Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Unusual Birthday Presents

As you may or may not know, I'm blessed to be married to a wonderful woman, Lara. She and I both have birthdays in December, only one day apart. I was a little late with her birthday present this year (actually, I gave her one on time, but this one was a surprise I had to arrange to pick up.) You'd have to know her to really understand this, but for her birthday I gave her 3,800 pounds of rocks.

She is really into landscaping and such, and not long after we moved to Georgia, she told me, "Honey, don't worry about buying me jewelry or stuff like that. If you really want to make me happy, bring me live plants to set out, or rocks to use in landscaping." So, I made the arrangements, and today she and I took the trailer and Jeep to get 1.9 tons of happiness. She didn't know where we were going, and she was both surprised and very pleased with the gift.

I know, it sounds sexist, but how many women do you know who would rather have sandstone than diamond?


Travel and other news

Last week my wife and I made a trip out to Denver to see our younger son, Jeremy, graduate from UC-Denver. Proud moment! He graduated with a BFA, majoring in graphic arts and multimedia. We were to fly back on Saturday, but the threat of incoming snow made us spring for changed tickets earlier than that.

I also received an invitation to be on a panel at the Spring Book Show 2007 Author-Publisher Seminar in Atlanta, March 23-24, 2007. That's a very cool thing, and I'm proud to be part of the Spring Book Show 2007!

Sunny Frazier's new book, Fools Rush In, is selling very well indeed--over 100 copies in the first three days of release. Not bad at all for a small press release of a debut novel! Go check it out, and read the first couple of chapters on the website.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Short-notice writing contest on Crime and Suspense

Warner Bros. has once more contacted me about working with them to promote a new movie, "The Good German."

Toward that end, I have instituted a short-fiction writing contest on the site. You have to write a flash piece (under 500 words) and use a picture there on the site as the inspiration or starter for your story.

Here's the way it goes:

1st place: $25 Amazon gift certificate
2nd place: Movie-theme t-shirt
3rd place: Movie-theme fatigue cap
4th place: Movie poster

Anyway, if you want all the details, go to the Crime and Suspense website (http://www.crimeandsuspense.com) and check out the link on the main page. There are pictures of the prizes (except for the gift certificate).

And get started writing! You have very little time!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In, Sunny Frazier's debut novel, is at the printer and should be available very soon! I'm very excited about this book, and quite frankly, so are the reviewers!

Kevin Tipple on epinions

Pat Reid on Books n Bytes

Lesa Holstine on Lesa's Book Critiques

Booksigning success!!

Marie Peerson at Crosshaven Books and Margaret Fenton were extremely hospitable to my wife and myself on Saturday, December 2. The signing was what I consider a success: books sold, lovely people met and conversed with, great snacks, and new readership forged. Lara and I arose early on Saturday morning for the nearly-four-hour drive to Birmingham, Alabama, but it was a beautiful day for driving. Lara had never been in Alabama before, and she really loved the scenic countryside through which we drove.

We sold thirteen copies of By the Chimney With Care (which benefits the Toys for Tots), five copies of Blinded By Darkness, and a copy of Seven By Seven. Plus, Marie was gracious enough to have me sign a few copies of books to keep on her shelves for later purchase.

I also got to meet a very nice guy and fellow author, Jim Reed. Jim is an author, as I said, as well as having a variety of life experiences as a columnist and broadcaster. Plus, he has a great online bookstore for rare and out-of-print books, Reed Books. Drop in there and check out his work, which includes his books recorded on CD!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Writing events!

It's been a busy week, but a good one. This week:
  • I was invited to a book signing at Crosshaven Books for their Christmas open house. Crosshaven is an independent bookstore in Birmingham, Alabama, owned and run by Marie Peerson. I'll be signing By the Chimney With Care, Blinded By Darkness, and if the shipment comes in, the new re-release of A Wicked Good Play. Keep your fingers crossed for the UPS man.
  • I was invited to participate as a panelist at Murder In the Magic City (also in Birmingham, Alabama) on February 10, 2007. I've heard a lot of good things about this conference, and I'm really looking forward to it!
  • I was invited to teach a class at the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun, GA. The class is "Writing and Publishing Your Short Story", and it will run for six weeks, starting in early January 2007.
So, I'm pretty excited about all this!

Yesterday, Lara and I were able to spend some great quality time with my parents, both our daughters, their husband and fiance', and our lovely granddaughter, Rebekah! Sort of a pre-thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. Rebekah is eight months old, and obviously knows she is the star of the show.

Ah, I said "fiance'" didn't I? Well, last night we got the official notification: Patti showed off a beautiful engagement ring that Dustan had given her earlier in the week, in a romantic proposal at Amicalola Falls. (I love that place!)

It's been a good week. I have much to be thankful for.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Seldom do I step down into the political mire, but...

Today I sent an email to the President of the United States of America. "What temerity!" you say, "What gall!!" My email was prompted by a little news item about the Administration's lawyers stating that... oh, heck go HERE and read the news article for yourself.

Here is the text of my email.
Dear Mr. President,

I realize that you personally probably read very few of these emails, but on the off-chance that my luck may be better than I suspect, that is how I started this email.

I also realize that, given that you cannot now be re-elected, my opinions and the opinions of hundreds of thousands of like-minded individuals probably mean very little to you. For that matter, they seem to have mattered very little prior to this time. After all, we are only citizens.

I am an American veteran. I joined the US Navy the same year I graduated from high school, and altogether spent over 12 1/2 years in active service. I have served and defended my country.

I am also a registered Republican. I voted for your father every time he ran, and I voted for you both times you were elected. I now deeply regret that last choice. Your actions of the last few months at first invoked disbelief, then dismay and at the last outrage at the way you have betrayed the trust of the people who elected you.

It is your actions, sir, and those of your officials, which prompted both my wife and myself to vote against any Republican on the ticket in this year's midterm election, simply as a way to try and assure that the same sort of heinous misgovernment does not continue. Unfortunately, Mr. President, this does nothing to correct the errors and missteps you and your administration have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, upon the people of this nation and even upon foreign nationals.

I leave you with these quotes, sir.

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” — Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials before he was sentenced to death

“The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State.”
— Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels, propaganda minister for Adolf Hitler

and finally...

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”
— Thomas Paine


Tony Burton

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My gosh, it's already the middle of November!

The weather can't seem to settle on a course. Last night and today it was wet, windy and chilly... still is, in fact. Two days ago I was sweating like a pig outside, even though wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Life is sort of like that, in fact. The unexpected will always jump up and get ya. Not long ago, I mentioned on here the anthology we just published, By the Chimney With Care. I was, and am still, very excited about this anthology, most especially because it benefits the Toys for Tots.

But today I discovered, to my horror, that one story had been inadvertently left out of the book. I won't make excuses... I'm the editor and I should have caught that. If you have purchased the book, my apologies. It's still a great book, but it's one story short! I'm in communication with the author of that story and I believe we will come to an agreement about what we will do about it very soon. Until then, enjoy the other stories.

(chagrined and embarrassed)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ranger Day


Got to have some butt-kickin-chicken earlier tonight while listenin' to a variety of small groups playing and singing bluegrass music. Yep, I was at a small-town wingding to bring folks together and raise a little money for the community center. (Small town = population of 85 within the metropolitan limits - I kid you not!)

But there are some great people who live in and around Ranger, and I had a really good time. And I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised. While carrying my stuff into the building (folding table, boxes of books, etc.) I was asked by a teenager if I wanted any help, and he called me "sir!" It gave me a good feeling. And AFTERWARD when I was carrying the aforementioned stuff OUT of the building, a different teenager did the same thing, also with the same amount of respect! I smiled all the way home. As a one-time high school teacher, I sometimes despair of manners in adolescents, but this was a real encouragement!

Oh, and I got to sign and sell five books. Not a lot of books, you say. Well, true, but it's five more people who will read my work and possibly buy MORE of my work. It's five more books than I would have sold sitting on my duff at home. It's at least twenty more people who came up and looked at my table, had a discussion with me, and were surprised to know that we have (1) an author locally and (2) a publishing house located in the area. I think I'll get more than five book sales from the whole thing, truthfully.

Oh, and the bluegrass! I really like good pickin'. I'm not as fond of the twangy singing, but the guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass fiddle really get me going. And I got to observe, for the very first time, an actual cakewalk. How many of you have used the expression, or have seen it: "It's not a cakewalk!" Well, I've seen the expression many times, but never the root of it until tonight.

Met a very interesting fellow, Ken Conner, who is the pastor of a local Baptist church. He has an earned doctorate, and his hobby is creating beautiful handmade knives. Gorgeous pieces, lovingly prepared. We had a nice time talking about knifemaking, his time at The Bodleian Library while on a research grant at Oxford, and then his trip down the Nile to further his research.

One more great thing: No charge for the table space, no charge for the music. $6 for the plate with a HUGE piece of barbecued chicken, baked beans, french bread, chips, drink and a slice of cake. Can't beat that, either! YUMMY.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Life and wildlife

This Saturday I'll be selling and signing copies of my books Blinded By Darkness and A Wicked Good Play (I found a box of copies from the first printing in the back of a closet) at the Ranger Days celebration in Ranger, Georgia. I'll also be selling and signing copies of the anthology By the Chimney With Care, to raise money for Toys for Tots. I'll be there from 4:00 PM until at least 7:00, maybe later. Ranger is a tiny place, really, but some very fine folks live there. They recently rehabbed the old Ranger schoolhouse, and made it into a community center. They have done a fine job with it, and I'm proud to be part of the community.

Lara and I are making progress with the pump house for our well, but it started raining last night and it is still pouring, so I doubt I'll be working up there today.

While we were up there working yesterday, our dog (Buddy) surprised us. He is not a barker by habit, being half-Basenji. But at one point yesterday Lara and I heard what sounded like two large pieces of sheet metal being rubbed against each other. We looked at each other in puzzlement. We couldn't figure out if it was a dog barking or someone doing metalworking. Eventually I said, "That's a dog, and it sounds really upset!"

Now, we have coyotes in the area, as well as Ursus Americanus, or the black bear. I didn't know if it was Buddy or not, but I didn't want to think of Buddy getting eaten up by something, so I grabbed a gun from my vehicle and headed off to see what was going on. I followed the barking sound, and sure enough, it was Buddy. He was standing in the middle of a small pine thicket, trees about two inches in diameter at the most. He was looking up into the trees, occasionally jumping up to place his paws on one, obviously VERY interested in what was there.

I discovered the problem quickly enough. It was a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck. In this area of the U.S., it is also commonly called a whistlepig. Here is a picture of the little guy (or girl; I didn't get close enough to check.)

The whistlepig didn't seem all that upset by the attention it was getting. Very calm, all things considered. I stood watching him (I'm going to call it a him) for a while, and took a few pictures as you can see. He sat there ensconced in the pine branches, maybe twelve feet up in the air. He looked around, blinked occasionally, but otherwise made no sound or any indication of being perturbed. The little guy appeared to be in very good health, with lots of fat stored up for the winter. Must have weighed eight or ten pounds. Here's a close-up view:

I finally talked Buddy into leaving the whistlepig to mind its own business by making the point that his kibble at home did not bite back or have large claws. I believe he understood that, because (with a lot of longing looks over his shoulder) he reluctantly agreed to come along with me.

If you are in the Ranger area this coming weekend, I'd love to see you and sell you a book to support the Toys for Tots. I'll even sign the story I have in there for you!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Life and other stuff...

Do you ever look at the calendar or clock and wonder, with a shock, where the heck the time has gone?

It's been a busy couple of weeks... but that's not new, now is it? Good busy, though.

Dear Lara (my wife) and I built a form and poured quite a bit of concrete, for the base of the pumphouse on our property. Lara is not a big lady, but I guess she's wiry—she helped me in the pouring process by hefting thirty-two 80-lb bags of concrete mix from the trailer over to near where I was working. (That's over 2500 pounds.) While she was bringing them, I was mixing them with a couple of gallons of water each, and pouring the resulting mixture into the form we had built. Add the weight of the water (8 pounds per gallon) and an extra 60-lb bag we added to finish things off, and it comes up to over 3,100 pounds of concrete we poured that day, by hand!

But enough about manual labor for the moment, although it got a little bit exciting yesterday when our Jeep was almost pushed into a ravine by a one-ton load of manure. (Don't ask...)

Anyway, the By the Chimney With Care anthology is doing well, but hey, why haven't YOU ordered your copy? This is for Toys for Tots, remember??

We have sold over 150 copies, but remember we have to pay for the printing and shipping, so that really isn't so much for the kids! We need to sell more, to make those Christmas mornings brighter for the kids. Come on, order a copy, either from me at Wolfmont Publishing or through your local bookstore or Amazon (ISBN 0-9778402-3-9). The shipping is included in the price from the publisher ($12.75 total), but the suggested retail is $10.95 without shipping.

Also, last week four of my authors (Sunny Frazier, John M. Floyd, Deborah Elliott-Upton and Frank Zafiro) and I were all participants in the Muse It Up First Annual Online Writers' Conference. Over 1,000 writers and publishers participated in this truly momentous , week-long, online event, and I believe Lea Schizas is planning on holding another one next year. If she does, and if you are a writer, want to be a writer, or want to improve your writing, you shouldn't miss it!

This past Thursday night I was the guest of the Long Ridge Writers' Group at their Thursday Night Professionals gathering, and we had a great time talking about the pleasures and pitfalls of small-press publishing, subsidy publishing, and publishing in general. The host, Mary Rosenblum, was quite gracious and everyone at the conference was eager to learn and ask questions.

Sunny Frazier and I are making definite headway on getting her debut novel, Fools Rush In, to market this winter. The ARCs have been ordered and should be here any time (crossing my fingers!)

Here's hoping you are having a wonderful October, and that All Hallows' Eve doesn't get too ghoulish for you.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Only a week, this time...

It's getting better, anyway, right? (Come on... nod your head yes... there, thanks!)

A couple of things to announce:

1. The short fiction contest I ran on my ezine website has finished its course, and the winners have been announced. I'll be posting the winning stories in a day or two. Many thanks to Warner Bros. for their contribution of the prizes!

2. The crime and mystery anthology I've been working on to benefit the Toys for Tots, is ready for order! It's titled By the Chimney With Care, and has some fantastic stories in it. The coolest thing is that it was conceived and produced entirely for one purpose: to benefit the Toys for Tots. That's where the net profits will go! I'd love it if you bought a copy, or ten, for yourself or for gifts for others. Go check it out and if you'd like to feed your desire for good short fiction while helping some kids to have a brighter Christmas morning, well... You know what to do.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Almost a month???

Egads! It's been almost a month since I've posted here, and I'm ashamed. Of course, probably the other three people who regularly read the blog are bored stiff by now, so I've got to come up with something interesting. Let's see...

Oh, OK. Recently, I was contacted by one of the marketing types at Warner Bros., and she asked me if I'd like to help with getting out the word about their new movie The Departed.

Blink, blink. Me??

Yes, me. Specifically, she (Anna, bless her heart) wanted me to use my Crime and Suspense ezine/ website to help promote the movie. So, I put together a quick writing contest on the fly, and the winners are getting t-shirts or posters from the movie. And it looks like an interesting movie, too. I know I'm going to see it. Check out the trailer at the link for The Departed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Re-release of my first novella, with a bonus!

I recently republished my first novella, after subjecting it to a round of editing and adding a couple of bonus short stories to give a bit of backstory on some of the characters in the novella. It's called Blinded By Darkness and it's a cozy mystery set in a small Southern town, and centering around some murderous attempts to stop a church from building a new sanctuary.

(And if you don't believe a church can be a dangerous place, trust me... I was a preacher's kid!)

If you would like, you can click on the linked title above and read more about it, read the first chapter, and even order a copy online!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wow, I've been busy lately!

I'm hustling to get the By The Chimney With Care anthology all ready to go, but I'm waiting on a couple of blurbs for the back cover. It's been a fun project, and the book is packed with interesting stories about crime and the winter holidays. As soon as it's available, I'll post word here.

I was invited to be part of an online writers' conference that's taking October 9-13. It's FREE, too, so that should be an attraction for anyone who is interested. I and four of my authors (Sunny Frazier, John M. Floyd, Deborah Elliott-Upton and Frank Zafiro) will all be there fielding questions on a variety of writing and publishing questions during that time. Go to http://www.freewebs.com/themuseonlinewritersconference/ to see what's on the agenda, who will be there, and to sign up.

And, I've been invited to be a guest at Long Ridge Writers' Group, an online writing school, to be interviewed and answer questions about getting into publishing. That will be on October 19, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Go to the web site for more details about their chat rooms and how to enter.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Exhilirating new experience!

Nope, it doesn't have anything to do with writing, but at almost fifty, this is the first time I've had a dog to get sprayed by a fully-functional skunk. (I had a pet skunk once upon a time that was ALMOST descented, but that's another story.)

I was visiting my parents house, and took Buddy the World Champion Napdog along with me. Of course, he had to wander all around their property (about 22 acres) while I visited. Not long before I intended to leave, I noticed a faint skunky odor coming through the storm door screen. At first I was the only one to notice it, but then my mom smelled it, too.

I looked and there was Buddy, looking a bit shamefaced and stinking to high heaven. And I had to drive 10 miles with him in the Jeep with me!

I had no tomato juice at home, and in a very rural location, where do you find a quart or two of tomato juice at 10:30 PM?? I did find a can of V8 in the pantry, but pouring that on his head made him smell almost worse. After several washings, he's bearable, but I may try lemon juice or vinegar. (I'm guessing it's the acidity of the tomato juice that works the magic, but I don't know.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For the Children...

I have finished selecting all the stories for the Christmas charitable benefit anthology Wolfmont Publishing is putting together this year, and it's a great lineup of stories! The title is BY THE CHIMNEY WITH CARE and it contains the work of nineteen authors: one poem and seventeen stories. The book will be, when all is said and done, about 208 pages of 5x8 trade softcover delight! All the stories within it are crime stories with a Christmas theme. (Before anyone gets on my case, I also put out the word that I would accept Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even Saturnalia stories, but no one sent one my way before the book was full.)

Oh... what? Who's in it? Let's see... Jeffrey Marks, Neil Plakcy, Rob Rosen, John M. Floyd, Tony Burton, Margaret Fenton, Suzanne Flaig, Mike Wiecek, Carol B. Cole... quite a few very good writers, with some stories that run the range from chuckle-funny to wipe-a-tear-poignant to ghostly-spooky.

The book will be available for order directly from Wolfmont Publishing (http://www.wolfmont.com). It will also be distributed through Ingram's and Baker & Taylor, and even possibly Amazon if they will reduce their cut because it's a charitable effort. When you start talking about the net proceeds going to Toys for Tots, and the distributors want such a large discount that there ARE NO net proceeds, it's sort of self-defeating to offer the book that way.

Anyway, when I have a cover shot available, I'll put one here. And when the book is available for ordering, I'll put that information here, too.

Shooting yourself in the... foot? Mouth??

Recently I received a "publicity" piece from an author, and it generated as much sympathy as it did less generous emotions. I won't identify the author, out of pity and the hopes the author will learn to do a better job.

In this piece, the author proclaims "I am a self-published author, so I have to do all my own promotion."

First of all, never, ever walk into a group of publishing or book industry professionals and proudly announce "I'm self-published!" It says a few things, mostly not complimentary.

First of all, it says you probably don't know what you are talking about. True "self-publishing" means you went to R.R. Bowker and purchased the minimum ten-ISBN block, established a relationship with a printer, and paid the printer to produce your book, carrying your own ISBN. Very few people do this because of the effort, time and cost involved.

What you probably did was to go to a subsidy publisher of some kind and pay them (or to Lulu, who gets their money in more subtle ways) to publish your book with their ISBN on the back. That is not self-publishing. It's subsidy publishing, often less kindly referred to as vanity publishing. "But my publisher said I'm self-published!" you may say. Think about that statement!

Here's your best test: IF you own the ISBN and are free to take it to another printer and use it on your book there, to produce the same book with the same cover, etc., but with a different printing company, then you are self-published. If you can't take the ISBN with you when you leave the printing company, then you aren't. Simple.

OK. I said "First of all," which implies there is a "Secondly," and there is.

Secondly, as unfair as it may be, being self-published is not a badge of honor in publishing and writing circles. Generally people assume, rightly or wrongly, if you had to self-publish your book or subsidy publish it, nobody else thought it was good enough to publish commercially. This does NOT include your Mom, your Aunt Mabel who always doted on you, or anyone like that. We're talking objective readers.

I'm not saying they're right. A number of famous authors self-published, or subsidy published, or whatever you want to call it. And some of those books actually attracted positive attention once they hit the streets! But the sad truth is, most subsidy published books are pathetic things. Their cover design is often terrible. Their editing is very poor or non-existent. Their authors are often laboring under the mistaken idea that, if they write the book, people will come to them to buy it.

A few months ago, before I was exposed to so many subsidy-published books, I became indignant when someone made snide remarks about them or their authors. "Such prejudice!" I thought.

I'm going to call subsidy-published-books SPBs from now on, because I'm lazy

Now that I've tried to read and review quite a few, I understand. Seldom does an SPB come across my desk that is worthy of the time to read and review it. That's so sad! Why don't the authors believe in the idea of getting an outside editor? Heck, I'm an editor with years of experience, but when I read my OWN work, it's darn hard to see the little errors that creep in. It's because I see what I expect to see instead of what is there. It is always easier to edit someone else's work.

And the covers! I've had a couple come in for me to read, where I swear the authors commissioned a local twelve-year-old to create the cover art using crayons. That's OK for a kid's book, but it looks tacky on an action-adventure-suspense book for adults.

Yes, there is a "Thirdly."

Thirdly, it doesn't matter if you are published by yourself, by PublishAmerica, by Wolfmont Publishing or by Tor Publishing (a big name in the SciFi arena), chances are you are going to do a lot of promotion. With the number of books hitting the market now, and with limited budgets because of constraints mandated by shareholders and/or bean counters, it's the rare author who doesn't have to do the majority of promotion for his or her book. There are some big names who get money shoveled in their direction to go on book tours and so forth, but the majority of authors invest both money and "sweat equity" into the promotion of their books, hoping for a return in sales and readership.

Lastly, everybody knows you think your book is great. Hey, if you didn't, why did you publish it? Get some objective outside opinions and use quotes from those to promote your book. If you can't get any positive ones, maybe that should tell you something....

It's great if you can get authors in the same genre, but if you don't know any (bad sign there!) get other professional opinions. If it's a medical mystery, get a doctor or two to read your book and give you a quotable opinion. If it's a police procedural, get quotes from a detective or cop. Get the idea?

If you are trying to promote your book, don't do the kind of things that will turn people away from your book before they even open it up! You may actually have a decent story in there, but if people won't read the book it won't matter.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What can YOU tolerate in a book?

Some people and I have been having a debate lately about what sort of things, if any, will cause people to immediately put down a book and say something like, "Oh, I just can't read that!" Now, obviously really poor writing will cause this... but wait, what about Dan Brown? Oh, never mind that example. Let's just say what sort of scene or occurence in the story will cause the reader to stop reading.
I had a survey up for a couple of days, and I was pretty amazed that it took such a short time to gather over 100 respondents. But based on feedback from the respondents, I revamped the survey and re-ran it. I didn't get as many respondents this time, but I thought the results were still interesting.

It seems that a great number of people really could not care less if a member of the clergy is killed in a story, as long as it's "off camera". But the killing of a pet cat or pet dog raised hackles all down the line!

And a great number of people objected to the killing of a small child, or the molestation of a small child. The majority of people said they would not buy and/or finish reading such a book, even if it is one they had previously decided to buy and/or read. (The scenario was that they were standing in a bookstore or library and had already decided to get this book because they had previously read one book by the author and enjoyed it. They then flipped through the book and saw the scene described in the survey question.)

Now, because my publishing company publishes short stories and novels that are about crime, I guess it's sort of incongruous that I should even worry about these things. But I really do. I believe there are ways you can write a story about a crime, be it a murder, robbery, kidnapping or even a rape, that can make the book interesting and compelling without wallowing in the gutter. And I also believe that there are some crimes that are, at least by conventional American moral standards, so heinous and horrific that the majority of people don't want to read about them.

Sure, we KNOW that pedophiles are out there, and we KNOW that people kill their own children or other people's children, and we KNOW that people torture animals in horrible ways... but do we want to read about these things? I can't answer that question for you, I can only answer it for myself.

My answer is "no".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Starting over... again

I almost decided that I'd just wipe out all the previous entries because, quite frankly, it has been so loooooong since the last one that it just looked pathetic. But I kept them, and here I am, trying to make a fresh start.

Had a meeting of our local writers' group tonight, and it was a good one. Small town, so an attendance of seven is a pretty good thing! We have some experienced writers and some pretty green newbies in the bunch, but we all contribute and I think it's an enjoyable time for all.

Do you belong to a writers' group? Or a critique group? If so, is it online or "real-world"? (Boy, THAT line is blurring, isn't it?) What are the strengths of your group? How about its weaknesses?

I'll tell you what I think our biggest weaknesses are: politeness and lack of self-confidence of some members. You see, we're in the South and most of us were reared to be "nice" to people. It's hard to give an honest critique sometimes, and remain nice. Sometimes you just have to say, "Wow, you really have an ugly baby there!"

The lack of self-confidence is a killer, too. We have some members who really have some wonderful stories inside them, because they can tell them and/or write them to bring to meetings. The problem is, they shy away from submitting them to any markets.

And here's a new market for you, if you write crime or mystery stories. It's a minimally paying market, quarterly ezine, and it's called Mouth Full of Bullets.

One of my very, very FAVORITE print markets for mystery and suspense stories is Great Mystery and Suspense. (I have a short story featured in their inaugural issue, by the way!) They, too, are a quarterly publication, although they publish both hardcopy and in electronic format.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Woo-HOO! Trumpets and Flourishes!!

I have a brand-spankin' new Granddaughter! My first!

Her name is Rebecca Karen Greeson, and she was born a little before midnight, Eastern time, last night (March 11). Her parents, Mark and Shanna, are very happy. Shanna (my daughter) is doing well, as is Rebecca. Mark... well, he's a new Daddy! What do you think??

Here ya go... and you, too! Virtual cigars all around! If you don't smoke, don't worry... Virtual Cigars don't stink, are not habit-forming, and absolutely non-carcinogenic!!


Saturday, March 11, 2006

OK, I know... it's been a LOOONNNGGG time

Yep, it's been a long time. I've been busy as a one-legged man in an... ummmm... well, in a soccer game. How's that?

The most important news first: My older daughter is having a baby sometime this month! Rebecca Karen Greeson will be the name of the little one, and this grampa-to-be is excited!

Other news: I have a story that is appearing on Reflection's Edge for the March issue. Please feel encouraged to go to http://www.reflectionsedge.com and read "Bluetick" for a shiver or two.

More news: I have a story that was accepted for the Minnesota Memories 6 anthology, to be published later this year. It is about ice-fishing on Lake Superior, and WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU DO THAT??

Finally: The anthology I have been compiling and editing, Seven By Seven, is almost ready! It is all set for an early-April release, and all the authors and I are very excited. We have sold several pre-release copies, and anticipate many more to be sold as well. The authors include BJ Bourg, Kimberly Brown, Deborah Elliott-Upton, John M. Floyd, Sunny Frazier, Gary Hoffman and Frank Zafiro. Plus, G. Miki Hayden has written a very nice foreword!

You can also see a thumbnail of the cover of the Seven By Seven anthology on http://www.wolfmont.com/wolfmont_books_sa.htm, and can save some money by purchasing your advance copy there... but only until March 15! After then, the book will go to the regular price, both for purchase and shipping. But until then you can save $1.70 by ordering at the pre-release price.