Friday, April 30, 2010

Who Will Do It?

© Gerrie Ferris Finger 2010 all rights reserved

When writing a novel, there are at least two schools of thought on knowing the ending at the beginning. That is to say, in the mystery novel, the whodunit Рleaving for the d̩nouement the whydunnit. Although the whydunnit is the key to whodunit, it's the who that's dunnit.

There are writers who like to free-wheel and find out what's behind the plot's happenings at the same time the characters do. I'm more of a director when it comes to knowing who my heroine is going to pursue. My thoughts can take off in chaotic directions if I don't have a bad guy to focus on. I need someone who leads me and my heroine up the plot trail. She can free wheel; I want my bad guy a step ahead until the end.

I've written romance, romantic suspense, and now I have a mystery, THE END GAME, that was released on April 27. All my novels have a mystery component that adds conflict. I like to keep readers guessing. Are the characters they've come to know true to their words and deeds? In a romance: Is the man the heroine has fallen for the perpetrator of some evil deed in the past? In romantic suspense: Why does a stranger want the heroine to help him find his wife's murderer, risking her life in the finding?

I may not know the antagonist when I write the first word of the manuscript, but I want to know who the bad guy is by page fifty or when my characters have established themselves (and they will do that without direction from me).

At the start, I know the heroine's character and personality. (I haven't written a hero's story yet.) I put her in a situation that kicks off the plot. Characters come along and suddenly the bad guy emerges. Oh, he doesn't show up as the obvious bad guy because we (readers and this writer) are just getting to know him or her. But here is where my directorship takes over. Now that I know who he is, I can hide him under different guises, while being fair to the reader. I can see where he's going and divert him if he wants to get off the evil trail. I've written stories where the evil-doer has an overwhelming urge to redeem himself. That can't happen, this is a mystery, not a literary novel.

In the mystery, there are usually three to five characters with conflicts that make them suspects. As the focus narrows, my heroine has to see through the twists to figure out who committed the crime in order to solve it. In THE END GAME, heroine Moriah Dru, a professional PI child finder, sarcastically says to her lover, police lieutenant, Richard Lake: "Just what I like, an eeny-meeny-miney-moe of suspects."

Knowing the identity of the antagonist doesn't mean I know the ending of the book, or his motivations, or how he plans to defeat Dru and Lake. He has his secrets, but, in the end, like Dru, I'll catch him. By then, too, we'll have figured out the whydunnit.

About the author:

Gerrie Ferris Finger is a winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. She lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband and standard poodle, Bogey.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Helpful Hints for Writers Needing Exposure

There are a few things that you should not do to advertise for your book. The most obvious is to spam everyone and everything related to the Internet to get people to buy your work. Think like a consumer. Do those LOUD obnoxious advertisements on television irritate you or spur you to go out and buy the product?

Don’t be one of THOSE people.

Also, don’t let other people convince you to buy into their idea of what will help YOU sell your work. Listen, if taking out an ad in your local newspaper is what you believe will make a sale for you, do it. But don’t listen to Mr. Whositwhatsit tell you that ads in the local paper for six months every Sunday issue will net you untold billions of sale. What it may do instead is net you a lot of unwanted debt.

BE smart!

Now, how about a few things that might work? Here’s a short list:

1. Build a fantastic website and/or blogsite. People come out to find you once they hear about you. They do not always pick up the local paper to find out about you, but if you have a website, they will usually surf by.

2. Go to conferences. You will make connections with people who can help you and yes, even meet readers! Imagine that! There is no book review in the world that can sell your book like you can over a cup of hot tea at a table for five.

3. Write a few articles. Find three markets where you can post an article about something timely and informational and also blurb your book. There are a lot of people out there seeking information about something you know about. Capitalize on it!

4. Try a short story. There is a growing love of the short work. Many people are downloading short stories to their eReader just to be able to get some good fiction in before they have to move on to another thing in their busy life. I could read a short story while waiting at the doctor’s, dentist’s, or on another appointment. Don’t discount the opportunity of using the short form to introduce a potential reader to your longer work.

Okay, so there you have it. Things to do and things not to do. Not that I know anything at all about it. I am still just dangling one toe in the book writing business.

Kim Smith is the author of the zany Shannon Wallace mysteries, several contemporary romances, and a new YA time travel, A Mirror in Time, available now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blogging and Virtual Book Tour Basics

© Marta Stephens 2010 all rights reserved

With a few basic communication skills, a little time, and some careful planning, participating in a virtual book tour is not only doable, it is an inexpensive and fun way to meet potential readers and promote your book. Keep in mind that there are several sites available that offer to help authors coordinate and schedule virtual tours for a fee. Regardless of whether you choose to organize the tour yourself or hire a professional, all of these tips will help you get more out of your tour experience.

The key words are NETWORK and RELATIONSHIPS. Don't wait until your book is published to begin building a communication network. The sooner you begin building your network of contacts, the better your chances will be to promote your book to a wide audience once it is released. Join as many diverse groups as possible that focuses on various aspects of the publishing business such as general author forums where anything having to do with writing can and is discussed. Other groups may have a membership with focused interest on your genre, while yet others focus on discussions about marketing, agents, and publishing. The more contacts you develop within these groups the greater opportunity you will have to reach potential readers.

You may feel that you don’t have time to stay connected online and still keep up with the demands of your writing. The question is, can you afford to not network or to not meet potential readers? The solution is to manage your time and create a balance between writing and book promotions. Getting involved within Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites doesn't mean you have to devote hours a day to each one, but do make yourself known to others. Get involved in the conversations that are of interest to you and ones that you can contribute to. Think of how many people you know and come in contact with every day. Undoubtedly, other members within these sites know as many or possibly more people than you do and word of mouth is still one of the most effective forms of advertisement. Get to know other members. Pay attention to what is being discussed and follow the links they mentioned. You never know where they may lead you. If a certain link isn’t to your liking, go on to the next one.

Get Ready:

So, the day of your book launch is quickly approaching or has come and gone and now you feel it's time to beef up your promotions. Great! Roll up your sleeves and prepare to work for several weeks on nothing but your virtual book tour.

Step 1:

Don't be shy to ask for sponsorship. You'll find that most authors or site owners will be more than happy to showcase you. It's a win/win situation. The site owner wins because you're doing all the work; writing the articles and promoting their site. You win because you will be able to promote yourself and your book to a target audience that you might not have had access to prior to the tour.

Write a basic announcement and customized it to fit each site based on their criteria for self-promotion. Beware; there are author sites that frown on self-promotion. Make the announcement short, sweet, and to the point. Mention that you are making plans for a virtual book tour (give the dates) and indicate that you would like to know if anyone would be willing to sponsor you on their website or blog. Don't be afraid to ask.

Step 2:

Within minutes of you initial announcement, you may begin to receive e-mails from some of your contacts with an "I'd love to sponsor you-please send..."

Remember, everything about the tour is entirely your responsibility.

1. Study the sites of those who have invited you to be a guest writer. Read what others have posted to those sites. What can you write about yourself, your book, your characters, etc. that will fit the site's format?

2. Check the site’s submission guidelines and follow them! Again, this is YOUR tour and YOUR responsibility to get YOUR article/interview answers, jpg of author photo and book cover(s), bio, web link(s) and anything else that is asked of you to the owner by the deadline date. Nothing give a worse impression than for an author to not pull his or her weight. For example, don’t tell the blog host, “You can get my cover from my site.” Uh, no. I don’t think so.

3. Don't make the mistake of accepting the offer to post if the site doesn't fit your objective or schedule. I turned one offer down because they wanted a book review. I was reading a book at the time, but I wasn't going to have time to finish it and write a review in time for my tour.

4. Get a calendar and write down the names of your contacts and the blog's name and URL.

5. Don't over commit. If you can't write more than ten or eleven articles, don't promise to do eighteen or nineteen. It's better to add events to your tour than to commit and not follow through.

6. Create an e-mail folder titled Virtual Book Tour. Move all my e-mails (received and sent) into that folder so you could find important e-mails easily. It might also be helpful to print the final e-mails confirming the date/time of the event and placed them in a manila folder in event date order.

7. Create a folder in your favorites and save the links to each website and/or blog that is sponsoring you so you can find the links quickly.

8. Try to do a variety of events. Ask if you can write an article for some of the blogs, ask others if they would like to interview you. If they've read your book, perhaps they will be willing to write a review. Check to see if a group has a chat room and would be willing to schedule an hour chat with you and their members. Check into other media opportunities such as radio and television. Be prepared to send a picture of your book cover or banner to some of the sites. Remember to include a few local blogs in your mailing if they are available, such as local library or book club blogs.

9. Start writing. Type, type, type-breathe-type, type, type-breathe again! Vary the topics of your articles. Your sponsors will more than likely make suggestions. They may want to know what inspired you to write. Others may want you to discuss specifics about your book. Take their lead, but if they leave the topic up to you, one idea source is to review some of your previous interview questions. Maybe there's one that is particularly thought provoking that you would like to expand on. Check your work. Don't expect your sponsor to proofread or edit your work and don't expect them to post an article that is riddled with typos.

10. When you e-mail your article to the website owner, be sure to remind him or her of your purpose, the name of your article, the agreed date to post the article and which blog to post it in if they have multiple blogs.

11. Check to see what other authors are doing to attract readers to their tour. Some offer to draw names of those commenting on the tour posts for a free autographed copy of their book. This is just one example.

12. Create an events page on your website and post the tour schedule and links. Join a site such as . Book Tour is a super easy site to work with and it has a nice, clean look. It allows you to link to your website and book trailer (if you have one). There may be others, but this one has some other nice features such as allowing visitors to send reminders of the tour dates to their e-mails or websites.

13. A few days to a week before the tour, prepare another standard announcement to post on the various websites you belong to. This time, list the details of your tour and/or the links to the sites that lists your schedule.

14. Two-three days before each event, contact your sponsors and remind him or her to post your blog. This is also a good time to send out private e-mails to everyone listed in your address book to remind them of the tour. Be sure to ask them to post comments on your blogs and to forward your e-mail to their friends and families.

15. Once your article or interview has been published, check your posts for comments and be sure to type a response to each.

16. After each article has been published on the host site for the day, post the link to that site and article on your own website and/or blog. This way, your article will appear on the search engines via the host site as well as your blog. More important, your work will be available in one convenient place for visitors to read and you will only need to share one link, your blog’s.

Step 3:

You will instinctively want to measure your accomplishment in sales. That’s fine, but remember that sales are not the only measuring stick of success. Done correctly, virtual tours attract the attention of critical reviewers, additional interview opportunities, screenplay writer, and invitations to write for other sites. All of this will translate into credibility and more exposure. Regardless of where an author is in his or her writing career, the tour experience and contacts will prove to be invaluable.

Step 4:

Think down the road. Nothing will get you an invitation to post on a site again like a heart-felt thank you. Your sponsor will appreciate it as much as a reciprocal offer from you to return the favor.

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense.
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).
SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).
Personal site:  
Personal blog:  
Collective blog:  
Character Blog:   

These novels are available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. E-book versions are available through Smashword. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review - Broken Angel, by S.W. Vaughn

 Hi, folks!

I just received my long awaited copy of SW Vaughn’s new book – Broken Angel. It's a helluva story. Go out and buy it today!

-  Aaron

Broken Angel, by SW Vaughn, breathes with an insistent life of its own, pulling readers along through the dark underworld of barbaric fight clubs and prostitution.
            The story unfolds as twenty-two year old Gabriel Morgan, destitute and starving, discovers a lead to his missing sister’s whereabouts deep in the seedy underbelly of Manhattan. For two years, Gabe scoured the city in search of his sibling, driven by memories of their traumatic childhood and praying to rescue Lillith from the ring of prostitution into which she’s been ensnared.
Slade, cold-hearted leader of an underground street fighting society, has been waiting for the unsuspecting Gabriel. Lillith dangles like a spider’s prey in his web, luring Gabe into Slade’s trap.
Beneath the glamour and glitz of Fifth Avenue pulses a world fraught with greed, violence, and cruelty. Captured, tortured and held in a secret complex beneath Fifth Avenue, Gabe is chained to a wall in his own private dungeon, where he discovers his fate. Terms for release: ten million dollars. Broke and desperate, Gabe is forced to fight for Slade in exchange for his sister’s freedom.
Training is brutal and comes with a price. Jenner, slithering and sadistic, delights in torturing Gabriel, calling him his “angel.” The name sticks. Slade bills Angel as his newest weapon; sure that he’ll make millions in the no-holds-barred events.
Angel grows stronger and more resilient as the months pass under Jenner’s vicious tutelage. Jenner tattoos an elaborate set of wings on Angel’s back, driving him into a pain-induced coma. After an excruciating recovery, fight follows fight as Angel strikes blows for freedom. He wins the first, the second, and the third event. He’s good - and discovers a disturbing affinity to the blood sport. Befriended by Akuma, an exotic and lithe fighter, Angel welcomes the brief moments of companionship as he works his way through the human cockfights.
Vaughn has created a fascinating, yet disturbed world. The tight writing flows effortlessly and propels the reader forward, mesmerized and horrified, to the startling ending. Readers must be forewarned, they will likely read late into the night, unable to abandon Angel in his plight, and will beg for the release of Devil’s Honor, the second book in the series.

Aaron Paul Lazar

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Do you have any? If you are a writer and say no, you are also a liar. But then again, all fiction writers ARE liars, aren’t they? Another post for another day. Today, let’s talk about doubting your ability. We all do it. We worry that we won’t write a good book, or that we won’t get an agent because we aren’t what they want in a writer, or we worry that our book will be perceived wrong, and so on and so on.

It has to be the fear of failure. No. Maybe it is the fear of success? Either way it’s out there and now we can talk about it. What do you do that helps you feel more secure in your writing life?

Here is a short list:

Don’t read your own work once it is published.
Don’t go to Amazon and look to see who’s reviewing you and if the reviews are good.
Don’t keep up with the naysayers who tell you that it is impossible to get published in today’s market.
Don’t keep redoing your website over and over to avoid getting on with writing the book.
Don’t keep rewriting the first part of the book thinking it has to be perfect.

This is only a tiny tidbit of things not to do. There are way more that I could say TO DO. But I’d rather spark conversation and let you decide.

SO. What does a writer do to keep hope alive?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's It Feel Like To Type, "The End" ??

A burst of fireworks, that's what with a huge one of these "!" after it.
Yes, I finished my manuscript, SHROUD OF LIES on Monday. Ten months, one day, 49 chapters, 70,377 words, and lots of hair-pulling sessions later, I can actually say I AM FINISHED.

I’m sorry, was that a little too loud? Ha!

I wrote the last six chapters over the weekend and yes, those six will have to take their turn on the "time out" chair before I edit and polish them, but technically ... it's done and feels better than chocolate at the moment.

It's been so frustrating to know how I wanted this novel to end and yet not find the words to show it. To add to that frustration, I was beginning to think I was living in the movie "Groundhog Day." Every time I reached chapter 30 or so, another major change popped into my head. I jumped in to make the changes. How many out there have changed the identity of your killer seven chapters from the end? Let me tell you, it makes for some interesting edits. Invariably, it forced me to adjust every chapter from 15 on. This type of change happened at least three times that I can recall—a frustrating but equally gratifying process. Oh well, such is life and speaking of life, for those out there who don't write mysteries and wonder what twisted things go through the mind of one who does, check this out.  Please note, not intended for readers with weak stomachs. ;)

While you’re watching that video, I’m going to start working on my pitch and writing some query letters. ;)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

S. W.'s Alter Ego Steps In

Hey everyone! Today I'm cheating with a repost from another blog, where my alter ego Sonya Bateman made a guest appearance. Have a good day!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hi there! My name is Sonya Bateman, I’m a brand new debut urban fantasy novelist, and I’m going to tell you all about my book (MASTER OF NONE – one unlucky thief, one unlikely genie, one very odd couple – now available everywhere books are sold, OMGZORZ *dies*), and about my fascinating, original, well-rounded characters, and where I got every last idea for every single scene, and check out this graph of my Amazon rank over the last 30 days, and here’s how I started writing when I was six months old – no, when I was still in the womb – and it’s always been my dream, and now I feel like Susan Boyle, and stars and rainbows and unicorns and are you bored to tears yet?

Good. Because what I actually want to talk about is torture.

Yes, I do love torture. Doesn’t everyone? The screams, the begging, the smell of blood and burning flesh...whoa, sorry. Channeling a little of the Six-Fingered Man there (how many points do I get for a Princess Bride reference? Do I get a bonus if I know his name’s Count Rugen, without even looking it up on IMDb?). Anyway, (I suppose) I’m not talking really-real-world torture here. Not even waterboarding. What I mean is the authorial right – nay, the obligation – to torture my characters.

Now, this is metaphorical torture, most of the time. My characters have to work their asses off for every victory. If some little thing’s going wrong, I turn it into a BIG wrong. When they take one step forward, I kick them ten steps back, and then preferably off a cliff. I made sure that the first sentence of my synopsis (“Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief”) was absolutely true. Nothing ever goes right for him. And the fun part is, he knows that. But he tries anyway.

Here’s a quick example. Donatti’s new “partner” (who hates his guts) has been shot and needs medical attention. A hospital’s out of the question – he’s a thief, and his partner isn’t even human. He calls his ex-girlfriend (collect from a payphone, because his cell’s been smashed and the motel operator doesn’t have change), who also hates him, because she’s close by and has some medical knowledge. She agrees, reluctantly, to come. Hooray! Help is on the way.

But when she shows up, it’s at the wrong end of a gun pointed in his face. Hooray? Yeah, maybe not.

When it comes to real torture*, sometimes I’ve got that covered, too. I’ve done some work that’s rather – er, not fit for commercial publication, in terms of screwed-up-edness. So, when I wrote this manuscript, I tried to tone down some of the graphic detail I might have otherwise included. While my agent and I were working on revisions, in the actual (as opposed to metaphorical) torture scene toward the end, she noted something like this: “Not that I’m advocating violence, but I think you should describe this torture more thoroughly.”

I replied (as I dreamed new and imaginative ways to hurt Donatti and describe his pain in greater detail): “This pleases me greatly.”

And she answered: “I suspected it would.”

See? Even my agent knows I’m disturbed. This pleases me greatly.

But I’m really a nice person in real life. I only torture my creations. That’s not bad. I mean, they’re just fictional characters. Right?

Er. Put that gun down, Donatti. You’re not a murderer. And no, you can’t make an exception for me.

*The “real” torture’s in the fiction, folks. I don’t actually own a dungeon. I just rent.

Find out more about Sonya at!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where Do You Write?

Hello, folks.

In the midst of doing tons of renovations in our old 1811 home, thinking about the upcoming job interview this week, babysitting for my little grandkids, and working on my book, I started to think about how sweet it would be to have a room just for writing. I know lots of you have offices out there where you write your hearts out... but you probably don't have nine people living with you, either! Ha! Yeah, we're jammed in all over the place, and the last thing I'd ever get would be an actual WHOLE room to write in.

So, I do what I have to, and have good headphones and lots of music that blocks out the TV nearby. I thought it would be fun for you to send me photos of your writing space (or describe it below in the comments), and I'll post the pictures (aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com).

Here's where I usually write when I'm home, although having a laptop does make life easier if I decide I want to sit by the fire on the couch, or write on the porch. I love my comfy leather chair, and my new bed's pretty darned cushy, too. I'm one lucky guy. ;o)

Here's hoping you have a wonderful week. And don't forget - write like the wind!

--  Aaron

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old work new work

Have you ever written a story or book and set it aside while you worked on something else and when you went back to it, it just wasn't the gem you thought it was? More like a diamond in the rough in need of some tumbling and polishing, eh? Me too.

In fact, recently, I reread a bit of my first manuscript Avenging Angel, and I was still overcome with desire to edit. I saw every extraneous word, every adverb, and adjective that needed cutting and wasn't. That happens with every book I am told, but it is still pretty irritating when it is yours.

I do believe that with every book we write we get better at cutting out stuff. I don't think any of us has a problem with adding stuff in, do we?

And,readers are pretty forgiving, yes. But a writer's mind never stops. I recently read a quote by someone who said, "A writer can be looking out the window and still writing a book."

Very true!

We never stop writing even when we could, and we seem to stop editing when the going is good. (No, I didn't mean to make a rhyme, but you may certainly use it!)

I sure hope that as time goes on, I get better and better at knowing when to say when and when to go through and edit once more. Maybe fans will comment on my book one day and tell me that though my first one was a fine story, the most recent was the best of all. Wouldn't that be cool if they did that EVERY BOOK??

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brevity is the Soul of... Difficulty

"I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short."
--Blaise Pascal

It's a principle that defies all logic: in writing, it takes a lot of time to compose something short. Take this blog post, for example. It's going to take me 20 or 30 minutes to arrange my thoughts the way I want them to be read (I've already edited these few sentences four times) - yet in the same amount of time, I could have written two pages of a novel.

Why is it so hard to come up with just a few words? How can I pound out an entire chapter's worth of prose (on a good day) in an hour or so, but I have to think about a 140-character Facebook or Twitter post for the same amount of time before I'm ready to type it in?

Apparently, I'm not the only writer who struggles with brevity. The quote above has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Samuel Johnson, and Mark Twain. They knew the principle. In writing, what you say does not count nearly as much as how you say it - and the fewer words you use to make your point, the more precise those words must be.

Here's an example. In the opening of one of my novels, I needed to make the point that the character was in a rural area alone at night. Now, I could have said something like this:

The building I drove into was on a single-lane road, and there were no neighbors. I hadn't passed another structure for miles. I didn't see any other cars while I was headed here, and it was already ten o'clock, so it was dark outside. And cloudy. Of course, there were a lot of trees, because I was in the country.

Does it get the point across? Sure. It took me about a minute and a half to write that paragraph, and it's almost the right voice - but it's far too clunky, and rather boring. Here's what's actually in the manuscript:

Outside, a starless night in Middle of Nowhere, New York, waited for me.

Thirteen words that say the exact same thing. And I probably spent at least two minutes on that sentence while I was writing the book.

Brevity for the sake of good writing shouldn't be applied only to Facebook posts and blog comments. Saying more with fewer words is good practice for any type of writing, even novels - especially novels. Writing lots of words is great, but the real strength of your writing will come from choosing the right words.

And that takes time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Order and OCD

copyright 2010, Aaron Paul Lazar

Since I was laid off last year, in spite of the trauma of dealing with the feelings of rejection that accompany such an event, I’ve actually accomplished a great deal. Lasting things. Things that will make our lives better. Unlike doing the dishes, which seems the most thankless and forever job. ;o)

I’ve detailed some of the joyful events experienced in my “Paradise” articles here on MB4, but today I want to talk about the supreme joy of having things organized and in order.

I’ve had the luxury of accomplishing tasks that rarely even glimmered on the things-to-do horizon when I was working. Projects are popping up all over the place and actually getting completed. Today I learned how to lay ceramic tile, and though my knees and back are aching, I completed the job (the grout goes on in 24 hours) and it looks amazing. Everything has fallen into place with a very nice sense of order.

I used to dream of having a month off, a summer off, a year off. I often imagined retirement, and dreamed about all the stuff I’d do in the incredible world of having time. Now I’ve been given the gift of seeing what it will be like in retirement, and I love it.

If I put aside all the negative aspects of losing one’s job and partition out the amazing stuff that happened, it’s been a super year. I thought it would be fun to chronicle some of it here and also ask you if you ever get that feeling of elation like I do when stuff falls into place and when things are actually IN their places!

First of all, I started and completed two full manuscripts, possibly the best two books I’ve ever written. (Don’t Let the Wind Catch You and For the Birds.) These books were written in the environment I’d always ached for – being home, tending the fires, cooking soups, playing with grandkids, keeping up the gardens, and writing to my heart’s content. (We’ll ignore the parts where I had to constantly be checking for jobs, networking, and fearing survival! LOL)

I also completed edits on two more books that are coming out this year – Healey’s Cave and Firesong. And most recently, I revamped and beefed up the third book in the Moore Mystery series, entitled For Keeps. I added over 17,000 words to that novel, then sent it off to my publisher.

It feels good to know that even in tumultuous times, I accomplished something worthwhile.

On the home front, I managed to do major renovations in the house and on the grounds. Here are a few shots of the newly done over bedroom. I think we were watching Mrs. Doubtfire that day (grin). How do you like our new wallpaper? It's so much brighter now that the old stuff. The whole room seems more spacious now. 

Balto watched the whole thing. 

And on the days we had Bella, she kept wanting to go outside. I took her out in between all the projects, and the fresh air felt good.

But the accomplishments that made me ridiculously happy were the stupid little things that annoy you every day that never get fixed. Know what I mean? Like finally securing the screw on the rake that kept twisting off its pole, or super-gluing the rear view mirror that keeps falling off ever since the glass people replaced the windshield, or gluing on that darned dimmer switch knob which falls off every day. Dang, it felt good to fix that stuff!

And boy, did I go “hook” happy. No, not literary hooks. I’m talking about regular white plastic stick-em-on-the-wall hooks. I put them up beside our bed to hang our glasses, on the side of the kitchen cabinet to hang our many sets of keys, on the back of the bathroom door for robes and backstraps and more, and I’m still thinking up places to use them. I find an inordinate amount of joy in these things. It's a little scary.

More and more, I’m seeking order. Organizing has always made me happy, but now it’s almost a religion. When things are organized, I feel like I’m in control (for a few sweet moments), and I get such a thrill out of figuring out better ways to store and handle things that I’ve nearly become obsessed with it. I’m already rather borderline OCD, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise.

This week I even organized my wife’s jewelry. She had her earrings in a big old pill bottle and everything else in a fifty-year-old, very tattered and falling apart jewelry box she’d had since she was about ten. I ordered a beautiful wooden box for her necklaces and such, and then found a free-standing “earring angel” to organize her earrings. Dale’s not really much of a jewelry lady – she doesn’t salivate over diamonds or gems. But she does like to wear earrings and I love to buy them for her. There was something very satisfying about matching up the pairs, and something very sad about the ones that were left behind with no partners. I know they’re lost for good, because when I redid the bedroom, I went all the way down to the wood floors and every single corner and crevice was cleaned before I refinished the wide pine boards. We’re saving those lonely soldiers for our daughter Allison who might want to wear them in her extra pierced holes in her ears. I don’t get that – to me, symmetry is essential. Must have something to do with the OCD thing. LOL.

Have you had any of these feelings? Do you long for time to get your life in order? Although I don’t wish losing one’s job on anybody, there is a bittersweet kind of satisfaction that comes with the experience.

And now – shock of all shocks – I actually have a job interview coming up on April 22nd. A German company with a small office in Rochester seems to want to chat with me. Hmm. I love and miss Germany, and always enjoyed working with folks from Germany when I was at Kodak. Matter of fact, that was my favorite part of the job. 

But I’m also signed up for grad school in the fall. I'm still excited about that possibility. ;o)

What will happen, only God knows.

Either way, I’m game.  :o)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stumbling by

These days I am more zombie than zany and more ghoul than girl. I am suffering from the hellish days and nights of ICU family waiting rooms and surgeries augmented with bad food and no sleep and to be quite honest, I do not have a great deal of time to sit and ponder plotting, and characters, and settings. My writing is consisting of mostly good intentions and efforts best left to another day.

There is an upside to this however.

Stumble Upon.

Yes, I have spent a few mindless moments surfing the web on Stumble Upon and looking at beautiful pictures, wise words of wisdom, and hysterically funny cartoons.

S/U has just about everything.

I invite you to visit today.
CLICK HERE and begin stumbling. Be sure to set your preferences and you will get pages of stuff that is JUST what you want to see.

When life rights itself again and spins on the normal axis, you can be sure I will be using this time as fodder for fiction at some point. Until then, I hope you have a bit of fun visiting a site with a lot to offer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Does giving away e-books increase sales?

That’s the subject of a study conducted by John Hilton III and David Wiley, both of Brigham Young University.

Their study was based on sales records for 41 books within three groups and notes sales records 8 weeks before the free digital release and books sales 8 weeks after the free digital release. The complete study and conclusion is available here:;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0013.101

After listing to all the pros and cons of giving away e-books to generate print sales, I found it interesting that one of the conclusions in this study is that there was a “ … moderate correlation between free digital books being made permanently available and short-term print sales increases. However, free digital books did not always equal increase sales.”

About the authors:
John Hilton III received his M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and currently is a Ph.D. student in Instructional Psychology at Brigham Young University. He is interested in researching open-access issues, particularly the creation and use of open educational resources, and looking at how free digital book distribution affects print sales and the impact of books.

David Wiley is an associate professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Got Business Cards?

I'm going to a conference at the end of this month, and I've realized it would be really, really handy to have business cards to hand out to all the lovely media people there. But... I don't have any. And "author" isn't exactly a common profession, so it's hard to say what should be on them.

From the research I've done so far, authors should include:

* Your name
* Your contact information
* A tag line, if you have one
* Your logo (um... I didn't know I was supposed to have a logo!)
* A representative graphic and/or color scheme of your work, if you don't have a logo

And authors should NOT include:

* Your photo (apparently this makes you narcissistic, pretentious, or a real estate agent)
* Your backlist (must keep things current)
* Glossy card stock (in case the person you're handing the card to needs to jot something down)
* "Stuff" (in other words, keep it simple - don't clutter up the card with all the amazingness you can cram onto it)

I think this business card thing is going to take me a while to sort out. Meanwhile, here are some helpful articles for you on author business cards:

Business Cards for Authors

Author Business Cards are Different

Author Business Card Templates

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Trailer in the Woods

© Gerry Boyle 2010 all rights reserved

I’d heard for some time that the video trailer was becoming an expected feature of book promotions so for my tenth mystery novel, DAMAGED GOODS, I decided to take the plunge. It turned out to be an interesting experience, for all kinds of unexpected reasons.

DAMAGED GOODS is about a reporter, Jack McMorrow, and his wife, Roxanne. She’s a social worker, who is threatened by a deranged and angry guy after she removes a couple his abused kids from their home. McMorrow, meanwhile, has befriended an “escort” after he interviews her for a story. Mandi turns out to be more than he bargained for.

But more importantly, the book is 320 pages long. How long did we have for the video? Two and a half minutes. Where to begin?

Videographer Ned Warner selected a handful of key images that would tell the story and capture the flavor of the book. Filming began and so did the surprises. Here are a few:

• A book is a product of the writer’s imagination but a video needs real images, scenes, locations. The filming process forced me to consider the setting of the book in a different way. Instead of creating the scenes, I was looking for a reality that matched my imagined places. Even if you think you know where your book is set, you’ll find that you’ve distorted reality in the creative process. So when Ned said, “Where does this all happen?” I had to think. In the end, we focused on images that were basic, elemental, and fleeting: dark woods. A rifle shot. A woman’s face in a second-story window.

• A book trailer is a hard thing to explain. Especially when we’re on a woods road in rural Waldo County, Maine. Ned was on top of a stepladder with his camera. We had a rifle. We were on take 20 or so. And a dog came barking and bounding through the woods, followed by his owner. Fortunately the guy was more curious than hostile. I tried to explain the book promotion thing but could see I wasn’t getting through. Finally I just said that Ned was from New York. Ahhh, the guy’s expression said. Whatever craziness we were up to finally made sense.

• The last 30 seconds of the video is me talking into the camera. That’s about a half a page. How hard could it be? Very. Memorizing it was one thing. Getting through it without a mistake was another. We had goof-ups at the beginning. Goof-ups in the middle. Goof-ups on the last word. When I finally got it right, a barn cat jumped through the scene. A passing truck backfired. More outtakes than a Jackie Chan movie. More respect for actors on stage and screen.

• In the book, there’s a scene where a doll is stabbed and smeared with fake blood. Seemed benign enough when I wrote it. But seeing it there on the screen was very creepy. It made me wonder if this is what readers would imagine? Is the image on the screen harder hitting than the words on the page?

I’m interested in hearing of other writers’ experiences. I also wonder what readers think. Does the video move you to read DAMAGED GOODS? How much is too much? How little is too little? All to be considered when the next book moves from my imagination to the page to the video screen.

About the author:
Gerry Boyle is the author of ten mystery novels, including DAMAGED GOODS and eight other Jack McMorrow mysteries. He launched a second series in 2009 featuring boat bum Brandon Blake in PORT CITY SHAKEDOWN. A former journalist, Boyle lives in a village by a lake in central Maine.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blessed Sunshine, Master of None, and Firesong's Cover Art

Okay. I'll admit it. After being locked up inside for three weeks while I painted, wallpapered, refinished the floor, etc in our bedroom, I just HAD to get outside and feel that glorious sun on my face. It's been in the eighties here, broken all records, and the wild and welcome weather has driven everyone outside to clear out gardens and rake leaves. I've got the whole place in pretty good shape now, and also planted my peas, beets, lettuce, and chard. There are a few more areas under the trees that need to have the sticks picked up (about an acre), and soon I'll order the mulch and plant potatoes and onions... but for now, I'm done.

What this means is I really didn't write anything of substance for my column today. LOL. But I'm sure you'll forgive me this one week!

Here's a photo I want to share with you, and after you see it, I want you to go order our very own S.W. Vaughn's book. It was such a delight to get this in the mail the other day and to hold in my very own hands for the first time a story I love and know well. I can't tell you how thrilled we all are to share in S.W.'s success. Her book, Master of None, is in Walmart now (that is SO hard to do!) and popping up in major bookstores all over the country. I've had the pleasure of riding alongside her during this bumpy road, and I can't tell you what a wonderful, warm, supportive friend she is. (not to mention a great critique partner!) Sonya's writing is smooth, fresh, exciting, and totally imaginative. You'll not get a chance to catch your breath, because once her protagonist escapes one dilemma, the earth falls out from under him to threaten him again. It's like a roller coaster ride through a gritty and luscious adventure. You won't be able to put it down. So go buy it, and then buy ten copies for your friends' next birthdays and for Christmas!

ONE UNLUCKY THIEF. ONE UNLIKELY GENIE. ONE VERY ODD COUPLE.Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . . .

And here's one more photo for you, the latest LeGarde Mystery, entitled Firesong, scheduled for release later this year through Twilight Times Books. Firesong is the sequel to Mazurka, and features themes from the underground railroad, a country church gone awry, a collapsing salt mine, a raging inferno, and much more. Let me know what you think of the cover.

Hope you all enjoy your Easter Sunday, that the bunny finds your house and leaves you goodies, and that the sun shines for you all day long.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life gets in the way

Sometimes we wake up and just know it will be a bad day.

Our blanket is on the floor, the alarm clock is broken, and we spill our cereal.


Ever have one of those? Me too.

But what about your characters? Do you ever show them having one of the bad days? How do they manage it? Does this attitude affect their life and send the story off in a new direction? Maybe they are an eternal optimist who believes that missing the train means that they will avoid an accident, or dropping buttered toast down their shirt and having to change will in effect get them that raise.

Does having a story life have to be different from real life? I don't think so. Of course no one wants to read about a character who has ALL bad days and never sees a ray of sunshine. That would just be depressing. But I think most readers do want to read about someone who exists in a world that mirrors their own.

The catch is: be sure to show the outcome and how they worked around their bad day. That's what readers really read for. They want to see how your character turned a bad day (or several) into a good one. You know the 'old moral of the story is' thing.

Happy writing!