Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We all need a good laugh

I took my daughter to see Robin Williams live this past Friday night. We both needed a good laugh and we definitely got one. It's amazing how energetic he is - sustaining his comic intensity for two hours. As expected we left with aching sides from laughing so hard.

Leave it to Robin Williams to put all the current troubles and issues of our lives in perspective through comedy. His material ranged from politics to the current economic crisis to divorce and more. I'm sure one of his stops on this tour will be on cable in the future so catch it for a darn good laugh. I think these days we all need one.

I know it's difficult to laugh these days with so many pressures on us -- financial disasters seem to be happening at every turn -- but laugh we must. It's either laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Not laughter at someone else's expense, not derisive laughter, not uncharitable laughter, but a laugh that helps lighten my mood and put things in perspective.

It wasn't that long ago that my daughter was talking with a friend about what a tough time she was having. We were in our yoga class and she was lamenting on some of her challenges with school and she continued with this theme on the way home. I recall saying, yes, times were better in the old days, coming across the country towards the west in covered wagons fighting off anything that threatened survival. The bottom line - we all need to keep things in perspective and sometimes that is very, very hard to do.

Going through some recent trying times myself, dear friends have reached out to console me and have asked if there was anything they could do to help. The thing I've asked for the most has been good thoughts, prayers, positive thoughts, whatever floats their boat and I often get the reaction, "Are you sure that's enough?" Yes, it's more than enough. So many people don't have anyone sending them positive energy or prayers so when someone does that for me I feel very blessed. Having people in my life who wish me well is priceless and guess what? I'll take it!

I've also responded to concerns for me with, "I'm not in Iraq being shot at and I'm not an unemployed woman with five children to feed." Now both of these hit close to home for me. I'm an army veteran, which I've pointed out in previous blogs, and I grew up in a family of seven children, an alcoholic father who didn't bring home the bacon, and a dysfunctional mother who was incredibly desperate to feed her children. I know it could always be worse because I've lived it.

So, keep things in perspective and have a good laugh to relieve the pressure because there's certainly a lot of pressure going around these days. Have the best day you can each and everyday and strive to appreciate what you do have in your life. It might just surprise you how much you really do have. In fact, if you have a family and friends who love you, you have the most important thing in the world.

Take care.

Monday, September 29, 2008


There are two things I wanna ramble about today, the first is a book published in 1989 by Ben Bova called CyberBooks.

I was just walking through the aisles of the library and the book fell off the shelves, bounced off my bald spot and shaved off a bunch of chest hairs as it slid down to thump onto my arthritic toe.

Just kidding, I picked it up because the chick on the cover looked EXACTLY LIKE MY WIFE WHEN SHE WAS TWENTY THREE ! (the pretty one, not the one with a couple thingeys popping out of her dress)

Not a little bit like her... but a dead ringer.

It was spooky, man.

In fact, a couple days later it was sitting on the counter and my daughter strolls by, skids to a stop and goes, "Whoa. What's this, Mom? This looks just like you."

My wife looks at it and 'erped' in surprise.

My other daughter goes, "Huh, I thought she looked familiar."

In other words, the cover made quite the commotion in my house.

It got even weirder as I read it. It wasn't a great, great read as in a real page-turner. But here's the thing ...the book was about a guy who invents an electronic gizmo that can download e-books. It was described down to the screen, buttons and scrollers exactly the same as the Kindle... which is 'amazering' considering Bova wrote the book twenty years before Kindle hit the Amazon River, er, streets.

The other cool thing about the book is the Bova, though he's won many awards, obviously never forgot his early roots. There's a lot about book rejections, publishers who overlook great literary works in favor of some drivel that will sell ... and frankly, just about everything that authors bitterly complain about.

All in all, a very innteerrestingg read ... if you're an author.

I'm getting kind of tired, so I'm not going to spend as much time as I thought on my second point.

Spiderwebs.... I mean websites.

I took the weekend to update my website, but then I tackled a fun project. With my first humor/vampire YA book Fang Face coming out next summer, I decided I wanted to set up a separate website for the book. So all day yesterday I played with the site.

I'm not a great Webmaster. In fact, I'm more like a Webplebe, but I think I pulled off a pretty fun site. It's still incomplete, since I don't have any reviews, excerpts or other stuff yet, but go check it out www.fangface.homestead.com .

Anyway, gotta go ..



The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment
Fang Face (coming Aug 09)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Other Things to Do

So, this week I read a blog about procrastinating. Boy was that like looking into a mirror. I think I am the world's biggest procrastinator. Especially when I don't have a deadline of sorts. I could never be my own boss. I'd be fired within the week!

When it comes to my day job, writing, school, you name it. I need someone to tell me "I need this by such and such a date"...or it doesn't get done. None of this open-ended stuff for me.

Part of my problem lately, is that I seem to be stuck at a certain point in the manuscript I'm working on. The story just won't go. I've tried skipping ahead and working that way, but didn't have much better luck. I should probably put this one aside and work on something else, if only to get the creative juices flowing. But it's the sequel to "Always", and people keep asking me about it. They want to read it. But I have to write the darn thing first. Easier said than done.

It's not like I'm not working on writing related things at all. This week I updated my web-site. Just made the links a little more streamlined. And I really want to put together a trailer for "This Time for Always", so I've done some creative brainstorming with that. Another part of the problem is that I'm slightly addicted to the internet. I check my e-mails several times a day.

Even before I sat down to write this post, I clicked over to my inbox first. (Because those three messages sitting there on a Sunday morning just couldn't wait another ten minutes.) Then I checked my standings at Fictionwise. (Still holding steady at number six, but with two reader reviews now - one 'great' rating, one 'good'). After that I checked my interview on Pop Syndicate from last week to see how many hits I was up to. (Right now I'm at 125, and I SWEAR that not all of them are from me checking in!) Then I checked at Wild Rose to see what the release dates were on some of the reviews that were posted. (I've only gotten two official ones so far and I'm hoping for more.) And then....

Well, I think you get the picture.

I have come up with a small solution, at least to the internet problem. When I fianlly do get down to actually writing something, I usually work on my laptop. My laptop has no internet connection. And I'm going to keep it that way.

As for being stuck on my manuscript, I just need to hunker down and get past it. Anyone out there like to give me a deadline? I really do seem to work better that way.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


from the Wild Rose Press
Champagne Rose and Rosebud #1 Bestseler!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Changing Face of Web Design by Margot Justes

I noticed that web site design is forever changing, continuously evolving, colors change, twinkling lights are added, arrows point in many directions, anything to give the website a new look. Something fresh, different to entice visitors as often as possible.

I was told it’s necessary; people don’t want to see the same thing over again. Change is expected. From a personal observation, some of them are so busy and full of detail that I don’t know where to go first-so usually I leave. I want simplicity, easy access-not confusion or an engineering degree to figure out where I need to be.

I, for one love my website, just the way it is, and I believe it does change. The events are updated, book trailer is up, reviews are posted, announcements and new publications are listed; all those things change frequently. But the basic design is permanent. It is perfect, elegant and easy to use. There is not one single iota that I would alter about the design of my site.

I wonder if all the changes on the websites are really that important and effective. I would love to hear from writers-do you really change your site frequently? And readers-does it really matter to you? What do you look for when you visit?

I’m going to add something to the blog-I wrote it last night, but didn’t post it yet-was gone all day. In the meantime I got an e-mail from a friend who suggested I make the website a bit more personal-not change the design, but update it with information on my writing, progress of same or lack there of. I have already e-mailed my web-gal. The timing of my friend’s e-mail couldn’t have been better.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hook, Line & Sinker - Selling An Idea by Robert W. Walker

It has become harder and harder over the past thirty years to gain attention at publishing houses for books of any ilke.

It seems or feels like so much has been turned over to bottomline thinking and commercial aspects, marketing ploys, and if a book has no tie-in with a film, a plastic doll, a brand name product, or an author has somehow become a household brand name in and of him or herself -- as in the case of a Stephen King or a James Patterson, then an author, no matter the quality of the writing, is going to have a horrible time selling any fiction or nonfiction for that matter in this cllmate.

Selling it is the hard part. We writers love the process in all its steps, even rewriting is a pleasure when it gives us those aha moments and answers to needling probllems inherent in the story. The hard part comes when it is completed and you drag out the Writers Market and try as you may to get an editor to give it a read.

In all my years ofexperience with selling works, and I have sold and seen published quite a few titles now, I preach one goal. Hook an agent or editor on the noton behind the book. Main character is suicidal on page one, but he postpones offing himself when instinct takes over, and before he knows it he has a reason to live--Revenge! A major score to settle.

You may be proud of having completed a 60 or 80 of 100 thousand word novel, but no one is anxious to have a tomb that size fall on his or her desk. However, as with Abe Lincoln's writing the Gettysburg(h) Address on the back of an envelope (stamp then was what a half a cent?), you have to capsulize your most telling and powerful and dramatic element in the novel to create a sudden flash of interest in the whole by way of the capsulization.

This requires an extremely objective objective objective view of your own work, to write it up as precisely what you would like to see on the back jakcet copy.It behooves you to write the most important short story of your life, the story about your story. To do this, you must set aside all emotional attachment to the story and ask what is the biggest, most blatant and exctiing detail(s) about the story, and what will blow the lid off some agent's head on hearing the line that sums up your book as beyond the pale or is that pall, or is that Palin?

At any rate imagine the response I might get from this line and then give it a go for your book before you set out to "sell" the whole. Here is the line for a manuscript on my shelf: A monster of ancient times is loose on the Titanic and is the primary reason why Captain Smith and Inspector Alastair Ransom have intentionally rammed the iceberg.Be certain to sell the whole via the hook.

In our fast paced market today, you might get a read with a hook, line, and sinker well before you get one with a multiple-page synopsis or outline, and most certainly well before you ever sell anyone on the idea of reading your whole book from page one to end. Sadly, nobody is waiting for your huge tomb to land on the desk until they ASK for it.

To get them to ask for it, you need a hook, line, and sinker.

So go fish! Happy Reading and hey take a look at the Amazing Art Work created by my son for DEAD ON, found at
Rob Walker

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Nation's Capitol! by DL Larson

Yep, last week I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial pretending to shout, "Jenny?" Then I switched characters and mimed back, "Forrest?" I envisioned myself in a long, swaying skirt and sandals, trudging through the reflecting pond to meet a dear friend. My husband gave me that look he has, and I snapped back to reality. Even so, it was a fun moment.

Washington D.C. is a small town, or so the politicians have said, the NGOs (non governmental ogranizations) agreed, as did the staffers we met. Staffers are the young, energetic and idealistic people who run our country from the many offices on Capitol Hill.

We were a group of eleven midwestern folks arriving a bit disheveled from navigating the Chicago rush hour, flooded roads and no breakfast. Our purpose was to see as many politicians as we could, visit with private volunteer organizations and spread the word about our organization called Foods Resource Bank (FRB).

We divided up in order to visit with as many Congressmen as possible. My group met with Congressman Weller, from our Illinois district. Congressman Weller comes from a farming family and was very interested in hearing about our grassroots organization of farmers helping farmers around the world. We visited Senator O'Bama's office and met with staffers there. We shared our feelings about developing sustainability programs to third world countries. We were well received in both offices. They were genuinely excited to visit with us.

I had no idea NGOs were so prevalent in D.C. They are a moving force and it was a privilege to meet with them. I felt we were preaching to the choir as we visited. Many provided lunch for us and we shared ideas and programs regarding the world hunger issue. The biggest problem in underdeveloped countries is that - they are not productive enough to feed their own people. Less than 2% of the people in this country provide the food you eat each day. Move around the globe and you will find 60-70% of the people are farmers and still they go hungry.

In the last seven out of eight years food production has not met with the world's needs. We have dipped into the world food reserve with no guarantee of how to replenish that supply. If you know anything of Economics 101, you probably figured out that has caused food prices to increase. That is an inconvenience to us, but starvation to those who can not afford to buy food. So you can see why my husband and I, along with other farmers, feel the urgency to educate farmers around the world. If a country can not sustain itself, it become a burden to everyone.

Our days doing the Hill were busy. We met with national and international groups:
World Vision, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Bread for the World, US African Development Foundation, World Hope International, Lutheran World Relief, Catholic Relief Services, End Hunger in Africa, and more. Some we met in panel discussions, others over lunch and some in their modest offices.

If you are wondering if your charitable donations are at work, I can tell you they are. Many of these organizations are making every dollar stretch. But what we encountered most was surprise. Surprise that a group of farmers would take the time to visit Washington D.C. Suprised even more that we cared about educating farmers in underdevloped countries. Many organizers admitted that world agriculture has not been a priority for over thirty years and it has led to this crisis. And it will take groups like Foods Resource Bank to bring about change. FRB is instrumental in asking underdeveloped communities what they need most and then helping them obtain that goal. It may be a well, an irrigation system or a new way of planting a crop. But the farmers, the community, is involved from the get-go. It's not a hand out but a hand up.

Forrest and Jenny may go together like peas and carrots, but farmers helping farmers is the real bread and butter to a thriving world economy where hunger is only a memory. We were only a small voice in Washington, but a clear one with a hope and desire to make significant changes in agriculture around the world. I recall several people commenting, "not many take the time to tell us their concerns. I wish more people would do that."

So, my challenge to you, as a writer, as an American, is to SPEAK UP. Write to your congressmen, ask the tough questions. Get involved on another level. Your concerns may not be mine, but I'm sure they are just as important. Your voice, however small, can be heard if only you use it.

I spoke up in Washington D.C. I had never dreamed of doing such a thing. Yet once the opportunity arose, I seized it. I'm so glad I did.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: If you want to know more about Foods Resource Bank, visit www.foodsresourcebank.org

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HOSTING OR GUESTING? Which is Better? By Morgan Mandel

You may have noticed that Acme Authors Link is hosting more guests lately. We do this to keep our blogspot fresh and offer more diversity to our readers. Our aim is to attract more peole to our site.

Judging from the stats, hosting other authors does make a difference. Many more people are showing up. Also, lots of them are sticking around days after the guests have left to read what our regular bloggers contribute.

Except for a guest spot at Pop Syndicate.Com, I haven't been guesting lately. I'm thinking of starting again soon, after my vacation next week. I've seen offers posted, but haven't had a chance to respond since I've been so busy hosting people.

I'm wondering, what do you do?
Host guests at your blogspot?
Appear as a guest at blogspots?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.
Morgan Mandel

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Politics and birds and stuff

Someday I’m going to get serious, and try to understand politics. I feel if I put a concerted effort into this study, I will understand the difference between a liberal Republican, and a conservative Democrat.

I also think there should be more avian ways to describe people’s martial tendencies. You have your hawks who want to go to war right now. You have your doves who want peace at all costs. Okay, I get those two. But what bird would represent someone who wants to fight as a last option? Or someone who wants a preemptive limited precision strike with immediate mediation? Or someone who wants peace, but only if they get their way? Or how about someone who simply wants to argue all the time?

I think the seagull is the perfect symbol for this last person. Have you ever seen seagulls fighting amongst themselves? I was eating lunch at a Park District once, where a lot of gulls hang out waiting for some handouts. I noticed one gull defending a five foot radius next to my window. If I were to throw out a piece of my lunch, it was his. And if any other gull came near, this gull would squawk and chase it away.

Which brings me to the subject of bad drivers. I know, it’s not really logical to jump from writing about seagulls to bad drivers, because we all know seagulls can’t golf very well. Anyway, I wasn’t talking about drivers as in golf - I was referring to driving cars. Seagulls are notoriously bad drivers, so they usually fly. Politicians are bad drivers too, which is why they are given immunities.

If not for these immunities, our government would be voting on new jails even as they were serving time in these same jails for various traffic infractions. Of course, they would choose to serve time rather than paying fines, because the only money they know how to spend is yours and mine.

Enough of that … back to the subject of bad drivers. I was watching the comedian Gallagher once, and he did a little bit on bad drivers. He said the best way to avoid bad drivers would be if all people were given big dart guns. Then, if you saw someone being an idiot, you simply shoot a dart at the car. So any time you see a car careening towards you with darts sticking out all over, you run for cover! And any with too many automatically would get pulled over and ticketed by the police.

That’s not enough for me. I want personal message boards on the front and back of my car, with a keyboard in the car, where I could type little messages and love notes for drivers around you.

Then I figured not. I’d probably get into an accident as I’m looking to find the ‘F’ key while driving, so maybe Gallagher’s idea is better.

What was I going to type with the ‘F’ key? It’s not what you think. I was going to type, “What a Fine Day!”

You believe me, don’t you?



The Adventures of Guy … written by a guy (probably)

The Next Adventures of Guy … more wackiness

Fang Face (young adult humor/vampire, coming Aug. 09)

Mixed Marriage

My husband and I like to tell people we have a "mixed marriage". This has nothing to do with religious, political, or ethical views. Rather, he's a Sox fan and I'm a Cubs fan.

Yesterday was my day to bask in glory. His day is coming for this year. But I got there first. It's a nice feeling.

Being a published author is a nice feeling as well. This week I had my first on-line interview posted at Pop Syndicate. It was a blast to do! I had a really great review posted on Amazon. And I finally set the date for the release party for THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS.

All of this makes me feel great! I am enjoying every bit of my fifteen minutes of fame. I just hope it doesn't take another century for me to bask in the spotlight again.

Is fan loyalty enough of a conflict for a romance? Probably not. But it's a fun rivalry for my husband and me.

As for the Cubs...is it their year? I don't know, but it sure feels like mine!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Independent Book Stores by Margot Justes

Writers love to read-as someone I know would say ‘imagine that’.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of the independent bookstores. For one thing, they support the mid-list authors and generally they have a niche market, and the ambiance is cozy, relaxed and very intimate.

I still remember Stuart Brent on Michigan Ave in Chicago; many, many times I stopped in to browse and buy. He had so many unusual books, and the staff was so knowledgeable and helpful. It was a delightful and enriching break in my day.

I have mentioned Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park www.centuriesandsleuths.com many times, I’m a huge fan. Augie the owner has a unique and personable approach to books and his readers. Authors always find support in his store.

There is an independent book store in Madison WI, Booked for Murder
www.bookedformurder.com Of course it has mysteries, used, new, and anything in between. It is charming, well seasoned and treasures abound. It is under new ownership, and if you’re in the area, stop by, say hello for me, browse and buy a book.

I did a signing there in July, I was made to feel very welcome, any trepidation
I had-and I did have a lot-quickly evaporated. I don’t think the 3 cups of Starbucks I had right before the signing had anything to do to with it.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our Most Precious Commodity - TIME to Read, TIME to Write, by Time Manager, Robert W. Walker

I am going to make this short and sweet as time is of the essense; time is the most precious commodity we have. The stock market plunge has proven that much. This week on the wonderful chat group Dorothyl (named for Dorothy Sayers) wherein folks from all walks of life share one thing in common – a love of books and a passion for reading, a member asked quite seriously, “How can those on the list who appear to read four or more books a week—how do you find the time!”

The answers came fast and furiously as those responding have little time for anything BUT reading. The answers were fascinating. In almost all cases, their childhood reading habits played the major role. Even as children, they were never without a book. These children organized their days around the books they read. Now mind you, I saw Children of the Corn, and Children of the Damned, but these children most assuredly frightened some people as well since they were “different” or “special” in another bookish way—they read and read and read, and when finished they read. I have a writer friend who had me to his house one evening for a meal, Tim Broderick, and I walk in to find his two children—identical twins of age nine at the time—sitting at each end of the sofa, each with her face literally masked, buried, consumed by a book—not identical book but close enough. Now I am not saying that Tim’s twins are in any way, shape, or form like scary kids in a B-horror flick, so don’t get me wrong. I found it fascinating to see this! I was mesmerized from the stark image of seeing not one but two children reading a book that was of their choosing and not a homework assignment forced upon them. This has become a rare scene for a teacher, you see. A good ninety percent of my students pick up a Gameboy, Gamebox, or an Ipod, or rush to the computer screen to see what’s happening on Myspace or Facespace or whatever before a book even comes to mind if at all, whether assigned reading or for pleasure. Few of them equate pleasure and reading.

On the other hand, almost to a person, the respondents on DorothyL (free Dorothy!) grew up like Tim’s twins—with a passion for books, nurtured by parents, encouraged by parents, catalyst(ed) via parent or parents, and in my case even more so teachers. My dad was not a reader, maybe a newspaper on Sundays. Mom read far more. She had stacks of “trashy” novels like the ones I write today laying around the house and on shelves. I recall using them as building bocks when I was extremely small. Dad was a truck driver, mom a factory worker who married during Armageddon, otherwise known as WWII. Mom was in nursing school at a time when she became pregnant with my brother, Rick, and so had to drop out (no choices for a woman in that time), while my dad was overseas in the European theater of war where he survived only to come home filled with trauma and sporting the worst of bad habits. Life at home for the five children and my mother was often times a nightmare; we had to live with the psychologically damaged person we knew only as Daddy who coped with his trauma in the worst possible way at a time when a man didn’t get help for invisible scars. So reading was truly an escape for me, as was writing.

When I would go off to school it was an escape. School for me was a fantasyland. I loved school, the very building, the theater inside, the excitement of life there, and the library inside that place that held grownups who believed in me. One in particular, when asked if she had this small wooden, put-together little bookcase, why didn’t she ever use it, rather than hiding it away in a cabinet handed it to me and said, “Robert, fill this up with the books you read and it is yours.” Being from the family I was from, having little on Christmas and maybe getting a shirt for my birthday, this was an extraordinary offering. I replied, “Miss Page, I’ll do you one better. I’ll fill it up with the books I write.” She laughed and nodded. “That would be even better, and I believe you will.”

Miss Page was my home room high school teacher, but previous to her, I had always been lucky to have teachers who cared and encouraged me in reading and writing. I learned early on the value of using time and using it wisely. For us readers and writers, fifteen minutes is time enough to do a lot of reading, researching, and writing depending. Fifteen minutes as the laundry spins. Fifteen minutes in a traffic jam. Fifteen minutes between classes. Fifteen minutes while multi-tasking elsewhere. When I was at Northwestern University, I got much of my homework reading and my reading for pleasure, and my writing done between classes. There’s an old maxim about time being the most precious of commodities, but there is another that says you can let time run you, or you can run time. There are those among us, some quite close to me, who allow time and the elements control their lives, and then there are those among us who organize and control time. People are astounded over my output as an author, and one question I always get is “do you have a twin?” In other words, “Where do you find the time?” My reply is “Yes, my twin I keep shackled to the desk and he does all the writing. His name is Stephen King.” As to finding time, I make time.”

Find me at www.robertwalkerbooks.com - new site, new giveaway!
www.Dorothyl.com - often the inspiration for my blog here!
www.popsyndicate.com\books -- interviewed by a mysterious lady!

Happy Writing and Use your Time Wisely –

Rob Walker

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Craig Johnson, Man of Mystery, Interview by Rob Walker

Acme Blog Interview:
By Craig Johnson, questions provided by Robert Walker

The following interview took place in the Acme Bar on the wrong side of the tracks via Route 10, halfway between Charleston and West Hamlin, West Virginia. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely intentional.

Imagine if you will, a fieldstone foundation bar pressed hard against the two-lane blacktop with a blinking red neon light just outside the window. It is a crisp early evening, and the leaves of the deciduous trees are preparing to inflame with the passing glory of an Appalachian September. Periodically, fully-laden coal trucks drive by, their air-brakes hissing at the bar as they pass. Inside, our two trusty companions are seated at a small table by the jukebox with Tom T. Hall’s classic, Pinto the Wonder Horse is Dead, playing through the two tinny 1950’s speakers…

A heavy-set waitress brought the fourth round Iron City beers to the battered table, carved with the passions of previous patrons and the water rings of an Olympic pattern ala Jackson Pollack. “You want me to run a tab?”

I tipped my cowboy hat back, “Yes Ma’am, that’d be easier.”

Rob Walker consulted his notes, scratched his beard, and looked at me as he adjusted the angle of the tiny tape-recorder on the table. “Craig Johnson, they say West Virginia is almost heaven and knowing you once lived here, would you say that Wyoming is heaven?’”

I smiled and took a sip of the worst beer ever brewed. “It’s pretty close. The majority of my adult life has been spent out west, and it’s the place where I settled and built my ranch … But I still have very fond memories of West Virginia. I’ve got a lot of family back here, although I can usually lure them west with the trout fishing in the Bighorn Mountains.”

My interviewer took a sip of his own beer and made a face. “You know, this stuff is horrible.”

“It is, isn’t it? I had a buddy from Pittsburgh who asked me if I’d ever drank the worst beer in the world—he’s the one who introduced me to Iron City. It kind of became my east-of-the-Mississippi beer.”

Rob continued to look at me. “Why are we drinking it?”

“Dollar a can.”

He looked out the window where the clouds were beginning to form along the rolling hills; they blocked out most of the sky. “Were you born and reared in West Virginia?”
I nodded, took a handful of peanuts from the basket on our table, shelled one and tossed the shells on the floor with the hundreds of others. “Cabell County Hospital back in 1961, or so they tell me. My mother seems to be a trustworthy type, so I take her word for it.” I took another sip of my beer. “You aren’t saying anything bad about my mother, are you Rob?”

“No, I… No.” He took another sip of his beer and made the same face—a full twist with a half-gainer. “Would you please give us a brief clue as to your history as a policeman in New York, and how you wound up on a ranch in Wyoming?”

“Jeeze, Rob, this is starting to sound like a senate subcommittee hearing…”
“Just speak clearly into the microphone.”

I took another slug of Iron City. “I had a grandfather who was a blacksmith and spent most of my life around horses. Out west, I learned that this was a pretty good way to keep a job as a young cowboy. I delivered some horses down to the area in Wyoming where my ranch is now and thought it might be a good place to light. I was only in my early twenties, but marked it in my Rand-McNally for later reference. The law enforcement part came after my post-graduate work in Philadelphia. I stumbled onto a civil-service class for potential police officers on Saturday mornings at 1 Police Plaza in New York. I took the class with the intention of getting material for the writing—and got hooked.” I sat my beer down and listened as the jukebox switched to Tom T. Hall’s Ballad of Forty Dollars. “It was good for me; gave me a practical basis for the novels. As an ex-cop, I can tell you that there are a lot of people out there writing crime fiction that might not know enough about the investigative process as they should.”

Rob forgot and took a mighty draught of his beer. “Achhh… That stuff tastes like ass…”

“Yep, it’s pretty bad.” I gave the high sign to the waitress. “Could we get another, please?”

Rob returned to his notes. “You’ve been writing mysteries for quite some time and have your fourth title starring Walt Longmire out now, Dead Man’s Moccasins…”

“That’s Another Man’s Moccasins.”

“Whatever.” The waitress dropped off the beers. “How did you get started?”

I watched Rob as he quickly downed his fourth beer; I think he was trying to keep up. “Well my father says I come from a long line of bull-shitters, it’s just that I’m the first to be educated enough to write mine down.” I took a sip of my fifth beer, just as bad as the fourth. “Living in a town of 25 on the high plains of Wyoming, you’ve got to be pretty self-sufficient, so I started thinking of an idea for a novel and was lucky enough to land a really powerful agent. It just happened that Viking/Penguin was in the position of acquiring mysteries from exotic locales like Tuscany, Turkey, Southeast Asia… And, of all places, Wyoming.”

He took another swallow from the can and held it out to look at it. “Do you suppose they get the water right out of the three rivers?”

“Probably; slag iron, carp, and all ‘though they say they’ve cleaned them up.”

He took another sip, and it seemed to me his eyes were becoming unfocused—but maybe it was mine. “How is your series character, Walt Longmire, like you, and how is he different from you?”

“Well, Walt’s older than me. I’ve referred to him as the ‘sadder but wiser sheriff’. I think he’s who I’d like to be in about ten years. He’s compassionate and hopeful; I think those are characteristics we share. That and we’re both smart-asses. Walt’s had a much rougher life than I’ve had, and I think he has a propensity to depression which I don’t have.”

“Would you classify any of your books as your favorite? And if so, would this have anything to do with the fact of some movie interest in Dead Man’s

“Another Man’s Moccasins.”

He sipped his Iron City. “…Whatever.”

“I don’t know—it’s like deciding which of your kids you like best. There are things I like about all of them, and there’s been Hollywood interest in all the novels; feature film stuff and television series but nothing solidified yet. I’m a write,r and I like writing books, all the other stuff I leave at the door. Usually my favorite novel is the one I’m currently working on, and my least favorite is usually the one I just finished.” I took another sip from my can. “Maybe I’m more like Walt than I’m willing to admit, but I think he drinks better beer.”

Rob continued to study his can. “Your friend was right; this is the worst beer I’ve ever tasted.”

I nodded my head, “You’ve never had a Budweiser, huh?”

He ignored me and continued with another question. “Your mysteries make Wyoming fascinating. Is that why you’ve chosen it as the place you want to write about? And how much has that to do with the people there?”

“I think if you’re writing about a place you love you have a responsibility to be truthful. Wyoming is my home, so I owe it a certain respect. There are always going to be opportunities to boy-howdy the place and characters, but that just wouldn’t be fair or good. The people who populate your novels are always going to be the crux of the writing. I remember when the president and publisher of Penguin, Kathryn Court, told me that I should consider continuing The Cold Dish as a series because readers are going to be interested in the characters. I argued with her, but everyday I get emails from people, constantly showing me how wrong I was. Fortunately, she won the argument.” I finished off the fifth and placed the empty can beside the others. “Do we have time for another?”

He belched loudly and held his stomach. “My bank account says yes, but my stomach says no.” His eyes tilted down to his notepad. “What’s in the works for the next Craig Johnson title? Can you reveal any secrets for your fans? Such as a title and the gist of the plot?”

“It’s kind of a village mystery in the British sense and is called The Dark Horse. There are two kinds of jails in Wyoming, high occupancy and low occupancy—the high occupancy jails sometimes farm off prisoners to the low occupancy jails. Walt receives one of these prisoners, a woman who supposedly killed her husband, but he just doesn’t believe that the whole story’s been told. He rents a car, throws on some street clothes, and heads over to another county.”

I watched as Rob stood a little unsteady. “So, Walt’s first undercover case?”
“Yep, in a town of forty—which introduces a number of inherent problems.”

“I bet.” He looked around. “Does this place have a bathroom?”

“Back corner, by the bar.”

I watched as he walked away, the peanut shells crunching under his hiking boots. “Hey Rob, does this mean the interview’s over?” I continued to watch his retreat, and then reached across and took his last beer. “Rob?” I also picked up his tiny tape recorder and began singing along with the jukebox to Tom T.’s I Like Beer… “It makes me a jolly good fellow…”

Craig Johnson

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Angela Wilson Shares Marketing Tips - Intro by Morgan Mandel

Angela Wilson

I met our guest, Angela Wilson, in person at a Love is Murder Conference a few years ago where she was setting up podcasts for Pop Syndicate.Com. Since then, I've virtually bumped into her countless times on the Internet. It seems we travel in many of the same circles.

I and other Acme Authors Link bloggers were fortunate enough to be guests at the Pop Syndicate blogspot this week. In May, I also had the honor of doing a virtual book tour under Angela's auspices at
Pop Syndicate.Com in May, 2008. Here's one of my blogs from that week, which ties in with the subject at hand:

I'm happy that Angela could stop by today. She is one busy person with a wealth of knowledge to share.

Angela Wilson is a newsletter columnist, Web producer, author publicist, and marketing/PR specialist. When not writing, she manages the author virtual book tour blog at www.PopSyndicate.com/books.

And now for some marketing tips from an expert in the field, Angela Wilson...

Fresh ideas for the marketing weary

It's tough to find fresh ways to market your work. After long, grueling hours of hard marketing using standard techniques, your brain is fried, and trying to think of a new technique is the last thing you want to do.

Finding those ideas isn't as hard as you think. You just need to get inside of your story to find outside-the-box marketing ideas. Your novel may offer a key component that will offer new venues to sell, subtle ways to promote your work or a stroke of brilliance that you can promote to other authors.

Here are some great examples from successful authors – and a few tips of my own.

Maggie Sefton pens the A Knitting Mystery series featuring protagonist Kelly Flynn. Inside her latest, she includes a recipe and knitting pattern and Sefton signs and sells her books at fabric stores like Lambspun of Colorado.

• Offer value added items to your site – not just summaries, cover art and sales pitch. For example, if you have a character dying of cancer – even a minor character – put links and information on your site about cancer. Not only is it a value to readers, but the meta tags will spread your messages throughout search engines anytime someone looks up information on the disease.

• Coffeehouses are not just for poetry anymore. Many coffeehouses are looking for talent to fill an hour or so a night. Hook up with local coffee shops that offer entertainment and arrange a book reading, where you can also autograph and sell. Better yet, if a character in your book likes a particular drink, see if, just for that night, the shop will name it for your character – an added sales feature for both yourself and them.

Austin Camacho, author of Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century, decided to check out airport shops to introduce readers to his signature character, Hannibal Jones. He was an instant hit – and continues to get invites back. Camacho puts a "local author" sticker on the books so people can use it as a trip memento, or for an in-flight read.

• Doctor's offices always need new reading material. Consider printing up the first chapter of your novel in a mini-book to leave in waiting rooms.

• Book club members love to meet authors – and with technology, you are not constrained to just your hometown. Consider using Skype or even a call on speaker phone to chat it up with readers about your latest and what's ahead for you. Not only do you have immediately sales for readers in the group, but the personal touch will help sustain them as fans and customers.

• You can post all the flyers you want on bulletin boards, but inevitably they will get covered. Consider doing buttons of your book cover instead. It can't get covered, and people will use it to hold up other items, so it will always be prominent. Button machines are inexpensive. It is also likely your local school district will have one that you can borrow.

• How do you market a children's book about making candy turtles? That was Sara Ann Denson's quandary as she worked to promote her book, Christmas Turtles. Denson targeted elementary schools for speeches, where families could preorder books, but she knew she needed something more to sell her print run. A Google search led her to several pecan growers associations. She signed on for the Texas Pecan Growers Association convention – chosen strategically because of it's location in the center on the nation – and found instant success among pecan growers. Many bought her books to sell with their products – especially the tins that hold pecans, which were prominently featured in the book art. They also recommended her to other growers, who passed along those recommendations when they called to order. As a bonus, Denson was not expected to purchase items from vendors, which eased the financial pressure. (After all, how many people need a machine that shakes pecans from trees?)

• Get inside a Mom Pack. This innovative idea allows moms everywhere to network with other mothers and put their announcements into packets, which are left at doctors' offices, garage waiting rooms and other places where people are craving reading material. Find out about current packs at http://www.mompack.com/mompack/.

• The library isn't the only place that takes book donations. Check with your local Ronald McDonald House, developmental centers, daycares, senior centers and other community areas to see if your genre fits their needs.

• The Fall 2007 edition of Visit Detroit featured a short vignette about P.J. Parrish, the pseudonym for native sisters Kristy Monte and Kelly Nichols. This slick glossy is published by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. Put your local chamber on your news release list. Develop contacts and campaign (quietly) for a feature story or other item highlighting your work and connection to the region. This could be especially useful in smaller, touristy areas.

Creative marketing ideas are just a thought away. Delve into the back story of your novel or your own life to find them.

Angela Wilson,
on the Web at:

Want details on Pop Syndicate virtual tours? E-mail Angela at authorangelawilson@gmail.com.

Tomorrow, catch our resident blogger, Rob Walker, at www.popsyndicate.com/books, hosted by Angela Wilson.

Also, Thursday, Craig Johnson, our Man of Mystery, will appear here. You don't want to miss his inteview by Rob Walker.

There I was

In the army whenever anyone told a story about a past experience related to a tour of duty or past military event we'd like to preface it jokingly with, "There I was." Well, there I was at the VA hospital just as I mentioned in my last blog and since it was my first time I really didn't know what to expect, or so I told myself. Given the fact that it was the Spinal Cord Injury / Disorder Service unit I guess in some ways I expected to see lots of wounded veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had suffered injuries resulting in loss of the use of some or all of their limbs. While there may have been some of these folks in the unit the ones I encountered were either older and therefore from previous wars/conflicts like WWII or Korea or Viet Nam, and some were there due to diseases that had nothing to do with their service but because they are veterans, there they were.

One such gentleman was in the hospital due to advanced Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms. His name is Chris and turns out he has a wife and children and lives in a burb not too far from where I live. Despite his advanced stage of MS, Chris could talk and talk he did. I have to say that he was one of the most upbeat and happiest people I've ever met. He didn't have the use of his hands or legs, had to take a drink from a tube suspended in the air and he had to raise his head to get his mouth around it, but damn the man was happy. He talked proudly of his service, his family and his life. We shared stories about children and life in general - he's only a few years older than I am.

I went to the Hines VA with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for the first time and I was so pysched about going there to help others when in fact Chris helped me. I'm going through a particularly unpleasant time in my life with the breakup of my second marriage and the disappointment that such a situation naturally invokes, but talking with Chris I realized that life really can be enjoyed regardless your situaiton. I've actually been fairly upbeat throughout most of this ordeal. I've often said to people that despite my pending divorce I feel very blessed. I'm not in Iraq being shot at and I'm not an unemployed mother with five children to feed. I have a stable job and my daughter is almost finished with her undergraduate studies - and despite the debt from the student loans I've been able to make most of my ends meet. So, there!

I'm ready to send out my first fiction query letter for a novel I just wrote - and rewrote, and rewrote, and did yet more rewritting - and you know what? I think it's pretty damn good. Doesn't mean the publisher will think so but that's okay. I enjoyed writing so much that the journey of writing the book was a reward in and of itself. Now, I won't lie to you. I want to have my novel published as well as the next one and the one after that and so on and so on, but I'm happy with the work I've done so far. At a previous Love is Murder Conference (LoveIsMurder.net) our guest author, David Morrell (http://www.davidmorrell.net/) gave an awe inspiring speech about being a writing and the state of the current publishing industry. His main advice - or at least a key part that I took from his speech - If you are going to spend a year of your life writing something you may as well be happy with it and proud of your efforts whether or not it results in a publishing contract. He's right! Yes, we writers want that publishing contract and we salivate at all the bones publishers and agents throw our way, but in the end our happiness comes from being proud of what we write, not the contract itself.

So, find happiness in everything you do or at least one thing you do and if that doesn't work, go visit a VA Hospital, or any hospital, or shelter, or whatever, to remind yourself just how good things really are in terms of your own humanity and your individual life. We'll save the current economic woes for another blog.

If none of the above work, put on any version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens or It's a Wonderful Life. Talk about therapeutic!

For more information on the Hines Spinal Cord Injury / Disorder Service unit here's the link:


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness

So last week I posted the prologue for The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably).

After enthusiastic applause, mostly by me, this week I'm going to post the prologue and a sliver of the first chapter of the Preditors and Editors Reader's Choice award for fantasy/sci-fi, The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness.

(clap, clap, clap)

Don't clap for yourself, that's crass

(Oh, sorry ... whistle, whistle)

Um, no whistling either.

Anyway, here goes ... enjoy ...


"Hey, dude."


"You ever heard of something called a siesta?"

"Siesta? Yeah, sure, I guess."

"You know what a siesta is?"

"Well, um, I think so. It’s like a nap or something, right?"

"Yep. You got it. It’s a nap or rest that one takes in Latin America or Spain after eating."

"Okay, sure. That makes sense."

"Do you know why they have siestas after eating?"

Though I was busy running through a graveyard, I thought for a second. "No, I guess I don’t really know."

"Well, it’s so that we won’t do this." And with that, the chicken quesadilla that I’d had for lunch slugged me in the gut. Hot sauce vapor burped past my lips and my ears popped as I went into a controlled roll.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t a controlled roll. It was more like a graceful ballet dance move.

No, not really, it wasn’t.

A gymnastic spiral?

I wish.

Um. A tumbler’s spin?


Okay, okay. The truth is, I doubled over in mid stride, my legs collapsing weakly, and stumbled into the sorcerer who was running next to me. He shoved back roughly, causing me to lose all control, trip over a tombstone from a guy who died in 1967, and skid face first into some ragweed missed by the cemetery’s groundskeeper.

I’m allergic to ragweed.

Chapter One

I rolled over, my nose and eyes already itching. "Aw, damn it!"

"You okay, Guy?"

I glared at Thurman. "Why’d you shove me?"

He looked hurt. "I didn’t shove you. You banged into me."

"I didn’t bang into you. I fell into you."

He was sweating profusely. Guess black Goth garb isn’t the best thing to wear when you’re expending unnecessary and excess amounts of energy.

The grass was nicely manicured and comfortable, so I rolled over and rubbed my nose.

"Dude, we have to get out of here," he said.

I sneezed but didn’t move. "All right, Thurman. Do you want to tell me where we’re going?" Something jabbed into my side. A television remote. My travel bag was lying against a tree, its contents strewn over the grass. The remote had likely spilled from the bag, which he’d packed in our rush to leave the house. "And why was this in my bag?"

He gave me a look. "Which do you want to know?"


"Which question? You asked two."

"Oh, uh. Let’s start with…what’s going on? Why are we running?"

"Those are new questions," he accused. "Now you’re up to four. How am I supposed to answer four different questions at once?"

I sighed. I knew better than to get into that argument. So with that really patient voice that parents use to cover up their irritation when talking to a naughty toddler I said, "So, think. You busted into the house swirling purple smoke and yelling ‘they’re here,’ and something about a Quest. Do you remember that?"

"Um, yeah."

"And like big dummies, we dropped our beers, left the stereo on, and ran up into the graveyard. Are we in agreement?"

"Well, yeah, I guess so…"

"And my beer is dying of warmth right now and I’m not there to save it."


"And I got tripped up and landed on my face."


"So the question really is, why am I here right now?’" I sneezed again. A string of gook spewed onto my hand. Gross. I wiped it on the grass. My eyes were watering from the ragweed.

"Oh, that question."



The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment
Missing (coming Oct 08)
fang face (Young adult humor/vampire coming Aug. 09)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Noahs

I've had Noah on my mind these past few days.

Here in the Midwest (and in many other parts of the country) it's been raining. A lot. My basement has things floating in it. We got nearly seven inches of rain at O'Hare. And there's more to come today. I am understanding and sympathizing with Noah and his ark. In fact, I am a bit envious. I feel like I need one. Now, I could do without the animals (allergies and all), but a nice haven to float in until this passes would be delightful. Something that doesn't leak, drip, seep, or have other things floating in it. My house at the moment is doing all of the above. Of course, I don't think I could take forty days and forty nights of this. Noah must have been desperate for blue sky and dry land by the end of it all. I know I am, and it's only been a few rainy days. My prayers and thoughts go out to all who are currently experiencing floods, rains, and hurricanes.

The second Noah on my mind is the hero in the manuscript I currently have with my editor at Wild Rose. I did some edits and rewrites/revisions for her and should hear back in a few weeks. (Keep your fingers crossed that she'll offer a contract!) This Noah is hot. I've modeled him after Brad Pitt, who is also hot. He's been a fun hero to create, as he's got serious committment issues, but finds himself married to Abby, who wants nothing more than to settle down and raise a family. They are as different as two people can be, so it was great fun writing their love story.

On a final note and unrelated to Noah at all, I put together an author page at Author's Den. Feel free to check it out.

And now I'm going to go check on floating objects in my basement. Hopefully they'll find land soon. Maybe later I'll be able to do my imitation of a couch potato and settle in with Brad in the DVD player.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


from The Wild Rose Press
Champagne Rose, Champagne Rosebud, and Rosebud #1 Bestseller!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Missing by Margot Justes

A new anthology from Echelon Press-Missing- is scheduled to debut at Bouchercon in Baltimore, MD next month.

Many wonderful writers, among them our own ACME author Norm Cowie donated a short story. All the stories have a common link-a missing person, and royalties are being donated to charity.

In 2007 they were over 800,000 people who disappeared- are missing-that is a staggering number. Hopefully our efforts will leave a mark-it is a step in the right direction.

The idea came from Amy Alessio, a YA Librarian at the Schaumburg Library in Illinois. She participated in The Heat of the Moment Anthology, and approached Karen Syed of Echelon press at the Love is Murder conference (LIM) and asked if it could be done.

Karen did not hesitate and immediately responded positively; she had authors lined up before the conference was finished.

There is a book signing already scheduled at Centuries & Sleuths. www.centuriesandsleuths.com
November 23 1-3 pm.
7419 W. Madison St. Forest Park, IL

Among the authors who committed to the signing are Amy Alessio, Robert Goldsborough, Margot Justes, Joe Konrath, Mary Welk, and more to come.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
The Heat of the Moment
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tension's High Wire Act by Rob Walker

Quoting from Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern, who really
understood conflict and tension -- "Conflict is the high-wire of
tension upon which fiction balances." Or is strung and weaved
into one's plot. Okay, paraphrasing but this makes sense.
Violence is not the same thing as tension or conflict, and
conflict is not exactly the same thing as tension. One can have
conflict between two people who love one another. One can have
tension between a father and daughter, mother and son, siblings,
etc., and it don't gotta turn into no violence.

Tension comes about due to conflicting character wants and needs.
Conflict - say two or more characters at direct odds over
opposite goals or desires. To make a story compelling and
thrill-filled, you must begin with a character that is obsessed!
Truly, deeply obsessed. And both your protagonist and antagonist
must have their own obsessions. Yes, in fiction, obsessions are
gold. Your hero must run the gamut of a story about his or her
goal(s), goals they'd die for! Or in the case of my next novel,
DEAD ON, goals Marcus Rydell would LIVE for (put his suicide off
for!). And when nature or another man or woman becomes an
obstacle to the goal(s) of character A, it is due to the conflict
created by charcter B who wants just the opposite. A "clash of
desires" as in a Clash of Titans! And this is true in romance
novels as well as suspense or thrillers, horror novels, science
fiction and desent historical novels.

Don't believe me? Think of your favorite book of all time and
ask what did Atticus Finch most want in the story, even more
important, what did Scout want most? Father wants...daughter
wants. In any given scene, a conflict may exist between Atticus
and Scout or Jem. What did the narrator as child want from her
father? To understand her father, to "get" human nature, to make
sense of people? Who stood in her way? Her own innocence and
lack of years on the planet, her own innocence to the evil that
men do. Take the tense plot about Ahab and the White Whale --
Moby Dick. What did Ahab want? What caused the tension in this
fish tale? What was Ahab's most passionate obsession, and what
force of nature kept him from it? The whale is a force of nature
that fights for itself against Ahab and Ahab wants it dead for
having taken his leg and having destroyed his last ship (and crew
but they're expendable! as is the new crew and ship). The
tension is the highwire, the plot upon which all this is played
out. The plot is the thread upon which conflict and tension are
balanced. Think of Huck Finn having to fight for his freedom
from his pap, the Widow Watson, Hannibal, Missouri, society,
civilization. He has to fight his way out of each episodic
problem or conflict keeping him from being free, his
obsession--mirrored in Negro Jim's obsession to "get free" along
with getting his family free.

Then there are the serial killers who are obsessed, the vampires
who are obsessed, the bad guys who are obsessed coming face to
face with the good guys whose obsessions are "positive"
obsessions, like Bat Man or Superman whose strength comes from
being equally obsessed at capturing and putting an end to the
villain and or his activities. The tension is in the chase, the
conflict is in the goals, and the violence, if it comes to that
comes at the clash--as when Ahab catches up to the White Whale,
or as when another obsessed character battles the sea, the
mountains, the planet Mars, or a werewolf, or a vampire, or a
twisted religious fanatic.

I love Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction. Great out of print
little book filled with great complete well thought out answers.
Told me how I do what I do and why I do it the way I do it. Felt
like Stern got into my head where even I had not gone (scary
place, really).

Hope this "defines" the difference between tension, conflict, and
violence. You can toss out the violence in a ficitonal work, but
you MUST have conflict and tension.

Happy Writing and Reading everyone, and for an early look at DEAD
ON visit my website!

Rob Walker

Staying Connected! by DL Larson

Many people can show you or tell you how to connect and network on the computer to keep your name in people's faces. I'm not one of them. I'm lucky if I sign in without being kicked off my own site. What I mean by staying connected is through involvement with local organizations, church groups and schools, etc. Word of mouth can promote you like nothing else. Sometimes I think it's faster than the internet. Once folks know you write, well, they will come asking you to do some for them. And that ain't all bad! Better yet, you could offer to help. That too, is good for many reasons.

In the last few years my family and I have become involved with a nonprofit organization called the Food Resource Bank. Their philosophy is a hand up, not a hand out, with focus on under-developed countries who need to learn how to feed their own people.

Last year a Cambodian man, Kim Hong, came to America to tell his story. Through the help of FRB, he was able to instruct whole villages on how to plant rice for better production. In essence he was trying to keep his fellow countrymen and their families from starving. Hunger is still a major problem in many countries.

I had the pleasure of hearing Kim Hong speak. He is a well educated young man, another rarity for a Cambodian, and I knew as I listened, I wanted more folks to hear his message of hope. It wasn't until our small sector of FRB had a meeting to organize our Harvest Celebration did it strike me how I could help.

It took little time, and I was able to use my talent to spread his word. I turned Kim Hong's story into a skit. A simple enough chore for me. He had done all the work, I merely recorded his story and have since passed it on. His story won't die just because he has gone back to his homeland. It's been recorded and can be acted out for anyone wondering what good their charity will do.

I always forget how folks react when they see something changed into a written format that had never existed before it was set to paper. They act as if it's magic. When really it's a skillful way to document history and solidify what has transpired for memory's sake. (duh!)

Sometimes I use my gift as a gift to others. I don't expect payment when giving a gift. But I've opened another door by doing so. I've told infinite number of people I am a writer by giving away my skit of Kim Hong. Word will spread, I have no doubt of that. And I've done a good thing in the process.

Not bad for someone who doesn't network well. I urge you to reach out and share your talent as well. If you already have, share your story with us here at acme authors.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: I won't be posting next week - my husband and I (and many others) are Illinois delegates for the FRB and we will be in Washington D.C. drumming up awareness on the political front.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Name Recognition by Morgan Mandel

Rascal says:
Catch Angela Wilson - author publicist, virtual tour editor, author, and more at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com this week giving tips on virtual tours. Then Angela will visit here at http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com on Wednesday, Sept. 17 to offer marketing suggestions. Don't forget our new Man of Mystery will be here Thursday, Sept. 18 - the one and only Craig Johnson.

As some may know, I do Youtube videos. I happened to do one with our dog, Rascal, visiting her favorite hangout, a local pet goods store called Bentley's Corner Barkery.

My husband and I were on our way there again so I could do another video and Rascal could get spoiled, when half a block away a couple with their dog approached. The guy immediately said something to the effect "That must be Rascal. Are you doing another youtube video?"

I thought I hadn't heard right. There was no reason he would know our dog's name since we hadn't told him.

As it turned out, when we spoke to Lisa, co-owner of Bentley's Corner Barkery, we learned the guy had Googled Bentley's and found the youtube video also. Of course, he had to watch it. Here's the link if you'd like to see it too:

So, the mystery was solved, but not completely.

Why is it that I, an author with two books out, with lots of websites, blogs, links, and anything else you can think of on the Internet, have never received the recognition Rascal got? I must admit I'm a bit jealous.

All kidding aside, I'm happy the response was good. At least some aspect of my cross promotion worked. I gave Bentley's a plug and by chance it swung back to me, actually to Rascal. Since I plan on doing a book wither Rascal as the star, any publicity generated about her is a good thing.

Building up name recognition isn't easy, but when it clicks it's so wonderful you won't forget it.

Morgan Mandel

Are you ready?

Hold onto your seats cuz here we go! We're headed for a bumby ride on the policitcal campaign express. I'm seriously considering disconnecting my television until the election is over because it's "gonna git nasty" to say the least. The time we have left leading up to the November elections is going to be the political equivalent of a dog fight with blood spilled and innocent by-standers getting hurt in the process.

So, how do you protect yourself? The first thing you need to do is make sure you are an informed voter. Most people don't realize that the whole agenda behind all the negative campaigning is to turn undecided voters off so that they DON'T vote, leaving the field wide open for that party's base to get more impact with their votes. So, VOTE - don't stay home and whine. If every single registered voter in this country actually voted it would really shake the entire system up - talk about power to the people!

How you vote is up to you and please don't tell me you're not voting because your vote doesn't count. The best way to make sure your vote doesn't count is to not vote. Don't make me call you a dummy over this! Get off your butt, do some basic research, talk to people you trust and respect and make a decision. Be involved in the process of this great country and vote out of respect for all the men and women of all walks of life and color who have fought so hard for all of us.

Why am I so passionate about encouraging people to actually vote? Well I'm a veteran and I take the whole concept of our right to vote very seriously. I'm also female and in the early 1900's some very brave people (both women and men) sacrificed quite a bit to make sure women had the right to vote. If you are a female of voting age and you do not excercise this very important right then shame on you.

I'm on my way tonight for my first visit to the Hines VA Hospital with the VFW (Veteran's of Foreign Wars) in Naperville - a group I joined about six months ago. I served two tours in South Korea in the mid 1980's so I qualify to join the VFW. We're visiting the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and I'm both excited and a bit apprehensive because I'm not sure what to expect. I plan to blog about this experience next week. Here's the link to the VA site - http://www.hines.med.va.gov/

Part of my apprehension is due to the experience of losing my youngest brother to bone cancer in 1986. In fact, I came back from Korea on emergency leave twice during this time. It's always difficult to see young people experiencing a terminal disease or serious injury. I suspect that I'm going to be in awe of how brave all the patients will be and I'll walk away better from having met them. I'd like to encourage everyone to consider volunteer work either in a VA hospital or for an organization associated with veterans, because when you see what's at stake, especially if you don't vote, it just might encourage you to be a more responsible citizen.

Freedom isn't free. It comes with rights but also responsibilities. I hope everyone gets out and votes and proves just how responsbile they can be.

Take care - Terri Stone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)

If you haven't read The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably), you're in for a treat, cuz I'm going to post the prologue here for your reading pleasure.

(If you've read it already ... um ... sorry. Go read The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness. Or The Heat of the Moment, which has the short story The Really Hot Adventures of Guy).

Anyway, here goes ...


In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission issued an amendment to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) mandating a Federal “Do Not Call” registry. Millions enthusiastically signed up, happy that they might recapture the sanctity and serenity of their dinner times, and the freedom to answer their phones without having to worry about fending off some jerk, whose thinly veiled purpose is to convince you to take your money and put it in his pocket.

Unfortunately, though, not everybody paid attention to what their government had done for them (quite likely because most people are not used to this kind of help by our elected officials).






The answering machine didn’t kick in.


Mostly because we don’t have an answering machine.


Which doesn’t matter, because we won’t answer the phone anyway…


…because of telemarketers.


Telemarketers don’t seem to mind that we don’t answer the phone.


They keep calling.


Over and over.


Patience and stamina…telemarketer virtues.


That is, well, if you feel like you can put ‘telemarketer’ and ‘virtues’ in the same sentence.


We didn’t know that the attorneys had waged successful war against the telemarketers, giving us certain rights against their invasion of our privacy.


As a result of the litigation, the telemarketing firms had to cut back on employees.


Nearly wiping out their whole industry almost overnight.


But not everybody knows about the Opt-out laws.


There are still some clueless people out there.


Like us.


For all I know, there’s only one telemarketer left in the world.


And he has our number.




The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment (includes the short story, The Really Hot Adventures of Guy)
Fang Face (YA humor/vampire, coming Aug 09)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

To Read or Not to Read...

that is the question.

This weekend, well yesterday, I curled up on the couch with a blanket and read a book. This is not an unusual weekend event for me. More often than not you'll find me occupied in a similar fashion, but this time was different. The book I read was my own! THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS is now out in paperback. (My "advanced" author copies have not arrived yet, but thanks to my good friend, Amy, I have a copy in my possession. People who have ordered on-line all have theirs already, which frustrates me to no end, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

I debated whether to read it or not. Afterall, I know the story. I've already read it hundreds of times while going through the editing and revising process. I know what happens and why it happens and how it all works out.

Still, there was something about holding a book in my hand that had my name on it that compelled me to read.

I know people who won't read their own book. Some figure it's nothing new. Some are afraid they'll find errors. (I found two, even after all those times through with edits - if you've read it...I dare you to find them!) Some will want to rewrite a section to make it better.

So, what about you? If you're an author, please share your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment. Do you read your own work? What are the reasons behind your answer? I'm curious.

Errors (argh!) aside, I enjoyed reading my book. I feel like I really know my characters, and it's fun to visit with them. And, since it's a romance, I know there's a happy ending. And in this uncertain life, there's a lot to be said for that.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


from The Wild Rose Press

Champagne Rose, Champagne Rosebud, and Rosebud #1 Bestseller!
WRDF Top Read/Excellence
Four Stars - Manic Readers


Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Travel Stuff by Margot Justes

I have missed the last couple of weeks-family events and a trip to Decatur, GA for a book festival-pretty much took care of the two weekends.

The good thing about promoting A Hotel in Paris is that I get to travel, so for this blog, I want to get back to travel agencies. When I travel promoting the above mentioned book, I have specific locations already selected. So it’s easy for me to book the hotel and flight all by myself.

However, picking a vacation destination is another matter. Sometimes I do it myself but sometimes not…that is when a good travel agency is essential. This is where a travel agency can either make or break a vacation.

You are going to pay for the service-you can’t get around it-but you might as well pay and get the best service you can, Suburban Travel provides that extra touch.

The vacation will be planned for you, but in addition you will get a bit of history, selected and localized sites-by that I mean-if you are in a specific area, the sites around that area will be outlined for you-to maximize the use of your time-so that you may see as much as possible. The information provided will be current. I do prefer knowing the restaurant is still in business rather than showing up and poof it’s not there...

In essence you will have your own destination notes tailored specifically to your needs and travel plans. Can’t go wrong there…you will also receive tips on restaurants, shopping…you get the idea.

Suburban Travel has been in business more than 25 years and they have truly honed in their approach to travel–thus the client gets the full benefit of their expertise.

I have a travel tip from them-if you happen to be going to Prague check out The Blue Duck restaurant-it is expensive but excellent, and also in Prague (it would seem Prague is a popular destination) the Kolkovna restaurant is not expensive but well worth a visit and a local favorite.

As the business cards states Suburban Travel, Inc – Specialists in the Art of Travel.
Check them out at www.suburbantrvl.com call 847/729-7730 or 800/237-7730.

Art is always a good thing…

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Available on amazon.com
Heat of the Moment
Missing-coming October 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

JONATHAN MABERRY - This Week's Man of Mystery

Acme Authors Link proudly presents Man of Mystery, Jonathan Maberry!


I love switching genres.

My writing career got into gear thirty years ago and back then I was writing magazine feature articles and college textbooks on martial arts. It was a ‘write what you know’ thing and I’ve been jujutsu since I was an embryo, give or take a few years. That worked pretty well and it gave me the practical experience to develop a skill set as a writer.

Then I did a couple books on women’s self-defense and safety awareness. That may sound like a similar type of book to the martial arts, but it’s not. Different audience, different info, different style. The shift made me stretch as a writer, made me find new ways to explain things and helped me cultivate the concept of ‘different readership with different needs and expectations’. That’s not a small thing.

Then in 2001 I started writing about the things that go bump in the night and have since written four books on the folklore/legends of vampires, werewolves and other critters that get all bitey when the sun goes down. First it was THE VAMPIRE SLAYERS FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD (released under my one-time-only pen name of Shane MacDougall); then VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPEDIA (co-authored with David Kramer; released in 2007); and ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (due from Citadel on August 26). Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on THEY BITE!, the fourth of the five books in this series.

The shift from martial arts to self-defense writing was relatively easy; the shift to folklore and pop-culture was tougher. The editor of my martial arts books wanted me to write the folklore under a pen name. I’d just been inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame and he was afraid that my readers would think I’m going wacko if I suddenly started writing about vampires and ghouls. Turns out that the first (and only) folklore book by Shane MacDougall was a much better seller than all of my martial arts books put together.

Here’s the problem. With that first folklore book I’d established a new ‘brand’. I was Shane MacDougall, folklorist. Shane got invited to speak at places Jonathan didn’t. Jonathan began to resent that.

So, Jonathan killed Shane off (just as Stephen King killed off Richard Bachman). I moved to a bigger publisher and went back to my real name. VAMPIRE UNIVERSE was the first folklore book by Jonathan Maberry. And, yes, I had to deal with folks saying that I was copying the style of the late Mr. MacDougall. Life is weird.

In 2005 I decided I’d try another shift. I took a swing at writing a novel. I’d never done fiction before and I had no fricking idea if I’d be any good at it. On the other hand I had no fricking idea that I wouldn’t be good at it, so I tried. In 2006 my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, was published by Pinnacle Books. It was the lead-off to a trilogy of supernatural thrillers set in a fictional small Pennsylvania town of Pine Deep. It won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. The sequel, DEAD MAN’S SONG came a year later, and the final book, BAD MOON RISING, landed in bookstores this past May.

Suddenly I was a novelist. I’d written three 140 thousand word monster books in under three years and I was getting pretty well known as a horror writer.

And, though I love horror, I have this atavistic dream of being pigeon-holed.

So, my next book, PATIENT ZERO, is a mainstream thriller. It’s intended to launch a new series of novels featuring Joe Ledger, a Baltimore detective (Joe Ledger) is recruited by a government agency (the DMS: Department of Military Sciences) to combat a terrorist group bent on releasing a plague. It’s not horror. Of course…the plague does turn people into zombies, but it’s really grounded in science (to a fairly alarming level!). It was pitched as a thriller, bought as a thriller, and will be released by St. Martins Press as a thriller on March 3, 2009.

One of the most common things I’m asked in interviews is: Isn’t switching genre supposed to be a risky move for an author?

Maybe ten years ago that was true. Nowadays it’s all a matter of how you manage your career. I’m a believer in the philosophy that a writer writes. End of definition. A writer should be able –and certainly willing—to write anything. Fiction or non; light or heavy; pop culture or literature; self-help or technical.

A writer who says that they’re a specific kind of write shoots themselves in the foot. Markets and trends change. Readers are fickle. Genres come and go. A writer should be able to move with these changes, swimming with the current rather than against it. And no matter what they’re writing it should also be their very best work. The most recent thing a writer turns in should be their best stuff. Every single time.

For me, the shift to thrillers is a comfortable and necessary step. It’s where my muse is pointing me (or, perhaps, pushing me). At the same time I’m experimenting with a novel in a proposed dark fantasy series, a gritty crime drama, a young adult novel, as well as a pitch for comics and an entertainment news show I co-created for ABC Disney.

I love the freedom of movement, and I really dig the challenge of finding new voices for each of these projects..

Who knows what I’ll be writing in ten years. Maybe books on cooking or novels about fuzzy bunnies.

Hell...anything’s possible. But I’m a writer. I write.

Jonathan Maberry
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=803028269
MySpace: www.myspace.com/jonathan_maberry
Email: jonathan_maberry@yahoo.com