Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lelia Taylor is hosting me today on her blog, Creatures 'n Crooks. I'm speaking on inspiration--where to find it. I even have an idea I'll sell just the right mystery writer cheap. >>>Grin<<<

Carol Crigger

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leila's blog-book giveaway!

Today I'm on Leila Taylor's always interesting blog talking about doing research, yes, for mysteries! She's offering a chance to get a copy of my last one, THE FAT LADY SINGS, if you leave a comment. I love the FAT LADY book and if you're a Gilbert & Sullivan or theater fan, you'll enjoy it to!

"Kit Sloane is visiting Buried Under Books on Wednesday to talk about some of
the research she does---

Come on by and let Kit know what you think about research--and put your name
in the hat for a free book!"

Leave a comment if you have a chance.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mission: Acquisitions

Sunny Frazier

Hi, everyone. Just wanted to announce a new marketing idea Billie has allowed me to put into play. It's called "Mission: Acquisitions." I'm featuring two books that have something in common and writing a blurb on the side of how they reached publication through our acquisitions process. I hope people will enjoy the insight on each author's journey. Billie has created an order form to go with it.

This is an attempt at cross-promoting each other. I'm starting with Lesley Diehl and Marja McGraw. I'm taking hard copies to the Sisters in Crime meeting this weekend.

To take a look, ask me to send you the attachment. I don't know how to get it in here.

I hope some of you will take the idea and create your own version. Note that the slogan I'm using is "Oak Tree Books: Help Us Grow." This is a bit stronger than "My book's for sale." Let your friends know that buying a book will keep us in business.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sisters in Crime at the ALA convention in New Orleans

I had the pleasure of working the table two hours for Sisters in Crime at the American Library Association convention in New Orleans last week. I basically spoke to people from all over the country, tried to get them to join Sisters in Crime, told them to swipe their card to enter giveaways--one of which my book was in, as was Marilyn's Angel Lost--and then asked them if they liked mysteries. If they said yes, I handed them my bookmark and told them that was the series I wrote, a local author based in New Orleans.

Many of the folks I spoke to asked about buying my book. If I would have had them with me to sell, I'm sure I could have. But the Sisters In Crime table wasn't about promoting myself, although they were happy to let me take advantage of the extra attention to talk about my book.

There were 12,000 librarians at this convention. I met librarians, teachers, readers, local and from all over the U.S.. I also got to meet a few better-known authors, and people whose names I've read on DorothyL but have never seen before. It was a very good experience, for only two hours of my time. I would have worked more, but my kids had been out of town with my sister for a week and were already back, and I had a ton of work-work to do, that I'm still doing.

There were booths of publishers, promoters, computer software companies, and even someone selling clothes and jewelry. The booth next to ours was an author on her own, and I kept picturing my name on one of those booths.

Realizing I don't think I could sustain the interest of enough people for several days at a booth alone, I started picturing Oak Tree Press's name on the booth, with several authors selling their books, handing out merchandise, etc.. The author booths, especially where books were being signed or promotion items were being given away, seemed to attract a lot of attention.

I was told the cost of the smallest booth is $2000.00. There seemed to be tables along the wall that might have had a lower price, and I was trying to calculate in my head how many books somebody would have to sell to make any money paying that kind of green for a weekend. But then, if a group of writers put in together and put together a schedule, it could work out to be significantly less expensive.

Of course, it was easy for me to show up this year because it was in my hometown, and working the booth I didn't have to pay to register but got to stay as long as I wanted. SinC sent the promotional stuff and set-up gear to me for the few weeks before the convention, and I brought it to the Morial Convention Center the first day, and got to see the process in action, as they were setting up and the trucks were rolling out furniture and moving things around.

Most of the people I met were very nice and gracious, especially Mary Boone and Dorisann Norris. The other writers I met were mostly personable, especially the local ones I hadn't met before. There were a few here and there with a snooty nose in the air, but if they didn't warm up to me, they pretended like they did so I would leave them alone. You can't come to my city and ignore my southern charm, can you?

Whether I won them over or not, I enjoyed the convention and wished I could have stayed longer. I think next year it's in Chicago, a long way from home. I did find out that a big book festival in Baton Rouge, about an hour from my house, is coming back in October after a year off. The woman I spoke to said a lot of writers rent tables to sell their books, and that a lot of the same writers come back each year, making me believe it's worth the time and money to do it. And October is beautiful down here, not quite as hot and muggy as most of the year, but not cold and wet either. (Cold=anything less than 60.)

So I met a lot of people, hopefully made a few connections and sold a few books when those people get back home, learned a lot, and the only bad thing, paid $3.00 for a small paper cup of Coke. Other than the ripoff at the concession stand, it was a lot of fun and something I hope to do again one day.

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice
Jambalaya Justice coming July 2011

The Page 69 Test

Hilary Davidson (author of "The Damage Done") has posted an interesting item about something called the Page 69 Test.

In the test, an author looks at and analyzes what's on page 69 of their novel while discussing how it connects to, and impacts, the rest of the novel -- stopping short of revealing any major spoilers, of course.

Pretty interesting. See what you think....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sowing the Seeds of Your Book

After my book, No Evidence of a Crime, was released last fall, I contacted all my friends and family with the news and my books sales soared as they ran out to buy a copy. But, what to do next? It seemed obvious; I would lean back and rest upon my lush, green laurels and let my great, new book fly off the shelves. But, in fact, what I was resting upon was a cold, hard slab of reality as book sales dropped to nothing. (Note to self: I have no laurels).

Hmmm, I needed a plan. As a forensic scientist, I knew I needed to generate some empirical data to assess the best course of action. So I started a systematic campaign to track down what is the best way to sell a book. Enter Facebook. They had a proposition for me. Yes, sent directly to me, a proposition. They must have known! (They know everything). They would advertise my book on Facebook to millions of members free of charge and only if someone was interested in my book and clicked on the title would they charge a few cents to my account. Clicking on my book would send the clicker directly to my page where they could immediately buy my book. This was brilliant; not as easy as resting upon your laurels but close. Each week Facebook sent me feel good messages about how many hundreds of thousands of people saw my ad, how many people liked it, how many clicked on my book, how many more potentially could. After a few weeks, I stopped the campaign to assess its effectiveness. I couldn’t wait to see the data. In the end, I sold a handful of books. (For those not familiar with units of handful, it is a number not to exceed what you can count on one hand).

Time to change strategies. My next strategy was local. I had a little article in my local paper. I made sure I mentioned my book at any party, any graduation, any “Hi, what’s new?”. And, even though to equal Facebook in exposure you would have to multiply the number of people with whom I had contact by one million, the nod goes to the locals giving me higher sales but I was swimming in a pretty small pond.

Next I wanted to see if giveaways are effective in selling books. I joined Fantastic place; readers wanting to read books, authors having books to read. I signed up to give my book away. The end result…. 2682 people signed up to try and win a copy of my book, 248 people clicked that they would like to read my book, 5 people actually have read it and gave me some good reviews and ratings (5 people, hmmm, back to that darn handful, again).

Next I will try Blogging (definitely not my strong suit). I think there are the natural bloggers whose words fly out of their fingers and the struggling bloggers, like me, who chews on a topic in the back of their brain until they know just what they want to say only to return to the blog-site and see there were already 172 responses, everyone became bored with the topic and all moved on to three new topics. But, I will do my best. I have a few blog interviews coming out and a Killer Nashville e-zine article. In the end, I think I know what the results will say.
It will say: Doing anything is better than doing nothing. For most of us, books won’t fly off the shelf. The best we can hope for is to plant our book in the palm of someone’s hand and hope something will grow from it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Romance Writers of America

I am neither surprised nor dismayed that the RWA thing didn't work out. Like MWA, RWA claims to represent the best interests of authors. Their concept of how to do so is to relieve authors - who, like infants and idiots, are unable to be responsible for themselves - from making an agreement with a publisher. I think the OTP contests are great; many of us may never have started publishing without them, and I have been happy with the quality of many of the entries I've read. I think it is perfectly reasonable for OTP to charge a $25 entry fee; running a contest requires a lot of time and effort. Others may disagree. Fine - no one is forced to enter. But for those of us who do so not only voluntarily but happily, we have violated the rules of the big organizations; i.e., we have determined how we will deal with publishers instead of being dictated to. The following is a gratuitous suggestion since I am not a member of MWA or RWA, but I believe those who are members would be doing a fine thing if they resigned en masse. All of them. Then they could donate their membership fee to ProLiteracy, an organization which really does help authors and many others as well.

Mike Orenduff

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pot Thief Visits the Big Bend

We left Taos after the mystery club presentation and headed south. One night in Santa Rosa and one in Carlsbad. We had hoped to see the evening bat flight from the cave, but evidently the numbers are down and it is not so spectacular as it used to be. Not enough insects to sustain the millions of bats that flew out every evening at dusk in the past. Who knew? So we settled for a walk along the Pecos River. We reached Alpine, Texas the next day for the Fiesta del Sol. I joined four other authors for the event. The room was packed with people enjoying the wine and snacks. When the time came, each of us entertained the audience with tales of books and writing. There were many good questions. Then more wine and treats. Then everyone left. Evidently, no one told the attendees that they could buy books. However, the sponsoring store, Front Street Books, has decided to keep five of each of my books in stock, and they were down to just a few, so they bought enough to bring them back up to five of each. I promptly blew the revenue on a dinner at Reata, the restaurant named after the ranch in Giant, the movie starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson. Alpine is the home of Sul Ross State University whose most famous alumnus is Dan Blocker who played Hoss on Bonanza. The morning after the event, we drove back to El Paso. Were the driving, hotel expenses, and miscellaneous expenses worth it? I guess it depends on how many books Front Street will sell in the coming years. But it was a fun excursion, and maybe that is more important than sales.

B.A. Kelly Shares a Cautionary Tale for Pet Lovers...

I read Billie’s instructions for writing a blog for OTP—It should be about writing, but then again it could be about something else.
O.K., so I think this one will be about something else which I feel is very important for all animal lovers out there to be aware of.
I recently lost my dog, Riva. She wasn’t supposed to die. She was to young and full of life to die.
I rescued Riva from the Ventura County Animal Shelter. The sign on her kennel stated she was part Australian Shepherd. I had been searching for an Aussie for some time and decided to settle for a part of one. So, she came home with me and I named her Sheila.
As it turned out, two dog experts declared, “That dog is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I sent her photo to a rescue group on the Internet and they agreed, “That’s a Toller. Also at one time known as Little River Duck dogs.”
Well gosh, I thought…She’s French. And that’s when she became, Riva, which my French dictionary defined as meaning along the river shore.
Riva brightened my life. She must have been about 7 years old when I got her. Because of some health problems, I had decided that I could no longer deal with the demands of a puppy. I learned that an older dog had issues and I imagine she thought older people have issues too, and I learned right from the start that her issues took precedence over mine. In other words, we’d do it her way. An obedience class verified who was right. It was Riva. The teacher thought we should repeat the class, but I decided I could live with the demands of an older dog and after about two years we reached an understanding and she finally agreed to come when I called her.
Every time she went outside, Riva would eat grass. I never thought a thing about it because a lot of dogs eat grass. We hadn’t been going for walks as often as we should have because at times my health problems kept me from our daily excursions. I noticed that Riva had been putting on weight and blamed it on the lack of exercise. However, one day I looked more closely at her and decided, this is not normal weight gain. She looks bloated.
I called the vet and she took one look at Riva and stuck a needle in her and I’ll just say that what came out should not have been there.
Riva came home while the vet waited for test results and then ordered an ultra sound. The doctor who did the ultra sound said it looked like a parasite, one that comes from eating snails. California gardens are full of snails—no matter how you try to keep them under control. I imagine Riva was eating grass and ingested a small snail without even realizing it.
She died at home before the test results came back. Her vet, who has a PhD. in veterinarian medicine had never heard of this condition before. The ultra sound doctor said there is probably a 1 in 10,000 chance of this happening. The parasites invaded all of her organs and we discovered it too late to treat her.
I was told this condition is treatable and that is why I decided to write about this. Perhaps knowing will save someone else was losing their best friend and family member. In Riva’s memory I hope it will.

B. A. Kelly
Author of Blessings, Bullets and Bad Bad Men
Coming soon from Oak Tree Press

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New blog interview posted

Sylvia Ramsey Smith has been so kind as to post an interview with me on her Thoughtful Reflections blogsite. I'd welcome comments....

C.K. Crigger

Monday, June 20, 2011

4th signing on the 3rd Pot Thief Tour

The 4th signing on this year's tour was not a signing but a presentation, my third as guest of Who Did It?, the grammatically correct mystery club of Moby Dickens Bookstore in Taos. The meetings start with a meal followed by remarks and a Q/A session with the visiting author. At this meeting, the store sprang for several bottles of Gruet (Hubie's favorite champagne) and the host opened the proceedings by offering a toast to The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein winning the Lefty Award.


James Bond's martini recipe

Well I missed observing National Martini Day although there's always time to make up for that.


Interesting -- and new to me -- mystery-related blog. Not quite as good as OTPBlog, of course. But interesting....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Your Own Personal Critic

by Jean Henry Mead

William G. Tapply wrote an interesting article about acquiring a personal critic to read your work—someone you can trust who is well read: a spouse, who may also be a writer; a literate friend who won’t just tell you what you’ve written is great, or someone who can “read your manuscript with fresh eyes and give you straight-forward feedback that will help guide you through the vital process of revision.”

Even well-established novelists such as Stephen King rely on others to look over their work. Fortunately for King, his wife Tabitha is also a writer. He’s been quoted as saying that his wife has always been an extremely sympathetic and supportive first reader . . . but she’s also unflinching when she sees something wrong. “When she does, she lets me know loud and clear.”

Tapply says that sympathy and support as well as unflinching honesty is what you need from a personal critic. He suggests the following guidelines:

~ Don’t expect your critic to be an editor. Simply ask for an impartial read.

~ Have your critic read the manuscript with a pen in hand and write his or her views in the margins. Don’t expect the critic to censor himself, but simply write down whatever comes to mind.

~ The most useful feedback is what doesn’t work for the reader.

~Tell your critic not to worry about hurting your feelings. You want candor, not kindness.

~ You’re not asking for solutions because repairing what’s wrong is your responsibility.

~ However, if your critic has ideas about how you can handle something differently, you should be receptive to suggestions.

~Ask that your critic notes her emotional responses to the story, both positive and negative.

~ Ask that notations be made if a passage is boring. All your critic has to write in the margin is “Ho, hum,” or if confused, “Huh?”

~Did your reader skip parts or an entire scene? Have him note it in the margin.

~Did anything in the story contradict itself or seem inconsistent?

~Were any of your characters or events unbelievable?

~ Were there any factual errors?

~ Ask that any words or punctuation marks be circled that don’t quite ring true.

And because criticism is much easier to give than take, ask that your critic write you a letter that points out and explains the most important observations and overall responses to your story. When you receive your marked up manuscript, give yourself at least a week to absorb the comments. Then, if you feel like screaming, hopefully no one will hear you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blog guest

Hi everyone,

I'm on Amy Corwin's blog today talking about my mystery series and zeroing in on reality TV, which, believe me, is a force of nature all its own! I thought it would be fun for my movie-making protagonists to take on something different in THE MAGICIANS and reality TV is just that.

If you have a minute, check out Amy's blog and leave a comment, if you feel like it.

all best,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The advantages of a series

The second signing on this year’s tour was at Treasure House, a small bookstore in a great location and on track to sell at least 500 Pot Thief Books in 2011. The one thing I noticed was that more than half of the people buying books were people I had seen at Treasure House in the past.

We stopped at Garcia Street Bookstore in Santa Fe the next day, and they agreed to add the Pot Thief books to their inventory. I offered to leave signed copies on consignment, but the manager said their consignment process was so complicated that he preferred to order from Ingram. The key lesson here is that he said that only after he learned that the books are returnable. We OTP authors are lucky to be with a publisher who has that policy. Adam, the manager, ordered the books while I waited. Only one of each, but it is a start. As most of you know, my primary strategy is to get as many bookstores as possible selling my books. Not just stocking them – SELLING them. Like all strategies, it is imperfect. I lost two more outlets this year who went broke, so adding Garcia Street helps blunt that loss.

The next day I signed at Otowi Station in Los Alamos. Sales were slow – about 10 books – but the store had me sign their remaining stock of about 30 books which means they expect to sell those. And I know they will reorder when they do. Otowi is one of the stores that prefers Ingram. Others order from me. Some order from Treasure Chest (a small distributer in Arizona not related to Treasure House Books). I don’t care where they get the books so long as they sell them.

The green chile breakfast burritos are a great start to each day.

Mike Orenduff

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ordered as library books

I'm sure all of you have a library card, don't you? Don't you? If so, shouldn't we be requesting our local libraries to order in copies of our fellow OTP author's books? I can do that online, so I'm going through the OTP bookstore and picking out one or two to begin with.

Carol Crigger

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Third Annual Pot Thief Signing Tour

The Third Annual Pot Thief Signing Tour is underway. It was designed to be easier on my car, my wife, and my wallet because it’s a slim-downed version of the first two. Fewer signings, fewer days on the road. It’s not that I lack my former enthusiasm for the peculiarly American tradition of a traveling huckster. It is just that my daughter, son-in-law and grandson are moving to Valdosta this summer, and I want to be there to help. And because the Public Safety Writers Association has scheduled their annual Las Vegas conference in July rather than June, that whacked a week off the schedule. So I figured when life gives you lemons, make a martini straight up with a twist.

After three days getting to El Paso, we arose this morning for a leisurely forty-five minute drive to Las Cruces and the first signing at COAS only to discover a flat tire. The doughnut that passes for a spare tire was in the trunk under 300 pounds of book. After lifting the book boxes to get to the spare, I had to then find the jack, a task only slightly more difficult that Robert Langdon’s task of finding the Holy Grail in The Da Vinci Code. I showed up at the signing sweaty and greasy, but I sold enough books to pay for the hotel bill and the tire repair. So much for the “easier on my wallet” idea.

Tonight we are in Socorro where we dined at Sophie’s while listening to two elderly gentlemen playing guitars and singing a combination of ranchero ballads and Hank Thompson honky-tonk. They saw that Lai and I were enjoying the music and dedicated a round of “I Love you cause you’re you” to us. God bless New Mexico – there is nothing else like it.

Tomorrow I sign at the mother ship – Treasure House Books and Gifts in Albuquerque’s Old Town where the books are set. Owner John Hoffsis has been featuring my books for two years, and I expect to have writers cramp by the end of the day. Fortunately, it is a malady that succumbs to a simply treatment of margaritas and enchiladas.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Post on my Two Feet Below blog

I don't know if it does any good, but I have a blog for China Bohannon, my heroine from TWO FEET BELOW. I updated it today, talking a little about the need for hats if anyone cares to take a look.