Monday, October 31, 2011

Lori's Book Sense

Welcome to this months edition of Lori's Book Sense.
I hope you enjoy these great titles I've chosen for you this month.

Third Degree by Maggie Barbieri ~ On her way to meet her boyfriend’s parents, college professor Alison Bergeron stops by a coffee shop to steel her resolve. It’s a big event. Not only is it the first time she’s met NYPD detective Bobby Crawford’s entire family, but it’s coming on the heels of a wedding proposal that she has left unanswered so far.Then, as she steps into the shop, a brawl breaks out that ends in the death of Carter Wilmott, a merciless and loathed local blogger. The case couldn’t be any simpler, and Alison witnessed the whole thing, but when Wilmott’s car explodes in the aftermath, what looked to be a crime of passion becomes something far more complicated and maybe even premeditate. With Alison and Bobby involved in the case and with each other, readers are in for a treat. Third Degree, the latest in Maggie Barbieri’s charming mystery series, is one heated mystery with plenty of steamy romance and cunning villains who are about to get burned.

Geez, Alison has a lot on her plate these days. She’s got the murder she witnessed, the harassment of the suspects wife, the beginning of the college semester (you have to love those new students), and her BFF Max who thinks nothing of cutting the screen in Alison’s kitchen to let herself in whenever she wants. Not done yet. She’s got a new roommate named Queen, a Hooters waitress who doubles as a private eye for Max’s new TV show, all while taking college classes.  Then there is the missed period and nausea – hmm…wonder what that’s all about?  Unfortunately there is something mysterious going on with her other BFF Kevin – but I’ll let Alison tell you about that. FINALLY – there is the BIG question. Yes or No?  Does she marry her boy…..Crawford or not?  Only Alison can figure that out for herself.  But first – she may or may not have a murder to solve!?!?! Filled with humor, wit, page turning suspense, and tons of emotion, Third Degree is Maggie Barbieri at her best!  Just don’t give me the Third Degree, because my lips are sealed!

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly ~  Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home. Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too--and he's certain he's on the right trail.

  Step by step, Mickey and his team work through the evidence. Disputing virtually everything the prosecution brings to the table taking us all the way to the stunning, didn’t-see-that-coming conclusion. Michael Connelly deals with an issue that is on the forefront of everyone’s mine today – foreclosures. With the economy struggling, this is something that millions of people are dealing with. He does a great job of explaining things in such a simple manner, that even those not completely familiar with how the process works will be able to understand. It’s great to see the struggles that Mickey continues to have in his relationships with his exes, the growth that Bullock shows as the new associate, and to have Mickey return to the back seat of his Lincoln. The Fifth Witness has more twists and turns than a Halloween corn maze. Michael Connellly will take you for a ride you will never forget.
So Close The Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison ~ It's a hideous echo of a violent past. Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam. The media frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows instantly that The Pretender is back…and he's got helpers.As The Pretender's disciples perpetrate their sick homages—stretching police and the FBI dangerously thin—Taylor tries desperately to prepare for their inevitable showdown. And she must do it alone. To be close to her is to be in mortal danger, and she won't risk losing anyone she loves. But the isolation, the self-doubt and the rising body count are taking their toll—she's beside herself and ready to snap.The brilliant psychopath who both adores and despises her is drawing close. Close enough to touch….
So Close the Hand of Death is the sixth book in the Taylor Jackson series. The book can definitely be read as a stand alone, but to get a deeper understanding of Taylor, her G-man fiance Baldwin, her medical examiner BFF, Sam, and the rest of her team, you should read them in order (All The Pretty Girls,  14, Judas Kiss, The Cold Room, The Immortals). I'm keeping the review as vague as possible to avoid spoilers. If you pay close attention, virtually everything that happens in this story is a clue as to what has happened in the terrifying past, and what's going on in the intense present and the explosive near future. There is no doubt J.T Ellison is a master of her craft. Just when you think you her last book is her best yet, you read the next one.  And you realize just how wrong you were. So Close The Hand of Death is an edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckled, can't-turn-the-pages-fast-enough thriller - that will have you clutching the book as you turn pages almost faster than you can read them - in a desperate desire to find out what happens next.

Until next month......


Friday, October 28, 2011

The New Kid

Thirty-three years ago, when I was asked to stand in front of the class and introduce myself to a room of fellow fourth graders who looked at me as if I was an alien from outer space (or, New Jersey, as was the case at the time), I was beside myself with fear. Would I say something dumb? Would I trip over a word? Would the cool girl in the back laugh at my sock selection? Would the cute boy in the front row see me as anything other than a shy dork?

And so it went from that day forward whenever I was faced with "the new kid" syndrome. Sure, the fears changed as I grew, molding to fit my life at that time, but still they were there, making me second guess myself and whether I would ever fit.

I guess it's probably that way with all beginnings whether they're of the first-day variety or something more. You wonder if it will go okay or if somehow you'll do something stupid to trip yourself up. But here's the thing about getting older... You start to gain wisdom, or, as I often think of it, an experienced set of eyes with which to view things in a different way--like this whole "new kid" thing. Beginnings bring new opportunities, new experiences, and that's not always a bad thing.

So today, I'll take my spot in front of the class and tell you who I am. And as you'll see, I know a lot about beginnings.


I was ten years old when I fell in love with the idea of being a writer. At the time, I imagined myself a children's writer. But my course changed after I read my first Mary Higgins Clark book when I was 14. Here I am (on the left) posing for a picture with my mystery-writing inspiration, MHC. I was a total and complete fan girl at that moment.

After breaking into the world of novels via a small press publisher, I landed my first big publisher deal with my Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series (pen name: Elizabeth Lynn Casey). Seeing something I'd written...with a Berkley/Penguin logo on it? Wow. Just wow.   Here I am at the launch party for the first book in the series, SEW DEADLY. Those two beautiful girls--who were my best beginnings ever--are mine and they light my world every single day.

A few months ago, I signed a deal with Berkley/Penguin for a second series under my own name, Laura Bradford. The Amish Mysteries will debut its first title, HEARSE AND BUGGY next June.  That's me, conducting a little research.


If you watch the changing photos at the top of the blog, you'll notice that I have a romance novel under my belt. Well, I have three, actually, and a fourth on the way in late 2012 or early 2013. I never intended to write romance but found myself with a story idea that refused to be a mystery. So, at the urging of my muse, I tried a romance...and then another...etc. That first romance, KAYLA'S DADDY debuted in 2010 and was followed by two more that year, with MIRACLE BABY winning me my very first writing award ever--RT Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Harlequin American of 2010. It was a total pinch-me moment I'll never forget!  This is me, back at the hotel room (in L.A.--another first) with my award.

Behind the Scenes:

Since there's more to me than just writing, I'll mention a few other "beginnings."

Like the Brady Bunch in the 70's, My Special Guy and I found each other when we were on our own--he with three kids, and me with my two girls. We got married in April and just got back from a belated honeymoon this week.  Here's a shot from our special day.

Since the cat, Angus, is a boy, we really are a modern day Brady Bunch...although I don't look as good as Carol Brady.  :)

And finally, as is the case with a few of the ladies on this blog, I, too, dealt with a health crisis a few years ago, one I will continue to deal with for the rest of my life. In 2006 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I'm doing great and helping the cause whenever I can.  Here's me at a President's Circle event for MSAA in 2010. In this shot, I'm giving a talk at Madame Toussard's in NYC and that's Times Square over my shoulder.

So that's me (or at least a tiny snapshot of me). The new kid.

Here's to beginnings! 


P.S.  Oh...and I have a new book coming out on Tuesday. It's the fifth in my Southern Sewing Circle series--DANGEROUS ALTERATIONS.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to write a short story

by Maria Geraci

Sometime early this year, fellow writer and Girlfriends Book Club blogger, Malena Lott, put a call out to authors who were interested in participating in a short story anthology. Part of the proceeds would go to a program to benefit victims of domestic violence. Besides being a women's fiction writer, I'm also a labor and delivery nurse and have unfortunately seen the effects firsthand of domestic violence on women at the most vulnerable time of their lives, so I was instantly drawn to the project. The stories would be about 6-8,000 words in length and had to include a "sleigh ride."

Now, being from Florida, I can tell you that I've only seen snow a handful of times in my life (not in Florida!) and have never been on a sleigh ride. But hey, I'm a writer and writers make things up, right? So I contacted Malena and told her I would love to be one of the participating authors and Malena graciously put me on board. I had several months to write the story and I already had what I thought was a pretty good idea, so I wasn't worried.

Then I started to write the story. And about 5000 words into it I realized I'd barely introduced my characters and given them any sort of conflict. So scratch that.

Now I started to worry.

What had I gotten myself into?

I write full length contemporary romance and women's fiction. Sure, I'd done plenty of "writing exercises" before. I'd written an entire 1000 words based on the image of an empty chair or a women going into a church ( stuff like that) but I'd never written a complete, satisfying story with a beginning, a middle, and an end in so few words. I was stumped.

And then I discovered the show, Love Bites, an hour long romantic comedy (from the creator of Sex and the City). Each hour long episode featured 3 short 20 minute stories that all connected together. Think Love, American Style (if you can remember that far back in TV history). The show was funny, smartly written and perfect teaching material for someone like me who learns visually. I watched the shows (taped them on my DVR actually) and picked out my "favorites". Then I went to work. I watched the shows again, this time jotting down notes in my trusty legal pad. And I discovered something pretty basic. Short stories work almost exactly the same as longer stories. You just have to cut away all the stuff that isn't important.

Backstory can be done in just a couple of sentences.

Dialogue has to do triple duty.

And you can still get 3 act structure in 6000 words.

Sadly, Love Bites got cancelled (doesn't that seem to happen to all the best shows?) but I'll always be forever grateful to the smiles it brought to my face and the writing wisdom it gave me.

How about you? Any tips for writing short stories? Now that I have one under my belt, I'm anxious to try my hand at more!

Get ready for the
ultimate sleigh ride this November with Buzz Books. SLEIGH RIDE is a wintry mix of short stories with one common theme: each story includes a sleigh ride. The book will include seven short stories and a portion of the proceeds will benefit a national domestic abuse prevention fund via Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Women helping women is one of our highest endeavors, and we are extremely excited about the project.

For more information on my writing, please go to my website,
You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook (or both!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing through... Oooh! Shiny!

by Bethany Maines

What do we think?  Alex Trebek – with moustache or without? Why is it that the only “star” I know on “Dancing With the Stars” is Rikki Lake? Did I buy wrapping paper for that wedding present? And speaking of the wedding, what should I wear to that wedding on Saturday? 

I’m having a wee bit of trouble concentrating (in case you didn’t notice). I’m really close to completing my latest mystery manuscript and if I just buckled down I could be done before you know it. Well, at least by the end of the weekend. But I’m having some sort of mental block.

I sit myself down.  I open all my little files and stare at the screen and then thirty seconds later I'm surfing the web, and checking the newsfeed on Facebook for the umpteenth time. It’s not the same as writer’s block. I know what to write and, theoretically, I know how to write it. This is more like attention deficit disorder for writers. Of course, once I had that thought I went to look up the symptoms of ADHD.

  • difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless
I’m pretty sure my editor thinks this is absolutely true. And since it took me five minutes to realize that I’d left “is” out of one of the sentences of above, I think we can easily say – check.
  • easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
Ok, so I ignore the noises, but my dog never does, and then I want to know what he’s looking at so I get up, and then I go for a snack, and then… Ok. Check.
  • inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
 Um… yeah, or I’d be done with the damn novel by now.
  • difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
Isn’t that the same as the last thing? Didn’t I already… ooh, look at that bird!
  • frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
What are you trying to say?  Have you been talking to my business partner? I told her I would finish the quarterly taxes before the deadline!!
  • Procrastination
Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can put off until next week, I always say.
  • disorganized work habits
Are you implying that working from the couch with notes scattered among the paper tow…napkins from lunch is a bad idea?
  • failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
Seriously, haven’t we already covered this?
  • frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one's mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations
They’re not rules – they’re guidelines.  And conversations are what happen when I’m thinking about plot.

  • forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
Oh, whew, I was starting to think I might have this, but since I never forget lunch, I’m out of the woods.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tis' the season

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Okay – I have to share a moment with you. Last week I was in my Walmart doing some shopping with the tot when I noticed that they had begun to put out the winter holiday decorations. While I’m not a huge fan of being reminded that I have tons of shopping and decorating to do, I actually was amazed that they had waited until 9 days before Halloween to start the winter holiday preparations. In past years, I’d walked into stores in late September and come eye to eye with frolicking reindeer and plastic poinsettias.

So, I was pretty pleased that this year the store displayed a minuscule amount of restraint when filling their retail shelves.

So last week, while standing in line, my son and I were surrounded by inflatable Frosty Snowmen, glowing candy canes and an assortment of other lawn adornments. And that’s when I saw it. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me. I mean, I don’t always understand the some of the festive adornments some people add to their lawns during the holidays, but this one…..

Yeah – nothing screams a celebration of the holidays like Santa in an outhouse.

What are your favorite holiday decorations and which ones make you scratch your head and wonder what were they thinking?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finding Yourself – Again

For most Rabbis, the Yom Kippur sermon is a "showstopper". It's the biggest, most captive audience a Rabbi is likely to get all year. Many non-observant Jews, who otherwise don't set foot in a synagogue, show up on the Day of Atonement. So the topic is often bold, provocative, urging you to repent and reflect. This year was a little different and it certainly got me to thinking.

My Rabbi began with a story. He recounted how he spends one week every year teaching a Bible course in Mexico. Over time, he's developed a close friendship with one of the families there. Prior to this year's class, the mother of the family had spent months in Texas, battling cancer, in a fight that frankly no one thought she'd survive. Thankfully, she did. She had returned to Mexico, but of course, the treatment took its toll physically. She was thin, balding, frail.

So my Rabbi said he was not surprised when the woman said she had a question for him. He was prepared to answer the inevitable: "why me?"

But instead, the woman said, "Am I still me?" It wasn't the physical changes that worried her. Instead she was frightened that she had lost the essence of who she was. That cancer had claimed not her life, but her identity.

The Rabbi's answer to the woman was thoughtful, gentle, and reassuring. Yes, cancer had changed her life, but it hadn't changed the essence of who she was. She remained a kind, caring, generous, intellectually curious individual.

Life can make us doubt who we fundamentally are. It's more obvious when it's an illness; the physical changes can be traumatic. But doubt rears its ugly head in other situations. The loss of a job often threatens one's identity. I know a brilliant man who was let go from his high-powered, high-paying position after 35 years with the company (after a mega-merger). In this economy, at his age, it was almost impossible to find a job, and certainly not one at his previous level. His professional and personal identities were intertwined. For him, and so many others who are unemployed, job loss equals identity loss.

Or take the case of another woman I know. She recently separated from her husband of 30 years. Who was she if she wasn't Mrs. X?

And it's not just the difficult moments in life that can seed doubt. Getting married, as well as having a baby are both important game changers. Different surname or the new title of Mom can affect not only how others look at you, but how you look at yourself.

But with time (and patience), with the help of family and friends, perhaps with professional counseling, and in my case, with faith, you begin to find yourself…again. The outside may change; some of the circumstances of your life may change – but the essence of who you are is still there.

I'll remember that for myself. I'll remember that when someone is in crisis. It's easy to bring a casserole, but what I must bring is reassurance. I'll remind my friend: You're still YOU.


Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series

I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Sullivan Investigations Mystery - e-book series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's Do A Halloween Meme!

by Susan McBride 

Yes, I'm behind on my book deadline as so much stuff keeps popping up and stealing time (I know, I know, I need to play ostrich but it's so darned tricky!).  Try as I might, I can't come up with anything to blog about besides "1001 Ways to Procrastinate" or "Things That Distract Me," which both hit way too close to home.  Then I thought, "A-ha! Halloween is in 10 days!  How about I devise a meme that everyone can answer?"  So that's exactly what I did!

I've inserted my answers below, but I'm dying to hear yours!  Please, share, even if you only want to respond to a few.  All rightee, ghouls and goblins, let the games begin!

(1)  What's your favorite Halloween costume ever?

Alice in Wonderland.  Although it wasn't until my writing career that I actually fell down the rabbit hole.

(2)  What's your favorite Halloween candy (or other treat)?

Snickers.  That's all I ever wanted in my bag.

(3)  Name the scariest book you've ever read?

Salem's Lot.  It made me jumpy and afraid to go anywhere alone in the dark for weeks after I finished it.

(4)  Who's the best movie vampire ever:
(a)  Bela Lugosi
(b)  George Hamilton
(c)  Tom Cruise
(d)  Robert Pattinson

Boris Karloff.  I love him.

(5)  Who'd win in a fist fight?  Sookie or Bella?

Bella is a wimp!  It's Sookie all the way, baby!

(6)  Are you superstitious?  How?

Yes.  I knock on wood all the time and have to wear a specific pair of earrings whenever I get on a plane.  I don't avoid cracks but I do hold my breath driving past graveyards (unless they're really long).

(7)  Frankenberry, Count Chocula, or Boo Berry?

Count Chocula.  No contest.

(8)  Will you dress up this year?  If so, as what?

I'm most definitely dressing up in my fleece jammie pants, socks, ratty T-shirt, and bedhead.  Oh, yeah, it's my "writer" costume!

Boo!  Now it's YOUR turn!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I need the Dog Whisperer

by Maria Geraci

Cute, isn't she? This is a picture of my 2 year old dachshund, Truffles taken last Halloween in her "pumpkin" costume.

Lately, however, Truffles hasn't been so cute. She's reverted back to her early puppy days of doing her "business" in the house. VERY frustrating. It took forever to house train her to begin with, so this reversion back to puppy days has me pulling my hair. Especially since I'm on deadline and would rather not step into one her presents on my rare break to the kitchen or ironically, the bathroom.

The pet psychiatrist in me thinks this reversion is related to the fact that our sweet, old mutt, Charlie was put to sleep a couple of months ago. Charlie was 13 and a BIG dog (over 100 lbs). Despite the fact they had nothing in common (he was huge, she is little. He was mutt smart, she is pedigree not-so-smart. He was patient, she is hyper) they loved each other and loved taking their walks. Since Charlie's demise, however, Truffles is afraid of her leash and refuses to go on walks, unless you carry her out the door. Sigh.

I talked to the vet about it and he thinks she will outgrow this with some patience, but I'm at the end of my rope. Where is Cesar Millan when you need him? Anyone ever encounter this sort of doggie behavior? I need to turn my overdue manuscript in!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Memory of a Great Lady

Now I know that I have officially turned into my mother:

1. I keep the “better butter” in the fridge (it’s whipped, not in a log);

2. I read the obituaries.

In my defense, my local paper, the Daily News, has taken to accepting long and beautifully written obituaries to anchor the page that just held the shorter, “just-the-facts” obits that used to reside there.  It is through those pages that I learned of another woman whose family called her “Maga,” just like we did with my beloved grandmother, and that my first boss—Sister Bartholomew Swayne—had passed away at the age of 84.  It was one of those moments where although I hadn’t seen or thought of Sister Bartholomew in years, memories of her came flooding back as I read the details of her long and productive life.

“Bart,” as we called her behind her back, was from the Bronx and entered the Dominican Sisters as a young adult.  She taught at a variety of parochial schools; managed the convent of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt; and in her later years, worked at Calvary Hospital, a place for terminally ill cancer patients.  From reading her obituary, it seemed that she had worked right up until she lost her life, presumably of natural causes.

I started working for Sister Bartholomew when I was fifteen, too young to get a working permit, but old enough so that she could get me a job in the sisters’ dining room at the convent.  My grandmother worked on a floor above, doing light housekeeping and keeping things running.  Truth be told, she hired me as a favor to Maga, but then went on to hire my best friend and my sisters.  To me, the convent was a strange and mystical place, but it did have its attractions:  one’s own room, a uniform (I still wear one to this day but it’s in the form of a pullover sweater, jeans and clogs), three hot meals a day (which were actually pretty good), and usually, a job teaching.  The disadvantages?  Living with the same group of women for your entire adult life, the job teaching (I’m not cut out for the classroom), daily prayer, and daily Mass.   When all was said and done, it was kind of a wash but I knew that a life in the convent was not for me.

Bart kept things light and jovial for the girls who worked there and made her life seem exciting and special.  She ran the convent with drill-sergeant precision, getting all of us to do mundane tasks like sweeping and washing every single step of the five-floor convent until they shined.  And when we started to flag in that onerous task, she would come by and clap her hands like the task master that she was, always telling a little joke before she left to let us know that she knew that what she was making us do was horrible but that it was necessary in order to make the convent a place where the other sisters would feel comfortable and cared for.

She reminded us almost daily that the place we worked was the sisters’ home and that we were to treat each and every one with dignity and respect, no matter how ornery or persnickety they were.  Every sister was to be greeted by name (and my sisters, friends and I to this day can summon up just about every name from memory) and treated as if she were special.  These women, after all, had given up everything for God and as such, served the poor and mostly, the children of the archdiocese and around the world.  We didn’t understand it then, but we get it now, all of us married, some of us with children.  In the world that is the Catholic Church, these women were what kept the whole machine going.  They were the cogs in the wheel and made sure that everyone had an equal opportunity to make it in a harsh world.

Bart went about her business briskly but with compassion.  When my grandmother, her good friend, died, she grieved right along with the rest of us.  And when my sisters and I went off to bigger and better things, she praised us, I’m sure still offering daily prayers for our success.  It's no wonder that I write about nuns, having spent so much time in their presence, but it is Bart who sticks out most in my mind.  She was a wonderful lady and I hope—no, I know—she rests in peace.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Take on the Publishing Game

Most of my fellow Stiletto Gang members are published by New York publishers. I started that way--eons ago--and then the editor who signed me left the company. The one who took her place wasn't interested in my next book. After many rejections, it was accepted by an independent publisher who really looked great--and the owner and his son ended up in jail after gambling away everything they made in Las Vegas.

I kept on writing. A mystery was signed on by a publisher I found in Writer's Digest big market book. He did a great job of editing and formatting the book, but it turned out he was an e-publisher, one of the first. This was in the days long before any sort of reading device. It was far too hard to even order the book (I tried) and there weren't all the ways we have today for promoting. A few years later, when the Rocket eReader came on the scene, I tried several e-pulishers. One turned out to be less than desirable for a number of reasons. Since that time, I resold that same mystery (became a series) to two different publishers, one went out of business, and now Oak Tree Press has published the whole series (Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series) and several other of my books as trade paperbacks and e-books.

My Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series also followed a bumpy path. The second, third, fourth and fifth book in the series was published as mass market by a small publisher in a nearby big city. Previously she'd published beautiful coffee table books about flying. We became friends and did promotion together. She knew nothing about e-pubbing so I still had those rights which I sold to a prominent e-publisher of that period and she brought out the first in the series as a prequel in e-book and trade paperback.

To make a long story short, the publisher who became a friend died unexpectedly. The e-book publisher put all the books out as e-books. Eventually that publisher quit the business. I met the owner/publisher of Mundania Press who is now publishing that series and bought out the other e-book publisher, so Mundania now has all those books.

Though I know that authors make more money going the Kindle route themselves, I'm quite happy to have someone else put my books on Kindle and all the other e-book sites and take care of all the other publishing chores.

Now there are all sorts of  ways to read e-books and though I'm no longer with a New York publisher, these days I don't think it matters. In fact most of them don't quite understand the e-publishing world yet.

Back when I was first e-published hardly anyone knew what that meant. I joined Epic which was and is the main organization for e-published authors and I learned and am still learning a lot from them.

Agents are changing their roles as they have realized that having an agent isn't quite as important as it used to be. I heard an agent speak who is with a large agency in San Francisco. Though she's still active as an agent, she's also hung out her shingle to help authors promote their e-books. I've read about other agents who are now working with authors to turn their manuscripts into e-books for all the different e-Readers.

The bottom line is publishing has been turned upside down and as authors, we need to pay attention to what is happening.

Marilyn, who knew all this was going to happen but it took much longer than she expected.

Monday, October 17, 2011


We've talked about this before. It's a pet peeve of mine.

Let's agree that the Internet, cell phones, and the social media have changed the world. Looking at the larger picture, these technological advances have literally made possible social and political revolutions. As a writer, I applaud the advances in the digital world that have permanently altered the publishing landscape. To all this I say, Bravo!

But here's my mini-rant for the day. Like 24/7 cable news, the social media is always looking for the next big, juicy story and unfortunately there are way too many faux celebrities who are more than happy to oblige by providing lurid details of their private lives. Skanks and ho's abound. There I've said it and yes, I'm being judgmental. Enough.

But I grew up in an age where you did not discuss your sex life with anyone except possibly your best friend. Otherwise, what happened in the bedroom (or wherever) stayed there. You didn't post your sexual escapade, along with Twitpics, before you would have had time to get dressed.

Here's the incident that prompted this tirade. I don't know Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, or for that matter Bruce Willis (although I did like the first couple of years of Moonlighting). So it's safe to say that I shouldn't know anything about who they do what with. But every time I open to the AOL home page, I am immediately updated on "The Scandal" that has erupted which involves Ashton cheating on Demi, with some skank, and Bruce, as Demi's ex-husband, feeling obliged to let loose some whoop ass on the man with the roving eye (and other parts apparently).

Okay, as if this were not enough. Sarah Leal, the 22-year old at the center of "The Scandal," felt obliged to tell US Magazine, that she wouldn't have slept with Ashton had she known he was still married (he claimed he was separated). Good to know that she has standards. But she then went on to divulge all the pillow talk (which seemed mainly political), and the birth control method used (none). OY!

Look I know that gossip and sex scandals occurred long before Facebook was invented. I also knows that sex sells, and apparently money is often the motivation in these "Let me tell you what really happened that night" stories that I see. Dare I say this? If you sell your story of a sexual escapade, is that all that different than saying you'll have sex for money? Um, and what is that called?

Bottom Line (and pun is intended): do what you want with whomever you want, assuming everyone is a consenting adult – but do me a favor, please shut up.


Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Sullivan Investigations Mystery - e-book series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stroking the Muse

By Laura Spinella

Dear Inner Muse,

It’s been a rough month. The cat died, and those pesky kids, as you refer to them, do require an occasional glance on my part. I know how much you loathe reality writing, (aka cash in exchange for the F-word… freelance writing) but I don’t see much choice in the matter. I understand that you’re currently annoyed with me. But do you think you could ease up and cut me some slack?

It all goes back to that nasty confrontation. You know, when I asked you to get on board flipping THE IT FACTOR, our 114,000 word creation, from an alternating first/third-person narrative to strictly third-person. I appreciated your hesitation: you are in charge. I get it. Since when do I take massive third-party advice and go against the Muse? But, seriously, she is our agent. You’re right, I’ve no idea if she possesses an Inner Muse, but I can tell you that she does have missile-like radar when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. Frankly, I think we’d be idiots not to listen.

I know; I heard your warning, not to mention the persnickety mirth when I explained what we needed to do. Quote: “Are you insane? Do you have any idea how much effort it took to coerce and cajole your sad little prose into a viable story? Most of that book is written in first-person. You might as well start translating War and Peace into Pig Latin, because that’s pretty much what you’re asking.”

If I can say, I think you were overstating just a tad. Granted, it’s not been a breeze. The shift from first to third is a domino effect, changing sentence structure and voice. Simple words that fit in first-person are left lost and out of place when read in third. Of course, matters were further complicated when you suggested kicking the plot up a notch. Don’t deny it; I was there. “Gosh, while we have the thing wide open here, wouldn’t it be great if Isabel’s feelings were less obvious from the beginning? And if Aidan and Anne had a past, well, that would heighten the conflict.” These, dear Muse, were not my ideas but yours. I’m not saying they weren’t good. I’m only asking if we can see our way clear to wrapping things up soon. Like, say, before technology figures out how to imprint books directly onto readers’ brains, thus subjugating the need for printed words. I know nothing as pedestrian as profit interests you, but certainly my take on that format would be about –12 cents a copy. BTW, Muse, did you know there’s no cent sign on this keyboard?

I digress. The bottom line is we’ve been going at it full throttle for weeks. I hear it. I feel it, that same rhythm we had while writing BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. You remember, you tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, I know a guy. He’s got a hell of a story if you’re interested…” We’re doing that again. We’re almost there. So if you could loosen the reins a bit, I’d appreciate it. I fear if this keeps up, one of us won’t make it out alive, and I’d really hate for it to be me.

Your Ardent & Faithful Servant,

Laura Spinella

PS--Love you, Ted! Best cat that ever lived to toss a hairball!

Fingers crossed if you can, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER is a finalist for NJRWA Golden Leaf Contest, winners announced next week! You can always find me on FB or at  Have you read BEAUTIFUL DISASTER yet?