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!