Friday, April 29, 2011

Promoting Your Novel

© Douglas Corleone 2011 all rights reserved

The moment you sign a book contract, that’s when the real work begins. Forget all that time you spent outlining, researching, writing and re-writing, revising, searching for an agent, waiting for a publisher to say “yes.” The real challenge for authors in today’s climate is book promotion.

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of work involved in promoting your novel will likely fall on you, the author. Yes, even if you sign with a major New York publisher, as I did. I won’t dwell on the why, or whether it’s fair, or even whether it makes good business sense from the standpoint of your publisher. That’s all irrelevant because it’s out of our control. What I’ll talk about is what I learned as a debut author and offer suggestions as to what you can do the moment the ink dries on your contract.

If you follow any writers blogs, you’ve probably been hit over the head about the importance of social media. But it’s worth mentioning again, because it’s all true. Social media may be the single best way to reach readers today. If you haven’t already started an account on Facebook or Twitter, do so now (even if you’re still in the process of seeking an agent.) Reconnect with old friends, former classmates and colleagues, family you haven’t spoken to in years. Begin a dialogue with fellow writers. Search the Internet to find informative or entertaining material and repost it on your Facebook wall or Twitter page. Don’t be shy. Talk about yourself and your book in a way that draws other people in. Mention how delighted you were to find Library Journal’s glowing review of your novel, or how stunned you were to find an article written about you in the Huffington Post.

Of course, social media sites aren’t the only way to connect with readers on the Internet. Authors today must have a website. So go to and register a domain name. In having the website designed, you can go expensive or you can go cheap. But whichever way you go, be sure that your website looks professional. Include a home page, a biography page, a page about your novel. List your events and appearances, your reviews and awards. And be sure to add buy links and a way for readers to contact you. (By the way, I went cheap. I used a flash template from The set-up fee was $150, and I pay another $15 a month for hosting. I can change the site to my liking at anytime. Before finally going with the flash template I received quotes ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 for design. You can visit my site at  and let me know what you think.)

But enough about the Internet for now. You just signed a contract and now you want to sign some books. So let’s move on to author appearances. Live events are fun – unless no one shows up. This is a risk you take when you set up book signings, especially at the large chain stores. So be sure to recruit some friends. To promote my debut crime novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE, I scheduled book signings at each of the major chain stores on the island of Oahu - two Barnes & Noble and four Borders Books & Music. Debut authors often struggle at these events, and I was no exception. But the bookstore managers were friendly and invited me back to promote my second novel NIGHT ON FIRE, which was released earlier this week. I recommend setting up signings. Even if you don’t sell dozens of books, you get an opportunity to introduce yourself to bookstore managers and staff, who may later hand-sell your book. At the end of the event, be sure to ask the manager if he or she would like you to sign some stock. Signed copies sell better, even if the author is no longer in the store.

I also recommend setting up events at your local libraries. It’s a good way to meet readers and get your name out to the public. And librarians appreciate your efforts. Bring along some promotional materials, such as bookmarks and postcards with the cover of your book printed on them. In addition to these events, never pass up the opportunity to speak in public. This January I served as guest speaker at the Hawaii chapter of Sisters in Crime’s annual kick-off luncheon in Waikiki and gave presentations to two local book clubs. In March, I spoke to a local Rotary Club. All were grateful, I made some friends, and I think, gained some readers.

Of course, don’t pass up any media opportunities either. In fact, seek them out. Prepare a press release and send it to local newspapers, radio and television stations. Grant interviews. Send Advance Reader Copies of your novel to be reviewed. Not just to print outlets, but to bloggers as well.

Which leads us back to the Internet. You’re reading this article because I’m presently on a “virtual tour.” You’ll find my blog posts at approximately 30 other venues over the next few weeks. Each post will be unique, and hopefully engaging. One may even prompt you to purchase a copy of NIGHT ON FIRE. Most writing blogs are happy to host published authors. Send a request and carefully follow their guidelines. Make each post informative and entertaining, and be sure to return to each blog on the day of your post to respond to questions and comments from readers.

This year, in addition to the above, I had a book trailer produced by Trailer to the Stars. You can view the trailer for NIGHT ON FIRE on YouTube. I’m also using Facebook ads, which seem to be a cost-effective way for people to see the cover of your book. (You pay only for clicks, not impressions). The results of these new endeavors remain to be seen, but I’ll be certain to let you know next year when I return to Murder By 4 to promote the third novel in the Kevin Corvelli series, CHOICE OF EVILS. Until then, happy reading.

About the author

Douglas Corleone is the author of the KEVIN CORVELLI crime series set in Hawaii. His debut novel ONE MAN'S PARADISE won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Corleone now resides in the Hawaiian Islands, where he writes full-time. NIGHT ON FIRE is his second novel.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

After the storm...

Hope you all are well. After three days of battling terrible storms and horrifying damages, I am happy to report me and mine are safe. Not so lucky is Alabama, and I hope you are not there. I am thinking about you if you are.

So allow me this opportunity to use the storm as an analogy.

What do we do when we have been buffeted by the winds of change in the publishing world, experienced the devastation of rejection, and find ourselves standing in the midst of the aftermath of the storm that is the writing life.

What do we do?

We could throw up our hands and say it is impossible to fix this mess. We could say it is done and over and we are ruined. We can likewise choose a more positive route and say I will rise from these ashes.

It has been my experience to get up again. I refuse to let the storm keep me down. I will still get up and go forward. There are more opportunities down the road. There is a shelter somewhere I will find and stay in for a while. I choose to keep fighting.

I hope you do too! There is a sunrise coming. There is a great bright sunny future ahead of you. Just keep writing. Keep sending out your work. It only takes one yes to find yourself in a whole new place. Don't let change and other's opinions dictate where you go with your work. Let your writing shine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Presenting Multi-Cultural Characters

© Deborah J Ledford 2011 all rights reserved

The leading man of my thriller series is Steven Hawk, the only African American deputy of Swain County, North Carolina. Yes, this may be a stretch—there most likely will never be a black man assigned to this position in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina . . . but I have hope.

Although Hawk’s ethnicity isn’t a major point of the novels, it is clear that he is a southern black man, especially when it comes to his relationship with family. I spent my summers growing up in the area of the series’ main location. My mother’s people still live in western North Carolina and I visit whenever I can. People of the south rely on family, need them, treasure them.

The same goes for the ethnicity of my female lead, rock star sensation Katina Salvo, who is faced to return to the Taos Pueblo in order to escape from someone intent on killing her. She soon learns that reconnecting with her people is far more important than wealth or fame.

I’m a firm believer that the writer must stay true to their characters, no matter their skin color, background, or beliefs. The “vision” of Steven Hawk came to me initially when I was writing the screenplay many years ago. Although SNARE is much different from the script, I loved the character so much that I didn’t feel the need to alter his appearance when writing the novel.

And I knew that Katina Salvo needed to be Native American. As part Eastern Band Cherokee, it is always my intent to showcase authentic Native American elements in all of my work, so it was crucial to find the correct tribe to gift Katina with. I had no desire for her to come from an Arizona tribe, and the Navahos are already quite well represented by Tony Hillerman. After endless hours of research I decided on the Taos Pueblo Tribe of northern New Mexico.

Assuring the integrity of all things Pueblo, I enlisted help from the spokesman for Taos Pueblo creative affairs, Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez. Due to his tireless efforts, and loads of patience, the inspirational Taos Pueblo and its People are presented to the best of my ability. There were many elements I wanted to include in SNARE but couldn’t. There isn’t a lot published about the Taos Pueblos and many topics and stories Floyd discussed with me were deemed confidential. Although I would have loved sharing this with you their wishes will be respected—these secrets will go to the grave with me.

The manuscript was wholly approved by Floyd, and if he questioned any of the pages he sought advice from elders and the Tribal Council. This not only included what I presented about the Pueblo Reservation, but also every element of Katina’s “being” had to be true to the Pueblo culture and personality. SNARE would be lacking on every level if not for this kind assistance.

I had the honor of appearing on the “Living Diversity” panel at Left Coast Crime 2011 in Santa Fe last month with Darryl Wimberley, Neil Plakcy and Gar Anthony Haywood. These truly gifted novelists all write multi-cultural characters. The audience was quite interested in how we go about stepping into the skin of a character so much different than our own.

Consensus with the panel was that every writer creates multi-cultural characters, whether they carry the novel, are secondary, or appear only briefly. If Anglo writers were pigeonholed into presenting only white characters, blacks writing only about blacks, Asians “allowed” to only present their people, there wouldn’t be many books worth reading. Essentially, we’re all the same on the inside.

About the author

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist. STACCATO, is book one of her Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications, as well as mystery and literary anthologies. Deborah invites you to visit her website:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Feel Like a Bird (tweet, tweet!)

copyright Aaron Paul Lazar, 2011

Several months ago, I promised to review Carolyn Howard Johnson’s new guide, Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers. Although it wasn't aimed directly at authors, we are all retailers, so I figured it applied to me just as much as someone who owns an online shop, for example. I’d been feeling guiltier by the day when I didn’t get to it, and it was starting to weigh on me. Heavily. A promise is a promise, right? I hated not fulfilling it.

Of course, to be honest, there were some perfectly good excuses to explain my lax behavior. Some of you know how crazy my writing life has been lately. With FireSong, Terror Comes Knocking, For the Birds, Essentially Yours, and Don’t Let the Wind Catch You all scheduled for release in the next 9 months, I’ve been editing and polishing and contributing to cover ideas, and editing, and editing, checking ARCs (“advanced reader copies”), and editing and…  Get the picture?

So when it came time to do a little promoting for the FireSong eBook (April 5, 2011), in advance of the July print release, I decided I needed to honor my promise to Carolyn, as well as beef up my Twitter skills.

Sure, I was “on” Twitter. And I’d occasionally “tweeted” about new releases, about articles I wrote on Gather or here on Murderby4, etc. I probably had about fifty tweets over the past years. I was proud of my 75 followers – some friends, some others who just happened to find me. But the only way I used Twitter was only to shout out into the wilderness about me and my stuff.  

Not so cool.

Whenever I went to my Twitter page, I’d enjoy seeing what my friends were tweeting about their books. I’d follow their links to  interesting articles or sites. But I really didn’t “get” Twitter. Of course, I knew that the rich and famous used it to tweet their every move, from putting on their slippers to taking a bath. That seemed rather silly to me. And I knew some friends used it to keep in extremely close touch, sort of a miniature version of texting.

But whenever folks “followed” me (the term used to describe a connection, sort of like “friending” on Facebook), I’d just think, “Oh! That’s nice!” And there I let it all stop.

So, after reading Carolyn’s guide (chock full of great tips!), I realized I was going about it all wrong. She taught me that the beauty of this system is not to simply broadcast your news into an empty void, but to connect with people – for real – by offering them something and starting up a relationship. A gift, a freebie, a connection to a great site… that’s what it’s all about. Not so hard to understand, and I'll never understand why I didn't quite "get it" here on Twitter.

I learned about retweeting (which I’d never really appreciated, either), and discovered that if you followed a tweet with “Plz RT,” folks might be inclined to hit their own retweet button and send your news onto their group of followers. If everyone does this, tweeters get hit a much broader target.

I still haven’t quite got the “hashtags” down, or figured out yet how to create “lists,” although I am apparently on a bunch of other people’s lists… LOL. I understand that hashtags are like keywords. If you include a hashmark in front of a term like “#mysteries,” it is then searchable. I think. Ha. See? I’m still learning and need to dig even deeper into Carolyn’s book.

So, after my awakening, I decided that I’d try to network more and offer more freebies on Twitter. I began to search for Tweeters who had “mystery” in their title or bio. I found some great folks, like mystery bookstores, who had thousands of followers who apparently loved mysteries.

I scoured through their lists of followers, “followed” folks who seemed to like to read or write mysteries, and have been doing that now for the past month – about 10-20 per day. When these folks “follow” me back (about 50% seem to respond), I try not to just blast them with “buy my book,” but I now do two things. First, I offer my thanks for following back, make a comment about their website or book (yes, I check them out!), etc. We sometimes get a conversation going, and they often check out my site. Secondly, I send them a tweet with my eBook sales that are currently available, with a link to my site.

What’s happened is I’ve connected with a number of lovely people, we’ve frequently purchased each other’s books, and it’s been fun! (You should SEE that long list of books I have waiting to read on my Kindle! Wow!)

I’m up to about 350 followers today (from 70), and have truly met some wonderful people.

Now, I started to find this whole “Oh my God, I haven’t tweeted today” thing a little unwieldy. On top of working full time and running our household pretty much singlehandedly, I had all these books to get out, and was still aching to write something fresh. Time was at a premium, and I couldn’t sit around all day sending out tweets.

Mayra Calvani, author of many award winning fiction and nonfiction books, including The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, has been advising Twilight Times authors regarding promotion techniques. One of the tips she gave me after reviewing my marketing plan was about the plethora of applications out there to help folks with Twitter. Thus I discovered Twuffer, where I can automatically schedule my tweets for anytime, any day. I’m not sure if it’s the best one out there, but it’s simple and it works great.

Here are a few sample tweets I’ve been using. Some I use as the “second” message after touching base personally with the folks who follow me. Some I just send out there randomly throughout the day. I’m sure I could do better, such as including the hashtags, etc. with my “free” or “sale” words. But it’s so hard to get info into that tiny little bit of space. Being a writer, it kills me to have to shorten words or leave spaces out between sentences. And as you can see, it’s hard for me to stop talking. :o)

Hi, Susan! Thanks for following back. Love the cover art on your new mystery, very nice! Sending another note with eBook sales, FYI.

Here’s a note I might use to follow up.

EBook SALE. Old-fashioned country mysteries that make you feel good & are rather addictive, in a good way. Plz RT

And here are some freebies that I advertise throughout the day on occasion. You’ll note that I use tiny urls to get shorter website addresses:

Ebook Sale, 99cents Fast-paced European mystery. Paris. Vienna. Germany. Nasty Villains.Wild chase scenes.Mazurka.

FREE EBOOK, Literary Sampler. Read samples of three authors’ work. Mysteries. Children’s. Vampires. More. Plz RT

FREE WRITING ARTICLES, "slice of life" essays, tips, advice, photos. Where does he GET those ideas?  ;o) Plz RT

A strange talisman. A 50-year-old secret. An obsession over a vanished brother. Healey's Cave. $2.99 Plz RT

Okay, so I’m sure many of you folks are much more experienced than I am here – I’m definitely a Twitter newbie! But I’m learning, and am grateful for all tips! Let’s talk about it, below. ;o)

So, have a wonderful Easter with your loved ones, rejoice in Christ's rising, and if you love to write, remember to write like the wind!

                                                                                                             - Aaron Lazar




Here’s my mini-review for Carolyn’s book:

Carolyn Howard Johnson has written another excellent guide, this time it's suitable for anyone selling a product. I happen to be a writer, and learned a great deal about tweeting to improve book sales. For example, I never knew what "Retweets" were or that one could request them. Written with a straightforward, easy to read style, this is a great reference book. I particularly loved this quote "So let's think that if we give freely and with confidence our good deeds will come back to us. If we act accordingly, we can successfully use all kinds of sites on the Web." Carolyn's positive and optimistic outlook shines through in this book - coupled with astute common sense and experience. Buy it today!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pitch Like a Pro to a Book Blogger

copyright 2011, Brianna Ahearn

As an author, you have to take marketing efforts into your own hands. Unless you wrote the next Twilight, chances are your publishing house – particularly if you’re an indie author – might not have the marketing budget.  So where does that leave you?  The Internet. 
The Internet offers numerous opportunities to market yourself and one such route is book bloggers. But how do you get your book in a blogger’s hands so they’ll (hopefully) tell their readers why it’s worth reading? The all-mighty pitch is your ticket.
Bloggers might seem like a mystery to a novice author. I mean, if you stop and considerate it, these are people who devote hours upon hours to reading and promoting books, often for free. While some bloggers do receive ARCs and giveaway copies for review, they’re not raking in the bucks.  Just know that bloggers are people just like you who love to read and more importantly, share what they read. 
To approach a blogger is a simple science.  The pitch must encompass several things and answer any questions that may arise:
1) Why they should read your book.  Does it fall within a genre they read? Is there an author they favor who is comparable to you?  Have you followed their blog for a few weeks and seen that they regularly mention certain characters they enjoy?
2)  A synopsis of your book. Think of this part like a mini query. A blogger wants to know the who/what/where/when/why. 
3) What you can do for a blogger when they review your book. Can you offer to participate in an interview or sponsor giveaway? Cross-promote their blog’s review on your websites?   Tell them!
A Sample Pitch
The following is a mangled version of how I might write a pitch for HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling.  Ignoring my meager plot description (how could I mess with a master!?), do take notice of how I highlight the major facts of the novel and why a blogger should read and review it.
Dear Bri,
Harry Potter lives a rather unremarkable life at Number 4, Privet Drive, with his aunt and uncle and horrible cousin Dudley.  Unremarkable, that is, until a series of letters begin arriving to Harry and a mysterious giant informs Harry of the truth: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted to the wizard school Hogwarts.   Life at Hogwarts brings friends, a first taste of magic, a feeling of acceptance, strange and wonderful encounters, and a mystery involving a stone from which an elixir of life can be retrieved.  Can Harry solve the riddles before and vanquish his foes to retrieve the Stone?
Based on your past reviews of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDDROBE and THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, I feel you would really enjoy HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, the first in my Harry Potter series.  Your readers will enjoy following Harry as he experiences life at Hogwarts, within a world where ghosts haunt the halls and paintings come alive.
If you’re interested in considering HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE for review, please reply with your mailing address and I will have a copy sent to you. 
Thank you for your time (or an otherwise polite phrase),
(Author name)
The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching
As a blogger of a couple years, I’ve heard horror stories about blog pitches and experienced some of my own.
DO address a blogger by name. I’ve received pitches addressed to “Dear blogger” or “Dear reader.” Now my posts are signed, my name is in my site address, and on my site profile, I say my name.  Showing you spent at least a minute on a blogger’s site or a minute to craft a personalized pitch will cause them to spend that amount of time reading your pitch.
DON’T say anything generic like “I love your site” without demonstrating you know the blogger and an ounce of what their writing style is like.
DO be very clear on what you’re pitching.  Nothing is more annoying to a blogger than a murky pitch. Remember the three things a pitch must accomplish.
DON’T pitch them a genre they don’t read! That’s not to say you can’t still target a blogger outside their preferred genre. If they clearly state they enjoy historical YA and your adult historical novel features a favorite topic, you can still pitch to them.  However, offering to send your Christian mystery to a purely paranormal blogger is just bad business.
DO read a review policy before pitching. A good review policy will tell you what genres the blogger reads, what formats they accept (ebooks vs hardback/paperback), how they review, etc.
DON’T demand a positive review on Amazon or a blog.
DO enclose any additional material a blogger might appreciate. This includes images of your book cover, author photos, links to your website, and more.
DON’T pitch your novel in the comments of a blog.  Write a detailed and personalized email.
DO research blogs and participate on blogs!  Visit, follow bloggers on Twitter, comment on their posts, and interact with them. Nothing makes a pitch more attractive to a blogger than an engaged author who genuinely likes blogs and views them as more than a marketing tool.
Just like writing and editing a novel, and preparing it for the masses, pitching to a blogger takes time and skill, but a little work can have a big payoff.
Biography: As a bookseller of over ten years, Brianna Ahearn can’t get enough of books. She blogs semi-regularly at about YA and children’s lit.  Using her M.S. in Communications, she writes a monthly column on authors and the internet at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter season writing

image by Kim Smith
As I sat down to write this blog post this morning, it occurred to me that it is Easter this Sunday. Many people will be leaving town right after work today for the long holiday weekend, (if you get Good Friday off, which I do NOT).

So in lieu of something profound to say about writing today, I am just going to talk about it.

As writers, we have to put down in some form the miracles that make us alive. Be they fabricated or real. We put down people that we love, and those we hate, and even a few that we think make good victims.

We write about places we have seen and places we only hear about, wish we could be a part of and sometimes these places are a bit of both.

The stories that come out of us are something that holds our interest, and we hope will hold other's as well.

So in the spirit of this holy season, may I encourage you to read a good book? For me, reading is the beginning of all writing. I cannot pen anything that didn't come from a reading experience. If I read good suspense, I want to write better suspense. If I read good romance, I want to write better romance.

And when I read the Bible, the best of all good books, I want to write something worthwhile. I hope it is the same for you, if you are a writer. I also hope it is true of you if you are a reader. The Bible can be many things to many people, and the least of these is as a history book. If you want to know how to write a good story, rich in historical accuracy, read the Bible. Even in the Easter story we get a good glimpse of the times.

We learn that Jews buried their loved ones within 24 hours of death. And that they used aromatic oils and spices and wrapped them in linen, and placed them in caves or tombs hewn from rock with a massive stone placed over the mouth to keep out thieves or wild animals.

In my most humble opinion, that is a great (and terrible) place to dig into for a sit-down of reading, rich with setting, plot, and people. That story alone would want me to read more. I hope it is the same for you.

Happy Easter, bloggers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Writer’s Life

© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved

If you can’t sit down to read a book without fighting the urge to grab a red pencil or notice the author’s excessive use of tags, or cringe at his or her POV glitches, you must be a writer.

If you still marveled at those with the ability to transport you to a different place or time, but instead of enjoying the ride, you outline the chapters to see how it’s done, you must be writer.

If your computer is turned on 24/7 on the off-change that you might get a brilliant idea, you must be a writer.

If you wake up at four in the morning thinking about the perfect plot twist, you must be a writer.

If you can’t watch a movie or television show based on your favorite genre without a having pad of paper and pencil nearby so you can take notes, you must be writer.

You get the point, right? We are an obsessive bunch.

Prior to writing, I used to think of authors as an elite group of people who lived charmed lives. I envisioned a writer lounging in a seaside bungalow, a drink in one hand, a pen in the other. There he’d gaze across the shoreline at the incoming surf while he methodically contemplated his next plot.

My plots come to me while I stand in line at the market. My character’s dialogue comes into focus while I clean out a cluttered closet and the scene of the crime takes shape while I scrub the bathroom. I don’t live anywhere near a shoreline and life is anything but charmed. It is, however, becoming increasingly interesting. And yes, I admit I’ve done each of the points I mentioned above. However, there is something to be said for discipline and leading a balanced life. So, my advice is this, on the days the writing doesn’t come on its own, don’t push it. On the days it does, give the writing its share of time, but don’t let life pass you by. Live it, because that’s the stuff great books are made of.

About the author:
Marta Stephens writes 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).

Her books are available in paperback and most electronic format. Find them online at , Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Little Perspective, If You Please

I am a big fan of Shel Silverstein, one of the best poets I've ever read (W.B. Yeats not withstanding). I have been re-accquainted with his writing thanks to my children. We here at MB4 spend a lot of time mentoring, nurturing, and advising other writers, and giving you all our individual perspective on the art and craft of writing. This one might work just as well.

Writer Waiting by Shel Silverstein

Oh this shiny new computer -

There just isn't nothin' cuter.

It knows everything the world ever knew.

And with this great computer

I don't need no writin' tutor,

'Cause there ain't a single thing that it can't do.

It can sort and it can spell,

It can punctuate as well.

It can find and file and underline and type.

It can edit and select,

It can copy and correct,

So I'll have a whole book written by tonight

(Just as soon as I can think of what to write).

Thanks for the perspective, Shel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet Susan Kronick

Copyright Susan Kronick 2011 all rights reserved

Who says hauntings are all about the Exorcist and the Catholic Church? Do you believe there are no such things as ghosts? I’m here to tell you there are such people who live among the dead! I know, because I’m one of them! My name is Susan Kronick. I am a psychic and a medium with the gift of seeing spirits of the departed. My debut novel, “SARAH, THEY’RE COMING FOR YOU,” offered by Wild Child Publishing parallels the story of my life. A ghost tale inspired by actual events from my otherworldly experiences.

It wasn’t my original intention to model my main character Sarah after my own life. As the protagonist began to emerge, I discovered much to my surprise, she was identical to me in almost every detail. Don’t the experts say the first rule of thumb in writing is to borrow from your own experiences, and truth is indeed stranger than fiction? Sarah, like me is a college professor haunted her entire life by malevolent ghosts, and she finds herself the subject of her own haunting. My story focuses on the dark side of the afterlife, the restless spirits of the dead who torment the living for many reasons. They seek one thing. It is not God’s blessing, but a soul for eternity. For years, I, like my character Sarah was tormented by these seekers. Each passing year the specters gained strength. Sarah, and myself in real life are guided by my great great grandfather Hermann-who intercedes on our behalf, Sarah had faith, but now, she feels her faith in Hermann is slipping, as she grows spiritually weaker. Then a mysterious woman-a link from the past-enlightens Sarah of a journey she must complete to end her haunting, then everything falls into place. Sarah has a connection between her ancestral family and her own haunting from the rogue ghosts in the afterlife. They seek her in order to claim two family members with a single soul. One thing left to do for Sarah. Go to the family home in Austria and face the ghosts head on, or lose her soul forever.

My decision to write about the subject that has been such a large part of my life was not an easy one. As an experienced parapsychologist, I have investigated countless hauntings, ghostly sightings, and other paranormal phenomena. Most people react with a degree of skepticism when confessing one’s ability to communicate with spirits. The logical side of me holds both a Master of Science and a Ph.D. In all honesty, if the paranormal events that have occurred to me didn’t happen, I would probably be a non-believer as well.

I was extremely hesitant at first to reveal such extraordinary confessions about my supernatural abilities. After all, for the past sixteen years I have been a mild mannered no nonsense Freud is king psychology professor. I strongly considered writing under an alias. What would my students and colleagues think of me if they knew my gift of seeing ghosts! At some point during the first draft of my manuscript, I realized, I had nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Fortunately, the more I disclosed other worldly details about myself, the more comfortable I was in sharing my experiences at school, as well as seeking a publisher for my work.

Unlike many new authors, I was fortunate to have my manuscript accepted by Wild Child Publishing a mere three months into my search. I had decided early on that I would not self-publish, and my story would not be told unless I secured a traditional publisher. Although years ago I had written a 250 page doctoral dissertation based on original research, I was not prepared for the lengthy and often painful editing process that followed the “congratulations, we would love to publish your book” letter from the publisher!, .I must say, the editors and publisher at Wild Child are AMAZING!!! They spent many tireless months assisting me to perfect my manuscript into a work worthy of publication. For all their help I will always be grateful beyond words.

Most people who read my book want to know, “what’s it like to walk between the worlds?” To me it’s second nature. Throughout my entire life I have seen spirits of the dead. Communicating with ghosts has proved to be both a wonderful gift as well as a curse, because you are vulnerable to those entities that do not seek God’s blessing.

As a young child, I assumed, co-mingling with ghosts of the dearly departed was a natural phenomenon. You can imagine my great surprise in discovering most people are oblivious to the many spirits among us.

Many of the ghosts I randomly encounter on a regular basis may hang around for a variety of reasons. Often they are protecting their loved ones still among the living. Perhaps the ghost must attend to some unfinished business before they can cross over, or they may not realize they are dead. I try to assist them if I can, but I don’t always get the chance to hear their story.

One recent example comes to mind. As a college professor, I was totally absorbed, in my lecture, rambling on about psychoanalysis and the role of the unconscious mind. All of a sudden I look up from my notes to “see” two teen aged ghosts, a boy, and a girl, walk through the wall into my classroom. It was extremely difficult to resist “speaking” with them at that time, however, practicality won, having no desire, my students to think their professor was delusional!

Susan Kronick’s background is the perfect backdrop leading up to her latest paranormal novel, Sarah, They’re Coming for You. She has a Master of Science in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University and a Ph.D. in Paranormal Studies/Psychology from Union Institute and Graduate School, as well as being an adjunct psychology professor at Barry University and Palm Beach State College. A psychic and a medium, she has the gift of seeing the dead since she was a child. She also has taught parapsychology classes through the Palm Beach County School Board, as well as at Palm Beach State College. Susan has extensive experience in the area of investigations of haunting and the paranormal. She lives with her husband and her four spoiled rescue dogs in south Florida. You can visit her website at “Like” her page at Facebook at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is Something Missing?

© Marilyn Meredith 2011 all rights reserved

Lately, I’ve been reading books I’ve been sent to review and I’ve noticed some problems.

One of the biggies is with the point-of-view. In a romance, the head-hopping almost made me dizzy. I know that romance writers do a lot more changing of viewpoint in a scene than any other writers—but I wonder if they realize how disconcerting it is to the reader. Any story, no matter the genre, is stronger if the POV stays with the person who has the most at risk in a scene.

Another problem I’ve been noticing is characters that have very little description or even a descriptive tag for me to be able to keep track of who is who. I don’t need to know every little detail about how someone looks, and I certainly don’t want it given to me all in one lump, but I would like to have some clues as to whether the person is young or old, tall or short, skinny, dumpy or downright fat, along with the color of the hair, eyes, and some identifying tags such as limping, polishing a bald spot, picking at his cuticles, a nervous twitch, flipping of long hair, running fingers through already messed hair (a good time to give the color), always checking cell-phones and on-and-on. That way, when the character’s name pops up, I know who he or she is.

What about the five senses?

Of course the seeing will be what the POV characters sees and notices all during whatever is happening. This includes color—another thing I’ve noticed that is often missing.

Feeling, in this case means when the POV character touches something and describing what it feels like: silky, rough, damp, wet, hot, cold, etc. Also feeling clammy air on the skin, hot air that feels like stepping into an oven, icy wind sneaking under clothing. Rain drops on his or her nose.

Hearing. What’s going on around the POV character that he or she hears? The church bells chiming the hour? The wind rushing through the eucalyptus trees? Stealthy footsteps behind him? Floorboards creaking? A train whistle off in the distance?

Smells. This gets left out a lot. In mysteries dead bodies smell. If it’s fresh kill not only blood but bowels and bladders release. If it’s a body that’s been dead for awhile, especially cooped up inside, it’s going to smell putrid. People have odors: perspiration, deodorant, strong perfume, shampoo in hair, talcum powder on babies and the elderly. Buildings have their own identifying odors. Hospitals, sometimes sterile smells, sometimes odors like bleach and Lysol. Funeral parlors and mortuaries, the sickening sweet smell of too many flowers. People’s homes have individual odors: cooking smells: Refried beans on the stove, tortillas, cabbage, chicken soup, etc.; dogs and cats, freshness from open windows, dirty diapers, garbage.

Taste. When you talk about a character eating food, be sure and include how it tastes: to hot, too cold, salty, sweet, and any way you can think of to describe it. You may make the reader hungry, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes a character might taste the salt on the air when near the ocean. I’m sure you get the idea.

And last, but certainly not least, I’ve read a couple of books with really good dialogue but there was no indication as to where the conversation was taking place. The reader always needs to know where the characters are—and that brings me to the sense of place. Location can be as important to the story as the characters.

Each of these topics could be expanded, but it gives you an idea of what I’ve noticed missing in too many of the books I’ve read lately.

About the author

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter , Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Her blog is at

Angel Lost Blurb

As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Building a Mystery

As I sat reading a great suspense novel the other day, I began thinking about how the author created the story and made me like it. Figured what the heck, I was not doing anything, so maybe I could write it down and share what I thought with you.

Here's what i found:

First, set the stage. Wrap us in the setting of the crime. This author makes me feel like I am sitting right there where the victim is. And keeps me there until the paper person croaks, even up to their last vision.

Next, insert a victim who either deserves the chopping block, or doesn't , but either way, make us interested in him or her. We have to at least be interested in him or her to care that they are a victim, we do not have to like them, however. Sometimes the best victims are ones we sort of think deseve being hurt or killed. Sure makes the killer justified, albeit horrible, but makes figuring out whodunit a whole lot harder!

Then, bring in the hero/heroine and the supporting cast of investigators of the crime. They may only be crime-scene cleaners, or security people but the interaction will give clues and feed us info that moves the plot along. Info such as info abou the seting, the victi, or the situation leading up to the crime.

Next, have them set out to unravel the how and why of the crime and maybe settle a score in the process. This heightens tension, elevates our anticipation.

Finally, bring all the various threads of story together at the end and make the ending clench our throats and make us love that character so much we go out and buy the next book.

Easy, yes? About as easy as catching a robin in the front yard with a chicken Chihuahua!image by kim smith

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How's Your Character Measure Up to Life?

© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved

Has anyone ever told you that your characters are not well developed? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, that statement alone isn’t the magic wand that will help solve the problem. Often what your critique partner, your editor or agent mean to say is that the characters lack the substance that makes them come alive.

Still not sure what that means? Pretend you are the protagonist in your book. Take out a piece of paper and pen and write down your demographics; sex, race, age, date and place of birth, religion, address, profession, family history (parents’ names, siblings, etc.). Once you’ve identified yourself, write down the answers to the following traits that best fit you personally.

1. General traits are those we inherit or are things we are exposed to through our environment.

2. Physical Traits are a person’s physical make up (height, weight, color of hair/eyes, etc.).

3. Personal Traits are those things that stem from a person’s social and ethical aspects.

4. Emotional Traits refers to the mental or psychological state of the character.

Take time to get to know your protagonist intimately. Aside from the demographics and the items listed in 1-3, what makes a character sing with life and are possibly the hardest to show in one’s writing are the deep wounds the character carries inside. It’s the life altering experiences your character brings into the story that lead him or her past the hurdles and help shape the plot.

Let’s say for example that fear is an obstacle in your character’s path and you’re not sure how to handle the scene. Dig deep inside into that dark corner of your heart or mind for buried emotions. What are your greatest fears? Describe them. What is the depth of those feelings. Where do they stem from? Think back to every similar emotion you felt and look to the source of that fear. Analyze it. What can it be compared to? Once we can identify and put words to those feelings, the character will come to life. Unfortunately, it could take time to fully develop your character so be prepared to write several drafts. In the meantime, keep prodding and don’t be afraid to show both the positive traits as well as the character’s dark side. We all have one, shouldn’t he/she?

About the author:
Marta Stephens writes 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).

Her books are available in paperback and most electronic format. Find them online at , Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Critique Happens

copyright 2011 by Ron Adams

Sometimes you write a book, publish a book, have people buy the book, and then realize…I can do better than that. So you write another book, figuring out along the way a lot of the errors you made the first time. And that book gets published, and people seem to like it and say nice things about your story.

Then the unusual happens, and someone gives you a do-over. I can’t tell you all how excited I was to give my first novel a second chance. So I sent it off to an editor, a real one this time, with the instructions to tear it up tear it down, and we’ll make it better. Does anyone remember the phrase, be careful what you wish for?

The critique I received started with all the things the editor liked – the characters, the relationships between them, the descriptions of the various settings, and even the humor interwoven in the story. The editor praised me for good grammar, good and appropriate spelling, and even for the mechanics of the way the story was set up. That was the first three paragraphs. Unfortunately, the e-mail was three pages long.

The rest of the critique centered around the flaws. Yep, two and a half pages of them. All of them were valid points, and I don’t have any real objections to the changes that were suggested. There were minor continuity issues, details that had to be ironed out. And then came the big suggestions. Those included re-writing the ending, and taking out half a dozen chapters written in third person while the rest of the story was written in first person narrative. Okay, I’ll admit, those stung a little, and I am currently working through the major issues. The point is, the critique was presented in a format that was designed not to be “critical”, but helpful in a way that would further the story, improve my writing, and be a stepping off point for growth and development in my craft.

We here at MB4 have recently taken to providing critiques to our readers, and I for one have read some very talented pieces so far. I wanted to share my experience with you all to let you know that even published writers have to learn to take positive and negative criticism, and that we all get through it. It is my hope you take advantage of the opportunity to have an impartial look taken at your writing, and look at it not as scorn or ridicule, but as an opportunity to improve and develop as a writer. Besides, it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as you might think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

MB4 April Critique: The White Deer by Robert Sells

Every second Monday of the month, your four Murderby4 hosts will get together to critique a short piece from our readers. Todays piece is by Robert Sells. Thanks, Rob, for sending this in!
Below you'll find our comments with footnotes for the comments made by Marta Stephens, Kim Smith, Ron Adams, and Aaron Lazar. Remember, if you'd like to have a critique, please send it to Aaron Lazar via his email.


Return of the White Deer by Robert Sells.
The excerpt relates to a character in the book, Mother Hebron who is kind and gentle as well as a fierce leader of a secret army of females dedicated to the White Deer. Chapter Six deals with the loving relationship between the woman and main character Pen, a twelve year old[AL1]  boy. Chapter Seven presents her history.
She returned to the kitchen and sat down, thinking about the farm boy. She had helped raise the lad and watched the friendship between Liana and Pen grow. Perhaps her proud girl would marry him. No one knew what the future held[ms2] , she mused. One can only truly know the past. Hands folded, she thought about her own past, before she was Mother Hebron. She closed her eyes in the pleasant cottage and…

-        i     -

…opened them on a gray afternoon in a city. Her parents succumbed to the plague. Now just five-years old, she stood wordlessly watching a cart bump down the cobblestone street carrying the two people who were the center of her world. Standing beside her was a muttering, short, hawk-nosed man who was her uncle. She had met him only once when her mother had fussed over him at supper one night.
Now her mother was dead, never again to fuss over the uncle or the child. Once the cart turned out of sight at the corner, the thin, gray-haired uncle grabbed her roughly and pulled her through dark winding streets, forcing her to run to keep up with him. All the way to his dingy shoe shop, he complained about the extra mouth to feed. Once inside the shop, he immediately put her to work pounding leather with a wide, flat hammer. So began her new life[AL4] .
She rarely recalled play of any sort while living with her uncle, but she had vivid memories of dozens of different tasks put upon her by the grumpy guardian. To be fair, the uncle provided daily sustenance. But he never fed her affection or praise, perhaps the most important food of all. Indeed communication was limited to the uncle giving gruff orders and instructions. In the time she was with him, he never addressed her with[AL5]  her name… Mary. [ms6] 
Though a naturally inquisitive child, it took Mary a week to hazard a question. The old man stared at her for a long moment and she feared he might hit her.  Then he answered her with a dismissive snort and went to bed. The precedent safely set, Mary asked many questions. Several times the uncle answered her in short sentences as though he was marshaling his words as carefully as he did his coins and food. Much to his frustration, the child kept asking questions, undaunted by his terse responses.
The work day started early for the child: cleaning the shop, sweeping the front, softening the tough leather, going through Bremen to buy and deliver whatever her uncle requested. Only at nightfall did she and the old man sit down together to eat bread and drink soup. After the modest meal, the uncle would then lay down on a worn mat and go to sleep while Mary would put a blanket on the hard wood floor and pull her mother’s shawl over her to keep her warm. Weary from the day’s work, sleep came quickly as did the shivering dawn[AL7] [AL8] .
From Ron Adams: Well written. Smooth writing style with very few things to critique. My only observation is that although this is a history of this character and perhaps you introduce dialogue after this, I think some dialogue between Mary and her uncle would help to show his grumpy disposition and draw the reader to the characters.  Other than that, well done! I’d read more.  
From Kim Smith: I have been a lover of historical novels and romances all of my life beginning at 16 with Gone with the Wind. I have even written one although it will probably never go anywhere. So I have to say this one took me from line one to the end of the passage without stopping. It drew me in and I was interested in Mary's story. I think for a historical you have to be a good weaver. A little history, a little story, a little history, a little story. This one is very good. I felt like the uncle is about to reveal something to Mary, like, either good or bad, and I wanted more!!  

 [AL1]Usually when an age is presented in the “X year old” format, the words are linked with hyphens. But if you write “he was twelve years old,” you don’t use the hyphens. ;o)

 [ms2]Internal dialogue needs to be italicized.

 [AL3]I think it might be best to just start Chapter Seven with the “She returned” graph.

 [AL4]Very sad. I already felt empathy for the poor young girl.

 [AL5]“by her name” might work better?

 [ms6]Good way of giving the reader the character’s name in this first person narration.

 [AL7]I like this phrase.

 [AL8]Your style reminds me of an old man sitting around the pot bellied woodstove, telling a tale to his grandchildren. Because this is a historical YA, it should work well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Writing your Synopses: How to begin?

Earlier this week I promised to write a piece about the creation of the dreaded synopsis. We've talked about this before over the years, but because I am fresh off a new experience with FireSong, I thought I'd share the process with you.
What I didn't expect was to have NEW release news to tell you today! My publisher, Lida Quillen from Twilight Times Books, is a phenomenal woman and I adore her. (Now, don't get jealous, honey, it's just business!) 
On the tail of our recent whirlwind experience with Tremolo (Kindle bestseller for several weeks in March), she pushed hard to get the FireSong eBook out early. It's even on sale for 50% off, only $3.25! The print version book comes out in July, but we already have a gorgeous cover and the eBook is now for sale. Neat, huh? 

One more aside, Lida also put Mazurka, the fourth LeGarde book up for free for a limited time only. If you're up for a wild rollercoaster ride through Europe with Gus LeGarde, get it now. (Note: the books don't have to be read in order. )
So, where do you start? You need to turn an 80,000 word book into a 50 word synopsis or book blurb for your back cover. How's that possible?

Here's how I do it.

First of all, after the book is done, I create an outline.

Heh. Yeah. I know. I'm backwards. I never write to an outline, it just flies out of my head. But really, this outline is more like a record of who did what to whom. I need it to keep straight, and it's very helpful in developing a full-fledged synopsis later.

I start out by simply jotting down all the themes in the story. This doesn't have to be fancy or even written well. It's just a start. For example, the themes in FireSong involve the following:
  • Missing town supervisor and parishioner from Gus LeGarde's church is found after a tornado unearths his bones near the church. What happened to Colin Springer? And who murdered and buried him in that field?
  • Elderly minister, Nahum Hardina, crashes his car into a tree in Gus's driveway, and heroin is found in his blood. How did this happen, and was East Goodland's saintly reverend really a heroin addict?
  • Gus's wife Camille starts digging into the history of their old house, and begins to discover amazing possible links to the underground railroad. Could Mary Hill, original owner of the house back in 1811, really have been involved? Her coffin comes up empty when grave robbers try to steal relics to sell online. Where is she really buried and what happened to her?
  • The old salt mine dries up, and the region is plagued with horrible consequences. Wells dry up. Gas leaches into wells and burns all day long. Tempers are short. Native Americans protest because the new well site lies directly over sacred ancient burial grounds.
  • Nature goes nuts. First a tornado, then the driest July on record. Crops are dying. Dairy farmers struggle to get enough water for their cows. And a freak lightning storm causes the worst fire ever to hit the Genesee Valley.
  • Colombian criminals have been into some reprehensible dealings in the old mine. What are they doing down there? And why are they driving panel vans all over the countryside in the dead of night?
Okay, I admit it. This book has a helluva lot going on. I probably could have written two books with all this. There are more sub-themes, too, like Colin's wife's severe depression. And the escape of prisoners from the local prison. Never mind Gus's daughter Freddie, who struggles to keep her household in order with a toddler and two twin babies.

I created a 1000 word version for my publisher when I submitted the query, which intentionally included plot spoilers. That's what you're supposed to do when you submit a query synopsis. No plot spoiling on my watch! 

Following is what I chose to highlight in the 250 word version. This was not intended to give all the secrets up, like a synopsis would do that you would send to a publisher or Hollywood filmmaker. This is intended for readers only. You'll see I add a lot of questions to spark interest, and try to write it as if it were an advertisement. It's intended to intrigue, as opposed to the submission query, which is intended to intrigue.

What would you do if your country church was hit by a rogue tornado during services? What if the shrieking winds unearthed the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby wheat field? Now add the discovery of heroin in your elderly minister’s bloodstream. When Gus LeGarde is thrown into the middle of the mess, he knows life’s finally gone berserk in East Goodland, New York.

The Genesee Valley is in chaos. Strangers drive panel vans through the countryside at weird hours of the night. A new batch of drugs is on the street, endangering local. The local salt mine collapses due to illegal mining practices. Gas fires burn in wells. Watering holes turn to brine. Crops are dying. Tempers are short. To top it off, the new salt mine lies directly over ancient Indian burial grounds, bringing anguish to local tribes.

While Gus faces ordeals delivered by nature and man, his wife Camille discovers a hidden room in their house. She digs through historical archives to learn that the 1811 original homeowner, Mary Hill, may have had connections with the Underground Railroad. When local grave robbers begin to loot historic coffins, they find an empty coffin. Who killed Mary? How did she die? Where is her body? And where will this two-hundred-year-old mystery lead?

Join Gus as he’s lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

I'd love to be able to fit that much in the Amazon blurb or back cover, but it's never possible. So it's necessary to shrink it down. My publisher has needs for various length synopses. Some go to distributors. (175 word) Some will go on her website(50-100). Some go to Hollywood. (one sentence loglines). And some will be used for advertising online. (10-20 words) Oh, and there's always the twitter super short blurb, too.

As you would expect, the back cover blurb which must be tight and evocative. That's your ONE chance to get folks to open the book and maybe buy it.

I had to decide right off the bat WHICH of the themes to promote in the shorter blurbs. Right or wrong, I took out the references to Mary Hill and the underground railroad for the 175 word blurb. I'll use the term "underground railroad" and "slavery" etc. in the book tags that are included in articles and on Amazon, etc. But I can't fit it all in there, much as I'd like to!

For the 175 word version, I just took out that whole paragraph about Mary.

Now comes the harder part. The back cover blurb. Typically, I like to do a 150 word synopsis for that, but in this age of trying to keep down costs, the size of our print book has gone down to manage costs. So instead of 6x9, we have a slightly smaller version, with less real estate to fit things in. Here's what I think might look good on the back cover, but Lida thinks it might be too long.

What would you do if a rogue tornado hit your church during worship, unearthing the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby field?

The Genesee Valley is in chaos. The local salt mine collapses. Gas fires burn in wells. Watering holes turn to brine. Crops are dying. Tempers are short. And the new mine lies directly over ancient Indian burial grounds.

Join Gus LeGarde as he’s lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

Now, to squeeze it down even further, from 87 to 50 words, see how this came out:

When a tornado touches down in Gus’s hometown, it unearths the body of a missing churchgoer. Who killed Colin Springer? Is the murder linked to the recent salt mine collapse? The mystery leads Gus to an underground labyrinth, where he finds the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

Last of all, for the Hollywood crowd and other online sites, we need a log line. This was my attempt at that.

When a tornado touches down in Gus LeGarde’s hometown it unearths the body of a missing churchgoer, leading Gus into a bizarre underground labyrinth where he discovers the shock of his life and potential links to the Underground Railroad. 

And here's a possible tweet that will lead to the new eBook sales link:  

FIRESONG - new release. Bones. Tornadoes. Fires. Collapsing Mines. Flooding tunnels. How much worse can it get?
Okay, so what do you think? Does it intrigue you? Would you open it up to read a bit of the first chapter? You can do that here if you'd like. 

I hope these examples help you the next time you're faced with creating any length synopsis. And by the way, if you were intrigued, I'm seeking good reviewers to take a look at this book. Want to host my virtual book tour in July? Want to read the eBook and do reviews? You never know, your blurb and name might end up on my back cover. ;o)
As I always say, take pleasure in the little things. And if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at and and watch for his upcoming releases, FIRESONG, TERROR COMES KNOCKING, and FOR THE BIRDS, coming in 2011.