Monday, October 27, 2014

I’m late with not much to say.

So, instead of a blank page, I’ll just ramble on.
  • I attended a book signing with Clea Simon this past week. It was a fun affair at the Mysterious Bookshop.
  • I’m looking forward to hanging out with several authors in the coming weeks. It will be a fun time for all.
  • I’m having a Book Blast Giveaway on dru’s book musing FB page in November.
  • I will be without this laptop for at least a week. Something is amiss with the motherboard and the fan. 
  • I'm running out of steam.

Do you have any ramblings to tell me?


Friday, October 24, 2014

Perfect Thanksgiving Diet Discovered! 
by Debra H. Goldstein

A perfect Thanksgiving Diet has been discovered! No starvation! Not impossible to follow! The Killer Wore Cranberry:  A Fourth Meal of Mayhem guarantees not a pound will be gained this holiday season.

The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of Mayhem contains recipes from Lisa Wagner and short stories by Big Jim Williams, Lesley A. Diehl, Sandra Murphy, Earl Staggs, Barbara Metzger, Steve Shrott, Rob Chirico, Laird Long, Barb Goffman, and Debra H. Goldstein. I’m thrilled to be in the company of these writers.  Many of them had stories in each of the first three successful The Killer Wore Cranberry books, but three of us are newbies to the series.

Writing my story, Thanksgiving in Moderation, was pure joy with a touch of madness.  The call for submissions required a story that had a Thanksgiving theme and incorporated a Thanksgiving food. Thanksgiving wasn’t an issue, but as you know from my prior blogs, I love to eat and be a dinner guest but I don’t know my way around the kitchen.  Consequently, the first thing I researched was what different dishes are served at Thanksgiving besides turkey.  I was amazed at the possible menu variations.

Living in the South, I gravitated toward greens-especially when I realized “greens” could be any leafy vegetable including spinach, kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and parsley. Once I had my food, my mind focused on family dynamics. I long ago concluded that no matter how serious a situation is, family dynamics bring humor to it. From that point, the story flowed.  My critique group pointed out a few rough spots and then the story was ready for submission.  I crossed my fingers and looked around for a wishbone. Happily, Jay Hartman’s e-mail accepting Thanksgiving in Moderation granted me two wishes:  inclusion in The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem and a celebratory reason to avoid my kitchen.  

The stories in The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem prove laughter is the best medicine by including, as its blurb explains, “what happens when sisters are pushed over the edge, dentists dine with crime bosses, 1950s private detectives deal with dames and sweet potatoes and a family has a bit of a problem with their future son-in-law.”

The anthology is available from The Untreed Reads Store: (best discount), from any store or library ordering from Ingram using ISBN 9781611877403, or from Overdrive as a November promotion.  TKWC truly offers a way to enjoy Thanksgiving food without gaining a pound.  Now, put your fork down and read every word of this Thanksgiving short story and recipe anthology.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Debra H. Goldstein’s debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a 2012 IPPY Award. In addition toThanksgiving in Moderation in The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem, her short stories and essays have appeared in Mardi Gras Murder, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, The Birmingham Arts Journal, Mysterical-E, Kings River Life (November 1, 2014), Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, MORE Magazine online and

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Quantum Relativity Theory of Book Time

by Bethany Maines

Yesterday, Marilyn Meredith discussed why she keeps writing and how her characters keep moving forward which keeps her writing.  As a Great-Grandma and writer she as a unique perspective on the longevity of characters. But I'm only a first time mom and I'm only on my third sequel.  I'm at the start of that journey.  But her post did get me to wondering: how do my characters age?

I solved this problem in with Ariana Grace, my heroine in paranormal noir series, Tales from the City of Destiny, by the simple fact of not having her age.  Welcome to the glory of magic! Solving aging problems since Shakespeare!  And so far my Carrie Mae Mystery heroine, Nikki Lanier, has aged fairly realistically, but sometimes books cannot be written fast enough for a character to keep up with real life. What should I do with her in the future?

Since part of my premise for the book is that her character must evolve and grow, I think it's a given that she will age.  But should she age at an absolute year for year rate with real life?  I don't think I can do that.  She'll be too old for my plots by the time I get around to writing all of them!  Should I work out some sort of complicated formula for aging?  Maybe she ages in reverse dog years?  Or maybe I should just wing it?  Who knew when I had a simple little plot idea about an undercover make up lady that I'd be involved in higher math...

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Will I Stop Writing? by Marilyn Meredith

This question has been discussed recently on the DorothyL list. And to be perfectly honest, I've had people ask me that question too. Probably because I am old.

Yes, I'm the ancient one of this group. I've been around since the beginning of this blog. I've been writing nearly all my life, but didn't get published until 1982 and yes, I was already a grandmother then.

So, now, onto the answer of my question. I can't imagine not writing. As long as I'm able to sit in front of my computer and new ideas pop into my head I'll be writing.

One of the reasons I keep on is because the only way for me to find out what is happening to the characters I've created is to write the next book.

In the case of Deputy Tempe Crabtree, who is also getting older--though certainly at a slower rate than I am--I want to know when she might consider retiring from the sheriff's department. And when she does, what will she do next? Will she remain in the small mountain community of Bear Creek or move somewhere else? If she moves, will that mean the end of her interacting with the Indians on the Bear Creek Reservation?

I'd also like to know more about her son, Blair, now that he's working for the Morro Bay Fire Department. And of course there's her husband, Pastor Hutch. Moving would mean Hutch giving up his church. Would there be another in his future.

And I've got a whole other series about the Rocky Bluff P.D. Those characters are aging much slower than I am, though there have been major changes in nearly everyone's lives. Am I ready to quit writing about them? Not in the near future, in fact I'm nearing the end of the next book.

I also enjoy the other things that go along with writing. I like interacting with my readers. I enjoy some of the promoting that's expected. I have cut down a bit on some of the in-person events that I do. I only participate in book and craft fairs where I don't have to put up a tent and haul a table and chairs. I've cut down on the mystery and writers cons if they are too difficult for me to get to--and frankly, I miss seeing the people who attend.

For me writing is a part of who I am, so while I'm still of sound mind I'll continue.

My latest, of course is in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series: River Spirits.

It's available in all formats from the publisher at  and all the usual places.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


By Laura Bradford

As the holiday months draw closer, I can't help but find myself thinking about all of my "can't-waits." You know, the decorating, the baking, the wrapping, the music, and on and on.

It all makes me happy. Really, truly happy.

But as much as I adore the holidays and everything they mean, there are lots of things--simple things--that make me happy...

I love the sound of a baby laughing.

I love the sound of a cat's purr.

I love that very first taste of frozen yogurt.

I love the feel of the sun on my face with the ocean as a backdrop.

I love hearing my children say, "I love you."

I love photographs.

I love neatness.

I love applesauce muffins fresh from the oven.

I love long walks.

I love the way the song, "And We Danced" by the Hooters makes me smile--instantly.

I love time with my friends.

I love unexpected phone calls from special people.

I love Disney World.

I love that moment when an idea strikes...and you know it can work.

There are so many simple things that make me happy.

What are some of yours?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Holiday Gift Giving, the Beatles and Joni Mitchell

By Kay Kendall

Yes, of course, I admit to rushing the season. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are all more than two months away and here I am, discussing holiday gifts. Although on the one hand I’m irked at the Christmas decorations going up so early all around Houston, on the other hand I shopped online today for gifts. It was such a snap that I bought more than half of my Christmas gifts in less than two hours.

Ah, the ease of the online wishlist. I have battled against the wishlist concept for several years. Now I’ve succumbed. I give up. I’m going with the times.

If you happen to be over—let’s pick a number—forty (as I am), then you recall when things were different. You tried to surprise the gift recipient—surprise and delight. I picked up my joy of gift giving and wrapping from my maternal grandmother who reveled in every aspect of gifting. 

In the decades of my boomer youth, I watched her decorate packages so imaginatively. She could have hired on for Neiman Marcus—a store back in the day that did elegant gift wrapping. (Their efforts today are a sad, pale imitation, fie!) What my grandmother could not do—not to save her very soul—was to keep her gifts a secret. She got so excited that she just had to give you hints--hints so major you could easily figure out what your gifts would turn out to be. I took such pleasure in her enjoyment that I didn’t mind.

Perhaps the idea of telling Santa what you wanted for Christmas grew into the concept of wishlists. But the wishlist of today has more power. Woe be to you if you give your under-forty offspring something that is not on his or her wishlist. I fought against using wishlists until a few years ago a dear friend said she had given up trying to surprise her offspring with delightful gifts. Instead she chose from the dreaded wishlist or gave gift cards. There was no pleasing her grandchildren or children otherwise. 

This friend's example was my first glimmer hinting at a mass societal change. A generational difference, clear and simple. And that’s when I threw in the towel.

But I remember a different time. I recall a December when I was a graduating high school senior. How I wanted several Beatle albums and 45s to add to my collection. When any grownup relative asked what I wanted for Christmas, “Beatles please” was my instant answer.

Meantime my mother and grandmother would sit in the kitchen making cranberry loaves, fudge, and mounds of cookies...all the while talking about the Christmases of their youths. My mother said she’d been pleased with mandarin oranges and pecan nuts in the toe of her Christmas stocking, back in the 1930s. My grandmother recalled helping her mother go into the farmyard in Ohio and select a goose for neck twisting, in the first decade of the twentieth century--the holiday meal to be! I loved their quaint tales of the good old days. (Probably these stories helped grow my lust for history.)

The following week saw the morning of December twenty-fifth dawning. I went into the living room with my parents (I, an only child, admittedly a tiny bit or more spoiled). I had expected to call this my very own Beatles Christmas. But it was not to be. Arrayed in front of the brightly lit tree was a set of three luggage pieces.

“You’re going off to college next year,” Mother explained, delight shining in her eyes. “We knew you could use some nice suitcases.” I murmured what I hope sounded like a sincere thanks but kept eyeing other presents, looking for the telltale signs of even one 33-long-play album lying under the tree branches. But John, Paul, George, and Ringo were nowhere to be found.  

All was not lost however. My paternal grandparents sent a check that I promptly cashed and turned into the longed-for Beatles albums. But, oh, the rush of emotion, up and down, the dramatic upheaval.

Things are so different now in the high season of gift giving. Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. That’s the way the song goes, Joni Mitchell’s beloved “Both Sides Now.”

So then, what’s your opinion of the wishlist phenomenon? What do you remember about gift giving and receiving in the “good old days?” What’s the routine at your house? I’d sure love to know.


Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery, in 1968, in an anti-war group. The sequel is Rainy Day Women, set for 2015, and this time her amateur sleuth Austin Starr must convince police her best friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the perilous 1930s–write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. Kay is also an award-winning international public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the Stone Face

by Marjorie Brody

Dull brown rocks over dusty, dry sand. That’s what you see from the outside.

But if you take the time to get to know her, to see what she's like on the inside, behind the rough, hard, monochromatic facade and really explore who she is, you'll be able to see her beauty. 

Tsé bighánílíní, the Navajo name for this part of Antelope Canyon, Arizona, means "the place where water runs through rock". 

It's pure. Unadulterated. Unique. Breathtaking. A gift from Mother Nature to teach us about looking beneath the surface. 

How often do we make judgments about individuals based on exterior appearances—it’s just a rock, a hill of dirt? How often do we make judgments based on classifications and stereotypic labels--they're a Muslim, a Jew, an African American, a democrat, an environmentalist, a homosexual. The list can go on . . . and on . . . and on. 
In fiction, authors may hide what's beneath a character's facade for a little while, but eventually, they will point their flashlight into the cracks between the boulders and direct readers toward concealed mysteries. We readers leap into that abyss eager to discover the subtle lights and darknesses of the character's inner life. We value delving beneath surface actions. We yearn to uncover, to understand, the complex motivations that form the bedrock of the character's personality. When we meet a persona on the page, a view of his or her external life, by itself, is not sufficient. We demand to experience, with all our well-tuned senses, the character's heart and soul.

Why can't we do the same when we meet someone off the page?

Let’s not miss the opportunity to look beneath the surface of our fellow human beings. Sure, we may not always like what we see, but often we’ll find something we can value and/or admire. And just perhaps, looking beneath the surface will enrich our own lives.

Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award. TWISTED is available in digital and print at or invites you to visit her at 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Circling Back to the Beginning

By Evelyn David

It's hard to believe, but it's been almost seven years since we began The Stiletto Gang. In Evelyn David mystery terms, that's four books and eleven novellas. Hard to find the words to say how important it's been to us to be in such a warm, supportive community of mystery lovers: authors and readers. You've cheered for us when we've had good news to share, listened to us when we felt the need to rant, and been there when the going got tough. But the press of family and day jobs has seriously cut into our writing time, so we made the painful decision to cut down on some of our obligations. This is our last regularly scheduled blog for The Stiletto Gang.

In that first blog, we drew upon the wisdom of Carolyn Hart, mystery writer extraordinaire. As she explained, "In my books, the good guys always win." So true for us too. Perhaps more than ever, in the craziness of the real world, we need a space where we know that good triumphs over evil. So we end as we began. Our wish for you all: a world where the men are good looking; the women are brilliant and beautiful; the dogs are loyal and loving ... and where the good guys always win.

With much gratitude,
Marian and Rhonda, the collective Evelyn David

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
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Leaving Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)
Book 4 - Leaving Lottawatah (includes the 11th Brianna e-book and some special features.)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Mind Over Murder - Kindle - Trade Paperback

Zoned for Murder - Kindle - Trade Paperback






Friday, October 10, 2014

Free Prizes - 105 Authors - Bake, Love, Write -- Cooking, Writing and Me

Free Prizes – 105 Authors – Bake, Love, Write - Cooking, Writing and Me

Even the words themselves make me tremble. Cooking!?   Cookbook!!!!

There are a few things you can always count on from me:  I shoot straight, I have an emotional side but I’m not touchy-feely, and the kitchen is the last room in the house you’d ever expect to find me in.  So, how is it that my most recent published piece is related to cooking?

In fact, who would ever expect me to be telling you how to cook/bake?  And yet, here I am, one of 105 authors in a cookbook. Bake, Love, Write was the brainchild of author Lois Winston. After noticing how often authors and food go together, Lois invited writers to submit dessert recipes and their thoughts on romance and writing. Somehow, she accepted mine and 104 more [including recipes from fellow Stiletto Gang members Kay Kendell and Lynn Calhoon] and edited them into a cookbook.

The recipes in Bake, Love, Write are special, often handed down from generation to generation. My chocolate velvet nut pie recipe has a history, too.  I stole it from a friend of my mother’s and added my own nutty twist. Easy and delicious, it epitomizes the smoothness and richness I find in relationships and good writing.

Speaking of relationships, 30+ of the Bake, Love, Write authors have joined together to sponsor a scavenger hunt giving away over 60 prizes as Halloween treats treats to our readers. Like any good scavenger hunt, from now to Halloween, you’ll race to find Halloween icons on our websites and then report your findings to the master site from which prizes will be awarded daily using rafflecopter.

To start, visit Sloan McBride’s blog at  for a list of the prizes and authors and to download the answer sheet.  Visit the live websites shown, find the Halloween graphic and then e-mail your answer sheet to . Remember, the more authors’ websites you visit, the more prizes you can win.
Good luck!   Good eating!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How do you write a mystery?

by Bethany Maines

As I approach the end of my third Carrie Mae Mystery manuscript (60,000 words and climbing!), I find myself more impressed now by a basic Nancy Drew, than I was when I was ten.  My characters are better than when I started writing.  My plotting is infinitely stronger. My grasp of grammar, may actually have gotten worse, but I do use less adverbs (and I actually know what they are), but it's this business of “mystery” that still perplexes me.  Clues? There should be some.  But how many? How obvious should be?  Is that too obvious? Too subtle? How many suspects are required? Is there a manual somewhere? I could really use a manual.

Partially, I’ve been avoiding this trouble by not writing standard mysteries.  I call them women’s action adventure because I think more mysteries could use a good car chase.  If you’ve seen Bullitt then you know that’s a movie that is holding onto its classic status simply on the strength of its car chase.  (It’s certainly not the strength of the jazz flute scene.)  But in April my first regular mystery, A Yearly Murder (working title), will be released and I find myself nervous that all the mystery aficionados will judge me. 

What if I didn’t put in enough clues?  What if the bad guy is too obvious?  What if I didn’t kill of Reginald creatively enough?  Serial killers and mystery writers – the only people who worry about being judged by their dead bodies. And I would worry about the psychological implications of that if I weren’t too busy worrying about whether or not I got my forensic research right. 

I hope that you’ll check out A Yearly Murder in April, and let me know if I got the clue quotient right!

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Juggling Again--or Should I Say Still?

Because I have a new book on the scene, the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, River Spirits, I am really juggling a lot.

One of my earlier books in the series, Bears With Us, will be offered for .99 cents on Kindle from October 13- 17, which will take a lot of promoting.

Through the month of November, I'll be on a virtual blog tour--something I like doing but is a lot of work. I've already done a lot in preparation, but while it's going on it will take a lot of time to let people know where I am visiting.

I'm also involved in several in-person events this month, on the 11th, I'll be at The Taste of the Arts, in Visalia, CA from 10 to 4 and on October 18th from 10 to 4, the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca, CA. and on the 25th I'm participating in a panel with the Central Coast Sisters in Crime at the Atascadero Library where we'll be discussing the age of e-publishing.

And guess what, I'm also writing the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, which means I really do have to concentrate on it too.

I know that many of my author friends don't have children, a few not even a husband to worry about, but I have 4 adult children, 18 grandkids, and 15 great-grands. When possible I love spending time with them. And of course, this is where the juggling comes in. My family comes first even if that means I have to get up earlier than usual or stay up later to take care of my writing commitments.

Here is the cover of River Spirits and as usual, the artist has captured the essence of the title.

Blurb: While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a missing woman is found by the Hairy Man, an actor is murdered and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Available in all formats from the publisher: and from all the usual places.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Virtual friends

Welcome to the new age....

Did you have a pen pal as a teenager? Someone you wrote long, emotion filled letters about your life, your hopes, your dreams that lived far enough away to keep your secrets?

I loved getting and sending my letters. Until real life stepped in and we lost touch.

Now, I have virtual friends. People who live across the world that I keep in touch with, hope for, dream with.  Some I've met, some I might never meet in person.

But whenever we do, it's like old friend reunion time.

Like last month when I got to meet our Stiletto Gang member, Dru Ann Love.  She's as charming and bubbly as her Facebook posts show her to be.

I'm also friends with fellow Stiletto Gang member - Laura Bradford.

I've met a lot of my friends on line and now, in person. I love having that feeling of meeting old friends even though we may have only met once in person.  Now that I'm starting to attend more mystery conferences, I may be running into you soon. :)

Tell me about your virtual friendships? Are they as good or better than old fashion pen pals?


FYI - to (celebrate my birthday month) prepare for the release of IF THE SHOE KILLS November 10th, Kensington has put the digital version of MISSION TO MURDER on sale for #99cents all of October. Don't miss the second book in the Tourist Trap Mysteries.

Buy at Amazon/Nook 

Friday, October 3, 2014

On Buying Books—Or Not

by Linda Rodriguez

A reader recently wrote to me to praise my new book, Every Hidden Fear, and apologized for having checked the book out of the library. I reassured her that there was no need to apologize, but I know why these readers and others have felt this way. A few authors have been very vocal on Facebook and other places about their disgust at people using the library rather than purchasing their books. When you add in the justifiable distress that most authors feel and express about actual book piracy, which is usually of e-books, it might seem to readers that there are a lot of angry authors out there. I don’t believe that’s the case, at all.

I’m always happy to have readers check out my books from their local libraries, and most authors I know feel the same way. I think the authors who’ve exploded online about library copies cutting into their sales numbers are few—and mostly new to the business. For many of us midlist authors, library sales are quite an important part of our book-sale figures. Besides, most of us were at one time nerdy kids who adored and made great use of their libraries. Many of us are still big library users. Authors tend to love libraries.

I have known experienced authors who became upset at signings when presented with books that were purchased in used-book stores. They usually are gracious to the reader, but complain about it to their fellow authors later. And they have a point. The author and publisher receive nothing from that used-book sale after the initial sale. Some readers are not aware of this. Some are, but can’t afford to buy all of their books new, especially if the book is only available in hardcover.

None of this behavior mentioned so far is piracy. Libraries and used-book stores are legitimate outlets. Piracy, which usually involves e-books, is when copies of a book are made available for free in the millions on sites usually called torrent sites. These sites violate the copyright laws and basically allow people to steal books. Aside from the damage this does to publishers and authors, which can be substantial, it is fundamentally unethical and dishonest behavior.

I don’t want my books pirated, and I don’t care how many people tell me “all content should be free” or “it’s good exposure.” People can die from exposure. My attitude is Don’t steal my books. But used-book sales are not piracy. Those books were purchased once, much as library books are, and with physical books, certainly, there’s a limit on how many times that book can be checked out or sold before it gets ragged and must be discarded and a new one bought. In the meanwhile, people are reading my books and enjoying them and recommending them to friends and eventually, I hope, buying them new. My books are only available in hardcover and e-book at the moment, and I know the hardcover’s a big expense for students and folks on fixed incomes. Libraries and used-book stores make it possible for them to find my books and read them anyway.

However, I do think readers should be aware that used-book store sales count nothing at all for the writer. Library sales do count, though they are not figured in for the bestseller lists. And the way publishing works right now, if a writer’s sales don’t continually climb—at a fairly steep rate—that author will be dropped by the publisher after three to six books. Even if all those books earned out their advances. Even if all those books had stellar reviews and were nominated for awards. So if too many of an author’s readers use libraries only and/or, especially, used-book stores to access their books, that author and that series of books will disappear. The author may be able to start a different series at a different publisher, but usually s/he will have to take a pen name, making it difficult for fans to follow. Publishers today seem to think every author should become a bestseller eventually—and remember, neither library nor used-book sales count for that—and if s/he doesn’t, the publishers lose interest in that author.

So, like the inimitable Neil Gaiman, I’ll happily sign anything from anywhere. But I’d like readers to be aware that their choices will affect whether or not their favorite authors are able to continue writing their favorite books—or at all. But if, like my correspondents, you feel bad because you simply can’t afford to buy a new book by a favorite author, don’t. Just write a brief, thoughtful  review and post it on Amazon or Good Reads or other reading community. That will mean a great deal to the author and cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

What are your thoughts on this thorny issue?

REPLIES TO COMMENTS (because Blogger!):

Mary, most of the writers I know are happy to have fans check out their books from the library. The more our books are checked out, the more the library will buy our books, and unless you're a Mary Higgins Clark or James Patterson, library sales are important to writers.

Michelle, I don't think anyone should apologize for using the library. People lending books to friends is not piracy. Most authors love book collectors like you.

Marilyn, I'm with you in loving to have readers buy my books themselves, but I know a lot of folks out there are living on fixed incomes and can't buy all the books they'd like, so the library is their and my friend--since I want them to read my books. I think the pirate sites make every writer unhappy, and readers often don't realize they can play a large part in making a writer's books unavailable. If everyone is pirating one author's books, s/he will have low sales and will be dropped by the publisher. Then that writer's books in that series--and maybe even that genre--will cease to be available each year or so for the reader's pleasure.