Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jambalaya Justice


I am excited to announce Jambalaya Justice is now shipping from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I can't wait for it to be available on Kindle and Nook as well.

I happened to set up my author page for Manic Readers finally, and on the side bar saw a review had been posted to Amazon of Jambalaya Justice already, from someone I didn't know. It was only 4 stars, but it was actually an excellent review. The part I most appreciated was that the reader said you didn't need to read Gumbo Justice to enjoy Jambalaya Justice. That was one of my biggest fears, not knowing if I included enough back story for the current story to make sense, or if the previous information was introduced in a subtle enough fashion. There is nothing as distracting as an info overload. Most writers make the mistake of info dumping at the beginning, but even doing it further into the book really can draw the attention away from the story.

I envy those writers who can wrap up a story so completely in a novel that they barely need to refer to anything that has already happened in the past. Especially ones who tie up the story and still end with a cliff hanger to push you into the next book.

In any event, I was extremely pleased to see a review from someone I didn't know. As writers, we all have writer friends who will go and write an excellent review for us even if they weren't particularly thrilled with the book, right or wrong it's a little quid pro quo for when their book comes out. And of course family members who mean well will gush in a book review, not realizing anyone who reads the review may guess it's the writers mama or daddy writing the review. So it did my heart good to get a completely unsolicited good review from someone I don't know, especially when I know only a few books were sold before they were resubmitted.

So now it's time to up the promotion and get the machine going again, as I work on the third novel Chocolate City Justice, which so far is a little different than the first two books. Taking place just as Katrina starts, I don't have my courtroom scenes to fall back on, which I think is one of my strengths but also my safety net. In Chocolate City, it's just the characters who are getting tested by mother nature and by each other, and it might just be a little bit darker than the first two. I can't wait to finish it!

I am also trying to organize my blog so I have different features each day, and am hoping to have more guest blogs, interviews and reviews, so once I have it organized I'll be sending out a shout out for anyone who wants to contribute and get a little face time on a blog. Until then, check out Jambalaya Justice and leave an unbiased review if you get a chance.
Just thought I'd mention a little something I noticed as I was selling books at a multi-author signing last weekend. Altogether, our  two tables held around twenty books. Two of the books were mine, one of them being Two Feet Below, published by OTP. As people strode past, I could see their eyes were caught by Two Feet's cover, and when they stopped to browse,  about seven times out of ten it was Two Feet they picked up. I won't say a county fair is the best place to sell books, but at least I gave out a lot of post cards and business cards, and I'm gratified that my book's cover draws so much attention. Thanks, Billie. Here's hoping we can find one that works as well for Three Seconds to Thunder.

Carol

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's all about cooperation...

I feel like I've been walking under a lucky star the last two weeks and want to share the ride and recognize Jeana Thompson for all the work she does on behalf of Oak Tree authors. I just want to encourage everyone to do everything that Jeana asks for publicity for Oak Tree. Two weeks ago I received a great review for A Case of Hometown Blues" in the Lansing State Journal where I was called a “promising Michigan author” in the same article with Loren D. Estleman, one of my all time favorite authors! You can read it here: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20110814/ENTERTAINMENT07/108140441/Michigan-writers-impress

Jeana must have sent them an ARC. On a side note, the reviewer owns a book store that I will surely be visiting in the next few days! Earlier this week Jeana sent out an email about Manic Readers. They also do a great job. My review is at
http://www.manicreaders.com/index.cfm?disp=reviews&bookid=16121  For a taste of it: “A Case of Hometown Blues is a good story with several twists and turns along the way. It clearly brings out the vulnerability of the protagonist as he searches for the truth. The remaining characters were well done and the plot was very good as well.”

My third review was from one of Sunny’s recommendations. John Brantingham said “I recommend "A Case of the Hometown Blues" for its realism and the fun you’ll have by following Malone.” See the entire review where he talks about psychopaths at
http://diamondbar.patch.com/blog_posts/a-case-of-hometown-blue-by-ws-gager

I’m not a superstitious person but I am feeling very lucky and honored. Third book, three great reviews and the hope that all this will begin to translate into getting the word out about my Mitch Malone Mysteries. It is never too early to begin talking about your book and lining people up to do reviews. Start early, quickly get Jeana everything she needs and don’t give up.
W.S. Gager
www.wsgager.blogspot.com

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Bogey Nights " Marja McGraw

New review for " Bogey Nights " by Marja McGraw go see it at http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Reviews/Josie-reviews-Bogey-Nights-by-Marja-Mcgraw.aspx

Wendy Gager "A Case of Accidental Intersection "

Go Check out Wendy Gager's " A Case of Accidental Intersection " Review http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Reviews/Josie-reviews-A-Case-Of-Accidental-Intersection-by-W-S-Gager.aspx

A teen idol speaks his mind

This week (starting Aug. 29) the protagonist of my new OTP book, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, discusses his first case on Paula's Coppers, a fun blog that interviews the characters rather than the author. My hero is Sandy Fairfax, a 38-year-old former teen idol/TV star that unwittingly becomes an amateur sleuth when he makes a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention. Enjoy! www.paulapetty.com/paulas-coppers.html

Sally Carpenter

Friday, August 26, 2011

Crafty Killers

I'm blogging today at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-club-friday-guest-author-mike.html, and giving away a free book to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment. The selection is by Lois, the host, so I can't guarantee that one of my Oak Tree friends will be chosen, but you can't win if you don't comment. Plus, you might be interested in what I say about why we read. Then again, you probably already know my answer.

Mike Orenduff

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WELCOME TO JEFFERSON COUNTY


I moved to a small town in Humboldt County, California almost ten years ago, and I’ve wanted ever since to write about Humboldt’s amazing geography, its scenery, its history, its economy, and mainly its people. The trouble is, I write fiction—mystery fiction—in which people get killed and things sometimes get ugly. I didn’t want to paint my home town and my home county in a bad light, and I didn’t want to get in trouble with friends who don’t understand the difference between “normal” life, where conflict is to be avoided or quickly resolved, and fiction, where conflict is required and even relished.

So how could I celebrate this remarkable place, this land of rocky coastline, rugged mountains, and forests of towering redwood trees; this gentle balance between meadows full of peaceful dairy cows, fishing harbors, town squares, friendly taverns, and Victorian houses; a land rich with the history of lumbering, salmon fishing, and Native American culture? Not to mention the illegal cash crop for which Humboldt County is best known. Can’t leave that out.

Problem: I don’t want to tick off the authorities. Do I want the county sheriff, the city police, or the town council to get their feelings hurt by this newcomer, this mystery writer, who thinks law enforcement can sometimes be inept or corrupt? No way.

Problem: I don’t want to do a lot of research on the history of Humboldt County and try to get it right but inevitably get it wrong in the eyes of some local historians, because the history of this county is to a large extent a matter of contention.

So I’ve done what we all do in this business. Made it up from scratch. Forget research. Forget the facts. I kept the salmon fishing and the logging and the Native presence and the scenery. I kept the mountains, the redwood forests, and the rocky beaches, the town square and the friendly bar. But I have peopled the place with fictional characters who have somehow become realer to me than the people I meet on the streets, roads, and trails when I’m not writing.

Novelists get to do that, and it feels powerful and fun. We are historians of feuds, fights, and fanfares that never happened. We tell the truth about a bunch of lies. We dial up the drama of “reality,” in the interest of entertainment. And sometimes people get hurt. Some even get killed. Too bad. Some people fall in love. That’s nice, unless it’s also too bad. Love and death. It happens to us all.

And in fictional Jefferson County, California, up in Redwood Country between the rocky Pacific shore and the Jefferson Alps, you’ll find love and death in high gear. I invite you to come and visit me in Jefferson County, by reading my new mystery novel, Behind the Redwood Door, in late November, when it will be published by the wonderful folks at Oak Tree Press.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Publishing Options and Choices

We do have a lot of choices these days.

I know many authors are choosing to publish themselves on Kindle. Unfortunately, some haven't done the final editing and polishing--and others aren't even at the stage where they should be published.

I don't know about anyone else, but I went through many stages of learning about writing: First I was a voracious reader, so I knew what books were supposed to look and read like.

I subscribed to Writers Digest and read it from cover to cover.

I read many books on writing and publishing.

I went to writer's conferences.

And all the time I was writing and submitting.

I learned the most about writing from the critique group I joined in 1981 and still belong to.

Despite all that, I'm quite happy to have a publisher who takes care of the formatting, designing the cover, etc. etc.

That's my choice.

Marilyn

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MORGEN BAILEY INTERVIEW WITH WAYNE DUNDEE

Hi Everybody -

Thanks to the tip Jeana sent out to everyone last month, I did an interview for Morgen Bailey and it posted today (8/17/11). Morgen has a very interesting, entertaining interview style --- interspersing her own comments and reactions with the questions so that the overall result seems more like, as she puts: "A friendly chat." When I mentioned that I had a book published with Oak Tree Press she responded that OTP authors were "popping up everywhere". Prior to my interview she has already posted other writers from our group.
You can check out the whole works at: http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blog-interviews

Persevere --- WD

Off to Nipomo and Another Book and Craft Festival

On Friday we'll head over to Santa Maria (CA coastal city) and check into the Santa Maria Hotel. It's an historic hotel where all the old-time movie stars would stay when headed up the coast. The rooms have labels as to who stayed in which room. We've stayed there before and it's interesting and has a bit of a haunted feel.

Our plan is to have dinner in Pismo with friends, a fellow author and her hubby, I usually only see her once a year--but this year she also came to PSWA so I had another chance to visit with her.

On Saturday, we'll both be at the Nipomo Library's Book and Craft Fair from 9 to 2. I've attended this event twice before and though it's small, there are lots of book lovers in Nipomo. Isn't that a great name for a city though?

The following week we're jumping on a plane for Nashville with our destination being Killer Nashville. Our fearless publisher will be there too, so I hope to spend at least a little time with her too.

What are you up too?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Publishing options

Sunny here.

Over at Anne Allen's blog she describes various publishing options. I felt she described small publishing very well.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2011/08/way-we-publish-now.html

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Speaking of Lion's. . . .

I went to the Lion's Club in Hanford as a guest speaker. They DO like their beer! They tried to get me to chug, but I don't drink when I'm presenting. However, I was in the Navy and won a few chugging contests. . . .They served BBQ chicken at the free buffet-- too bad I don't like white meat.

Sold $70 worth of books, did give-aways of 3 books, a horoscope and to be a character in A Snitch In Time. They want to give me a book launch.

Did you know Lion's Club was promoted by Helen Keller? Their mission is to give eye care to the needy. They also put on a beer fest around here.
Last Saturday I took my books to a rural farmer's market. I sold a few--enough to make expenses plus a bit over, but then something wonderful happened. On Wednesday I received a phone call. The woman who'd bought one of my westerns wondered if she could come to my house and buy another. Not being a total idiot, I said yes. This lovely lady bought four more various titles and is already looking forward to Three Seconds to Thunder when it comes out. Made my day, I can tell you. Happy sales to everyone.

Carol
Two Feet Below

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Secretaries, then and now

Sunny here.
Not sure if you are aware that Oak Tree has started a Western line, Wild Oaks. Carol Crigger is one of our first Western titles published. She got a terrific review over at
http://www.westernwriters.org/2011_August_Roundup_BOOKSHELF.pdf

One part of her review made me think that protag China Bohannon is somewhat an earlier version of my character, Christy Bristol. This is the description in the review that brought that thought into my head:

"Although China’s job is to answer messages, send out bills, take care of the books, and handle other office work, truth is, she has a nose for trouble and for getting to the bottom of a case."

I guess secretaries have always been a "problem" in the work force!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

IN A WORD

Sunny again.
I'm over at Buried Under Books doing my every-six-week blog. This time I'm talking about the word choices authors make and how to improve your writing.
http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2011/08/09/in-a-word/

FYI

Sunny here, business as usual.

You know how your email gets cluttered with notifications of all those sites you were interested in but no longer monitor? Today, I did a bit of clean-up. I unsubscribed to sites that I really stopped being involved with a long time ago. However, I found a site I'd basically been ignoring. It's called Meet Up info@meetup.com I suppose it's everywhere but you are notified by your zip code.

Today I contacted two meet up groups to see if they would be interested in having me come and speak. The first was a group of women from the nearby Navy base. It can be boring and daunting to get stationed in a place you know nothing about. Good thing I write exclusively about the San Joaquin Valley! I also grew up on that base and have maintained my military ties with the American Legion. If this group accepts me, I can get them involved with other literary events in the area, such as the Hanford Book Fest, Sisters in Crime and my book launch.

The second group I contacted was a professional women's group. I also offered to speak, this time on being acquisitions editor for a small publisher house.

Tonight I'm speaking at the local Lion's Club. I met one of their members while on a train ride and he suggested me as a speaker.

I encourage all of you to investigate this site and see what groups are available to sell your novels.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why does it have always have to be about the sex scene?

People always mention the sex scene: reviewers, coworkers, parents of friends and loved ones, fellow writers, and random fans on the Internet and in person. Without fail. Always.

The sex scene.

Some back-story: I have a scene in my book where the main character runs over another person with a police car. The guy who gets run over was shooting a gun at the time. In a different part of the book, the main character bites a dude’s ear off. But do these various readers ever talk about that exciting and dramatic prose? Nope. The sex scene wins out every time.

I once spoke on the phone with a reporter from the SF Weekly here in San Francisco, a reporter who wound up writing a review in said newspaper. She thought the book was kind of like “cop-porn” at parts. I laughed and then promptly sighed with deep, heartfelt resignation.

Just to be clear, there is ONE sex scene in my book. One. It’s in the first few chapters. It happens in a bathroom, so it’s not very long - a few pages at best. Two people can only have sex in a public restroom for so long before it becomes either terribly apparent that it:

a. smells really horrible or

b. you get kicked out.

It’s not really a romantic endeavor. It’s more carnal and usually brief. To carry such a scene on any longer would completely blow the suspension of disbelief.

None the less, bam. Every-freaking-time.

I ask of this blog’s readers: have you ever read any William Gibson? Even if you aren’t a fan of the cyberpunk/sci-fi genre, you have probably heard of his novel, Neuromancer. It’s generally considered to be the first such novel in the genre.

Well his books are literally filled with sex - sexual tension, sexual innuendo, sex with underage girls, violent sex, sex in cyberspace (long before anybody had any idea that would be something that could actually happen one day), and sex in various forms of transportation.

I guarantee you nobody ever asked him about the sex scenes in his book. Why? Because he was brilliant. I’m just a hack who hopes you like fart jokes and violence. I guess sex in bathrooms, too.



Daniel B. Silver wrote a book once and you can buy it through OTP and B&N. Laugh with him or at him via www.dangersilver.com. Follow him at @DangerSilver.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Here's a piece by a former Border's Employee

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/books-without-borders/Content?oid=9322294

Here's a detailed article by a former Border's employee, telling of the chain's demise from his POV inside the organization.

I'll reserve my comments for a later time...

Billie

PS My apologies to Marilyn Meredith!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Westerns? Bonnie Kelly


                 Westerns are not as popular as they once were. I don’t understand is why. Picture the world as it is today. The world of boom boxes, back up beepers (those really drive me insane), noise, noise, noise. Everywhere you turn, everything you do is contributing to making you deaf. Even in your home you can’t get away from it, your vacuum cleaner to your blender makes you crazy. Then you just sit down to watch your favorite television show and your next door neighbor has decided to have a party. You might be able to deal with the music if it wasn’t for the bass invading your house from the ground up through your cement floors right into your body and your brain which considers a violence you could not imagine yourself capable of. 
                 Life changed for me when moved from a big city to 16 acres of lakefront property and spent summers swimming, boating and fishing, chasing fireflies, and watching Great Blue Herons silently hunt from turtle mounds and lily pads.
                  In spring lilacs bloomed, then dogwood, and after that autumn’s brilliant colors painted the trees surrounding the lake before the snow of winter brought its quiet stillness to the world.
                We used kerosene lamps for light, drank fresh spring water from a pump outside the house and trudged out back to the outhouse. I walked 3 miles to a one room school house past apple orchards with no fences where we could pick the fruit. One bite into of those crisp apples and juice would run down your chin. Today they tell you to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but who can stomach the dry mealy apples and unripe tomatoes passed off as healthy eating.
               A move to the desert found us riding horses on Squaw Peak Mountain. A family of Navajo, wearing their native dress, rode into downtown Phoenix one Saturday afternoon in a horse drawn wagon. The desert sunsets were spectacular. In summer we’d camp at the lakes in the mountains to escape the heat.
                  I still have the urge to see things as they might have been and have camped in Sequoia National Park, as far south as Tampico, Mexico and as far north as Alaska. In 2004, I put my dog in a van and we traveled almost 10,000 miles across this awe-inspiring country. And this I know, these experiences have taught me that I’d rather hear a bird sing than a jack hammer pound cement. I’d rather here a chorus of frogs calling for mates than listen to some boom box pound in my head, and I’d rather listen to the wind in the trees and see the stars fill the night sky.
                 And this is why I write westerns. They can be many things, stories of adventure, romance, mystery and more. But whatever tale they choose to tell, of this we can be sure—it happens in a time and place of grand and glorious wonder. 
                I want to thank Billie for publishing my western novel, Blessings, Bullets and Bad Bad Men, first as an ebook and now being printed, and available at Amazon. And thanks to Sunny for always being available when needed.
               As Billie would say. "YAAAY!"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Westerns? by Bonnie B.A. Kelly

Happy Memories From a Dark Oak Winner.


The call I received on that warm September evening eleven years ago changed everything for me. At 8:30 P.M. on the Monday of a Labor Day weekend, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press telephoned with mind-boggling news. My first Lake George Mystery, An Affinity for Murder, had been chosen one of two winners in her 2000 Dark Oak contest. Although Billie had notified me a few days earlier that I was a semifinalist and asked me to fill out a marketing form, I hadn’t jumped to any conclusions. I’d already experienced enough disappointment in the book publishing world that I thought her request might be only a formality. Marketing wasn’t my strong suit, but I developed a plan.

In her call that evening, Billie explained she’d intended to use the marketing form to help her choose between me and the other finalist, Wendy Howell Mills, author of Callie & the Dealer& a Dog Named Jake. Since she’d liked both our books, she said, and had been pleased with both our marketing responses, she’d decided to declare us co-winners.

Billie filled me in on the details, her voice fading in and out as she traveled along a Pacific coast highway. Almost three thousand miles away in upstate New York, I stared out my kitchen window, watching the sun sink behind the trees in the back yard and struggling to assimilate what this news meant.

The back story -- For me, getting words down on paper or up onto the computer screen provided the ultimate high. I’d found a variety of ways to make books and writing an important part of my life. I’d been a small town correspondent for an area newspaper, a high school librarian who loved reading, selecting and promoting books, a yearbook adviser and, after I became involved in our school’s career education program, a contributor of more than 100 articles on career topics to three magazines for young people.

My life was busy at home and at school. My husband and I juggled two full-time jobs, six children and lots of responsibilities. I loved writing for Career World Magazine, free-lancing for other career publications and submitting occasional pieces on books or travel to other magazines. In our lively household, I’d found the best way to squeeze in my writing was to set the alarm for 5 A.M. and get to it while the house was quiet.

Once I understood the basics of writing for publication, it was a hop and skip to writing mysteries. The nearby Lake George area, rich in history with present day tourism and environmental concerns, offered a terrific setting. Topping my list of possible subjects – Georgia O’Keeffe who’d spent fifteen summers at the lake and painted some of her best loved masterpieces there. Great research possibilities there for a librarian.

In my efforts to craft a story around long-lost O’Keeffe paintings, I was aided and abetted, as mystery writers like to say, by a terrific young writer, Matt Witten, at the time from nearby Saratoga Springs. When Matt taught a course for the Lake George Arts Project, he proved to be an inspiring teacher and pushed his students to try for publication. A few years before, he’d been awarded an Unpublished Writers Grant by the Malice Domestic mystery writers’ organization for his first book, Breakfast at Madeline’s. He urged me to apply, and I want to pass on his advice to others. I suggest that anyone reading this who has not yet published a book check out the information about the grant on the Malice Domestic website.

There’s plenty of time to apply before this year’s deadline.

Winning a Malice grant propelled me into another extraordinary time. Not only was I awarded $500 (the grant is $1000 now) and admission to the Malice Domestic Conference, but that was just the beginning. Soon after, an agent telephoned me. I had no idea how unbelievable that was. I put him off, not once but twice, before he called a third time and I agreed to have him represent me. Affinity made the rounds of New York publishers but, despite the agent’s efforts, it was rejected by one after another.

“Tell me what they don’t like and I’ll make changes,” I said, but it wasn’t that easy. “I liked it. I just didn’t like it enough,” was one of the standard responses. Comments like that didn’t help me discover how I could make the book more appealing.
By this time, Matt Witten had moved his young family to California where he’d become a writer for Law and Order, already a television hit. When he read about Oak Tree’s Dark Oak contest, he urged me to apply. Once again, his advice was right on target.
At the 2001 Malice Domestic Conference in Washington, D.C., co-winner Wendy Howell Mills and I signed books for one another, received our Dark Oak awards and appeared on panels to talk about our books.

The next year, An Affinity For Murder (unchanged) was nominated as a Malice Domestic Best First Mystery – another terrific time. Seeing news of this year’s Dark Oak contest on the Oak Tree website has brought back many happy memories I thought would be fun to share.

Check me out at www.annewhitemysteries.com
Anne White’s Lake George Mysteries: An Affinity For Murder ( Oak Tree Press,c2001). Other Lake George Mysteries: Beneath The Surface, c2005, Best Laid Plans, c2006, Secrets Dark and Deep c2007, Cold Winter Nights c2009, with Hilliard and Harris. Available on Kindle and Nook.

Challenge Accepted?

Over on my Face Book page is an interview by Brit Morgen Bailey. I issued a challenge to all of you in the comments section. You can also find the interview at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/blog-interview-no-81-with-mystery-and-children%E2%80%99s-author-sunny-frazer/#comment-581

Easier just to go on Face Book. I'll also post on the OTP FB site.