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08/16/2010

Picking up Strays

I come from a long line of rescuers. Kittens, bunnies, puppies, I've rescued them all. My first rescue came when I was about five years old. I saw my cat carrying something that looked like a baby bunny in it's mouth. I took it away, discovered it was just a mouse and handed it back to the cat. The mouse thought that was a terrible plan and promptly bit me. I became my doctor's first mouse bite victim. I don't know whether he ever had another.

My mom had the best rescue story. We had a cat that went missing. My mom and dad adopted Niki before I was born and she was a treasured member of the family. She was also a notorious slut and a couple of time a year after a brief disappearance, she blessed us with a litter of kittens. One time she left and didn't come back. My mom was worried sick. Her first baby was missing. She walked the neighborhood calling her name, she talked to the neighbors. She might have placed an ad in the paper, still no Niki.

One day a filthy, tattered, half starved kitty showed up at our house. Mama cried with relief. She grabbed the wayward Niki and carried her inside. She bathed and dried her. Tempted her with treats and rushed her to the vets office to make sure she was okay. She spent a great deal of money that we probably didn't have to save her precious Niki and the cat ate up the attention. And then a few days later, Niki walked up to the door looking as sleek, fat and satisfied as she always did after one of her excursions.

Mom had rescued the wrong cat. I don't remember keeping the usurper, but I'm sure my mom found it a wonderful home. That poor bedraggled stray hit the jackpot when he met my mom.

08/12/2010

Writers and Internet Dating

I tried an online dating service. I wanted a date. Sheesh, give me a break okay.

I must say that it's improved a hundred percent since the last time I gave it a whirl way back in it's infancy. See, the first time I tried it, I was doing research for a story. I posted a real profile, used my real photo and hey if I'd met someone, that would have been cool, but I wasn't invested in the process, I just wanted to see how it worked. I got hit on by twelve lesbians and six detroit gangbangers. My profile specifically said I was a woman looking for a man. Sorry ladies, nothing against you, just not the way I roll. My profile also noted that I was looking for a white guy. Nothing against interracial relationships, but my track record is pretty bad without any extra roadblocks thrown into the mix. Needless to say I wasn't impressed with the results and kind of lost interest in the whole story idea.

A while back I decided to give it another shot. This time seriously looking for someone. A friend, a date, who knows. The possibilities are endless and lord knows I spend more time in front of my computer than out around real people so maybe that was the answer. I must say the process is much improved. I met and chatted with maybe 15 or 20 guys. None were in the geographical area that my profile mentioned, but that wasn't really an issue. It was going well, and I met a guy that I wanted to get to know better so we retired to the relative privacy of Yahoo Messenger to continue chatting.

I'm not sure Internet dating is a good choice for writers. I mean, we chat with strangers all the time. It's our job. Yeah, the strangers are mostly in our heads, but they have real conversations and love interests and fights. In our world, they are real people. So I'm chatting with my new friend, and a few days in he dropped the L word. I freaked. We'd been chatting on the internet for only a few days. I couldn't type myself away fast enough. Then I began to wonder if it was my fault. Did I give this nice man reason to think that's what I wanted to hear? Did my words paint an unclear picture of our budding friendship? I weave stories from thin air all the time. Did I write myself into that situation? Maybe writers should be banned from Internet dating anyone except other writers. Then at least the field would be even. What do you think? Have you Internet dated? What was your experience like? Apparently it's working for people. If it worked for you tell us about it in the comments section. Or if it failed spectacularly and you'd like to share, we'd love to hear that too.

08/10/2010

Was it Karma or just bad luck?

I was over at Tawna Fenske's blog, Don't Pet Me I'm Writing, yesterday. If you haven't been you should drop by, I promise you will laugh. Anyway, yesterday she blogged about Dog Poo Karma.

Dog Poo Karma works like this, if you don't pick up after your pup, at some point, you are going to trod in someone else's derelict poo. If you don't believe this, read the post and comments section.

I don't have a dog poo tale, but one of the comments mentioned someone getting bird poo bombed and that made me remember a story. No I didn't get bird poo bombed, but the comment reminded me of a story.

Pictures this, a ladies high school track team on a mandatory field trip to the University of Missouri to witness a Lady Tigers indoor track meet. I really, really sucked at track and on top of it, thought watching one was slightly less exciting than watching grass grow, but it was mandatory, so I was there even though it was the Day of Prom

It was a beautiful May Saturday and our gaggle of high school girls were walking through campus to a restaurant for lunch. We had to walk between the dorm buildings and that was cause for much preening and prancing, because there were college boys yelling and whistling at us. We were hot. We were rocking our Candi's shoes and parachute pants.

As we pranced and preened for the yelling collegians something squished onto my head. I was startled. My teammates let out a collective gasp. Then something started running down my face.  That was cause for a get it off, get it off, get it off moment even though I'm not normally a girly, get it off, get it off kind of girl. 

What plopped onto the ground from my head was an ice cream cone. Normally I would have thought this was funny. I mean seriously, some guy (you know it was a guy) dropped an ice cream cone out of a eight story building and it landed on my head. What are the odds? It should have been funny. But it wasn't, because like all the other giggling, preening, prancing girls in my gaggle, my hair was already done for prom. All it lacked was the application of flowers. This was a disaster of unimaginable magnitude for a self conscious 16 year old. Doomed, I was Doomed. I still remember standing in the bathroom with my head under the hand dryer trying not to cry, because I didn't want my face to get all blotchy. It was my junior prom dammit.

Here's where the Karma question comes in. What could I have possible done in my 16 short years that deserved an ice cream cone on my prom hairdo? 

Has Karma ever slapped you around by mistake? 

08/05/2010

Reaching Beyond the Borders

How do you build a readership? Agents tell you to start a website even before you are published. So I started KdWrites. Step One--Check

Next start a blog. Talk about whatever you want. Let people know who you are and what you do. If your blog is entertaining you can gain readers. So I started KdBlog.  Step Two--Check

Get into social media. Get your name out there. Make friends. Reconnect with old friends. So I opened a Facebook account, KD Easley, and a Twitter account, KdWrites. Step Three--Check  Then I took it a step further and joined Crimespace, Goodreads, Grouply and AuthorsDen. These sites skew to readers and that's my target audience. Step Three point one--Check

I've joined listservs for writing groups like Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. If you google my name, the names of my books or the names of my website or blog, the results come up with me. All Me! Quite validating to wander around the internet and find yourself. If you're feeling down, jump in and try it. So we'll call that Step Three point two--Check.

So, I've followed the guidelines. I've got my name out there. I'm making friends. I'm talking about books, commenting on other blogs. And if I'm not careful I can spend all my time flitting from site to site and never have any time to write. But here's the Question...Does it sell books?

Yes...and No.

I have sold a few books through my online contacts. I've made friends with some readers and that's been wonderful, but mostly it seems I've built a large incestuous group of writer friends. We talk about each other's books, we blog about each others books, we visit each other's blogs, we interview each other and it's all a great deal of fun, but we seem to be preaching to the choir. We're all writers and that means we are all readers, but it's a fairly small group of people considering the size of the online community and it doesn't seem to get our work out in front of readers that aren't writers and I for one don't know how to fix that. What am I missing in my social networking that will break me free of my tiny little corner of the writing world and send me out beyond the borders where the rest of the readers live?

Tell me what we need to be doing differently. Joe Konrath has done it brilliantly so I know it can be done. Any ideas KdBloggers?

08/04/2010

Come Visit over at Writers Who Kill

Hi guys,

Author E.B. Davis interviewed me over at Writers Who Kill. This is part two of the interview. Drop in and leave a comment. A winner will be drawn from the comment pool and they get their choice of a signed copy of Murder at Timber Bridge or Where the Dreams End.

Come on over to Writers Who Kill.

07/30/2010

Guest Blogging Today!

I'm guest blogging today over at Motherhoot. Drop in for a family story so hot it sizzles.

After that, stop by Writers Who Kill and catch the first installment of my author interview. They were both great fun.

07/29/2010

Visit me at Writers Who Kill

Check out part one of the interview I did with E.B. Davis over at Writers Who Kill.

Leave a comment and you could win a signed copy of Where the Dreams End or Murder at Timber Bridge.

07/28/2010

What BP could learn from the Nuclear Industry

I've resisted writing this blog post for months, but I need to get it off my chest. If you stopped by for something funny, I apologize. I'll get back to that tomorrow, but if you've got a minute read on. And if you agree, or disagree, or just want to vent, leave a comment.

It's day one hundred of the Gulf Oil Spill. The cap is on. Cleanup continues, but in my opinion there's still one question that hasn't been answered. How did this happen? I just don't understand it. Oh I get the mechanics of the tragedy, explosion, fire, but I don't understand the logistics.

I work in the nuclear industry. I'm not a nuclear engineer or nuclear technician, I'm a carpenter. I build scaffolds so other people can gain access to components that need testing, repair or replacement. In the nuclear hierarchy I am very near the bottom of the stack. About on the same level as the folks that empty the trash, cook in the cafeteria and clean the toilets. Important jobs all, and necessary, but not critical to the safe operation of a nuclear reactor. Every time I walk into a nuclear power plant to start a new job, I'm required to take training classes, even if my last job ended less than a week before. As a trained nuclear worker I'm expected to understand how to work safely in a dangerous environment. I'm expected to follow all rules, and I'm expected to perform no work unless I have the correct documentation. In the nuclear industry there are procedures for everything. About the only operation you can perform in a nuclear power plant without a procedure is a trip to the restroom. There may be a procedure on that in the future.

What's this have to do with an explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf, you ask? I'm getting there, hang with me a minute.

Here's something most people don't realize. A nuclear facility is one of the safest workplaces in the world. Let me say that again. A nuclear facility is one of the safest workplaces in the world. The reason that these massive power plants and during refuel these massive construction sites are among the safest anywhere is that NOTHING happens in a nuclear facility without documentation, adherence to procedure and at times, endless pre job meetings. Nothing happens fast in a nuclear power plant. Safety is job one. Do it safe, follow procedure and the schedule and the budget will take care of themselves. These are the rules we live by in the nuclear industry. We've come by these rules because we've learned from mistakes in the past, but we've also learned to look forward and to anticipate failure or disaster before it happens. We plan our work and work to our plan and we DO NOT skip steps in a procedure even if it seems stupid. 

Here's were I get back to the oil spill. On an oil platform, a workplace that's inherently more dangerous than a nuclear facility, why were procedures not followed? Why was schedule put ahead of the safety of workers and the environment? Who made that call? Who signed off on the death of those 11 oil workers? And here's the biggest question of all. This is the one that makes me tear my hair out. Why in an industry that incredibly dangerous in a location that is one of the most hostile in the world was there not a procedure in place to deal with a catastrophic failure of the well? Let me ask that again, because that's the question I haven't heard answered in the last 100 days. Why Was There Not A Procedure In Place To Deal With A Catastrophic Failure Of The Well? People died, wildlife was destroyed, and very possibly a way of life has been ruined for some of my good friends on the gulf coast because there was No Procedure in place to deal with the Catastrophic Failure of a deep water oil well.

Could it be that in all the years that deep water drilling has been going on in the United States that not one single person ever thought, "Wow, we should probably have a system in place in case we lose one of our wells to a disaster of some sort." No one? Ever? Seriously?

I Don't Buy It!

The bottom line is safety costs money. Following procedure takes time. It takes a lot more time to do a job safely. There is no question about that it's a fact. If you perform an unsafe act ten times and don't get injured it doesn't make the act safe it makes you lucky. BP and the other oil companies drilling in the gulf have been lucky for a long long time. But BP has found out that the cost of complaisance is high. It's costing them billions of dollars. I would weep for them, but instead I'll save my tears for the families of the eleven men that paid for that complacency with their lives. No amount of money BP throws at this disaster is worth even one of those workers. BP should be ashamed. The oil industry should take a page from the nuclear playbook and realize that making money shouldn't be first. If you get the job done under budget and ahead of schedule and one person was injured or killed, You Failed.  

BP You Failed.

07/24/2010

SALE SALE SALE!!!

Purchase a signed copy of Where the Dreams End or Murder at Timber Bridge this week from the KdWrites Store and receive a copy of Nine Kinds of Trouble Free.

Just type FREETROUBLE in the subject line of an email and send it to kd @ kdwrites dot com Then in the body of the email let me know which book you ordered and your name so I can match it up with the web order.

It's National Tequila Day!

As you celebrate this important national holiday, take a minute to share your favorite tequila concoction.

Here's mine...

Ingredient.  1 oz excellent tequila, 1 shot glass, one slice of lime, one shaker of salt, Jimmy Buffet CD of your choice.

Turn on Music

Apply salt

Shoot Tequila

Suck Lime

Repeat as necessary

Happy National Tequila Day!

                   

07/19/2010

Locked Doors and Dead Ends

I'm working on the second book of a series I never intended to write. My main character, Brocs Harley is a repo man who got caught up in an ugly situation when his little brother is murdered. That book was called Where the Dreams End, and it was Brocs' story start to finish. A vignette into the darkest time in his life and how he dealt with it. Those that have read it, liked it. They liked the character and wanted to see him again. Hence the reason I've started working on book two in the Repo Man Series. The series that wasn't supposed to happen. 

I'm thrilled that readers want to see more of Brocs, but I locked a few doors and blocked off a few roads in book one and I'm paying the price now. As I run story lines through my head, trying to figure out how to motivate my repo man into investigating another murder, I find that I don't have as many routes available as I could have. There are just some things I can't explore because of what has already happened in book one. It's making this story a bit hard to tell.

Book one of the Randi Black Mysteries, Murder at Timber Bridge, was set up as a series. From the very first I knew that there was more to Randi than one story, and there are clues to the future in book one. Little hints of mystery or tragedy to come. I didn't kill off anyone important to the future of the series, I didn't block off any roads or lock any doors. I can take Randi anywhere. The difference, Book two in the series is in edit, book three is started, books four and five are roughly outlined. It's a fun road to travel with Randi and her family. Brocs, not so much.

For one thing, Brocs is a much darker character, his baggage is a lot heavier than Randi's. Things that work in Alden for the Randi stories won't work in Stantonville with Brocs. If I had known Where the Dreams End was a series book when I first sat down to write it, I would have done some things differently, but there you go, I didn't, and I didn't.

How about you? Have you ever looked at a story line while you were writing and realized something you were getting ready to do was going to limit what might come later? Did you plan a series from the start? How much leeway does an author have with readers if you choose a road the really shouldn't be available because of what has happened before? Will readers give you some slack, or will you destroy their trust and lost them?

I've been pondering some of these questions as I try to figure out where Brocs is going in his latest adventure, The Sins of My Father. What motivates him? Why does he care so much? What can happen to him at this point in his life to make him risk it for an investigation?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions. Drop in and tell me what you think.

07/13/2010

Decrapifying

Atla-091108-junk  Everybody has a junk drawer. Some people might even have two. I inherited a junk house. My mom was a bit of a pack rat. I started decrapifying her house almost five years ago. It wasn't easy, as every time I tried to throw something out, she'd grimace and sigh, or stalk off in a snit. She passed away a little over a year ago, and the decrapifying has gotten easier, but it's still an enormous undertaking trying to remove 45 years worth of accumulated stuff.

I'm not into stuff. I'm a minimalist. If I have a place to put my computer, a comfortable chair to read in, and my camera to record my infrequent trips away from my keyboard, I'm pretty happy. I have a few basic black pieces of clothing, enough construction clothes to get me through a week's work and a couple of pieces of formal attire. Living in a house with a piece of furniture against every single bit of wall space, and each piece of furniture, or cabinet filled to the brim with stuff, drive's me insane. Add in a basement with so much stuff there are only a few paths to walk through and an attic that's in the same condition, and I am overwhelmed. This marks my sixth summer of removing crap from this house and I can finally see the basement floor. With luck, the basement may be complete this year, then it's on to the attic. With every bit of junk that leaves the house I feel better, lighter and less encumbered. I can not wait until this project is done.

What makes people accumulate so much stuff? Why do we find it so hard to get rid of things?

07/12/2010

Shipping with Brown

PackingTape   
 Back in the day, they were the tightest ship in the shipping business. I am a regular customer and the big brown trucks stop by my house on a regular basis. I love internet shopping. I don't have to get dressed, I don't have to shower, I don't have to leave the house, I don't have to talk to anyone. Um, but his is about Brown and not about my social inadequacies. I stopped by Brown today to ship something quite fragile to my sailor stationed halfway across the country. It would have been cheaper to pack and ship it myself by USPS, but I didn't have the correct size box, and I am basically lazy and wanted someone else to mess with the bubble wrap, peanuts and packing tape. That may have been a mistake on my part. I'll find out Friday when the package arrives at it's destination and we find out if it is still in one piece.

See the reason for my concern is that the young man working the counter was about twelve. When my son's were twelve, they would have dropped a Ming vase into a box, taped it shut and forgot about it. They would have been surprised to learn it arrived at it's destination in pieces. So I'm a bit concerned about my package.

Of course, I sent Christmas cookies to my sailor boy and bubble wrapped the fragile one's individually so they wouldn't get broken before they arrived. I might be a bit OCD about it.

07/11/2010

The Trouble With Tornado Warnings

The idea for this blog post came to me because I am currently sitting inside my house listening to the rumble of thunder and watching the rain. South of me severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued and we are currently under a tornado watch. This is not uncommon in this area as I live on the edge of tornado alley.

I know the goal of weathercasters everywhere is to be able to warn of tornados early enough that people can make it to safety before the twister actually arrives. That's awesome and the results of the improvements in tornado forecasting have saved lives. But here's my problem.

I live on the periphery of the tornado alley, that results in lots of watches, many warnings and few actual tornados. I try to take any warnings seriously. I'm a weather junky and I know when bad weather is in my area or headed for my area. If the sirens go off, I'm headed for the basement with my family, my laptop, and my kitty's in tow. Then we sit and watch the weather until the power goes off. Then we sit in the dark shooting each other with our flashlights until the power comes back on and the warning is released.

Or that's what I'm supposed to do. I do head for the basement with said family and stuff in hand. I do turn on the basement TV and watch the weather until the power goes out. I'm good with that for about fifteen minutes, then I'm ready to get on with my life. In the old days, before early they could offer early warning for tornados, by the time you hit the basement, the twister had taken your house or moved on. Now you have this interminable wait and I just can't stand it. I'm a weather watcher. I want to be outside watching the storm roll over, ready to dive into the basement if it approaches. I can't stand to be cooped up underground while all that awesome weather is happening above my head. Didn't use to be a problem when the warning coincided with the arrival of the tornado, but with the new early warnings, it's killing me. 

I'm afraid one of these days, I'm going to run downstairs like a responsible adult, then after about ten minutes I'm going to poke my head outside just in time for the twister to swoop me up and toss me into the next county, cause I just can't handle the early warning.

Have I seen a tornado? Do I realize the damage they can cause? Well, yes, several, yes I've seen the aftermath. Doesn't matter, when the big weather starts, I want to be outside where I can see it.

How do you handle severe weather warnings around your part of the world?

07/04/2010

Happy Fourth of July!

USAflag_1 

 

06/29/2010

The Day We Burned Oklahoma Down

It Was an Accident, I Swear

My dad bought a new truck in 1994. Big red and gray ford with a long bed and dual fuel tanks. Did I mention in August of '95 it was two months old? Two months. About the same time my dad purchased his new pickup truck, my grandmother had a stroke. She was in rehab for quite some time and when she went home, she was told someone needed to come stay with her and help her rearrange things because she was going to remain weak on her left side and wouldn't be able to live alone unless changes were made. 

My mom ran booths in a couple of antique malls at the time and could be away for an extended time without much trouble so I drove her Oklahoma City to stay with my granny for a month or so, then I came back home. They rearranged cabinets, purchased new storage, put handholds in bathrooms and close to doorways and basically set the house up so Granny could continue to live alone. She was there about a month. At the end of that time, I drove to Oklahoma City to pick her up in my dad's almost brand new truck.

Over the course of the month that Mama had been in the city, they'd had several clean-up days where people could put anything they wanted out at the curb and the city would pick it up. Mom and Granny spent many many days driving around and picking through other people's trash to unearth treasures for her antique booths. When we loaded all of her treasures into the truck the entire bad was packed with antique tools, old wood furniture, and my mom's favorite piece, a pair of antique hand made sawhorses. 

As we finished loading our suitcases amongst the crap, the random thought crossed my mind that all those old wooden things sure were dry and would burn really well. I didn't voice this thought out loud and didn't give it another thought. We went to the gas station and filled both fuel tanks on the truck. We could go five hundred miles without stopping. Consequently, that's exactly how far it is from Granny's house to ours. We were set to make a flying trip home.

We wended our way through the road construction, (there's always road construction in Oklahoma City) and finally headed out of the city. We were on the turnpike maybe twenty miles from the city when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw black things flying up out of the truck bed. I slowed down and looked closer and realized the black stuff I was seeing was ash and everything in the back of the truck was on fire.

I swerved onto the shoulder, jumped out of the truck, climbed into the truck bed and started tossing burning crap out of the truck bed onto the shoulder. I had one goal, get the stuff out of the truck before two full gas tanks erupted. My mom hopped out on the other side and started stomping out flames as the grass beside the road caught fire. Soon, flying embers had also ignited the median between the two sides of I-44 and grass fires were racing in all directions. People were slowing to stare, Mom was wringing her hands and stomping on flames, the dog was in the cab of the truck barking at this great new game we had devised and no one stopped to help.

Finally a good samaritan that was also a firefighter wheeled in behind us. He grabbed a bottle of pepsi twisted off the cap, covered the mouth of the bottle with his hands and shook it until it turned to foam, then he sprayed the remaining fire in the back of the truck. I jumped in and moved the truck forward away from the fire and jumped back out to help mom and the firefighter stomp out the flames. The the fire department arrived.

There had been some rhyme and reason to the way I tossed things out of the truck bed. Flaming things hit the shoulder, not flaming things went in the grass. I was trying to salvage a few of Mom's treasures. The firemen scrambled from their trucks and started spraying water and stomping on flames and mom and I stepped back to get out of their way. 

As we watched the firefighters work, we noticed that one of the things I had saved by tossing it down the hill away from the fire were the two antique sawhorses. As we congratulated ourselves on saving at least one treasure, a firetruck bounced down the hill and ran over them. At that point we started to laugh.

Then I walked up to the truck to get out water bottles for mom and I, and found that Max, Mom's Jack Russell Terrier, had been excitedly running from window to window keeping track of all the firefighters. As he stood on the armrest on the door, he'd stepped on the the door lock button and locked us out.

We were five hundred miles from home, Daddy's brand new pickup truck was covered with charred and bubbled paint. Three fire departments frantically worked to stop the natural cover fire that we'd inadvertently started. We were locked out of our vehicle and Max was locked inside. And worst of all, at some point in the very near future, Mama was going to have to call Daddy and tell him we'd trashed his brand new truck.

06/28/2010

Recipe for a Successful Writer's Retreat

Take six to eight smart and talented lady writers

Add in One beautiful location

Mix in a lot of great food and a little bit of wine a dash of chlorinated water and a pinch of great conversations. Stir and simmer for two days.

That's it. I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend. Thanks Teresa for hosting us.

06/24/2010

Contemplating Change

I had a dream the other night that I was pregnant with twins and I was quietly pleased about that turn of events. I'm forty-six years old. My children are grown. I love them to death, but I'm ready to be a grandma. I have no desire to be a mother again. I also no longer have the equipment necessary to make that fantasy a reality. Anyone that knows me is giggling right now, because quietly pleased is diametrically opposed to how I would really be feeling. Psychotically hysterical would probably be closer to the mark. So, I did a little research on dream interpretation. Really, a writer doesn't need much of an excuse to get on the internet and do research. But, I digress. Here's what I found.

A dream of pregnancy, if in the dream you are happy about it, generally means you are contemplating or considering changes in your life. Or that you've decided to move forward with something spiritual or artistic in your life. Okay then, let's take a look at that.

I am a carpenter by trade. I work as a scaffold builder in nuclear power plants. It's a job I love. I travel six or nine months a year and the rest of the time I'm home, writing or messing about in my garden. The work is physically demanding, but not stressful. The money's pretty good, and the people I meet and work with are a lot of fun. It's the best job I have ever had. But. Yes, there's always a but.

One of the things I love most about my job is the travel. I love living in other places for weeks or months at a time. It's fun to stay somewhere long enough to find the gems that only the locals know about. But the travel is the problem.

My father is no longer in great health, and for him to be alone for weeks or months at a time is troublesome at best and downright dangerous at worst. It's time I made a decision. I've been chewing over this for a while. Trying to figure out how to keep my career and still take care of family. See, there's no one else, I'm an only child. It's my responsibility. The only conclusion I've come to is that my days of spending weeks and months on the road have come to an end, but I still need money. So I guess my writing is going to have to support me. EEEK. Do you have any idea of the number of writers that actually make their living off their writing? It's appallingly small. Most writers have jobs if they like to eat. 

Scary, but I've figured out that if I can sell just a hundred and fifty books a week, I can bring in close to what I make as a carpenter. Half that many and I could still live comfortably. Can I do it? Well, not sitting behind my computer in my jammies all day, but yeah, I think I could. Actually, I don't think I have a choice. Family has to come first. And that situation isn't going to change in the next year or two. 

So, I think that's what my pregnancy dream was all about. My spiritual journey inside myself to see if this change is possible. An investment in my craft to make it workable. Now, I need to get out of my PJs and go sell some books.

If you'd like to jump start this mission, click here to purchase a signed copy of one of my mysteries.

If you'd like to just show your support, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. To tell the truth, it's kind of a scary prospect and honestly, I'm not sure I'm up to the challenge.

06/23/2010

The Week My Appliances Went On Strike

Underwires and casings 01  For those of you that don't recognize the small picture to the left, it's an underwire from a bra. Those of you that have done laundry and like me are too lazy or disorganized to use those neat little lingerie bags for your pretty underthings, you know that underwires after a few washes will come out of your bra. But that's the end of my story, not the beginning. Let's start at the beginning, which is also an end of sorts.

Last spring, shortly after my mother passed away, I mean like minutes after, the lock on her oven door locked and wouldn't release. I know this because I had a house full of people and I was trying to make them biscuits and gravy for breakfast. It was my mom's oven. She picked it out and purchased it and I guess it was in mourning with the rest of us. We had our gravy on toast. At that point and after the week we had all been through, we could have eaten it on cornflakes and it would have been fine. 

The oven was still under warranty. The Sears guy was lovely and after only having to reorder the part twice we got it fixed. While we were still waiting for the oven to be fixed, I opened the dishwasher and heard a loud pop. When I let go of the door, it slammed to the floor smacking my shin on the way down. I shifted my eyes skyward for a moment and sent a questioning message to my mom. She didn't answer, but I might have heard the echo of celestial laughter. The repairman was duly called and the next day after two minutes of work, the dishwasher door was fixed. We were still waiting on the oven parts, but one broken appliance was working again, so all was well. 

The next day, I jumped in my dad's pickup truck and ran to town with my youngest son. When I stepped on the brakes, the pedal went all the way to the floor and the truck didn't slow noticeably. As soon as I had a free second after bringing the truck to a stop at the tire shop, I glanced up and heard the distinct sound of laughter. Mama never did like that truck. Two hours and four hundred dollars later, the truck had new brakes, the dishwasher was fixed and we were still waiting for oven parts.

After only a couple more days, the oven parts arrived for the second time, the oven was fixed and all was right in my world, well mostly. At least all the appliance were working. Later that evening after dinner, I went downstairs to change the laundry around from the washer to the dryer. The load in the dryer was still damp, so I cleaned the lint trap, set the timer and turned on the dryer. A horrible clanging sound started coming from the machine. This time I didn't roll my eyes heavenward, I looked up and threw my hands up and muttered 'Seriously?". Oh yes, there was laughter. But it was about to get louder.

I called my nice appliance repairman and he agreed to come out and take a look at the dryer the next afternoon. That was great, I've known my appliance repair guy for years. Once a long time ago in another lifetime, he was my boss. He's a great guy. I know him well. I think it would have been better if he'd been a stranger.

 The next afternoon he arrived and headed for the basement with his little box of dryer repair tools. The first thing he did was pull out the lint trap. Caught in the lint trap was the underwire from a bra. He plucked it out with a grin and handed it to me. My repairman laughed, my mother was collapsed on a cloud crying with hysterical laughter. I could hear her. I swear. Trusty repairman stabbed the lint trap back in place and turned on the dryer. The only unusual noises were coming from my repairman as he tried to hold back his laughter. He didn't charge me for the visit.

This little episode and other's like it is where I get the material for my Randi Black series. If you want to find out what disasters Randi get's to deal with, take a peek at Murder at Timber Bridge. Signed copies are available here.

06/22/2010

The Call to Action

I mentioned to my son last night that my blog had gotten a lot of hits over the last couple of days. Then as sort of afterthought, I said. "but not selling any more books". Son, being a man, immediately piped up with a solution. "You know, Mom. "Every post should have something at the end inviting people to buy your book. You're not giving the call to action. Without that you can't make the sale."

Okay, fair enough. I don't and I haven't. But, here it is from my prospective. I have a website and a blog and a facebook and a twitter account. I maintain a good web presence. If I take the time to google my name or my books, the first page or page and a half of results all have to do with my books or my web page. I'm pretty tickled with that. I was under the impression that's what I was working toward. Now, I'm finding out that I need to close the sale, get the yes, make the call to action. And well, that makes me feel all creepy inside.

Over the course of my life, I've sold a lot of things: Avon, Tupperware, Christmas Around the World, Pampered Chef, water filtration systems, Amway, car parts, and automotive service. I suck at it. Pampered chef wasn't too bad, I actually made some money at that because I'm a good cook. I didn't have to sell, I just cooked with the product and made people's tummy happy. The product did the selling. Books, not so much. You have to sell them; to bookstores, to reviewers, to strangers on the street. Um, yeah, that creepy feeling, it's almost a physical illness.

I hate selling. At least, I hate selling myself. Much easier to sell other people's stuff. Selling me, well, ick. So my answer to my son about his call to action comment was, "well between my blog and my website there are about fifteen different ways to click yourself into position to buy the book. Throwing a call to action into every blog post seems like overkill."

"Yeah, but you're not selling that many books. It's not working."

*Sigh*

So I'm really hoping to get some dialogue going here with authors or salespeople of things other than books. How to make a call to action without looking like a car salesman, or one of those window people that just keep showing up at your house and pestering you over and over even after you say no. I want to know what the general consensus is on the use of blogs and websites for book sales. Should it be passive, or active?

Oh, and click here if you'd like to own a signed copy of a KD Easley mystery.

06/21/2010

Pay it Forward

I got an email yesterday from HotelsCombined about a program called Spread the Word for Charity. It explained how I could get five, ten or twenty dollars donated to the charity of my choice just by mentioning the program on my blog. First I was excited that someone I didn't know had found my blog and was compelled to email me because of it. Chalk one up to internet marketing. Then, I did some research to make sure it wasn't some sort of fraud like that poetry book I almost got published in, but I digress and that is a blog post for another day. Anyway, I found that Spread the Word for Charity is real. HotelsCombined has donated over ten thousand dollars already this year. Awesome.

Spread the Word for Charity is a very simple program. You mention the program on Twitter, Facebook or your Blog, mention in the same post what charity you would like the money donated too, and they in turn donate, five, ten or twenty dollars to the charity in your name. Easy and painless.

The email I received mentioned that they had found my blog and noticed that I was a supporter of The American Cancer Society. I am, and I am happy to use this small space to announce it and send twenty dollars to the American Cancer Society to help further their research. I lost my mother to cancer last year. Her memorial service was a year ago yesterday. I still miss her everyday and my hope is that the research that the American Cancer Society is doing today may mean that in the future another daughter might not lose her mother so many many years too early. 

If you have a blog, facebook or Twitter account, click the HotelsCombined leak above, check out the program and send a small gift to the charity of your choice. In that small way, we can all pay a little bit forward.

I recommend HotelsCombined.com and sent $20 to The American Cancer Society!

You can shout and help too.

 

06/20/2010

Hit the Bricks, Literally

The Fulton Street Fair started as a great success. The booth set up was great and drew a lot of attention. I talked to a lot a great people, listened to some great music and got my yearly dose of fried Oreo cookies.

Here's a couple of pictures of the booth.

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Friday night at midnight, I raced back downtown after the fair was closed and deserted, to batten down the hatches and prepare for the giant storm that was heading our way. As I walked into the fair on Saturday morning, past the twisted wreckage of fair booth's whose owners hadn't been as weather savvy as me, I quietly gloated. Not over their damage, cause those folks do fairs and festivals for a living and I don't wish misfortune on anyone, more self satisfaction that I'd foreseen a problem and averted it. Then the storm blew in Saturday afternoon.

Photo 4
 And this is all that was left of my EZ up tent after the first gust. Yes, the tent was down. Yes we were prepared for the storm. No, it didn't do a bit of good. Underneath the sound of falling rain and blowing wind and crashing displays, I heard mother nature laughing. See that sandwich in the lower left hand corner of the picture? Yeah, that was my lunch. I didn't get to eat that either. Mother nature is somewhat vindictive.

06/17/2010

Hit the Bricks!

ComeToFair  This year's Fulton Street Fair is called Hit the Bricks. There will be music, and beer, and dancing, a mule sale, a carnival and probably someone selling ShamWows.  0079399319800_215X215  Oh, and I'll be there, sweating and hawking books.

MaTBcov                          Dreams cover             29d7b58d55480872ef1b2a99ccd126a5f13001b5  

 I'll have some cool goodies to raffle off, and all raffle money plus one dollar from every book sold will be donated to the American Cancer Society in honor of my mother, Butch Thomas. Drop in, pick up some good books, take a chance on a couple of awesome crime scene gifts, and support a good cause all while munching fried Oreo's or enjoying an ice cold beverage. It's a win win situation. Oh, and I have crime scene tape tatoos. Come on, you know you want one.

So drop in at the fair, and say hello. My booth will be the one wrapped in crime scene tape. 163229  

Mini-CIMG0047  And really where else can you go for a couple of hours and pick up a great book, some fried Oreos, a BBQ pork steak, and a cold beer. And, then sit in the shade and listen to some great music.



 Stop by the scene of the crime and introduce yourself even if you're not buying books. I'll be sure and direct you to the fried Oreos.

06/16/2010

Genre Go Round Review

Lovely review by Harriet Klausner at Genre Go Round Review for Murder at Timber Bridge. Click on the link to see what she said.

How exciting!

Thanks Harriet

06/15/2010

What I Like to Read: Robert B. Parker


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 If you're a regular reader at KdBlog you've seen me mention Robert B Parker before. He was always one of my favorites. Even the books that didn't live up to his reputation were still enjoyable. I found Walking Shadow at a used book store and didn't remember the story when I read the back cover copy, so I purchased it. Walking Shadow was Parker at his best. Even with the annoying Susan fully involved, this was a superbly crafted mystery. Walking Shadow was an excellent story. If you haven't read it, it's worth the cover price.  It's sad to think there won't be any more new Spenser novels.

 

06/14/2010

In Honor of Flag Day

To celebrate flag day, here are a few of my favorite flag pictures.

Enjoy

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God Bless America!   

 

06/12/2010

Writer's Serenity Prayer

I've been reading Joe Konrath's blog almost since he started it. I admire the way he's created his web presence, and the tenacity he's used to create a readership. Today, I admire this...the Writer's Serenity Prayer.

Thanks, Joe for helping me keep things in perspective.

06/08/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Dorothy Francis

EdenPalmsMurderfront  Today's guest on Tuesdays with Friends is Dorothy Francis. Dorothy is a teacher and a musician from Iowa by way of Kansas and California. She's the author of 74 children and adult books and has no plans to stop writing any time soon. Visit Dorothy on her website dorothyfrancis.com and join Kdblog as Dorothy's shares with us her first steps into the world of publishing. Thanks Dorothy for being a Tuesday Friend.


MY FIRST STEPS IN THE PUBLISHING WORLD

One September many years ago school was starting WITHOUT ME.  I was no longer a student.  Or a teacher.  I was about to become a stay-at-home mom.  Only such women weren’t called that in those days.  Housewife was the word.  My husband had recently been discharged from the army and we were lucky that he had a teaching job. So far he had no paycheck.  This fateful day I’m writing about, he was at school and I went to the only place I could afford—the public library.

 I picked up a magazine from a reading table. “The Writer.” I’d never seen this magazine before and I glanced at the articles telling would-be writers how to write.  I’d never considered writing until I read an article concerning Richard Armor.  I recognized that name because my parents for years had subscribed to “The Saturday Evening Post,” “The Wall Street Journal,” The American Magazine.”  I’d grown up reading humorous quatrains by Richard Armor.

 And today in the public library, I learned that people GOT PAID for writing this kind of light verse.  Hmm, I thought.  I can do that.  I won’t say I memorized that article, but I read it very carefully and I copied down the market listings that the article mentioned. That night after supper I started writing.

  “What are you doing?”  My husband asked.

  “Writing a poem,” I replied.

  He sighed. “As soon as I get a paycheck, we’ll buy a TV.”

  “Really?” 

 TVs were in their early stages of availability, and although I was impressed with his promise, I continued writing my quatrain.

 We did own a typewriter, so I typed my quatrain double spaced.  That was one of the rules I gleaned from “The Writer.”  Write on only one side of the page didn’t apply to my situation.

 So I mailed the quatrain in to “The American Legion Magazine.”  In a short time (really, that’s true—a short time), I received an acceptance letter and a check for $10.  I thought that was the way the writing world worked.  You sent something in and soon you received a check.  No getting half of the $10 upon signing a contract.  No waiting until publication to get the other half of the $10.

 I hurried to the bank and cashed that check before someone changed their mind. My husband’s comment was “hmmmm.  Better write them another one.”

 And so I did.  But although I never received another $10 for just 4 lines, I did receive $5 for 4 lines from “The Wall Street Journal.”  When I told my dad, he said, “Hmmm.”  Don’t think he believed me until I clipped one of my WSJ quatrains out and showed it to him.  He said, “Hmmm.”  Don’t think he’d ever bothered to read the “Pepper and Salt” column.

 Lack of family interest didn’t dissuade me. I continued writing, gave up quatrains as I took tenuous steps into children’s short stories for Sunday school papers, and then took a major step into book publishing.  But that’s another story.

 Please let me add that the writing world had changed since I began back in the 1950s.  So far, I’ve never received total payment for anything upon signing the contract.  And now my author’s handbook tells me to promote my own books.  The author of that handbook had never met my mother who said, “Dorothy, you never need to brag.  It’s unbecoming.  It’s an embarrassment.  If you’ve done something wonderful, people will notice without your telling them.”  I hope Mother never learns that I PAID for a website to call attention to the wonders of my writing.

But that, too, is another story.

06/07/2010

The Fruit of My Organic Labor

I have a garden. It's beautiful. I had a wonderful time building it, deciding what to plant in it and watching it grow while dreaming of eating succulent vegetables that I grew myself.

Here are pictures of my hard work.

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 I don't know why this one is so small. Sorry

 Now the results of all that hard work and a shot of my gardening partner, Luna.

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An now BEHOLD the fruit of my organic labor...The Mighty Bean 

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Yes, one green bean. Anyone have a recipe that calls for one fresh green bean?


 

06/04/2010

Visit me at The Stiletto Gang

Susan McBride is interviewing me today at The Stiletto Gang. Come on over and see if I spill any secrets.

06/01/2010

It's Aliiiiiive!!!

MaTBcov 

 At  long last, Murder at Timber Bridge is here. If you've got a minute, check out the first chapter on my website, or download a sample from Smashwords or Amazon. If you like what you read, and decide to purchase a copy, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you. If you're are holding out for the print version, hang tight, it will be available in a couple of weeks. You can purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or if you'd like a signed copy, drop by my store. I'll be happy to sign one and mail it to you.

05/28/2010

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.

05/25/2010

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.”

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05/21/2010

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.

05/18/2010

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

Dreams_1
 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.

NKoT
 

 

 

05/17/2010

Creepy!
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.

05/14/2010

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.

05/11/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Welcomes back Stephen Liskow

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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 www.steveliskow.com.


05/07/2010

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.

05/05/2010

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.

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                       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 Amazon.com 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 www.dtp.amazon.com, I now have some 43 novels for sale online via Kindle Book Store on Amazon.com. The e-books for out of print titles may require getting a company like www.blueleaf.com 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; Amazon.com 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 www.smashwords.com 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 www.dtp.amazon.com 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 www.srwalkerdesigns.com 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 www.wordclay.com 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


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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 www.robertwalkerbooks.com , www.HarperCollins.com , www.acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com , www.makeminemystery.blogspot.com , www.dirtydeeds-advice.blogspot.com

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.

KD

04/30/2010

What I Like to Read: Lisa Black, Elizabeth Becka

and Forensic Scientist Lisa Black knows how to make you keep turning pages. Her thrillers are suspenseful and exciting. Don't miss out on these great books.

04/26/2010

Do You Kindle?

What do you think of e-readers? Love them? Hate them? No opinion?

Me, I have a Kindle and I love it. I also read Kindle books on my iPhone. Yes, they have an app for that. I travel a lot. Back in the old days, you know, way  back last year. I had to pack a suitcase full of books when I left town, and usually before I made it home, I had to find a trade-a-book store, so I could replenish my supply. Now, I don't have to do that. I can leave home with my Kindle in my purse, and have weeks, even months worth of books at my fingertips, and more available any time I want to press the order button. For me, it's the greatest invention of the century so far. Yes, I still read paper books. Yes I love the smell, feel and look of paper books. No, I'll never have a house completely empty of books. There will always be more books than shelves in my home, but I do love electronic books.

So, tell me what you think. Do you Kindle, or Nook or use any of the multiplying number of e-readers out there? If you're an author, how do your electronic sales match up to your hard copy sales? Are e-readers the wave of the future or just a speed bump on the publishing highway?

04/23/2010

What I Like to Read: Lee Goldberg

I discovered Lee Goldberg's blog, before I discovered his books. He's currently the author of the Monk series tie in novels. If you are a monk fan, you don't want to miss these books. Lee does a perfect job of bringing Monk alive on the page. If you're looking for an amazing story, scour the used book stores, or order a kindle copy of Lee's book The Walk. It is amazing, and I'm not sure why it hasn't been optioned for a movie. And, if you're looking for a way to kill a little time, check out lee's blog, A Writer's Life

04/19/2010

Is it Nature or Nurture?

My son is my webmaster, computer guru and all round geek in residence. I also bounce ideas off of him from time to time, or discuss methods of committing crime. For the books, you know. Not for real. I promise.  

Even though he doesn't still reside under my roof. He and his wife do still come over for dinner sometimes. So we can still get that dinner time family dynamic going from time to time. The other night as we were eating, the conversation turned to a short story I was working on, then moved on to an idea I had, then switched over to ways to kill people, how and where to hide bodies, and finished off with how you could commit a murder and get away with it. The conversations wound down and in the quiet my son looked up and said, we have some really sick dinner conversations. That made us all laugh.

I started writing mysteries when my kids were in middle school. They've read, proofread and approved or disapproved my writing since they were too young to understand the juicy parts. They grew up discussing murder and mayhem over dinner. My daughter-in-law did not. She's fitting in pretty well, though. Bless her heart. She's even joined in the family business by dropping in a suggestion of her own from time to time. At home these conversations aren't a problem, at a restaurant, they can get you some funny looks. I just pray if anyone I know or am related to is ever the victim of a crime, the police don't confiscate my computer. If they went back over my web searches, I'd be tried and found guilty on the spot. Hey, I write books where the good guys always come out on top, but in real life, I wouldn't want to count on it. 

So what do you think, is this passion for crime I now share with my children a case of nature or nurture. I used to think it was all genetic. I mean, we do share other traits as well, but lately, with the addition of my son's sweet wife, I'm beginning to think anyone can be pushed into a life of crime. Even if it's virtual.

04/16/2010

What I Like to Read: Dana Stabenow

I love both of Dana Stabenow's series. I love Kate Shugak. I like her strong will, her independence and I've enjoyed watching her grow as the series has progressed. I love the Alaskan setting. Dana does such a beautiful job setting the scene I feel like I've been to Alaska. Her second series, featuring Liam Campbell is a little lighter than the Kate Shugak stories, but I love the characters and the Alaskan setting is every bit as amazing. If you want to take a trip to Americas last frontier and you can't afford a plane ticket, pick up a Dana Stabenow novel.

04/13/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Howard Sherman

This week's Tuesdays with Friends guest is Howard Sherman. Howard runs a business, an IT consulting company and manages to write and donate a blog post to KdBlog. I feel like a total underachiever, but his post is about something I'm really interested in. I love my Kindle, but I wish it had a touch screen and I'm a total Apple geek. I own an iMac, macbook, macbook air, and waaaay to many iPods. I need an iPad. No really, I need one. Okay, Okay, I really, really want one. Let's check out what Howard thinks about the new iPad. Maybe it will change my mind, but I doubt it. 


Is the iPad Any Good? I guess.

Will the eBook market bear a $499 "Super iPod"?

 

by Howard A. Sherman, Interactive Fiction author and eBook maven from Malinche Entertainment.  Visit them on the web at http://www.malinche.net

 

The public launch of the iPad is just a few days away and with all the hype and hoopla it's high time we take a hard look under the hood of Apple's next market-morphing product.  As a writer and publisher of interactive fiction I'm one part author . one part technologist and one part entrepreneur.   The writer in me is thrilled with Apple's adoption of ePub making it a snap for publishers who have an existing ePub catalog to publish their entire catalog to the iPad.  Ditto for authors who want to side-step the middle man and take their published works directly to the public.  The geek in me is stopped cold in his tracks by the "not newness" of the iPad.  If we turn down the volume on the hyperbole (e.g. "It's hard to believe we could fit so many great ideas into something so thin" - taken directly from the iPad section of Apple's website)  and look at the iPad offering objectively it's really nothing more than a "Super iPod".  Seriously.

The iPad doesn't bring any new technology to the table that you won't find in an iPhone or an iPod Touch.  And with pricing coming in at $499 for the entry-level model with just 8GB of storage and WiFi access going up to a heady $829 PLUS monthly (optional) data plan fee for the 64GB model with 3G capability, I just don't see the iPad being a game changer. Please don't think I'm slamming the iPad.  I'm not.  It's a sweet-looking piece of technology but I'm not entirely sold.  But I want to be.  That's because I'm an Apple fanboy of the highest order.  How high? I'm proud to say that an iMac sits next to my Windows 7 PC on my desk while under said desk are two laptop bags - one holds a Windows Vista laptop and the other a MacBook Pro.  My iPhone is linked to my Me.Com (formally known as Mac.Com) account syncing my email, contacts. iDisk storage and calendar with my iPhone and I happily pay $99 per year for the privilege.  My company, Malinche Entertainment, is licensed to display the Universal Apple Logo on every interactive fiction title we sell and we were also early entrants in the Apple iPhone developer's program.  I'm all-in when it comes to believing in the Apple.

As a businessman I must admire Apple's strategy; the entry-level iPad at $499 is just $10 more than Amazon's Kindle DX.  Brilliant.  In a side by side comparison the basic iPad model blows the Kindle DX clear out of the water and several miles inland.  However, as iPad storage capacity and wireless capabilities increase so does the the price tag.  Let me play devil's advocate here; if I'm an Apple consumer looking at an $829 Apple iPad why shouldn't I take things just one step further and spend $999 on a full-blown Apple MacBook computer?  Getting back to my Windows roots I'm obligated to point out that a very respectable Acer laptop with Windows 7 and mighty fine system specs (like 500% more storage than the top of the line iPad) can be had for just $499.

And, again, it's not just a super-sized iPod - it's a full-fledged computer capable of doing everything an iPad can do and so much more.  Bring the new breed of netbooks into the picture and the price comparisons get reallyinteresting.

Melding together my three split personalities  as a geek, a writer and an entrepreneur into a cohesive whole, let me say that the iBook application on the iPad is a very impressive piece of software.  It fully leverages the technological capabilities of the iPad delivering a reading experience that's going to be hard to beat.  What's easy to beat about the iPad? The price vs. performance comparison. 

04/12/2010

What Makes You Say No Thanks?

I love mysteries. Hard boiled, traditional, police procedurals, amateur sleuths, series or stand alone, but I hate psychological thrillers. I can't stand that nagging tension that won't go away. The twisted mind of the killer gets inside me and makes me uncomfortable. I can't sit still, I don't want to read, and I feel like if I put the book down it will keep chasing after me. I feel the same way about Psycho thriller movies. I don't like the dark cinematography, the quick scene flashes, all those things designed to heighten the tension. I hate it, I won't watch it and I won't read it. It just creeps me out. 

There you now know what makes me say no thanks, well most of it. I don't like it when they kill or torture the dog, cat, bunny, child. And I don't like gratuitous violence, or graphic sex in books or movies. Hey, my imagination can take care of the violence, and well, the sex to as far as that goes. I know where tab A and slot B fit together, I can supply the pieces, just get me in the place.

Now, tell me what turns you off, stops you cold, makes you toss the book into the trash. Come on, I told mine, don't leave me here hanging all by myself. Tell you what, you share, and I'll see that one lucky commenter gets a KdBlog prize pack just for keeping me from hanging out here all by my lonesome.

04/09/2010

What I Like to Read: Stephen J Cannell

I fell in love with Stephen J Cannell before he branched out from the TV world. In fact, I've been in love since the A-Team. Maybe even before that. I don't think I've ever seen his name on a series I didn't enjoy. Silk Stalkings was one of my favorites, then I discovered his books. I love his main character Shane Scully. I like the LA Setting, and the story telling is awesome. Stephen J Cannell can write for any medium and I'll be one of the first in line to purchase what he writes. Check out one of Stephen's books and meet Shane Scully, I think you'll like him.

04/06/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Jenny Milchman

The Mysterious Journey of a Mystery Novel

or,

What Happens AFTER You Write the Book

 This blog post should start, as many stories do, with “Once upon a time.”

 Once upon a time, I wrote a mystery/suspense novel.

 Wait. Actually it should start with “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago.”

 I didn’t know it would be this long between finishing said book and having it actually land in a reader’s hand—which it hasn’t yet—but as every fan of mysteries and suspense knows, a good story depends on lots of twists and turns.

 My story—and I don’t just mean the fictional one—has its fair share of them.

 Writers will tell you that the middle of a book is rife with opportunities to get bogged down. And when that happens one of the things to do is ask, What happens next?

 After I finished my novel, I asked that very question. And the answer I got was, find an agent.

 So I did. It took me about eight months to receive my first (and second) offers of representation. I knew that wasn’t a terribly long time in the scheme of this industry, and so I was feeling pretty good.

 You remember the “long, long time ago” part, though, right?

 Once I decided on an agent—which, after the writing, was the best part yet; getting to talk to these wonderful people, and hearing their plans and ideas—I thought the next plot twist would be simple.

 So predictable, in fact, that if it appeared in a book, you’d have to edit it out.

 Sign with agent, book sells. Right?

 Not right.

 I had chosen a wonderful agent. I will always have very fond feelings for this early believer in my work, and have read with excitement the news of her many sales since we came to an amicable parting of the ways.

 A good suspense novel depends on surprise. The reader should be surprised by the ending and also by events along the way.

 This business has continually surprised me. I’m surprised by the level of subjectivity, how one editor’s “languid and literary” is another’s “fast-paced.” Or even, “too fast-paced.” I’m surprised by how incisive those editors’ eyes can be, how they can completely turn around a manuscript I thought was in great shape.

 That’s what happened with my novel. It needed to be completely turned around, which I think most writers would agree can take quite some time. It’s taken me a long time anyway. Luckily, I went on to sign with another terrific agent who has helped with it all.

 And so maybe, just maybe, I’ll soon be in for a surprise myself.