Monday, December 31, 2007
(hee, hee, hee)
It's the last day of the year... and more importantly, at least for me, the last blog of the year. It's mine, all mine, bwah, ha, ha, ha.
So you know what that means, don'cha?
Yep, I get something that I haven't gotten since I married my wonderful Indian Princess twenty two years ago ...
Married life is a wonderful thing.
I have two wonderful children, my wife is beautiful, talented and, well, smarter than me.
But she took something from me over these many years.
No, not ESPN. I still have ESPN.
It's the other thing that I haven't had in so, very, very, very, (did I say 'very'?) ... long.
the LAST WORD.
Happy Old Year and bring on the New Year!
See ya around and stuff,
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment (anthology)
(oh, yeah, did I mention ... last WORD? heh)
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Sunday came and went, and preparations for the holidays were in full swing. In other words, I got very little done in my office and can’t really tell you where the time went.
The book signing at Centuries & Sleuths went very well, our own blogger Norm Cowie participated, and he was wonderful. Thanks Norm…
We sold 70 books. My gratitude goes to Augie at Centuries for his quick response and eager participation.
That bring me back to Heat of the Moment-if you have not yet picked up a copy, please do so, the book is available at amazon.com and royalties go to a very worthwhile cause - The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County. If I seem to be pushing the book, I am…I am extremely proud of what Echelon Press and the Echelon authors accomplished and within such a short period of time.
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year…
Till next Saturday.
A Hotel in Paris
Heat of the Moment
Available at amazon.com
Till next Saturday,
A Hotel in Paris
Echelon Press LLC 2008
Available for pre-order on amazon
Friday, December 28, 2007
Prof. Holly Fretwell is a natural
policy expert on natural resources, an adjunct professor at Montana State University, and is a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center. You can visit her publisher's website at http://www.worldahead.com/titles/sky.php.
Holly Fretwell, adjunct professor at Montana State University, mom of 2, natural resources allocation expert and author of The Sky's NOT Falling! Why It's OK To Chill About Global Warming (ISBN 0976726947, Kids Ahead, for ages 8-12, September 2007) knows that kids are getting an earful in school about global warming. Unfortunately, all too much of that information is misleading or just plain wrong.
The Sky's NOT Falling! is the product of her concern not just for the environment, but for the millions of kids being handed an environmental bill of goods in class. As an educator, a mom and an optimist, Ms. Fretwell envisions a world that is wealthier, and so healthier for all. To get there, however, our kids need to become critical thinkers. And too much of what is passing for "truth" when it comes to the issue of global warming is anything but.
THE SKY'S NOT FALLING SYNOPSIS:
School has started. Unfortunately, right along with it comes the usual indoctrination about the "threat" of global warming. Perhaps your kids are already saying…
"I'm scared that every time I ride in the car, I'm hurting polar bears and other animals."
"I'm afraid that people just like me are causing global warming."
A recent question posed to Prof. Holly Fretwell:
Holly, you say that kids are getting an earful in school about global warming and much of that information is misleading or just plain wrong. Can you give us an example?
"Many students are being asked to watch Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." This has been a real inconvenience because, as the High British Court has stated, they are many non-truths and misleading statements in the movie. One of the most brazen examples is demonstrated with the graph that shows atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature change. The two variables are correlated; they move together. Gore and one of his producers Laurie David who just wrote a children's book on global warming, both assert that increases in CO2 levels cause temperature to increase. They have missed something really important here, one correlation does not mean causation, and two the data show that on average temperature changes 800 years before CO2 levels. Yes, read that again, temperature changes lead the changes in CO2 over the last 650,000 years."
For more, check out Holly Fretwell's book, The Sky's Not Falling.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It's been awhile since I've lived with a six year old. And I was a bit ashamed to admit I'd forgotten how open hearted and caring they can be this time of year. When they came home with presents they had purchased through the PTA workshop, they ran downstairs to wrap them up, one for Mommy, one for Daddy, one for Gramps and one for Grammie. Then I was told I couldn't open mine until Christmas. I had to wait!
Now my daughter, the mother of my granddaughters, has picked up the banner of over-the-top Christmas's! She had everything set for a grand Christmas morning. Then reality set in. Only one of Santa's presents arrived from UPS, not two. A phone call did little good. It had been shipped. She had one roll-top desk, one chair and two little girls expecting something from Santa. The second desk did not arrive on Christmas Eve Day. It still has not arrived.
My daughter was upset, and rightly so. Christmas was ruined, or so she feared. Late Christmas Eve, we gathered around, wondering what to do. The desk couldn't be from Santa ... but the presents I had purchased could be. So, I got to be Santa's helper once again. And Christmas morning, my little granddaughters were delighted with what they recieved from Santa and Mommy and Daddy. And when I stepped into the family room, hoping they wouldn't notice that we didn't have as much to give them, all they wanted to do was hand out the presents they had for us!
And I wondered how they got to be so smart. It is better to give than receive. Once again I was reminded of the real reason for Christmas. Amongst the glitter and presents, is the never ending gift of love. Hope you got a big dose of it this Christmas too.
As for me, my cup runneth over.
Til next time ~
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Get the House Ready - Pick up, Put away, Throw Away. My husband and I were quite busy during the holiday season, which meant clothes, papers, all sorts of items went where they shouldn’t be in the house. For our guests to move comfortably about in our home, the clutter had to be dealt with. I hung up clothes, put away my writing notes in a container for future reference, threw away old notes no longer needed, cleared the dining room table of excess objects, put away or threw away all sorts of stuff that we’d thought important at the time but no longer was.
(Also picked up dog toys and bones and put them in a container so no one would trip over them. Our darling dog is as sloppy as her masters.)
Get the Manuscript Ready – Make sure what you’ve written follows logical sequence. Don’t add excess descriptions that take away from what you’re trying to convey. Make sure the dialogue also advances the plot. You don’t want readers to skip over sections in your book because of too much clutter.
Cleaning – Once I’d cleared the tables and floors, I got out the mops, brooms, sponges, window cleaner, disinfectant, other cleaning paraphernalia and put them to use so the areas would be clean.
Clean your manuscript – Once you’ve removed the clutter, look deeper. Look for mistakes in grammar, syntax and spelling. Eliminate misplaced modifiers.
Decorate the house - With the house clean, I could advance to decorating. I added table runners, candles, little porcelain trees, wreaths, other homey touches.
Decorate the manuscript – You’ve eliminated unnecessary items in your manuscript. It flows correctly. Grammar, spelling and syntax is correct. Now it’s time to decorate. Go through your manuscript. If you have lots of paragraphs with similar sentence structure near each other, provide variation. Then look for past tense and see if it will make sense in the present. Examine the verbs. Can they be changed to move effective ones?
Consider Your Guests’ Preferences and fill their needs. – My husband and I are meat-eaters, but my brothers are vegetarian. To make everyone happy, I prepared dishes for both.
Consider Publisher Preferences – Research will prevent wasted time, paper and postage. Check guidelines before submitting to a publisher. Don’t send a sweet romance to an erotica publisher, or vice versa. Don’t send a science fiction odyssey to a mystery publisher. You get the drift.
Accept Help – I gladly accepted my sister-in-law’s help when she offered to make the salad and later on helped me do the dishes.
Accept help with your manuscript – Seriously consider any changes your editor will pose to get your manuscript in shape. An editor deals with a variety of manuscripts and can spot problems or bad selling points. Don’t do this blindly. If there’s a good reason for not changing something, explain your reasoning to the editor.
Have a Good Time – I was busy the whole time on Christmas Day, yet I didn’t allow that to interfere with enjoying my guests. I had fun, though I admit when they’d left I was tired.
Enjoy Your Manuscript – Enjoy the ride. Take pleasure when you’ve finished a book. Be happy when your book is accepted by a publisher. Have fun at book signings. Have a great time promoting.
What are you waiting for? Get ready!
Monday, December 24, 2007
But something more along the line of a costume...
Nope, that that kind. You're wrong again. No one will ever confuse me with Santa, so a red suit gets me nothing but some strange looks. And sure, we're both usually in a good mood, but I don't have his chubbiness and he doesn' t have my bald spot.
To create my costume this year, I needed a few easy to get ingredients. Here they are:
- a cup of lack of sleep, chopped finely
- two ounces of immaturity, lightly browned and salted
- a dash of stress
- one pore, nicely clogged
If you're coming out to my house for the holidays, just follow the red light.
Rudy, ... er, ...Norm
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
problem of a mangled childhood you can go one way or the other.
There are many more people who lived a nightmare childhood who
become wonderful, productive people than there are mall or school
In my case, Mom held it all together while Dad routinely made
life hell. And when I was a kid, the way you got back at
someone, you didn't go out with a gun or explosive device but a
water balloon. Dropped a whole slew atop what was supposed to be
some black kids halfway down the block. The strategic bomb site
was from the top of their apartment building...but we did not
realize it was Sunday, so instead of the boys stepping out onto
the targeted porch some four stories down, when we (my brothers,
friends and I) let the bombs drop, and the water flew. All the
balloons hit a lady in her Sunday-go-to-meetiing dress instead of
the intended targets--the feuding sons. Of course, we ran like
hell when we realized our error as the lady screamed well.
All the buidings were attached from Jackson Blvd. to the alley on
Loomis. We rushed back from building to building, back to our
place, down the stairs and into the apartment, pretending innocence
when a knock came at the door. Now my unsuspecting mom was faced with
an angry black lady with a drenched hat.
We caught hell for it even though we denied anything to do with
it, and I thought we were quite convincing. Even so, my mom took
up for her cubs, as the boys down the block were always starting
fights. Eventually, we all wound up in family court and after
that we left one another alone. No one resorted to vengeance after
that, and no one brought a gun to school
Poor mom, some months later looked out our window and saw maybe
thirty black kids in what must have looked like a mob and one
white face at the center of a noisy, boisterous crowd of black
kids. The white face was mine. Mom, a small woman about the
size of Sally Field, shoved open the window and terrified all
those kids with her horrific scream for them to leave her middle
child alone. I had to quell her enthusiasm however and convinced
her I was not being gang-murdered. That it was all quite
I had been talked --peer pressured--into a boxing match with
boxing gloves by one of the same boys we'd always had trouble
with, you see. In fact, the match was going in my favor; the
whole of it going well indeed. Still, from her vantage point at
that first floor window, looking down on the "mob" surrounding
me, it surely must have looked terrifying, that a mad, out of
control mob was attempting to kill me. I had to shout down mom
to the tune of "We're just funnin" while holding up the huge red
gloves which had been the other boy's Christnas gift. Actually,
the boxing match brought us all closer together in the long run,
and Mom had stopped cold the neighborhood of our new policy of
play over war. But this was the mid-fifties and Mom being from
Alabama...well she about jumped out of that window coming to my
rescue, and it took her some time to recapture her beating heart.
Today Mom is in her eighties, and she still reads all my books
and occasionally will peek over the top of the book, stare at me
with a quizzical look, stare back at whatever scene she has just
read, back to me,back to the book, shake her head, chastise me
for using a bad word or God forbid sex in a scene, and then she
reads on. Her cute quizzical look is that of Yoda when dumbfounded.
Rob -- Merry Holidays and peace to all fevered minds!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
We writers spend considerable time away from our computers, but like the image mentioned above, we are always working, gathering tidbits of life to use in our stories. We need to be ever perceptive of our senses in order to breathe essence into our plots.
Like the other day; every store I entered "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" played through the speakers. I'm dreaming of a white - and I checked out, humming the rest of the song. Twenty minutes later, I'm dreaming of a white ... resounded throughout another store and I frowned, wishing to hear something else. At the next store I heard, dreaming of a White Christmas -. and I smiled filing away the annoyance of how a character could become irritated at such an innocent, random phenomenon. Simple idea? Insignificant? Maybe, maybe not, but the memory will be a good parallel to remember. It's not always the grandeur that captures our readers attention, but the small, mundane occurances they can relate to that often brings a character to life on the pages.
When I can't sit at my computer and write, I don't fret too much. Life gets in the way, especially this time of year. And I accept that. So, I research while I'm shopping; that person over there certainly has an interesting, but pale face; and would one call that skarf fashion sheek or retro from the 50's archives? Hmmm, and the shoes inside galoshes. Haven't seen that in awhile. Another fashion statement, or character quirk? Only I will decide. But I have an image I can work with. Male? Female? Young or old? Poor? Or eccentric? And the hem dangling down in the back? A recent accident or has that been drooping for awhile? Does the character know? Or care? Such interesting decisions to decide. And each one will tell a bit more about the character I'm creating as I stand here in the long line to check out. Good research.
Sometimes I write impressions down, other times they are so clearly implanted in my thoughts I don't need to. But I'm guessing, many writers have files of character or setting ideas. Some may never look at what they've stored away, others may depend on their research each time they create a new story. The point is, the more I practice this exercise, the easier it becomes to remember the tiniest detail. It also pushes the guilt away if I don't get time at the computer. I'm still a writer, still creating and plotting.
Have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy each moment with your family and friends. A plothera of great characters emerge in every gathering. Happy pickings!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
After all the stress of the Holiday Season, you'll need a break. Consider ordering Girl of My Dreams, my new romantic comedy about an assistant turned reality show contestant, to be shipped after 1/1/08. (Guys, if you order early, you'll be set for a Valentine's Day gift!)
WHAT'S GIRL OF MY DREAMS ABOUT?
When food poisoning strikes the set of a new reality show, Jillian, the straitlaced assistant, steps in and becomes a contestant. The transformed Jillian is swept up into travel and adventure, as each round brings her closer to winning the millionaire. Too bad he's not the one she loves.
Order information for print books is at:
If you prefer ebooks, at present Girl of My Dreams is also available at All Romance Ebooks. You can't miss it at:
I'll let you know when it also comes up at Amazon.
Have a Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 17, 2007
This week we're honored to have author Sydney Molare' as our guest.
Her books are winning awards from bookclubs and praise from reviewers across the country.
Her novels include Somewhere In
Go for it and have a great time getting it! This is my (latest) mantra. Yes, I realize it could be interpreted many ways and applied to many situations. Today, I’m honing in on writers. The other I’ll save for another blog. LOL.
As a writer, I been told plenty of times to “follow the established rules, don’t insert a new writing style, sit down on the boat and hush on the boat!” That would be great if it were my personality, but fortunately for the world, it’s not. I’m one of those writers that likes to push the envelope, slide in a gut-punch, use a Dremel(R) tool to slice parts out of the box and let in some fresh air. No halter for this mare.
I encourage other writers out there, take a style chance, carve a new genre path, buck the system…at least three times. What are you waiting for? Unlike material possessions, you can take those unwritten trail blazing books with you when you kick the bucket.
And the endorphins will reward you. Not only will it reenergize you, it will work wonders for your writing. What a rush it is when you get an email stating, “This is different from what I’ve been reading.” Or maybe that’s just me.
Do I drive my agent crazy? Sometimes. But what life is worth living without some craziness? Sheesh. Do you want to live forever…boring?
Put on some Prince (my favorite, hence my title), grab a pen and let your authentic voice flow. Who knows, you may be the next, best thing…
Thanks for having me.
You slog, blog ... no not blog, ... but you moving through the snow isn't a dash, I don't care how many Clydesdales you have in front of you.
Sure, you can slide, glide, plummet, spin, tumble ... but don't give me no dashes. I ran enough track ... when I was young ... to know the difference between a dash and what I was doing on my way to my booksigning at Borders Books & Music yesterday.
When I woke up, there was a lovely white wintry wonderland outside, complete with eight inches of brand new snow, gusted up to over a foot here and there, twinkling merrily as the ice crystals laughed at me with tinkery little titters.
But I had a booksigning to do.
So I lashed up my bobsled, tethered up the huskies and ... no? .... no bobsled? ... no huskies?
Okay, fine, I grabbed my Budweiser horses and wrapped them up in leathers that would enrapture a masochist, cracked a whip over their heads and ... huh? ... no sleigh either?
So I got my cross country skies, put my signing pen in my pocket and .... what, you don't believe?
All right, all right.
The truth is, I went outside, huffed my way through the snow with my shovel, all the time muttering my yearly mantra - "next year I get a snowblower" - and cleared the way through to where the county had already plowed.
Then I leaped on my snowmobile ... hah, all right ... you got me again. No snowmobile.
I got in my car, strapped up really nice, and drove out to Matteson.
Last year the Matteson Borders had me out twice to sign my first book. First, in October, and back two months later. I sold a lot of books, including selling all of them the second time right before Christmas.
So I was hoping my visit this time would carry the same magic, but the snow had other ideas. Instead of lines snaking around the store, the store was quiet. Too many people hid in their houses rather than brave the ice and snow. But still, I had a great time and sold a lot of my books. Sold over twenty of my second book, and a dozen of my first.
But the store manager likes how I 'work' the crowds, so she asked me to do an encore performance this coming Friday. So I'm going right back.
The next day will be a signing at Centuries and Sleuths for our new anthology, Heat of the Moment. This will be a new experience for me, because it's a joint signing! I mean, I've gone to author fairs and signed 'with' people, but we are maybe a little bit competitors ... all vying for the readers' limited book allowances.
Not this time, though, this is purely a cooperative venture. We're all there for the same book, and the same great ideal, to help people!
I'm really looking forward to it and meeting my fellow authors. Come out and join us! Centuries and Sleuths, 7419 W. Madison in Forest Park, Il. We'll be out there from 2:00 until ?
And this time, I'm bringing my track shoes so I can do that dash thing.
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
Heat of the Moment (anthology)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Our house is quiet…serene…peaceful…the quiet after the storm, or if you will- the departure of two beloved, boisterous and lively grandchildren. I am truly blessed with my grandchildren, but I am also exhausted. There is a reason having children is for the young, but being a grandparent is amazing...no responsibility just lots of love.
We spent a few days together and our munchkins left this morning. So this afternoon we managed to spend some time at a Starbucks with our friends, a delightful and needed respite, and now it is back to business. E-mails I haven’t looked at for a couple of days, along with a list an arm long of things that need to get done or should have been done...in other words back to work.
Till next Saturday,
A Hotel in Paris
Echelon Press LLC 2008
Available for pre-order on amazon
At the moment, my feet against the fire sounds good, we’re in the middle of a winter storm. Snow. Wind. Ice. Plunging temperatures and windchill that makes your bones hurt. Reminds me of my two year tour in North Dakota—but that’s a story for another day, and I’m not in the mood to talk about Hell freezing over at the moment.
So—the other night, Thursday I think, I finished work late and turned on the TV. Yes, that’s how I veg-out after staring the computer for 12 hours. I usually have no clue what’s on, and there are a few shows that I keep up with, but really, I try to limit myself since I had a TV addiction when I was a kid. I know, I’m digressing. It must be the storm. The other night. TV. PBS. A documentary about Sam Maloof caught my attention.
I had never heard of Sam Maloof. Have you? See. I didn’t think so.
It would take me a couple of hundred thousand words to tell his story—who he really is. I’m not doing that—it would be impossible. Go to the PBS web site or—like I’ve never said this before—Google Sam Maloof. Yeah, I know, I could put a link in the blog, but I’m lazy, and besides, if you’re really interested, you’ll do the work yourself.
Back to Sam Maloof. He’s a 90 year old woodworker. Makes some of the most beautiful rocking chairs I’ve ever seem. First thing—this guy looks 60 at the most. He works 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Why? He loves what he does. Plain and simple, his work is not work, or a purpose, or a way to make a living. At 90? Be real. I don’t imagine Sam Maloof cares much about money at this point. His PASSION is his CRAFT. And that passion shows on his face—a broad smile, minimal wrinkles, bright eyes behind thick black-plastic framed glasses. His voice crackles with energy and love when he’s talking about his process. He still loves the process.
Imagine being that productive at 90? Still enthusiastic about life, and what’s coming next. Maybe, silently, he fears death. I doubt he’d be human if he didn’t think about it from time to time. But he obviously doesn’t dwell there. Too much to do. Still something to learn—something to build, something to make a little better than the last one.
I was obviously inspired by Sam Maloof’s passion, the way he had lived his life, the way he lives his life. No formal training, humble beginnings, and a strong desire to be an artist. Luck gave him a wife who believed in him—who said, “Follow your dream, we’ll make do.” She also said, when Sam received a rejection slip from a juried art show, “Rejection is good for the ego, Sam.” Not the sugar-coated, oh poor thing routine. His life wasn’t easy. It didn’t just happen.
There are parallels to the writer’s life to Sam’s life. Pick them out for yourself. All artists share common traits, similar stories. Persistence. Luck. Passion for Craft. It’s all there, whether you’re a woodworker or a poet, or both.
Check out Sam’s story, but more importantly, pay attention to the sages of the world who may not tell you how to live as an artist, but show you. There are more of them than you think...
Oh, and that rocking chair? It sold for $180,000.00 at an auction.
Until next week (when I might, or might not, talk about milestones), keep writing.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
With a sad set of statistics on inequality for female authors in publishing
by Robert W. Walker w/compliments to TK Kenyon
Come on, a book, any book ought to be as Ezra Pound once said “like holding a ball of light in one’s hands.” So no matter if your lead and secondary characters are male or female, they ought simply to be believable and memorable and a joy to spend time with in the case of the good guys and the ladies. Often it is a fine line a character walks between authentic and inauthentic, larger than life and comic book hero.
Often in my own work, it works out that there are two main characters, a strong male lead butting heads with an equally strong female lead. The bottom line in creating male or female characters ought to be the same—attention to detail, layering, providing each with a worldview, an interesting psychology, and often a psychosis or two – or an obsession. However, critics and readers often take us to task when we create a strong-willed, determined, or obsessive female character—obsessive say about getting at the truth like our lead lady in TV’s The Closer. When a male character is strong-willed, determined, or obsessive and dogged about clue-finding activities that pull him away from a personal life, he is applauded for being firm, courageous, bold, and all manner of positives. But when a female character exhibits these traits in fiction, whoa Nelly! So often she is hit up for being a bitch, for being strident in her speech, for being pushy, aggressive, overbearing, and a host of other negatives. Take a look at a single line of dialogue here:
Jack shouted, “Do what you g’damn hafta, Frank, and I’ll do my job!”
Jack’s stand is worthy of applause, no question. Compare it to the lady, Celine’s line.
Celine shouted, “Do what you g’damn hafta, Frank, and I’ll do my job!”
Same line, same words, same apostrophe and exclamation point, but just knowin’ she’s a lady…a lay-lay-lady, we get a whole ’nother take on the line, especially if we’re predisposed to believe a lady approaches things with more femininity and ahhh grace. She does not swear anymore than she snores.
The Closer, Saving Grace, CSI, Law & Order, and a number of other current TV dramas about women in law enforcement are making waves and changing some preconceived notions about women in dramatic roles, in film and on the book page. Still when a woman sleeps around as Grace does to “excess” on Amazing Grace, we don’t shrug it off as we have been doing for years for Bond, James Bond. Grace is seen as a slut, while Bond is viewed a lady-killer, a real stud. My own Dr. Jessica Coran had a new man in her life often with the opening of a new book in the Instinct series--as few men could keep up, and I got complaints that she was too promiscuous from some readers. Jessica had a total of four men over eleven books, and the last one she married, and she had long-lasting relationships compared to TV’s Grace. Trendy or a sign of the times? Another big no-no a mere few years ago was that you don’t have little children murdered or maimed in your story, but every cop show drama on TV has tossed that notion, often displaying the small body on a slab or in an alleyway. Amazing Grace is being ballyhooed as ground breaking, and perhaps it is in some respects, but the condemnation of women acting like a James Bond character does seem to still have its hold on viewers and readers.
In other words, we want our tough, firm, determined female cops to also be vulnerable and sensitive; we certainly don’t want them pulling out their hair or baying at the moon or up-chucking in the car, or losing their maternal instincts, or losing all respect for themselves, or becoming Lindsey Lohan or lushes. Let a jaded, disillusioned male cop drink himself to sleep at night but God forbid a female on the force with the same level of jaded disillusionment become a sickening lush and watch out—particularly in book form. Perhaps seeing someone on a screen literally fall apart before our eyes is a kind of voyeurism we can take, but careful of the same in a novel.
So here is the crux of the matter for a novelist working with a strong female character, as I have often done. Be certain, as with any character that you don’t allow her to become a poster-girl for some message; nor a caricature for feminism; nor an exaggeration of a bias; and for God’s sake try not to allow her to cross over or fall into a comic book version of who you want her to be. Rewrite those last two sentences and insert he/him for she/her. Male or female, you don’t want your strong, determined, willful, firm characters to become comic book heroes or heroines.
Now how is this all relevant to the real world of publishing and the number of books done by men as opposed to women writers? How do the statistics in the real world of the publishing industry inform us that women are still, after all these years and all that has been said and done about equality in this world (as opposed to fictional worlds) –how do the stats stack up? Thanks to a recent posting by TK Kenyon (www.tkKenyon.com) on DorothyL (where you can often find me), here are some sobering facts about the industry we all know and love with respect to such things as how many female authors get reviewed as opposed to male authors. Again while the number of books published by male and female authors is very close, the numbers below tell a sad story in a time of shrinking newspaper, magazine, and other review outlets. Perhaps the internet is the only place women might find, in time, equality.
Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for 2006 in major review publications: 56%:44%
Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for Jan-June 2007 in major review publications: 63%:37%
Percentage of book reviews for male authors vs. female authors for at the New York Times Review of Books (very influential): 72%:28%
Ratio of male book reviewers to female reviewers at the New York Times Review of Books: 2:1
Percentage of articles written by men to those written by women in the five “thought leader” magazines: 3:1
Worse yet, as I read most of those magazines, I can tell you with a quick glace at my stock, that the few women writers write about women, home life, babies, diapers, poems, and very light culture. The heavy stuff like economics is reserved for the boys.
Percentage of male book buyers to female: 45%:55%
Women constitute only 17 percent of opinion writers at The New York Times ,10 percent at The Washington Post ,28 percent at U.S. News & World Report ,23 percent at Newsweek and 13 percent at Time . Overall, only 24 percent of nationally syndicated columnists are women.
The only place where a woman really kicked butt was in the Alien
movies. "Ripley" (Sigourney Weaver) was originally supposed to be
a male character. The studio wanted the main character to be
female for some business reason, and Ridley Scott went through
the script and changed the pronouns, and that's all. Didn't even
change the character's name. I thought it was brilliant, and
Ripley will live forever as one of the few women characters who
-- Author of Callous and Rabid, TK Kenyon
As you go about getting ready for Christmas, hustling here and rushing off there, stop, stop and take in the scenery around you, if for only a moment. Take in the little things, the couple across the aisle waiting in line with their heads bent close together, see their happiness; look into the eyes of your waiter or waitress and offer them a real smile of gratitude; look at the snow falling and imagine each and every flake and remember no two are the same. Just take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to appreciate the many blessings surrounding you. Your winter coat, the skarf, warm boots and cold nose. Take a deep breath and feel.
Feel the world around you, the cold air seeping into your lungs. Feel the energy in the air. It's part of you. You are part of it. So scan the parking lot, the elevator, the lobby or aisles of the department stores. Look at people, and see.
See that there is more to Christmas than buying things. More to Christmas than running from place to place. See the purpose behind our bustling about. See folks caring for other folks and wanting, searching for something special to give their loved ones. And know what you see is a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is love. All we really want is to see the smile light up our loved ones eyes, if for just a moment. Our clumsy, expensive presents merely say, "I love you." So we search frantically for the perfect gift to give. So give.
Give the contents of your wallet to the retailers if you must, but give your heart too, openly and freely. And then breathe. Take in that special moment of bliss, tuck it away to remember and savor. And don't let go.
Don't let go of the meaning of Christmas. Keep it close. Breathe it in over and over. There's plenty to go around, many times over. So share the moment.
Share the meaning of Christmas!
Til next time ~
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The first photo is the Toys for Tots collection at Noelgin, the live WLS radio event I attended last Friday.
Now, in the second photo, Who's the man I'm with?
If you can't figure it out, I'll tell you later.
The main thing is he's got star power. For an author to sell books on name recognition, star power is a must. The question is, how to get it? I'm still working on that riddle. Some of the things I do to increase my aura are:
Acquire reviews. Which reminds me, I just got a new one for Two Wrongs I'm really thrilled about: http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews//twowrongs/mandel.htm will get you to my five heart review by Linda L. at The Romance Studio
Keep an updated website
Do blogs once-a-week, often more
Post blogs on Amazon.com
Belong to yahoo groups
Add friends on Ning and My Space and Bebo and Facebook and lots of other places
Distribute bookmarks in the jury duty waiting room, on the train, at social occasions
Do Book Signings
Participate on panels
Put up displays at the library
Belong to writing organizations, such as RWA,MWA,EPIC, Sisters in Crime
Oh, Yes, Also, occasionally, I hang around someone who already has star power, in the hopes that some of the stardust may rub off on me. Last week, I attended a live WLS radio show in Elgin. One of the guests, who is active in the Toys for Tots program, possesses lots of star power and has appeared in many roles on the large and small screen. Here I am with R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as gunny in the movie, Full Metal Jacket.
So remember: On the road to star power remember, you can turn almost any event or occasion into an opportunity to acquire stardust. If you get enough, you'll have Star Power!
Go to it,
Monday, December 10, 2007
"She started it!"
"I did not! He did!"
"No way, Jose!"
"Both of you, stop it right now!"
Um... as much as I hate to admit it, this happens in my house once in awhile ... and the bad news is that I'm usually one of the voices above ... no, not the mature one. You're shocked, I know. So am I.
But it took me many years to learn to win these kind of battles growing up in a four kid family, and why should I relinquish my expertise in the name of 'maturity'? I mean, heck, maturity is way overrated. You feel fat and have to wear those dresses that look like tents ... what? ... oh, maternity? Oh, never mind.
Anyway, I bring all of this up today because of a phone call I had with one of my teenaged critters today because it's Fast Food Monday - hey, you can't eat healthy every day. Anyway, I'm in charge of the kitchen on Mondays, hence the invention of Fast Food Monday.
Anyway, the conversation kind of started like this ...
Me: So what do you guys want me to bring home today? Chicken? Subs? Pizza? Chinese?
Me: Okay, so I'll get Chinese.
Me: How about I just pick up some roadkill and we can munch on that?
Me: (smacking lips) Mmmmm... flattened opossum, sounds yummy.
Critter: (sighs) Dad, I told you what I wanted last night.
Me: Chinese, right?
Critter: You're just a senile batty old man.
Me: I never got that batty thing.
Me: Think about it. Usually when you say 'batty,' you're talking about a woman, right?
Me: So what would a woman have to do with a baseball bat?
Critter: I think they mean the mammal, Dad.
Me: Even more. Everyone knows that women are afraid of bats! They think they'll get them in their hair.
Critter: (eyeroll - I couldn't see it, but I could sense it). I believe they are referring to bats in the belfry.
Me: (waving my arms - she couldn't see it, but she could sense it). Even more confusing! What do bats in a bell tower have to do with crazy old women?
Me: (trying to regain control of the car).
Critter: Dad. Just get Chinese, okay?
Well, I think I'm about out of room, but I have one last thing to say. Buy my books! Please! Christmas is coming up and you need to buy something funny to offset the stress of the holidays! And I need to pay for mine!
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably) published 2006
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness published 2007
contributory author to the anthology The Heat of the Moment coming Dec. 15, 2007
Until then, keep writing.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
The food was excellent, service attentive and the ambiance was perfect.
Our guest speaker was Robert Goldsborough. I call him Chicago’s treasure; because he truly is. I asked Bob to speak at our event and he graciously consented. He even signed some books.
Bob writes about Chicago in the thirties and forties, his research is amazing and along with the well written history we get a mystery. What more could a Sister in Crime want.
This is as good a way as any to segue to the life of an author. The public appearances, the book signings, the panel discussion and anything else that one is asked to do.
That part of a writer’s life I never anticipated, but now that it is here, I am quickly learning what needs to be done to sell the book. The publisher can only do so much.
Whether it is a small traditional press or a huge New York press, unless your name is Nora Roberts or James Patterson, you need to work on name recognition. The one way to achieve it is to go through the baby steps, and as in anything in life, the steps get bigger and you grow and gain experience. You learn.
Before I sign off, thank you Mary for posting the cover of The Heat of the Moment. That anthology is very close to my heart.
Till next Saturday,
A Hotel in Paris June 2008
Heat of the Moment December 2007
Echelon Press LLC
Friday, December 7, 2007
CITY OF THE ABSENT
The issue of Press Releases came up in discussion groups I am on,and many people do not know that a press release is something that must have all the pertinent information about the book or event and contact information readily at the top of the article. A good title helps excite interest, and try desperately to have no typos or grammatical errors. For those who have no clue and for those who do, I am placing my most recent Press Release from Harper Books, which I had input on, here as FYI. I hope this helps clarify what a release ought to carry and what it ought to look like.
Publicity Contact: Danielle Bartlett, 212.207.7011, firstname.lastname@example.org
“…historical mystery at its best.” — Chicago Tribune
Master of suspense and electrifying terror,
Robert W. Walker returns with a dark, atmospheric mystery set during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair
CITY OF THE ABSENT
Celebrated for his haunting tales of suspense and terror, Robert W. Walker has carved out a new frontier in historical mystery with his Inspector Alastair Ransom series. The Ransom series, set in late 19th century Chicago, chronicles a time before CSI teams, DNA testing or fingerprinting had become mainstays in police procedure.
In CITY OF THE ABSENT (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, On Sale November 27, 2007, ISBN: 9780060740122, $7.99), Inspector Alastair Ransom and the oddly eccentric Dr. James Phineas Tewes, a phrenologist who reads victims’ last moments through the contours of their scalps, face their most harrowing and personal case yet.
During the final night of the glorious Chicago World’s Fair, Mayor Carter Harrison meets with an assassin’s bullet outside his Ashland Avenue home. Across the city in an alleyway, Pinkerton Detective Nell Hartigan loses her life in a brutal stabbing.
Harrison’s murder sparks riots, but it proves an open and shut case against his attacker. However, Nell’s murder is not so easily solved. Ransom uncovers ties to the highest strata of Chicago society, feeding prejudices about the rich and powerful. William Pinkerton, Nell’s employer, as well as Ransom’s own superiors, will stop at nothing to impede Ransom’s investigation. And when Ransom himself is arrested on charges for multiple murder, Ransom and Tewes must rely on their well-honed detective instincts to locate and prosecute Nell’s killer and clear Ransom’s name in the bargain.
About the Author
Robert W. Walker, an authority on the police procedural genre, is the author of 40 novels. Walker was born in Corinth, Mississippi, raised in Chicago, and currently resides in West Virginia. In between teaching, lecturing and book touring, he is busy tackling his next novel.
# # #
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Say Hello to Our First Virtual Tour Guest Blogger - Jim Melvin
Book One - The Pit
Jim Melvin is the author of the Death Wizard Chronicles, a six-book epic fantasy. Book One is entitled The Pit and was available (rainbooks.com, click here; and amazon.com, click here) in September 2007. Book Two (Moon Goddess) was available in October 2007. Book Three (Eve of War) will be available at the end of November 2007. Book Four (World on Fire) will be available in December 2007. Book Five (Sun God), January 2008. Book Six (Death-Know), February 2008.
Jim’s blog: www.deathwizardchronicles.blogspot.com
Jim Melvin, 50, was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but spent more than forty years of his life in St. Petersburg, Fla. He now lives in Clemson, S.C. Jim graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) with a B.A. in Journalism in 1979. He was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and retired in 2004 to become a full-time novelist. At the Times, he specialized in science, nature, health and fitness, and he wrote about everything from childhood drowning to erupting volcanoes. But he spent the majority of his career as a designer, editor, and supervisor. Jim is a student of Eastern philosophy and mindfulness meditation, both of which he weaves extensively into his work. Meditation helps to clear his mind for long bouts of writing. Jim is married and has five daughters. The Death Wizard Chronicles, a six-book epic fantasy series, marks his debut as a novelist.
HERE'S WHAT JIM HAS TO TELL HIS READERS TODAY:
Though I wrote The Death Wizard Chronicles in three years, the six-book series was almost thirty years in the making. I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but I moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., when I was 5 years old and was raised on an island that jutted into Tampa Bay. I was lucky to grow up on a street on the waterfront that had about ten other boys my age, and we hung out morning, noon, and night. We played all the usual sports that young boys love: football, baseball, basketball, “kill the carrier,” etc. But we also, as a group, were obsessed with fantastical games that contained magic, monsters, and super heroes. We played games based off popular TV shows of that era (the late 1960s) such as Lost in Space and The Man from Uncle.
When I was a boy, I had white-blond hair, but I became a big fan of Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in The Man from Uncle. Vaughn, of course, has brown hair, and one summer I convinced my mom to dye my hair brown. Being a smart mom, she chose to use cheap hair dye, and within a couple of days my hair changed colors and I spent the rest of the summer with green hair. That wouldn’t seem so unusual today, but back then I was the talk of the island. Anyway, my love and fascination for magic and monsters stayed with me into adulthood.
When I was a junior in high school, I boldly decided that I wanted to become a best-selling novelist, and I went around telling everyone I knew that I was going to make $75-million. Keep in mind this was the mid-1970s, so that’s probably around $300-million, if you figure in thirty years of inflation.
I wrote my first novel when I was 20 years old. It was a Stephen King-like horror novel entitled Sarah’s Curse. An agent who was a family friend shopped it around, and though it received some nice responses, it never found a publisher. But I wasn’t overly concerned because I believed my second novel would be the one to hit it big. In the meantime, I started my career as a journalist at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. For me, the rat race officially began. Soon I was working 50-hour weeks and raising a family – and there never was a second book. Twenty-five years later, I was fortunate enough to be able to semi-retire. In September 2004, I wrote the first word of Book One of The Death Wizard Chronicles. Seven-hundred-thousand words later, I’m in the final revision process of Book Six.
Life has an unusual sense of humor, and for a quarter-century my dreams were put on hold. That said, those 25 years ended up serving a valuable purpose. As a reporter and editor, I learned the craft of writing and met a lot of interesting people, significantly expanding my worldview and talents. When I finally began writing my epic fantasy series, I realized that work and family weren’t to blame for all those lost years. Instead, I wasn’t simply had not been ready as a writer. Finally, it all jelled. This is my time.
I describe my series as a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King – Tolkien because it contains many aspects of epic fantasy, King because it’s pretty darn scary and rough. The Death Wizard Chronicles is a classic tale of good versus evil, with lots of action, monsters, and magic. It also contains a very compelling love story. But what separates my series from most others is that I am an active student of Eastern philosophy, which fuels my world view. The concept of karma and the art of meditation play key roles in the symbolic aspects of my work. While deep in meditation, Buddhist monks have had recorded heart rates of less than 10 beats per minute. My main character takes this to the extreme. In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a “temporary suicide.” Through intense concentrative meditation, he stops his heartbeat briefly and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.
My first wife and I divorced about 15 years ago, and I then remarried. My second wife is a Western-convert Buddhist in the Theravada tradition, and she introduced me to Buddhism. The philosophical aspects of Eastern philosophy really rang true for me and helped to further shape the person I have become. My series contains an ancient language that is directly translated from Pali, a dialect closely related to Sanskrit but not extinct as a spoken language. When translated to English, it is beautiful and erotic.
A wise man once said:
“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”
I live life this way. Or at least I try.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
This situation is too bizarre for words. You may recall I was waiting for my new desk set to be delivered last Wednesday and wondering if it would arrive in one piece.
First, on the strange list: I saw the desk set in an ad from Carson’s last July and saved the ad for future reference.
Next, I found another ad at the beginning of November, featuring the same desk, hutch and chair at a higher price.
Then, I called a salesperson named Sara at Randhurst in Mt Prospect, IL and asked if there would be a sale ever again at the July price.
ONE SURPRISE: That’s when I learned a Super Buy Sale was coming up in a few weeks on November 16 and I could get the whole shebang at even lower than the July price. The catch was my desk set would be on back order until November 29, since it was not in stock. Sara promised to hold my order until then. Everyone knows how back orders go. Who knows if I’d ever get the desk set.
ANOTHER SURPRISE: Sara called me before November 29 and said my order was in stock and could be delivered in a few days. How strange was that? I set up a delivery date for a week and a half later, since I had to work on the dates she mentioned.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: My desk set arrived on the scheduled date, at the scheduled time, looking just right!
This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen to me. I’m still stunned.
And, you might say, what does this have to do with writing, except for my ability to enjoy sitting at a brand new desk while I use my computer?
Here’s the scoop:
When you write a book, don’t let events go as smoothly as with my desk set. Heighten the tension. Make your characters wonder if things will turn out as they should. Then insert twists and turns to really make your characters suffer. Keep your characters guessing.
Take my desk set as an example:
I could have seen the ad, called, and been told a sale may or may not happen later, so I’d have to call back off-and-on to find out.
Or, I could have placed the order and waited all day for the delivery people to show up, but the truck got lost or blew a tire or I was last on the list and it was too late for the delivery.
Or, My desk set could have arrived and they couldn’t fit it through the door.
Or, My desk set made it into the house, but it was the wrong set.
Or, My desk set was the right one, but it had scratches or gouges.
You get the idea. I was very fortunate, but don’t make life as easy for your characters. Be cruel. Make them earn their rewards. Give the reader something to rejoice over when something actually turns out right!!
All the best as I enjoy my new desk set,
Monday, December 3, 2007
That's why it was great to warm my little fingers over a brand new book that has all kinds of warmth in it... compassion and heat ... real heat.
The Heat of the Moment is a brand new anthology put together by Karen Syed of Echelon Press Publishing after her angst at watching the Patriots win another game, I mean, the tragedy of the wildfires in California.
In a very short time she bailed a bunch of us out of jai... er, assembled a very talented group of twenty one authors; and put together a poignant book that not only tells the story of fire and loss, but also goes to benefit those who have suffered from the callous fingertips of flame.
That's right, all of the profits go to the victims of the California wildfires.
It also provided us with the chance to express our appreciation and reflect on the valiant firefighters who risk their own lives and welfare to help save lives and property. Why, they would even be willing to help the Patriots.
Selfless, that's what they are.
And each of the authors was able to tell his/her story using characters from our own books and our own genres! I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that it was a great artistic experience to weave our characters around a common theme. Mystery, romance, sci-fi, humor showing all facets of fire and loss.
Anyway, help us spread the word. Buy a book and help people who have been driven from their homes.
Thanks, and, go Whomever is Playing the Patriots next week.
Oh, er, sorry. Can you tell I typed this while watching a game?
buy The Heat of the Moment at Amazon or www.echelonpress.com
(notice I'm not mentioning my website www.normcowie.com or my other books, The Adventures of Guy and The Next Adventures of Guy)
wait, I just did
no, you didn't
yes, I did
Sunday, December 2, 2007
One thing to keep in mind, is the power behind the device. There have been plenty of e-readers that have come and gone. Sony released one this summer. Both companies, Amazon and Sony, are powerhouses, well-versed in media. Amazon may have the upper hand in distribution, but Sony has more experience at acquiring and creating content. Each has their strengths. And both have huge talent pools of marketing wizards, bean counters, and decision makers who would not greenlight the release of a hardware device unless they were reasonably certain that there was a market for that product. Perhaps they hope to be the company that creates the iPod for books...but it’s obvious the game is on, and the stakes are serious.
Maybe the Kindle will succeed, maybe not, at least in its current form. Maybe it won’t catch on until 2.0 or the 5.0 version comes out in ten years. But here’s the important thing to take away from all of this—at least my prediction: Digital books are here to stay.
What does that mean for the professional writer? I don’t know. But like I said a few weeks ago, the world needs writers, always has, and always will. It’s our job to tell the story. Distribution, for the most part, has always been out of the writers hands. I don’t think Kindle changes that. How we get paid may change. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s hard to say what will happen. But money, again, for the most part, is a secondary concern to most writers. Yes, yes, we all to be paid, to have the opportunity to be the next James Patterson, but most writers are content to be paid wages that haven’t changed, or have shrunk, in the last 40 years. If you think .03 to .05 cents a word is acceptable, a professional rate for short stories, then you haven’t been paying attention…those were the rates in the 1960s—when you could buy a Hershey’s bar for a dime instead of a dollar. I’m not complaining, I’m thrilled to make .05 cents a word, but I’m also realistic about the wage. In any endeavor supply and demand dictates the rise and fall of wages—writing is no different. It’s just hard to predict how e-readers or digital books will affect the supply and demand in the future.
Regardless, the world will need storytellers. Some of us will be paid, and some of us, won’t.
So my advice about the fear that the Kindle is instilling? Keep an eye on it for opportunities that may arise, but don’t let it stop you from telling the story that only you can tell.
Fear is a four-letter word that is just as dangerous as can’t as far as I’m concerned, so don’t let the sparks that the Kindle is throwing into the wind burn out your dream.
Keep writing. It’s really the only option you have ever had, or ever will have, regardless of the devices that come and go.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Our virtual tour bloggers will be stopping off on the dates below.
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007 - Jim Melvin -
The Death Wizard Chronicles - Book 1 - The Pit
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007 - Sydney Molare - Devil's Orchestra
Friday, Dec. 28, 2007 - Prof. Holly Fretwell - The Sky's Not Falling
Please let our guest bloggers know they're welcome by adding a comment or two.
The anthology aptly named The Heat of the Moment will be available for the holiday season. A wonderful gift idea and the royalties will be donated to The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County (FSCSDC). Maybe you can even catch an author doing a book signing somewhere. Who knows, it might even be me.
The national press release went out from Echelon Press this morning, and the local releases will be handled by the authors. To say I am excited about this project would be a gross understatement.
It is an awesome endeavor, and I will ask anyone reading this blog to buy the book and tell their friends, etc…you get the drift. We really can make a difference, one book at a time.
Till next Saturday,
A Hotel in Paris June 2008
Heat of the Moment December 2007
Echelon Press LLC