Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Anybody else think that was a wicked fast year? Holy crap, it shot by like a bullet.

At least I feel like I made progress this year, so I can't grouse too much.

Writing accomplishments:
Finally got my novel published! Got it into bookstores, libraries, signings, got to talk about it in person and in interviews. Had the book launch, which was a smash success. Got my first royalty check!

Finished the second novel and sent off for publication. It was supposed to be out by now, but snags at the publisher have delayed it through this season. Not cool, as I've lost quite a few sales because of this.

Kept writing, and published more stories and poems.

Published the first of my short stories and collections as ebooks, a different direction and strategy.

Dipped into audio, recording and publishing my first podcast.

Greatly expanded all social media. Not necessarily a good thing!

Went to the Crime Bake Mystery Conference, and had a great time.

So all in all, pretty darn good. I can look back and say it was worth it.

So you have a safe and happy holiday. Let's see what the New Year has to offer!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lots of Promo

Been a busy day. I visited a few libraries, telling them how wonderful my book is, and attempting to persuade them to purchase copies for their collections. Hey, local authors should be a draw for libraries, so I try to help out.

I was struck by how good these libraries are, how much information is freely available to all. It's truly wonderful, and may be part of the reason we have better education in this part of the country.

This was spurred by the news yesterday that I'm scheduled to appear on television, being interviewed by Jane Bouvier. We air Jan 12th, with more rebroadcasts after, check station for times.

And I'm listed on a new site for great ebook reads, on Super-E-Reads

And come on down to the UMass Bookstore in downtown Lowell on Jan 21st, from 1-3, for my book launch of A Fall From Grace. Refreshments, prizes, meet the author! Bring your friends that read!

Bad Writing of Best-Sellers

As a writer, I check out the work of other writers. Lets me see how they write, their technique, and shows me what's popular in the field. With "best-selling" mysteries and thrillers, they're all too often disappointing, at best, and downright contemptible and ludicrous at worst. Have just found another example of the latter.

Now this guy sells millions of books, has rabid fans, and his name is spoken with reverent awe. He's the powerhouse of e-publishing and print. But his book is stupid-- insultingly stupid-- a reeking dungheap of ridiculous plot. The writing is good, the characters are developed, but the plot is so laughably bad. At least it would be laughable, if people weren't supporting this clown by buying his work.

"But he's popular, so he must be good," will be the response from the Booboisie. Well, no. Fast food is popular, but it's not good. And this guy makes it worse. He takes a fast food burger, slaps horse poop and ground glass on it, and shovels it up to the masses. And they eat this crap sandwich, and smile and say it's wonderful. Gah!

I'm in the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, and none of us are critics for the New York Review of Books, but we can spot a stinker. Any time writing doesn't pass muster, they let you know. I know, I've tried it before, and it just doesn’t fly. This guy's plot would have been shot down by everyone as too stupid for belief, and would have never made it out. You can let all the hot air out of this Bad Plot Balloon with one phone call, one person acting reasonably, or anyone doing what they'd do in Real Life.

We'd have told this writer not to insult the reader. He MUST like to insult his readers, he's got to have contempt for his audience. There's no other way to explain it. Me, I wouldn't have the money he's making for producing this bilge. If my name was on a piece of crap this bad, I'd take the Hemingway route with a shotgun. And I mean it. This kind of junk is really offensive.

There's absurdity and coincidence piled upon unbelievability and bullshit. The characters are simply marionettes, who do the writer's bidding, but do things that would not be done by anybody outside a Hollywood coke-fantasy film. And they do them at just the right time to creakily move the dumbass plot to the next Big Point. You know a book is bad when you keep rolling your eyes and saying "Oh, Pul-eeze!"

The plot setup is so ridiculous, it's akin to having a switch that will destroy an entire town, and where the authorities know that a guy is going to come in and throw the switch to slaughter everyone. All they need to do is lock the door. But they can’t, because the writer has put up a big sign saying "This door cannot be locked, or I won’t have a crap book to shove out!" Yeah, that simple, that mind-numbingly dumb.

If this was just one awful example of what's popular, it might not be so bad, But I've seen too many others like it, and I've had it. I strive to create good, believable plots with decent writing, and I screen the work with early readers and tough critique. This book has all the earmarks of a Hollywood pitch session, where everyone was on drugs.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I write with aspirations of craftsmanship, and don’t look down on my audience, but carefully build characters and situations that they can believe in. The good writers do this. The bad ones churn out senseless junk for mass consumption that cheapens all other books. He oughtta be ashamed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Belated Merry Christmas

Howdy folks. It's been a few days while I enjoyed the holidays with my family. So I didn't blog a lot.

But I'm making it up to you. Want some cool FREE ebooks by a couple of guys who got famous selling a lot of self-published books? Sure you do- you're curious as to how good or bad they can be.

For a limited time, Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch are putting up some of their many titles for free- load onto your new Kindle for nothing.

How's that for a belated Christmas gift? Forgive me?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Publishing- Funny and Not

Here's a terrifc, funny post about how writers are crazy Aunt Edna, and the publishing world is the rest of the family.

And another view, by pro writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, more serious.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Story Collection out!

5 tales of mystery/crime-- my new story collection, Crooked Paths is up!

Most of these stories have appeared in magazines and online ezines, all are about the crooked paths we take, and the choices that lead us to certain ends. Safecrackers, runrunners, killers, PIs, they're all here.

The Challenge is going well. That's 2 collections done, 10 books to go, and 48 more stories!

Latest Poem Out

Today, my poem, "The Sorceror and the Maid" is out at Silver Blade magazine online.

The advantage of doing a lot of different stuff is getting published in all new venues.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Story Collection Published

Inspired by folks like Joe Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith, who have told us we could now do well by writing good works and publishing them ourselves, I took up the challenge.

Here is one amazing result-- my first story collection is now available! Fables and Fantasies is a book of 5 tales of magic, swords, vampires, princesses in peril, and choices to be made. Heroes and villains and something in between. Monsters, both internal and external. Encounters with the unusual to make you think, laugh, and shiver with fright.

Three stories are all new, and two have been previously published, in Aoife's Kiss and Sorcerous Signals. So hard-nosed professional editors have paid tough-to-come-by-money for some of these tales. Four of these stories are available as singles.

It's a great new world for the writers who want to succeed. No more lottery systems-- just get the work up and let the readers decide! Viva La Revolution!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Passed-Up Best Seller

In case anyone is wondering why I decided to enter the world of publishing my own work, here's just one reason...

An excerpt-- "A dozen publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected it. They called it 'difficult to sell...'"

Yeah, except-- it has sold more than 400,000 copies, and landed on the best-seller lists.

But we writers are supposed to keep submitting to these "pros" who "know the business." Except that they don't have any idea what their business is, as evidenced by the example above-- which is one of many, many stories like it.

"Book publishers are losing ground to independent authors and watching their powerful status as literary gatekeepers wither."

Ever wonder why? Because they run a lottery system, and the most common thing they buy is the equivalent of fast food-- cheap, greasy, same-old slush for the mass market. Very often, they don't know a good book, even when it bites them in the ass.

R.I.P. dumbass gatekeepers who are bad at their job-- they will not be missed.

We writers who can adapt will continue to get our work to readers, without the gatekeeper interference. Viva la revolution!

I'm doing my part- I now have 4 of my stories up on Smashwords, as part of my Insane Writing Challenge!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Second Story Up, Continuing, 50 to go!

Got another story up tonight, "Our New Queen." It's now up, with a gorgeous cover- take a look:

Apart from being an unsettling dark fantasy tale, it's a testament to determination. The first time it didn't go through, had some formatting errors, even though I used the Nuclear Option. So I redid it, and just got word it went through fine! You sometimes have to keep trying.

So that's 2 down, 50 to go. Phew.

And that's after we had to return a dead Christmas tree today. After we'd decorated it. Stripped it, tied on the vehicle (in the rain) and drove it back. I figured out why it was dead when I saw the remains of the "fresh cuts" the guy had been doing. He was cutting alright, but about half an inch. Inexperience is going to mean a lot of dead trees this year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Joining the Revolution, Going Nuts With a Challenge

Today I took the plunge, and put my first story up for sale on Smashwords- Froggy Went A Courting:
At a mere 99 cents!

This is where I've really joined the publishing revolution. Do it yourself? Heavens to Murgatroyd!

And the reason is a group of writers who have been preaching for some time that writers have choice, that all those countless hours we spend toiling away might actually be put to use, by putting up our good work so that readers can find it and even compensate us with a few pennies.

People like Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, with their conversation in Be the Monkey.

And Dean Wesley Smith, with his trilogy of terror:
New World of Publishing
Think Like A Publisher
Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing

And many others. Okay guys, some of us have been paying attention. And we've changed our strategies...

A year ago, I was still looking for a traditional big publishing house, likely in New York, to publish my first mystery novel, A Memory of Grief. I'd spent years writing good queries, researching which agents to send to, and did everything properly. Had some interest from some pros, had an agent for 2.5 years, but still no sale. Years of wasted time.

Then along came a small outfit, a startup publisher, and they asked me if I wanted to take a chance and publish with them. After weighing the pros and cons, I did, and this last Summer, Briona Glen Publishing released my first book in print (and as an ebook).

I was over the moon, but didn't stop there. I finished the edits to book 2 of the series, A Fall From Grace, and now that's going to be out very soon! Two good books published six months apart.
HA-- try that with a big NY house-- if your name isn't Stephen King!

Hey, pretty good, but why stop there? I'd published over 20 short stories, some really good ones, but once they appear, they dissolve after a short time and don't get seen. But the guys mentioned above have been saying-- get that stuff up, folks! Your backlist is a goldmine!

I hear ya! And so I'll put stories up for sale, as singles and collections. They won't be hiding anymore, they'll be read.

In fact, I've been so inspired, I decided to go absolutely nuts. It's because of these guys, I swear!

Dean Wesley Smith was trying to write 100 stories in a year, while also doing his books. Life got in the way, so he couldn't finish. But he proved the method, that working writers can produce a lot if they get over this notion they HAVE to write slowly, and only put out a book (or two) a year.

So I'm picking up that torch and running. I want to be a full-time fiction writer, so here's what I'm going to attempt for the coming year, while I'm still keeping my day job.

The 2012 Challenge

First, the Book of the Month Challenge- I want to put out books (ebooks first, and we'll see about print) to the tune of one new book for every month of the New Year. I can't write good novels that fast, so a few will be novels, and the rest will be story collections. Still, it's 12 books.

Which leads us to Part II of the Challenge.

Second, I'll have a story put up for every week of the New Year-- 52 stories by the end of next year. I've got just 1 so far. Long way to go.

So there you have it-- 12 books, in addition to my two novels, and 52 stories-- an insane schedule.
Since I have only limited time, it's going to mean full-out crazy.

Too much? Maybe. But I'm fired up with writing religion, and a desire to play in the Big Leagues. You can blame it on those guys who've been egging us on to do stuff like this. By way of thanks, I'll be buying their books to support them, even if I'm cursing their names by the end of next year!

So check back to see how I'm doing.
Smashwords and Amazon allow you to sample the work before you buy, so check out the writing.
And wish me luck-- I'm gonna need it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Contest Winner, Writing Fast

Congratulations to Michelle Grayce, who won a copy of A Memory of Grief from the contest at Shellyrae's Book'dOut. Hope she enjoys a good mystery novel.

Many sites host contests where you can win free books, so treat yourself for Christmas!

I've always been a believer in the slow writing process, with lengthy, painstaking revisions and editing.

Yet Dean Wesley Smith and others have said that we should write fast, to access the creative side of the brain. Dean says that's the best writing stuff, and that we shouldn't bother with a lot of rewriting-- it takes too much of the good stuff out, as it's the other side of the brain at work then.

Other opinions, like Zoe Winters and others are all for word flow.

I'm rethinking my process. How about you? What's your preferred style? I know a few people who try NaNoWriMo and find some value in it. So is faster better?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Real Writer to Check Out

Terrific article today by writer Pete Morin and his decision to publish the way he did. Go ahead and read it, commentary to follow:

I was there when Pete made his pitch, and Christine said "send it!" He was gobsmacked, while I was envious-- damn, a power agent-- he was on his way, and would have a book with a traditional big New York house.

Fast forward to two years later.
Nope, he had a good book with a dedicated agent, and still the Powers That Be in NY wouldn't publish it.
Because they wouldn't know how to market it. They freely admit they know nothing about the business of bookselling, how to sell a good book.

They want the equivalent of fast food- greasy, cheap, crappy burgers and mashed chicken bits, all tasteless, with tacked-on flavorings, all the same, to be sold at thousands of outlets for the masses.

Nothing good, nothing original, just the same endless crap shovelled over and over. Because there are people who buy this junk food-- it's easy, and the pub houses make money from it, without having to do much of anything. The A-B-C formulaic "Best-Sellers" are the bread-and-butter of the pub houses and bookstores, and they fill their shelves with this stuff.

Problem is, if you're doing the same old formula book after book, with nothing new, you're not much of a writer, you're more a typist (thank you, Truman Capote for that line). A real writer is an artist in the medium, and that requires us to take chances, to push the envelope-- we need to irritate, to outrage, to scandalize, to disturb. To write something memorable, not something exactly the same as the last six books.

But that kind of writing won't get past the gatekeepers. A few years ago, this was cause for depression-- there was no other viable path to reach a number of readers. Consigned to the margins, the best one could hope for was a posthumous fame.

But now there are options, and kudos to Pete for taking control of his situation. He's dead on the money-- we no longer have to wait for someone to give us "legitimacy,"-- that's what the readers do, when they buy, and like it. We make our own path, get our readers without the support of chain stores and paid-for reviews and marketing campaigns-- we do it all ourselves.

To those who cling to the old NY aristocracy, even as it collapses around them, we say that we'll be writing and selling and growing our fan base, while thousands of wannabes sit nervously by their mailboxes, waiting years for the NY Pub gods to pluck them from obscurity and propel them instantly to fame and fortune. Yeah, and I want to win the lottery. But guys like Pete and I aren't going to sit and wait for someone to find us, we're going to find readers by cranking out books and stories and selling them.

I read Pete's stories on Smashwords-- they're really good-- and I bought his book-- if it's as good as the stories, I'm in for a treat. This is the kind of writer I support-- a real one. I never go into a chain store and buy the lastest ghostwritten piece of crap by the machine that's always got a book on the special list.
He's even got a story for free:

And pennies for this collection:

And his book (a bargain), the concept which snagged a top agent in seconds:

Talk on Character Development

Hope you all survived the Thanksgiving Feed-a-Thon.

Now-- on to Christmas!

Omni Mystery News has me featured today, talking about character development in my writing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sites and Help for Writers

Found this from Twitter, so there's some justification for signing up for that limited communication...


And from that blog, a list of helpful tips from the master:

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules of writing:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving- and New Interview

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Each day I show my appreciation for the good things in my life by listing five things I'm grateful for. Nice to be reminded of how good we have it.
Pass some of that goodness on to others, that they might have it a little better.

Today Maya's Brazilian Book Worm blogger site has me featured with a nice interview. Good way to celebrate, while thinking of turkey. Wait a minute, that didn't come out well...

Anyway, have a good read, and a nice holiday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Said Better by Others, and at Length

Awesome pieces on publisher contracts, and why we should have choice:

The new World of Publishing

And get this- despite our being in a recession, and "the death of bookstores," e-books are evil, blah, blah, the damn big publisher multinationals are making bigger profits- by screwing the writers!
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Grrr. Need a mental sorbet to cleanse the palate. How about a writer who funded a bookstore?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crime Bake II

Here's a more detailed report on the 2011 Crime Bake mystery conference, held in Dedham on Nov. 11-13th. This is a fun event for serious fans of mystery fiction, and you get to rub elbows with some of the top names in the field. And lesser ones, as it seems everyone has a book to hawk. Hey, I was no exception, exhibiting "A Memory of Grief" and postcards showing the cover of "A Fall From Grace." The response from folks showed that they loved the covers.

There are also agents and publishers in attendance, so it's no suprise that someone looking to pitch a novel shows up. There are sessions where you can sign up to pitch your concept to one of the agents attending. I did that in 2009, back when I was going the traditional publishing route. Now I'm following a different path, and am glad I did.

Understand, the hope for a big New York publishing house to pick up your book is very alluring. I talked to a few people there for whom this lottery had paid off, and they were doing well. Many others were still waiting for their big break. I could still be waiting, but instead I'm published and selling books, and have creative control over covers, pricing, and content, something you won't likely get with the traditional route. Once you sign, they make all the decisions, even if you hate what they do.

For example, they'll likely price your ebook too high, so you won't sell as many as you would if they had a reasonable price. Another example is covers. The Guest of Honor, best-seller Barry Eisler, told his famous tale of how the publisher had stuck one of his covers with a blank, bland, green garage door, despite his vehement protests. Would you read a book that had nothing but a garage door on the cover? Well, I'm sure it was cheap. Cost them heavily in the long run, though, as it's one of the reasons Barry left those idiots behind.

Having Barry as the guest was astonishing, for he is one of those leading the revolution against the traditional model of publishing. He famously turned down a half-million dollar contract, said he was self-publishing, then found a better way, as someone was smart enough to figure out a way to get his books to readers while making a profit for both the distributor and the author. What a concept, huh?

But as the conference is heavily tilted toward the print world, it was amazing to have an ebook poster child give a talk on the different options. You could see agents in the audience wincing, as they see more of their business slipping away. Many more authors are turning to other options, meaning they have less need of an agent to try and sell the work to one of the Big Six publishers remaining.

Glad to report that Barry is as engaging, informative, and downright nice as his postings have led me to believe. Am looking forward to reading my signed copy of "The Detachment."

Met many other authors as well. Finally got to talk to Gerry Boyle, a Maine writer whose works I discovered back in the 90's. Picked up a copy of his "Port City Black and White." Chatted with Toni Kelner again, and her husband Stephen, a nice guy whose book "Motivate Your Writing" is also on my new to-be-read pile.

Met a number of folks represented by the terrific, hard-working agent, Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. Her gang loves her, and they're a lot of fun. I hung out with them, as I try to find the group having the best time, and they were it. Check out this new crop of writers:
Pete Morin- Diary of a Small Fish
Liz Lipperman- Liver Let Die
Kari Lee Townsend- Tempest in the Tea Leaves
Barbie Jo Mahoney
Lindsay Downs
Danielle Labue Bronson

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Giveaway Contest and Guest Post

Giveaway contest starting today at Book'd Out!

Enter for a chance to win an ebook of "A Memory of Grief."

Also with a guest post by me-- just a few thoughts of my take on writing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great Review!

My novel "A Memory of Grief" got a great review today at Book'd Out.

Here's an excerpt:
"A Memory of Grief" is an exciting and strong series debut by Dale Phillips, whose writing experience shows in his well crafted prose. I enjoyed being introduced to Zack and look forward to A Fall Of Grace due out in the next few weeks."

Check out the site-- we'll be having a contest for a free version of the book.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crime Bake I

Phew-- long weekend, attending the big mystery conference, Crime Bake. It was a wicked pissah, as we say up here. Too little sleep, lots of running around.

250 people, of whom about 200 or more are writers. And yet, it's not a spirit of competition, but of cooperation and camradery. Sure, one goes to promote one's own work, but there's also finding out about new books and writers. I'll have a lot of works from new writers to share.

Thanks to my publishers, Briona Glen, for providing me with promotional postcards featuring the cover of my soon-to-be released book 2 of the Zack Taylor series, "A Fall From Grace."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lots of News

So much happening in writing this month!
1. Just heard that my poem "The Sorcerer and the Maid" was accepted by Silver Blade magazine, and will appear in the upcoming issue, #12.

2. My mystery novel "A Memory of Grief" is being reviewed by Shelleyrae at Book'd Out next week, at:

3. "A Memory of Grief" is also now available in libraries in the Merrimack Valley! Thanks to the Tyngsboro Library, where our Writing Group is hosted.

4. The Crime Bake Mystery convention is this weekend!

5. My first official book club talk is next Monday.

6. "A Fall From Grace," the second book in the Zack Taylor mystery series, and follow-up to "A Memory of Grief," is being released before the end of the month!

Not to mention writing more novels and stories, and looking for a way to create a website storefront to sell the writing. I need a personal assistant, a publicist, and a development team!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone.
If you're not sure of what I'm talking about, it's a piece of history-- and made wonderfully relevant in the movie (and graphic novel) V for Vendetta.

In bookstore news, this piece comes from Salon:

And writer and writing instructor Holly Lisle had one of her students land a work on the New York Times Bestseller list:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Bookstore Royalty!

Huzzah! Got my first check from a bookstore-- for their five copies of "A Memory of Grief."
The place is Nonesuch Books, in South Portland, Maine, a very nice little shop with a lot of great writing for sale. Stop by next time you're up that way.

This is another milestone I've dreamt about and worked for for many years, getting a published book into bookstores where people can walk in and buy it. Am very pleased to have achieved another goal.

And yes, we finally got our power back, after being without from Sat night to late Wed. afternoon. The ordeal is over. Now back to more writing and publishing.

Apocalypse Now

4 Days without power, so far, and no end in sight. Those responsible for restoring basic services have no plan for a single unseasonal storm. With the weather patterns becoming more unbalanced, what's going to happen with more of these freak storms? It's the 21st century, and we're living in the Third World.

Apart from the hundreds of dollars in food losses, we have need of power in our home for medical reasons. So it's been a tough time.

Abandoned buildings are ablaze with abundant power, but homes don't have it. Pretty whacked-out system, if it's this fragile. Our civilization hangs by a thread, and this one thing shows how vulnerable we are.

Welcome to the future, folks. Better teach your kids how to run a generator and live by lantern-light.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Manuscript Away

It's been a busy time. Had to finish the manuscript and send off the follow-up novel "A Fall From Grace." The Zack Taylor series continues-- which is good, because a number of people have read the first, and want the second.

So now it's in the hands of the line editor and the publisher for final formatting and submission before e-publishing and printing. It's got a kick-ass cover, and a recommendation from NY Times best-selling author Debbi Mack. So far, everyone who's read it and reported says it's good, so I'm going to believe them.

Should be out in a matter of weeks. For those who need to catch up, the first book in the series, "A Memory of Grief" is available as well-- Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (in all e-book formats).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Site For E-Publishers, Article, Muse Thanks

Okay, Twitter is good for something. From a post this morning (wicked early!) found a cool new site:

And there was a link to this article on how the big publishers are getting blown away as the game changes:

In other news, I'm especially grateful to the Muse, who has been generous this last week. After writing a whole new story last week, I turned to another one that had only a title and a germ of an idea, but nowhere to go. I had a scene and the characters, but didn't know what the story was going to be. While turning my thoughts to it, suddenly the clouds broke apart, and the nut of the story stood out in shining glory. So last night tackled it afresh, and am on the way to another good'un.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Featured in the Spotlight

Got some great promo today, my novel and I are featured in today's online Chelmsford Patch, a site devoted to local happenings. Kudos to them for helping a writer get the word out to the community.

Your community may have a Patch, so if you have a book or other writing to promote, they would likely be willing to help you out. Free promo doesn't hurt.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Real Advice

Mystery writer and NY Times best-seller Debbi Mack has posted a blog titled "You're an Idiot," featuring a link to an article that applies to most writers, not just the screenwriters as mentioned in the original article.

This is serious advice, because a lot of people calling themselves writers these days simply cannot handle criticism, or something less than someone gushing about their work. If you want to play on this playground, it's rough stuff, and your ego is gonna get banged up and bruised. A lot.

We get that even in our local writer's group. Some people have come in and complained that we were harsh, because we were honest. We laugh and tell them that if they think we're harsh, wait until they submit to an editor! I swear, some folks are mortally offended if everyone doesn't love their work. Jeez, folks, there are people who don't like Shakespeare!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Story, New Strategy

Whew! Just finished a big task. Earlier this week, I started a new story, "Ruination Beach," an apocalyptic tale.

I had no idea what to write, only the title. With that in mind, however, I did envision darkness, and so it proved true.

And so 'tis finished. Almost 5000 words, and a corker of a dark tale. Am amazed at how well it came out, once I buckled down to work. It's been months since I've written a new story.

In the past, I'd have fired up Ralan's and Duotrope and found a good market to submit to. It would be on its way already. But I have a new strategy.

I'm collecting groups of themed stories, putting them up for sale as mini-books. Like the very talented Katherine Tomlinson.

So instead of waiting many months to read this story, you should be able to see it fairly soon. Along with a number of other ones, some previously published, and some brand-new. Just a lot of technical issue to solve, lots of extra formatting to do.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lucky to be Working so Hard

I feel very lucky being a writer in today's world. My novel is published, I've got over 20 stories published, some poetry out, and I'm branching out as a writer at the start of a revolution (may you live in interesting times). It's exciting and scary, and a lot of work. I define myself as being a writer.

Another person I know is roughly my age, and in a career roadblock. He hasn't got far with his side business, and is feeling discouraged. How does one manage to keep pushing forward with no return? When does one decide "enough!"

Here's a post from writer Holly Lisle, who has spent years and thousands of hours helping others to learn to write. She's decided that her own writing is what gives her joy, and that she should focus on that to the exclusion of continued draining her creative juices to other paths. So she's going to cut back the 70-hour weeks and try to live a saner life. Applause here-- I don't know how she did so much for so long. Read some of what she's done, and you'll shame yourself for being a slacker.

Most days, I don't feel like I'm doing enough to further my writing. But I keep chipping away at it.

And here's some further commentary about Barry Eisler's choice to make new publishing choices.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Other Voices

Quite a few folks are blogging about the state of the writing world and ebooks. One powerful voice has been Joe Konrath, who has been relentless in telling writers they control their publishing destiny.

He now says he's taking a break from the battle, and is letting other voices carry the day. He got so many responses, he's thinking they should be rounded up in a book and sold. Great idea!

Another influential voice is Chuck Wendig, who has a great comment on the war between traditional piblishing and ebooks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tough All Over?

Are things not going well in the world economy? As evidence, my ebook on "How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills" is now also selling in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. I'm kind of gobsmacked. I knew our economy was in the tank, but most of the English-speaking countries? Are things that tough all over?

Well, if you know anyone who will be looking for a job in the coming year, this book will help them, as most people need assistance in learning how to interview: what to say, and what not to say. Remember that there may be hundreds of applicants for each good job, and one mistake can cost you a desired position.

Maybe it's time to arrange translation versions!


In other news, this comes into the "Great Minds Think Alike" category. My last post was on the retiring journalist Andy Rooney, and NY Times Best-Seller Debbi Mack also did a piece in memory of his work.

She puts in all the good links, so read hers. Andy, we'll miss ya, you old curmudgeon!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Farewell Andy Rooney

Tonight we saw the swan song of another legend of broadcasting from back in the age of dinosaurs, as a 92-year-old Andy Rooney gave his sendoff.

I liked him most of the time, even though some found him a bit whiny for their taste. It was because he had standards of decency of human behavior and culture, and saw much to irk him these last 50 years or so.

So my wife thinks I should take over his job. As she says, I'm a grumpy old man who complains a lot, so why shouldn't I get paid well for it?

Friday, September 30, 2011

New Poem Out Today

Howdy all-- Happy Autumn.

In honor of the season, my poem "Leaf Peepers" is out today at Every Day Poets:

Already got a great comment from another New Englander who recognized a truth in the words.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Dream Come True

Seven years ago, I stood in the Alumni building at the University of Maine at Orono, where I got my college degree, and saw a few shelves of books. They were volumes written by U Maine alumni, stored there in the Allain library collection.

I vowed that someday I'd have a book there, a volume of my own, to join the others.

And this little writer worked his butt off to make it happen. Wrote a few books, and a lot of stories. Hired and fired an agent. Queried other agents and publishing houses, and couldn't get the time of day from the gatekeepers.

And then the revolution happened. Print costs plunged, and ebooks made distribution more democratic. So new players joined the game. And I contracted with one of them to publish my first mystery, "A Memory of Grief."

It's now out, and as of today, my book is on that bookshelf at the University of Maine, where I vowed it would be.

It's really happened. My book on that shelf.

Damn, that's a fine thing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Just attended a wedding today for an old friend. Haven't been to any for awhile-- with our crowd of mostly older folks, weddings are rare. But they beat the other event you wear your suit for and see all the gang-- well, all the gang except one.
(Cue Dropkick Murphys...)

People are so happy and full of hope at weddings, it's great to see. There's food, drink, music, dancing, and folks really enjoying themselves. I love them, because I love to see good people happy.

So I was prompted to write a story about a Maine wedding, but it won't be this one I'm writing about. It'll be an entirely different wedding, a fictional one, where things are awful. Because writing happy stories about happy people don't generally get read as much...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Featured on Another Book Blog

Another site featuring my new novel "A Memory of Grief."
Spalding's Racket, by Nick Spalding

Erin's Poem

My daughter Erin's poem, "Night," is up at Literature4kids:

Proud papa! This is better than anything I write! And her second publication.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk Like A Pirate Day

ARRRHHH!!! It's Talk Like a Pirate day!
Heave away, me hearties...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bookstore Woes

Got news of the closing of another bookstore. Wasn't surprised, as I predicted this one. They had too much overhead to get enough return.

Bookstores are facing tough times, with a dwindling customer base, who are going elsewhere, or going digital.

So they need to get smart, and leverage the customer experience, to make it worthwhile to physically travel to the bookstore.

A smart thing for them to do is to get authors in to the store. Many people love to talk to writers, ask them questions, and just interact with them. Then they tell their friends:
“Hey, I was at the bookstore, and got to talk to Writer X. Let me tell you about it.”
You know, free advertising.

However, some bookstores are reluctant to do this, despite the fact it can be done at no cost to them, and helps increase their business.

I offered to do this for a bookstore, and was told that they wanted to wait and see how the book sold first.

What a completely ass-backward way of doing business. Instead of helping to sell the book, they want someone else to do all the work, and then come help them! “Come back when you're famous, kid.” Sure-- oh, wait, I'll be too busy going to the places that helped me get there. You'll probably be out of business by then, anyway. You're distancing the provider of your product from the end consumer, instead of being the nexus where they should meet.

Folks who turn away the chance to do better business at no cost or effort to themselves really should stop complaining and making excuses for their business going downhill. In this new world, you better get smarter fast, or you'll be gone.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Old and New

A few tidbits today. First, the alumni website of my college has posted up my book cover image and a link to my press kit! Way wicked cool!

And if you want to know how long I've been submitting stuff, it's been 40 years-- for proof, check out these links to Boys' Life magazine, who published a couple of jokes I sent in.

From Aug 1971-- 40 years ago

From Nov 1974

For other news, Joe Konrath posts about how he's been talking about the fall of traditional legacy publishing, and how some people are blaming him for it. Folks, he's just the messenger.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today's Pick

The Kindle Reader today picked "A Memory of Grief" as Today's Frugal Kindle Book Pick:
Thank you, Jan!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stand, Work Together

In the late 1700's, a collection of people from different regions and economic interests came together to form a new government. They bet everything on the fact that they could create a coalition to govern that would be of greater benefit to their people than the current powers in charge, the British Empire.

And so the plan for the United States of America came to be. Different regions, all acting for a common good, for the benefit of all. And in defiance of a crushing monolith of power who ruled with military force.

Each person in the new design bet his life that together they could change the balance of power. And they managed to do it, miraculously, tenaciously.

After they had been victorious in the military struggle, the hard work of governance still needed to be done. They set up a system where there was no longer a single person or small group that would rule by whim, but one where power would be split and require the obediance of all to set laws. A system where no person was above the law.

Less than a hundred years after this successful coalition became our United States, factional interests drove a wedge between different groups. One group decided that their own interests were more important than the coalition, and so tried to form a separate government, one that would have forever destroyed the unity of what had been built.

And so our people went to war with each other, slaughtering ourselves by the thousands, tearing us apart, in the name of protecting our union.

Somehow, we survived that. The coalition, the union, survived that. We remained as a unified nation, struggling through our differences, believing that together we were stronger than if we were apart. And it worked again.

Now we are in the twenty-first century of our modern era, and the union is struggling to remain a coalition once more. We are at war with the world, and with each other. Many are angry, afraid, bitter, and in despair. Some are turning their rage against people of other lands, some against their neighbors.

Instead of building schools, hospitals, communities, and better lives, we are creating more armies, weapons, prisons, and separate, competing power centers.

Even though our expanding, perpetual culture of war and military empire is bankrupting us, we continue to think that more bullets and bombs is our way to safety.

We seem to have no leaders, no common cause. Those in charge ignore our laws, and blatantly act as criminals. Squabbling demagogues and groups compete for what power and privilege they can seize, as the lot of the common citizen worsens by the day.

Our house is on fire, and we stand in place in the flames, shaking our fist in impotent rage and arguing with each other about whose fault it is. If we continue down this path, we shall all be found lifeless in the ashes.

Let us remember what made this nation great. Laws were made to keep order and define the codes by which we live. Let us not abandon them so easily. Let us demand that our leaders be accountable to those laws-- all of them, all the time.

Let us do common work for the common good. Let us remember our past, and work together to build a better future.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week in Writing

Great week in writing here at the Word Salon.

My very first royalty check from Briona Glen Publishers, for "A Memory of Grief." Small but extremely symbolic payment for royalties, something that would have taken years more with a big publisher. Very impressive, as the book has not been out for very long. Boo-ya!

Finished my edits to the Zack Taylor follow-up book, "A Fall From Grace." Off to the editor at my publisher for comments and edits. Have got a number of readers of Book 1 asking when they can have this sequel in hand to read. So I guess I'm doing something right!

Payment for my latest story publication, "The Mousetrap," in the online mystery mag Over My Dead Body.

Libraries are being very receptive to news of the book, some purchasing copies for their patrons.

However, once you're on the Writing Express Train, it doesn't stop. So have to write something else this weekend. No time for a break! More content!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Links, Commentary, Writing Rules

Great commentary by Cory Doctorow on value, books, writing, publishing:

10 Rules for writing, by Janet Fitch:

Elmore Leonard's rules on writing:

And today, two people who said they don't read mysteries, said how much they'd liked "A Memory of Grief," and wanted the sequel. One person described all the things he'd liked, scene by scene. Very cool.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Latest Story Out

My latest story "The Mousetrap" is out at Over My Dead Body:

And you can read it for free!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Super Summer Sale!

For a limited time, my publisher, Briona Glen, is offering the ebook version (in all formats) of "A Memory of Grief" for only $2.99.

Go to the following link, and when buying, enter the Coupon Code SE86U:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another great response by Joe Konrath, to a rather silly article in the Guardian, Are Books Dead, and Can Authors Survive?

Well, to answer the twit who wrote the Guardian article, NO to the first, and YES to the second. Just not in the way of the past. Yeah, it's going to change, but article-typists like this bozo think change means death.

Ya gotta love it when these nitwits opine with unsupported claims about the future of working writers-- without quoting any working writers...

According to them, the changes in many industries means artists can't make a living anymore. Wow. In the world of dumbass claims, that's gotta rank right up there.

Konrath slices and dices the article in his usual style, exploding the fallacies. Good reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Editing, Writing Blog Notes

Have spent this hurricane-y day doing deep editing on "A Fall From Grace," the follow-up book to my mystery novel "A Memory of Grief."

Writing well is hard work. No matter how good my drafts are, there are many ways in which the final can get better. My critiquers are superb, though. Every time I took a shortcut or didn't do the best on the draft, they noted it on the manuscript. So I have to go through line by line and make everything shine.

Tough work. But worth it, when I get comments like the one from last night. I'd sold the novel to the guy at around 4 yesterday afternoon, and he'd finished it before midnight-- and said it was a great read.


In other news, the battle still rages between ebooks and print lovers:
Joe Konrath has a couple of postings with some cogent comments:

And from NY Times ebook best-seller Debbi Mack:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Distribution News

So yesterday someone was trying to buy the ebook version of my novel on Smashwords, but a search on both my name and the title yielded no results. When it had worked wonderfully up until then. So I tried, and still no results.

Finally figured out that their stupid "Adult Content" filter keeps getting flipped to on, which means you get nothing but kids books, and it won't show books that are for sale on the site.

Aw, fer cry-yi, folks, at least put the thing where this crap won't happen! I almost lost a sale because of this. What a PITA. Your site is less than useless with this filter on.

And I got great advice from the NY Times Best-Seller writer Debbi Mack, who said that I should get my book up on the Kindle store and through PubIt. I checked, and it was available on the Nook store, but not on Kindle, although you can get a Kindle version by going through Smashwords (and all other formats as well).

So I sent word to my publisher, and Director of Operations Dana Blythe
leaped to the rescue. As of today, the Kindle store now sports "A Memory of Grief ."

So Dana is The Heroine of the Day! And my Best Friend for the day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Now In Bookstores

Yesterday I was in one of my favorite places, Portland, Maine, and approached my first bookstores, with new novel in hand, new press kit, an invoice agreement, snappy business cards, and a carload of hope, to see if they'd be willing to stock copies of my new mystery, "A Memory of Grief."

Yowza! When they heard I'd been a resident of that lovely city, and the novel itself was set there, they went for copies like Summer tourists go for lobster!

The first place was Nonesuch Books, and turned out to be such a charming, cozy place, I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon there reading. You instantly feel welcome and comfortable-- maybe they've figured out some way to permeate the place with endorphins.

Then we went downtown, to the heart of Portland, to Longfellow Books. This is a real urban bookstore, full of funky character. You walk in and instantly feel smarter, knowing there's some solid reading material surrounding you, and books that are old friends. Once again, I'd have stayed and browsed and bought, if I hadn't had a prior engagement.

Am happy to work with some great indie bookstores, since they've got nice people in charge, and they're terrific places. I'll return to both, just because they're very cool places to be.

There are lots of reasons for doing your shopping at an indie bookstore, rather than at a chain or online-- not just to get my book, but for all the other ones they stock. They support whole communities, and the money you spend stays local, to help the area, rather than go off to some foreign corporate office. There are connections to be made-- people who smile and can recommend good reading for you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simon Wood and the Rocky Road

Great guest post by Simon Wood on the influential blog of JA Konrath today.

Simon had quite the rocky road of publishing, depsite going the old legacy traditional method. Publishers falling apart, insufficient print runs, all kinds of issues that kept him from breaking out for years.

Ebooks have given him a second chance, and he now seems to be coming into his own. I'm going to be checking out his works.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Words of Inspiration

Today I'm posting someone else's words, not because I'm lazy, but because she says it better.
This is from Holly Lisle, one of the hardest-working writers today, and one pushing for a higher quality of writing and for writers to feel better about writing.

Read this, and you'll know why I love her.

"The economy sucks. We know this.

But did you know that if you're a writer---even if you're
a kid sitting at home writing your first novel by
hand in a three-ring binder---you are a positive
force for good?

Today? Right now?

That the FACT that you are a working writer, even if
you've never sold anything, matters to people you will
never meet?

You need to know.

You matter BECAUSE you're a writer.

In the new article on my site, I demonstrate what
writers from beginner to successful indie and commercially
published writers do to create jobs, feed people, and
undo some of the damage being done in other parts of
the economy."

Money From Nothing: The Economic Value of Writing
Original Fiction

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It's been an inspiring week, which is much needed to keep me going through the mountain of hard work and issues of life.

Being able to finally sign copies of my novel for people, and include a personal message is great. It provides a real connection with a person, rather than just some anonymous reader out in the void.

Having sold another story recently is a good validation of the work I continue to do, that editors know the work will be enjoyed by their readers.

Another one of my poems is being considered for publication after a rework. It's a good piece that needed a little more to make it much stronger.

A friend asked me for something I'd written in hopes it would help her friend get through a tough time. If my words could do that, I'm humbled and grateful. Even having her ask for such a thing is a compliment.

And another person found inspiration in some of the links I posted, about perseverance in the face of incredible odds.

All told, it's a good feeling.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Top Writer Who Got Continually Rejected

Another best-seller turned down 60 times by "professionals" who know the business and what sells and doesn't:

And yet, for validation in the old traditional legacy model of publishing, some self-serving hacks continue to spout that writers are supposed to kowtow to these moronic gatekeepers, of whom it looks like about 1 in 61 know a good product when it bites them in the ass.

At my last Crime Bake mystery convention, author after author held up one of their best-sellers and told how many times the book had been rejected before getting to someone who recognized talent, whereupon it shot to the top of the charts. And yeah, many were in the 60's range of rejections.

Roughly 1 in 60 "pros" who can spot a good writer and a good product. In any other business, that would be abject failure.

Joe Konrath is right. Write something good, get it edited properly, self-publish if you have to, and do a ton of promoting. If it's good, the readers will come.

We don't need these bozos anymore to act as the gatekeepers of talent. Especially since so damn few of them can recognize it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another sale- and books are in!

Yahoo! First, I'm gazing fondly on a box-- chock full of my novel "A Memory of Grief." Wow. It's real. Lots of beautiful copies that I can sign for people.

So you say, "Well, how could this night get any better?"

With a story sale, that's how. Just sold "The Mousetrap" to Over My Dead Body.
Will post the pub date when I hear.

Anybody got some champagne?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kindlegraph, New Signing Technology, Max Barry

One of the things lost with digital ebooks is not being able to sign a copy for readers. Losing that personal connection is no fun.

We figured out one way around that. Give readers a CD with the PDF on it, and sign the label on the CD.

Now, as part of the revolution, new technology has being developed to allow for a form of signing. Check out Kindlegraph, where an author can now attach a digital signature to a file, so it's a form of signing your ebook! Cool, or what! Big help with promotion and connections.

It's a great time to be a writer!

Just heard about a new book due out tomorrow. Machine Man, by Max Barry, and it looks like a good one. I've never read this author before now, but will be checking this out.

It's also interesting because Barry apparently crowdsourced the editing of the novel, putting it out online for comment a couple of years ago. This drastically edited version is said to be superb.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Featured in the Spotlight

This week I'm the featured author on the blog of Ken Hoss, author of Storm Rising, a tense thriller featuring character Kelli Storm.

It's a great place to showcase new talent. Thanks, Ken, for helping to spread the word!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In the Featured Spotlight Tomorrow

In the continued journey to get the word out about my novel "A Memory of Grief," tomorrow I'll be featured on the Indie Spotlight of writer Ken Hoss.

Ken is the author of Storm Rising, and every Sunday he features another writer on his blog for you to check out. This Sunday, I'm the one featured.

One of the best things about the writing community is how so many writers help each other out, and help readers to discover new authors.

I just started a book by China Mieville, King Rat (no, not the James Clavell novel). Mieville looked like an interesting writer, so I'm checking him out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trad Pub vs Self-Pub, Lotsa Links

And the big debate continues about traditional legacy publishing versus the new way.
Good post from Joe Konrath, on the side of authors:

But some silly people seem to think that traditional legacy publishing is the only legitimate way to be a writer, that nothing but good flows from it, and nothing but bad comes of self-publishing:

And another commentary:

Some of the commenters on these postings are priceless. One author who left traditional legacy publishing had suffered at one point when the "know what they're doing professionals" put a picture of a dog on the cover of one of her books.
She asked, “Why is there a dog on the cover? There’s no dog in the book!”
Her answer from the pros: “People like dogs.”

And there are still morons who insist that authors must submit to idiots like these!

Tim Greaton had a great comment:
"As a guy who spent four years at the feet of the gatekeepers with two well-known NY agents, a legacy publisher offer that fell through when a board disagreed with an editor, and a movie supposedly in the stable for two years before it dissipated, I can tell you I much prefer the alternate track. One agent’s exact words to me were “I hope you’re loyal, because I’m going to make you rich.” Well, I was…and I’m not. I like my chances better in the new world!"

--Me, too, Tim. I spent years going through the damn gatekeepers, remaining unpublished and unread, while seeing mountains of crap get professionally published and sold the traditional way. Now I have a quality novel out, and am getting 5-star reviews from professionals, and comments from readers on how much they liked it and how good it is. I like this world better.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another Pro Writer Goes Indie

Another long-time pro writer, Holly Lisle, has decided to chuck the world of traditional legacy publishing and go independent.

She's one of the hardest-working writers I know of, constantly creating new material, despite health issues. And she runs a writing program as well. She's the kind of person that makes you feel like a slacker.

And up until now, she's toiled in the world of legacy publishing, and never got her due. So she details her decision and why she's striking out on her own. She has some justifiably harsh words for the traditional publishing world.

Now understand, this is a person who scratched out a living doing a thing a certain way. Now she's completely changing the model. She has joined the revolution.

We salute her and hope for her success. She's earned it for many years.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Benefit to Help a Writer, Spineless Pols

Joe Konrath, the self-publishing powerhouse, once again shows his mensch creds. His recent blog posting is a notice about the plight of writer L.A. Banks, who has cancer and a mountain of medical bills:

Once again, it is disgusting that our country has neither the will or brainpower to enact decent healthcare legislation. The spinelessness of politicians can be seen in our current "financial crisis," all because this bunch of crooks can't agree on how to divvy up the money they steal from us, so they can waste billions for wars on the other side of the planet.

Because stupid, pointless, expensive wars are WAY more important than healthcare, safe roads, good schools, food inspection, and real safety, right?

Next election time, remember how they sold out the country-- and vote for ANY third-party candidate. Get rid of all the gutless bastards and incumbent thieves-- replace them with someone not affiliated with big-money machines.

Have you had enough yet? When will you? When the country is bankrupt and you can't feed your kids?

Some days I shouldn't watch the news.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Money From Writing- Me vs. John Locke

Who says there's no money to be made from writing? Just today I received the sum one of dollar for a poem I wrote, soon to be published. Say what you want, I got paid for writing. That's a dollar more than most people made today.

Now if I could make enough to offset the $300 brake job my car got today... Only 299 more poems to go...

At least "A Memory of Grief" is getting good reviews. And a co-worker showed me the Kindle he's taking with him on vacation-- loaded up with my novel!
His parting words-- "It better be good!"

And my publisher tells me I'll soon have copies available for signing. Yay!

Just read some of the blog of writer John Locke today. He's the first self-published author to sell a million copies on Kindle. So he's probably made more than me today. His blog was interesting, though, so I forgive him and am going to read his books.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great review!

Wow- now have a 5-star review of my novel "A Memory of Grief," courtesy of Debbi Mack, the NY Times best-seller pro mystery author. (It's also available on Amazon-- just no reviews up there yet.)

So if you were waiting to see what someone else thought of it before getting your own copy, you now know that there are two reviews that think it's good, then there's the orginal blurb from David Daniel, another pro mystery author. So you've got two professionals willing to put their name down to say "read it!"

Monday, July 25, 2011


Recently I returned from vacation, to discover a friend, a former co-worker, had passed away. He was a good man, decent, kind, and funny, and one of the sharpest business minds I've ever met. His passing is a loss to the world.

There have been two other recent untimely demises, both musicians, although in different spaces. You've likely heard of Amy Winehouse, but you may not know of Bill Morrissey, a singer-songwriter (and a writer) who could touch your heart and tickle your funnybone. Both Winehouse and Morrissey had enormous talent and made contributions to music, with devoted followers. Much of modern-day commercial music is swill, but these two performers made music a joy and an art.

Bill Morrissey chronicled the human condition with songs that were deep short stories. He also had a wicked sense of humor and could make you laugh with his recitation of character insights. He performed around New England for many years, and will be sorely missed in the coffeehouses and where folks make real music from the heart.

In the course of their lives, all three of these deceased folk battled an inner pain that they sometimes dealt with by self-destructive choices. Winehouse, especially, has been criticized and ridiculed for her lifestyle and choices. Think for a minute, though, of how much pain someone must be in to go that far down the hole. Money, success, and fame are of no use if one cannot control the inner demons. And those with no pity have likely never suffered from an addiction. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky, and pity those who are afflicted. It's hard to win against an addiction, you more often just have a lifelong truce that can break at any moment.

Most of us have some kind of pain we deal with in various ways. Some are socially acceptable methods, and some are illegal. Life's pain can get to be too much to handle, and folks will use just about any crutch to get themselves through the day.

Three lives untimely snuffed out, from three who added something to life. Damn.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Harry Potter Movie

We just got back from seeing the latest Harry Potter movie-- stunning! Loved by all of us. It's extra nice for us, as we were in London recently, and saw not only Platform 9-3/4 (actually at St. Pancras station, not King's Cross, as said in the movie), but were there in Trafalgar Square as the cast showed up for their British Premier! Gave it a little bit more oomph, not that it needed it.

Kind of spooky how perfect the cast is, looking and sounding like they should, over the course of quite a few years. Don't know if the originator feels the same, but millions of watchers and her readers do.

I admire the fact that J.K. Rowling created a world that so moves people. That says a lot, that she can touch others and make her story and characters matter. Kudos.

And her recent announcement that she will self-publish future books... did you hear that sound? That was another wall of the citadel of Old Traditional Publishing collapsing. She sold millions of books for the old way, and now will sell millions more the new way.

All this because one person sat down and poured forth a story that was within them. And millions responded. The power of the written word is amazing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moose Tracks

Call me Captain Overlook. On the day I left for vacation, Debbi Mack, the NY Times mystery best-selling author, posted a lovely complimentary note about my latest published story, "Moose Tracks."

And by the time I got back, it had slipped by without my notice. Just found it today.

It's so great when a pro writer helps out another writer, and this is to thank Debbi for her efforts. Just sorry I didn't find it sooner!

So if you haven't read Moose Tracks, click the link for it above and enjoy. If Jaws made you scared to go in the water, maybe this will make you scared to go off into the woods...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Feature

Getting further along in the catchup phase, I see that my debut novel "A Memory of Grief" was also just recently featured on Mark O'Neal's blog!

This is an indie books blog that helps promote indie authors. Am pleased to be featured on the site.

Wow-- I go away for two weeks, and get more press than ever! Keep up the good work everybody! And thank you for helping to get the word out. People have been telling me they like the novel, so if you know someone who likes mysteries, have them check it out.

Heee's Back! Timelines and Book Review

Hello again-- I'm now back, after being away for two weeks, on my first real vacation in many years. Still wiped out from the journey and activities. Still trying to catch up with email. Still trying to come to terms with life here, which is completely different.

As a writer, I'm always dealing with different timelines, planning and plotting projects and happenings. So I'm always half in the present and half in the future (with an occasional side trip into the past). Realized that while I was away, I spent the last two weeks living only in the present. It was a strange sensation, a not unpleasant one. No email, phone, or social Internet connections for two weeks. All unplugged.

Didn't think about work, or book sales/releases, or much of anything except seeing the sights and dining out. Needed that mental getaway as well as the physical one.

But now break's over, back on my head.

One fine piece of news in my absence, I find a review of my novel "A Memory of Grief" by NY Times best-selling mystery author Debbi Mack. How cool is that?

And another person posted a 4-star rating for the book on Smashwords:
"A fun summer read. Very enjoyable."

Hey, I should go away more often!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writing World Revolution Roundup

Lots of things going on in the writing world.
But then, it's usually busy during a revolution.

First up, we'd like to note the incredible generosity of Joe Konrath, one of the most successful people touting self-publishing (though he's also been successful at traditional publishing).

Not only is he one of the advance guard of the revolution, and an insightful chronicler, his piece on Scott Doornbosch shows what kind of a guy he is. After encouraging Scott to finish his book, Joe found out the guy has cancer. So Joe pushed and paid for the setup to get the book out, a published version that the guy could hold in his hands, in case time ran out. As he says in the post:
"Holding your first book in your hands is one of the true joys of being a writer."

Indeed. As a person who very recently experienced this magnificent accomplishment of holding my first published book, I can state that joy is an understatement.

Kudos to Joe for being a decent human being who helped a man and a writer push through to something grand. Best of luck to Scott for sales and most important, good health.

Another reason to read Joe's blog is the comments on the seismic shifts in publishing, such as this one, where J.K. Rowling announces going into self-publishing.

(I wonder if the dipstick who not-too-long-ago posted on how they thought the big pub world "wasn't worried about self-publishers" still feels that way.)

And yet another reason to read Joe's blog is the posting on how agents are now looking for alternative means of income, so are trying to expand their reach.

Another great discussion of agents and roles is best-selling mystery writer Debbi Mack's post.

To finish up, in case you were thinking of whether you should publish at all, read writer Keryl Raist's posting on the subject.

That should give you some reading to do over the holidays. Have a happy and safe 4th!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Well, first my daughter Erin had her first published poem yesterday:

And now my latest story "Moose Tracks" is out at An Electric Tragedy:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Here!

After a jillion years of waiting, I now have a quality print copy of my first novel, a mystery titled "A Memory of Grief," available on Amazon.

This is something I've been working for for about the last quarter-century (no exaggeration). Learning how to write a good book, writing a good book, and getting it published has been one damn long, hard road. But it's here, and it's good. I feel somewhat vindicated for all the effort I've put in. Kind of torn between weeping and cheering.

We've toasted with Asti (sparkling cider for the young-uns) and I'm just relieved it came out so well. Awesome cover, everything in the right place, and a story that's good. I've built a fine thing, and now have to get people to read it.

This is the beginning. A very good beginning, but so much work yet to do.

Thanks to you all for being an audience.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In Limbo

Hey folks. I'm still waiting for a print copy of my novel that's out.
Amazon print version
Smashwords ebook version

It's torture, after all these years, sitting in limbo for something that should be ready and on my desk before me. It's like being Tantalus, having the nourishment constantly pull away just out of my reach, while I can see and smell and almost taste it.

How very frustrating, and there are so many things put on hold while I wait for a real print copy of my first book. It makes me cranky, and I'm cranky to start with!

What's the longest concrete goal you've ever waited for, something really big in your life?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Out in print

It's here! My first novel, A Memory of Grief, is out in print, on Amazon:

I haven't seen the print version yet (ordered mine) but they say it's in stock, so we're announcing!

Still won't be real until I hold it in my fevered little hands...

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I'm featured today on Patti Roberts Book Blog:

It's a nice site that looks at new authors and digs a little deeper into why they write and the motivations and influences behind their work.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Bloomsday

Happy Bloomsday, June 16th!

What? You don't know what that is?

We celebrate James Joyce, the writer. It's become quite a day aorund the world, with drinking, readings of Joyce's works, and various oddball celebrations.

We say that anythime people want to celebrate in the name of a writer, it's a fine thng, even if it is an excuse for a party.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Deals

Such deals for you!

Tomorrow is the Amazon book launch for the print version of Debbi Mack's mystery novel LEAST WANTED. If you buy a copy on June 15th, she's offering a FREE autographed copy of her other novel, the New York Times fiction bestseller IDENTITY CRISIS. You can read the details in the launch Web site:

Be sure to bookmark the site, so you can enter the confirmation of purchase to redeem your free copy of IDENTITY CRISIS.

In addition to the 2-for-1 special, this book launch has a charitable tie-in. If it reaches a certain level on the charts, she's donating a nice percentage to good causes.

But wait! There's more!

And a free one! For a limited time, author Ken Hoss is offering his new mystery, Storm Rising:

Discover a new author!
I know I'm checking both of these out!

Now how's that for good stuff?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Getting Connected

It's official- I've become a Twit. Yes, I've been convinced to join Twitter, to use it as a tool for communication and promotion.

So does that mean I can no longer disparage it as the death of meaningful communication?

And now I've got to learn another new thing, and read all the other twit droppings, and try to post something meaningful. Going to post my first one tonight.

In other news, thank you, dear readers, for stopping by here and perusing my musings. Another blogger, the tireless mystery writer Debbi Mack nominated me for a “Not a Cookie Cutter Blog Award,” started by Ken Hoss.

Rules for the "Not a Cookie Cutter Blog Award"
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Dance around in circles and sing, “It’s a small world” while eating a chocolate cupcake.
3. Disregard #2
4. Share 5 things you do in your spare time. (Providing you have any spare time.)
5. Pass this award along to 5 deserving blog buddies.
6. Contact them and let them know

So- here we go:
1. Thank you, Debbi. But I'll get you back. I'm old and sneaky.
2. No way. I'm off bad carbs, and hate the song.
3. Excellent!
4. Write, read, spend time with family, write, and spend too much time on social media.
Katherine Tomlinson
Blake Northcott
Valerie Rushanan
I E Lester
Jennifer Pelland

6. Gotta go do that...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Story Sale

Had another quick story sale, as "Moose Tracks" became the latest story to be accepted, this one by An Electric Tragedy. Should appear in next month's issue.

Still waiting on the print version of "A Memory of Grief." Will send word when that's out.

Over 200 posts to this blog now, in the just over two years it's been up. Nice to have a book to talk about now.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The New Model

Here's part of the discussion between Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, which contains much of the philosophy of why I went with an indie publisher instead of a legacy house:

And more from Joe:

The old model of legacy publishing was that you were properly grateful to get published, and took whatever they gave you.

The new model is that the writer has control, and can get paid in a fair way for their work. I like this. It's good for writers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Latest Publication

Eric's Hysterics is run by a guy who thinks that Mondays are bad enough, so we should start it with a laugh. So today he's published my short humor piece "Writer's Diary."

It's the answer to those who think writing from home is easy and glamourous, and brings in scads of money.

Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Publishing Debate II

Recently I served as a mercenary in the war between traditional big-house publishers and "the other options". I noticed a usually good posting board was warning against a publishing route-- with my publisher, but relying on misinformation and misdirection. So I signed up and jumped in, to try and clear things up.

Ouch. What I found was a group that really didn't want to hear anything which contradicted the group opinion. It was like a Tea Party rally, where someone spouts something totally insane and untrue, while the others nod agreement. When you disagree, they challenge your discussion points, but using completely untrue statements as contrary evidence. You spend so much time countering the untruths, the real point gets lost. They keep compounding the untruths, until you realize that nothing will change, because they have a vested interest in "being right."

A few of the big laughers:
"Publishers would never let one of their books go unpromoted."
I asked the poster to go to a writer's conference and make that statement in public, to see the response. Truth is, it happens fairly frequently, and books die an inglorious death.

"Publishers aren't concerned with 'self-publishers'."
Wow. This shows that they don't know what they're talking about. Read any of the hundreds of articles of the past few years detailing how the big publishers are absolutely panicked (with good reason), and don't know how to react. After the news broke of author Barry Eisler turning down a half-million-dollar, two-book traditonal contract to 'self-publish', you don't think the big dogs spit their Scotch onto their deep-pile carpets? What happens when more of their cash cows take that route? The big houses rely on a handful of big names for their profits, and if those go, it's 'going-out-of- business' time.

So with statements like that being tossed out, another poster tried to school me with 'nobody gets a free pass here'.
Unless they agree with you, and make really dumb claims...

It turns out that a number of those pushing traditional, big-house publishing as the only path were those who had, or knew someone who had, benefitted from the lottery-win situation of those houses. I'd been saying that for those who wanted to go that route, great, but I was taking another option. Some refuted my option, and blew off the examples of independent success I'd countered with. Then they wondered why I wouldn't go into an in-depth debate, point-for point. But I noticed the person really pushing this was making the most outrageous statements, and had thousands of posts on the site. Frankly, I've got better writing to do than post a couple of thousand responses to someone who won't listen. They just want a debate- but it won't change their mind, no matter what.

You have fun with that- while you diddle around the posting boards, spreading misinformation and scoring points, I'm going to be publishing and selling stories and books.

For a view of what's going on, here's an article on how book publishers are in denial on Amazon's e-book sales:

One quote from a publisher:
"But everyone involved makes less money from the sale of an e-book."

Uh, not everyone. The creator of the actual work gets as much, if not more. They're the ones I root for in this equation. This is part of the problem- big publishing houses made tons of money, while screwing the producers of "the product". Now that writers have a better chance to make money, the big publishers have lost the publishing monopoly, and they hate it.

And two more stories from today's Boston Globe. One about a writer who tried to publish a book concerning a critical detail about the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. He tried for years, and they turned him down. The second story was about another writer whose book was turned down 165 times, over the course of 25 years, before he was finally published.

Unacceptable. So viva la revolution! I've got my first book out, and will get others out, while the traditional world keeps insisting we go through them as gatekeepers, even though their gates are broken and streams of invaders have poured through.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time Management

Best-seller Debbi Mack gave me some great advice here recently, saying the secret to success in the writing, publishing, and promoting game is time managment. She's so right.

With a full-time job and a family, my writing time is spotty and limited. For the last month I've neglected it, because I've been pushing the release of my first novel and had my very first signing, which was a group signing for the Fungi horror anthology.

So my book was released ten days ago, and I've been doing a lot to get the word out. Takes an awesome commitment, and more time and energy than I can muster some nights. And as a writer, I have to keep writing, not just rely on works already done.

So last night, disgusted with my lack of new output for weeks, I buckled down and wrote 1100 good words of Book 3 of the Zack Taylor series. Felt rather good.

And tonight, I just finished a little more than a page of a new story, as I got the killer idea on the way to work.

But, as Debbi says, you have to block out time for both writing AND promotion every day. She does it, and does damn well at it-- she's got a Best Seller! I'm in awe of what she's accomplished with her work.

And here's the funny part-- she thinks I'm a hard worker! Wow- I don't feel like I'm doing enough of all the right (and write) things. I need to focus my efforts more efficiently. Truth is, I'm pretty damn tired after a long day of work and all the other stuff that needs to get done, so some days it's hard to push through and be creative, optimistic, and efficient.

But it's what ya gotta do if you're going to make it. Seems like success is in a box at the bottom of a huge pit filled with earth and large, heavy stones. To reach the box, you have to dig it out, shovelful by painful shovelful. Most people give it up before they reach it, because it's hard, dirty work, day after day, year-in and year-out.

I can finally see the box. A lot of work yet, but I'm digging as fast as I can, while still keeping the rest of my life together.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Different Strokes

While publicizing my recently-released mystery novel, I found a posting on a site where people were dumping on my publishing company-- but none of them knew anything about it, and most had incorrect information. Some just seemed like shills for the big-house traditional pub companies, and they trashed the whole idea of going outside that world to publish. Are they that afraid of independent publishers? Good!

It's a lot of time and effort to convince others that they can't succeed. When you see that someone has posted thousands of times, you wonder if they're really writers, or just spend all their time posting about writing.

Well, I'm a writer, but I put out a brief disclaimer, trying to correct the misinformation. Then there were repostings, with one person questioning or attacking almost everything I said. They included a bunch of blatant falsehoods as well. I posted a reply, saying that different options now exist, despite what people want to believe.

I'd love to tear into the falsehoods, one by one, but as someone said, "Don't get in a mudfight, because everyone gets mud on them."

So this is me being diplomatic...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Featured in the paper!

Today's Chelmsford Independent, the local newspaper, has today published a lovely feature on an emerging new writer, who's going to be quite successful.

Yup, me.
Mwa-ha-ha-ha. Wow. Wicked cool!

The reporter got it right, quoted me accurately, and paid attention to my website. Gosh, at times in the article I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about.

All good, as it lets people know about my book. Gotta get readers, you know.

Pick up your copy today!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Novel is Released!- And Signing Event

It's out folks! The publishers worked night and day to make it happen, overcame the last-minute glitches, and as of yesterday, my first novel, "A Memory of Grief" is now publicly available an an ebook on Smashwords! Print version to follow in about a month.

Wow- the goal I've been working for for years has happened. And the new adventure has just begun.

It was really special to announce the book at our group talk/signing/reading for the Fungi anthology yesterday, at A Novel Cafe in Tewksbury. We had pro author David Daniel and editor/author Pierre Comtois, as well as a number of other authors with stories in the anthology!

Many signings resemble an afternoon at the mortuary, with two people wandering past and not buying, but this one was the opposite- quite the busily fun, gala event! Had dozens of people showing up- friends, family, co-workers and customers. We couldn't get to the reading for quite some time, because we were so busy signing copies of Fungi and my book.

Uh, how do you sign an ebook, Dale? Cleverly. We produced a CD with a PDF version, which included a coupon code for the Smashwords ebook. Then I signed the CD label (where we left space), and folks got to keep a souvenir, read the book, and still download it to their e-reader of choice.

When the buying/signing frenzy slowed (Fungi sold out!), we were able to move everyone to the spacious and lovely cafe area for a reading. Dave Daniel played emcee, introduced our string of authors, and I got to publicly read "Locust Time," my lead-off story in the Fungi anthology. Then Josh Shapiro, another Fungi contributor, did a mesmerizing reading of a Dave Daniel story from his recent "Coffin Dust" collection.

The staff at A Novel Cafe were gracious and well-pleased (and somewhat surprised) with the turnout. This is a terrific store, one everyone in the area should check out and patronize. Bookstores have it tough these days, so when you find a good one, help them out!

Meet some very nice new people, and was supported by many others. I've got a long list of people to thank, so I'll post that, with all the details, on my website, along with photos from the event.

Just want to say, it was quite a ride.

And sorry to say, folks, but it's a sure sign of that May 21st apocalypse... Just kidding. I hope...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's Coming!

My publishers, Briona Glen, told me that they got clearance on the legal issues to start publishing and promoting. So my first novel,"A Memory of Grief" should be out this week as an ebook on Smashwords. Will send the link as soon as it's available.

Can... not...wait...

And the party will be next Saturday, May 14th, at the author talk/reading for Fungi, at A Novel Cafe in Tewksbury, MA at 2 in the afternoon. Nice to have a book ready for my first author event, and it came just in time.

Now to get people down to the cafe that day, to hear some of us read from our anthology stories, and to see Dave, Pierre and I wax eloquent on the horror genre. Tell your friends-- come on down. We'll have a lot to offer.