Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keep Your Chin Up

As a new member of the OTP Blog, I'd like to offer some inspiration to my fellow writers by way of Writers Circle. That website posted a list of writers known to all, who have suffered the ego crushing experience of having their work rejected. Some on the list endured being turned down hundreds of times.

I'm sure we've all gone through rejection of our work at some time or other. Whether it's a novel, short story, poetry, etc., it can damage us if we let it. Therefore, let me offer some encouragement by using the Writers Circle list of famous rejectees:

Next time you open a rejection letter (or email) visualize these literary greats--and get back to writing. 

C.S. Lewis 

No list of rejected authors would be complete without Lewis, who was turned down 800 times before selling a single piece of writing.  His Chronicles of Narnia was eventually translated into 47 languages and sold more than 100 million copies. 

Anne Frank

Fifteen publishers refused to print The Diary of Anne Frank. One critic postulated, "The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” It seems more than 25 million were curious enough to buy it.

Jack Kerouac

The voice of the Beat Generation was almost silenced by publishers. Early critics were convinced On the Road would fail. One wrote, "His frenetic and scrambled prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation. But is that enough? I don't think so." Millions of copies sold and a major motion picture would have us believe otherwise. 


Rudyard Kipling

"I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language." The San Francisco Examiner roasted Kiping's writing, but the author persevered. Today, millions of readers (and Disney) are thankful for that. 

Sylvia Plath

Poets weren't spared the disdain of the publishing world. One editor attempted to hush Sylvia Plath by telling her, "There certainly isn't enough genuine talent for us to take notice." Today she's one of America's most celebrated poets and the recipient of a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. 


George Orwell

"It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA," was the snippy response from one publisher to Orwell's Animal Farm. Even T.S. Eliot, as head of Faber & Faber, scoffed at the book and its "Trotskyite politics." Eventually publisher Secker & Warburg snatched up the manuscript and watched it climb the bestsellers list. 


Louisa May Alcott

One publisher advised Alcott to "stick to teaching." She ignored the (now defunct) publisher's advice and penned Little Women, which remains in print almost 150 years later. 


H.G. Wells


The War of the Worlds received some brutal evaluations. A particularly grumpy editor attacked Wells' piece with abandon, calling it "An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.'” The verdict reads a little more like this: read by millions and the inspiration for a string of feature films, radio dramas, comic books, a record album and a TV series. 

 This listed was originally posted by Stephanie Ostroff on 8/16/13.

Stephanie Ostroff graduated from the University of Maryland in 2011 with a degree in journalism. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic Traveler's Intelligent Travel blog and USA WEEKEND Magazine, among other publications.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today is my Book Launch! Locked Within, an Emma Winberry Mystery by Helen Macie Osterman, # 5 in the series.

       How does an author feel before a book launch? I spend weeks of preparation: sending postcards, e-mails, contacting local newspapers, posting on Facebook and Twitter and then reminders as the date approaches.

After I spend two hours baking Emma’s famous muffins, labor intensive but delicious, I think I’m ready.

There’s always excitement and a feeling of trepidation. What if no one shows up? What if the books don’t arrive on time? What if the weather is bad?

This particular book has a medical theme. As a retired nurse, I’ll give my audience a lesson in brain anatomy, some surprising facts. And, I asked and received a blurb from Michael Palmer, MD., New York Times best seller of medical thrillers.

 Usually my worries are for nothing. I generally have a good turn out and, since I am an experienced speaker, we all have a good time.

So I’m anticipating fun, food, and book sales!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Welcome to the Weekly Round-Up everyone! Thank you for dropping in. Oak Tree Press has lots of news in our corral today. Be sure to check out our website,, for a complete list of all the great books we have available. But now, for your reading pleasure, our authors have news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs and more to share with you as we head into the Round-Up…

BILLIE JOHNSON, Oak Tree Press Publisher, is evaluating hosting or co-hosting a conference next summer, 2014. The location would be California's beautiful San Joaquin Valley. The survey is a short 6 questions. Also, your input is needed for ideas of what you would like to see at the conference. A writing competition? Book signings? Participation in speaking panels? Billie would love to have your feedback on this exciting possibility. Please use the following link for the survey.

JEANA THOMPSON, OTP Public Relations, was featured in a recent edition of Western Writers of America Round-Up magazine. She speaks of receiving review blurbs from your fellow authors at your publishing house. JEANA says, “I think it would be that a review blurb from a well-known author would be more influential to prospective readers than that of a professional reviewer with less name recognition.” Nice job, JEANA! Congratulations on being on the other side of the public relations desk!

CINDY LADAGE and JANE AUMANN's children’s book, “My Name is Huber” has been reviewed by Night Owl Reviews. I have included the entire review so you can see what a delight this book is. I also chose this book as the Blog Feature Book of the week. Simply click the link of the book cover on the far right to order it today for your little ones. Click this link for the review:

Huber is a tractor built in 1927. He is ready to work on a farm. When he is sold, he wonders what type of farm work he’ll do and if he’ll have a family. The farmer and his family take very good care of Huber. As the years pass, they need a newer, faster tractor and Huber is replaced. Huber is put in a field with the other broken-down farm equipment. One day, the farmer’s son, who is grown now, finds Huber and remembers all the fun he had riding Huber around the farm. He decides to rebuild Huber. Once again, Huber is good as new. Huber’s final move is to a museum in 1990 where everyone can see the shiny tractor from 1927. This is a cute story. It is written from Huber’s viewpoint. The story details the hard work that is needed to take care of a farm. It shows the changes in the needs of equipment from year to year. Even though Huber is replaced and left alone for years, the farmer’s son restores Huber to share with others. It is interesting to note that the goal of the two authors is to preserve agricultural heritage for future generations.

CAROL ALEXANDER, author of “The Big Squeal” would like to share a picture that was sent to her by Gail Doyle. Gail’s friend, Judy Nickles, proudly displays a copy of "The Big Squeal" by MISS LIBERTY and a miniature of the world's only statue of Abe Lincoln and a pig. This display is right inside Judy’s front door so everyone gets to see it! CAROL is positive that MISS LIBERTY is now "at home" in all 50 states.

MISS LIBERTY has also been invited to hold a book signing for "The Big Squeal" at the Rock Springs Nature Center fall festival September 14th - 15th in Decaur, IL. This is really of interest to me. Exactly how does a pig sign a book? This is a pygstery!
J. L GREGER’s book “Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight” will be featured in Rebecca Dahlke’s All Mystery Newsletter September 7th - 13th. This book’s kindle edition, along with "Coming Flu" the first in this series, are both on sale for$2.99 through the end of September on Follow this link for the newsletter:


ILENE SCHNEIDER, author of “Unleavened Dead” will be at Killer Nashville this weekend, August 23- 25, 2013 in Nashville, TN. She has two panels scheduled. The first panel is Friday, August 23rd from 10:10 am -11:40 am, “Hardboiled Heroines and Feisty Female Sleuths/Strong Female Protagonists.” The second is Saturday, August 24th from 11:20 am-12:20 pm, “Fiction on the Fringes: Writing about Other Cultures, Closed Societies and Countercultures.”

RADINE TREES NEHRING, author of “A Fair to Die For” is spending all day this Saturday, August 24, at the yearly Frisco Festival in Rogers, Arkansas. She's appearing as an invited guest of Trolley Line Books at 110 West Walnut in Rogers's Historic District,where streets will be closed to all but pedestrian traffic. Trolley Line owners, Myra and Pat Moran, are setting up an open tent in front of the bookstore where RADINE will be talking with the public and signing copies of “A Journey to Die For” and “A Fair to Die For” from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Look for the fluttery-topped shelter just a half-block south of Frisco Park, where artists on the concert stage, plus other attractions, will be entertaining festival attendees throughout the day.

On September 09, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at Cranford Community Center 220 Walnut Avenue Cranford, NJ 07016, RICHARD MARRANCA and the library invites you to an evening about the culture and history of Southeast Asia. His book “Dragon Sutra” unfolds across Southeast Asia and is about politics, history, travel, Buddhist monks, the adventure of living, and more. There will be a slide show, a brief reading from the novel, and a question and answer period. RICHARD was awarded a Fulbright to teach at the University of Munich, as well as six summer study grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has a doctorate from New York University and is an Assistant Professor of English at Passaic County Community College. In Asia, he studied yoga and meditation and spent time with a hill tribe. Admission to the program is free and all are welcome.

RICHARD MARRANCA, author of “Dragon Sutra” has an interview and an upcoming appearance. The interview will run Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 11:30 pm through Saturday, August 31 at 11:30 pm CST on Romancing the Heart interviews. Here is the link:

WILLIAM DOONAN, author of “American Caliphate” has a speaking event at Sacramento Public Libraries to talk about writing, archaeology, and "American Caliphate." The event is next Tuesday, August 27th.  WILLIAM says he will be meeting with some major library people to talk about his book, about Oak Tree Press, and about future projects.

AMY BENNETT, author of “End of the Road,” will be selling and signing copies of her debut mystery novel on Saturday, August 31, 2013, at By the Cupful, 123 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM from 10 am to 12 noon. "End of the Road" was the 2012 Oak Tree Press Dark Oak Mystery contest winner. Everyone is invited to stop by and pick up a copy of the book and some wonderful coffees, teas, and other goodies offered by the friendly people at By the Cupful (a locally owned small business) and meet the author as well!


JOHN DANIEL, author of “Behind the Redwood Door” hosts Larry Karp on his blog this week. Larry writes medical thrillers and ragtime mysteries. Drop by and meet a master:

DAC CROSSLEY, author of the upcoming “Revenge of the Texas Ranger,” declares that in Atlanta the rain continues to fall and he is reduced to a whimsical entry on Dac Crossley's Western Blog. DAC also reminds us that progress continues on publication of “Revenge of the Texas Ranger.”

J. R. LINDERMUTH, author of “Sooner than Gold” is interviewed on several projects at

LORNA COLLINS, author of "Ghost Writer" invites you to find out about the new book by J. L. GREGER who is LORNA's guest this week on her blog.

JAMES CALLAN, author of "A Ton of Gold" is interviewed by Daphne Self on Rebel Book Reviews. It is a nice interview. Get to know JAMES at the following link:

HELEN OSTERMAN, author of “Locked Within” is pleased to announce that her author spotlight is live on Morgen Bailey's writing blog . The direct link is:

P.J. NUNN, author of "Angel Killer" has a full schedule for the upcoming week. Here is where you can find her:

Wednesday, August 28 Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 28 - Dames of Dialogue Interview, (
Thursday, August 29 Book Review at A Room Without Books is Empty
Friday, August 30 Book Review, Interview & Character Guest Post at Melina’s Book Blog
Friday, August 30 Guest Blogging at Read 2 Review

That wraps up the Round-Up for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Weekly Round-Up as much as I enjoy posting it for you.

As always, if you have something you would like to submit to the Round-Up, send me an email at Big or small, old or new. I would like to keep our corral full of news! Comments, questions or suggestions are welcome too.
Have a great weekend, everyone.~ Suzi
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing tips from a master

As you've probably read, Elmore Leonard died yesterday at age 87. Prolific and successful, he often lectured and here are his now famous (slightly condensed) tips for good writing from an article in the NYTimes from 2001. Thought all of us might enjoy seeing them again. They certainly make sense to this old writer.

(My favorite story of his was GET SHORTY. Hilarious and pithy and so are his writing tips:)


Published: July 16, 2001

These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.
1. Never open a book with weather.
If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. 
2. Avoid prologues.
They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.
3. Never use a verb other than ''said'' to carry dialogue.
The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. 
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .
. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 
6. Never use the words ''suddenly'' or ''all hell broke loose.''
This rule doesn't require an explanation.
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won't be able to stop. 
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
In Ernest Hemingway's ''Hills Like White Elephants'' what do the ''American and the girl with him'' look like? ''She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.'' That's the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
Even if you're good at it, you don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
And finally:
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
This is a rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10:
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Kit Sloane
The Margot & Max Mysteries

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW--but not what EVERYBODY already knows

I may have to take a short break from reading my favorite genre, the cozy/traditional mystery with a non-PI female protagonist. I think I'm waaaaay overloaded on the common tropes, situations, and standard characters. Writers are often exhorted to write about what they know, but I think I'm seeing far too much of that lately. I read for excitement and vicarious experience as well as for escape and fun, and if I get the same-old-same-old, it's . . . well . . . (whispering) boring.

You see, I undertook a little experiment. I downloaded ten e-book cozy/traditional mysteries selling at Amazon and read them over the past couple of weeks with the intent of analyzing what's going on in the market. I discovered some new authors (good), but found some trends that bothered me (bad).

DISCLAIMER: None of these were Oak Tree Press books/authors. I didn't want to be influenced.

Rule one of writing: "Don't be boring." If your work becomes boring and mundane and repetitive (notice how this sentence is an example of what it describes), readers will begin skimming, then skipping, then tossing your book out the window.

I believe that a book set in an unusual place or with a protagonist who has an uncommon profession will appeal more to readers who are sick and tired of the usual tropes. For instance, I can't stand one more mystery/suspense tale in which the heroine is a recent widow, yet starts going out with the detective immediately. Or someone who holds all her conversations in the car on the cell phone or in some boring coffee shop. Authors: people like to learn something when they're reading, so why not do some research and set your next book in the Grand Canyon or on a hot-air balloon--or at least something different from the usual fare? I have found that if I call just about ANYONE and tell them I'm a novelist and need their expertise on Amtrak trains, automobile engines, ham radios, or cave exploring--take your pick--those people are eager to tell me all about what they do and how it's done. I usually pick up some fun factoid or two that'll fascinate the experts and make them think I've actually done whatever it is I have my characters doing. I've even called the local police to ask them about police procedure . . . I'm probably listed as a "person of interest" by now. (LOL)

During my experiment, I discovered such close similarities between the various stories and the characters that populated them that I found myself skimming and peeking ahead to see if anything interesting might happen, rather than putting the pieces of the puzzle together or trying to figure out the crime myself (as I usually do). I kept feeling as if I had read this story somewhere before, even though the plots and characters were not quite the same. I flipped back to check the title of the book to be sure I hadn't made a clicking mistake on the Kindle and therefore was re-reading a book. Nope. Different books. There just weren't many surprises.

That wasn't really what bugged me, though. I kept seeing scenes set in the same old places over and over: the car (usually the heroine alone), restaurants (with one dining companion), home, office, supermarket. After a while, these places all blurred together. YAWNNN. Listen, folks, we are making this stuff up, so why are we making it boring?

One reason I set my books in unusual places (Marfa, Texas, in the middle of an artist's colony with Mystery Lights, and BDSM bars, for two) is to entertain readers. I give my heroines unusual professions if I can. It's something that can capture a reader's attention. Wouldn't you rather read a scene set on a hot-air balloon than yet another "generic restaurant" scene with the concomitant chomping on salads and slurping of coffee? A chase through a winery instead of yet another office?

True, SOME of a book's scenes must be these common things. The hero's clothing is sometimes important, so we have to put up with the "I got up and got dressed" stuff, and often it's easier to deliver a clue via cell phone conversation than to go to all the trouble of having a scene. Some percentage of a book will be like that. But surely the remaining scenes can be more dramatic and have interesting backdrops. Right?

Maybe you don't think you know about an interesting profession. But is your spouse, parent, cousin, or child involved in a hobby or job that would be something readers aren't familiar with or are curious about? It can't hurt to jazz up the story by not having all the usual tropes. Can it?

Okay, time for the readers to speak out. Do you find that you get bored by books that are too vanilla or too much like other books? (Maybe not, and that's fine if it's true. Just asking.) Do you even think about it--meaning that as long as you like the story and aren't irritated by the characters, anything goes? How far can an author go before it gets too outlandish for you?

How do you feel about this? Are you a reader who wants a series to keep the same basic formula with a few variations, or do you like to see originality and creativity? Or are you somewhere in between?

I think I'll take a little break. I'll go back to re-read Richard Brautigan (the last of the Beats, I think), Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut. That should wash out all traces of the too-formulaic stuff!

Friday, August 16, 2013


Welcome to the Weekly Round-Up everyone! Thank you for dropping in. Oak Tree Press has lots of news in our corral today. Be sure to check out our website,, for a complete list of all the great books we have available. But now, for your reading pleasure, our authors have news, book signings, reviews, blogs and more to share with you as we head into the Round-Up…

TERRY AMBROSE, author of “License to Lie,” has read and reviewed fellow OTP author CHRIS SWINNEY’s debut novel “Gray Ghost.” Read the review here:

TERRY also recently interviewed Edgar-award winner Chris Pavone how winning the award has affected his writing. The interview can be found at

ILENE SCHNEIDER, author of “Unleavened Dead” would like to share what Michelle Perin, Chairperson of the Public Safety Writers Association Writing Contest, had to say about her book. Judge’s Comments: What a wonderful story. Although I didn’t know many of the words and the customs weaved into this novel, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by learning them. I felt pulled into a whole new world. The plot was interesting and the characters unique. I liked this story from the beginning to the end.

JACKIE TAYLOR ZORTMAN, author of “We Are Different Now,” has been featured on the Compassionate Friends Facebook page. JACKIE tells me they allow authors to do this one time only. They have 660 chapters in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam offering help to bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members during the grieving process after a child has died.

More than 30 countries have a Compassionate Friends presence, encircling the globe with support so desperately needed when the worst has happened. They will decide in the fall if “We Are Different Now” will be carried in Centering Corporation, their official bookstore and North America's oldest and largest bereavement center carrying over 400 resources for grieving families. Congratulations on this great feature, JACKIE. And good luck!

BERYL REICHENBERG’s children's picture book "Ants on a Log" has been reviewed by They call the book "charming and engaging" and note that it is "A great book about Jack the Rabbit who won’t eat vegetables until he eats “Ants on a Log” at school and finds it delicious. Gradually his mother persuades him that vegetables can be tasty. Do you have a child that isn’t in to vegetables? Maybe this little book can help."


ROBERT WEIBEZAHL will sign copies of his new crime novel, The Dead Don’t Forget,” at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, California, tomorrow, August 17 at 2:00 pm. The book features screenwriter Billy Winnekta, introduced in ROBERT's debut crime novel, The Wicket and the Dead. The new installment in the acclaimed mystery series once more finds the amateur detective reluctantly investigating a peculiar Hollywood crime. Barnes & Noble is located in the Westlake Promenade, 160 S. Westlake Blvd, Thousand Oaks, 805/446-2820.

BERYL REICHENBERG has two events tomorrow, August 17, 2013 at the Curious Cup Bookstore, 929 Linden Ave in downtown Carpinteria, CA.

From 11:00 am to 12 noon she will be teaching a class about the publishing industry and talking about how to publish your own book.

This class is for budding authors and parents who wish to learn how to self-publish stories written by their children.

From 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the same location, she will be signing and talking about butterflies and her two new children's stories, “Butterfly Girls” and “When Caterpillars Dream.”

CAROL ALEXANDER, author of “The Big Squeal” and MISS LIBERTY the pig will be at the Illinois State Fair at the Looking for Lincoln display. Come and see a life size replica of the only statue in the world of Abe Lincoln and a pig. Be sure to rub Liberty the pig’s nose for good luck! This is the namesake for MISS LIBERTY, who helped CAROL write “The Big Squeal.” The fair runs through Sunday, August 18, 2013.

BILLIE JOHNSON, OTP Publisher and CORA RAMOS, author of “Dance the Dream Awake” will be attending the Yosemite Romance Writers of America (RMA) this Saturday, August 17, 2013. "Dance the Dream Awake" is our featured book of the week on the OTP blog.

ILENE SCHNEIDER, author of “Unleavened Dead” will have a book sale and signing at the Paperback Exchange, 703 ½ 9th Ave., Belmar, NJ on August 18 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm.

ILENE will also be attending Killer Nashville August 23rd - 25th in Nashville, TN. Her panels include: Friday, August 23rd, 10:10 am - 11:40 am, “Hardboiled Heroines and Feisty Female Sleuths/Strong Female Protagonists;” and on Saturday, August 24th, 11:20 am - 12:20 pm, “Fiction on the Fringes: Writing about Other Cultures, Closed Societies and Countercultures.”


HELEN OSTERMAN, author of “Locked Within” is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21st to be on Morgan Bailey’s Author Spotlight. Mark your calendars, HELEN is always a delight!

DAC CROSSLEY, author of The Border Trilogy, invites you to last Sunday evenings’ blog It's about A Question of Numbers at:

JOHN DANIEL, author of “Behind the Redwood Door,” says few words about his favorite publisher. It just so happens, it is his wife!

P.J. NUNN, author of “Angel Killer” has a busy schedule this week. Catch her if you can!
Monday, August 19 – Book Featured at Books R Us
Wednesday, August 21 – Book Featured at Confessions of a Reader
Thursday, August 22 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Friday, August 23 – Book Review at Literary Winner

That wraps up the Round-Up for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Weekly Round-Up as much as I enjoy posting it for you.
As always, if you have something you would like to submit to the Round-Up, send me an email at Big or small, old or new. I would like to keep our corral full of news! Comments, questions or suggestions are welcome too.
Have a great weekend, everyone.~ Suzi
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Does Life Begin at 50? Marta Tells All....

Hi Gang!

Billie said I should post on what it's been like to ramp up for my 50 online reviews.  But first-- don't you want to hear about my day?

Drove to the OC to look at cabinets at a big box cabinetmaking concern.  The hillbilly behind the counter was as helpful as a tick on a hipo, but at least he gave me a price chart before he belched and turned away.  

I jumped in my ride, and as the #55 North merged onto the North #405, the black Lexus SUV ahead of me braked and went from 60 to zero in 3 seconds.  I, too, braked like a lunatic, till my foot went through the floorboard and sparks flew from my heels, as they dragged across the asphalt.  My van shuddered, skidded and slid into ABS rigor.  The burning rubber stung my eyes and nostrils.

I gave a prayer of thanks inches from the Lexus.  I don't want to rear-end anyone.  And I need my van.

An hour later, as I neared LAX, my front right tire blew.  A sweet, roly poly AAA guy rescued me.  I thanked him, waved a jaunty good-bye, and went nowhere.  Over and over, the van fired up, but when I shifted into gear, the engine died.  José called Juan.  Together, they lifted my Hobart onto a flat-bed truck, and I got to practice my Spanish.

My poor Hobart, noble white steed since December 2001.  My buddy, my road trip prairie schooner.  My schlepper of dogs, kids, au pairs, cats in crates, from Chicago to Omaha, to Gutenberg, to Denver, to Reno, to Vegas, to LA and back-- so many times.  Oh, woe is Hobart and me.

Manny, Mo and Jack quoted $700 in repairs, not including the two front tires.  Holy Cow, that wasn't going to happen.  Got the bill down to $265.  Not great, but better than $700.  Depressed, I limped back home on my spare tire.  More ca-ching when Sears replaces my tires tomorrow.


OK, so Billie told me at the PSWA Conference that when a book gets 50 reviews on Amazon a whole new algorithm kicks in.  Your book gets better Amazon promotion.  

At 40 reviews, your book gets bigger and moves around on the page, like it's doing a little curtsy.  Can't wait to see what it does at 50 reviews-- maybe a little Irish jig, a tip of the hat.  At 60 reviews, it might do a slow strip and a pole dance.  Who knows?

Before I started my push to get 50 reviews, I had  23.  Over the past six weeks, I have received 23 more reviews by nagging, prodding and being a pus-boil pain in the ass to anyone I know who has bought my book.  I've also been posting on FB in a fever, like a pigeon tapping a lever for a food pellet in a Maslow Box, 3X a day, thanks to Chris Swinney, OTB author extraordinaire.

I've had fun generating play on my FB page. The happiest surprise  is that people have bought the book, just to review it for me.  Ain't that a kick in the soft tissue?    And I've reconnected with a several junior and high school friends.

Let's face it-- they weren't my friends in school.  They were far above timid, little, Ugly Betty me.  But now-- they seem to like my book and me.  Who woulda thunk it, as I cowered at my locker in my undershirt, changing for gym in 7th grade.  Everyone had a training bra but me.  My no-nonsense mom was unswayed by my begging and tears.  "You'll get a bra when you need one."

Just goes to show-- you live long enough (you need a bra), everything ends up OK and you need only 4 more reviews.

Marta Chausée