Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Mercy Read

The Vampyre Who Loved Me by Mina Darker
Book One of the Nosferhotu

How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways! by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

I hated this book. Ha. Ted. It. Abernathy and Monique have no chemistry. They're cardboard cutouts. They're stereotypical mindless worms. Like the author! SPOILER ALERT: Abernathy has sex with Monique on her deceased Yorkie Pom Pom's grave, immediately after the lovely funeral at the pet memorial park! Could Darker have written anything MORE offensive? I hope she makes a bundle off this one, because I am NEVER buying another another novel she writes. Don't waste your money.

The Vampyre Who Kidnapped Me by Mina Darker
Book Two of the Nosferhotu

Worse Than the First by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

I thought I might have been a bit harsh on this author and I'd give her another chance. Mistake. This book is SO bad it makes the first one look like great literature. My seven-year-old writes better than Darker. SPOILER ALERT: What was she thinking, having Abernathy kidnap Monique? After Monique went through the trauma of losing Pom Pom in book one? And then M. doesn't fight to free herself from A.'s evil embrace? This is the same monster who nailed her under that beautiful bone-shaped memorial wreath her mother sent all the way from Hoboken! Is this author for real? Well, be smarter than me and don't find out. Really, I mean it. Get it from the library if you must, but DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK.

The Vampyre Who Married Me by Mina Darker
Book Three of the Nosferhotu

Made Me Puke by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

I read the first two and they were total clunkers (see my other Nosferhotu reviews.) How does dreck like this get published? I walked by this one at the store four times because I swore I wouldn't buy it. I am a dog lover, you know, and I will never forgive Darker for killing Pom Pom. But there was nothing else good out, and I thought I could be generous and give the series one last chance. Not that I was interested in the story, not without Pom Pom, but okay, I bought it. Omigod. SPOILER ALERT: Abernathy forces Monique to marry him! As if he hasn't done enough! And he doesn't let her adopt a new dog! At that point I threw up. Yeah, I couldn't believe it, but Darker finally made me blow chunks. If you don't want to lose your lunch, too, stay away from this book and never, ever read another word Mina Darker writes.

The Vampyre Who Dumped Me by Mina Darker
Book Four of the Nosferhotu

Completely, Utterly Disgusted by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

I told my husband to take my wallet with him to work so I wouldn't buy any more of this author's books. But I had this gift card my sister gave me with eight dollars left on it, and it was about to expire, and so yes, I wasted it on the new Nosferhotu book. I have to level with you: This is the most godawful train wreck in the history of publishing. I'm telling you, it's one endless choo-choo of perpetual kaboom. Like Darker's career. SPOILER ALERT: Abernathy dumps Monique! Can you believe it? For some human bimbo he met like TWO MINUTES AGO! Did Pom Pom's death mean NOTHING to this blood-sucking ghoul? If you buy this book, you're as stupid as Monique. As for me, I am done with this series. Go ahead, stick a fork in me. You'll see.

The Vampyre Who Seduced Me by Mina Darker
Book Five of the Nosferhotu

Why Do I Keep Doing This? by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

The only reason I bought this book was to put it on my FICTION FROM HELL shelf. All of Darker's other books are on it, might as well have a complete set. I cannot imagine why NY keeps publishing Darker. Her stories are ridiculous. Hopeless, clunky swill. The author was through the minute Pom Pom died. SPOILER ALERT: That slut Monique goes back to Abernathy. Like nothing happened. Does she have amnesia? No. She knows that A. slept with that big-chested bimbo in the fourth book. She still remembers her darling Yorkie. But M. says nothing about the bimbo or Pom Pom, and jumps right back into bed with him. Hello? Monique? Did Abernathy suck out your brains along with your blood? I'm writing to the publisher. This has to stop. I'm warning you people, if I see any of you touching one of these trashy books at the store, I'm going to come right up and slap you in the head.

The Vampyre Who Bred Me by Mina Darker
Book Six of the Nosferhotu

I'm Thinking of Killing Myself Now by Jane Duoh, USA
(no stars)

I made an appointment to see a therapist, because I need professional help to get over the emotional damage this author's books have inflicted. Seriously. That's how rotten this series is. I've been having nightmares about Pom Pom rising from the grave. I might have to start taking Prozac. Really. SPOILER ALERT: Abernathy gets Monique pregnant. Yes. The undead, pulseless, cursed demon from hell is fertile. Just when you thought the Nosferhotu couldn't get stupider, it does. And it ends on a cliffhanger! Monique sees a Yorkie and goes into labor on the last page! This book is stinks so much that when I threw it away the garbage man wouldn't put it on his truck. Please. I'm begging you. Stop reading this series. For your own safety and sanity.

The Vampyre Who Delivered Me by Mina Darker
Book Seven of the Nosferhotu

[Out of Stock, New Order on the Way]

Dear I ordered this book six months ago. How could you run out of copies the week before it is even released? I would cancel the order, but my local bookstore said they sold out of the book two hours after they put it on the shelves.

I have pre-ordered every Nosferhotu novel from you, and I feel that I should have been the first customer you shipped to. I demand you send my order at once or you will be hearing from my brother, personal injury attorney John Duoh.

Jane Duoh

P.S. If you can't ship the book, will you at least find out for me if Monique had a boy or a girl?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reader Wednesday: Over There

Today I heard for the first time from my nephew, who is in the reserves and is presently stationed in Iraq. He reports that during the day where he works it can be as hot as 120 degrees, and he works twelve hour shifts, six days on, one day off. He also misses his girlfriend. I've been writing to him since he left the States in hopes that my letters would catch up to him. We're all counting the days until he comes home.

My nephew is a doll. He's tall, blond, built, and extremely charming. He has his mother's wicked green eyes, which routinely cause palpitations in the hearts of many young co-eds. When he's not serving in the reserves or going to school, he works as a waiter, and makes a small fortune in tips. He loves all things Superman, and has watched every episode of Smallville at least a dozen times. His brother is taping the show for him while he's over there so he won't miss any of the season.

Like so many American families, we would very much like to have him come home in one piece. So we pray a lot, too.

Every month I pack up a box of books to send to troops. In the grand scheme of things it's not much, but it gives me a chance to express my appreciation to the men and women who serve our country, and hopefully give them a couple hours of entertainment. This month, the box will be for my nephew and the soldiers who serve with him.

I want to get this box out of here, so I'm going to hit the bookstores this weekend to finish filling it up. I would love to get some suggestions from you readers out there on some titles you think would appeal to my nephew. Think superheroes, humor, restaurant- or food-related fiction or nonfiction, or anything that might entertain a smart guy in his early twenties. Share your recommendations in comments to this post by midnight EST on Friday, June 1, 2007. I will draw one name at random from everyone who participates and grant the winner a Bookwish.* This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

*A Bookwish is any book by any author of your choice, provided that 1) the book is currently available for order from an online bookseller and 2) the book is priced up to a maximum of $25.00 US dollars. I will throw in whatever shipping costs are involved for free.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome to!

#1 Trusted Co-Writers Site -- Move Beyond "Traditional" Forms of Authorial Collaboration and Into the Beautiful World of Writing Partnerships!

-- FREE! Get your $50 writing profile analysis today

We both know you can't make it on your own, or you wouldn't be here, now, would you? No. You would have married that nice doctor from Rockaway. But would you listen when you were young and your can wasn't the size of Texas? No. So here we are.

-- FREE! See your writing matches and find out who else is a sucker for this kind of thing!

What, you thought you were the only unemployed meshuganah in Publishing? Darling, look around. The whole place is lousy with writers like you.

-- FREE!

Nothing else is. But we gave you the first two, didn't we? And it's not even a holy day. Where's the gratitude?

Why eCollaborator is Different from Those Other Useless Writer Matchmaking Sites

At eCollaborator our patented Writing Compatibility and Personal Tolerance System (TM) narrows the field from millions of aspiring wannabees to a highly select group of writers with whom you share deep levels of insecurity. Where other sites match on a proposal and three chapters, eCollaborator matches you based on compatibility in the most important areas of your writing: like who writes the sex scenes, whose characters don't stink to high heaven, what intellect you have left after all these years surfing the web, any shred of sense of humor that has survived the submission process, absence of any conflicting political views that no one cares about anyway, passion for the work (excuse me, that was a cough, not a laugh), and up to 2,994 other writerly dimensions (give us a couple of days, we'll think them up.)

Testimony from writer-collaborators Stephen and Dean:

Stephen: "I feel so much love for Dean. When I want to watch the ball-game, he never gets upset. He just goes back to work and puts another dog in the story. By the time I find out about it, I've had so many beers I could care less."

Dean: "Stephen has flowered so beautifully since we began to work together. Not one dog has died in his fiction since we met through eCollaborator. I thank God every day for you wonderful people."

990 eCollaborator members get published every single day*

Founded by renowned author and lousy relationship expert Paperback Writer, eCollaborator is responsible for thousands of successful joint publishing endeavors. That's because we have nothing better to do than focus on making matches that have the foundation of compatibility necessary for a lifetime of writing joy, and endless potential for becoming great jokes that we tell at parties.

Testimony from Sherrilyn and Kinsey:

Sherrilyn: "I love my writing partner! She writes books exactly the way I do! It's just so fabulous to be with her!"

Kinsey: "Oh, stop, Sherrilyn sweetie! Tee-hee. You're so much better than I am. Tee-hee. Not that I'm terrible, naturally, but you know what I mean. Tee-hee."

Scientifically Proven Writing Compatibility and Personal Tolerance System

During our months of semi-exhaustive research, daydreaming, and thousands of games of Mah-Jongg, we at eCollaborator found that there are 49 Vital Aspects of Compatibility necessary for success in a long term collaboration. eCollaborator is the only writer-matching site that uses a scientifically proven method (which we're not going to describe because we don't want to type out all that; just take our word for it) to match writers based on these 49 essential aspects.

Testimony from Jessica and Gena:

Gena: "I was languishing in nowhere land until I met Jessica through eCollaborator. Now with her special motivation, I have real hope I'll be able to reclaim my former glory as a romance writer!"

Jessica: "Shut up and bring me another slice of that Sara Lee pound cake, you twit."

"No Writer Matchmaking Service Screens Its Applicants More Rigorously"
-Publishers Monthly**

At eCollaborator our comprehensive, 99,634 question Writer Questionnaire is just one of the many, many ways we screen new members for deep compatibility with you on as many as 49 aspects. Okay, if you pay the $999.99 annual fee immediately instead of making installments, we'll consider all our questions answered. You couldn't have all that money to spend unless you had a decent day job, right? And hang on to that, Darling. You know what they say, when the looks go . . .

Take the first step.
Well, no, coming here was actually the first step -- and aren't you smart for making it this far!
Take the second step.
FREE! Get your $50 writing profile analysis.
FREE! View Your Highly Compatible Matches. You can't talk to them, or contact them, of course, and we'll sue you if you try, but you can look. Look, that's all.

Isn't it time you experienced the joy of collaborating with a writer who gets you, loves your work, and accepts you for the professional waffler you are? This is the kind of joy that comes from authentic collaboration -- and authentic collaboration is what forms the basis for every relationship at eCollaborator. Otherwise, we'd call it Hot Guys in Little Black Speedos like our cousin Marla's web site. She went into soft porn and makes a nice living at it, may God give her bunions bunions.

Why Not Give Our Service a Try Right Now?
God knows, we're not getting any younger.
You get those two free things for nothing. How many more times are you going to write Chapter One, huh?
Like you have anything to lose.
Go ahead.
Click on the free trial, cheapskate.
You know you'll never get published until you do.
Come on.
Quit being such a baby about it.

*Published here defined as self-published; see our companion web site
**Advertisement paid for by

Monday, May 28, 2007

Senior Moment Ten

Ten Things I Had Bookmarked to Post and Have Since Forgot Why

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. has tweaked, repaired and upgraded their virtual notebook freeware, and has released AM-Notebook Lite v4.1.2 Beta 1 (a repeat; the link is the same but I think I originally posted about an older version.)

2.'s ClipDiary will save all the stuff you post to the clipboard for future retrieval (I don't see a limit on the number of saved clips, which would be very helpful to those with active clipboards.)

3. Old Dominion University Libraries's page of Digital Projects and Resources
and UoC Berkely's Digital Library Project (I think I grabbed these for a ten list about virtual libraries or something along those lines.)

4. Flickr's Toys Page (I'm pretty sure that there were some image generators on here I wanted to try out. The Billboard maker is fun, and the Writer is that online writing environment minus the usual bells and whistles.)

5.'s Medieval Fashion page (I think someone e-mailed and asked me if I'd found any interesting links on this period's garments.)

6. Tweak your images with PhotoFiltre freeware (drawing a blank, but I might have earmarked this one for a graphics ten list I already did, or it's a leftover.)

7. Phrase Express Autotext 4.1.6, also upgraded, allows you to retrieve commonly-used phrases and such from the task tray and paste them into any application (Another repeat, possibly saved because there's an upgraded version now.)

8. Printable Notebook freeware arranges your data in notebook format for printing; there's a companion program they're selling for a small price that allows you to customize your own page templates (this looks like a new link, and they've dropped the price on the accompanying customizing software.)

9. Kids of all ages can play Stranded, the University of Arizona's interactive fiction game (probably bookmarked for my children to check out but I always like passing along links to fiction games.)

10. Find and manage your stored documents with Wise Doc Manager (have no clue why I bookmarked this. None.)

I know I had put aside Julia West's Character Feelings and Moods and Emotions lists for a post I meant to write about two-emotional characters (I'm happy, I'm sad, that's it.) I can't find the draft of the post, but basically it was me griping about the largely bi-polar emotional range of genre protagonists. If I can't unearth it, I'll simply rewrite it (I'm already thinking it would make an excellent addition to the ongoing adventures of John and Marcia.)

Also (a new perk I'm adding on Mondays) a sneak peek at PBW this week:

-- Preview the brand new match-making service for authors. Then run away, very fast.

-- Learn the important signs that indicate if your novel has become a Mercy Read.

-- The very best web sites for writers that the diligent link list makers over at Writer's Digest somehow overlooked.

-- Music for visualizing, plus a chance to have a musicwish granted and receive a copy of the Nickelback album that inspired me while I was writing Night Lost, my personal notes about the songs involved, and a signed copy of the end result.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

One Line Characterizations

(Note: After several years of successfully dodging colds, I finally got caught by one. I'll live, but the accompnaying sore throat is making it tough to use the VRS for any length of time. Posting will likely be delayed or late until I get my voice back.)

One-liners as characterizations is a traditional form of verbal short-hand in the southern U.S. We considered it witty to offer a short anecdote or observation on a person in such a way that can be later expanded into a proper yarn, if need be. Most folks dismiss them as sayings or colloquialisms, but while they're usually joke-funny, they're also often painfully accurate:

She fell outta the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

He's busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest.

I don't know what sent her over the edge, but in that family, it doesn't take a real hard push.

He's got two ways of fixing things: do-nothin' or duct tape.

That girl would screw a snake if you held the head.

Most often the one-liner characterization is best delivered in dialogue, as it is an observation or gossip, but it works in the narrative, too. It takes a little investment of trust in the reader to "get" a description that isn't a typical recital of physical attributes, but with the right words you can prompt the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks.

With this sort of characterization, there is the temptation to use an easy, cliche analogy: as fast as greased lightning, dumber than a post, crazy as a fox. You can use cliches as practice by taking them, shaking them, and turning them into something new, like as fast as TV preachers go to Hell, dumber than invading Antarctica, and crazy as a dog after a treed squirrel.

You don't need to resort to the classic analogy form for a one-line characterization, either. Claes, a character who could rightly be described as a tall, sturdy, muscular, brown-haired youth who seemed immovable and unbending, yet who still possessed adorable, boyish indentations in his cheeks becomes in Dorothy Dunnet's hands an oak tree with dimples (Niccolo Rising.)

Your assignment today: in comments, give us a one-line characterization describing one of your characters, or a character from your favorite book.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Virtual Workshop Requests

Today is the first day of summer vacation for my kids, and I promised that I would unplug and spend it with them, so no Friday 20 this week.

Last year during the week of RWA's National Conference, I did a series of virtual workshops and giveaway goodie bags for those left behind. We had a great time, covered a lot of writing territory, and never had to eat mystery chicken or leave the comfort of our pajamas or our computer chairs.

I'd like to do that again this year, if you all are interested, because I'm annoying that way. I have some ideas on improving it, too, like maybe browbeating persuading some other authors who aren't attending into joining in wth virtual workshops on their blogs. Like those authors* who nailed me with memes this past year, and who thought I was kidding when I said I would get even.

As before, I'd like to find out what topics would be of the most interest and value to you. So think it over, if you would, and share your suggestions on topics, type of workshops or whatever comes to mind in comments to this post.

*Yes, Jordan and Shiloh, you're first on the browbeating list.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RW: StarDoc Series Finale

Today I'd like to have a discussion with my StarDoc readers, and talk about the future of the series.

The hardest part of being a series writer in today's industry is that we never know if we'll get a chance to finish. That's been the case with StarDoc since I sold the first two novels. I planned the series to work as an open-ended story, which helped keep me writing without any guarantees or contract safety nets, but I also hoped I'd be given the opportunity to finish what I'd begun.

On the plus side of things: nine years after signing that first contract, StarDoc is still going strong. All the books remain in print, I just sold two more, and the readership continues to grow every year. Things have never been better for the series.

The thing is, the longer a writer's series goes on, the more likely it will end unfinished. I'm not getting any younger, either. Not that I plan to check out any time soon, but I'd hate to get hit by a truck tomorrow and leave things hanging.

Which brings me to my point. I want to write the final draft of the last StarDoc novel this year. I'll put copies of the manuscript in care of some family and friends so that it's safe, in the event the Fed Ex guy makes me into roadkill or something. But in order to write Cherijo and Reever's finale, I need to decide exactly when to end the series.

Book ten is starting to look good to me as the final novel. That would give me two books to resolve some things and bring the story to a graceful close. I believe I could sell one more novel in the series by 2008, but if I couldn't, I'd have no problem with publishing it as a free e-book. It would be the greatest way to pay you guys back for all you've done to promote the series.

I also think that ten books is a decent run for a SF series. I'd rather not keep writing blind, never knowing when it will get dumped again. I can and probably will write more books set in the StarDoc universe. It's an immense place and I've got plenty more stories there to tell.

StarDoc is the foundation series of my career, though, and I feel very strongly that the readers who have stuck by me on this ride deserve a completed story. This is not about the money; I can make money doing other things. Nor is it something I want decided by Publishing, the agent, the editor, or anyone else but us. We've been through a lot together, and this is our business.

Let me know what you think in comments.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The S&S Flap

You've all likely heard about Simon & Schuster's contract rewording that will allow them to retain book rights for the length of the copyright, or in writer terms, basically forever. So it seems that my definition of out of print in the Devil's Publishing Dictionary was a little more accurate than I thought.

Hey, what can I say. Maybe I am psychic.

Everyone is busy sending out alerts to their memberships and writing strongly-worded protests against the proposed change, which amuses me to no end. This practice is not anything new; it's done on the writer-for-hire side of the industry every day. Would you be shocked to know that copyrights to ten of my published novels belong to the respective publishers, not me?

It's true. They will forever be my books, but the rights don't belong to me, nor will they ever revert back to me. I have no problem with that, either, as I clearly understood that condition when I signed the contracts.

That's the key here, folks. If you don't like what a contract says, don't sign it. If enough authors refuse to sign, the publisher will have no choice but to reword their contract.

Should it become a standard industry practice for publishers to retain book rights for the length of the copyright? I think it would be foolish in the long term. Aside from becoming yet another choke-collar authors have to wear (don't we have enough strangling us already?) I think it would eventually lead to publishers exiling 99% of authors to Print-on-Demand Land, which would in turn hurt the booksellers and further sabotage the industry's future.

What's your opinion on the kerfluffle? Should authors hand it over yet again without so much as a whimper? Should we stage sit-ins and chant "Hell, no, we won't sign!" Or is there a possible compromise that could be worked out?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pic Me Ten

Ten Things About Graphics, Images and Pics

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. Free for the downloading:'s 720 Templates, Images & Backgrounds.

2. Average Color Seeker (scroll down on page) is a freeware utility that "allows you to find the average color for a particular photo. This color can be used for several purposes like color cast corrections, framing, etc."

3. Need a background, but can't decide on what to use? Play with the Background Generator.*

4. Colorblender is a free online color matcher and palette creator (if you're into creating color palettes, fun and extremely addictive.)**

5. Creative Guy is a weblog where you can get nontstop creative graphics tips & tricks.

6. Need a graphic or interesting font? Browse the selection over at**

7. Natter with other pic wrestlers over at (lots of free downloads at this site, too.)

8. Everything you wanted to know about blog and web design tricks but were afraid to ask: Mandarin Design.

9. Make quick text graphics with Rockin' Text.

10. WPanorama allows you to "display panoramic pictures by letting them scroll horizontally or vertically on the screen."

Finally, if you're looking for copyright-free public domain photos, check out the 27,000 available in the community archives over at

*Link swiped from The Generator Blog
**Links pinched from Creative Guy's sidebar

More color and palette linkage can be found on my Da Code Ten list.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Readerisms Winners

Thanks to everyone's finely-honed sense of humor, I've dithered all afternoon, trying to make up my mind on who posted the funniest readerism. It came down to three that made me snicker every time I read them:

BuffySquirrel's entry:

"I hate books that stop rather than ending."

Hmm, that one went through the wall.

Bernita's entry:

"There's two more boxes in the car."

Honey, more jack posts for the floor joists, please.

revalkorn's entry:

"My book is not a coaster."

If you put any more wet glasses on any more of my books, I'm going to use you as a speedbump.

They're equally delightful, and I can't make up my mind, so I declare a three-way tie -- as in, all three of you win. When you three get a chance, e-mail me at with your full name, your ship-to info, and which of my books you'd like me to sign and send (you'll have to wait until the package arrives to see your surprise.)

I appreciate everyone who joined in. You made this one very, very hard to judge.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Comments Policy

I'm running behind again (huge surprise, that) so I'll wrap up the Friday 20 and post the winner of the Readerisms contest a little later on today.

I appreciate everyone sharing their opinions and ideas on what to do about the anonymous trolls showing up in comments. With your help, and a little inspiration from my late friend the tiny tree-lover, I think I've come up with a very poetic solution.

We'll go with option #1, and leave comments open and (with two exceptions) uncensored. I'm sorry, but I'm not prepared to give up what I have yet. I also want to emphasize that anonymous commenters and lurkers are welcome here. I encourage those of you who are under the age of 18 to use the anonymous option as extra identity protection. I've never installed any visitor counters or ISP loggers, so everyone can always visit and talk about the biz freely without worrying that I'm snooping around to find out who you are.

The two exceptions on comments:

1. Obvious SPAM will be deleted, as before. I don't run ads on this blog, and I won't have them dumped in my comments.

2. Any comments left by trolls (anonymous or otherwise) that I deem inappropriate (because hey, it's my blog) will be given PBW's new bonsai treatment.

Here's what one hostile comment looks like after I've run it through the bonsai machine and added some strategic punctuation:

I included the future to start one, either, by sending you into a tenuous and fearful position. If my blog, given your blog everyday would believe that you would think so. I am particularly sorry that you link. I included the bit about what I am not to be your opinion of mind. It's like a statement such as I would believe that you would believe that you would believe that you would believe that you would believe that you would think so everyday. I am not trying to prevent the future. To remove your blog everyday would be akin to stalking. We have a personal relationship and if given your opinion fearful position. It may be your opinion of my blog, given your contact information. Prevent me. Remove your safety!

Isn't that beautiful? Man, I love that generator.

Now, you ask, what is inappropriate? Most of you have been around long enough to know I don't get into fights with the disgruntled. I'm not unreasonable; I've never had a problem with comments that involve debates, disagreements, or general expressions of frustration. Neither do my regular visitors. We've really had a remarkably long run here without the trolls, so I think we're a little spoiled.

Personal attacks, tantrums, hate-mongering, trash baiting and assorted spleen-venting are not welcome here. So if that's all you have to offer, take it somewhere else, or I will bonsai your obnoxious ass.

Thanks again for your help, patience and cooperation.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday 20

I have a couple of bird houses and feeders, and while the squirrels help themselves to most of the seed I put out, we still get quite a few feathered visitors. The feeders are on poles in the yard, and the birdhouses are under our roof eaves. At the moment we have a male and female cardinal nesting in the oak tree (apparently the females are not red; they're shaped just like the male, but are brown and yellow and grayish in color.)

The cardinals and all the other birds who visit have been snubbing my birdhouses. Sometimes other things move in, but mostly they stay empty. We clean them out every couple of months to get rid of mud dauber nests and lizard droppings, but I was thinking about taking them down this summer and putting up squirrel-proof feeders instead.

After three weeks of road trips and my friend's funeral, I came home and went out to sit on my porch and enjoy Nature as usual. I also brought the camera out with me in hopes of getting a shot of Red and his lady. Almost as soon as I sat down, I heard very faint, high-pitched cheeping coming from someplace close. I looked around for the cardinals or another nest-jumper, and then jumped as a small, beautiful blue bird with an orange breast flew right past my face. I'd never seen a bird like it before, so I grabbed the camera and took this rather blurry shot:

Eastern Blue Bird

The green thing in her beak was a worm. The cheeping sound I'd been hearing suddenly got very loud, and then Mama Blue went inside the birdhouse. While we were gone, she'd moved in and hatched her eggs. From the cheeps, I figured at least two or three chicks.

We've stayed a safe distance and not bothered them, but I've kept the camera handy in hopes of another shot. Mama is wise to me now and won't perch outside for long, but this past weekend one of the chicks decided to have a look outside:

Baby Blue

So why am I so excited about some blue birds? See, I used to have this blue glass bird paperweight on my desk. It was a daily reminder to find happiness in the little things. A few years ago I decided to give the paperweight to another writer who had lost everything. Sometimes you have to open your heart as well as the wallet. And I thought about that, too, when I saw Mama Blue had moved in. Maybe I needed the reminder. Or maybe she was desperate and the frog had moved out. Either way.

That's all from my corner of the world this week. Anyone have some questions for me?*

*Added: would help if the comments were turned on, yes? Sorry about that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Odds, Ends

Comments: As a writer, you know you've arrived when the anonymous people start coming out of the woodwork. And they have, right on cue. Unfortunately the only place they can spleen-vent where they know I'll see it is in comments here. I'm not sure what to do about it yet; see below.

Numbers: While I was out stat-hunting, I came across this long page of publishing statistics that, while somewhat dated, had some interesting info. I tend to put more faith in stats that are cited with sources versus sites that simply throw the figures out there.

Rumor, confirmed: Night Lost did indeed make it to #12 on Publishers Weekly's paperback bestseller list for May 14th. PW seemed as surprised as I was to find it there, but they did a nice little sidebar spotlight thing for the book. Their circulation should go up a couple thousand points this week as my mother makes every person she knows on Earth buy a copy.

On the comments problem, I have a couple of choices. I can:

1. Keep comments uncensored and open to everyone except SPAMmers (the way it is now.)
2. Moderate the comments and personally remove any spleen-venting unrelated to the post topic along with the SPAMmers (censorship, which I hate, but probably wiser.)
3. Make everyone register if they want to comment, if Blogger has that option (which will kill anonymous comments, I think.)
4. Shut down comments altogether.

#1 is my personal preference, but it means putting up with an unknown amount of harassment from these anonymous venters. #2 is going to slow things down and take up more of my time, which will likely result in cutting back on the number of posts I write each week. #3 makes me feel like I'm penalizing everyone for what a few malcontents do. #4 is definitely a last resort.

We have some great discussions here, and many of you constantly contribute valuable opinions, info and links. We have a lot of fun, too. Maybe I'm being naive and selfish, but I don't want that to end. If you've got a preference on the options, let me know what you think in comments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

RW: Readerisms

Ten Things Readers Say, and What They Really Mean

1. A book store gift card would be the perfect gift for me.

I want a book store gift card. That's all. Nothing else. Got it? Or do I have to write it in Sharpie marker on your forehead again?

2. Books keep my mind occupied.

Books keep my spouse out of divorce court.

3. Excuse me, but I'm looking for Rosina Lippi's new release and it isn't on the shelf.

Grab that box cutter, pal, because you're going to be opening cartons until you find it.

4. I read because it relaxes me.

I read because if I have to sit through one more episode of RAW with you, my brain will implode.

5. Just because I read a little every day doesn't mean I'm addicted to books.

Man, I really need to score some Mary Higgins Clark. You holding?

6. My husband knows I enjoy well-written erotica.

My husband knows he's not getting a whole lot of sleep tonight.

7. Someone dog-eared all the pages in this book.

Call CSI. I want this dusted for prints.

8. There's nothing wrong with reading romance novels.

Sneer at my romance novels one more time, and I'll yank your tonsils out through your nose.

9. Why, yes, I do have quite a large book collection.

Hey, where do you think you are, the library? Step back behind the velvet rope.

10. You lost my book?

You lost my book? And you're not running for your life?

Now it's your turn -- in comments to this post, tell us one of your original readerisms (as above, what you say, and what you really mean) by midnight EST on Friday, May 18, 2007. To keep it fair for everyone, please post only one time, and only enter one readerism.

I'll pick the entry that I think is the funniest, and send the winner a signed copy of any book I've written that is still in print (your choice) along with a surprise. This contest is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

John & Marcia, The E-book

For all the John and Marcia fans out there:

Because you can never watch too many novel crash tests

The e-book contains all the relevent J&M posts from PBW over the last year, along with some advice on how to solve the various problems involved and general nagging. It's also free, and may be copied and distributed at no cost for non-profit purposes (see the fine print on the copyright page.)

To download the .pdf file, just click on the cover art above or the link on the sidebar under Freebies. Is anyone interested in an online, html version? Let me know in comments.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Share Ten

Ten Things Writers Can Try for Free

Shareware caution: always scan trial or demo downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. Looking for one of those 3D book image rendering programs? Give 3D eBook Shot a try.

2. The 15-day trial version of Action Outline will organize your data in tree form.

3. offers two shareware programs, Book Writer and Finders Keepers, that mind map ideas and search files for you.

4. Book authoring software Chrysanth NETime Author offers a free trial or demo download (the wording is a bit weird; probably a demo.)

5. Get the look of a paper journal for your electronic scribblings with the free trial version of Forever Journal.

6. Grammar Slammer offers a free demo download; now available with spelling and grammar checkers.

7. Another journaling shareware, LifeJournal, stores your entries, provides writing prompts, searches your entries, and more.

8. Liquid Story Binder XE is a shareware word processor/document tracker program geared specifically for writers.

9. Need a program that actually nags you to write? Give the free trial download of Modjex Coaxer a whirl.

10.'s Visual Typewriter shareware allows you to write on a virtual typewriter. I wonder if they have it in a Royal Academy edition.....

For the readers, check out The National Academies Press website, which offers free online access to over 3,000 titles with a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and medicine.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

For the Moms

Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother's secret hope outlives them all. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Chocolate seems to be the top romantic food among my visitors, judging by the comments left for the Wild Rides giveaway. Strawberries and whipped cream were also very popular. Before I went on the bark-and-twigs diet, chocolate anything was my favorite romantic food. Now I'm more into fresh peaches, which have a very erotic smell, taste and feel to them.

We put the magic hat to work tonight, and the five winners of Sasha White's Lush plus a surprise are:

Mary2 (whose favorite romantic food is chicken and dumplings, and which has me imagining all sorts of things)

Jaye Patrick


Anna (who described her and her guy's most romantic food as ...hubby would say popcicles eaten by grown women. Me, I'd agree with chocolate or *warm* hot fudge sauce drizzled...)

Melissa B. (over whom you are all a bad influence, as she wrote Hmmm...I have to go with everyone else and say chocolate I think.)

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can get these packages out to you, and thanks to everyone for giving us all (ahem) much food for thought.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday 20

As I was packing up the trunk of my car with photo albums on Wednesday, and wondering what else I should take in case the wildfire creeping toward us decides to fry my house, the telephone rang.

It was, I thought, Mom. Calling to tell me someone was in the hospital, or one of her dogs was sick, or subtropical storm Andrea had strengthened and was heading our way, or something else to add just a little more delight to my week.

It was my very busy editor. She never calls unless she has a publishing fire she needs me to put out. No doubt she wanted me to send in my revisions yesterday, or approve cover copy in fifteen minutes, or finally write a decent bio because the ten-word one I have on file is annoying the Powers That Be.

Frankly, I wasn't happy to hear her voice. Florida is carpeted in flames and smoke, hurricane season decided to start a month early, I'm trying to fit forty-six years of memories in a trunk slightly smaller than a hamster's cage. At the same time, I knew I'd do whatever she wanted, and began envisioning myself on the laptop at a turnpike rest stop, typing up whatever she wanted by the soft orange glow of my town burning in the distance.

My editor said hello, how are you, and Night Lost made #21 on the New York Times extended bestseller list.

Look, I started to say, my state is on fire . . . and then I sat down on the riding lawn mower. I think I said What? a few times.

It was, indeed, The Call.

My editor talked and laughed and said a lot of very nice things. I have absolutely no recollection of what they were, but she's a lovely person, so I know they were nice.

It took me ten years of weekly submissions, twenty-eight manuscripts and over thirteen hundred straight rejections before I received my first offer. And yeah, like most rookies, I daydreamed about my debut novel becoming a huge, overnight success and showing up on the NYT BSL. I felt the same way about the second one, and the third, and the tenth, and the fourteenth. Hope, even the wild pie-in-the-sky variety, only goes so far. After I'd published twenty novels, I stopped daydreaming. Obviously, it wasn't going to happen.

I didn't mind. In some ways, it was a relief, because by that time I'd dropped out of sight, got rid of all my author clothes, and just stayed home and wrote books. I've always wanted to be a paperback writer, and I am, and that is the world to me. More than that would have been very nice, but c'est la vie.

That's what I told my agent earlier this week, when she cautiously mentioned that I might, could possibly, in the remotest sense of the word, have a shot at the Times. We've been there before, I reminded her (at one very high point, Dark Need was the 18th bestselling mass market fiction novel in the country.) We've been told by authors who have done it that books get on the list do it by writers placing bulk orders or by signing at the stores the Times use for their stats. I won't do that, therefore it will never happen to one of my novels. I'd be honored and beyond satisfied with my novel making any spot on the USA Today top 150.

So here we are. I can't call myself a NYT bestselling author until I crack the top fifteen (my publisher is rather strict about this), but like I'm going to complain. And while part of me still expects the publishing version of Ashton Kutcher to show up on my doorstep today with a handheld cam and tell me that I've been punk'd, I've seen the printed list, and it doesn't look like a typo.

It is real, and it does happen, and we're not crazy to hope. That's what I want you to remember when you're a paperback writer.

Any questions out there for me this week?

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I hate memes, but this one was inflicted on me passed along by friends. So, without further ado:

The Meme Shiloh & Jordan Tagged Me With

Da Rulez:

Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I can bake, broil, stew and grill chicken just fine, but for some reason I cannot fry it. Every time I try, it comes out raw or burnt. The Southern Women's Cooking Association have ordered me to tell everyone that I come from Boston.

2. I refuse to wear a watch and I don't like having clocks in my work space. When I'm working, I set a kitchen timer or the clock radio downstairs with the loudest alarm to govern my time. Unless someone tells me, I never know what time, day of the week or date it is and I always guess wrong (which is why Mom got her Mother's Day flowers a week early, just like last year.)

3. Cats and dogs usually like me, even the unfriendly ones, which is why I'm the unofficial neighborhood animal catcher. Spiders, birds, squirrels and snakes regard me with some suspicion but don't bite me. Horses don't like me at all.

3a. With horses it's probably my scent, which around them is Eau du Terrified.

4. Whenever I go on walks or hikes, I pick up small stones, drop them into my pocket and then forget about them. I don't know why. I've found as many as a dozen pebbles in my trouser pockets while I'm doing the laundry.

5. I believe in writing letters to my state and federal elected officials and telling them what I think, so I do, frequently. Congressmen and senators generally send me impersonal form letters, newsletters or e-mail in return. One startling exception, though: when I wrote to President Clinton about the wretched state of senior health care in this country, and how my mother virtually went blind while waiting to get cataract surgery, he sent me a personal reply.

6. I purchase multiple copies of books that I enjoy so that I'll have a supply to share, should they ever go out of print. I also love to hunt copies of my favorite OOP books in junk shops, thrift stores and rummage sales.

7. I refused to drink milk when I was a kid and would throw up whenever Mom tried to make me. Ice cream, cheese and other dairy products made me sick, too. Everyone thought I was being picky and I got a lot of grief about it. I found out the reason for my dairy aversion only recently, when we discovered that my daughter is seriously lactose intolerant. Turns out, so am I.

8. I first learned how to drive by practicing in an ambulance in the parking lot behind the hospital where I worked.

I've got to hit the hay, so I'm going to break one of the rules and tag everyone who reads this post and wants to do the meme. If you do, post a link to your list in comments so we can come over and find out eight things about you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

RW: Wild Rides

I enjoy reading well-written romantica and erotica. I wouldn't be an Emma Holly and Alison Kent fan if I didn't. When this kind of fiction is done right, it transcends the coy purple-headed prosiness or the mechanical insert slot A into tab B stories we see so often in this category.

Lush, an erotic trilogy of stories by Sasha WhiteYou won't find any turgid throbbing manroots or unlikely robotic positions in Lush by Sasha White. What you will discover is a trilogy of interconnected stories about three couples who find and explore each other, body and soul. Yes, the stories are explicit, so be warned: this is hands-on, right there, in-your-face erotica. It's beautifully written, but it never apologizes for the content by masking it with a lot of idiot euphemisms.

What I enjoy about Sasha White's storytelling is the combination of playfulness and soulfulness. This book, like all her work, is both fun and touching. Very few writers in this category can pull off something like that; Sasha White is already an expert at it. It's going to be very interesting to see where she goes from here.

As always, you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, name your favorite romantic food (or, if you don't think food is romantic, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, May 11, 2007. I'll draw five names at random from everyone who participates, and send the winners an unsigned copy of Lush by Sasha White and a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Home front news: you people have certainly been busy. Four days after its release, Night Lost hit the Borders Group Inc. romance mass market bestseller list at #1 for week ending 5/5/07. My editor tells me the book also debuted at #4 on Barnes & Nobles' romance BSL list, and #17 on their overall mass market BSL list.

I've got thirty-seven books in print, but none of them have ever made it to #1 on any list. Not a place I ever expected to be, frankly, so I have nothing prepared or rehearsed. To the buyers and booksellers of Borders Group, Inc., who have been incredibly generous with their support of Night Lost, and to all of you who went out and spent your hard-earned money to buy the book, may I simply say: thank you.

Oh, and if you see a nice little old lady circling the earth sometime today, that would be my mom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May: No-Fling Marketing

"...walk around a busy resort town dressed as a character from your novel, handing out promotional postcards."

Don't laugh. I just read this marketing suggestion in a serious article about publicizing a novel. And I can name more than one author who has dressed up as their protag for a book jacket photo. Which always cracks me up, especially when the big namers do it, so I do hope the tradition continues.

Dress Like Your Character and Accost People in the Street isn't a horrible marketing idea. Dressing up in costume at industry functions is an accepted practice. I wouldn't do it, because PBW does not wear costumes unless it's the night when she rings your doorbell and expects to be given candy.

I don't know -- outside industry cons, it seems like it would be counterproductive. In most places, the strangers on the street who usually approach us are proselytizers, pan handlers and muggers. Call me unfriendly, but anyone walking around dressed like a vampire or a bounty hunter is not going to get the chance to postcard me.

As much of the industry has yet to learn, the "fling it out there and see what happens" approach is not an effective marketing strategy. It's a method more suitable for toilet papering trees on that one night a year when it is okay to walk around in a costume.

We're all familiar with the traditional ways to market your work once it's in print: get quotes from more famous authors; send out postcards, fliers, and bookmarks to book sellers; buy ads in industry magazines, send out ARCs to reviewers; go to cons, have signings, and put up a website and/or a weblog. If you have major backing from your publisher, you hire people to do all that and go on book tours, give interviews, go to industry trade shows and sign in certain places to have the optimum chance of getting on certain lists compiled from sales data from those places.

It's not all bad, but there's a lot of auto-fling built into traditional novel marketing. Fling the promo out there, hope for the best. Fling oneself around the con circuit, hope for the best. Fling promo sites onto the internet . . . you get the picture. Flinging anything is popular with writers because 1) most of us are completely clueless about marketing and 2) all the other authors are doing it.

Remember what mom said about doing what everyone else does? She was right.

Think about fling marketing this way: imagine you and fifty other writers standing around a bookseller and throwing postcards at him while he's working. Tomorrow, fifty different writers are going to show up and do the same thing. Then fifty more on the next day, and fifty on the next, and so on. How is your postcard going to stand out from all the other postcards the bookseller gets hit with that day? And how many times do you think he's going to stop working to read postcards?

More than anything, fling marketing wastes time, resources and money. Today the average writer in the U.S. makes around $6,000.00 a year. Around the major publishers, advance pay-outs are presently being split into thirds: a third on contract signing, a third on delivery of the manuscript, and a third on publication of the novel. That means if you accept an offer for a $5,000.00 advance, and your publisher pays you on time, you'll only have $3,333.33 coming in before publication.

If you use 25% of your income for marketing, which is what I do, that gives you $833.00 to spend. That will buy you -- maybe -- one small ad in one issue of an industry magazine, or registration and hotel fees to attend one regional con, or a single mail out to every Barnes & Noble in the U.S. If you do the later, you better have a red-hot postcard or flier -- one friend of mine who manages a big B&N says she fills her office garbage can with reams of useless author-mailed promo materials that she can't use and doesn't read. She does this every day.

Obviously the average writer can't afford an expensive campaign to publicize their book, so it's imperative that whatever they do spend on marketing not be squandered on a fling.

So what is the no-fling approach to marketing?

1. Target your market. If you don't know who/where/what and why of your target market, you're marketing blind. Who is most likely to read your novel? Where can you find them? What will get their attention? Why should they read your book? These are all questions every writer needs to answer, and the answers are specific to the writer's work.

To start you thinking about the question of who is most likely to read your novel, more statistics: the average reader in the U.S. is female (68% of all books are bought by women), a baby Boomer (half of all book buyers are over the age of 45), and probably feels that someday she could write a novel (over 80% of Americans do.) There's a good chance that this woman will represent a big chunk of your readership. And she should, because she also represents the largest segment of the book-buying public.

2. Market efficiently. It's not just the time you devote to marketing, but how efficiently you use that time. You can spend four hours dressed up and sitting at a table in a mall, and talk to maybe a dozen people. Mostly you'll answer questions like "Do you work here?" and "Can you tell me where the restrooms are?" I can spend an hour in my pjs and bunny slippers at home, whenever I like, write, edit and upload a weblog post, talk to no one, and be read by about a thousand people.

Once you and your readers leave the mall, chances are that you'll never see them again. Due to the nature of weblogs, most of my readers will come back again. Some will be other bloggers who link to or discuss the post on my weblog, and their visitors will follow those links and discussions. Unless I delete my post, I'm here for them indefinitely (try to do that at a mall.)

Who has the potential to sell more copies of their book, the mall book signer or the stay-at-home blogger? Statistics vary, but for the sake of argument let's say we will both sell a book to one out of ten people we encounter that day. That means sales of 1.2 copies for you, and 100 copies for me. Plus you're not going to be selling your books at the mall tomorrow, while my weblog is open 24/7 to people all over the world, even when I'm out in the back yard washing the dog or weeding the flowers.

What all that means is, I win.

3. Invest wisely. When considering any type of marketing you have to pay for, look closely at these three things: distribution, value, and investment return. Whatever you buy should have wide distribution (to reach the most people), some value to the recipient (so they don't ignore it or throw it away) and some indication of how well it's going to work (because if it doesn't, you might as well burn the money.)

Everyone has different ideas on how to spend marketing money. My main marketing investment is to give out free books, and you've seen how well it works for me. Giving a reader a free book does a couple of things: it shows you're willing to invest in them first. Unlike a bookmark or postcard, it's something that has the potential of actual value to the recipient. If they enjoy your book, they will buy others that you've written or will write. There isn't a better way to build a readership than with your own work.

On the flip side, you may not win over the reader. People will ignore or trash virtually any other promotional materials you give them, but 99% of them don't throw away books. Even if they don't like your book, they'll probably give it to a friend, donate it to a library or trade it in at a used book store. E-books get passed around even more. A book is the only promotional material that has a real chance to be recycled and possibly grab the attention of another reader down the road.

The biggest scams I see out in novel marketing land are those that cater to the writer's ego. I won't point fingers or name names, but oy. Sadly, it's a very clever marketing strategy on the part of the people who prey on certain authors and their seemingly unquenchable thirst for personal attention. And while these scammers might treat you like a former Miss U.S.A contestant with honey blonde hair, convincing breast implants and an adorable lisp, chances are you're not. Do yourself a favor and always make whatever marketing you do work-focused. You're trying to sell books, not your ass.

I gather most of my marketing information off the internet, which has a surprising amount available out here for anyone to read. I just found something interesting today while researching regional marketing data. Anyone know what are the most literate cities in the U.S. are? As of 2006:

1. Seattle, WA
2. Minneapolis, MN
3. Atlanta, GA
4. Washington, DC
5. St. Paul, MN
6. Pittsburgh, PA
7. Cincinnati, OH
8. Denver, CO
9. San Francisco, CA
10. Portland, OR

Not a huge change from the 2005 rankings, or the 2004 list. Boston and Portland seem to be slugging it out for a top spot. If I were going to do a big marketing campaign for my next novel, these would be the first ten cities on my target list.

It takes time, careful thought and research to develop a no-fling marketing strategy for your novel. I wish I could give you a schematic, but that's like a secret handshake: it doesn't exist. You have to create and refine your own strategy based on what you write and what sort of marketing you're willing to do. Most pros will tell you to do whatever everyone else is doing, and often that's a lot easier and less stressful.

It's just this: after all you've gone through to get your work into print, do you really want to fling it out there and hope for the best?

Related links:

PBW's Bookmarks from Hell, PTC 2 Part 1, PTC 2 Part 2, Ten Things About Odd Self-Promo, and Widgety posts.

Several articles on Niche Marketing.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dude, Where's My Data? Ten

Ten Things to Help With Data Recovery

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. Are you always forgetting to backup your data? Automatic Backup freeware may be the help you need.

2. Backup2Net offers free online and offline backup software.

3. Backup to Email freeware will allow you to back up your file to your e-mail account with one click.

4. Get your deleted pics back with MJM's Photo Recovery freeware.

5. Recover text from damaged or corrupt documents that Microsoft Word won't access with Repair My Word freeware.

6. For those who have data that MUST be destroyed,'s Smart Data Scrubber freeware will make sure no one can recover it.

7. SoftPerfect File Recovery freeware allows you to "restore accidentally deleted files from hard and floppy disks, USB flash drives, CF and SD cards and other storage media."

8. Retrieve accidentally deleted files with Undelete Plus V.2.8 freeware.

9.'s Unstoppable Copier freeware for Windows & Linux will recover data from damaged (scratched, bad sectors, constant errors) disks for you.

10. Need a simple backup utility that "guards your personal data by making real-time copies (whenever you make changes to your documents) to almost any destination you choose"? Try Yadis! Backup V.1.6.5 freeware.

For those who want to safeguard their data a little better, has a trio of free security softwares.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday 20

What a week. Aside from Night Lost jumping the release date gate, I had five straight days under my own roof, the exact amount of time I needed to catch up on my housework. A five-month-past-due advance payment arrived just in time to pay for the new well pump we needed, also much appreciated. No road trip for me this weekend, either, so I can do something besides pack, unpack, and investigate strange bathroom fixtures and wake-up-call procedures.

I still have to figure out how to make three pig masks out of pink craft foam (my daughter is the school skit prop girl), give everyone with fur their flea/heartworm treatments, weed the garden when the smoke isn't bad, convince a black racer to move out of the garage (he's currently curled up behind the water heater) and catch up on a thousand writing-related things before Monday. I don't mind at all. Simply being able to cook my own food and sleep in my own bed feels like a luxury.

Some questions I haven't gotten around to answering yet via e-mail:

There are wildfires burning all around our region, but most in our area are under control. At times the smoke is pretty bad, but we're keeping the kids indoors and keeping a close eye on the news. We have a couple of acres of cleared land around us and other resources to use to protect our home, so even if the fire came right here we're relatively safe. We're also ready to live without power, water or access to town (hurricane season prep for next month) and we will evacuate if ordered to go.

I'm not getting involved in The Current Romance Hoopla. My post for Kate was written for fun before this happened. As for the hoopla itself, I've privately made my feelings known to the person I care about in the situation, and that's all I want to do. Unless she wants me to do more, in which case, I might put together a scorching parody. But not this weekend. This weekend, I have pig masks to make and pets to dose.

I am cleaning up work today, and then I'm going to start on e-mail. Tommy is going to talk me through uploading the critiques I owe people, since everything I'm doing is not working. I'm devoting the weekend to getting it all out of here, and if we can't figure out what I did wrong, I'll send hard copies to everyone I owe them to.

That's all the grumbling and complaining I can manage. My guy and my lovely bed are calling my name, so I'll be back in the morning. Got any questions for me this week?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Where We Read

You all read in some very interesting places outside the home. I think I'm going to try out some of your ideas (I really want to go camping like Ris and read by the fire while I roast marshmallows. That could be the nearest thing to total bliss.)

Anyway, we got out the magic hat, and the winner for yesterday's RW quickie giveaway is BJ Steeves. BJ, when you get a chance, e-mail your ship-to info to and I'll get these books out to you.

The comments left yesterday also underlined how individual the reading experience is for the dedicated reader. I found them fascinating. Comfort seems to be a common denominator, as does a certain amount of privacy or anonymity. Some of you like to be outdoors in a park or a pretty spot, while others are fine reading in busier locations.

Knowing where people like to read could help publishing create more effective avenues of marketing. It's common knowledge that many people read while traveling on planes, cruise ships, buses, subways, trains and other forms of mass transit. People on vacation also takes books to read by the pool, on the beach, or while hanging out at the hotel. Then there are the lengthy medical procedures, hospital stays and other health-related incarcerations. What else can you do in a waiting room or hospital bed but read or watch infomercials on whatever three channels the room television picks up?

A book does goes well with any activity that requires you to stay in one place and do nothing for at least an hour, or when you're relaxing but separated from the usual relaxation aids (TV, movies, video games, alcohol, sex, and food.) Pass-the-time reading, when there's little opportunity to do anything else; read or be bored. It seems disheartening -- we want people to read more for pleasure -- but we can still use the knowledge.

If you can't get people into the bookstores, get the books to the people when they're most likely to want to read. I recently mentioned how much I'd like to see a fiction book rack in hotel lobbies. How about putting some gratis books in the back pockets of every seat on an airplane? Provides a nice alternative to reading outdated travel magazines or the laminated belt-buckle-flotation-device-oxygen-mask instructional picture card.

When it comes to where we choose to read outside the home, we seek out places that appeal to us for some reason on personal level (as your comments yesterday illustrated.) Books are just sold as books, though; we rarely pair them with anything else, and I think by doing so that we're missing some marketing opportunities. If I'm going to lounge on the sand, I'd love a tote bag stocked with some sunblock, a big towel, and a hot romance. I go to tea shops all the time, and would snap up a tea-lovers book package in a heartbeat. Mary Balogh, some Irish breakfast tea and a package of scones, how could you go wrong? Maybe by integrating books with products we use during a relaxing activity, we might convince the people who aren't reading out there to associate books with something other than the English class assignment or the colonoscopy.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

RW: Cleanup

I'm running late again today, so let's start off with the winners of the Raintree: Inferno giveaway. They are:

Marianne Arkins

Diane M


Kerry (whose comment started with ooh. Me, me!)


Sherryr (whose comment started with I would love to have this book by Linda Howard)

Janice (whose comment started with Well I seem to be finding a bunch of good writers lately.)


B.E. Sanderson


Winners, please send your full name and ship-to information to so I can get these books out to you, and thanks to everyone who joined in.

A couple of masochists folks have asked me to list the fifteen finalists for the Name This Ship contest, and here they are by ship name submitted, in no particular order:

l'eau reve (water dream)

Also, more than a few people e-mailed to ask why I didn't post a photo of the artwork portion of the contest prize. To be honest, I wasn't quite finished with the piece at the time -- it was a mini-quilt, about 10" X 16", and I was still applying the binding as I began the contest. Also, I like to keep some things a surprise. But if you want to see it, you can click here for a look.

As I'm running behind, today we'll have a quickie giveaway: all four Darkyn novels, signed by me, in a little book tote I made, with some surprises added in. If you'd like to win, in comments to this post list a place outside your home where you enjoy reading a book. Post your entry by midnight EST tonight, May 2, 2007, and I will draw one name at random and send the winner the books, tote and surprises. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Night Lost Arrives

Turns out my release date for Night Lost is today rather than May 7th. Surprise!

Got Gabriel?

I don't know why it's out a week early, but readers are telling me that it's shipping from the online booksellers, and my sister says I'm already on the shelf at BAM. When we went this afternoon to pick up some mulch for the front yard, my son headed over to the book/magazine section for the latest issue of Shonen Jump, and brought back a copy of NL with that big Wal-Mart price sticker plastered over Gabriel's forehead like a weird bandaid.

I was going to make a pathetic determined effort at posting some self-promo for Night Lost next week. I was. Really. Wait, wait, I did do some already -- I spent the day over at Shiloh's last week (which was great) talking about myself (which is torture.) That counts.

Be so much easier if I could just blame the dog.

Anyway, if you have enjoyed the Darkyn books, or like vampire fiction but are interested in trying something different, and you'd be okay with making my publisher extremely happy and keeping me employed, I invite you to pick up Night Lost, available nation-wide today.