Wednesday, February 21, 2007



On March 3, 2007, at the Temple City Library from 2 - 4PM, I will be moderating a panel called The Mysterious East. The panelists are Naomi Hirahara, Bruce Cook, and Eric Stone. This is my first stab at moderating a panel of well-known mystery writers and I am excited. I hope all of you in the Southern California area will be able to attend.

What makes me volunteer for book signings when (due to the loss of mobility in my left side) I can no longer sign my own name? What makes me volunteer to moderate a panel when there are those who claim I don't know the meaning of moderation in my daily life? What makes me get up in front of a crowd of people and talk when my young and beautiful days are long gone and I have a voice like a high-pitched amphibian?

I don't know.

I like people in general and people who read in particular, so maybe I'm always looking for that spark, that connection, that bonds a writer to a reader through the beauty of the word. Okay, so lots of my words have to do with crime, but that doesn't mean they can't be precise and well-chosen all the same, and carry the beauty of language with them.

And I love to see that spark in the eyes of strangers over cookies and coffee in a library community room.

So I hope this goes well. See you there!


The beautiful Danish modern chair in my living room. A piece of sculpture, a thing of comfort, a joy forever.

My Dear Husband's scar from his hip surgery – a thin red line that meanders gently over his smooth landscape like an Auto Club vacation map. I know there's a titanium socket thingy under it, but he says it feels just like the old hip, only without the pain.

Bookworm! My latest addiction…

Monday, February 12, 2007


From BLUE MURDER, David Firks' ground-breaking classy online mystery magazine from the late 1990s to last year's FLASHING IN THE GUTTERS, Tribe's incredible venue for edgy and raw - beyond noir - flash fiction, ezines have come and gone. These two fine ezines have unfortunately gone. Let's get back to them in a few minutes.

WHAT ARE EZINES? ("eee-zeens")

Ezines are online magazines. They range in visual quality from beautifully-designed and finely-illustrated to very plain to so ornate it's hard to figure out where the writing is. Fiction of all genres, non-fiction, self-help even specialty hobby ezines abound on the net – just Google your favorite phrase and you're bound to come up with an ezine in your field of interest.


Let's take a look at what ezines offer the writer. The most obvious advantage is immediacy. Ezines often have a submissions turn-around time measured in minutes or hours rather than months. No SASE required, just electrons. Usually you can submit via email – and format either in Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) and you can send either in the body of the email – just cut & paste your whole story in – or as an attachment if the ezine permits. Always read the submission guidelines to see what they want.

Archiving is a wonderful thing – most ezines will archive your work online as a matter of routine, allowing you (and your fans) to access your work in past issues.

They also offer one of the widest readerships possible for your stuff – billions of readers from all over the world can access your writing. This is not to say they necessarily will, only that they can. Many have hit counters or readership statistics available, so you can get an idea of how popular a particular ezine is.

The most popular sites, like SLATE (which no longer publishes fiction) are operated just like a print magazine in many respects. Others are the online presence of actual print magazines, and may even share editorial staff, guidelines and publication of submissions with their sister print magazine.

There is a certain amount of prestige accorded many ezines. Literary fiction ezines in particular serve a discriminating community, while many of the genre ezines are also routinely read by prize committees. The Pushcart Prize, Derringer and other prizes have been awarded to fiction published in ezines.


Well, some pay quite well and some do not pay at all. Always check the guidelines for payment.

Some pay in cents-per-word, others in flat rate, still others in merchandise or print copies of sister magazines.

Payment can be by check or through electronic funds transfer. I keep a Paypal account just for this.


As in print magazines, the ezine usually copyrights your story for the duration of its run (the current issue) at which time the copyright reverts to you, the writer.


Well, as with other magazines, you need to read the contract or guidelines. ALWAYS DO THIS – ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE SOLD! (Back in the late 1990s, I sold several stories to MysteryNet and sold all rights. At the time this sounded good to me as they paid me $100 per short twist story. But last year a film company wanted to negotiate to film one of my stories and guess what – I didn't own it!)

Generally, the rights you have sold are First Electronic Rights and sometimes First World Rights which include First Print rights. This means you have reprint rights still in your bag to sell at a later time, either to a print magazine or to another ezine.

Usually, with an ezine, you have sold your rights for a specific duration, and then allow archiving.


Okay, the world is full of nasty people. I write about nasty people all the time in my crime stories, so I know whereof I speak. But plagiarism seems to occur much less frequently than anyone would imagine. In over 50 online stories, I have only encountered one item inappropriately posted to a website. I contacted
the person involved and she took the item down.

I would not hesitate to make a very big fuss if one of my copyrighted items showed up on a website without permission or under someone else's name. I have a hungry (and very good-looking) attorney who would be delighted to sue for theft of intellectual property. But first I would contact the site's owner and try to resolve it that way.

Let me be very clear – publishing your work online in an ezine does not negate your copyright nor does it put your work in the public domain.

That said, I just don't encounter it very often, and I do a regular net search looking for my materials.


In order to cut down your searches for ezines, and so you may chooses paying or non-paying, genre or whatever, there are some fine places to look for ezines in which to place your work.

is one of the best, of course.

For Speculative Fiction, you can't beat Spicy Green Iguana

Preditors and Editors should be in your writers' toolbox anyway, folks:

NewPages Guide to Online Literary Magazines is a good reference for lit fic

And of course, use your computer search engines to find more. And your forums – many of them have market listings.


Well, ezines come and go pretty quickly. BLUE MURDER ceased production when the editor, David Firks, suffered a severe illness. FLASHING IN THE GUTTERS was taken down because the editor, Tribe, refused to let the trolls control his webzine. Others come and go as interest sparks or wanes or as editors shift gears or change directions.

Best of luck out there – I love the internet and the world it brings me.


Brownies hot out of the oven...

The first little buds on the ends of the apple tree branches, not yet sprouts, but just the little bumps of life

A flock of big brown geese – I thought they were vultures when they flew overhead.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Writing is a solitary pursuit – and we can't all be fortunate enough to live within range of a SISTERS IN CRIME chapter or a ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA group. So how can we interact with other writers? Well, blogs like this one are one way. But writers message forums are another very good resource to add to you computer's Favorites list.

I post regularly at several online forums dedicated to writing. I have done this for years, and have seen a couple of my favorite forums (NOVEL ADVICE and THE SILVER QUILL) cease life online after several fine years of operation. Right now, one of my favorite online writers' forums is ABSOLUTE WRITE.

Other forums that I post to are WRITERS BEAT and THE MYSTERY WRITERS FORUM. But Yahoo and Google are a good way to find others – just search on "writing forum" and see what pops up.

One thing writing forums can offer is the chance to chat with other writers. This can be fun and enlightening. You can learn from other writers and many forums offer critique groups, marketing information, research resources and links to a myriad of resources just for writers. You might make contacts, become involved in panel discussions, receive good criticism of your works in progress and get helpful information about the latest markets, contests, prizes and awards, as well as good information about the latest scams, too.

Many forums have separate areas for genres, novels, short stories, childrens, poetry, non-fiction, freelance, etc. Some have areas for playtime and word games or grammar, too – or political discussion, health, current events and other topics not necessarily related directly to writing.

But forum cruising can also be a colossal waste of good writing time if you are not disciplined about it. And like anonymous posting forums everywhere, there can be flame wars, name calling, bad feelings and general unpleasantness, too. Good forums are moderated by people who can keep any unpleasantness in check. Good forums which offer critique groups also offer password protection for these areas, so the likelihood of any of your work or work in progress being lifted from the site by unscrupulous folks is minimized. Good forums also ask you to register if you want to post, thus minimizing the hit-and-run flamers and spammers who might target forums looking to cause trouble or harvest information or hawk their dubious goods.

I gain a terrific amount of information, camaraderie, goodwill, interesting tidbits and genuine wonderful interaction with other writers on the writing forums. And I could easily spend a whole day doing nothing but chatting away.

So give writing forums a try – see if it's for you. You might see me there!


A hot cinnamon roll this morning.

The Mexican Sage plants that got hit by the frost are shooting up new growth, bright green under the grey withered stems

My Dear Husband and his sister Sandra and sister-in-law Pris at dinner last night. We all went out for spaghetti. Fun! It's so great to have sisters now - another advantage of being married.