Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Frontier Days Provides Local Flavor by Morgan Mandel

A bunch of our blogger members will participate at Frontier Days Marketplace in Arlington Heights this Saturday and Sunday in Booth #124, called Area Authors, at Recreation Park near Douglas and Miner Streets. You can find me, Morgan Mandel, as well as June Sproat, Margot Justes and Debra St. John there if you're planning on attending Marketplace. Many of the other booths available will provide arts and crafts and other items to tempt buyers.

Frontier Days, which runs for 5 days always around the 4th of July Holiday, started out small, as do many festivals, but has blossomed into a huge attraction for the community. This year it's from July 1st through the 5th. It's run by the Festival Committee and is self-supporting, meaning it doesn't rely on Village money to keep afloat. I've been a member of the committee for several years and look forward to helping with putting the festival on. My part is small compared to what some of the members give, but I do what I can. This year I'll be wrapping hot dogs for Disability Day, plus marshaling the parade, which means keeping children from darting in front of vehicles as they rush to grab candy.

The Festival is one reason I enjoy being in my community.

Think about this when you're writing a manuscript. To enrich your setting, it doesn't hurt to add some kind of area events or something unique about the location which ties a character to his or her home and makes it all the more precious to remain there despite whatever obstacles may present themselves. In my case it's rising taxes, but I'm sure you can think of all kinds of ways your character's life in a community can be threatened.

Anywhere, today I'm offering a few pics from past Frontier Days. I hope to see some of you over at the Festival.

In the comment section, you're welcome to offer info on any of your area events which you particularly enjoy. Or maybe you'd like to illustrate how you've tied in local flavor in one of your books.

Morgan mandel

Monday, June 28, 2010

It’s the fish all over again! By June

When you have kids you tend to do things you wouldn’t normally do, like buy a pool set it up in your back yard and then allow your fourteen year old daughter have a bunch of friends come over who will trash it.

Okay, they didn’t exactly trash it, but they decided to forgo the ladder and just jump in from the side of the pool. Muddy feet and all. So by 6:30pm the pool looked like a disgusting mess so I had to be bad guy, er bad girl? And kick them all out.

Now I have spent two days trying to not have to dump 1800 gallons of water and refill it so my kids can swim again.

It’s my own fault.

Just like the fish.

The girls wanted a pet. Unfortunately my eldest is allergic to EVERYTHING so the only pet we could let her have, that I would allow in my house, was a fish. We went through the “Please mommy, I promise I will feed them. I promise I will clean the tank.” So we bought two beta fish. Did you know that you can’t put two male beta fish in the same tank or they will attack each other? Yeah, neither did I. So two fish, two tanks and of course accessories later, we now owned Mr Angry Eyes and Rufus.

But when it came down to the nitty gritty, I fed them and my husband cleaned the tanks. What were we to do? It’s not the poor fish’s fault that the girls wouldn’t take care of them. I wasn’t going to let them rot! That’s inhumane! I tried to get them to take care of the fish, but they just lost interest. What can you do with a fish? Although my eldest did try to play cards with her fish, Mr Angry Eyes, she didn’t have much luck. So they lost interest in the pets.

Mr Angry eyes and Rufus lived with us for about six months until Rufus decided to jump out of the tank to his demise, I called it fishicide, and Mr Angry eyes just died. I know the girls were sad, but not that sad.

And now we have a pool. That can’t be used because it’s messy and gross.
So hubby and I went out and bought a bunch of pool cleaner stuff and a pool vacuum. We are waiting to finish the cleaning process now that I have “SHOCKED” the pool, Wow, as the daughter of an electrician “shock” and “pool” just shouldn’t be used in the same sentence unless you are planning someone’s certain death.

I think we have officially spent more on the upkeep than we did on the original pool. It’s the fish all over again. I wonder if I will ever learn?!

And it’s just the beginning of summer.

Have a good week!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Taste of Chicago by Margot Justes

I may have mentioned once or twice before that I love to travel but I also love going out to eat and trying new things. I was raised on simple fare and going out to restaurants was not the thing to do. You ate at home. Period.

The one thing my father instilled in me was the love of travel; we moved frequently and lived in some pretty amazing places. Maybe that is why to this day I have wonder lust and always want to see more.

Growing up in that environment allowed me the freedom to sample different cultures, and as I matured (I hope) and became more independent my palate grew as well. That is not to say I do not love Polish and Jewish food. I do, very much so.

I live near a truly amazing city, thirty five minutes away from my home is Chicago, and that means world class museums, theatre, opera, orchestra and food; all of that just minutes away.

This weekend starts The Taste of Chicago, over three hundred restaurants are represented, and for the first time, the participating restaurants must have a Chicago presence. An excellent idea, because we do have some great ones, from The Lettuce Entertain You chain of restaurants, Everest, an exquisite restaurant that offers dining at its best to the very casual and delightful R. J. Grunts in the Lincoln Park area. And of course, any discussion of fine restaurants must include Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and I don't even have to whisper the chef's name, but I will...Rick Bayless.

Inexpensive fare to the very high end and everything in between can be found in Chicago., and because we're so culturally rich, all ethnic foods abound.

More next week about my favorite Chicago restaurants.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

The Root of All Great Character-Building

The Fully Realized, Completely Materialized Character (steps onto the page)

Posted By Robert W. Walker

The Root Mon & How He Came into Being....

You hit on an idea, and it surrounds a character, right? Something in his swagger, his manner, his appearance, his carriage, his stage presence…or something in the way she talks or walks or balks--something undeniable in the sense she will not be denied as the one character that insists on being fleshed out, fully realized, completely materialized. The one of many “character” voices that claims the LEAD role in your next story or novel. She steps up and onto the stage of your mind-right smack dab at the frontal lobe, and when you either wish her away or try to put her off, or go off and do various chores to put her out of your mind, because you had other plans for the story or a life to live, she is still there, lurking-if not in the frontal lobe, someplace else in there, and you know it because she isn’t going anywhere until you pay her the attention she demands and claims of you. She may flatter you, call you her creator, her God, or she may bedevil you and claim she is your creator, your God. Either way, she or he or it has a stranglehold on you.

I know it sounds weird, especially to those who do not write or create, but it’s oh so true. When you listen to a psychic like John Edwards speak of those “spirits” who are all rushing in at him at once, all of them demanding attention and shouting, “Take me! Take me!” -you understand where he’s coming from even if you don’t understand where the “spirits” are coming from. Writing can and does often feel like channeling spectral voices out of the past or out of the psyche or out of the collective psyche, but that’s too deep to go into here. Still, it is a lot like that when an author is fishing around for a new lead character to cast in his next novel or story-that the casting couch can get extremely crowded. But always one voice, one powerful character drowns out the rest for the duration of a story or in the case of The Root Mon from the Root Heaven Store-a poem crafted around such a truly noisy, irritating character that not only demanded to be heard, but demanded it at the oddest of times and over a long, long period of time that I NOT shut him out try as I may….

In fact, I originally wrote the poem long years ago just in order to get The Root Mon out of my line of vision and out of my head, so that I could go on and live a normal writer-ly life, if there is such an existence. But before I banished him, it would take months and many return engagements, and just recently he mysteriously returned. I came across it, made the mistake of picking it up and reading it, enjoyed it, and wham, he was back! Kind of smacked me on the back of the head The Root Mon did. He had yet two more stanzas to add to the piece! After all these years! He’d been lurking in the dark recesses of my mind all this time, awaiting the day I should revisit him, and bada-bing, he jumps out at me and claims my frontal lobe again; abducts me and forces me to come to terms with two stanzas that needed adding! Confides that I got it wrong the first time around. All this and I have not cracked up in any meaningful F. Scott Fitzgerald fashion as yet.

Now mind you, when he first showed up, it was just to do three stanzas and boom, I was to be done with The Root Mon and poetry! How very often had I been warned off the writing of poetry as anything I attempted stank to high heaven. Warned off it as a tone deaf person is warned to stay away from any attempt at music or song. So after those few stanzas, I felt confident that The Root Mon’s visit had come to an end; that bye-bye meant bye-bye. That I could write something easy now-like a mystery novel. The next in my Instinct Series. Besides, I wasn’t terribly impressed by The Root Mon’s poem anyway. But like a horror film, I found him in my head again while I was trying to sleep, while I was trying to shower, and while trying to dress! At every turn of my day, this crude guy demanded another stanza. Done-go away now! Again done with The Root Mon, I went out to hoe the garden out back and wham, he came again with yet another stanza demanding I jot it down. Standing in the check-out line at Wal-mart, bam, another stanza. Just demanding as hell.

This went on. At breakfast another stanza, at lunch, at school, at the dental office, in the library while researching anything else! At the beach…in the ocean…no pen at hand! Again and again he came back at me, always demanding: “Com’on, mon…you gotta do dis one. Dis gotta be in de Root Mon’s poem!”

My wife was beginning to become suspicious. To be sure, I was distracted-living with this wild and crazy Root Mon in my head. He was telling me that I hadn’t “fully realized” who he was or just how much “ju-ju” he possessed, and that he wanted to “completely materialize” on the page I prayed, so I had to put up with him wanted me to fully flesh him out (on the page). That kind of magic meant another stanza, and another, and even now years later, he has COME BACK! Scary, yes. Exhausting yes, but in the end, I’m proud to present The Root Mon of Root Heaven below and you tell me if “living with your characters” for a time does or does not pay off. I think this is a cogent and quick example the “fully realized, completely materialized” character-as in a nutshell. Here is the Root Mon in his own words and on the stage that he built:

The ROOT MON  --a poem by Anton “Mystic Ruler” Dupree aka Robert W. Walker

(*to be read to the sound of Reggie music playing in your head; the poem and character also makes an appearance in Pure Instinct, pre-Katrina New Orleans)

ThE  RooT MoN
You carrying a curse?
Got urgent pain?
Can’t make de water?
Head a bustin’? wife a-fussin’?
Jus’ you come to Root Heaven…
the famous Root Mon’s Store

Here’s a broth,
here’s a stew
you want both
for what you gotta do.

You got needs?
Plannin-a-big sacr-o-fice?
We god seeds
and chickens on ice!
We got bugs, scrubs, and herbs,
and all kinna spice!

Need dem magic words?
Have a dose-a-crawlin’ lice.
Eat a canna magic rice,
a-pinch of snuff
for dat ol’ wart
to kick-start the heart.

Toad sweat’ll get you up’n'fit
wid no shivers, shingles, or sneeze,
so get whatever you please
wid heavenly-heavenly ease
at the Root Mon’s store-
Root Heaven.

We got fat slugs
and tobacco plugs.
Got fuzzy cut worms
for cuts, scrapes’n'burns.
For fever it’s the poltice
and the crucifix cross.

Got many things for stings:
herbs, toots, roots’n'things.
Go-head, make my day
wid dat bottle
of turtle-nip-spray.

Toss a snake rattle
o’er your left shoulder
onto a big boulder
beside a flowin’ river
at the midnight hour.

So get whatever you need-
no talk, guilt, nor greed.
Join de Root Mon’s club!
Special on de belly rub,
and on de herb’n'potion.
Jus’ whisper who gets
dis notion, dat lotion.
Hex on/off as you please
to get ridda that sneeze.

Get stalks and stone,
min’rals and bones,
cat tails in pails
Wid good’n'plenty snails!
Got a clip of royal bangs,
eyelashes from de King,
Bob Marley’s gol’ ring!
All’s at Root Heaven!

Take dat magic tobacco,
wrap it in calico and
fill it wid cat gut.
Den find a cemetery,
and dig a deep rut,
to just bury it up.
Prescription filled!
Got de enemy killed!

Fix you up wid a hex sign,
Tack it to de nearest pine.
Throw a magic lotion
into the nearest ocean.
Chew eyes of black raven
Whenever your cravin’
the really big ol’ cure.
All at your Root Mon’s Store!

Swallow de snail slime!
Ain’t no crime
to be fit and prime,
and in self-help
there’s protection
and at once
you be sheddin’ dat
godawful middle-section.
In de health we trust.

Guard your fleas
Curses come in threes!
Get even however you can,
And glory-be, mon
If’n you want
joy, and prosperity,
Then you lis’n to me!

In fatherly Root Mon advice,
in other words so right,
forget dat old 7-Eleven!
Get yow-self to Root Heaven!

THAT’S my story and I’m sticking to it.
Happy Writing and Reading

Rob Walker

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions by DL Larson

Last week I was at a book talk where the familiar question came up ~ do I have any writing rituals? The first time I was asked that question (years ago) I answered, no, I can write just about anywhere. That is true, but since then I've discovered I do have a few writing rituals.

I prefer to write longhand with my first drafts, probably out of necessity from the old days using a typewriter - a mechanical device that didn't fix your grammar or spelling. Very old school! A few other discoveries have cropped up. I must have my tri-sided cushy pencils with their dark lead and wonderful erasers. I prefer to have six, nicely sharpened, and I don't take a break until all six need resharpening.

I desire tablet paper, not notebook lose leaf. Stacking the paper irritates me and using one sheet at a time doesn't offer the surface a tablet does. So attached sheets, yellow please, is what makes me ready to put words to paper. Yet I don't like binder type notebook paper and won't write with them. Quirky, I know.

The last need I cater to is my choice of drink ~ tea, hot or cold, doesn't matter. Tea is the perfect drink; if it starts out hot, it still tastes wonderful once it has grown cold. If it starts out cold with lots of ice and warms to room temperature after awhile, it's still refreshing. It is an aid to my thinking, not a distraction and is an important part of my writing needs.

Do you have a writing ritual? Do you prefer one thing over another when writing? Share with us.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Goal by Morgan Mandel

Today I'm throwing out a few ideas about the first third of the important GMC in novels - Goal. (The other two are motivation and conflict, which we can explore later)

What your character's goals are tell the reader a lot about that character. Make sure you offer realistic and worthy goals, not only for the heroes and heroines, but also for the disreputable characters.

You can set short term, intermediate and long term goals for them, and even change the goals as occasions warrant.

My short term goal today was to get to work before another storm hit. I succeeded in that goal, by the way.

My intermediate goal is to make enough money to live off of.  I'm managing, but it's not easy, with all the taxes and insurance to pay, plus all the incidentals I want, but don't really need.

My long term goal is to quit work and retire. That one is a very worthy goal, but so far I can't achieve it. Though my 62nd birthday is fast approaching, social security won't cover my expenses.

Some other goals of mine - short term - finish my my nano book which I'd put off finishing from 1 1/2 years ago about the country singer. Intermediate goal - finish my other two WIPS also, the Boomer book and the one about my dog Rascal. Intermediate - get them published either by myself, through an agent and/or a publisher. Long term goal - Best Seller. That one I may never achieve, but I can't help trying. (g)

What about you? What are some of your goals? or your character's?

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Competition - it's a good thing

As writers we sometimes dread someone else beating us to the punch on a story idea but then we take a deep breath and realize that every story can be told in many different ways.

It always seemed that as soon as I thought up a title or a story idea that someone else got to it before I did. Now, I write with the goal in mind of bringing my voice to that story to give the reader a different experience.

One area that will benefit writers in this endeavor is the price war for ebook readers.

With ebook readers writers can now reach a much greater and more diverse audience. As I've said in previous posts, it wasn't that long ago that traditional publishers shunned ebooks. Now everyone is getting into the distribution of ebooks. Some authors dropped by their traditional publishers are finding a new and better life in the world of ebooks.

Go figure.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making Progress

It's been a great summer so far. (Well aside from the rain we've been having on an almost daily basis here in the Midwest...although I will admit even that has been nice in regards to keeping the flowers and gardens watered!)

I've enjoyed hanging out with friends and family, doing little mini-touristy things, and devouring a multitude of books. Right now I'm working my way through Joanna Carl's chocoholic mysteries...great, fun reads, but they have me craving chocolate constantly!

I'm even getting some writing done. I've put fingers to keys just about everyday this past week. I'm getting closer to my goal of finishing my WIP in early summer. With only 100 pages to go or so, and given that summer doesn't even officially start until tomorrow, I'm feeling pretty good about things.

This week we head off on vacation - which means no post for me next Sunday. The relaxing, enjoying, and reading will continue, but I'm not sure how much writing I'll get done. Rural Missouri, ATVs, canoes, and the swimming hole aren't the best places for a laptop. But, I'll probably at least bring some good, old fashioned pen and paper and try to do some scribbling that way.

So, until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Blog by Margot Justes

Last weekend was Printers Row and need I say it, it was exhausting. It rained, of course it rained, it always rains at Printers Row. It was hot, cold, windy and rainy all in the same day and by the time I got home I was too tired to do anything but shower and veg out.

Friday I went shopping and got caught in the powerful and violent storm, because I needed to get some food in the house to feed my daughter who was driving home in that mess in her tiny sports car.

Today we celebrated my daughter's birthday and I had to get ready to feed a few friends, of course the day disappeared and here I am typing my blog Saturday 10:40 pm-just so you wouldn't think I forgot about Acme Authors.

Till next time,

Margot Justes

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Online Marketing on the Fly

Marketing Online Guru That You Are…No Problem

by Robert W. Walker

Online marketing is an entirely different animal than “real world” marketing. Doing blogs, blog tours, some his and her blog tours with my writer wife, Miranda, and am ever online at all the “usual” places building relationships. And even online, you are seldom successful in selling your book so much as selling a laugh or a philosophical point you wish to make, and engaging in give and take, so in effect you’re selling your self—or rather getting folks to care about you or your point of view or that of your dog, Pongo, in the photo with me, or that photo of me with Will Smith or Captain Jack Sparrow—even if they are cardboard cutouts…. Sad truth is that Pongo sells far more books than I ever could. However, if people like you and what you have to say, they eventually will go find a copy of your book.

Recently, a dear friend I met online named Ann Charles said this to me: “There are some questions I’d love to hear the answer to if we were kicking back at the bar at a writers’ conference and these are: What do you mean that you don’t sell your book so much as sell yourself? I thought that after you have an actual book to promote—something besides just air and a name (which is what I have to try to promote)—that you could focus on selling that book and not worry so much about selling yourself.”

The book jobbers who sell to the bookstores say it best; if they like me, they will buy my stock. If students like and respect their teacher, they will buy what the teacher is selling. Online be as likeable as you can be; use humor, exaggeration, have fun with it and know it takes time to create online relationships.

“But what precisely are you doing to sell yourself online? Are you just trying to be entertaining with fun stories to get the blog readers to like you? Are you throwing cover quotes and details about your books at them? Are you telling how you came up with the idea and talking about what you are currently working on? And what is the impression about Rob W. Walker that you are hoping/trying to leave in your wake online?”

Excellent questions. Short answer is YES to all of the above. Spread it around, have cover art and photos do double and triple duty. Blog on humorous events in your life, childhood moments, any behind the book stories you can safely share. Mix it up and do not always post about your books. Let signature lines do that for you. Give advice, give help, give of yourself and be gracious with your knowledge and humor. Lots of humor. Leave ‘em laughing. Spend time answering the tweets and facebook comments of others. It requires time and commitment but what relationship doesn’t?

Below is a list of exciting links that all writers should be aware of and visit often, so I will slip it across the bar to you.

A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing/ JA Konrath: A free download 250,000 words worth of tips, hints, tricks, and advice. Over 750 pages long. And it's free

Book Promotion



Safest Way To Search For An Agent:


Other Cool Helpful Websites:

Crime Scene Investigation:

DNA Forensics:

Cops and Crime:

Links for Writers:

Crime & Clues: – to set up a POD book – to set up a Kindle ebook

Thanks for dropping by -- me, I gotta get back to work on the book in progress, Titanic 2012 - Curse of the RMS Titanic which is looking to go straight up to Kindle Virtual Store for sale and maybe, just maybe a limited UK edition if all goes well...

rob walker

Summer Plans by DL Larson

My Library's Summer Reading Program for kids will start next week. We're taking registrations this week and so far the children from preschool age through fifth grade are plodding in. Some are enthusiastic, some not so and I feel the challenge to excite these kids toward the enjoyment of reading.

The state theme this year is: SCARE UP A GOOD BOOK. Our registration room is done up like a haunted house. So far the kids have thought that pretty cool and spooky. They especially like digging in the goody caldron for fang teeth, spider rings and other ghoulish treats. The next room is all Harry Potter with posters, Hogwarts robes, a dementer swoping over the room, plus dragons and magical wands that I hope will make it through the summer without breaking or I will have some explaining to do when I return said Harry Potter paraphernalia to my granddaughters.

To enter our main room one must step over a line of rocks. The monsters can't pass past the rocks, just like in the Spiderwick Chronicles. We have fairies flying across the ceiling and flowers blooming with fairies coming out of the blossoms. It's our safest room and so far the kids have enjoyed talking about the movie and think the pile of rocks is pretty funny. I mean clever!

Our last room has a winter theme and one must pass through the fur coats to enter it. This is our Narnia room where evergreen trees are laden with snow and snowflakes hang all about. A fan blows cool air and so far the kids like that room for no other reason than to enjoy an escape from the heat outside!

Our hopes this summer is to excite kids to read. We have Wednesday Book Trivia Contests each week featuring one of our rooms: Harry Potter, Spiderwick Chronicles and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, plus trivia on Disney Royalty ~ Cinderella, Aladdin and then Beauty and the Beast. We've turned a scary short story into a skit for the older kids with hopes of performing it at our closing program.

So I'm back to writing my own work in short intervals and that's okay. I'm still thinking, still tweaking ideas and sifting the process of what happens when in my head. I learned a long time ago letting my plot ferment awhile is not a bad thing. It makes rewrites shorter because more of the story has filtered into my thoughts.

I'll have to be sure my story doesn't take a detour to include dementers or witches who like winter, or circles of rock around my characters for protection. I will keep to my own story and squeeze in my writing time when I can.

For now, I'm busy reading scary stuff to children.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inadvertent Publicity by Morgan Mandel

I subscribe to Google Alerts. On Tuesday, a funny one came up which I just have to share.

I've got a number of videos on under the search name of morganmandel, many of which feature my dog, Rascal. Others are about authors.

Anyway, on Tuesday in my Google Alert was a link to an article about the country group, Rascal Flatts doing a 10th anniversary tour. Alongside the article happened to be a number of links to videos. Believe it or not, the second one happens to be about my dog! It's Rascal Attends Bentley's 1st Anniversary Party. I  had a good laugh over that one.

Here's the link:

Have you ever gotten unexpected or inadvertent publicity? Or maybe you can think of other ways to get it. Please share in the comment section.

Morgan Mandel

Monday, June 14, 2010

And so it begins....

Today is the first day for Summer School for some kids, including my daughter. She is less then thrilled, believe me. She has had oh, two weeks of staying up late, sleeping late, doing whatever she wanted and now BAM - it's high school.

Sometimes things just creep up on us, or they just surprise us. I find that happens to me a lot in my writing. I'm going along sweet as can be and then BAM, my character does something totally whacked and I sit there at the keyboard going WHAT? But that is not my plan! Why are you doing this to me???

So I try to force the story back to the way I want and then...the flow stops. I just can't make it work. And don't think I haven't tried. Yes, ma'am I try so hard and sometimes I make the story proceed, (I'm kinda stubborn that way) but then I read what I wrote and realize it is some of the worst writing ever! So I highlight and delete and start again only this time I let the story go the way the characters are driving it and an amazing thing happens. It works. Slowly the flow picks up and BAM, I'm back in the game again.

So, don't underestimate surprises, even if they are ones you know about that just kind of creep up on you, they just might be more of a surprise then you anticipate.

Have a great week!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Busy Weekends

It's one of those weekends. Where there's something going on both Saturday and Sunday for at least part of the day. Next weekend is looking the same, as are many of our summer weekends.

For me, being busy on the weekend isn't a big deal since in the summer I don't work during the week. My husband hates busy weekends. I don't blame him really. He works all week, and then to have committments on the weekends, his "time off", I can imagine can be pretty annoying. No time to himself, no time to work on projects around the house, no time to relax.

So I can see his point of view, even if I don't share it.

As a writer it's important to be able to appreciate characters' POVs. In fact, it's what keeps the story interesting. At any given time I may need to be in my heroine's head, my hero's head, perhaps in the head of a secondary character, or even sometimes in the head of a villian. And they're all going to see things in a different way. React to things differently. Experience the story differently.

In fiction, those differing points of view add to the conflict and keep the tension notched up. Hmmmn? I guess they do that in real life, too!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Promotx ebooks & kindle books for spiralx sales

Seven Lively Steps to Selling a Kindle or Smashwords/ebooks
                                     by Robert W. Walker
               ...a highly recommended lists of Do’s and Don’ts.

1. Do NOT price your book high thinking you will make more money and more sales at the high end. A $25 hardcover sell of a book in the paper world does not put two dollars in your pocket, whereas a 2.99 Kindle title does. Multiply that by a hundred sales on kindle as opposed to ten hardcovers and you get a glimpse of the new sell through reality in the virtual world.

#1 DO price your ebook at the low end. In fact, the #1 best thing you can do is to make a kindle reader a low-ball offer; it cannot be too low for Kindle readers; they really like FREE books, so go figure LOW. Getting into five and six bucks is HIGH. Almost all of mine are priced at 1.99 or 2.99 but when selling a thousand in a month as I did last month, this is good news that my books are set at low low low prices. It may on the surface appear counter intuitive to slice your price so deeply, but with a book at seven and eight dollars—the same book—it will not MOVE. You might sell one, two, even three books in a given month at this price, maybe. I speak from experience of having several kindle titles with price controlled via the publisher and they have sold a whopping NOTHING. So in essence, gaining a thousand new readers and making a killing at the low pricing is working out just fine as a new business model for this author.

2. Do NOT use a cliched or lame or limp title or cover art of the same nature.

#2. DO work up an interesting title; give it thought and shop it around to friends and ask for suggestions. Work at creating a title that grabs the reader, and as for cover art, get a pro graphic artist working on it and keep it relatively simple and straightforward. Complex seldom works on a book cover.

3. Do NOT ignore getting blurbs and reviews thinking they're unimportant for ebooks, because nothing could be further from the truth.

#3. DO blurbs and reviews of your ebook help sell books? Indeed yes. How do you get blurbs? Reach out to authors who write in your genre; you'd be surprised how many Yes's you can get by putting in the effort of asking. A lot of heavy hitter authors do respond to such requests, espcially if you have met them at a conference or quote from their keynote address~ in short, don't be shy and be passionate about your work, champion it.

4. Do NOT fail to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite your book's description. It is of great importance and not to be skimmed over.

#4. DO by all means make your book description the most important short-short you will ever write, the story about your story. It is so important as the segway to the book itself. Imagine what your dream of the perfect copy on the back of your book must read like. Get in as many of the 5W's as you can: Who, What, Where, When, Why and maybe How as these relate to the story. Name names, use details of character and setting for instance.

5. Do NOT make errors or missteps in your description of the book. If a grammar problem exist in this paragraph of description, readers will imagine the worse about your text.

#5. DO by all means rewrite over and over until it is as polished as a jewel.

6. Do NOT ignore the final formatting on your book; do not assume it is pristine from top to bottom.

#6. DO closely check the formatting after the html conversion and look over your entire book to be certain the reformatting has not thrown in a lot of WingNut stuff. People who buy and read and run into this kind of problem in the midst of the story really detest it, and they talk to their friends. They will talk more about Linsey Lohan than you but they will talk!

7. Do NOT overlook any chance to mention that your book is only the first in a series, or that your three are a trilogy, or that you one title has 3 volumes within it as the idea of a series is sought out by kindle readers and ebook readers alike.

#7. DO know that I swear to high-heaven that my Series titles are doing three times the business, maybe four times the business of stand-alone-titles. If you are putting up your FIRST book and you plan a sequel, by ALL means get that fact into your description; if it is a series already and you have more than one up do as I do and artfully number them as part of the cover art – Book 1,2, 3, 4, etc. I had it done as a vertical banner on the covers. I have become convinced when I set up my Children of Salem as a 3 volumes in one deal that this is why that book took off as it was seen as a kind of series, and my 11-book Instinct Series has out-distanced every other of my series. I have to believe there is a connection there. Kindle readers love series, especially enjoy getting hooked on an ensemble cast and wanting to see more of your main hero or heroine.

Finally - another thing you can control - bring the book to the attention of others on FB, Twitter, your blogs, website, chat groups.....get familiar with and the Kindle Amazon boards. Seek out eZines interested in eBook news, etc. and post articles whenever and wherever you can. Do guests blogs as well.

This is what I've been doing along with blogging on a book in progresss that is going straight to kindle when done....a play by into the masochism of allowing followers to read sections as they come off the press, so to speak--the virtual press.

Meanwhile, I talk my titles and those of my favorite authos up at kindle NOW.
I find ways to tease, tease, tease. Which can be done in a humorous, fun way on facebook for instance where I have run contests such as Stump the Author or Bad Dates. You can take a concern of the novel, a secondary thread perhaps, as highlight it on a social network and ask folks there if they have given much thought to this as it comes up in your Kindle novel or book. Perhaps the one with the liveliest response can win a free copy of a previous  book or the one you are promoting.

rob walker

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Interview With Jean Henry Mead About Her New Release and More

About Jean:
Jean began her career as a California news reporter, later serving as editor for a San Diego newspaper, Wyoming magazine editor, and freelance photojournalist. She also freelanced for the Denver Post’s Empire Magazine as well as other publications both domestically and abroad, earning her a number of regional and national Press Women Awards.

The first of her 13 books was published in 1982, four of them books of interviews with well known people: writers, actors, politicians as well as ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things.

Her latest book, Mysterious Writers, is now available from Poisoned Pen Press, first in Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Sony ebook editions. The interviews were featured last year on her Mysterious People blog site and include several Acme writers: Morgan Mandel, Robert W. Walker, Tony Burton, Austin Camacho and former teammate, John Gilstrap.

Jean, tell us more about your new book, Mysterious Writers.

The book is a collection of interviews with mystery writers such as bestselling novelists, Elmore Leonard, Carolyn Hart, Jeffrey Deaver, Nancy Pickard and Louise Penny. I also included my A.B. Guthrie, Jr. interview, which was conducted just before his death in 1991. The other 68 interviews are lesser known but excellent writers who give good advice to aspiring mystery and crime writers. Some of them live and write in Canada, England, Scotland and Greece and all were a pleasure to interview. Collectively, they represent nearly every subgenre of the mystery/crime market.

Why did you write the book?

To help fledgling writers. I wish there had been a book like this when I was learning to write fiction, which is quite a bit different than journalism. Fiction is subjective while journalism is objective, or should be. The book is loaded with great advice as well as detailing each writer’s own struggles to get published.

Which subjects are covered in the book?

Advice to aspiring writers, writing schedules and techniques, research, character development, the best and worst aspects of writing, which writers influenced their own work, how they feel about the publishing industry and, of course, their own work. Those are only a few of the subjects covered. Most of all, we get to know each writer and how they operate.

How long did it take to interview all those writers?

It took about a year to interview close to a hundred writers. I was doing one interview a day plus a guest blog the second day. It cut drastically into my own writing, but I was rewarded for my efforts when Poisoned Pen Press offered me a contract.

Which other interview books have you published?

My first was Wyoming in Profile, published by Pruett in 1982. I interviewed Wyoming Governor Herschler, his wife, U.S. senators Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop, Attorney Gerry Spence, singer Chris LeDoux and nearly every well-known person in the state. It was the first and only time I left my five children and husband to travel the state to conduct interviews in person, something I no longer do.

My second and most successful book of interviews was Maverick Writers, published by Caxton Press. It features interviews from the homes of Louis L’Amour and A. B. Guthrie, Jr., as well as Will Henry, Janet Dailey, Hollywood screenwriters and some forty other well known writers of the West. I’m giving away five vintage copies of Maverick Writers tomorrow, June 10, at Facebook. To be eligible, click on the “Like” icon at the top of the page.

The third interview book, Westerners, is a collection of my best interviews, including Bill Cody, grandson of “Buffalo Bill,” who surrendered the most American troops in Germany during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. And President Benjamin Harrison’s grandson, who was a U.S. Congressman. One of my favorites was Betty Evenson, a 68-year old confessions writer who ran the Bright Spot, a service station and cafĂ©, 60 miles from the nearest Wyoming town, alone after her husband died. She was featured on the Phil Donahue Show and prime time TV programs.

What else have you written?

Four novels, and an unusual book I edited that was written by my daughter’s middle school students titled, What Our Parents Should Know: Advice From Teens. They wrote about drugs, coed sleepovers, friends, sports, homosexuality, dress codes, teachers, and much more. One of the students, unfortunately, was drowned in the Thailand tsunami not long afterward.

My first novel was a result of nearly four years research for my third nonfiction book, a centennial history of central Wyoming, researched by reading 97 years worth of microfilmed newspapers. I had so many notes left over that I decided to write Escape on the Wind (republished later as Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel) . The following three books are mystery suspense novels, Shirl Lock and Holmes, A Village Shattered and Diary of Murder. I’ve also written a children’s book, The Mystery of Spider Mountain, which I’m currently marketing.

What have you learned from all the interviews with other writers?

That perseverance and courage pay off. Or as bestselling romance novelist Parris Afton Bonds once told me: “Talent is cheap. The difference between a professional and an amateur is persistence.” There are, however, differing opinions. Nancy Means Wright, my current online interviewee, says “A driving curiosity to discover what makes people tick” is most important, “and to virtually become these real or fictitious people , and vicariously live their lives.”

Thanks for your great advice, Jean.

Now everyone, please welcome Jean Henry Mead by leaving a comment below.

Monday, June 7, 2010


There are many milestones in life and my daughter reached one this past week. She graduated from eighth grade. This is a big deal in her life and mine as a mother. She’s the oldest of my three daughters which means she has to test the waters. She will be the one to push the limits and see how far she can get and the others will try to slide on her coattails.

Unfortunately for her, her mom writes young adult which means I still live in that world to some extent. I’m not sure she will get away with much, or maybe she will since I’ve been there done that. Either way, it’s going to be an adventure for us both.

Congratulations Michelle, you make me very proud.

Thanks for letting me share this milestone with you!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

School's Out!

Those two little words can be met with a variety of reactions...

Kids are over-the-top excited to be free for the next three months.

Teachers can probably match that over-the-top feeling of freedom.

Parents, ah, well, you may be moaning and groaning trying to figure out what the heck to do with your kids for the next three months.

And for some people those simple words have no effect on or meaning in their lives whatsoever.

It's interesting how words can be interpreted differently by different people in different situations.

Writing and reading are no different. Characters in scenes may interpret a situation each in their own unique way, which lends itself perfectly for the conflict in the story. An author may write a scene with one intention in mind, but a reader may relate to it in an completely unique way. Different readers may come away from reading the same book with entirely dissimilar perspectives.

It's a good thing there is such a wide variety of genres, authors, and readers out there. It helps keep life interesting.

And, in case you were wondering, I fall into the teacher category. If you see me around, you'll probably notice a peaceful aura to my demeanor for the next couple of months!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Digital Books by Margot Justes

It would seem that even the Wall Street Journal is paying attention to the explosion of the digital books and the resourceful authors that navigate the complex and timely world of e-book publication.

A recent article in the Journal, 'Vanity' Press Goes Digital mentioned authors who either can't get published, as in an example of author Karen McQuestion, who was rejected, self published, sold well and even has a film option with a Hollywood director. Not bad a way to start your career.

The Journal went on to mention authors like Joe Konrath. Joe is already a very well established (check out his Jackie Daniels series) author who took his work directly to the reader via Amazon and is succeeding admirably. Joe is selling like the proverbial hotcakes, he is also a master of marketing and a personality with a goofy, funny sense of humor, his books are a scary, spooky good read. He is in fact the complete package to sell well.
For mid-list authors, the e-book avenue or any avenue for that matter, is not an easy one to manage. You have to let your readers know you're out there. But first, you have to figure out if you even have any readers. If you're lucky enough to have established a following, albeit a small one, you now need to grow that readership, and somehow let them know you're out there.
The social networks are always a good idea, in fact a great idea, but how to tell all your friends out in the nebulous land of the internet that you're out there, without hitting them over the head and becoming a nuisance. That is my question? Does anyone have a few answers?
I regained my rights to two short stories, and this weekend I plan to go to the Amazon site and learn how to download and sell them. Amazon, it would appear actually helps the author promote the work, and they have vast resources at their fingertips. We'll see how it all works out.
Matt Connor is the talented photographer, a man with an eye for an incredible eye shot. More next week.
Till next time,
Margot Justes

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Teachable Moment, Deep Truths - Race & Gender

Don't you love it when a moment in time seems to spin on a dime and come to a standstill and it is heads up you win?  That happens in teaching every blue moon when a student gives you feedback that he or she actually GOT the lesson and now Owns It, as they say.

Yes it is rare and getting rarer as I get older which scares me; we have a saying in education, a bit of a mantra, a prayer we say just before entering a classroom that it will go as well as we have planned and imagined it, but it seldom does.  We also tell colleagues just before ducking into the classroom that we must go forward to stomp out ignorance, and we say it like Lancelot on a charger, and we want to believe it, but ignorance like fear, hatred, bigotry, jealousy, and all the horrid things of human nature that are in any classroom are not easily vanquished.

I taught a class not long ago called Race & Gender. It is a required course at the university where I teach--WVSU. At any rate, it is an eye-popping, brain delving, mind bending, mind opening class for students--Freshmen mostly although it was mixed. It is a required course at said university and credit for it does no necessarily transfer--which is sad, because this course or one similar should be taught at every school and it should begin in high school if not earlier.

The course delves deeply into the psyche of mankind and the myths he has created surrounding both gender and race, and using documentary films, classroom discussion, small group discussions, and lecture every aspect of the absolute garbage and nonsense surrounding race is explored--as for instance the economic reasons why one race wishes to legislate against another race to create some of the most backwoods nonsense and call it law as in The Jim Crow Laws. In this class students actually have an opportunity to read the wording of such laws as well as the US Constitution and compare some ridiculous state laws mandated against our Federal laws and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Man what an eye-opener! For some....but for others who are blind they will not see; for some who have been brainwashed early on in life, they can never see that race in itself is a concept that is false and mythological nonsense when we accept the fact that we are all of One Race - The human race.

The lessons on gender are just as mouth-wateringly great. The readings alone give young people an appreciation for the struggle that women in the US had to go through to be considered human beings, members of the race!  It speaks too of the need for the world to recognize that women are not chattel anymore than is a person of color.

Great and abiding lessons and I believe my class went away with a deeper appreciation for such huge ideals as we aspire to in the US Constitution and in US life, despite how often we come up short in practice. I try to teach my students to be among the ten or twenty percent among us who are leaders and who are doers and fixers, those who will step in to break up a fight or save a kid from falling from a grocery cart rather than hold back in indecision but also to step in on the larger issues like Tolerance.  Then comes news of a goofy bunch of throwbacks who plunge us all into again accepting some horrific notion such as hanging is too good for ______________fill in the blank. You may or may not have heard of this religious nut group in Minnesota who are running people for office who agree with them that people of a different sexual orientation than theirs are to be executed. So there is that....our always slipping back and away from evolving and going instead into devolving. This is not to say that some of my students and many of our race are not saintly and of good heart and cheer, but among us walk the baboons and the Neanderthals as well and this frightens me and leaves me sad.

Rob Walker
one great ebook - Children of Salem = romance in the time of the witch trials, a Kindle Original Title.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clarity Means EVERYTHING! by DL Larson

Today I want to share a short story with you about clarity ... or the manipulation of clarity ~

'On the outskirts of a small town, there stood an old walnut tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two small boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight from prying eyes and began to divide the nuts.

"One for you. One for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.

Another boy came riding along the road on his bike. As he passed, he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along. "Come quick," said the boy. "You won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls."

"Beat it kid," the man said. "Can't you see it's hard for me to walk."

When the boy insisted though, the man moved slowly to the cemetery. Standing by the fence the man and boy heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been telling me the truth. Let's see if we can see the Lord."

Shaking with fear they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to glimpse the Lord.

At last they heard, "One for you and one for me. That's all. Now let's get those nuts by the fence and we'll be done."

They say the old man made it back to town five minutes before the kid on the bike.'
(author unknown)

Many a great book has been made with misguided clarity! Have you used this technique to build your story? Share with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's Wednesday - Food - Rumors about iPhone 4G - by Morgan Mandel

Vacation time is different than regular time. It's hard to keep track of the days. Anyway, I just figured out it's Wednesdy, my blog day at Acme.

What have I been doing today? Went to Perkins for the Magnificent 7 for $3.99 - 3 pancakes, 2 strips of bacon and 2 scrambled eggs.

Walked Rascal a few times and sat on the deck with her a bit. Read my book off and on while I waited for my very slow A T & T network card to click back and forth on my computer. If William Shatner can get such great coverage in the middle of nowhere, why can't I in Wisconsin?

The back and forth on the computer was because I read something in my iphone egroup about the new iphone4g coming out soon. Of course, I had to Google and read all the rumours about its specs. There may be a flash this time, a zoom for the camera, and some other cool features. I also read somewhere about an A T & T iphone insurance for $13.99 per month.

Something else that wasn't a rumor is that A T & T is changing their rate plans. I'm still trying to figure out if I'll be paying more or less. I figure probably more, because that's the way it usually is for me. One cool thing is the new iphone will have a feature to tether to the computer, which will be $20.00 per month. I'm wondering if using that method will be faster than the usb card I have now. One catch is the contract for my card won't be over for 1 1/2 years, so I'll probably be stuck with it or pay a hefty fee. I'll have to see on that one.

Going out for prime rib for dinner. Tomorrow is Bingo. Already did two casino runs this week and came out ahead both times, not by much, but it's always a miracle when I bring my own money back and a little bit more.

Oh, yes, I did promise myself I'd get some more of my WIP done this vacation. I've got an hour to do so before getting ready for dinner. My bad. That should have been first on my list.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Tortoise and the Hare

I ran a race less than two weeks ago and it was one of our hottest days yet. The race was only a 5k (3.1 miles) and I have run this distance many times before, but I'm coming off physical therapy for an injury and my asthma has been acting up. So, my expectations for the race were to finish and finish alive. Actually, that's my expectation for all my races including the half-marathon.

I try to keep a consistent pace on my runs, adjusting for heat and asthma symptoms, but for the most part I'm a fairly steady runner, if a bit slow. Well, on the day of the race, there were a number of folks - old, young, in-between - who did the walk/run method. I've done this myself in the past but what caught my attention were the young women, much younger than me, who would sprint out then fizzle and walk and then would see me run past them so they'd sprint out again, fizzle and we would do this again and again. Guess they didn't want an old lady passing them. I did finish the race before several of them which probably surprised them. I usually do better or as well as the sprint/walk folks.

I also try not to compete with others while I'm running the race because as I push myself I don't listen to my body and my asthma tends to flare up and get the better of me. That's what happened at the end of the race. A woman about my age had passed me and then maintained a short distance in front of me for most of the race. Then just after mile 2 she stopped and then walked. about 1/2 mile from the finish line she caught up with me and paced herself off of me. Well, that's when I got a little competitive and picked up my pace. Not far from the finish line my asthma flared up and I reached for my inhaler while continuing to run, albeit at a slower pace. I fumbled with the darn thing, almost dropped it, finally took a whiff and resumed a faster pace. She came in seconds before me. I didn't see her bib number so I don't know if she was in my exact age group or not. Like most races, this one allowed for age group placing.

There was also a 10 mile race at the same time - yes 10 miles. I've run this distance before as well but I just knew I couldn't handle that yet. One of my VFW buddies ran that distance so I waited for him so I could cheer him on. While I was standing on the sidelines I heard the race officials annoucing the 5k results and low and behold I placed third for my age group. Understand that while I do okay given all my special circumstances, this is the first time I've actually placed in a race. I had mixed feelings because it was also one of my worst times ever.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, I've noticed over the years that there are lots of folks who think that writing a book is easy and that once they complete it, they will be able to sell it and make a whole bunch of money. They're like the sprint/walkers I saw on this race. My impression was that many of them didn't truly prepare for the race and thought just because they were young and slim, they would do great. The writing analogy is that just because you have a great idea or a cool visual image in your head, doesn't mean you're prepared for all the hard work and challenges of actually completing and selling a written product, especially fiction.

Well, writing like running, takes preparation, training, perseverance and so many other qualities that come with committment to the event. Back to the literary analogy above, sometimes slow and steady really is a better way to go.