Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Goals

Happy End of 2012.  

Well, we survived the Apocalypse, and all the trials and tribulations of the last 12 months. Whew!

A year ago, I set a set of insane writing and production goals for 2012. I was prompted, in part, by the advice of long-term professional writer Dean Wesley Smith, who also had set himself impossible production goals.

At the time, I knew it was a stretch (well, impossible really), but I wanted to challenge myself and do more than I'd done in all the years before.

And I did. Although I fell far short of my stated goals, I accomplished and published more in one year than some writers do in their entire careers.

First goal- produce a book a month, 12 in all.
This included novels and story collections. I had a backlog of many stories, and learned how to put these into collections and sell them as books, producing both ebooks and print versions.
7 of these story collections got published, and my second novel, for a total of 8 books. Short of the 12 goal, but still a great output. Am I happy to have met "only" two-thirds of an impossible stretch goal? You bet.

Second goal- produce a story a week for sale in ebook format, 52 total.
I quickly found that the time and resources to do this was at a level that could not be sustained. You need careful editing, a good cover image, formatting, descriptions, and adding the links everywhere.
I did the first four stories, and stopped, realizing it was more important to produce new material. So I really fell far short on this goal. Am I happy to have abandoned this goal? Nope. Would love to have over 50 stories up for sale, but it'll have to wait.

Along with all that came other writing milestones.

I wrote new stories, and had modest success, with sales and publications.

I finished writing most of the third Zack Taylor mystery novel "A Shadow on the Wall." That'll be out soon.

One past story was selected by Every Day Fiction to be in their upcoming "Best of" anthology.

One new story appeared in the charity anthology Nightfalls, where I'm in with some pretty good new writers.

I was selected as one of "50 Great Writers You Should be Reading" by the national radio program The Author Show.

I'm a weekly guest on WUML (91.5) radio, speaking with host David Tierney about writing.

I've had numerous talks and signings, attended shows, and made many new contacts in the writing world.

All this-- plus publicity-- has to be done when not at my day job.
So no excuses for not writing!

For the coming year of 2013, here are my new writing goals.

Again, from the advice of Dean Wesley Smith, I'm going to shoot for an average of 5000 new words a week, for a grand total of a quarter-million by year's end.

That's the equivalent of four good novels, and 4 is the number of books I plan on publishing in 2013. Still pretty ambitious.

So what are your goals (writing or otherwise) for the coming year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Welcome Chris Dabnor

Chris Dabnor is another writer with a cool story in the Nightfalls anthology for charity. Let him tell you about it, and his links are below. Take it away, Chris.

When Katherine invited me to write a piece for the charity anthology 'Nightfalls', I didn''t have to think too long about it. Since she first decided to publish one of my short stories, she's been supportive of me and my work.  So, I had a theme, I just needed a story.

My first idea was to have a protagonist who keeps hearing songs about the end of the world - REM's - End of the World, U2's Last Night on Earth and so on, and slowly begins to realise that they are portents. I had the idea, but didn't feel I could tell it as a short story. It also reminded me a bit of something that Gaiman had done with Constantine in an early Sandman.

I kept thinking about the music and decided on a story about a DJ who decides to host a radio phone-in running up to the end. REM still make it in there, but only as a brief nod. I realised, that, for the story to work, I needed a nice, pretty end of the world, something that could be accurately predicted and instant when it came.

So, I began researching extinction level events. They're generally not as quick or exciting as you'd expect, it seems. It was whilst researching the end of the world that I received the amazing news that my partner was pregnant. Realising that you're going to be a father for the first time changes your perspective on the apocalypse. Suddenly the world meant so much more to me - it had become the place that my baby is going to grow up in, and it is a beautiful and terrible place. 


Chris Dabnor's Twitter account is @dabnorfish, if you wish to contact him, or see his drunken ramblings on a Friday night (Saturday 22nd, he might be praying for the world to end...) 

His poetry collection Interstitial can be purchased here.
And his short story collection Silver Snakes here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Story Out

My latest story is out at Over My Dead Body, an online magazine. And you can read it for free!

It's a pithy little gem, a flash crime story, short and to the point.

Hope you like it.

Don't forget-- if you want a chance at a number of free ebooks, we have a big holiday giveaway-- check out a previous post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nigel Bird's Work May Be Dark

Hello All-- Here's a Guest Post by Nigel Bird, author of some pretty gritty tales of crime and punishment. The post will tell you where he's coming from-- so if you want writing that's down and dirty, grab his work.


‘Grim, but really good.’

--That’s what Ian Rankin thought of Smoke.

Ian Rankin. Creator of Rebus. Inventor of Tartan Noir. A master of the writing craft.

You can imagine how delighted I was when I read those words. It was one of those moments when I felt I’d been given permission to call myself a writer and it’s those kind of moments that allow me to grow.

His quote is what it says on the cover of the book. It had to be used, didn’t it?

I guess that’s the question I’m posing here.

The comment separates into two wonderful halves.

Let’s take the grim.

I’m all for a bit of grim. There’s something in my psyche that can always find the shadow at the end of the rainbow, just as I can find a beam of light when the world is pitch black.

I’m proud to be in a collection called Grimm Tales (Untreed Reads) and the brothers Grimm were amazing talents as far as I’m concerned.

I do wonder what the average reader thinks when they see that quote, mind.

Does it make them want to get away quick, or is there something about it that draws them in? I can’t answer that and I’m hoping that there might be some comments so that I can gauge it.

Keeping that word ‘grim’ in the line is very important to me. First of all, it would be cheating to cut it out and simply say ‘Really good’ Ian Rankin. It’s not what he said. Secondly, it’s accurate.

What it might do for me is keep out those who have no interest in this kind of book.

I had a review recently for one of my collections. It’s called ‘Beat OnThe Brat (and other stories)’ and there’s a fairly aggressive cover. The reviews are amazing and often mention the difficult aspects of the work. Then this reviewer suggests it’s horrible because there’s so much violence and swearing. Fair enough, they’re right, but if such work isn’t for them I think I left enough of a breadcrumb trail away from the thing. I’ve had others for my novel, too. A couple of 1 stars from people who were shocked and horrified that such stories exist. That’s partly the dilemma of a giveaway as people click ‘buy’ without thinking too much.

But I digress. He said it was grim. It is. There are dog fights, killings, kidnaps, torture, easy sex and violence. It’s set in the very real world of a Scottish sink estate (or scheme). You won’t find much hope on the surface and should you dislike a world painted in these [honest] colours, it’s definitely not for you.

Then again, there is hope. You see, I did paint in some bright lights if you’re prepared to feel the story unfold. True, they’re hardly the vast bursts of a Turner painting, but they do exist.

And now to the ‘Very good.’

I don’t want to blow my trumpet too loudly, but I think it really is and it’s also why I’m here, to let you know.

I can also say that it’s even better than it was when Mr Rankin read it as I was given a serious lesson in editing by the publisher Allan Guthrie of Blasted Heath.

Which leaves me where I am, with a novella that I’m really proud of.

If it’s not for you, you’ll know it. If this lights your touch paper, why not go and check it out?

Grim – definitely.

Really good – I think it is, yes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Featured on Nigel Bird's Blog

Now I'm featured on another blog, courtesy of Nigel Bird, a well-known fellow writer who also appears in the Nightfalls anthology, alongside my story "Our Lady."

His story is awesome. The collection is awesome.

And it's for charity. A children's charity. So don't you know someone who'd love a good book for Christmas?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Shadow on the Wall Coming Soon- and Big Holiday Giveaway

This is the 400th posting on this blog-- and to celebrate, we've got some
great news for you!

First- we're in the editing stages of A Shadow on the Wall, the third Zack
Taylor mystery, out soon from Rosstrum Publishing.

This is the long-awaited followup to A Fall From Grace, and Zack gets into even deeper trouble.

If that's not enough of a Christmastime gift for you, how's this?
To celebrate the holiday season, a bunch of authors and publishers decided to get in the spirit of things-- and we're all giving away free ebooks and stories!

Wow, you say-- how do I get some of that? Look below for authors and links.
Follow directions to email them, or leave a comment on their blog (with your email) and tell them which book of theirs you'd like to win!

Around Christmas, each author will select a lucky winner for each book, and notify each person on how to collect.

Feel free to enter on all author sites-- giving you mutiple chances to win!

Here's the current list, but check back on this page-- we'll add more books as other authors get in the giving mood! Most books are available in multiple ebook formats.

Debbi Mack, NY Times Best-Selling author, is offering her Sam McRae mystery, Riptide:
To enter to win, go to her blog My Life on the Mid-List and leave a comment saying, "I'd like to win Riptide."

Vlad Vaslyn is offering Brachman's Underworld, novel of Stephen King-like horror.
And a copy of Yorick, a creepy novella.
To enter to win, go to his site and give him your info.

Cathy Dougherty is offering In Polyester Pajamas, a fun read of women's fiction:
To enter to win, go to her site and give her your info.

Rich Feitelberg, fantasy author, is offering two stories:
Sans Boat
The Last of Her Kind
Go to his blog and enter a comment stating which item you want, and in what format (PDF, Kindle, ePub). Be sure to include a valid email address.

Katherine Tomlinson has three to give:
Toxic Reality
Poisoned Teat
12 Nights of Christmas
Go to her blog and comment, telling her which book you want (leave your email). She'll pick winners on December 20.

Pete Morin is donating a book and a story:
Diary of a Small Fish
Club Dues
Drop him an email and let him know what you'd like.

Brian Hammar has got a pair of books and a pair of stories for you as well:
Wind Castle
Anastasia's Quest for Wind Castle
Fisherman's Justice
Drop him an email and let him know what you'd like:

Ann Everett is offering her books:
Laid Out and Candle Lit
You're Busting My Nuptuals
Check her website and send her a message via any of her contact points, and say "Ann, I'd like to win... (your choice)"

Rosstrum Publishing is offering a slew of books, both fiction and non-fiction!
Go to the website to check out the books, select Contact Us, and leave them an email with your book desire.

How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills

366 Tips for a Successful Job Search

Lawless in Brazil



The Dave Maynard Spin (Coming soon- check the website)

And of course, there's my offerings-- I'm giving you a shot at all of them!
Leave a comment on this blog (with an email), or email me, and tell me what you'd like to win!
You can enter for multiple books, but you can only win one.

A Memory of Grief

A Fall From Grace

A Shadow on the Wall (Coming soon- check the website)

Crooked Paths

Fables and Fantasies

Apocalypse Tango

Strange Tales

Halls of Horror #1

Halls of Horror #2

Jumble Sale

Any of the stories, too:

Froggy Went A Courting

Our New Queen

The Little Guy

Blades and Butchery

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stephen King- writing Rock Star

Friday night at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, over 3000 people got to experience something rare-- a public appearance by renowned author Stephen King. He'd been lured from his lair by the wiles of his writer-friend Andre Dubus III, and the welcoming folks of the English department of the University of Massachusetts. They'd somehow convinced him to come talk to people in a public forum.

Making the night even more special was the private VIP reception I got to attend beforehand, courtesy of friends with connections.

King was my writing instructor back at the University of Maine, and I haven't spoken with him since  the 80's. Here's an article I wrote about him a long time ago.

So I got to say hello once more, and even got to hand him the book of horror stories I'd written and dedicated to him (Halls of Horror).

Didn't get a picture of us together, though-- because of people pushing their way in rather than wait their turn. And none of the photographers present snapped one at the time, either, dang it.
Ah well.

Did get a mini-interview with John Collins, a reporter from the Lowell Sun, though, who wanted to hear about me signing a book for King, instead of the other way around.

King was gracious and charming, some folks almost swooning in his presence. He passed out kisses and hugs, signed books (and other things), and made people feel special, like they'd touched greatness.

It was a magical night, and even King said he felt like a rock star, as this was his first “arena show.” The fans came from all over the world. I talked to a young lady from Quebec, and on her right were folks from Ireland and Holland, who'd made this stop as part of their holiday here in the States. Other people had driven or flown hundreds of miles- from Chicago, Pennsylvania, and some from the West Coast. Because King's fans are rabid-- and they were not about to pass up this extremely rare chance to hear him.

His talk was the stuff of legend. He was witty, funny, brilliant, inspirational, and deep. He read from a new work (wow- we heard a world debut!), and chatted with Dubus on stage in a laid-back, friendly way, both in comfy chairs that were later auctioned off. His rough-hewn, folksy, unassuming manner is just like Maine, his home.

Best of all, it was for a good cause, a King scholarship fund for the University. He dedicated his speaking fee to the cause, and they raised over $100,000 for the fund that night.

You just won't find other writers who could fill a room that size, entertain the hell out of the audience, and even leave them with a final scare before they left. The man is a writing industry, a giant among writers, a caring and giving man, whose generosity is well-known. His fans are rabid for a reason, because his characters live and breathe, and teach us that we can be better when faced with incredibly tough and scary decisions. We may not have to face a vampire or a demon, but the everyday horrors we encounter take as much courage to fight as any made-up monster.

I spoke with two photographers, and would like to thank them for the photos.
Anne Kuthmann
Bruce Lepore

Here's a few links from the media

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Charity Anthology is out!

It's out as of today!

Nightfalls: Notes from the end of the world (Kindle edition)
A charity anthology in which twenty-nine writers from three different countries present their unique visions of the end of the world in half a dozen genres.

Folks, some of these writers have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (a very prestigious literary award), and the stories are good ones. All the proceeds go towards a children's charity, so you get to help out while enjoying good writing.

Help spread the word and make it a better holiday for everyone.

Yeah, I've got a tale in here, and it's a good 'un- "Our Lady."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hopes For a Happy Holiday, New Review

Hello all. Hope your Thanksgiving holiday and weekend is happy and healthy (except for the overeating). We had a wonderful family time here at the casa, and are very grateful for all the good things in our lives.

I'm spending the time working feverishly on book #3 of the Zack Taylor mystery series, A Shadow on the Wall.

It's not easy, but it's rewarding. A lot of novels tend to sag in the middle, until the writer gets going to the big climax at the end-- but this doesn't. Just more and more keeps happening, action that keeps going.

So as a reward, got news today of another review of A Memory of Grief, at Indie Bookworm.
She loved it!

A few quotes:

"The construction of the novel is complicated but everything stacks up and author Dale Phillips has done a good job in writing a convincing tale with some unusual twists."

"I thought a great strength of the novel was its dialogue: it's sharp and real and provides much of the forward drive of the story."

"Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Memory of Grief and I liked Zack Taylor sufficiently to want to read the sequel too."

Okay, back to work for me! Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Great interview out today

Happy Monday, and Happy Thanksgiving Week! Don't forget the cranberry sauce...

Today I'm interviewed on the blog of Serena Akeroyd, fledgling Romance Writer, and I get to give long-winded answers to a lot of great questions, giving writing advice and dropping names of other writers giving even better advice: Stephen King, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chuck Wendig.

This is the third interview in the last few weeks-- lots of exposure for the work, as I feverishly hammer away at A Shadow on the Wall, the third Zack Taylor mystery.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Story and Win News Link

Big news this week-- my latest story "Our Lady" is coming out in the Nightfalls anthology,
where all proceeds go to a children's charity.

The other exciting news of the week is that my fellow  Briona Glen author  Cathy Dougherty and I are winners in the contest
"50 Great Writers You Should be Reading." 

Cathy is the author of In Polyester Pajamas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Cathy Dougherty and I are winners in the contest "50 Great Writers You Should be Reading." 
Announced today at The Authors Show.

Cathy was also published by my publisher Briona Glen, and she's the author of In Polyester Pajamas.

And here's our official sticker:

Monday, November 12, 2012

So Much Happening- Busy Weekend

Wow- so much has been going on, it's hard to keep track. Here's some of the good crazy stuff that's been happening.

One heck of a busy weekend- Friday and Saturday was the Crime Bake mystery conference.
Had fun, but missed my Book Cents buddies, who made it such fun last year.
Finally got to go to the banquet- see, Cinderella still lives!

Sunday was the Author Expo at the Danversport Yacht Club. Great time.

Have two terrific interviews up now- The Indie List, and on The Highs, the Lows, The In-betweens.

My latest story, Mistakes, is published at Fiction and Verse, with a nice linked page to other works.

My latest gig is on radio, as a guest on David Tierney's show on 91.5, WUML.
I'll be appearing Monday mornings from 10:00 to 10:30.
A few shows are available in MP3 file format (under What Else is Cooking)

And am waiting to hear the results for the contest "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" on the radio Author's Show (I'm a finalist).

Okay, just have to get through all the new contact info, send a number of thank-yous, and get all the new pics sent out.

And I confirmed once more why "it's lonely at the top." It's because success lies at the top of a mountain, and most people cannot or will not make the very difficult journey up.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Guy Fawkes Day-Vote tomorrow and today

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.

Tomorrow we have a chance to pick which plutocrat will be in charge of our emergency services and economy for the next four years.

One guy says we're on our own when disaster hits-- we saw that recently-- and the other guy reaches out a hand to help and make things better.

Or you can vote for someone else if you don't like either of them. I'm independent, belonging to neither party (gang).

People have a decided aversion to voting independently of the two gangs, and I'm really at a loss to explain why. They say it doesn't count. It sure does count when you tell them neither of their choices are your choice. Vote for the Libertarian, Green, Independent, or other alternative candidate and show them their agenda isn't for you. It's not throwing your vote away to tell them NO!


If you'd like to vote today, I'm asking for your quick help, please-- as a finalist in the contest
"50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" on The Authors Show,

I'd appreciate your clicking the link and voting for me:
"Please click here to vote for your favorite author"

One of my recent stories is up on Fiction and Verse:

Thank you--

Monday, October 29, 2012

Great New Interview and Listing

While we await the storm, check out my latest interview at The Indie List.

Great questions, and in-depth answers about writing. Good tips for new writers as well.

Stay safe, and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stormageddon and New Listings

Well, the newscasts keep saying we might die, that Stormageddon is on the way.

So this might be the last blog post, if we're all swept away by the ferocity of the gale.

Or, we might just get a really nasty day and be without power for a time. Again. Sigh.


Hey, forget the gloomy news-- my books have been listed at a cool new site, The Indie List.

Different category pages for the different books:

And this blurb is up on site---
"The Indie List highly recommends this author! Check out all his books on The Indie List!"

I like them so much I agreed to do an interview-- and you know how I hate interviews... (just kidding, I'm a total media ham).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy St. Crispin's Day

One of the many reasons I love reading The Passive Voice blog is that they often post really cool stuff. Lots of great info on writing and publishing, but sometimes just fun things.

Today, they celebrate St. Crispin's Day properly-- with Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech, as done by Kenneth Branagh playing Henry V (or Hank Cinque as we call him in our house).

He delivers the rousing talk to the disheartened troops at the battle of Agincourt, fought this day in 1415. The English troops went on to whip the butt of the French chivalry, despite being hideously outnumbered  and in poor condition.

Yeah, I know, stupid war for greed and territory. War is bad. And Joan of Arc later got back the territory for France.

But damn-- that is one hell of a speech, and always gives me chills.

We few... we happy few...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was tagged for the blog hop The Next Big Thing by Cathy Dougherty, author of In Polyester Pajamas
I’ve done radio interviews, TV interviews, newspaper interviews, and blog interviews, but this is my first “hop” interview. I'll be answering ten questions about my current books.

As a reader, this will give you the opportunity to hop from one blog and website to the next and introduce authors, some new, some seasoned, and their current works in progress. There’ll be something for everyone, so happy hopping!

Here's the Q and A
What is the title of your book? 
The first Zack Taylor mystery is A Memory of Grief, which came out last year. The second, A Fall From Grace, appeared for sale in January, and I'm feverishly working on book three, A Shadow on the Wall.

Where did the idea come from for this book? 
I wanted to set a mystery in Portland, where I spent a lot of time. Zack came as a troubled character wth a past and very little future.

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Most action stars can't act, and don't have the depth of Zack Taylor. However, Matt Damon would  do a great job-- after the Bourne series, he showed he has the muscle and the chops.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Haunted ex-con drifter Zack Taylor pursues the truth about his friend's death, while his rage and ghosts drive him closer to the edge.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My books are published by a small press, Briona Glen Publishing, LLC. I deal directly with them. I don’t have an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Years. The book evolved over time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books, and Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, with a dash of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The protagonist, Zack Taylor. His story had to come out.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is something different in the hard-boiled field-- a hero who doesn't use a gun to get out of trouble. This puts him at a big disadvantage, and he has to use his wits and physical skills to get out of trouble.

Hop on over to these other places:
Katherine Tomlinson at Kattomic Energy:
Vlad Vaslyn:
Jennifer Pelland:
Ken Hoss
Patti Roberts Book Blog:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Patterson's Best Fictional Detectives

James Patterson is one of the most popular authors on the planet, with a string of books that have sold millions.

From an article in the OC Register, here is that list of qualities that Patterson says can be found in the best fictional detectives:

1. They are not afraid to walk on the darker side. In fact, they relish the opportunity.

2. They are obsessive puzzle lovers who think creatively.

3. They are willing to put their lives on the line for justice – or at least to limit injustice.

4. They possess a sense of humor, preferably a very dark sense of humor.

5. They keep life in perspective – or way out of perspective.

6. He/she maintains a good life/work balance – or is a total wild child.

Patterson went on to list his favorite fictional detectives.

My series character, Zack Taylor, wasn't among them-- but if Patterson read my books, he'd like them, because Zack has all the qualities that Patterson finds important. In A Memory of Grief and A Fall From Grace, he'd find the following:

1. Zack most definitely walks on the dark side, and frequently unleashes his inner demons, to the detriment of the bad guys. Trouble is, the fallout affects good people as well, so we always have conflict.

2. Zack runs into tough puzzles and will use any creative way of solving them. He comes up with some dangerous and fun (for the readers) stuff in his attempts to get to the heart of a mystery.

3. Zack is reckless in hurling himself into danger to stop an injustice. His lady love is a nurse, and she deplores the fact that she sees him in the hospital on a professional basis too much of the time. In the first book, Zack takes on a crime syndicate. In the second, he takes on an entire town.

4. Zack is an unrepentant smartass, with a keen sense of humor. The books are chock-full of fun lines and banter.

5. Zack has turned to the martial arts as a way of keeping life in perspective. He sees a better way, and is constantly striving for it.

6. Despite knowing what is best, Zack is a loose cannon with a messy life. He can't control himself and it shows in having him plunge into a mystery with no regard for the consequences.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More Story Sales

Wow- been a great writing and selling month so far.
Started the month with a story sale to Fiction and Verse, which was published.

Then I got my anthology invite story accepted for Nightfalls, a collection where all the proceeds go to a charity.

Wrote an all-new story for the new Fungi anthology, and just got news of acceptance of that one.

And another story sale, to Over My Dead Body. I'll link when it's up.
They published my story "The Mousetrap" last August.

And my story Heartsounds, which was published in Jan of 2011 was just selected for inclusion in a new anthology The Best of Every Day Fiction Four.

Also just got word I'm a finalist in the contest “50 Great Writers You Should  Be Reading” on Author Radio.

Loving it! Now I just need to write more stories.

And write more books. Have to get Book #3 of the Zack Taylor series, A Shadow on the Wall out as soon as possible. People keep asking when it will be out.

Ah, the wonderful pressure of success-- "When's the next one?"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Barry Eisler and Me at CrimeBake

Well it sure is an interesting time. I added up all the writing tasks and items from this last week, and there were about 30. So I've been a busy little bee.

Just to show you I how I hang out with the cool kids, here's a picture from last Crime Bake
(photo courtesy Crime Bake photographer Maureen "Mo" Walsh):

Wow! You say. That's Dale with none other than Barry Eisler, the best-selling writer who turned down a half-million dollar, two-book deal to take another path.

Yeah-- the guy that fired the shot at the Big Pub sweatshops, not across the bow, but right amidships.

He's my freaking hero.
Half a million bucks, they said-- and he said "Piss off, I can do better."
And he did.
Cojones, my friends.
Talk about the New World of Publishing!

His thriller series, featuring assassin John Rain, is superb. And I don't like a lot of best-seller series.

My series character, Zack Taylor, is a genuine tough guy who's good at martial arts, and would kick the crap out of most other series character heroes.
Except for Eisler's John Rain.
And in an elevator fight, I could take a good many mystery/thriller writers.
But not Barry, who's got more expertise.

So okay, if I was going to have a Man-crush, he'd be a contender.

Check out his blog, The Heart of the Matter. Lots of food for thought.

But who's the guy on the right, you say?
That's Mike Johnson, a music teacher and author from Dracut, MA, who has penned the mystery "Lawless in Brazil."


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Herman Melville

Today's Google fun is a set of links to Herman Melville works and info, as they're celebrating the 161st anniversary of the publication of the book Moby Dick (kudos to Google for the props to Herman, who unjustly suffered obscurity and unappreciation while he was alive).

The book that was a failure in its time. Melville had an early hit, and then faded off the literary landscape during his lifetime, only to have his literary reputation enhanced in the 1920's and beyond. Now we acknowledge the book to be one of the must-read literary classics.

Maybe they could do a Dr. Who episode where they do for Herman what they did for Vincent Van Gogh-- one of the best episodes ever, where they briefly bring Van Gogh into the present, to hear an expert talk at length about the mastery of Van Gogh's paintings and how they are so beloved and valued. Not bad for a guy who couldn't sell his stuff while he was alive.
Boy, did I love that idea!

Who's your favorite underappreciated genius of the past?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Great Fall Day

Yesterday was a Saturday of a particular kind- clean, crisp Fall air, clear blue sky, colorful foliage, and a day without other obligations.

So we hit the road to do some leaf-peeping.

But first, ya gotta eat, right? So we went to the best Fall breakfast place around-- Parker's Maple Barn. If you're anywhere around NH, northeastern Mass, or even southwestern Maine this time of year, head over to Parker's for a Fall feast of kingly quality and proportions. Food so good and in such abundance it almosts makes you cry. It's so typically New England, all woodsy and homey and fun. And hit the gift shop for fun food items and trinkets, and books by local authors.

After you're fortified, hit the winding roads for sightseeing. We did Peterborough, NH, who had a bit of a do for the season, with craft tents, entertainers, and specials all day. Quaint little town with nice shops and a lot of down-home style. A lovely little river runs through it, making for some lovely photos. I'd love to show you some, but the software isn't co-operating.

Just a nice time of enjoying what New England has to offer this time of year. Ah, Fall.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Busy Time

Hello again. It's been kind of crazy lately, with lots of work to be done. Here's what's happening currently:

Got the word out about my latest story publication, in Fiction and Verse.

Finished one new story (by invitation) for an upcoming anthology, where all the proceeds go to a charity.

Just finished another anthology story for the new Fungi, which should be out this Winter.
Still have to get it critiqued and revised before sending off.

Wrote a review and blurb for another writer's new book.

Wrote a short flash story for the Crime Bake contest and submitted.

Answered interview questions for another blog, to be out soon.

Plans to support another writer at his library signing next week.

Details on supplying books on consignment for area bookstore.

Getting things ready and ordering supplies for the upcoming conference--
and the Author's Expo on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Keep fielding the question "When's Book #3 of the Zack Taylor series coming out?"
(Not soon enough! But I'm working on it!)

Edits on another book that needs to be released soon.

That's all part-time, after my day job. It's a very, very, mad world.
But a good one.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Story is Out

The new website Fiction and Verse has published my very short story Mistakes:

And they did a nice promotional page, including a listing of my other works:

I'm following the guidelines of many new world writers, like Chuck Wendig- finish your stuff, send it out, write more.

This piece was so short, never thought it would sell as a real story. But in the New World of Publishing, anything goes. In a thousand words, the tale tells of a man who makes a life change, for all the right reasons. As humans, we need to know when we have it good, and stop the behavior which brings us down. Believe me, I know about this.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Story Sale

Hey there- it's been a busy time, with work, family, and writing books and stories.

But it's paying off- just a little. Just sold another story, a 1000-flash piece to Fiction and Verse.

Will let you know when it's up.

Back to work...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Numbers Game

For anyone interested in a writing career, a couple of must-read posts.

First, the book-selling numbers of Joe Konrath:

He's the guy who's the thumb in the eye of traditional publishers, who has made a ton of money-- selling books that traditional publishing wouldn't touch, because they couldn't sell enough of them quickly. Their world is about hitting big, fast. But that's not how most books do, they sell over time.

Konrath doesn't seem to mind, though, not having best sellers, just lots of some sellers, enough to make a living from. A writer making a living is not in the agenda of the Big Pub houses- they want to make a killing for themselves.

Konrath says that a lot of writers could do well his way, and it sends the New York Old Guard into a But-lather.
Merely mention his name, and they start going-  But-But-But

He includes the frightening statistic that close to 7 out of 10 books shipped get returned. If that's even remotely near the truth, what an incredible waste!

And cogent comment with her own numbers, from long-time professional writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

She says:
"Joe’s numbers are good, given all that, but they’re small for a lifetime average. Of course, he hasn’t been publishing for ten years yet, so he’s still—by the career standards I mentioned above—a new writer."

A "new writer" making thousands a month outside the Big Pub world, appealing to readers directly.

So tell me again why writers should play that traditional publishing lottery?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Separating the good from the bad

With the new world of publishing, many pros of the traditional system are stuck in the former way of doing things, and if they've benefitted under the traditional system, they see no reason to change.
Sure, it's great if you have a publishing house that wants to push for you, but that's a tiny portion of the active writers out there. That leaves the 99% of writers who need something better, like small independent publishing or self-publishing.

Sue Grafton (A is for Alibi, etc) is a very popular writer of the traditional system, and she recently caused a firestorm with comments she made in an interview, describing self-publishers as "lazy."
Many people jumped on this remark to rip her, and the rhetoric has been rather heated.
For the record, I've met her, and she's very nice.
I don't believe she wants to harm other writers, but she does have an outdated and unrealistic view of modern publishing-- no surprise-- since she's been doing well under the old system for over 25 years.
She apparently based her remark on a couple of self-published ebooks she'd seen, which she thought were not of professional quality.

Granted, there are numerous inferior examples of self-published ebooks, but one should not make a sweeping judgement based on a couple of bad examples-- we can find similar bad examples of shoddy editing and printing in mainstream published books as well.

In the past, traditional publishing houses had in-house editors, and books did go through a better process. But now, editing has been relegated to junior people, or outsourced entirely.
So independent and self-publishers can outsource their editng services, same as the big trad houses do. But the perception lingers that independent and self-published books don't get the same level of editing.

With the modern advent of quick and easy "push-button publishing," the field is wide-open for everyone, including a lot of people who aren't going to take the time to learn the craft of writing,
or even decent cover art and formattingand here's where the problem lies--
how do we, as readers, separate the good from the bad?

A big publishing house product is no guarantee of quality, and independent and self-publishers can span the range of bad to extremely good.

Many bookselling sites have reviews, which are one way of screening, if a reader is careful to read into the review itself.
There have been a few incidents of writers posting multiple overly-complimentary reviews of their own work. Rather sleazy.
There have also been cases where some people trashed other works, to lower the desirability of what they see as competitors. Also sleazy.

You have to remember, independent and self-publishers don't have the reach of a professional review journal such as Publisher's Weekly or Kirkus, which in many cases are heavily influenced (and in some cases outright paid for) by the publishing house.
So a few independents are trying to stack the deck by adding a bunch of one-sided reviews for a particular book.

One way to check a review is to look at the profile of the reviewer, and see what else they've done.
So another good screen on what a book is like is to see non-selling review sites themselves: places like Goodreads, Library Thing, or Shelfari, sites where readers tell what they thought of a work. These are good places for book fans to say what they like or dislike about the books they read.
Some genres have particular websites that review books in that field. Usually you can find good recommendations.

The best way to separate the bad from the good, however, is to read a sample of the book itself- easy enough to do on Amazon, and with ebooks, the Smashwords site. You'll quickly see what the quality of the writing is like, and whether or not you wish to purchase said book.

Now there are some people who don't care-- they only want a good story-- but I find it rather offensive if a book is poorly written or worse, or if it's apparent the author hasn't learned basic grammar and spelling. I've spent years learning to do writing well, and someone who puts out junk is a blight on those who take care to put out professional work.

So screen those new purchases before you buy, and help out other readers by posting your own reviews-- tell people what you think and why-- good or bad.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Do It Yourself Artistic Career

There was a great article in Sunday's Boston Globe about new artists going the do-it-yourself route for launching and maintaining their artistic careers. This applies to many endeavors: writers, musicians, painters, cartoonists. anyone who produces art for consumption by others.

They profiled Louis C.K., a comedian who is doing all the work of posting his material online and booking his shows, including ticket sales. A lot of work.

And Amanda Palmer, a musician, who raised over a million dollars with a crowdsourcing Kickstart venture, the first musician to do so. How cool is that!

There are many others as well. This is an incredible time, to be able to do this, and have complete control over your career, and not have to rely on "being discovered" by the major distributors. Many musicians have been ruined by their label, who insisted on a particular sound, when the band wanted a different direction. Many a writer was constrained by contract to keep producing a similar book, year after year.

The problem with being owned by a large corporation is that they want to make money from the artist, and will often control the output. But art should happen at the whim of the one creating the content, not by some suit in a boardroom looking at a poll or chart of what they think will sell that month.

It's a great time to be a content creator. You can now reach an audience over the Internet, instead of relying on corporate-owned distribution and selling channels. Viva la revolution! You get to go direct, and cut out all middlemen, if you so desire.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New stories, lots of Work

Howdy. It's been a productive week- probably the previous vacation time helped to clear the mental buffers and pave way for this.

Sent a story off last Monday.

Tuesday, started a new story. Finished it on Wednesday and sent it off.

Thursday, saw a notice of a new anthology with specific instructions for what they wanted.
Got sparked, and began a new story, The Atomic Kid.

Four days of work, and I thought I'd nailed it by this afternoon. Then I noticed the required word count meant I had to add another half-story in. So I took another 5 hours (missing the Patriot's first regular-season game in the process) to finish up and submit. 5000 words is a good-size story.

All I can say is-- Phew!

I had a big list of things to get done. But it took all day to finish one thing. That's the way writing goes sometimes.

But I'm happy. This is what successfulw writers do.

That was my "weekend off". How was yours?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Long Interview Reposted

Morgen Bailey recently reposted my long interview from last year, quite a good one:

Happy Labor Day

Today we have a legal holiday (as opposed to an illegal holiday?) because of the toil and sacrifice of many people in the past. They suffered to bring us relief from endless hours of drudgery.

We've also got the 40-hour work week and the abolishing of child labor due to the efforts of people working for basic, decent human rights against big businesses.

Remember them in your definition of "heroes"-- those who put out extraordinary effort and sometimes put themselves in harm's way to give us all a better life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Well, lots of Interwebs talk about reviews.

Let's start with the Salon piece...

And then the New York Times article.

Which got link reposted by Do Some Damage, with more discussion.

These all bring up the new big questions about reviews. How much to believe them?

My writing group got to talking about it last night. I said I didn't post really bad reviews, that if I hate a book, I'll just ignore it. Someone else suggested that we have an obligation to post the bad reviews, to do our part as professional writers to weed out the bad books.

What do you think? Should we call out the crap in strong language? Or just ket the junk sink on its own?

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Neil Armstrong has passed away, the first known human to set foot on the Moon.

Let's just take a second to appreciate the extraordinary effort it took to send a trio of humans almost a quarter million miles into space, have a person walk on the (unknown composition) lunar surface, and return them safe and sound to Earth.

With 1960's technology.

In the middle of the Vietnam War.

So why did we stop? Been there, done that? Checked it off our humanity bucket list and moved on?

It was probably the last time humanity was united on anything.

It was a tremendous achievement, and one we should be proud of. So why aren't we doing more Great Things?

Oh, yeah, we'd rather kill each other and fight amongst ourselves.

In our own country, we savagely argue over which group of disaffected rich people will work for our destruction over the next few years. Instead of enacting public funding for elections, we allow monied interests to bribe their way in the lawmaking process, and all but a handful of us suffer as a result.

A great many people in this country profess to using the Bible as a guideline for life. Here's a quote all of us should start living by:
Mark 3:25
And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, used this idea in an address given in 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting his party nomination as that state's United States senator. This became one of the best-known speeches of his career (one that included the magnificent Gettysburg Address and his inaugural addresses).

But he lost that election. Didn't stop him, though, because he had a country to save, one that he felt so important that it was worth a bloody (un)civil war against itself to keep whole.

And now look at us. Instead of building a great nation and bettering life for its citizens (and all the people of the world), we waste our resources and moral outrage to needlessly butcher people (including many innocents) and blow up piles of sand in places few Americans can even find on a map.

What the Hell is wrong with us? Do we no longer deserve to last?

If we remain divided, we will not survive. Pretty pathetic ending for a people that managed to get to the Moon and back.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sky is Falling (Again)

We constantly hear the cries from Big Traditional Publishing (BTP), telling how whatever new thingie means the End of Books As We Know It.

"Nobody's buying books these days!"--- Uh, yeah, they are, and lots of them. Sure, in these tough times there many be fewer people plunking down thirty bucks for a new formula hardcover, but overall, books are doing quite well.
BUT-- folks who want a good story need not support a big company with $29, while the producer of the work (the writer) gets $1, there are other options.
Writers can now deliver a good book for under $10, and keep a chunk of that for doing the real work.

"Amazon is killing us by being unfair!"--- People don't just use the online retailer for lower prices and convenience, they return for the great customer experience. Amazon has changed the game, no doubt about it. But the lumbering old companies want the clock rolled back to their distribution monopoly.

Writers put up books at Amazon and have enormous distribution and exposure. In many cases, the writer can make more money via that route than going to BTP. And get a book up for sale a hell of a lot quicker than BTP ever can. The way BTP is mistreating so many writers means more work-producers are leaving BTP every day.

"Ebooks are killing us by flooding the market with cheap crap!"--- BTP has tradtionally been in the business of pushing expensive stories on paper, with high costs for printing, shipping, and storage.
With ebooks, those costs have gone away, and a writer can get a book out for a few hundred dollars.

Of course, an easy delivery method has opened the floodgates to many new books, so yes, there's a lot of crap. But there's a lot of very good work as well, that would never have seen the light of day under BTP.  A writer can get editing for a good story, put on a good cover, and compete with the best.

It's the reader, the buyer who decides if the book is crap or not. I've read a great deal of BTP professionally-produced garbage, including NY Times Best-Sellers, so that's no guarantee of quality whatsoever.

And guess what? On Smashwords and Amazon, you can preview sections of the book to check the quality for yourself. You need not pay for crap when you can screen it out in a minute or two of sampling.

As a historical note, this isn't the first time we've heard the shrill cry that a new thingie will flood the market with cheap crap. Remember paperbacks? And yet, all these years later, we still have the sky where it is. Check out this article posted on The Passive Voice.

And for those who think writers won't make any money in the new world of publishing, a good writer now has a better chance of making money than any other time in history.

Why should we, who have spent many years learning craft give away our time and expertise?
Harlan Ellison said it best: "Pay the Writer!"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Talk

There was a recent article in Forbes, linked to at The Passive Voice:
Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing

Some people are afraid that we'll have so many e-books we won't be able to find or get notice for good ones.
There are millions of print books. Many millions. How do good books get found?
There are millions of songs. How How do good songs get found?

Sure, traditional publishing will have to change its business model to survive, as have many industries in the modern age. This does not mean good books will go away. This does not mean we won't be able to find enough good books. It just means a different way for people to access books.


In publishing, the Joe Konrath site has a guest posting from a successful writer who capitalized on a fad.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Got Sunshine...

Debbi Mack, NY Times Best-selling author (Least Wanted, Identity Crisis, and the new Riptide), is one of those writers who gives back to others.

And now she's nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award:

It's a fun thing where you answer the questions below-- and then pass on the good vibrations by nominating ten blogs that bring a ray of sunshine into your world.
So … here goes:

1. What is your favourite Christmas/festive movie?
It's A Wonderful Life (Still gets me every time at the end, where Harry toasts "To my brother George-- the richest man in town!")

2. What is your favourite flower?

3. What is your favourite non-alcoholic beverage?
Coffee in the morning- smells like victory...

4. What is your passion?
Life. Think I've gone through several allotments already, and could use ten more lifetimes to do all I want.

5. What is your favourite time of year?
A perfect, crisp Fall day...

6. What is your favourite time of day?
Early mornings, with the mist still blanketing the world. All is still, peaceful.

7. What is your favourite physical activity?
Ahem!!! The G-rated answer is fencing.

8. What is your favourite vacation?
Last year, we finally got to take our daughters to London and Paris.

10 Blogs I like

Catherine Dougherty, author- The Life of a Middle-Aged Novelist

Kattomic Energy

Mysteries and Margaritas

Side Dish

Patti Roberts - Authors book reviews and interviews

Jennifer Pelland

Chuck Wendig-

Do Some Damage

The Passive Guy

Jane Haddam- Hildegarde

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two-fer- Education Article- and Writer Interview

If you're interested in how we got to this point in education, check out the following article.

How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps:

Thanks for the pointer from the brilliant and talented Jane Haddam, who's a writer, teacher, and philosopher.


In other news, there's a great (but too short) interview by Jeff Shear with writer Katherine Tomlinson of NoHo Noir fame (and former editor of Dark Valentine).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Radio Killed the Video Star

Today was my first shot as a guest on the radio show of David Tierney, who runs his show on 91.5, WUML.

We talked about my background, and writing. What I do, and how long I've done it.

It was a great start, and I'll be doing upcoming segments every Monday, from 9:50 to 10:10. You can listen via your computer or regular radio.

If you have suggestions for things you'd like me to talk about, send them along.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Working Through the Pain

It's been a tough time recently, so the posts haven't been as frequent. I've been dealing with a few different medical issues, and a terrible amount of pain. The medical "profession" has been of little use, except to assure me the problems aren't life-threatening.

Hah! Fat lot they know. Last night the pain was so intense, I'd have done anything to make it cease, so it was indeed life-threatening.

Consequently, didn't get much done yesterday.

Today was merely a dull ache, so I plowed through and got back to writing. Made some progress on book #3 of the Zack Taylor series, A Shadow on the Wall.

Would like to get back to health. This current situation sucketh mightily. Feeling the pressure of not knowing when the dials are going to light up is awful. And when it hits, it pretty much wipes out any other activity.

Other than that, though, things are okay, I guess.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Story

After a busy July, where I didn't get much new writing done, I buckled down this weekend-- and got a complete new story out, start to finish.

3600 words, and what I feel is a really good one. Am brain-tired but extremely pleased. Any time I can crank out a good story in two days, of a decent length, I'm a happy man.

Submitted it to the anthology Once Upon an Apocalypse.

And no, it's not a story about giant lobsters...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm on Youtube!

Well, the worst nightmare of my daughters has come to pass-- I'm on Youtube!

My 2-minute interview from the recent Author's Expo!


July's been a bear of a month, and was so busy, didn't get much writing done. Did plot out a couple of new stories, and set a schedule for getting other things done, but didn't get enough words on paper.

August will be different. I'm going to get at least 31,000 words done, average at least 1000 words a day. Not an easy task with a day job, family, and other committments, but I am driven, and have some goals that need to be met.

It's work. Hard brain sweat. Not digging ditches, but work nonetheless.

Did you see the opening of the Olympics, and the pageant about the workers? Ironic, considering the overwhelming corporate overseeing of everything to do with the games.

And how about that celebration of National Health Care? What an idea-- having a country where people can get seen by doctors without going broke. If only our government would embrace that concept. But they won't-- as long as they have guaranteed health care, paid for by the very people they deny it to. I say they should only get what everyone gets-- that would turn them around fast.

But we have a country where a minimum-wage worker at 40 hours a week cannot afford a 2-bedroom unit rental. In Washington, DC, you'd have to work 140 hours a week. And 2007 was the last time the rich lawmakers in DC raised the minimum wage.

The only jobs are in the cities-- where someone starting out cannot afford to live.

Here's some interesting data on the subject:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Make a Better World

There was a recent terrible tragedy, where one person perpetrated an act of absolute brutality, ending some lives and destroying others.

This senseless act of violence is so deplorable, and leaves us questioning life and the randomness of the universe.

How do we respond? One of the best ways I saw was on the blog of Chuck Wendig, who challenged his readers to post something *nice.* I'm going to quote from the site, because it matters:

"We balance out the horrors of a day like this by willfully doing good for others.

So, hug your kids, give to a charity, rescue a puppy, something, anything.

Evil can’t be undone, but good can outshine it.

So, if you feel like it, post something below in the comments that’s good and nice in this world. Don’t talk about the shooting or other bad shit. Don’t politicize anything (today is not a real good day to defend the second amendment, or talk about naughty pop culture or liberal-conservative fol-de-rol). Just post something nice. A story. Charity. Something your kid said or did. Anything at all.

This not in service of forgetting tragedy or ignoring it, but rather, to remind ourselves that people aren’t all bad and that one aberration a species does not make."

One of the posters responded to this with a personal story:
"A week ago, I was picking up odds and ends at Walmart on the way home from work. There was a family ahead of me in the checkout line that was having issues paying. The dad’s credit card was being rejected for the n-th time, so he decided to give up and started giving back the bags they had loaded into their cart. After taking a quick peek at their loot (mostly frozen dinners, rice and beans), noting that they weren’t buying any alcohol or tobacco, I offered to pay for it. It was about 60 bucks worth of stuff. Not much, but the mom teared up, making me almost tear up, and so on.
After helping get their bags back in the cart, I turn to the cashier to pay for my items. Only, the guy behind me, sporting a big, shit-eating grin, had paid for my items. At that point, the lady behind him, insisted to pay for his, and so it went in a line of about 8 people. It was a great moment of good will, and I’m glad to have kicked it off."

It's that kind of act we should remember, and celebrate.

So-- go forth and celebrate at least one human act of kindness, of connection, of just pure goodness. Evil deeds are done by the weak and stupid. It takes real strength to build something good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Great Author's Expo

Been another busy time-- attended the Author's Expo at the Danversport Yacht Club, put together by the folks at Pear Tree Publishing. (Thanks to the volunteers, by the way)

There were writers, publishers (including both my publishers, Briona Glen and Rosstrum Publishing), bookstore representatives, and more, first networking and then meeting and greeting the public, who came to browse and buy.

There was music and entertainment, and celebrities. I met Mark Goddard, who played Major West on the old TV show Lost in Space. He seemed like a nice person, very gracious. Found out he's a local boy, having grown up in the area.

There was a table for the New England Horror Writers (NEHW), who had a fun display. I belong to this group, but I've got a bunch of books out, so I need my own table for display.

Sold some books, gave more away-- for the raffle to raise money for breast cancer, met some new folks, and had a great time.

I'd have pictures to show you, but the tool at Staples lied about what was needed to get pictures off my cellphone, so we'll need someone with some actual technical expertise.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Big Author Expo

It's just about here-- the big Author Expo at the Danversport (MA) Yacht Club- this Wed, the 18th.

Come on down for writers signing books, publishers, celebrities, and treats. The public can come anytime after 4 in the afternoon, until 9 that night. Should be a blast!

Hobnob with the rich and famous, and support regional authors!


In other news, today is the anniversary of the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, in 1951.


And last Saturday was the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, America's troubador of the people. His guitar had a saying on it-- "This machine kills fascists."
We miss you, Woody, and your words about a better world for the workers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Business Decisions

Over on the Do Some Damage website, Steve Weddle hosts a post mentioning a complete ass-clown who berates writer Terry Goodkind for publishing something (gasp) not with his original publisher!

"Where's the loyalty?" This dipstick moans. Apparently, once anyone publishes you, you're supposed to be their slave. Forever.

Wow. How many ways of wrong are possible? This reaches new levels.

Gee, are we never supposed to leave our first job? Not according to this twisted crackhead logic.

Sorry for the harsh tone, but man, there's a lot of stupid out there...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revolution, Not a Civil War

The new revolution in publishing is a wonderful thing for writers and readers, allowing good work to get out, and allowing writers, for the first time, to choose how they want to run their career as a business.

It is not a civil war, but many have taken sides-- for either strictly independent (indie) publishing or strictly tradtional publishing. The rhetoric is heated, the vitriol splashing around in insult-laden invective.

Gee whiz, folks, it just means we have more choices. It's not a religion, but some act as if it was just that. They insult people who choose the path different from theirs.

For the record, I've got friends who have published traditionally and done very well with it.
But I've been on the receiving end of abuse from online posters who said that traditional publishing is the only way to go, and that my choice of the indie path is foolish. So I pass along horror stories of traditional publishing gone wrong, to prove otherwise.

Here's an exceptionally good one, which shows one publishing company (one of the supposed best) who doesn't have a clue about business, and who wouldn't listen to the writer who had a marketing plan and knew how to make the book sell.
--"How I got a big advance from a big publisher and self-published anyway"

The fact that these people stay in business despite having no idea what it's about is a testament to readers, who buy books no matter how poorly they're launched or marketed. This is what the indie world is about-- getting the writing published, and letting the readers decide if it's worthwhile or not. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme (like a recent media article thought), it's putting something out so it has the chance to find an audience.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Debut Novel, In Polyester Pajamas, by Cathy Dougherty

Today we meet Cathy Dougherty, whose debut novel, In Polyester Pajamas, just came out in print. Or, if you prefer the e-book version.

We know this is the most exciting time, having your first novel out for sale. So we asked Cathy a few questions about her work.

Q.- So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin of In Polyester Pajamas.

Cathy- In Polyester Pajamas started with one idea—two middle-aged women, opposites in every way, who couldn’t avoid each other. Having been involved in real estate for many years and knowing the trade, I decided they would be realtors. It took a life of its own from there.

Q.- Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

Cathy- It started with one idea and there were no structured outlines. But, many times when I was at a standstill in the story, I’d go through a particular scene over and over again in my head until I caught a glimpse of what would happen next. I’d then write it down on any scrap of paper I could find, not wanting to forget it. As soon as I could, I’d get back to the computer to add it to the novel manuscript and it would pick up from there—the writing block would be gone. Often I’d be surprised by what was revealed to me through those brainstorm sessions.

Q.- What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

Cathy- Believe it or not, I’m still to this day discovering more and more about the main theme(s) of in Polyester Pajamas. What I’ve realized so far is it’s about taking down walls we tend to build up around us in life to protect us. It’s also about being brave enough to become vulnerable again and having faith enough to carry on. Sounds like a hard thing to do, taking down those walls, but it’s necessary for all of us in order to be happy and free. Oh, it’s also about loss, friendship, family, and love—very important stuff!

Q.- Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

Cathy- It all boils down to living life to its fullest before it’s too late and not letting the bad things bring one down. It’s about accepting change and making the best of it. And, of course, it’s about the importance of having a best friend at any age and moving forward in faith to wherever life is leading. Everything happens for a reason, I always say. But I don’t want it to sound like this book is a heavy read, it isn’t. It’s a fast read and is very entertaining.

Q.- What makes a good book or engaging story?

Cathy- It takes guts. Strange answer, I know, but the author has to be willing to go beyond just writing a well-structured story, with carefully polished words, and be brave (“ballsy”) enough to expose their unique self through their characters. I call this “the magical stuff between the lines.” If it’s not there, no matter how well written the book is, it’s missing what’s going to make it stand out and stay with the reader for a long time to come. It’s a scary thing for an author to do, especially the first time, but that’s what it takes.

Q.- Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

Cathy- I’m influenced by ordinary people most of all. In fact, ordinary isn’t the right word, everyone is extraordinary and unique in their own way. I’m always observing people and am constantly blessed by just watching them and seeing how they react in any given situation. Women around my age (middle-age) are especially amazing and that’s why I enjoy writing about them.

We are all so dynamic and yet, in many ways the same. Ordinary life is fascinating when you really look at it and open up to it.

As far as artists influencing me, there are many—too many to list. I especially like authors that have quirky characters. Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors and all of her characters are quirky. I just love her books.

Q.- Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

Cathy- For me, storytelling can be entertaining only and I can enjoy it on that level, but anything I particularly like to read, and all I write, has to have some inspirational or revealing message within it.

Q.- Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

Cathy- I’m working on the sequel to in Polyester Pajamas and hope to have it finished and in my publisher’s hands within the next couple of months.

Also, I’m concentrating on a good marketing plan to get my name known and my book(s) read.

Long-term plans are to continue writing novels for years to come. There are at least 4 more floating around in my head right now. With any luck, they’ll all be published.

Q.- Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

Cathy- I tend to write fast once I get started, but I go over it again and again after the first draft. I would still be revising if I didn’t know already to listen to that voice within me. When it says to me “Stop, you’re done,” I do just that and let the editor(s) take it from there. Any further revisions are at their suggestions.

Q.- When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

Cathy- I’m never tired of it and I’m never completely happy with it. Happy enough, I would say, and I know once the editing process is done, it will be a really good book readers will enjoy and remember. That’s what’s most important to me.

Q.- Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things?

Cathy- This is my first novel so I’ve worked with two editors so far at Briona Glen Publishing.

Lisa Christopher went through the entire novel and fully reviewed the story. Her comments and suggestions were very helpful and, as a result, I created a new first chapter, added more details in places, and merged a few scenes together. The process was stressful and took a lot of time and effort, but it became a much better story when I was finished.

Allison Rainville did the line editing, and also offered helpful suggestions making the story even better.

I couldn’t be what it is today without both of their comments and suggestions. I feel very fortunate to have worked with them and hope to again soon.

Q.- Do you have different people for different editing levels?

Cathy- Yes, as I mentioned, one for the content of the story and one that concentrated primarily on the line edits.

Q.- If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

Cathy- Well, first of all, I would tell them to take any unnecessary“that” words out of their story. Believe it or not, I didn’t know about “that”when I was writing my first novel and thanks to great advice from another Briona Glen author, I was able to go through the manuscript once more and omit some before publication. It made a difference! I’m so glad she wasn’t afraid to give me “that” advice.

As for other advice, I’ll share what I wrote in the acknowledgement of in Polyester Pajamas:

“It’s an amazing thing to have a life-long dream come true, so I acknowledge all writers who also share the dream of being published someday. You’ll discover along the way that it takes many hours of writing and, even when the first draft is done, it is nowhere near finished. But if you really believe it can happen, it can.”

Q.- Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.?

In Polyester Pajamas would make an awesome film or series. I hope someone in the film industry comes across it and realizes that. It would be highly entertaining. The quirky characters are easy to fall in love with and women would especially love it! Anyone know of someone in the business?

Q.- How would that alter the telling?

Cathy- I don’t think it would change it much. The story is written in a way that you could envision it as a series or film right from the start. Many readers have already told me so.

Q.- What's the next step in your writing world?

Cathy- As I’ve mentioned, I am currently finishing up the manuscript for my next novel. It’s titled Woolen Bikinis and is a sequel to in Polyester Pajamas. It’s almost done and I’m very excited about it.

Plans are to publish at least a novel a year. Otherwise, I enjoy volunteering as editor/writer of a newsletter for The Greater Lakes Region Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and hope to continue with that. It’s a very worthy cause.

Q.- Any other information you'd like to impart?

Cathy- Yes, I’d like to thank you, Dale, for this interview and for all of the help and advice you have given me these past few months. I’ve loved reading both of your books published by Briona Glen Publishing—A Memory of Grief and A Fall from Grace. I look forward to reading the next in the series when it is released.

Readers, please be sure to visit my blog/website at http://catherinedougherty.comto find out more about me. And check out my debut novel in Polyester Pajamas. It has just been released by Briona Glen Publishing and is available online at Amazon and Within the next few weeks, it will also be available in bookstores and other online sites.

I’d also like to mention to your audience that we both will be participating in the New England Author Expo on July 18th at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danversport, MA. Find out more about it at:

If anyone is in the area, please stop by and say hello. Admittance is free to the public. Hope to see you there!