Monday, May 9, 2016

Another Portland Tour- Letterpress Books

Went back up to Portland to dine on Pat's Pizza, visit more bookstores, and get copies on their shelves.

And had a pleasant surprise to find an old friend as one of the team of owners of Letterpress Books.

Funny, because I'd donated to their IndieGogo campaign some time back to get startup costs for the store, but missed the names involved. And this was my first visit since they opened.
Great little store, with a nice selection of books, and a healthy inclusion of Maine authors.

They were nice enough to accept books of mine on consignment. Here's Kath stocking Zack Taylor mysteries.

And here they are, eagerly awaiting readers. Not far from Maine writer Chris Holm's The Killing Kind, the novel that is tearing up the book world with awards and honors and rave reviews.

Hope they catch the eye of shoppers

But that's not all- the store also now carries Halls of Horror, the book of short stories I dedicated to Stephen King (who was my writing instructor in college!). So guess where it ended up? Right next to King's books on the shelf. Appropriate, because my cover is a direct hommage to the master.

And the store is doing great, already winning awards, as you can see. 

So when you go up Portland way, stop in and browse for a great read. I plan to go up and sign books some Saturday afternoon this Summer.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hank Phillippi Ryan and Hallie Ephron at the Chelmsford Library

The Chelmsford Library held an event featuring two superstars of the mystery writing world, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Hallie Ephron.

Becky Herrmann, from the library staff, was there to make sure that things ran smoothly

A huge crowd turned out for the show, to hear the talk on where these top writers get their ideas.

They were spellbinding, as usual, giving the audience a glimpse into the process that goes into making a good mystery novel.

Both authors are member of the Sisters in Crime (I'm a member as well), a group that helps promote women mystery writers.

After the talk, people came to get copies of their books...

And get them signed. Here's Dina getting an autographed copy.

And one from Hallie

Photo op with the ever-gracious Hank

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Portland Book Tour

Last week I went up to Portland, Maine, one of my favorite places, and my old stomping grounds, for a tour of different book places.

Sherman's, the big bookstore chain in Maine (that stays mainly on the plain), has a store in Portland, and agreed to take my Zack Taylor mystery series for sale at several locations around the state.

Here's what they've got for a start- seven copies each of the first four Zack Taylor novels, all freshly signed and set for Summer bookbuyers! Since it has a Portland setting, it's a natural.

These folks must have heard my books were now in!

When you're up that way, stop in, buy some books, and say hi to Josh, who was very helpful. 

If it's used books you want, stop in to The Green Hand, a lovely used bookstore on Congress Street.  Had a nice chat with the owner Michelle there, and browsed among the thousands of treasures.

And it's right around the corner from the International Cryptozoology Museum, the world's most fascinating collection of weird creature artifacts (even better than Ripley's!)

Loren Coleman runs the Museum, and was kind enough to read my book Shadow of the Wendigo, and say nice things about it, since it deals with a subject near and dear to his heart (no, not cannibalism!)
Now the museum stocks copies of the book, so you can have it signed by me and by Loren!

 And of course had to stop in to Portland's jewel, the public library, to discuss getting my books into their collection. After all, I'm listed in the Maine State library system as a Maine writer.

And of course had to stop and get my Pat's Pizza, still the best evah! Been eating it for 40 years, and it's still great!

It's always good to go back up. Even got to visit with some old friends and enjoy the day.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mystery at the Bakery

Had a fun morning today- got up early to take part in a public reading of Murder by the Minute at Benson's Bakery & Cafe in Hudson, NH. It's a lovely little place, with tasty treats and drinks.

 We were a few hardy mystery authors from Sisters in Crime to read from our works in progress.
Sharon Daynard (left) put this together for our location- there were others around New England this weekend. Lisa Haselton (right) came for support.

Our enthusiastic audience and support crew seemed happy to munch and sip and listen. 

Reading from their work were Anne Macdonald (left) and Ruth McCarty (center). 
Dan (front) is author support crew.

It was a nice gathering and conversation after the works were read.  
Thanks to all those who took part- this is one of the fun parts of being an author.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Latest News and Event This Sunday

It's been a while since my last post- well, things have been busy.

Been writing up a storm- in a little than two weeks, sent out four pieces for submission.
Three of these were brand-new stories, including my two efforts for this year's anthology for Level Best Books (I've had stories in the last two), and double-subbed for the Al Blanchard Award, given out at Crime Bake. We'll see if they like either of them.

Have also been editing a really good book by another writer. That should be out this Summer.

This Sunday, I'll be part of a Sisters in Crime public reading from mystery authors:

MURDER BY THE MINUTE event at Benson's Bakery & Cafe in Hudson, NH
this Sunday April 17th, at 9:00 am-10:30 am.

Come on down and hear some works in progress. I'll be doing a piece from the fifth Zack Taylor novel I'm working on, A Sharp Medicine. Look for that one later this year.

Friday, March 25, 2016

We Rock the Fox

We had a great “Death in Shorts” mystery short story panel at the Fox Library in Arlington, MA, for Level Best Books.
We were representing the latest anthology Best New England Crime Stories 2016: Red Dawn.

With me were Mark Ammons (moderator and co-editor at Level Best Books), Christine Eskilson, Rae Padilla Francoeur, Cheryl Marceau, and Gary Braver. Standing is Leslie Wheeler, another co-editor, and who helped put this together.

Even had snacks available


The crowd got into the discussions, and had some great questions for us.

 Mark gets down to business

Scott from the library (on right) helped get this all set up. Thanks to him and the library staff for making the night possible!

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life- in Publishing

Saw an online discussion recently that made me think of a comparison, of how publishing is a bit like the movie It's A Wonderful Life.

Say what? Well, let's take a look. The Big Five traditional publishing companies often act like a group of Mr. Potters, the richest, greediest, and meanest men in town. Note that this whole comparison thing is a generalization, and not all of the people and groups are exactly representative, but as a whole, group efforts certainly do invite the comparison.

The Big Five sit on an excess of wealth, while many authors are scrabbling for enough money to pay a few bills. The Big Five engage in "sharp practice," refuse to pay all but a few authors a fair wage, and have an arrogance and a sneering contempt for the riff-raff and "garlic eaters" (authors and readers). For a prime example, look at Don Maass' public remarks about publishers "culling the prize cattle from the herd" ( There are many other utterances from people in the publishing industry expressing similar derision and scorn for writers, who are the very people that supply them with a comfortable living.

For a long time, crawling to the Potters was the only practical way to get published and read. Then along comes George Bailey, in the form of Jeff Bezos. He creates Amazon, which serves as the Bailey Building and Loan. It allowed authors to get published, distributed, and read, at such low cost all can afford it. And the world changed. Like owning your own home in Bailey Park, you can now publish your own book and forego being subservient to the Potters and whatever scraps they decide to toss your way. The Potters of the industry want the suckers to continue paying them rent forever, but many of the riff-raff authors have wised up, and are flocking to the Bailey Building and Loan, to strike out on their own. Maybe they won't have the biggest mansion in town, but they'll have something good- which most didn't have a chance at before.

And it drives the Potters absolutely insane. The Big Five and their cohorts publish hundreds of screechy, non-factual articles trashing Amazon for one thing or another, to the point where people amusedly call it "Amazon Derangement Syndrome," or ADS for short. There's one particular lapdog of the Potters at the New York Times who suffers from ADS in the extreme, and who writes a non-stop series of shrill screeds against Amazon, enough so that his name on a piece is enough to induce chuckles in those who follow industry news, because they know all the false arguments that will follow. No fact-checking or true journalism required- apparently, hating the most successful retailer and writing hit pieces on them is enough to get one a nice gig at the NYT.

If you ask the Potters why authors cannot get paid a little more equitably, say like 50% on ebook revenue instead of the measly 25% they now receive, you get a song-and-dance about how they're suffering. Oh, the poor Potters with their plush Manhattan offices, expense accounts, bonuses, and six-figure salaries are enduring such misery because they're dedicated to Art. Meanwhile, the Bailey Building and Loan gives authors 70%, and still makes money. You'd think there's a lesson there, but it's one the Potters don't want to learn, even though they're losing customers in droves.

I had an online discussion with one of the Potters, and he insisted they couldn't pay authors more, because everyone else in the publishing industry had to get paid, and did I want all those other people to go without? I told him that authors were not responsible for the salary of everyone else but themselves, and he might not want to keep saying that the only people that shouldn't get fairly paid are the content providers, without who, no one else in that field would be getting paid anything. It's a weird, inverted-pyramid style of thinking.

The Potters got rich because they had no competition for many years but each other. With the rise of ebooks and Amazon and other media, they now have a rapidly-shrinking market share, and it scares the daylights out of them. Then successful independent author (Bailey customer) Hugh Howey comes along, and with the help of a data guru, puts out quarterly reports that show most people would be better off with the Bailey Building and Loan route than with the Potters. And the Potters go bananas, calling the reports a pack of filthy lies, even though the reports painstakingly show how the data is gathered. To date, no one has offered better data- the Potters simply insist it cannot be true, because they don't want it to be.

The Potters say that authors shouldn't support the Bailey Building and Loan, because someday the BB&L will turn on its loyal customers, and give them less money. Well, that may be (or more likely not), but for now, all those authors are getting their books published and getting paid something for them. Some are even doing rather well.

The Potters are greedy, and so they charge too much for their ebooks in many cases, driving people to the Baileys in greater numbers. The Potter authors themselves know they'd sell more if the prices were lower, but the Potters don't care about stuff like that.

And with the Bailey Building and Loan, an author doesn't need a Potter contract, a devilish device designed to put most authors at a major disadvantage in publishing. And an author can get the cover they want, because many Potter authors get stuck with crappy stock art, or a cover that has nothing to do with the contents of the book.

Some people want to deal with the Potters, thinking it makes them better. Less than five years ago, I got an account with the Bailey Building and Loan, and have been doing great since. I'm happy about not having to deal with any Potters. I just don't care for their business methods, and their snotty attitude toward writers. I'm publishing and selling quality books in all formats and platforms, and gaining new fans all the time.

So just like the movie, It's a Wonderful Life- in Publishing. Thanks, George. Maybe, like Clarence, you'll get your wings.