January 14, 2013

Guest Post: Richard Godwin

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:41 am

The Secret Hour

Back for Part II of a Double Feature, is Richard Godwin, wisest man on the web. Richard’s post the other day

contained insight about the two different publishing paths today. While this post delves into another pretty hot topic–can we say, 50 Shades or Why Erotica is So Hot? Best yet, one lucky commenter will win a beautifully wrapped copy of Richard’s earlier crime novel, Mr. Glamour. So dive on in, share your thoughts, and be entered to win!

Richard Godwin

I blame Paris Tongue, that fiery blonde seducer, the gigolo who meets his lovers in the Secret Hour. He knows all about making it. His success is the cause of the chagrin of many husbands, although it is never his indiscretion that is in question. It seems we are riding the crest of a wave at the moment where erotica is concerned.

When I was contracted by Italian publisher Atlantis to write a Noir erotica novella for their Lite Editions I penned “The Secret Hour”. It centres on a character named Paris Tongue who is proving as popular with the readers as he is with the ladies in my prose.  Now I am sure if you asked my seductive protagonist if he thinks he has made it he would dismiss the notion, since such conceit would deprive him of his appeal, as he seeks new conquests. He would say each women needs to be treated as if she is the only one, and while confidence is key to his character, he would never assume a lady’s virtue was easy picking. He would also waive any contractual obligations to his lovers.  How did he come about?

“He was the bastard child of a killer, and he had survived by trading on his looks and sexual knowing. He’d inherited money from a wealthy uncle at an early age when his exotic fragile mother had fled with an Arab prince to settle in Dubai where after several miscarriages she bled to death one day on an ottoman.”

The premise of Lite Editions is that each novella focuses on a city. “The Secret Hour” is set in London. It describes many of the most beautiful and luxurious parts of London, such as Mayfair and Piccadilly, the locations where Paris carries out his seductions:

“They shopped at Burlington Arcade, ordered there by Lord George Cavendish, on what had been the side garden of his house, reputedly to stop passers by throwing oyster shells over his wall. Paris bought Viola a cashmere cape from Ana Konder….”

The atmosphere of the city imbues Paris’s sexual encounters.

I have now written the sequel, “The Edge Of Desire”, which is set in Paris, suitably, since my hero takes his name from the city. And while the first episode of his sexual adventures sees him seduce the wife of a gangster who is stalking them, the second sees him discover something about himself as he profits from his looks. Paris is about to travel the world, and each city he visits acts as a backdrop to his sexual exploits. Cities all have their own atmospheres, their own sexual natures.

London features heavily in my second novel, “Mr. Glamour”, which was published in paperback this April. It has its share of erotic scenes and is packed with beautiful women in exotic settings. While I am known for writing crime and horror fiction, I do enjoy other styles. And so a gigolo who signs nothing has enabled this author to sign a mini-series.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews.

January 7, 2013

Guest Post: Lois Winston

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:59 pm

Revenge of the Crafty Corpse

Having just been lucky enough to get to see the revival of Annie on Broadway (Christmas gift; thanks, mom!) I have a third figure from history in my head. If you’re wondering who the first and second figures are, well, you’ll meet them in a moment in Lois Winston’s returning guest post.

But first let me give you FDR’s quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Lois has faced some huge writing and publishing mountains. And if she feared them…well, she got over it, with wonderful results for her readers. Lois, as we enter this new year, I wish you everything good in it.

Lois Winston

Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

I totally disagree. My life has been a series of changes, some precipitated by me, some thrust upon me. Circumstances change, situations change, we change to adapt to these changes. The only thing that is certain in our lives is uncertainty. As Old Blue Eyes said, you can be riding high in April, shot down in May. (And when was the last time you read a blog post that mentioned both Leo Tolstoy and Frank Sinatra?)

When Jenny invited me to guest once again on Suspense Your Disbelief, she suggested I write about “walking both publishing paths.” And that got me thinking about the changes that have occurred in my life since I first decided to write a book.

Like Jenny, my path to publication was anything but instantaneous. It took me a decade –  almost to the day that I first sat down to write – to sell my first novel, Talk Gertie To Me, a humorous take on the relationship between a mother and daughter. Along the way I learned quite a bit about both writing and the world of publishing, so much so that shortly after I sold Talk Gertie To Me, the agency that reps me invited me to join them as an associate. Within the span of a few months I went from being an unpublished writer to a published author and a literary agent. Huge changes.

As any published author will tell you, selling a book is no guarantee of sales of future books. After the publication of my first book and my option book, the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, I made the decision not to publish any more books with that publisher. This was one of those take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do changes.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry was also changing at this time, and publishers were hot for books in genres other than the ones I wrote. “Hot” being the operative word here as erotica and erotic romance were becoming all the rage.

At the suggestion of my agent, I began to write a crafting mystery. Another change for me. The result was Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in what was to become my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Today is the official release date of Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in the series.

But this wasn’t the end of the changes, either for me or the publishing industry. Many authors were beginning to have success with independent publishing, both with their backlists and never-before-published works. Once upon a time the thought of self-publishing would never have occurred to me. However, I was sitting on two out-of-print backlist books and several manuscripts that had received rejections, not due to the writing but for being the wrong manuscripts at the wrong time.

So this past summer I took the indie plunge. I brought out the unpublished works under a pen name, Emma Carlyle, because I didn’t want to confuse the fan base I’d built for my mysteries. Mystery readers read to solve whodunit; romance readers read for the relationship between the hero and heroine. I also published my two backlist books, two novellas, and a non-fiction book.

One of the novellas, Elementary, My Dear Gertie, is both a sequel to Talk Gertie To Me, and a cross-over, plunging the characters from my humorous women’s fiction novel into a mystery. Crewel Intentions is a short story featuring the protagonist from my mystery series.

And finally, there’s Top Ten Reasons Your Novel Is Rejected. This is a book that came about from teaching workshops and continuing education courses. After years of students telling me I should write a book on the subject, I finally did. The book contains much of what I’ve learned from my years as both a literary agent and a published author.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of more changes, having once again made a difficult take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do decision. I’m hoping for a positive outcome, but whatever happens, the one thing that’s certain is I’m changing once again. Tolstoy was so wrong.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released this past January. Crewel Intentions, an Anastasia Pollack Mini-Mystery is now available as an ebook, and Revenge of the Crafty Corpse is a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the recently released Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected.

January 3, 2013

Guest Post: Richard Godwin

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 4:34 pm

Mr. Glamour

I’m always excited to welcome an author back to the blog, especially when he has become a real friend in the writing world. Richard Godwin hosts one of the deepest interview series I’ve seen on the web, and his Made It Moment appeared here not too long ago. Richard thinks about the world in ways that bone right down to its very core, and this dimension comes through in both his fiction, and his perceptions about the industry. Read on to get a flavor of both.

Richard Godwin

As my second novel Mr. Glamour makes its way in the world, I am once more reminded it’s a big ocean of literature out there. I have been writing professionally now for two years and started as a produced playwright in London. I write in a range of styles but my crime and horror fiction is what sells.

If I were to give any advice to young or aspiring writers I would say this. Write every day and read the authors who speak to you. Read them and ask yourself how they achieve their effects.

What has being published as a crime and mystery author taught me? For one, the hold the big publishing houses have had on publications has been challenged by Amazon and the rise of the E Book. What do I make of the revolution? I am in favour of it. I used to read reviews and many times bought books based on recommendations only to be disappointed. I often found books by unknown authors which I thought were brilliant. When any industry has a monopoly on taste it inevitably churns out the formulaic and the staid. That for me has nothing to do with why I write.

I write because I love it and because it is a process. You can never reach a ceiling.

This is an exciting time for new writers. I say this as someone who is traditionally published. The E Book has opened the door for many writers to reach an audience. So I say to new writers out there make use of the present time. Find your audience.

Some reviewers are going to hate what you do. If you pay attention to them you will miss out on the point of writing, and that is to find your own audience.

An illustration of the economics behind publishing comes in the form of the recent revelations about price fixing. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Justice plans a suit against five publishers and Apple for colluding to raise the price of electronic books.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. That kind of tactic doesn’t care for the reader and indicates that profit is driving the bus. But writing is a qualitative enterprise and when an industry attempts to impose quantitative standards on that, things suffer.

My debut novel Apostle Rising did well last year, got great reviews, and sold foreign rights in Europe. I hope Mr. Glamour does as well. It’s about a glamorous world of designer goods, beautiful women and wealthy men and a killer who is watching everyone.  It was released last week by Black Jackal Books and is already picking up great reviews.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews.


November 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Kathleen Kaska

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 10:38 pm

The Man Who Saved The Whooping Crane

When I got an invite from mystery author Linda Rodriguez, whose blog you can find here, to participate in TNBT, I had three reactions. One, I felt that little frisson of joy that happens to me any time someone does something that makes it seem like I’m a Real Writer, i.e., one who’d be writing a book. Two, I thought, Next Big Thing, ha. And three, I recoiled in horror because I never talk about a work-in-progress until I’ve penned the words ‘the’ and ‘end’.

I solved problem #2 by asking a writer I know for whom the words Next + Big do suit whether she’d like to trade blog posts with me. And Kathleen Kaska agreed, even though her post makes me a little green–a third book in her historical, musical, fashionable mystery series one month from coming out, and a fourth in the works. And how did I solve #3? Well, the answer to that will be over at Kathleen’s blog next week.

But for now let’s turn to the biggest reason I asked Kathleen to Blog Swap. I wanted to know what her next book is about!

Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s when women were caught between the dichotomy of career and marriage; when fashion exploded with a never-before-seen flair; and movies and music had the country dancing with gusto. Her first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, won the 2008 Salvo Press Manuscript Contest. This book, along with her second mystery, Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. The third book in the series, Murder at the Galvez, will be out on December 7.


What is your working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the fourth book in my Sydney Lockhart mystery series. Sydney is a reporter and her assignments take her to different locales, each in a historic hotel. In this story, she’s back home in Austin, Texas, so I selected the Driskill Hotel as the venue for murder. I’m excited about this book because Austin was my home for twenty-five years. My research allowed me to discover what the town was like in the 1950s before it grew to a city of almost a million.

What genre does your book fall under?

This series can best be described as a cozy mystery with a noir feel. I’m a big fan of the hardboiled mystery writers like Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, and Dashiell Hammett. When I began writing my books, I modeled my protagonists after those wisecracking, tough guy detectives, but I wanted my main character to be a woman.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Sydney is a tall, sassy redhead, and I think Drew Barrymore would be perfect. Sydney’s cousin and pain-in-the butt sidekick, Ruth, is a perky little fashionista who often pretends to be a dumb blonde. Reese Witherspoon comes to mind for Ruth. And for Sydney’s sexy, detective boyfriend, there’s only one choice, Leonardo DiCaprio.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is a synopsis for Murder at the Galvez, which will be released on December 7.

Another hotel, another murder, another attempt on reporter Sydney Lockhart’s life takes place at the Galvez Hotel while she investigates the eighteen-year-old unsolved murder of her grandfather.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m thrilled to announce I just signed with a new publisher, LL-Publications.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m currently working on the first draft of Murder at the Driskill and it is taking more time than usual. I can finish a draft in about eight months, but I’ve had a very busy year with two new releases and the reissuing of three of my out-of-print mystery trivia books all in a span of eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My Sydney Lockhart mystery series has often been compared to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Although set in the 1950s in various locales rather than modern-day Trenton, Sydney and Stephanie have one main characteristic in common; they are both too brazen for their own good.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love writing humor because that’s what I love reading. Crafting mysteries has always intrigued me. After publishing three nonfiction books, I began working on my mystery series. Agatha Christie has been my biggest inspiration as well as the hardboiled authors I’ve mentioned.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The series is set in a decade that proved to be a pivotal point for women in terms of lifestyle choices. I write about an independent woman, struggling to make it in a man’s world, not an easy feat back then. Also, the places I write about are real. The readers have an opportunity to travel back in time and discover what life was like in these historic hotels. In my first book, Murder at the Arlington, which takes place at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, I write about the world of gambling and gangsters, which went underground after the town was cleaned up in the 1940s. Each hotel has a story to tell. All I have to do is to sniff it out.

Turn in to two more mystery writers and learn about their latest books and their inspirations.

Look for Peg Herring’s interview on November 19. Peg writes the award-winning Dead Detective Mystery Series.

Peter Townsend, author of Ghostly Images, shares his interview answers on November 26.

Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen Kaska published three mystery-trivia books in the Classic Triviography Mystery Series. Two of them are finalists for the EPIC award in nonfiction.

Also this year, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, was released by University Press of Florida and has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh award for environmental history.

When she is not writing, Kathleen and her husband spend time traveling the backroads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries, and bird watching along the Texas coast. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication of The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane.

October 31, 2012

Spooky Guest Post: William Shepard

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:33 pm

Sunsets In Singapore

We all know about the rise and crest of the vampire trend. Starting with Bram Stoker, moving onto Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer, and I’m probably missing oh, a few hundred or so. Today as a Halloween treat, I have a genuine tale from the land of Dracula, from a writer who used his diplomacy background to begin a whole new genre. Nope, it’s not a vampire spinoff. But I think you will be intrigued by his books…

Happy Halloween! And if for you as for us, Storm Sandy postponed the candy collection, please let me know in a comment what you’ll be doing instead.

William Shepard

It was Halloween, October 31, 1970, and there I was, driving with my family from Budapest to Transylvania, Romania. We associated that wild land with horror movies from the 1930s, starring Bela Lugosi and perhaps Peter Lorre (both Hungarians from that region). My wife  had thoughtfully stocked up on “real” Halloween candy at the nearest US Army PX in Germany before our trip. Our daughter Stephanie was 8, her sister Robin was 7, and Warren, their brother, was four years old. We were assigned to the American Embassy in Budapest, and I had obtained Romanian visas for our weekend Halloween visit to the land of Dracula!

On the way, we all told stories. Just before the Romanian border we noticed a large cemetery, just right for inducing that Halloween feeling. We drove across the border, and through storied towns such as Kolozsvar (Cluj to Romanians). As we passed into this wildly scenic region, I remembered the opening of The Wolf Man, as a haunted Lon Chaney, tending an ox cart, wondered at the full moon and its career implications for him. Eventually we arrived at Timişoara, the main city in the western Romanian Banat region. It was also the location of Huniade (Hunjadi) Castle, a royal Hungarian residence that served as an inspiration, along with Bran and Oradea castles, to writer Bram Stoker when he wrote Dracula.

We checked into our hotel. There was just time enough to visit the castle before closing time. To show us how different our cultures were, on Halloween as the darkness loomed there were no children in costume, and no other visitors to the famous, forbidding castle, a fifteenth century gloomy pile with the spookiest squeaky swinging gates I’ve ever heard. Our family was the last group for the day, and we saw the tower, the great hall, the courtyard and the dungeon. The dungeon created the greatest impression, with massive walls and hopeless aspect, and a massive oaken door leading below that creaked in a solemn drone that I can still hear.

As we left the castle to rerun to our hotel, I asked the guide if there was anything to the Dracula legend. He  looked at our children, smiled and said as he closed the door, that of course there was nothing to it, provided one was safely back in the hotel room before the darkness fell. We all raced across the streets back to our hotel. The children woke up the next morning to Halloween candies and decorations, and rich stories to tell their classmates on Monday.

And as we passed the Hungarian frontier on Sunday afternoon I glanced at the cemetery we had seen earlier. There were many people there, and every grave had flowers. It was traditional All Souls Day and the people were remembering their loved ones, communist government or not. The weekend became part of my recent Ebook, “Sunsets In Singapore: A Foreign Service Memoir,” for we had all experienced in Transylvania the power and lure of storytelling…

Prize winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. This mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States.

His diplomatic mystery books explore the insider look into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. The first four books in the series are available as Ebooks. Shepard evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler and his bride Sylvie are just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders.

October 3, 2012

We women who write

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:25 pm

I was asked to give the keynote address at the fabulous WomenWhoWrite conference in Madison, NJ this fall. Readers of this blog will know what a crazy honor that felt like to me. I mean, I’m the writer–but was I? really? a writer?–who for eleven years couldn’t reach the starting gate. Who kept seeking out other writers–real authors, I mean–and saying, like the orangutan in the Disney movie of The Jungle Book, “I want to be like you.”

Now here I was about to speak to a roomful of inspiring women who were walking/trudging/crawling along the same winding road and hoping to glean some hint of where to twist or turn. Here’s a transcript of the talk, in which I explained the landscape as I see it at this stage of the game. I hope you might find this helpful…please write and keep the conversation going!

August 7, 2012

To Market, To Market, Jiggity Jig

Filed under: Great Reads,The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:02 am

The above would be such a great title for a blog post about the writer’s Hamlet-esque quandary (To market or not to market, that is the question) that even though I sat down meaning this to be my first sentence:

To bookstore, to bookstore is the real refrain of our summer

I’m gonna save that one for later and take up Shakespeare’s rallying cry instead.

Some people would say that this isn’t a question at all. Sunny Frazier, an acquisitions editor at Oak Tree Press, is a sage of marketing and she is famous for uttering words to the effect of: she would rather take on a good book by a writer who’s willing to get her feet wet in the marketing pool than a great book by a writer’s who’s not.

Them’s powerful words, but I understand Sunny’s wisdom. There are so many books coming out these days that a writer has to understand how to make his or hers stand out.

Even more than the problem (or is it a wonder?) of the number of books published, there is this truth. We are all used to relating to more people in a given day than we ever have before. We are used to an unprecedented level of access to people. If they don’t respond to an email, then there’s text, or a tweet, or a status update. This level of connectivity has become so much the norm that if we don’t have it, we may feel frustrated. Or put off. We may simply turn our attention to someone more present.

No writer wants a reader to feel that way.

Which is probably why so many writers feel that having a strong social media presence is not just a plus, but a given.

There are drawbacks, though, and we pretty much all recognize them, I think.

The endless juggle life is now. How we never feel like we are doing everything, because there is no end to everything. We are never, ever simply done.

The weekend was invented for a reason. World-creating requires a break. So does book-creating, or career-creating. What happens if we don’t get that rest? That’s a big unknown. One big social experiment in which we’re all taking part.

Or, what if you’re an introvert and find the demands of all this interaction draining? You might be a wonderful writer, but meh at tweeting and texting.

What’s a writer to do?

I wish I had an answer. I do have one guess, though, and a possible partial solution.

The guess is that precisely because virtual connections are so ubiquitous, it may be that real-time, face-to-face interaction begins to have a resurgence, and the writer who is willing to invest in that will really stand out. No, we can’t connect with 20,000 followers live. But is anybody actually reading all those tweets?

What we can do is get out to physical locations–bookstores, libraries, book clubs, school, out-of-the-box places like a knitting store if you write crafts mysteries, or a history class if your book focuses on some distant epoch–and say hello to the handful, dozens, or hundreds of people there.

Really say hello. Out loud. With a smile and a handshake.

I’m not saying that social media will or should go away. In fact, I dearly hope it doesn’t. My world is broader and more filled with love and closeness because of people I’ve met in far-flung locations that only the internet has brought me to.

But I am saying that we shouldn’t abandon one for the other. They can both co-exist, and enrich our lives in different ways.

The possible partial solution (I’m hedging my bets here, but I do hope this may help at least one person who is struggling with this) is that we all stop trying to do it all. It’s impossible anyway. And if we stick to the aspects of marketing that are truly organic to us, then it won’t seem a burden, but a joy.

Tweeting about food isn’t hard for a foodie. And if that person happens to write a cupcake mystery series then the people who love her tweets just may love her books as well.

No one can do everything, but everyone can find something to do that is value-add–both for the producer of content, and the recipient.

If nothing else, post about how hard you find all this social media stuff and the chronic seesaw that is life today.

I’ll bet you find a million followers.

July 16, 2012

How to be an Indie Sensation, and also Have a Sensational Life: by Rick Murcer

Filed under: Declaration of Independents,The Writing Life — jenny @ 10:20 am

The Killing Sands

We’ve all heard the stories. John Locke! EL James!

Amazon now features them on their homepage. “Indie author sells one million copies!” “After six years of rejection, self-publishing brings book to wide audience!” I could write a dozen of these without half-trying.

Not that a dozen is a lot. I had the privilege of talking with author MJ Rose at ThrillerFest this past weekend. MJ was arguably  the first pioneer of the indie publishing movement, and now traditionally publishes her novels of suspense and sensuality with great success. At the conference MJ said something very wise, which amounted to this:

Winning the literary lottery is rare no matter how you publish.

How true. Whether published by a major, the smallest micro press, or by yourself, the chances of writing a book that hits and speaks to a very wide audience is small. It’s good to know that going in.

So that when it does happen–as Rick Murcer is about to tell you–you’ll be all the more thrilled and surprised.

Rick’s Made It Moment appears here.

Rick And Carrie Murcer

A lot has happened to me, to us, on this journey since Jenny first asked me to talk about my “made it moment” just about a year ago. But before I get started, I want to thank Jenny for having me back to talk about the last twelve. She’s had quite a year herself. Congrats, Miss Jenny!

Man. Where did that year go? Some things have improved more than others over the last 365 days. We’ve got more books out, and a short story… and I think my picture’s better and I’ve lost weight, so my butt must be smaller!

Firstly, I must say how much God has blessed us this past year. It’s been beyond anything I could have imagined. No one makes it without some help in this business, and no one helps like God. A very close second is my wife, Carrie. She’s amazing, in spite of what she’s got to work with!

It’s been a whirlwind of activity, a lot of highs, and a good bit of nose-to-the-grindstone hard work since my e-books, Caribbean Moon and Deceitful Moon, hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller’s lists. Talk about pinching yourself over and over. It still looks strange to see that in print. But I soon realized that you can’t live in that fairy tale world forever, so I’ve since managed to stick to a writing routine.

I’ve released two more full-length novels, Emerald Moon and Caribbean Rain, one short story/novella, Capital Murder, and something else that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside…a murder/mystery anthology, The Killing Sands. More on that a little later.

We entered this whole publishing realm as naïve as a preacher in a casino, but came out the better for it. A little scarred in a place or two, but exposed to far more positive than negative.

The Indie world had much to teach us. We’ve figured out how to navigate the minefield of “Hollywood” screenplay offers, trad publishing, paperback publishing, book signing agendas, agents, foreign rights, pirating, audio offers too good to be true, marketing, protecting our e-book rights, and that there are almost as many editors out there as ways to edit a manuscript. But through it all, we learned two things were true and consistent; my readers are nothing short of amazing, and there are an absolute plethora of wonderful people in this business. I want to talk about those two segments of folks.

I have the best readers on the planet, I think! I have been humbled, amazed, and even brought to tears by the generosity of readers who take time to send messages about how they interpret my stories or how certain parts of the plots have touched their lives. Their encouragement, honesty, kind words, and interaction were far more than I’d anticipated. There were days that I’d receive 60-70 e-mails. Never asking for anything, but always giving upbeat input that made me want to work harder. I’m still pretty new to this writing revelry, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

If I got something wrong, they let me know in a gentle, positive way. “Greatly appreciated” became my personal thank you to them all. And, BTW, I answer every e-mail personally. If those wonderful folks take the time to talk to me, you can bet I want to talk to them. They deserve it, and I’m still having a ball doing it. Thank you so much for sharing your “moments” with me, readers. Each one of you is special.

One of the greatest things I’ve discovered about this writing gig is the camaraderie of other authors. They encourage, critique, support, even laugh and cry with you. If you’ve never written a book, it’s hard to understand the euphoria of “the end” or the task of the rewriting and editing process, so meeting all of these fine folks along the way has helped the journey.

In January of this year, I decided to approach a few authors I’d come into contact with and ask if they’d be willing to join me in producing a summer mystery anthology. I was pleasantly surprised when they all accepted. Let me introduce six wonderful writers and tell you what a joy it has been to work with people who understand the “writing” world

Dani Amore, Tim Ellis, Traci Hohenstein, Lawrence Kelter, Gary Ponzo, and Rebecca Stroud each agreed to write a short story with the central theme of “murder on the beach.” Because we hail from different parts of the world, including Great Britain, the settings for the seven stories in The Killing Sands include beaches in California, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and Wales. Each story has a distinct voice and an exciting plot. The authors have sometimes incorporated characters from their mainstream novels as well. I’d encourage readers to enjoy these stories on the beach this summer…if they dare!

Through this anthology process, I’ve taken on a bit of the publisher role through Murcer Press. It’s time consuming, but I’ve certainly enjoyed it and the opportunity to learn about a different end of the business.

I guess I’m getting windy, again, so I’ll wrap this up. The last 16 months have changed my life, my perspective, and my goals. Interacting with people, good and challenging alike, has added to that and I’m more than grateful.

I’m also excited to see what the next twelve months might bring because, well…one never knows.

Thanks again, Jenny. It’s always a privilege to be heard at the Made it Moment.

Rick Murcer lives in Michigan and has been married longer than his wife likes to admit. They two wonderful children, three amazing grandkids, and a blind black Lab, Max, who serves as his “writing” dog.

Rick lost his real job two years ago, and after sending out 550 resumes with no luck, decided he was going to make it as a writer. Caribbean Moon was a labor of love, and writing it taught him more about himself than he cared to know.

May 11, 2012

Guest Post: Marilyn Levinson

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:52 pm

Giving Up The Ghost

Paranormals are a hot genre now, but ghost stories have been with us forever. We can all imagine that first teller of tales who sat around the campfire and invented a spirit from another realm to cast out the all too real shadows hovering around. In this guest post, author Marilyn Levinson talks about how she decided to write a modern tale of a ghost.

Marilyn Levinson


While I’ve never actually met a ghost, I know ghosts have a permanent place in our literary lore. We find their eerie yet limited manifestations appealing. They usually remain on our earthly plane to teach someone valuable life lessons or to resolve issues they hadn’t attended to before they died. My favorite spirits are George and Marion Kerby from TOPPER and the sea captain in THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR

My ghost, Cameron Leeds, is a scoundrel. When alive, he flirted with every woman who crossed his path. His many business deals weren’t always legal. Though his best friend, the town’s police chief, has declared his death an accident, Cam knows he was murdered. Trouble is, he doesn’t know who did it, and he can’t move on until he finds his killer.  And so, when Gabbie Meyerson rents his family’s cottage—the only place where he can manifest–Cam nags and cajoles until she agrees to investigate.  Gabbie starts asking questions, and to her dismay discovers that several of Cam’s so-called friends and neighbors are glad he’s dead.

Though he was a clever if shady businessman, Cam hasn’t a clue that his thoughtless behavior often enraged people and eventually led to his death. He sent away the only woman he ever loved. In fact, it’s only after he’s dead that he realizes he truly loved her. Lucky Cam receives the golden opportunity very few people get —a chance to say good-bye.

For a fun and thoughtful read, look for GIVING UP THE GHOST on Kindle and the Nook.

Marilyn Levinson is a former Spanish teacher who writes mysteries and novels for kids. Her debut mystery novel, A MURDERER AMONG US, was awarded a Best Indie of 2011 by Suspense Magazine. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Bernie, and their cat, Sammy.

May 8, 2012

Made It Moment: Evelyn David

Filed under: Made It Moments,The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:09 am

Murder Off the Books

This post is one part Made It Moment (hint: if you want to make it, don’t check your sense of humor at the door) and two parts recipe for a collaborative writing life. Only Evelyn David throw in a wrinkle. How do you succeed if you’re two different authors in two separate parts of the country? Rhonda and Marian are about to tell you how–just as soon as they tell you who they are.

Evelyn David

Juggling Murder

Maggie Brooks, intrepid reporter and unexpected sleuth in our new mystery Zoned for Murder, finds herself juggling career and family with almost fatal results. While the stakes may be higher than most of us usually confront, that sense of trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time is a familiar sensation.

Both halves of Evelyn David have “day jobs” and families. The Northern half writes nonfiction books and blogs for a living; the Southern half is the coal program director for the state of Oklahoma. Creating murder and mayhem has to be sandwiched in between job demands and family responsibilities – it’s at least a triple-decker sandwich. Writing mysteries is a pleasure. Thinking of new, devilish ways to kill off bad guys, discovering clever methods of hiding clues and inventing red herrings – what’s not to like?

Finding a method to keep all the balls in the air, without dropping any of them, is more than a sleight of hand. It’s only possible because there are two of us juggling all the pieces. We’ve tried to figure out what makes a successful writing partnership and have concluded it’s part science and a lot mystery. But here’s what we’ve learned that works – for us and for our characters.

First, and probably foremost, you need a sense of humor. Writing is a tough business, hard on the ego, full of rejection. So if you can’t laugh at the absurdity of it all and keep going, it’s time to find another career. We’ve deliberately incorporated humor into all our mysteries. If we believe laughing at yourself and the craziness of the world is important to us, then it’s got to be important to the heroes we create in our books. Maggie Brooks often makes fun of herself and her predicament as “poor widow Brooks.” When she lost her husband she could barely brush her teeth in the morning. Finding her way back to joy in life is hard, but Maggie wants it. She wants to laugh again.

Second, if you are going to write with a partner, give up all pretense of an ego. Not only will that help when faced with the inevitable rejection inherent in publishing, but diva moments never help creativity. Do what needs to be done and forget about getting credit. The success of the team (oy, dare we say there’s no “I” in team) is paramount. In Zoned for Murder Maggie Brooks works for the Sound Shore Times, a small village newspaper. She has to cover everything from bake sales to city council meetings. Not that exciting for a former Newsweek reporter. But she’s got pride in her work and is appalled when a local resident advises her to turn over her notes to a “real” reporter. Maggie follows the clues to get to the root of the mystery of a local contractor’s death, even if the next time her name is in the newspapers it might be in her obituary.

After three full-length novels, eight novellas, and countless short stories, the collective Evelyn David is going full-steam ahead. We’ve embraced the e-book revolution and the options it gives us for choosing our own destiny. We write on our own schedule. We create our own covers. We publish when we’re ready. Like Maggie Brooks, we’re enjoying the challenges of walking the tightrope, keeping a balance of work, life, and family, and savoring the moments in each.

Evelyn David is the pseudonym for the mystery writing team of Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.

Marian lives in New York and is the author of eleven nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers!

Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries. Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person.

Please check out Evelyn’s website and their blog The Stiletto Gang for information about Evelyn David’s appearance schedule and writing projects.

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