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10 posts from May 2010


What I like to Read: Donna Andrews

I met Donna at a conference many years ago. She was laugh out loud funny in person, so I picked up her books. They were laugh out loud funny as well. Meg Langslow is a blacksmith, and her family is crazier than mine. Her significant other is an actor and professor at the local college. Her father is a retired doctor with a deep seated love of crime fiction. Add in a mother with a penchant for society, a coroner that thinks he's a vampire, various aunts, uncles and cousins and a sheep farmer that can't keep his sheep at home and you have the makings for hilarious mystery. My personal favorite is We'll Always Have Parrots, but the whole series is great. Don't miss Donna Andrews.


Tuesdays with Friends Introduces J. Michael Orenduff

Author 1.53MB  Okay you guys, this is my favorite Tuesdays with Friends guest ever. He says such nice things about me, and I'm telling you right now, flattery might not get you everywhere, but it will get you on KdBlog any time. Well, that and he has such a cool writer name. J. Michael Orenduff. I mean, seriously, it's like Julia Spenser-Fleming. Why didn't I think up a cool writer name like, K Danton Fields, or K Dillon Blacktooth. Man, I can never come up with cool stuff until it's too late. Anyway, KdBloggers, please welcome J. Michael Orenduff. (Can't you just hear James Earl Jones saying that name?) I'm so jealous.


I knew I was going to like Kadi’s blog when she wrote that the year 2010 has “such a cool name and deserves something special.”  So she started Write On Mondays for her tips on writing or other thoughts and Tuesdays with Friends for others to chime in.  So if it’s Tuesday, it must be a friend writing today, which I hope I am because I read the blog and like cats. 


I write humorous “cozy” mysteries.  The first one in the series was The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, published in 2009.  The paper version won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest, and the Kindle version won the “Eppie” this year for Best eBook Mystery. Then came The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, 2010, which hasn’t yet won a prize, but I remain hopeful.  The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein is forthcoming this fall.

My publisher is a small independent press which means I have to do most of my own publicity.  After the first book in the series came out, I organized a book-signing tour.  Other small-press authors were skeptical.  Bookstores are interested only in big names that can draw crowds, they told me.  That’s true up to a point.  Any store will choose Dan Brown or Janet Evanovitch over Mike Orenduff or KD Easley.  But most stores don’t get those authors.  Remember they are in business to make money.  It costs them nothing to host you.  All you have to do is convince them you can sell a few books.  So I spent six months contacting bookstores in the Southwest because that’s where my stories are set.  It’s also where I grew up and spent much of my life.  I have friends and family.  Some of them know their local bookstore.  I sent free examination copies to any bookstore who would agree to accept one. Almost all did, and almost all ended up hosting a signing.  I sent review copies to small community newspapers.  Since I was coming to their town, many of them reviewed the book.  They rarely get asked, and I think they appreciated it.  I sent posters ahead of my visit so the store could drum up interest.  Needless to say, the tour was a great success.  I wouldn’t be telling you about it if it had failed, would I?  Because of that signing tour, I have been asked to present workshops on signings, including one last month at the Houston Writers Guild.


I’ll tell you my favorite event from my tour.  I showed up at Gallup, New Mexico just days after the infamous raid on artifact collectors in Blanding, Utah, not too far up the highway from Gallup.  My protagonist illegally collects ancient pottery, so the topic created quite a buzz in town.  One person asked, “Is this book about what happened last week in Blanding?”  ‘Yes,” I said with a straight face, “print on demand publishing is really fast.”



What I Like to Read: Beverly Connor

Keeping with the forensic theme started with last Friday's post, I'll add Beverly Connor to my list of must reads. Her main character, Dr. Diane Fallon, after years of identifying victims of mass murder in third world countries retires from forensics to takes over management of a museum in Rosewood, Georgia. This move from forensics lasts just until and old friend turns up with some unidentified bones, a falsely accused teenager and a multiple murder. We get to follow Dr. Fallon as she deals with her personal demons and steps back into the world of forensic anthropology. This is an excellent series, start from the beginning and you'll enjoy it even more.


Tuesdays with Friends Welcomes Randi Black. Drop in and Win!

 This week's guest is single mom, and amateur sleuth, Randi Black. Randi is the star of the new Randi Black Mystery Series and book one, Murder at Timber Bridge, comes out June 1st. It's the first of her adventures to be released upon the world at large. Randi's not real well known yet, but everybody dies famous in a small town, and to that end, Randi is pretty well known in the little corner of the world known as Alden, MO. Welcome to KdBlog, Randi.

"Hi KD. Wow, great to finally, meet you in person, so to speak".

"Good to have you here, Randi. Ready to tell us all your secrets?"

"Ha, secrets. There aren't any secrets in Alden, I promise you."

"Okay, well then, tell us a little about yourself to get us started."

"There's not really much to tell, I'm not forty yet. And that's all I'm going to say about that. I've got twin teenage boys. They're fifteen and seriously, I don't know if I'm going to survive the next three years, but that's another story and one that anyone who's raised a teenager already knows, so I'll just let that go. I tend bar part time at the Jolly Roger. It's a local watering hole where all the cops hang out, so we really never have any trouble out there. I keep telling my mom that, but she still thinks I should be a nurse or a teacher or a secretary or something. It's a great job, Mom. Oh, um. Sorry. A little less of the personal family dynamics would probably be better, huh. So what I was saying was, I'm a bartender. I work for my ex husband, Morgan. And, before you ask, yeah, that's kind of screwed up, but I'd rather work for him than live with him, if you know what I mean.  And that's really all there is to tell. I'm a mom, I work, and I might be dating AJ Weleski. The jury's still out on that."

"Well, then tell us a little about Alden, Mo."

"Alden, what can I say, it's smallville. We have a daily newspaper that probably should be a weekly. If it wasn't for the AP it wouldn't be two pages long. Um, I guess it's a pretty little town. Lots of turn of the century architecture and brick streets. There's one cab, he works days, so if you need a ride somewhere after six p.m. you'd better have a friend with a car. We have the normal number of town characters, and a diner that has out of this world food. It's called Mabel's and it's right across the street from the courthouse. If you stop by Alden, make sure you at least drop by Mabel's for a piece of pie. It's worth the trip all by itself. And my Granny works there. Granny Bert. Her name's Bertie Mae Jennings, and she's been at Mabel's forever. She might actually count as one of the town characters, but don't tell my mom I said that. Granny Bert would think it was a hoot, though.

"Okay, we know about Randi, and a little about Alden, what else do we need to know before we read about your adventure in Murder at Timber Bridge?"

"Gosh, I guest a cast of characters would be helpful. Let's see, there's Lex. He's also a bartender at the Roger. He hasn't been in town long, and I don't know a lot about him except he's nice looking in a James Dean bad boy kind of way. He's also the scourge of my Jolly Roger existence, but I won't go into that right now.

"Then there's AJ. He was the love of my life, once upon a time. He would like to be again, but you know, sometimes it's good to know when to say no.

"My brothers, I guess I can't leave them out. Steve is the oldest. He's a retired Army Colonel. He generaly treats me like an especially annoying private. I mostly ignore him. I've had years of practice and even though he was in the Army for twenty years or so, I was able to put that skill right back to use almost the minute he and his wife Sara Beth hit town. Then there's my twin brother Chad. He's in the Navy reserves. He was a Navy SEAL until he got hurt, then they made him ride a desk for a while and now he plays weekend warrior once a month. He was gone for a long time, and I'm glad to have him back. He's a nice man even if he is my brother. He's kind of scary looking. He's a vice detective and he does a lot of undercover work and he looks the part. Big brother Steve's a detective too. And AJ, they all came back from the service and fell into the police department almost the minute they returned. I missed them when they were gone, but damn, sometimes, I kind of wish they'd disappear again, and whatever you do don't let that get out to my mom. I would never hear the end of it. She thinks her boys walk on water."

"Okay, Randi. We've met you, some of your family and friends, and we've found out a little about Alden. Now tell us how you ended up in the middle of a murder investigation, because unless you left something out, you're about the only one in your family that's not a member of the police department."

"Well, you see, I went out with my brothers, AJ and my boys, Devin and Travis for a nice little weekend outing and well, tell you what, rather than try to explain it, why don't you click the link and read the first chapter. Really, KD. You told the story a lot better than I can."

"Well, thanks, Randi. That was very sweet. And to my KdBloggers out there. Check out chapter one of Murder at TImber Bridge and find out how Randi managed to get caught up in the madness of a murder investigation. It's a fun story. And on June 1st, you can pick up a complete copy of Murder at Timber Bridge or one lucky KdBlogger could win a signed ARC of MaTB. Just leave a comment. I'll have Randi draw a name from all the commenters and I'll get the ARC to you so you can win it before you buy it. And, if you'd like to meet Randi before June 1, check out Nine Kinds of Trouble and read the story Nothing Much Has Changed.





My cat got up from his nap, stretched and came to set on the side of the bed next to my desk. I was working so I didn't really pay any attention to him. He sat down and I could see him out of the corner of my eye. I continued working. I could still see him sitting like a statue just over my right shoulder. I kept on with my editing. After dealing with the creepy something's staring at me feeling for over an hour I turned to shoo the cat away only to find my backpack sitting on the side of my bed staring malevolently at me. I had no idea backpacks could be so creepy.


What I Like to Read: Jefferson Bass

If you like forensics in your mystery, but you prefer amateur sleuth's over police procedurals, this is a good pick for you. Dr. Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist and is in charge of the University of Tennessee Body Farm. Police departments and the FBI come to Dr. Bill when they have a case that doesn't add up or a set of bones they can't identify. Along the way he usually manages to vet involved in the investigation and stir up the bad guys. This is a great series, you won't want to miss out.


Tuesdays with Friends Welcomes back Stephen Liskow

Steve Liskow 19 small

KdBlog welcomes back, friend of the blog, Stephen Liskow. Stephen's book, Who Wrote The Book of Death? Will be in stores on Saturday. We're tickled to help Stephen introduce his baby to the world. Welcome back to KdBlog, Stephen.

Scene of the Crime                        5/11/2010


My first novel, Who Wrote The Book of Death?, comes out Saturday, and I hope you’ll buy it, love it, and tell all your friends about the cool cover and even cooler story.

 So far, three people like it. My cats are still waiting for the reviews.

 A friend challenged me to write a romance novel and this started out as one. Once I had a romance novelist as a main character, though, that seemed like overkill so she became a stand-in for a romance novelist. The real writer is a man, but who ever heard of a romance writer named Norman Roberts, Dan Steel, or Jeffrey Crusie? That’s why he needs someone to appear at book signings.

 Literary New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston have so many PIs on call that you shouldn’t find a criminal within a hundred miles. On the other hand, few mystery writers have used Connecticut so I decided to use New Britain, just south of Hartford. I taught there for years and heard stories about where the bodies are buried.

 Called the Hardware City since the early 1900s, New Britain once housed 15 manufacturing firms, including Stanley Hardware, and the technology grew faster than rust. Natives held nearly 1500 patents for machine parts, window sash pulleys, various tools and door hardware, and the prototype for the wire coat hanger.  The Stanley Works employed half the population and funded two parks—one designed by Frederick Olmsted—a library, a museum, and a hospital.

 The demographics and the economy have shifted over the last 40 years, but the town still boasts two community theaters, a symphony, the ConCora vocal group, an industrial museum, the newly-renovated Museum of American Art (Which I mention in the book), and the largest public high school in Connecticut, alma mater to two of the state’s governors. Central Connecticut State University, originally Connecticut Normal School, the oldest teachers college in the country, resides on Stanley Street.

 The industry spawned wealth, and the older architecture can still make you catch your breath. I spent a weekend taking pictures of houses that would bring seven figures in Palm Springs or Beverly Hills. Now, alas, they provide office space for realtors, dentists, and lawyers. I decided that my male writer lived near the museum and invented the house’s floor plan from studying the pictures I took. The Hospital for Central Connecticut looks downhill at that house and over the band shell of A. W. Stanley Park.

 All this local history gave my characters places to go and things to do when they got there. It also gave my killer places to lurk, handy when you’re stalking a woman who can’t even tell her bodyguard she’s not really writing a book.

 But if she’s not really writing a book, why does someone want to kill her? Well, since you asked…

 Like I said, so far, three people like it.

 Kate Flora, who has encouraged me since critiquing an earlier novel says, “A great book...really fast out of the box and the pace never lets up. You won't be able to put it down."  I hope she’s right.

 Jeremiah Healy, author of The Only Good Lawyer and Turnabout, says "… Steve Liskow has injected a major booster shot into our genre… I highly recommend this debut." My detective, Greg Nines, shares some traits with Healy’s John Francis Cuddy, and they could definitely follow each other’s conversation.

 The third person is my publisher.

 I hope you’ll be the fourth.


Who Wrote...Cover concept - Copy

 Steve Liskow has published stories in three collections of New England crime writing and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. He is currently researching another novel set in New Britain. Learn more at


What I Like to Read: Rhys Bowen

This new series featuring Lady Georgie is wonderful, funny, and I really enjoyed it. If you enjoy a little humor with your murder, check out Lady Georgie in Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain and Royal Flush. Who knew that being a minor royal could be so dangerous? And if you enjoy Lady Georgie, take a peek at Ms. Bowen's other series' featuring Evan Evans and Molly Murphy.


Welcome Blog Guest, Rob Walker

After much delay, some confusion, an email snafu, and a small blog glitch, KdBlog is finally ready to introduce very special blog guest, Rob Walker. Rob, thanks for your patience and welcome to KdBlog.


                       E-Books and On Becoming an Indie Author/Publisher

                                             – Your Ticket to Success in Authorship



E-books and the electronic readers like the kindle are suddenly legion at schools, at writers conferences, even at ironically enough bookstores. I will never forget at a book signing when a lady pushing a baby carriage by stopped long enough to reach into the carriage to pull out her kindle to proudly flash before me to ask my wife, Miranda and I, “Are your books on Kindle?” We were ready for her, both of us replying, “Yes indeed.”

3 Million kindle e-readers have been sold since December of this year, perhaps more; this is the number I keep seeing in articles in The New Yorker and Newsweek. ,; the future is upon us and traditional publishing has reason to be concerned even if they don’t know it.  More and more authors are taking control of their content and making decisions that impact the content—what they create.

Traditionally, the working arrangement between publisher and writer has always been one of you turn over your creation and the publisher “takes all the risks” as if you are taking no risks in spending months if not years on a manuscript. However, since you are taking “no risks” like those faced by the publisher—business risks—the notion is you are now passive cargo and worth about 8 to 10 percent of each “unit” sold. Now all decision making is out of your hands, and you are supposed to go write another book in the event the first one sells well. Meanwhile, the publisher’s team—all of whom have pensions and paychecks—make the important decisions of pricing, placing, marketing, packaging, title, down to the font and colors on the cover.

In other words, all decisions made by committee, all of whom are making more money on books being pushed than the author. Think totem pole and the author is at the bottom, and wasn’t a camel a horse designed by committee? My point is when the book fails, the guy at the bottom of the totem pole is the one blamed as his/her numbers of unit sales is too low. So the business model for the author is pretty bleak, and has been since Guttenberg’s invention of the printing press; ninety nine percent of all novelists in the world cannot live on what they earn as writers. Could you live on eight percent of what you sell without health benefits or pension?

That said, let’s turn now to the business model for the author who is now an Independent Author/Publisher—and for starters, the Kindle contract is not an 8-10% cut but a 70/30 split with the 70 going to the author! Aside from this, the author makes all the decisions to package and price the book, no title fights, no arguments over hardcover vs. trade vs. mass market as none of these designations apply in e-books. The added attraction to doing e-books is control and a sense of freedom.

Publishers are as interested in change as glaciers, and for good reason—as they “take all the risks” and they take the lion’s share of the profits.  This is no more evident than now with the sudden growth of e-readers and e-readership as the big houses like Random House and Penguin and others are warring with over price-setting. They have always controlled the prices, and now suddenly millions of avid readers, rabid readers if you will (as kindle readers can go through forty books in a week) want their books at less than ten dollars—as Bezos, the head of Amazon promised them—“You buy a kindle, no kindle book on Amazon for more than 9.99.”

Fact is, Bezos wants the world to have access to any book you or I want “at the moment” or as close to NOW as Whispernet can make it happen. This is why Bezos named his device “Kindle” to “kindle the passion in readers and non-readers alike.”

By using the A-B-C directions at, I now have some 43 novels for sale online via Kindle Book Store on The e-books for out of print titles may require getting a company like to convert an actual book to a scan to doc, and once you have a doc file it must be converted to HTML—which can be the most difficult part of the steps involved. If you already have a doc file of the book in question, you won’t have to send off a book to be scanned. I used Blue Leaf because their prices are three times cheaper than anyone else doing book scanning.

The most trouble involved in the process is converting the file to html and then in reviewing it, correcting the errors that will inevitably come up in the process of conversion—sometimes quite time consuming; however, once done and placed up on your kindle dashboard, the rest is smooth sailing. The results in terms of sales are astonishing.  In the old business model with traditional publishing wisdom has it that your price the book at the top end—as high as the market will bear. However, in the e-book model, the readers expect and demand low end pricing, very low end pricing. They are savvy readers who know that putting a book onto Kindle is a snap compared to printing on paper, paying for paper, warehousing paper, overhead for paper, paying PR people, paying marketing director and his staff, etc.  Since all of this “goes away” in e-book world, the readers expect far cheaper books in the manner Bezos envisioned – and why not?

It is for this reason that I listed most of my forty plus books on Kindle as 1.99 and 2.99. These books at this low end rate are selling like a river flowing, while my three titles placed up by Harper Collins—priced at exactly the same price as the paper books at 6.99—are sitting there like three stones (no sale) while my novels like Children of Salem at 2.99 are my bestselling titles. I earned 400 dollars last month on books priced at the lowest end of the scale, while my hardcover novel in the same month earned zip.  In one year, I earned a mere 141 dollars on my traditionally published hardcover DEAD ON, while in one month, I earned 400 dollars on my lowly 1.99 and 2.99 specials.  What does this kind of economic comparison say about the old way of doing things and the new way of doing things?

The really disheartening thing that drop’s an author’s hopes and heart like a stone are a thing called “Returns” – and a writer does not earn out his advance and royalties until “returns” are “returned” from the booksellers. This is an old and out of date business element in book publishing and bookselling.  It is the only business wherein the product can be returned for full or close to full price if the buyer cannot sell the product. Until all “returns” are in, the author is kept in the dark about sales numbers, and even if he or she can get the sales numbers, there is always the warning that this is “before” returns. After returns then you can “believe” your royalty statement. That and AFTER everyone else—like the distributor of said units—gets their cut. Then the agent takes his or her cut. Pretty soon what trickles down as leftover change makes its way to the author.

In e-books, a disappointed reader returns a book, not the bookseller; will never “return” a book to you, the author/publisher. Essentially, there are no returns—perhaps eleven in a year, maybe twelve, but it is all done electronically as in credit to the account.  Now  then, once the traditional publisher is DONE with a book or a series and declares they will buy no more titles in a series or they will discontinue selling a title, what happens to the book or series? They go out of print; they become Ops which can only be found in used book stores or via Amazon cooperative used book stores. Out of prints pretty much means the book is dead and it was believed, up till now, dead forever—except in used book stores or on “remainder” tables.

In the world of e-books, guess what. There is no out of prints until which time the author decides to deep six or kill a book (once again the author decides). No author I know wants a beloved title to be out of print. No one wants his or her book to be “Remaindered” either. This is when a book is overstocked in a warehouse when THEY decide to sell it off at ten or five cents on the dollar to rid it from the warehouse, so it winds up at Costco or Wal-Mart with a big discount slapped on it while Costco pays ten cents a book and charges the reader five or seven bucks, and the author gets zero on such sales. In e-book world, there is no such animal as a “Remainder” e-book. Next to no returns, no “stripped” covers, and no remainders, and no warehousing, and no need of a lot of the flotsam of traditional “dead tree” publishing.

We need a Beetles song for e-book publishing; something along the lines of Imagine…Imagine a world without rancor between author and publisher as he is the same person! The sense of control and freedom comes with “If the book fails, I have only myself to blame.” Whereas in traditional publishing, “If the book fails, we have no one to blame but the author (as we put up the advance funds, the costs of printing, costs of salaries to committees, cost of distribution, cost of mailings, costs of returns, and eating the remainders—so it must be that the reading public just does not like this author, so in the end it must be his fault we did not sell enough units, and 50,000 units is not enough!).

So how can you get started in becoming an Indie Author/Publisher? Take a close look at and give it a shot; put up an article like my RN wife, Miranda Phillips Walker did on Kicking the Migraine Monkey off Your Back. She placed it up on Smashwords and then onto Kindle. The process for each is similar, and working with a short document is a good way to get a feel for the protocol of becoming your own publisher. It may at first be frustrating, but go at it a second time, and try to do it when you are not tired. Go to as this is where the real action is and most readers! Finally, if you are having too many problems and the confusions and frustrations are too many, go to your son, daughter, nephew, niece or neighborhood computer geek for a spot of help. There are also folks online popping up daily who will help you for a price.

As for cover art, this too can become a problem if you are not proficient with images and placing lettering over images. I am not, so I get my son onto this project, and he is a genius with creating cover art (see any one of my titles for example: Killer Instinct, Disembodied, Children of Salem). Stephen’s found at but there are many others online who do this for a price as well.  In the event you want a POD paper book option as well as an e-book, you might want to work with for a print on demand paperback version, and there I found creating a cover using their template relatively easy once I got the hang of it. If you approach all of it as “practice run” with the expectation it may take you at least two runs at this, you will not become so overly upset with yourself as to quit on it before you are successful.

Oh my…I just earned $100 more in the last twenty-four hours from my ebooks! Well enough of that! This about covers it. If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

Robert W. Walker


Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005.  Rob has since written his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008). This history-mystery hybrid straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!”   Rob’s most recent book is DEAD ON, a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—set in modern day Atlanta. An unsold but completed novel entitled CUBA BLUE features a female detective in Havana who investigates a multiple murder of three doctors from America and Canada (co-authored with Lyn Pokabla).  The current work in progress is CURSE of the TITANIC, another theory of why Captain Edward Smith sank the Titanic as I put a plague-spreading monster on board (two concurrent stories of present day and historical suspense and horror). Rob’s completed, next historical suspense is CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel, it pulls no punches in exposing the evil and the many sad truths of any theocracy— this one surrounding the court and people who allowed neighbor to hang neighbor in the Salem Witchcraft episode in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor remarked on:  Only Robert Walker could make this work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. For more on Rob and his published works, see , , , ,

Guest Blog Disaster or How I managed to screw up my own plan with no outside help

I have dropped the ball several times since I started Tuesdays with Friends. I think the Tuesday part is what hurts me the worst, so I'm going to get rid of it. This week's Tuesdays with Friends guest was supposed to be Rob Walker. He sent his post to me along with all the information I needed to get it set up and I dropped the ball, so his post will appear on Wednesday instead. To Rob I apologize. All I can say is I'm just not organized enough to keep up with my own ideas. In the future, I'll find a better way to set up my blog guests. One that isn't quite so restrictive and lends itself a little more to my abilities to keep up with my ideas. So if anyone has stuck it out with KdBlog over the last few weeks of chaos, hang in there. I'm gathering it back up and tomorrow, Blog Guest Rob Walker will appear, only a day late.

Thanks for hanging in here with me.