Wednesday, November 29, 2006

(Pomona Public Library)


My friend SUE ANN JAFFARIAN just had her most recent book, The Curse of the Holy Pail, reviewed in Kirkus. This is cause for celebration, as hundreds of thousands of Acquisitions Librarians in the US read Kirkus and Library Journal when deciding what to buy for their public – and private or school – libraries. Sue Ann's first book, Too Big To Miss, also features plus-sized sleuth Odelia Grey and features my name in the Acknowledgements, something I didn't know until I read the book.

Which brings me to: Always Say Thank You. When you write a book, there's always someone you can thank, be it for ideas and encouragement, cake and hot soup, a little peace and quiet, emotional support, new ink for the printer, or the day job that feeds you and your dog while you type away in the evenings. Maybe Aunt Letitia gave you a pen or a book for your tenth birthday. Maybe your Significant Other gave you a hug and told you how proud he/she was of you. Maybe that gorgeous detective down at the local cop shop gave you some sound advice and let you look at a real police station up close from the visitor's side of the counter. There's always someone you can thank.

Do it – it doesn't cost you, your agent or your publisher to put in a Thank You to everyone who helped make your book a reality. And make sure it's something they'd be proud to have their name in. (It goes without saying – or maybe not – to never badmouth anyone in the Acknowledgements, no matter how sleazy or despicable. You can always kill off characters you don't like in works of fiction. I've murdered dozens.)

Support Your Public Libraries. It's where people learn to appreciate the written word. It's where your reading public finds you and everyone else. And sales of your book to public libraries can mean the difference between a keepsake edition of a few hundred and a third printing with a six-figure royalty. Be nice to librarians and library workers and you might find it's also a fine place to give a talk and promote your latest opus.

I'll be at the Cerritos Public Library next Tuesday evening at 7pm with a bunch of my fellow authors from LAndmarked for Murder discussing – what else – murder in Los Angeles!

LAndmarked for Murder

G.B.Pool, A.H.Ream, Jinx Beers, Darrell James, Michael Mallory,
Paul D. Marks, Gay Degani, Arthur Coburn, Kate Thornton,
Pamela Samuels-Young

Date: December 5
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Place: Cerritos Library, 18025 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, CA 90703
Phone number: Phone: (562) 916-1340.

Hope to see you there!


The naked and smooth skin of the eucalyptus trees along the freeway. I roll down my window and can smell their sweet, spicy scent.

All three cats on the porch last night. It is colder out now, and even the picky one tolerates the warmth of the others.

A nice cup of hot tea this morning – ginger peach. The peachy smell is a reminder of the summer past and the hot liquid makes my slightly scratchy throat feel as smooth as a eucalyptus branch.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Okay, had a truly wonderful Thanksgiving on Saturday (yeah, I know, but it's the holiday that counts, not the day on which you celebrate it). Only somewhere near the end of evening, when everyone had taken a walk, finished off another bottle of Pinot Grigio, run out of decaf, and stared at the fire, we all talked about the good things that had happened to us this year and I mentioned the new anthology, "LAndmarked for Murder."

Big mistake. I had plenty of copies on hand and freely gave them to all who were interested, but I wonder if some folks asked out of politeness, not because they wanted one. So what do I do? I gave them out. Yes, I know they cost me money - but who else would I give them to anyway? On the other hand, I never want to push them on folks who don't want them…what to do, what to do?

Let's talk about giving out free copies of your books.

1. Free copies: There are really few free copies for you, the author. You might have an ARC (Advance Review Copy) sent to a newspaper, magazine or individual for review, but that copy comes from the publisher and goes to the reviewer.

Any author's copies you get – usually somewhere between one and five – are the prizes for your own shelf. If it's an anthology (mine all are as I write short stories and not novels) I like to take a keepsake copy and have all the other authors and the editors and the nice lady who brought me water or cake or something at the launch party sign it. That leaves a couple to give to whomever I based a character on or used a name from. That leaves maybe one for my own shelf in pristine condition. ("That? Oh, yeah, a book I wrote…" You never know who might peruse your shelves. Alan Hess dropped by my house once and noticed I did not have *his* book on the coffee table, a condition since remedied.)

2. Your family thinks you get the books for free and they all want one. They don't know you may get a discount, but they are not free. Are these the same family members who are unsupportive? Use your own judgment: if you like them, buy them copies. If they have been jerks, point them to a bookstore.

3. Fans, strangers, celebrities, your nail stylist, the postman, your boss at your day job, etc. A fan once wrote me such a charming letter that I sent him all 3 books, autographed. His thank-you note made my day. But most folks get pointed to the bookstore. The exception here is gift-giving occasions. If a birthday or something is just around the corner, what better gift than something with your name prominently displayed on the cover? (Although I have to admit, for my brother's wedding I sent a gift certificate, not a copy of "A Deadly Dozen.")

4. Your friends. They know you and still like you. They know you write and still like you. They may be writers, too. Give them the books. What are friends for… If they are writers, they'll probably tell you they already bought it for full price. Now that's a friend who also writes.

(Okay, that last one isn't really mine...)


It was raining this morning. The rocks of my desert garden out front sparkled and the swale looked like a real desert stream.

The sight of my friends in my new house eating and drinking and laughing and playing with the pets. Pictures to come!

The perfect peace of the inside of my car after shopping.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

(Who are these guys? Answers below...)


Writing Tips: "Where do you get your ideas?"

I get them from everywhere. Look around…here are things I use to get ideas.

1. Don't try to write when you feel awful. The stuff that pours – or oozes – out will be tainted. But remember what it feels like for later.
2. Write when you have that buzzing in your stomach that says something is about to happen. Something will.
3. Find something funny to read – Evil Editor is funny – and get some inspiration from all the funny writers there. Okay, some of them are serious, but you can still draw on their energy.
4. Eavesdrop on someone's conversation. I just heard someone in another cubicle at work – on the phone – say, "Well, I've managed to stop the bleeding." I don't know what he was talking about, but I'd like to guess.
5. More eavesdropping: "Huh. I'll bet he thought that was enough, but it wasn't enough for me."
6. Yet more: "The bottom line is, if they don't get that package I sent, it's going to mean wholesale mayhem. Yes, just in time for the Holidays. Wholesale!" Lol! Sounds like retail to me.
7. People tend to use pretty violent imagery in their regular conversations. But you can say the spookiest stuff with plain language. Think up a scary thing and describe it.
8. Everyday something beautiful presents itself for your pleasure. Every day.
9. I only read the news if I want to get fired up over something or find good names for characters or look into some real crime stories, or…well, the newspaper is a gold mine. Just don't get stuck in it.
10. Dreams, imagination, playing "what if," laughing, listening, reading. Ideas are everywhere – pluck one out and use it.

(Left to right: Longfellow, Poe, Sartre, Dickens. In color, Matt Groening)


The way the sunlight illuminates a watercolor by David Authier, and the earth turns quickly enough that I don't have to worry about it fading.

Tuesday is Free Cookie Day at my local Subway. I got an oatmeal raisin – my favorite. It not only tastes great, but it sounds so healthy.

It's quiet at work today – lots of people have taken the week off. I like the quiet – the better for listening in on conversations! (Just for writing ideas, mind you. I'm not just a nosy parker. Really.)

Monday, November 20, 2006


A long time ago (okay, less than ten years – time is relative and seems to mean less as you get older) I wrote a mystery with a subplot that concerned Lucid Dreaming, a technique for remembering and controlling your dreams.
Stephen LaBerge wrote a book on the technique and as long as I was writing about it, I thought I'd try it.

Do you ever do that? Research a story and try the stuff you discover, I mean? I wrote a story where a character drank an RC Cola – I had to do some extensive research to find a Royal Crown Cola in my part of the country these days! (RC Cola is now owned by Cadbury-Schweppes in the US)

But back to dreaming: I dreamed a weird story the other night and tried to write a real story from it. Sometimes your subconscious can release all kinds of stuff into your dreams, a sudden infusion of imagery, words and nonsense. It was an interesting exercise, making plot out of nothing, and deciding which images would not fit. I mean, the flying part was fun, but the giant teacup and Ned Flanders in a red jumpsuit just wouldn't fit, so those elements had to be modified or discarded.

I haven't tried to write in my sleep yet – I'm sure I could lucid dream and direct myself to write, but I have been dog tired at bedtime lately and not in the mood to try it. Maybe the holiday weekend will present a good opportunity.


Well, the whole holiday is actually a time of being thankful for the Beautiful Things in life.

One of my bosses at work, Terry Murray, described how he cooks his sausage stuffing. The light in his eye as he told me all about his recipe made me smile. And I'm going to try his method, too. In fact, I'll probably be doing traditional breadcrumb sage stuffing, oyster stuffing and Mr. Murray's Sausage Stuffing.

Friends are coming over for Thanksgiving Dinner – which this year I am cooking & serving on Saturday as we have so much to do on the house to get it ready for real guests. But what could be more BEAUTIFUL than friends?

I saw my niece over the weekend. Her pretty hair was pulled back in a ponytail and though she is a grownup mommy, she looked like a child to me.

Have a great holiday!
(Mr. Bean: One of the Beautiful Things!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


If you are a writer, you already know about the big things: My Novel or My Story or My Deadline or My Non-Fiction Series.

But don't discount the small stuff - I was over on Absolute Write yesterday checking out markets and the local gossip. Lo! And Behold! - a real estate entrepreneur in Vancouver was looking for very short real estate stories for an upcoming anthology. They had to be short and they had to be true and - presumably - well-written.

Well, I just went through an interesting real estate adventure concerning the acquisition of our Cliff May house. So I wrote it up (at less than 525 words) sent it off and received word from The Editor that it had indeed been accepted and $100 would be wafting my way asap. The quickest C-note I ever made. (Might be a Canadian C-note, so the conversion would be a bit less, but hey, who's counting?)

My point is that even if you think you are A Novelist or A Literary Fiction Writer or whatever, there may be these opportunities lurking around that you should check out. If you can write, then look into all the opportunities. You might find a gem!


Today there was a light mist on my windshield as I drove to work. Gotta get those wipers replaced. I have been ruminating over what really constitutes Autumn in Southern California. I think it is the urge to replace those wiper blades when the fine sheen of gray morning mist turns your field of vision into a murky mud. Time for a car wash, too.

African Redbush Peach Tea - I got a box of this some time ago, neatly packaged in teabags so I can fix it at work. I bought it because I was smitten with Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Precious Ramotswe, and it seemed like the tea she drank in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency. It is delicious. I may move to Botswana myself.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


"Step forward now, you soldier, you've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets, you've done your time in Hell."

Americans, remember all our veterans today - my Daddy was a naval officer, my brother Bill is a disabled Viet Nam vet, and that's a picture of me in my Army uniform during Desert Storm (I spent 22 years in the Army.) Make Veterans' Day the time you reflect on what so many gave - and continue to give - for you.

Put aside political and partisan differences and thank those folks who make your way of life possible. This day is not for blowhard politicians or policy makers or corporate profit-takers.

This day's Beautiful Thing is that kid on front lines, the guy in the wheelchair, the homeless vet and the men and women who serve every day, in small and large ways, at home and in strange places.

(And I'm posting this early because I have a doctor's appointment today & may be out for a few days...)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Okay, I know so many of my Beautiful Things involve birds because they are numerous here. On my way home from work, I saw a very tall snowy egret stretched up at about four and a half feet tall - on the freeway onramp! He was stopping traffic! I loved the faces of the other drivers as they gawked at this wonderful bird.

And here's a picture of my friend SEYMOUR ROSEN who passed away last month. I meant to post it down below on his tribute, but couldn't get it to upload. He would have liked that egret, too. He had an eye for Beautiful Things in Unexpected Places.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bottle Village Blogsite: Seymour Rosen 1935-2006


I enjoy submitting mysteries to the various print anthologies – and it *is* a thrill to see your name in print and to sign real books, not to mention party with other authors at bookstores and such. I love submitting to magazines, too – even though the time between submission and acceptance/rejection can be so long that I have completely forgotten the whole experience in between. Print magazines are a great way to actually make money from short stories. Sadly, these venues are shrinking, both in size and number. Woman's World for Romance and Mini-Mystery is still one of the best and most high-paying, while other print magazines like Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen offer prestige as well as professional pay rates.

But there's a place where you can experiment, get outside the usual restraints and find places to try out that gore-fest you've been writing, or that paranormal flash or maybe that thing that won't fit anywhere else. Cruise the ezines and find interesting places to place your work. Many of them even pay a small amount. Many of them submit to the prize committees, too. You also get exposure, critique and editorial advice opportunities. But remember, publication in an ezine counts and make sure you understand what rights to your masterpiece you are selling/giving.

As with any venue, be sure to follow submission guidelines. Obviously, a crime or mystery ezine is not going to be the place for your literary fiction or erotic romance. The best way to determine if your work is suitable is to read the 'zine and the guidelines.

Here are some marketplaces that list ezines:

Ralan's – This may be the best comprehensive list.

Spicy Green Iguana is a superb list

The Gila Queen's List is equally useful – and my condolences to Kathy on the loss of her beloved husband, Charlie.

The Writers Write Guideline Database is truly terrific.

Check them all out – and get those short stories out there.


An email from my friend Nancy Hoskins. Our friend, Seymour Rosen passed away, but he will be remembered fondly by all who knew him. Especially me - he was a true individual, an artist with a vision, a genuine human being with an infectious smile. For no one else would I have stood lookout on a desert rock at dawn in the middle of nowhere while he documented, then rescued a folk art site from destruction.

Thank you NarrowLarry for the lovely tribute.

I'll miss you, Seymour - you were one of the greats.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Remember the loving pets you had a long time ago? Weren't they wonderful? I hope there's a place for their beautiful spirits. (Bratus and Thomas and Cato and Tigar and Horus and Brownie and BabyDog and CoCo the First and Max and Bertie all the others)

There was fog outside and trees looked like ghostly shadows. Porch lights up and down the street promised safety and warmth.

Only one person dressed up in Halloween garb at work yesterday - but she looked so beautiful! Today I see her with new eyes, remembering that saucy witch in the high heeled shoes.

It's November now - where did the summer go? Here's a picture of CoCo, my other little dog. We think she's a pug-poodle mix, but I keep her fur cut short. Maybe she'll grow it out for the cooler weather. She loves to play catch with that ring toy!