Archive for March, 2007


Welcome to the March 31, 2007 edition of writers from across the blogosphere.

Ali Eteraz presents On Women. Part I: The Nun posted at Unwilling Self-Negation.

Lexi Sundell presents Life After Writing a Book posted at Energies of Creation, saying, “An article about the learning curve of working with a major publisher and the changes in my artwork resulting from doing a book about how to paint flowers in acrylics.”

Al Nye presents SEA OF THUNDER by Evan Thomas posted at Al Nye The Lawyer Guy.


Achu Sreedhar presents STRANGE The stars were shining So was … posted at Innocent Posts, saying, “A poem”


Marcy Nala presents Gratitude posted at The Abundant Life.


The Positivity Blog presents How to Make a Great First Impression posted at Henrik Edberg.

Marcy Nala presents Be Your Own Guru posted at The Abundant Life.

Abdur Rahman presents Writing as Exploration posted at Abdur Rahman’s Corner.

John presents How To Get Organized posted at OhCash.com, saying, “With today’s busy lifestyles, keeping an organized home can become a challenge. Having an organized home can make your life less complicated as well as help you to live a more stress free life. Here are some tips to help you get organized.”


Liz Lewis presents De-cluttering a Writer’s Desk… posted at My year of getting published, saying, “Got a messy desk. You’re not alone. Check out these tips to get to the bottom of the mess.”

PicktheBrain presents How Our Primitive Human Desires Cause Social Problems posted at Pick the Brain.


Alex Shalman presents Announcing The Personal Development Bootcamp posted at Self Help.


Susan presents The Urban Muse: Dealing with Disappointment posted at The Urban Muse, saying, “Queries submitted in the last eight days: 16
Rejections received in the last eight hours: 2

Lest anyone worry that I’m going to spend the weekend in a merlot-induced haze, I’ve compiled few ideas on how to cope with disappointment.”


John Wesley presents George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing posted at Pick the Brain.

Al Nye presents THE STRANGLER by William Landay posted at Al Nye The Lawyer Guy.


Christopher Kinniburgh presents First Post posted at Personal Muse.

book reviews

Aspeth presents How To Write Chick Lit In Ten Easy Steps posted at TwelveYearsOfBeingAnnoyedByChloeSevignyDotCom, saying, “Analysis of the chick-lit genre and “How to Write Chick Lit in Ten Easy Steps””


LolaLondon presents 1. Tell me a story, Jackanory… posted at L’undone, saying, “Here is a tale of high-weirdness, big love, cyber-crime and the mutual insane obsession of two people that never even met. This blog is the true story of how it happened and how I got through it.”

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Occasionally, you may find yourself drawn to the idea of writing about a subject that you aren’t exactly an expert at. For newspaper reporters, the issue is a daily occurrence. Imagine, you walk into work one morning, happy as can be, only to find you’ve been assigned to write about the life of a bee keeper, or an auto mechanic, or the President of the United States.

What’s a poor reporter to do?

You may have an opinion on bee keeping, or honey production, or pollen – and that opinion may be perfectly valid. But the story isn’t supposed to be about you and your opinions, it’s supposed to be about the bee keeper and his world. A good reporter will use one of the most powerful tools at his disposal in such a situation – quotes.

Of course to use pertinent quotes in a story it’s necessary to do a little leg work. You have to actually interview the subject of your story. If that’s not possible, you might find an expert in the field you can interview. The experts comments carry weight that yours alone cannot, giving your story more oomph. They also tend to lend credibility to the premise of your story, should you employ one.

Quotes are a useful, educational and sometimes entertaining tool for any writer. Even fiction writers will find the need to use quotes. Characters need to talk, to interact, to divulge information to each other and the reader. That can be accomplished through narration alone – but it makes for a long, boring read. By using quotes the writer can impart knowledge without making the reader nod off to dreamland.

Like any aspect of writing, the use of quotes, in fiction or non-fiction, takes practice. In non-fiction it’s critical that the quotes you choose are accurate and used in context. In non-fiction, they need to be believable. At least most of the time.

Your first attempts may be clunky, rough and less than compelling. But if you keep at it, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Much of the magic of good quotes results not so much from your tremendous writing talent, but rather from your interviewing skills. Those too will require some experimentation. But like everything else, you will find that with some effort, your abilities will improve over time. But the art of the interview is another blog entry for another time. For the moment, think about how you might use quotes to improve a story you’ve been considering putting on paper, or struggling with in rewrite after rewrite. Then give it a try. You just might be surprised at how powerful those two little quote marks can be when you start using them to improve your work and fill out your stories.

Jamie Beckett

Author – Burritos and Gasoline

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I’ve been writing for what seems like forever, and yet I still get those moment, those “seasons”, where I feel like I really have absolutely nothing to say.  I am in one of those particular “seasons.”  And I’m talking about right now while I am typing this, but I’m talking about as a writer of romance and fiction.  I usually have many stories and ideas brewin’ around in my head.  And I usually manage to get a few of them recorded so that I can work on them at a later date.  But lately, I feel like there is nothing.  No ideas for anything new, and even the projects that I have been working on seem “flat”.

 Another writer friend of mine, (we actually work together) mentioned being burnt out from the job, and it was moving over into his writing.  Maybe that is my problem.  Maybe some real rest and relaxation is what I need.  Maybe I should plan a real writing retreat.  I need to find out if he has recovered.  With so much going on in my (non-writing) professional life, it really could be the stress of job and home spilling over into my writing and causing this feeling of utter frustration.  I don’t like this feeling when it comes to my writing…

Ok, so here is the plan.  It just so happens that I will be leaving town tomorrow with my daughter to attend a funeral in my hometown of Willingboro, New Jersey. (Family reunions are always great breeding grounds for some interesting story ideas.)  Although it will not be the retreat that I would want, I’m going to have to use this trip to my advantage.  After the funeral, I will be in New Jersey for a couple of days.  I will have to make it a point to get away from everyone for a while and just relax.  I will clear my mind, rethink my ideas, and get back in the game.

We’ll see what happens…

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a>Alan Solomon taking a coffee breakSo what type of person does it take to write “The Mango Tree Cafe’, Loi Kroh Road”? Meet Alan Solomon as this very private man invites you in to his side of the world and all his wondrous experiences.

Then you will learn about me, also very private with wonderous experiences. Then, watch our progress as we collaborate to write The Mango Tree Cafe’, Loi Kroh Road. 1 author in Beijing, China, and 1 author in Nashville, TN USA. And, one very strong internet connection.

Alan Solomon was raised in New Zealand but left the country to live and work overseas. He traveled to countless vivid locations and witnessed events enthralling and tragic, but not until reaching a small village in the jungles of Mae Rim, 40 minutes from Chiangmai, Thailand, did he feel overcome by the inspiration and urge to write of the individuals, places and creatures he saw each day. The influences of the natural warmth of the Thai people, the lush, green countryside and the unpolluted spirits of the animals – particularly the elephants – affected him more with each passing moment, and so Alan spent great periods of time with these lovely, caring beauties.

Some time after his arrival and at the behest of a friend, Alan took an unplanned walk down Loi Kroh Road, a street that exposed him to the other side of Chiangmai, a place of dirty avenues and alleyways that also concealed some of the most beautiful art and local fashion shops in the town. The street had a mystical pull and spiritual feel – not always a positive spirit but not overtly malevolent either – and as a result he purchased a small restaurant, naming it The Mango Tree Café. The café became very popular, and within eighteen months the number of staff grew from the original three to a bustling twenty.

Alan spent much of his time seated in a cane chair on the veranda of the café watching the life of the street; during this time he received the inspiration to write a novel named after the street and the café.

Upon the novel’s completion, Alan searched for a person who would sort his thoughts and sentences into something more presentable; here he found Caroline Killmer, who spent hours structuring the novel and guiding the flow of his words. Once Caroline completed her task, Alan searched for a professional writer who could infuse his words with the clear vision he wished to express. Through sheer good fortune writer Taryn Simpson acquired a copy of the story, and with her skills the novel sprung into animated life, vibrantly channeling Alan’s experiences of Loi Kroh Road.

Alan previously has written short stories and poetry; this is his first novel. He currently resides in Beijing, China.

Email me for more info about the book: alansolomon54@hotmail.com

Taryn SimpsonTaryn Simpson
Taryn’s background not only includes writing, but she also enjoyed success as a classically trained musician. She participated in a master class with Leigh_Howard_Stevens, famed marimba expert. She also performed with Beaumont and Lake Charles Symphony Orchestras where one of the featured artists included Doc Severinson. She was accepted to the University of Texas at Arlington’s college level percussion camp when she was 12 years old, auditioned at the famed Juilliard school in New York at the age of 17. She holds a Bachelor of Music in percussion and counts her musical background as an important stepping stone to her successful writing career. Although she loves music, she discovered that writing was her true passion.

Today, Simpson has written 2 screenplays, 3 books and is about to have her fictional thriller, “Glittering Secrets” converted to an independent film. She is pursuing Ashley Judd for the title role and expects the film to be complete by late summer 2006. Her other screenplay, “Conversations with Pearl” garnered attention from the Project Greenlight critics and is currently being shopped to various companies. Taryn’s company, Simpson – E Publishing is quickly growing into a very profitable business.

Her Ghostwriting clients have raved about her writing skills and have included such comments as:
Ghostwriting Services – Fictional Thriller
“I just read the first two chapters, when does the movie come out!?”

“You are an excellent writer.. Agatha Christie does not have anything on you.”
Ghostwriting Services – Fiction Novel

“…I can’t believe it. Either you are John Grisham writing under psuedonym, or you’re the best damn writer I have ever read…”

Ghostwriting Services – Fiction Novel
I only have one word to express what I have read…Awesome…no maybe the word PROFOUND might serve the chapters better. Great Job!


Ghostwriting Services – Fictional Thriller Novel
“Whew…I got a serious RUSH while reading the end!!! You are great!, I really feel you entered my
story and brought it to life!”


And there you have it. A bit about both writers. Make a point to follow our progress. You won’t regret it.

That’s a promise.

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Contests and other junk

twicethecowboy1.jpgtwicethecowboy1.jpgOkay, my homoerotic romance Twice the Cowboy is up for a Golden Rose. There’s no $ but there is prestige in the Romance Community. I would really like my Gay Cowboys to skunk the traditional romances that are up for the same award. If you’ve got time vote here: Golden Rose Awards

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Taste Test under arrestTaste Test: Under Arrest
edited by Rob Knight

You have the right to read about sexy cops! That’s right, cuff ’em and take them home. These cops are hot, tough, and looking for love.

From CB Potts comes a small town cop with a big town problem on its hands. He’s got a grumpy grandma, a pack of criminals, and the hottest man he’s ever seen to deal with. Vincent Diamond brings along a retired cop with a terrible need to be touched. And from James Buchanan, we get a tale from the other side of the law, with a bad boy who has a real thing for the lawman.

Lock this one up in your bedroom today!

Now this brings me to marketing (okay… ADD at work here folks), the long way round. I have two novels, both sold, and due by 7/1, I have a novella contracted due by 4/30, two 15k shorts due by 5/1 and a sequel I want to get to the publisher by the end of this week. Between trying to promote what I’ve aleady written and earn a living (’cause I don’t do that on my books yet) and write… I’m going nuts.

I’m toying with the idea of hiring a promo secretary. Not terribly seriously mind you, I posted a cry for help on my main blog. Now what I forgot is that among my fan base are many stay at home moms and the like. And suddenly I have offers of help for the mere prospect of free e-books in exchange for helping me promote the e-book.

What other strategies are untapped out there for help? Makes me wonder.

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It seems no matter how long I expect the publishing process to take, it always takes longer. I have finally ordered my galley for my third and latest novel, “Black Wolf at Rosebud”. What caused the delays this time?
Unexpected events cropped up in my editor’s life, pushing my work to her back burner once or twice. I completely understand. It just threw the time table off.

Then, applying for the ISBN hit a snag. It took me three days to realize that I hadn’t ‘finalized’ the application. By then, the weekend arrived, throwing me off even further.

After that, because I’m on dial up, uploading the PDF mss didn’t work for days. The server kept tossing me off. Grrrr. I sent the mss to work with my husband, who managed to upload it in 30 seconds. (At home it took over two hours! Since then, I’ve set up my FTP software for future use.)

Then, my illustrator couldn’t upload the book cover because of some specification brouhaha with the publishing company. He had a small meltdown, which led to even more delays until I could figure out the problem.

Now, several weeks past my expected release date, I think Black Wolf at Rosebud is ready to go on sale. At least, unless the galley has a nasty surprise waiting for me.


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This is the second part of the interview with author Lauren Baratz-Logsted. She has published several books that span a range of genres. You can read the first part of the interview here: Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy:

Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

NG: How difficult was it for you to publish your first book?

Lauren: Very! I left my day job as an independent bookseller in 1994. It took me nearly eight years to sell a book and the first book I sold was actually the sixth I’d written. But when I hit, it was sweet. The Thin Pink Line was sold as part of a two-book deal, was published in 10 countries, and I’ve had six more books published since with more to come.

NG: What pitfalls have you managed to overcome and how would you advise other authors to steer clear of the same?

Lauren: Every path is different. I guess the thing that’s hindered me the most have been the times I’ve signed with agents who failed to further my career. But how can you advise others against that? They were all reputable agents with many successes to their names; they just weren’t the right agents for me. I would also tell authors to stop and think before posting things on the Internet. I’m 44 and am fully aware of the potential negative consequences of speaking my mind in public. And I do speak my mind. But every now and then I’ll stumble across some writer mouthing off in cyberspace and for whatever reason my radar goes up and I realize this person has no idea what kind of negatives they’re racking up.

NG: What would you tell writers that are just starting out and don’t know much about getting a book published?

Lauren: That knowledge is power, every step of the way. And the best place I know on the Web to gain knowledge and network is Backspace. It’s a community of 400+ writers and publishing professionals. I wish there had been such a thing when I was first starting out. There is a small yearly subscription fee but it’s well worth it for anyone serious about a career in writing. Oh, and my other big advice? Read, read, read. You have no idea how many people I meet who want to be writers and then tell me they don’t have time to read. To me, that’s like wanting to be a surgeon and refusing to take science.

NG: As a writer, what have been some of your most memorable experiences in the industry, good and bad?

Lauren: Bad first: When Princess Diana died just after I’d started submitting an alternate-universe romantic comedy I’d written called Falling for Prince Charles. A month after her death, a VP at one of the biggest publishing houses in the country called to tell me she loved my book and that she couldn’t buy it, that nobody could. A year’s worth of my life and my work, and it was unpublishable. Best? I guess I’ll stick with the royalty theme. The editor who worked on The Thin Pink Line heard Fergie, the Princess of York, was coming to NY to pitch a possible book project and that they’d be having lunch, so she brought my book along as a present figuring Fergie would like it. I have no idea if she ever read it – it probably wound up in the trash – but it’s fun to think someone famous might actually read one of my humble efforts.

NG: Any thing else you would like to add for would-be authors?

Lauren: It’s always the same from me. Stay alive, keep putting one writing foot in front of the other, and always remember: the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

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I got this e-mail from a little old lady with a quavery voice who bought a copy of Peace for her 14-year-old niece at a book-signing. I think I should use it as promotional copy. What self-respecting young-adult wouldn’t want to read it after this?

“I had no idea that when you said your book was about ‘bullying at a girls’ camp’ it would be about sociopathic psychosis, murder, suicide, major clinical depression, and unprotected teen sex. I’m glad I previewed it. No way would I give it to my niece. Life is rough enough. “

Based on this fabulous list of subject matter (right up there with Prinz Award Winner Looking for Alaska), here’s a reworking for back-cover copy by my friend Ginny:

“Life is rough enough. But it gets even rougher when a group of teenage girls run wild at a secluded summer camp in the Deep South. “HOT” doesn’t just describe the weather. Canoeing? Handicrafts? Sing-a-longs? Don’t go looking for any of that in Peace I Ask of Thee. Try murder, suicide and unprotected teen sex. Parents, don’t let your daughters get their hands on this one!”

Ginny also offered to write new back-cover copy for Mr. Touchdown. Says she will use the word “miscegenation, whether it’s relevant or not.”

Speaking of Looking for Alaska, I just read the School Library Journal’s review on Amazon. Here’s a line: “The language and sexual situations are aptly and realistically drawn, but sophisticated in nature. ” This is so mild. My little old lady would be horrified to know that graphic oral sex is merely “sophisticated.”

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To cross or not to cross? That is the question for today. Bookcrossing.com has become one of the more popular “sharing” sites for books.

According to thier website, bookcrossing is defined as follows:

n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

(added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in August 2004)

They actively promote a program called ‘The Three R’s.”

The “3 Rs” of BookCrossing…

  1. Read

a good book (you already know how to do that)

  • Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book
  • Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, “forget” it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!
  • Many authors and publishers fear losing royalties if too many readers practice this.  They imagine a world where hundreds of readers are passing along one copy of their book, instead of each of those individuals going to a store and buying a copy.

    As a self-published author, I know the key to success is to build strong word-of-mouth, and what better way to do so then through giving away free copies of your book?  I personally have registered and released a dozen copies of my novel The Thief Maker into the wild, and encourage friends, family, and readers to do the same.  I have also donated copies to local libraries and used book stores.  The idea that this type of practice robs us of royalties is ridiculous.  For me, it’s about finding readers and connecting with their minds, not their wallets.  Plus, it spreads good karma, as Bookcrossing says…and who knows…some of those who find the free copies you release and like the idea or like the book might encourage others to go out and buy it.

    Releasing a book into the wild does involve a little bit of strategy on your part.  Leaving a book behind at a Barnes & Noble cafe table is probably a better idea than releasing a book on a park bench in the dead of winter.  You have to get into the mind of a potential reader.  Where might readers be congregating, and where might a “lost book” catch someone’s attention? 

    The one catch to Bookcrossing.com is that the person who finds the book has to register on the site to be able to leave an entry stating they found the book, and some people might not bother doing that.  This means people could be reading and passing along the book without your knowledge.  It makes it difficult to measure the true success of such a practice.  So far, there’s only been one confirmed “catch” of The Thief Maker.  I personally like the “mystery” aspect of the process and enjoy imagining others finding the books and simply never registering.

    What other ways can you spread word-of-mouth and build “the karma of literature?”  Are there other sites like Bookcrossing.com that promote similar practices?  Are there other revolutionary ideas out there that could help writers find an audience?  Feel free to respond and share!



    David H. Schleicher, author of The Thief Maker


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