Sunday, March 31, 2013

Setting Priorities

Writers, at least if they want to be successful, must be publicists and business executives. That means multitasking, and that means setting priorities.

A rule for setting priorities
After searching the web for organizational ideas, I decided that I already had a golden rule for setting priorities. In my new novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight (Oak Tree Press will publish this medical mystery in March 2013,) Linda Almquist, the heroine, is given this advice.

"There are three types of problems. A few problems are like wine; those situations improve if you delay decisions and let them age. Most problems are like waste paper. You can ignore them because they don’t matter. Unfortunately like waste paper, they tend to be messy when they pile up. And some problems are like manure. You must identify them quickly before they stink.”

Application of the rule
I admit that I dislike setting up speaking engagements, but enjoy fussing over my slides and handouts for talks. This probably reflects the fact that I was a professor for many years. I’ve resolved to spend less time on details that no one notices and more time on trying to schedule engagements.

With further thought, I realized that I was not listening to the advice given Linda. I was solving a “waste paper” problem. I was not attacking my “manure” problem – reaching a larger readership. That means for me doing more and varied guest blogs, increasing the outreach of my own blog (, and, in general, being more active in promoting my books. So if you're reading this, let me know if you'd like one of my guest blogs.

When you analyze your situation, you’ll draw different conclusions. Many of you will like me tend to attack the “waste paper” problems before the important “manure” problems.

Which problems are like wine?
I bet we all waste time dreaming about how we’ll spend our next royalty check.

J.L. Greger
Author of medical thrillers and mysteries: Coming Flu and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight.

Here’s a sneak peek at Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight: Someone in this southwestern medical school doesn’t like women. Two have been murdered already. Linda Almquist suspects the deaths are related to her investigation of a “diet doctor,” who is alleged to be recklessly endangering the lives of his obese research subjects. Maybe she’s wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past – something involving her boss the Dean. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

Learn more about JL Greger and her muse Bug at http: www.// It (the website not Bug) is getting a facelift and changing vendors in March. It's been a tough process. Maybe I should write a blog on it, but I doubt anyone wants to hear griping from one more inept computer user.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Welcome to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Round Up

Is it too early to think about Halloween? Not according to CHRIS KULLSTROEM, author of "Deadly Roles", a collection of interactive mystery games. For her, Halloween is a year-around event. Plus, find out why JOHN BRANTINGHAM's having THE BEST WEEK EVER. All this and the Blog Corral on the Weekly Round-Up! 

TERRY AMBROSE, author of  “License To Lie,” interviews JOHN BRANTINGHAM over at the Examiner:

JOHN BRANTINGHAM, author of  “Mann of War,” has a new short story collection published by  World parade Books titled “Let Us Pray To Our Own Strange Gods.” It's now available on Amazon.

Also, John is serializing "How Easily Murder Is Being Discovered" over at Venture Galleries:

Also serializing over at Venture Galleries is JIM CALLAN, author of "A Ton of Gold." His book, "Cleansed by Fire" will be running two chapters a week.

DOUG DANIELSON, nautical author of  “Shore Loser,” received a glowing 5 star review for his latest, “Sea-Duction.” Maureen Fisher said “This is my first Douglas Danielson book, and definitely not the last. This fast-paced nautical action adventure set in San Diego and Catalina hooked me on page one and kept me entertained until the end. I particularly enjoyed the multi-layered characters, particularly Jake, with his party-hearty attitude and his up-and-down relationship with his exotic and complicated lady-love. I’m looking forward to reading more about Jake and all his friends in another Jake Mortensen Mystery.”

LESLEY DIEHL, author of “Dumpster Dying” and “Chilled, Grilled and Killed,” is featured over at Kings River Life with a book review and a giveaway. In addition, her short story, “The Best of Friends” is up for our reading pleasure. 

SHIRLEY HICKMAN, author of  “Sarah Darlin'” is showcased:   

JOHN LINDERMUTH, author of Pennsylvania mystery “Fallen From Grace,” illustrates his clever twists:

MARY MONTAGUE SIKES's mystery/suspense/romance novel “Night Watch” is featured on Venture Galleries as well. Writing the book brought back memories of her adventures in Trinidad.


 JOHN BRANTINGHAM will be appearing at Whittier College, CA, on April 2 for afternoon and evening readings of his poetry.

CHRIS KULLSTROEM, author of "Deadly Roles", a collection of interactive mystery games, will speak at The Connecticut Gravestone Network Symposium, East Hartford, CT, Saturday, April 6, 2013. Her topic is "Halloween Business Events: The Social Side of Scaring." The seminar focuses on how Halloween celebrations at businesses and non-profit organizations have provided intrinsic benefits for individuals, families and communities. Demonstrated from scarecrow festivals to cemetery lantern tours, this presentation gives event organizers, volunteers and business owners the tools to generate healthy communities through their Halloween celebrations.

G. THOMAS GILL, author of Dog Island April will be at Inkwood Books on April 9 at 6:00 pm. The event will also feature speakers Jenny Milchman, whose debut novel, "Cover of Snow", was released in January by Ballantine Books.Books will be available for purchase, and both authors will be available for book signing. A "Path to Publication" discussion will follow, and will be of interest to any aspiring writer.


JOHN BRANTINGHAM has a trailer up for his new book “Let Us Pray To Our Own Strange Gods.” There's also some of his favorite poems on the site.
John's also starting a new blog over at Venture Galleries titled “The Fictive World of the Lazy Sociopath.”

JIM CALLAN, author of  “A Ton of Gold,”interviews Regina Williams, publisher at Mockingbird Lane Press.

MARTA CHAUSEE, author of  “Murder's Last Resort,” had a close encounter with Russell Brand and see a photo of her in Judge Judy's chair:  

LORNA COLLINS, author of “Ghost Writer,” discovers more family ties on Face Book:

JOHN DANIEL, author of “Behind the Redwood Door,” gives a brief introduction to a small book he's writing about writing life stories and memoirs.

LESLEY DIEHL, author of “Dumpster Dying” and “Chilled, Grilled and Killed,” is showcased over at Venture Galleries:

WILLIAM DOONAN “American Caliphate” invites you to learn about his e-book experiment over at 

SUNNY FRAZIER, author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries shares what she does in a reprise of her post “Confessions of an Acquisitions Editor” at Kings River Life.

MARJA MCGRAW, author of The Bogey Man series, hosts Shelly Frome, actor, writer and professor,  discussing what to do when you're stuck on a chapter. 


This is where you can find her this week:

Visiting Pat Gligor at and she's asked to list all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books in order with a bit of a blurb about each one.
Marilyn had fun posting “How Dare you Write a Police Procedural”
Find out what's next for Marilyn
She talks about Officer Stacey Wilber at
Marilyn reveals her publishing history—not a pretty one

Nothing to do with writing, but here are "Some Random Thoughts about the Four Questions," by Rabbi ILENE SCHNEIDER, author of  “Unleavened Dead”
And, does she share Aviva's pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy?

CHRIS SWINNEY, author of soon-to-be-published “Gray Ghost” asks “Ever wonder where those missing socks go?”

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What is your perfect writing place?

By W. S. Gager
What is the best environment to write in? Do you do it with a fruity drink pool side? How about on a balcony with a view of the ocean? Do you have a dedicated space or is it the recliner in the living room with a laptop? Or a small desk in a cramped corner?

The room before we purchased.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what the perfect office space would be. The ocean and pool aren’t in the cards but I’ve been dreaming. That may be because in the last four years I have lived in two rentals for six to nine months each knowing they were temporary and neither had an office space. I’ve lived in two houses and only the first had an office. Now we are in our final resting place if you will. And best of all, I have an office space. A loft that was billed as a bedroom when we first looked at it but my mind quickly took it to the perfect office space.

After some delays, we have moved in. My office space is the last priority after the kitchen (we need to eat), the bedrooms (we need to sleep) and putting the things I know where they go (we need to move in a sea of boxes). Finally Friday I was able to tackle the space I had been itching to get my hands on. Many things erroneously made it into the space and during the packing process many extras were shoved with my many books. A dozen books, three towels and a bunch of miscellaneous items in a single box and there were a dozen boxes just like the first.

Before I started to unpack boxes.
But I digress. This blog isn’t about my unpacking but offices. How do I arrange an office? What is the maximum efficiency? Feng Shui says a person should never have their back to the door or face a solid wall. So do you put the desk in the middle of the room and face the balcony in my loft office? The sloped ceiling also offers a kink but works for some bookcases but I can’t find the little pegs that hold the shelves…

Trying to organize my perfect office space for maximum efficiency, creativity and organization is turning into a harder project than I expected. Any suggestions? Please let me know what your perfect office looks like. How do you organize your materials? Stay tuned for the finished office photos. (Hopefully soon!)

W.S. Gager is the author of four books in the Mitch Malone Mysteries. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him. Her third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS is the latest in the Mitch series and now available.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Author, Writer, or Hack?

I'm acquainted with half a dozen different writers who've each penned over three hundred novels, as well as countless short stories. It just so happens they're all men, and they're all roughly my age (I'll be 65 this coming weekend). I guess the age part is to be expected; after all, even the most prolific writer needs some amount of time to turn out that much product. And I hasten to add that the books I'm talking about are not 20-30 page kiddie tales augmented by 50% illustrations—nor am I implying there's anything wrong with such fare. But what I'm referring to are full-length novels with multiple characters, plots and sub plots, the whole magilla. A number of their titles have appeared on the NYT best-seller list.
The thing I want to key in on here is that word "prolific".
Ever notice that, in almost any other profession or endeavor you can name, being prolific—being efficient and productive, in other words—is a good thing … yet in Writing it is often looked down upon, even sneered at? After all, anyone who churns out an over abundance of words must be doing it hurriedly and sloppily, right? Gotta be a "hack", right? I mean, a true artist must suffer for his or her art, must endure sitting before a blank sheet of paper and "opening up one's veins" before ever hoping to produce anything truly meaningful. Isn't that so?
How about someone with a fertile imagination and a skill with words having the drive and discipline to put in 10-12 hours at the keyboard, day in and day out, and pouring their heart into simply telling entertaining stories? Learning to let their descriptions and scene segues and characterizations and interactions flow more smoothly, more naturally … Honing their skills, in other words, the same way a carpenter or sculptor or musician does. Working hard, adjusting, adapting until it comes easier and more quickly.
Loving what they do.
I'm hardly in the 300-plus books club. I likely wouldn't be if I lived another 65 years. But in the past few years I've gained a better understanding and appreciation for those who are able to reach such levels.
You see, from 1982, when I sold my first short story, until June of 2009, when I retired from my full-time job in the real world, I had written and sold six novels and twenty short stories. From mid-2009 until now, I have written/sold/had published an additional eleven novels and fourteen short stories; plus I have a twelfth novel completed and four more (two of them partially done) contracted/committed to have turned in by or before the third quarter. Obviously, no longer having that "other" obligation of a full-time job makes a difference; plus, some of the novels I've recently done—and some of the ones forthcoming—are more in the 40,000-word range rather the 60,000-plus ones I used to consistently do.
Nevertheless, by any measure, I have increased my output considerably. And you know what? I—along with a handful of first-readers whose opinions I solicit and trust—don't feel my quality has diminished at all; if anything it is better. I credit this to being more dedicated, more disciplined, and to working harder and steadier.
I've reached a point in my life where I feel like I'm finally doing what I was born for—being a genre pulp writer.
And the guys turning out 300-500 books in a career? I suspect they see themselves pretty much the same way and are fine with it.
Does a large quantity of titles automatically make a writer a hack? Not the way I see it. I could name several big-name, big-selling authors who do only one book every year or year-and-a-half that are automatic buys for the "beach book" crowd --- yet they can't write for beans. So, conversely, a modest output of titles certainly doesn't make the writer an author of any true significance.
The guys I'm talking about are merely writers who love what they do and work damn hard at it.
Nothing more. Certainly nothing less.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The REAL Friday Round-Up

Oak Tree authors were in the swing of things at conventions, conferences and literary festivals. Plus, we've got a cover boy in our midst. Introducing Oak Tree's new Small Books writing guides and previewing a new feature: The Blog Corral. Yippee!                                                                            
In Vancouver, WA, LORNA COLLINS (author of “Ghost Writer”) and prolific author MARILYN MEREDITH attended EPICon.
This is a conference for e-book authors. You can get the low-down and find out where EPICon 2014 will be at: 

In sunny California, JOHN BRANTINGHAM (“Mann of War”) and MARTA CHAUSEE (Murder's Last Resort) debuted their novels at the new San Gabriel Literary Festival.
 They manned the Oak Tree table by LORNA COLLINS (“Ghost Writer”), SUNNY FRAZIER (the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries), MARJA MCGRAW (the Bogey series), MARILYN MEREDITH (the Rocky Bluff PD series); and....

 MORGAN ST. JAMES (“Who's Got the Money?”) and supporters Augie Hicks and Eileen Obser. You can read just what it took to pull this festival together over at Sunny's blog on Novel Spaces: 
TERRY AMBROSE, author of  “License To Lie,” and SUSAN VONDRAK, author of “No Evidence of a Crime,” and “The Evidence is Clear,” were at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Both report the weather was cold, not the relief Susan was hoping for when she left Chicago behind. Both say they are looking forward to attending (and selling!) at the LA Times Festival of Books in late April.
You can read a terrific article on the festival by Rebecca Dahlke with quotes from Terry. She also gives helpful hints to make your conference experience worthwhile.  
Terry Ambrose also was at Great Oak High School in Temecula, CA, on to give a presentation titled, "The Importance of Character." The presentation was an interactive discussion with students to generate an understanding of how characters drive a story and how lessons learned from fictional characters can be related to everyday real-life issues.
JOHN BRANTINGHAM, ( “Mann of War”) and TERRY AMBROSE (“License To Lie”) were both featured over at Venture Galleries:  

Who made the cover of of TaeKwonDo Times? None other than black belt STEPHEN BRAYTON,  author of “Alpha.” He is serializing his short story, “White Belt Weapons” in the magazine.
Speaking of magazines, SUNNY FRAZIER received a two-page spread in the Visalia Times Lifestyle Magazine this month.
The trailer for LORNA COLLINS' “Ghost Writer” is now on Book Town:

Rabbi ILENE SCHNEIDER, author of  “Unleavened Dead” received a good write-up in the Burlington County Times (NJ) from feature writer Sally Friedman about Passover preparations and Ilene's books.

The latest issue of MORGAN ST. JAMES's online ezine “Tricks Of the Trade” has an article by SALLY CARPENTER (“The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper”) on “The Smart Way To Present Press Releases” and a review of TERRY AMBROSE'S  book, “License To Lie.” There's always great info to be found in this publication.  

Jacquidon Carroll, protag of DENISE WEEKS'  “Nice Work,” gives a nice interview over at  

MARK BOUTON, author of  the FBI thriller “The Sacrifice,” will speak at the Kansas Writers', Ink meeting at the Topeka, KS, library on 4/27/13.
J.L. GREGER, will speak on "Science in Your Fiction" on Tuesday, March 26 at Croak and Dagger (the Albuquerque Chapter of Sisters in Crime). She'll also sign copies of “Coming Flu” and advertise “Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight.” She'll also lead an OASIS class on "Science in Fiction: Making Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak Real" OASIS is an educational program for those over 50.


JOHN BRANTINGHAM reads his poetry and vlogs on “How To Write a Sonnet” over at

John's book “The Gift of From: A Pocket Guide to Formal Poetry” is one of Oak Tree's new Small Books Collection. It can be ordered thru Amazon or Oak Tree.

JIM CALLAN, author of  “A Ton of Gold,” has a guest blog up on Jennifer Harlow's Ink Spot on the naming of characters.

Have you ever lost track of a family member or friend, only to find them again years later? Read about how Facebook helped LORNA COLLINS reunite with long-lost cousins.

JOHN DANIEL, author of “Behind the Redwood Door,” hosts Miami writer Madelyn Lorber, author of “The Eyes Have It,” a remarkable paranormal, multi-ethnic P.I. novel. Drop by and learn what "The Joy of Story" means to Madelyn:

SUNNY FRAZIER gave a bleak outlook on human anatomy in the future in “Darwinism 101” at Buried Under Books:

MARJA MCGRAW has Patricia Gligor as her guest discussing a Best Of list and promoting small press authors. 

MARILYN MEREDITH continues her blog hop at these sites:
On how hard a blog tour can be including some of the problems.

What bugs her on this stop on my tour

A new and wonderful review of Dangerous Impulses at

A visit with Earl Staggs:

What do bookstore visits and hurricanes have in common?
Making sure her characters aren't too good to be true: