Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Michelle!!


Fifteen years ago I was a little busy bringing my first born into this world. Ever since that day my life has changed.

Yes, I know, of course it changed. I was sleep deprived, in pain (my 8lb 2oz baby girl came into the world like Caesar, or so they say.) and had a bit of baby blues. But all that eventually ended and life went on.

Ten years later while shopping with the same daughter I was disappointed in the selection of books for her. Where were all the light-hearted books about real girls in real life situations? Then it hit me. Why don’t I get off my butt, or better yet, get on my butt and write the kind of book I was looking for. So I did.

Now that baby girl is fifteen and a beautiful young woman. We’ve talked about a possible paranormal book I’m interested in writing and we watch a lot of movies together. My life is still changing and I’m very proud of her.

I hope you have a fabulous birthday Miss Michelle!

Have a great week,
Best,
June

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Social Networks by Margot Justes

I will be the first to admit the social networks are a mystery to me.

They are the way to get your name out there, wherever out there happens to be. That magical special entity that will get your book noticed, name recognition established, word of mouth will travel in that magical land of space and suddenly you've gone viral. Sort of like a virus but in a good way.
Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter are the primary sources of sharing quick bits of your life, activities, and whatever else you want to share with the world at large.

I belong to all three, it is time consuming but rewarding, not in the magic of going viral and suddenly becoming a best seller, but in building a community, meeting some terrific and interesting people. You pop in for a visit, say hello and pop out again and in the process you develop relationships.

It takes time, but I've noticed I'm getting more comments on FB, more friends, more people following me on Twitter, my blog readership is steadily growing and Amazon is showing movement in sales. Progress is slow but consistent, and in the process I'm learning how to become more active, more social and that is not a bad thing.

In part my involvement in the social networks allowed me to grow, and become more open to sharing details of my life I never would have dreamed I'd ever do.

Next is tackling query letters and pestering agents. Sounds like fun

Till next time,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Promotional Material Will You Use? by DL Larson

When my husband and I walked through the Harry Potter village in Universal Studios, Florida, we were once again hit by the magnitude of promotional materials for sale. Wands, stuffed animals, candy, eye balls, robes and hoods ... the list goes on and on. All the items available had me soon thinking, what if? What if my book became a movie, what would I want to sell as promotional items?

My first book, Memories Trail, is set in the early 1800's and I already have a poster of the Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh, available. I've sold as many as a few! I have a tomahawk for display and that weapon has helped make many a sale, but I don't know if I would want to promote such an item for profit. And I have to wonder if that is the mom in me and not the writer thinking about consequences rather than profit margins.

My second book, Promises To Keep, has a gambler and I have used a deck of cards as a sales promotion. I was invited to an Illinois Library Association luncheon and I placed a playing card at each table setting. I had to use two decks due to the size of the audience, so I was giving away two books when I would rather have given away only one. Whoever had the Queen of Hearts won a free book. The promotion caused quite a stir and everyone wondered what the cards were for and only when I was introduced did the purpose become evident. I knew then a deck of cards with my characters would be a good gimmick and a wonderful way to spread the word about my book.

Do you have a sales promotion in mind? Have you used something to promote your book? Would your characters and settings make for great promo material? Share with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Else Can You Sell Books Besides Bookstores? by Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel at senior group.
With the demise of so many bookstores, authors who choose to have print books need to think outside the box about where to hold their book signings.

On February 22, I did a presentation for a senior group at Jameson's Charhouse. This was arranged by a travel agency individual who set up a Valentine's month outing with visits to a confectionary, a floral shop and then the luncheon where I spoke about romance, romance books and writing.

I had a great time and the audience was quite receptive. I'll be looking for similar venues in the future.

I'm almost through with my work in progress, Forever Young, and am more and more leaning toward self-publishing again. One reason is many of the publishers seem to be publishing in 2013.

I don't care to wait that long if I don't have to, so I'll probably go the Kindle route, plus Create Space for print at Amazon. That way I'll stay on budget, but still have books available for signings

What about you? What places do you recommend for booksignings, other than bookstores?  Please share.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
Killer Career now 99 cents on
Kindle and Smashwords.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ripped from the e-headlines!

It’s tough to follow the news these days - and I’m talking the popular press, not just the news media such as Publishers Weekly that appeals to writers - without hearing about how much profit is being driven by e-book sales. BUT, here’s the recent headline posted today at Publishers Weekly: Barnes & Noble Sales Jump Led by Digital Products.

Another from the Wall Street Journal reads: Retailers Struggle in Amazon’s Jungle.

We all know that the fuel in the Digital Products jump is e-books and we all know that Amazon was one of the early platforms to fuel the e-book revolution. So, when will this ride end?

No time soon, in my opinion. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that I am. What does this mean for writers? Should you rush to get in on the e-book band wagon as fast as possible. Should that be the publish-it-yourself band wagon, or the go-through-an-established-e-publisher band wagon? Well, that depends.

Don’t overlook the options to publish straight to the internet but don’t overlook the value of an established e-publishing house that can provide editorial services that just might improve your book and improve your sales. In fact, I would suggest that authors pursue both avenues of approach.

If you receive rejections from e-publishers and strongly believe that your book is worthy of an audience than the good news is that you now have lots of choices on how to get your book in front of an audience and by doing so you might just generate enough readership that will catch the attention of an established publisher - if that’s what you want. It’s been done many times before.

BUT, if you do go the route of the publish-it-yourself band wagon, don’t be lulled into a sense of laziness that once you put your book up for sale that it will fly off the e-shelves like pancakes from a hot griddle. You still have to get the word out that your book is available and you still have to connect with readers.

Now, it is much easier with the internet but it’s not so easy that you don’t have to make some sort of investment of at least time. Rob Walker has posted about the tips and tricks that have worked for him and then of course there is Joe Konrath and his stellar success. AND then there is Amanda Hocking. If you don’t know who these folks are - and if you’re reading this blog you have to know who Rob Walker is - then Google their names, follow their blogs and do your homework.

So, at least one thing about being a published author has not changed - you always have to do your homework regardless of the medium by which you publish your books.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A New Experience

I'm in the middle of a project which involves several things I've never done before, so it's been quite the learning process.

I'm writing a shorter-length Christmas story (novella) to submit to The Wild Rose Press for consideration for this year's holiday releases. First off, I've never written a novella before. I thought I'd be good at it, as in the past I've had to add details and plot to my books in order for them to fit the required word length for publication. It's harder than I thought. I'm afraid I'm 'over-writing' and the story isn't moving along quickly enough.

Second of all, I've set my story at a ski resort. I've never been to a ski resort before. I've never been skiing before. So I'm doing a lot of research. Which has been a lot of fun. Trouble is, I think I'm adding too many details from my research, and again, they're getting in the way of moving the story forward. In a longer length book, it's these specific details that help to enhance the story and give it depth, but for a shorter read, are they just getting in the way?

Thirdly, I've never written on such a tight deadline before. Deadlines for submitting stories have always been rather open ended in my past experience, with definitive timelines coming during the editing process, not the actual creation of the story. But holiday stories need to be submitted by the middle of March...which is creeping closer everyday.

So this has been an interesting experience all around. I guess we'll see how it all turns out in the end and what the editors have to say about it.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Revolution by Margot Justes

Recently we witnessed a revolution in Egypt, what made it historically so remarkable is that it was relatively bloodless.

We watched it happen right in front of our eyes; the assembly of the masses in Tahrir Square, the essential communication role the social networks played in the organization of the revolt, and the ingenuity of the masses when that network was shut down.

It was fundamentally a demand for freedom and a right to be heard, and heard they were.
The government stepped down, the military took over and the people are awaiting their democratic right to vote and select new leadership. It almost sounds too simplistic, the events unfolded in a public square in Cairo.

I heard someone say that it was a non-event, because little blood was spilled, the military didn't fire on its own people and the leadership did step down.

A non-event? It was a huge event. The power of the people brought down a government. The power of the people demanded democracy, and they were willing to take that unknown step forward and demand it. It certainly was a gargantuan event.

I found it absolutely engrossing, watching the events unfold, the willingness of the Egyptian people to stand firm and fight for what they believed. That was history in the making.

We're so used to seeing blood and gore everywhere, that when we see a remarkable event without bodies strewn everywhere, some of us think it's not important. Why is that?

Till next time,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Seeing New Things! by DL Larson

I'm writing today from Orlando, Florida. It's been a beautiful week of relaxing and going to places I have never visited. My husband's company has given us a fabulous trip with private dinners and private showings at Universal Studios. I walked through Hogsmeade ~ the Harry Potter village, rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster, at night no less, and survived the forbidden journey through Hogwart Castle. I drank butter beer, a bit too sweet for me, but tasty, and I enjoyed buying rolling eye balls at the novelty shop. I purchased the perfect wand and my suitcase will be strained with my purchase of Fluffy, the three-headed stuffed dog and a few other treasures I couldn't live without.

My real triumph was riding in a Richard Petty race car! I do love the need for speed. Three laps around the track at over 140 mph left me grinning and knees a bit wobbly. The rest of the day was a blur of activity watching Shrek in moveable chairs, helping Spiderman capture the bad guys and finding Poisidon's lost treasure. I got soaked in Jurassic Park and felt deprived because the cable rides were for those with children. I desperately wanted to borrow a child so I could soar above the trees and view the park from above.

Last night at our gala dinner the entertainment was spectacular with an artist who happens to be reknown as the fastest artist in the world. Watching him splatter paint on a black canvas enthralled me. In a matter of minutes the image took shape, and Jeff Gordon, the famous race car driver came on stage and signed the painting of his likeness. Jeff was our guest speaker for the evening and spoke about chasing after dreams, not giving up and always, always to keep trying. He was relating his life's journey to that of my husband's business, but I realized Jeff's message was just as true for my profession ~ writing!

As Jeff Gordon said last night, "if you want to succeed, you have to put yourself out there."

I intend to do just that!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's Your Writing Goal?

Before I was unemployed, I was lucky if I got 250 words done a day. When I wrote on my laptop computer on the train, it seemed as soon as I got into my story I'd reach my stop. When I got home, I was too wiped out to think straight.

I had no particular writing goals, except to some day get my manuscript done. I now realize that wasn't the best method. I should have set a goal, even if it was small. That way I wouldn't have felt so overwhelmed.

Right now I'm taking advantage of my lack of a day job. I've set my writing goal at 1,000 words a day, and am forging ahead with my paranormal thriller, Forever Young. I know some people can do more in a day, but I'm a slow writer. For me, that's a lot of words to get done.

I've found that since I set a target I feel guilty if I don't achieve it and I try to make up for the lack the next day.

What about you? Do you set any writing goals?



Morgan Mandel

Killer Career Now 99 cents on

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time

Time is a funny thing isn't it?

For example, I have to say, I'm sick of winter: snow, ice, cold, ick. I feel like we've had snow on the ground here forever. And the giant storm of a few weeks ago didn't help matters. I'm always excited for that first snow of the season, way back in December, but now that we're only halfway through February, winter seems to be stretching on and on with no end in sight. The official arrival of Spring in mid March seems impossibly far away. I don't think it's ever going to arrive.

On the other hand, March 17 seems to be drawing ever closer with alarming rapidity. I'm afraid it will arrive much too quickly and I won't be ready. One of the goals I set for this year was to write and submit a Christmas story to The Wild Rose Press. I've had an idea in my head for one for a while now, and I figured now would be an opportune time to get it written and submitted. After all, it would be nice to have a release in this calendar year. But holiday submissions are due by March 17, and I'm not making much progress on my story. It's not that I haven't been writing. I'm actually making a lot of progress on my other WIP, but the one which had a deadline looming is coming oh so slowly.

So for me, the next month is going to go excruciatingly slow in one aspect, and lightning quick in another.

Time. It's a funny thing.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

THIS CAN'T BE LOVE - Love Romance Cafe's Best of 2010 Contemporary Winner

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Roman Ruins in Rome by Margot Justes

Isn't alliteration wonderful.

According to an article written in Yahoo News, the third-century Roman sculptures were found in Rome. While excavating a public site, the archeologists discovered six marble statues. The five heads were found in an ancient fountain in what was a lavish Roman villa.

The belief is that the villa belonged to a high-ranking official to the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, dating back to 193-211 A.D.

I find it amazing that almost two thousand years later give or take a century or two, we're still finding such incredible treasures.

What makes this find so wonderful, other than the busts of course, is that the dig was financed by private entrepreneurs.

I'm sure more information will become available as the sculptures are restored and more information is gained from the archaeological site.

If I'm lucky and the site is open to the public, I hope to pay a visit in October.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris

Friday, February 11, 2011

SERIES books or STAND-a-LONES...why one or the other?

In answering a question posed by a reader, I felt this worth sharing with a lot of readers and possibly of interest to many a writer:


Dear Joe et al --- There are too many variables to gain a simple answer to your reflections and questions regarding why an authur chooses to do a series rather than a "series" of stand-a-lone titles. I will give it a stab at some sort of answer(s), and you will see some of the variables and reasons why an author does a stand-alone and why he or she does a series.

First - money. A series is often bought in a crop of two, four, etc. books that have as yet to be written. Publishers seek out characters strong enough to shoulder multiple storylines...plots. Multiple plots to challenge a character or ensemble.

Character + Plots - plots are easy if an author truly establishes what I call a fully-realized character. Take the notion to TV's Star Trek or any TV drama with continuing character or ensemble, say Law & Order, for instance and the situation is thus: We writers establish the bedrock character traits of our principal characters first, as is done with HOUSE, The Sopranos, etc., and once well established, we know what a Jim Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise is all about and capable of. Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame - once we know what kind of character we are dealing with, what we have in hand, then we can "attack" that character which is exactly what we do as novelists and storytellers.

Obstacles vs. Goals - We then go about the business of throwing curve balls, brick-a-brack, stormes, obstacles at him--whoever she may be. We know what character X is capable of in the first story established, so now what is he capable of if we perhaps double the threat? My one 11-book series is a model of this type of writing, and each can stand alone, yes....I work to make that so, but in order of 1 to 11 the reader gets all facets and all exploits in the order the character got them.

Love that characters - Writers do fall in love with certain of their characters and without prompting of a contract or a publisher's blessing, they often want to keep exploring the nature of one or more characters, asking WHAT IF Jessica or Alastair or Kirk or Tony or Matt Dillon is put into this position...what if given this to problem to solve (or medical mystery to solve - House). What size hoop to jump through? What will the character do and how will readers react to her being relocated to say Hawaii or London or some back bayou outside of New Orleans? What if I could get Alastair Ransom aboard the good ship Titanic on a clear April night in 1912?  

There are as many reasons to continue with a character as one has storylines or obstacles to throw in front of him her. Often a publisher will stop paying for a series--effectively END an author's series way before the author is finished making life hell for said character. Long before the author is DONE...leaving the author wishing to explore the complexities of a James T. Kirk or a given medical examiner or detective.

Back to Money - When a publisheer's balance sheet says a character or series is over...when this fate occurs and you hold a wake for the series character rather than a book signing, the series typically is dead in the publishing waters, and the author has nowhere to place a new story. No placment, no sell, no money said character is making! Comes back to money and the author's time.

New Life for Dead Characters or Series - However, now with the advent of Indie publishing, the Indie author, thanks again to Kindle technology and Amazon cajunas, we who wish to continue on with a "dead" series can do so at our pleasure. No wake necessary. Rather a RESURRECTION is in order....

As I have done already and am continuing to do--I resurrect out of print books and therefore "dead" characters. In other words my four-book series called EDGE or my trilogy with Ransom, or my 11-book "franchise" with Dr. Jessica Coran can have any number of additional books tacked on now as Kindle books has expanded the possibility of new life in an old series, reaching out to gobs of new readers, young and old.

Stand-a-Lone Titles - I have done a number of stand-a-lones as well as creating eight series characters, and the stabd-a-lones also have their appeal for the writer. Threre is of course much faster CLOSURE. A feeling of beig Done With It! Some stories and characters do not "demand" a repeat performance, and often it has do to with how the plot works out...what kind of an ending do you have here? And ending that does not lend itself to a sequel.

While many stories end with little desire left on the part of the author to continue with this particular set of characters, setting, circumstance, etc. "Desire" on my part to go forward without incentive, reader interest, publihser's check makes it easier to step away from a book finiished and put to bed. I typically find myself going back to those characters I loved from the outset but a stand-a-lone doesn't fuel that kind of interest. The alone titles either come to a frutiful end and no sequel makes sense, or the characters are either exhausted by the author or hold no more allure for the author to explore, and sometimes it is the storyline, as in my historical fiction thrillers, it ends where history tells me it ends. If the storyline follows closely the time line of say the Salem witchcraft episode or the Titanic episode, yeah, it just ends where history says it ends. But sometimes a story just claims a finale, finis, end. The Thorn Birds jumps to mind. Moby Dick jumps to mind. Sea Wolf jumps to mind.

So you see the complexity of answering such a question...Wow...I think this is going to make for a series of blogs for me, Joe. Thanks!

Rob Walker
50 books that shall remain in circulation thanks to Amazon.com/Kindle technology

Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic
Children of Salem - A Bad Time to Be in Love
http://www.robertwalkerbooks.com/



Thursday, February 10, 2011

How is your Interpretation? by DL Larson

We all see the world differently and as a writer, I try to make my thoughts as clear as possible so there won't be any confusion as to what I mean. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't, and at times I smile at what another thought I meant.

Recently I came across a story about Forrest Gump going to heaven and his discussion with Saint Peter. I don't know where the story originated or who I should give credit for it, but its lesson is priceless. St. Peter told Forrest he would have to answer three questions correctly before he could enter heaven.
1. What two days of the week begin with the letter T?
2. How many seconds are there in a year?
3. What is God's first name?

Forrest wasn't prepared for a test and asked to have time in order to think over his answers. St. Peter agreed. After awhile, Forrest was ready to answer the questions. To the first one, he said, "the two days of the week that begin with T, is today and tomorrow."

St. Peter was surprised at the answer, but decided he had not specified how his answer should be, so he agreed to give Forrest credit for question one. St. Peter then asked, "how many seconds are there in a year?"

Forrest admitted this was a difficult question, but with confidence he stated, "the only answer can be twelve."

"Twelve? How did you decide there were only twelve seconds in a year?"

Forrest relplied, "Well,there is January second, February second, March second -"

"I see where you're going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind," said St. Peter. "But I will give you credit for that one, too. So, can you tell me God's first name?"

"Sure," Forrest replied, "it's Andy."

"Andy?" exclaimed St. Peter. "How in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?"

"That was the easiest of all," Forrest said. "I learned it from a song, 'Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own.'"

St. Peter shook his head and opened the Pearly Gates, and said, "Run, Forrest, run!"

Moral of the story ... how will your words be interpreted?

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Take a Break by Morgan Mandel

Since becoming unemployed at the beginning of the year, I've had more time to write. My goal is 1,000 words each day on my paranormal thriller, Forever Young. Sometimes I achieve it, sometimes go over. Also, sometimes, my neck or back gets sore.

Writers do face a danger of injuring themselves if they don't use proper posture. I know I tense up when I type fast and unconsciously sit the wrong way, lean over, or press certain keys harder than the others.

To try and offset this tendency, I've decided to take a break when I type. It's not always easy to do that when I'm in the flow, but I do it as soon as I can in those instances. How I do this is by keeping a kitchen timer next to the computer. I set it for 35-40 minutes. When the timer goes off, I get up and move around for maybe 5 minutes, then go back to work. It seems to help the cause.

What do you do to prevent writing injuries and soreness?



Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
Killer Career now 99 cents at
Kindle and Smashwords.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Business or Hobby - Do you know the difference?

I'm just back from the Love Is Murder CON (LoveIsMurder.net) and as many folks know, the board took a year off from the CON so we skipped 2010. It was good to see so many folks excited that we were back.

One of my panels was with Linda Mickey, the author of Dollars and Sense, and our panel explored the business side of writing. My portion focused more on determining whether or not you are writing as a bussiness or a hobby in terms of how the IRS views your efforts. Linda provided some crucial insights to the contract side of writing and even had us walk through an example of a real contract that someone received from a publisher. Sometimes as new writers we're so eager to become published that we overlook what's best for us in terms of contracts, payments and other business practices.

You can find more information about Linda and her works at http://www.lindamickey.com/.

For my discussion on the difference between writing as a hobby or writing as a business please follow me on my new Blog: Dear Writer - How's Business.

http://dearwriter-howsbusiness.blogspot.com/

I look forward to seeing you there and answering your questions.

Have a great writing day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Overused Phrases





It is what it is.
Really?
I know, right.
As if.
Um, no.
Like

These phrases are used so much that they constantly show up in writing because they (sometimes) reflect how we normally speak. We try to keep the dialogue “real” but often times it can be too much of a good thing.

What other phrases or clich├ęs have you seen that are overused or just plain drive you nuts?

Have a great week.

Best,
June

www.junesproat.com

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SUPER Day!

No, I'm not all that excited about the Superbowl today, but I am excited for another reason...

It's my birthday! (I am now twice the legal drinking age. So, since I've doubled that infamous milestone, I'm going to bring Double Stuffed Oreos to the Superbowl party later one. Yum!)

And, THIS CAN'T BE LOVE is the Contemporary Winner of Love Romance Cafe's Best of 2010!!





So there will be lots of celebrating today...no matter who wins the big game.

Have a great week!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Mona Lisa by Margot Justes

It appears there is another 'discovery' about the Mona Lisa. She's mentioned prominently in my vampire tale Blood Art, so I thought I'd let you know that according to the latest research by Silvano Vinceti, a male model posed for the portrait, and he was supposedly Leonardo's lover.

There is prior mention of the possibility, so this isn't really new, of course some experts are saying yes, maybe, and others no.

Does it really matter who posed for the portrait? In all honesty, it's not one of my favorite pieces, and the first time I saw it I thought, is that all there is? I simply do not see the mystery, the romance, the fantastic eyes, the smile, the hands and whatever else others see. I see a lovely portrait. It's not the size, although it is a small wooden panel, it's just that I don't see what others do. That is the wonder of art.

Given all the hoopla and the mystery surrounding the model, and the perfection of the hands, the mysterious smile, etc...there will always be new studies, new research, new written works to delve into the painting and the mystery of the Mona Lisa, and the life of the fascinating true Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci and his other masterpieces. It's as it should be.

The portrait aside, the man was an incredible talent, whose thirst for knowledge and great curiosity about life led him to see astounding possibilities for the future. A truly remarkable man. Any new 'discovery' about Leonardo da Vinci is welcome, brings us maybe a bit closer in understanding his magnificent talent.

Learning something new, a new discovery, a new concept, idea...it is always a good thing. Learning is good, no matter the scale.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Genre Fiction Becomes Classic Literature How?

There has been a long-standing feeling among the snobbish in the literary world that says such books as Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, or any genre book is hardly worthy of academic concern, that the mystery and horror novel in particular are inferior to what is considered actual "literature" which somehow has more dignity about it and is certainly a place for the classics. And yet the works we today consider classics were in the day of their publication condemned as "genre" or something less than "literature".

Certainly there are some people who point to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and call it a boy's adventure tale yet it has become the classic, even the pinnacle of the type of book that academics land on and like vultures pick apart and pluck out symbolism, irony, depth of characterization, important themes. Such matters concern academics just as a single short story by Pappa Hemingway can cause whole dissertations to be written to which Hemingway must laugh all the way to eternity. 

But somehow even today there are bastions of academia and readers who feel that a mystery, especially a murder mystery or a police procedural such as an Ed McBain novel does not come up to the level of importance to be called anything but a lesser creature than literature. The word literature must be used only for dead poets and ancient novels of the past, for the Bronte sisters and Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, E.A.Poe, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and too many to list here. However, novelists mining the same fields as Verne's science fiction, Doyle's puzzles with Sherlock Holmes at their center, Dickens' soap operas of human condition and contrition, Twain's humorist travelogues or young adult coming of age tales, Edgar Allan Poe's horror, Shelley's horror, Abraham Stoker's horror classic Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll & Hyde -- these are somehow elevated due to the mastery of the author and their "genre" forgiven or forgotten.

I condemn no book that works, and mystery titles of today and recent years deal with huge issues such as what it means to be an honorable man in a less than honorable world; mysteries cover the gamut of modern life and its alienating nature, the disenfranchisement of mankind from his true nature, and the stripping away of individual freedoms. Lord of the Flies, a British classic, is horror of the first order, one of civilization's worst nightmares. Bradbury's fiery tale of burning books while science fiction is a study in governmental controls gone amok,and yes, the intellectuals are the first to be imprisoned in a theocracy or a dictatorship. Mystery, Horror, Science Fiction, even romance from Shakespeare to the thinnest of modern day romance novels touch upon psychology, good vs. evil, the ripple effect of gossip and miscommunication.

I submit to you that genre fiction, including my own historical thrillers, deals with the most complex of human desires, needs, goals, desires. Just as the core story within the pages of Herman Melville's Moby Dick deal with aberrant human psyche so perfectly, just as Dickens' Christmas Carrol deals with the human condition and its complexities, so to does Hammett and Leonard, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, the Bronte heirs - a long, distinguished list of female authors from across the modern landscape such as Laura Lippman, Charlaine Harris, Tess Gerritsen, and Patricia Cornwell.

Tell me Dr. of Literature and Professor of Classics, how will the modern 'masters' of these various genres from science fiction to historical fiction be regarded by academia, and in the end, will they not square up with the elder statesmen of early "genre" fiction classics thanks in large measure to their popularity?  Dickens was writing a series of serial novels with each installment in the daily newspaper there in London, Mark Twain writing for a San Francisco newspaper, and today as with the huge crowds waiting for the next installment, so too hordes of readers anxiously await the next King installment.

I recall how The Catcher in the Rye suddenly was in every freshman English class across America. I don't see that so much nowadays. I wonder where The Catcher went. I see more copies of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart - a mystery surrounding a character who refuses to change because something inside him cannot change. An African village mystery man, a book of great physical battles as well as mental battles written in English by an African author--a modern day "classic" for what reason? It is considered great literature, great writing.  Recall Flowers for Algernon and 2001 - A Space Odyssey, books that were also finding their way into every college English class and considered "high-filuting literature.

It may be true that for a genre piece of writing to rise to the level of literature and especially classic literature that it be read by more than one generation and so not easily forgotten by time itself. Few books rise to this level, but in calling out whole genres such as mysteries  as somehow lesser than literature is in fact a strange attitude and behavior, for all great literature come out of popular acclaim as much if not more than critical acclaim which often lags behind discoveries made by readers of every stripe and not the critics.

Robert W. Walker (Rob)
 follow popular acclaim for my own Children of Salem and Titanic 2012

Taking Responsibility! by DL Larson

The midwest is digging out from one of the biggest snow storms in history. We have ample snow, we have mountains of snow and thankfully the winds have moved on to pester someone else. Many roads are still impassable, the temperature continues dipping lower and lower toward the 'really dangerous' zone. I only hope those who didn't heed the warnings before the blizzard hit, will prepare better this time for the cold snap we are entering.

Days before the blizzard newscasters warned us, "prepare, prepare, prepare! Bad weather is coming Tuesday afternoon." Most of us heeded the news. We listened to the advice; grocery stores were flooded with folks stocking up on food and other needs. Experts reminded folks how to prepare their vehicles, keep the gas tank full, the wipers in good repair and full of washer fluid, tires with the accurate amount of air. The advice went on for DAYS before the storm hit our area. Officials cautioned about driving on Lake Shore Drive. They warned folks to leave early and find alternate routes. They spoke of keeping children and the elderly indoors where they would be safe. In essence, we were asked to take responsibility for our own well being. Most of us did!

I woke Tuesday to high winds and snow blowing. By ten o'clock that morning our evergreen patch swayed in the wind like feathers. I knew then I wasn't going to work. As a matter of fact, I received dozens of e-mail posts from other northern Illinois libraries stating they were closing due to the blizzard approaching. High winds and severe snow fall was expected to hit the Chicago area by midafternoon. The TV newscasters sounded like a litany of warning, "prepare, prepare. Take shelter, driving will be severely restricted."

The storm hit hard. It hit pretty much when the meteorologists said it would. Lake Shore Drive disappeared into a hailstorm of blowing, drifting snow and severe whiteouts. It should have been deserted. But there are always those few who think the weather will wait for them, or claim it didn't seem that bad - at first! "I thought I could make it!" "I didn't realize it was this bad outside!"

Dozens of abandoned cars still litter Lake Shore Drive. Some folks sat in their cars for hours before they were rescued. I wonder if they could have a "do over" if they would chose a more responsible venture in getting home safely. Perhaps take heed to the warnings a bit sooner.

I thank the state troopers, national guard and others in the rescue business for accepting the responsiblity for those caught in the storm and seeing to their safety. I'm thankful they were prepared. I'm also thankful most of us did not need assistance because we took precautions to see to our own safety.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Books With Snow by Morgan Mandel

The DH shoveling the front walk
Snow has been very much on my mind the last few days, because of our record setting blizzard that officially began Tuesday afternoon, and seems to now be winding down, at least in my area.

My romantic suspense, Killer Career, has an episode in one of the chapters where the main characters are shoveling out a driveway and also searching for a missing dog in the snow.

Do you know of any books featuring snow, either your own, or someone else's?

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career now 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Selling eBooks Continued

What a great post Rob and wonderful information for all of us to heed. eBooks are certainly taking off and it's about time that their effectiveness was recognized. Authors now have many options in how they reach and communicate with their readers.

As Rob said, there are publishers who will distribute your eBooks for you and then there are platforms such as Amazon, and in reality, you can do both.

This is actually an exciting time for writers because there are so many options and choices and it's feasible to try several if not all of them.

That's one of the reasons I'm glad to serve on the board of the Love Is Murder CON - we don't tell authors who publish with a small press or who publish direct on Amazon, or any other vehicle that their path to publishing is not for us. We are an inclusive CON that recognizes the value in all writers/authors and we cheer them on to great success. We even stand up against a record-breaking blizzard and welcome all to brave the publishing storms with us.

Let the true and mighty writers and readers of mystery and romantic suspense be heard! Hope to see you at Love Is Murder CON this weekend.