practice.

Mystery novelist Marlys Millhiser echoed Parris Bond’s work ethic. She begins writing at 10:00 a.m. and continues until 4:00 in the afternoons. Both writers stress the fact that you must stay at the computer (or note pad) no matter how difficult the writing is going that day.

"My first draft is pretty bad,” Millhiser said. “But no matter how difficult it is, I hang in there. Sometimes you have to backtrack and begin again, but don’t stop to polish a chapter until the first draft is finished. When I’m on a run and the plot floats along, the characters take over and it’s wonderful. But most of the time, I’m just sitting there and sweating it out. And I’ve found, I’m sorry to say, that the stuff I sweated out and got three pages by working my pants off, was about the same quality as when the story just flowed along and I’ve gotten ten pages.”

Brian Garfield, author of “Death Wish” and countless other novels and screenplays, said, “I took up writing partly because some of the stuff that was published seemed so awful and so easy to do, and of course it isn’t easy to do, as you find out when you sit down to try to do it. And it took a long time—a lot of apprenticeship practice before I could write anything that was worth publishing. But you don’t know that until you try. At the time of the interview, he wrote five hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. No longer because of back problems.

Set your pace and before long you’ll feel that you must write during those hours. It becomes as important to those who want to succeed as breathing.

I'm at my computer by eight in the morning, with few exceptions, and write until three or later in the afternoon. A half hour treadmill break gives me a chance to loosen up and recharge my brain cells. Then I may have another go at it again until it's time to prepare dinner, and sometimes until bedtime, because writing is what I love doing most of all.

Steady Writing by Jean Henry Mead


When I sat down to write, I thought of a long ago interview with bestselling romance novelist Parris Afton Bonds for my book, Maverick Writers. Bonds emphasized the need for writers to write every day. The mother of five lively sons, she wrote between diaper changes as well as on the job, which cost her several secretarial positions before she decided to write full time.

“I write when I’m sick,” she said, “and even as I shove that turkey into the oven on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are no legal holidays for [professional] writers.”

A steady writing schedule is one of the most important aspects of publishing one’s work. Whether you rise two hours early to write before leaving for your day job, or at night before you go to bed, it needs to be done at least five days a week. Women with small children can schedule their writing time when the young ones are down for a nap, if only for an hour, but the same hour each day until it becomes a habit. But if you only have a few minutes now and then, use that time to jot down notes or bits of dialogue as Don Coldsmith did on the backs of prescription pads during his daily practice.

Mystery novelist Marlys Millhiser echoed Bond’s work ethic. She begins writing at 10:00 a.m. and continues until 4:00 in the afternoons. Both writers stressed the fact that you must stay at the computer (or note pad) no matter how difficult the writing is going that day.

"My first draft is pretty bad,” Millhiser said. “But no matter how difficult it is, I hang in there. Sometimes you have to backtrack and begin again, but don’t stop to polish a chapter until the first draft is finished. When I’m on a run and the plot floats along, the characters take over and it’s wonderful. But most of the time, I’m just sitting there and sweating it out. And I’ve found, I’m sorry to say, that the stuff I sweated out and got three pages by working my pants off, was about the same quality as when the story just flowed along and I’ve gotten ten pages.”

Brian Garfield, author of “Death Wish” and countless other novels and screenplays, said, “I took up writing partly because some of the stuff that was published seemed so awful and so easy to do, and of course it isn’t easy to do, as you find out when you sit down to try to do it. And it took a long time—a lot of apprenticeship practice before I could write anything that was worth publishing. But you don’t know that until you try. At the time of the interview, he wrote five hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. No longer because of back problems.

Set your pace, as steady as walking on a treadmill. Before long you’ll feel that you must write during those hours. It becomes as important to those who want to succeed as breathing.

I'm at my computer by eight in the morning, with few exceptions, and write until three or later in the afternoon. A half hour treadmill break gives me a chance to loosen up and recharge my brain cells.

Jean Henry Mead
Murder on the Interstate coming this month from Oak Tree Press!

ANNOUNCE, ANNOUNCE, ANNOUNCE!

That's the mantra. Many of you have already seen these sites, but for the rest, I had two pieces on the Internet this week (and it's only Tuesday!).

The first is an interview by Marilyn Meredith. When someone knows you warts and all, it's hard to say anything new. Or shocking. I think I did both. And, Holli pushed me further by insisting she get the whole story on those international "incidents" I alluded to in the piece, so I confessed. The site is over at Kings River Life http://kingsriverlife.com/04/02/sunny-frazier/

The second is a piece about the epiphany I had on my trip to Puerto Vallarta. I also referenced Dr. Seuss and what I consider one of his most inspirational poems. Read the entire poem to your children and grandchildren. I googled it by the title, which is OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO! The blog is over at Buried Under Books: http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2011/04/05/oh-the-places-youll-go/