Saturday, January 25, 2014

C3 Conference Countdown

The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference is the Mid-Atlantic's literary event of the year.  But the con is almost 10 months away, so I am often asked why any reader or writer of genre fiction should be thinking about it now.  To respond I decided to put together a list of reasons in the form of a countdown, ala David Letterman.  The thing is, I couldn't bring it down to a top ten.  The best I could do was

Reason #17 to register the Creatures, Crimes & Creativityconference today: Attendees can enjoy 36 panels and presentations of interest to readers, fans and writers.

Reason #16 to register now for the Creatures, Crimes &Creativity conferenceEvery attendee will receive a goodie-bag filled with cool stuff, including our exclusive anthology filled with stories written by attending authors.

Reason #15 to register now for the C3 Conference: one lucky attendee will win a new Kindle Fire in our Twitter contest  - -#MdC3conference.

Reason #14 to register now for C3: one lucky attendee will win an Amazon gift certificate in our fun scavenger hunt.

Reason #13 to register right away: International best-selling thriller/fantasy author Eric VanLustbader will deliver a keynote address at Saturday’s dinner.  Come meet the author of The Ninja and the Jason Bourne series! 

Reason #12 to register now: International bestselling romantic suspense/sci-fi/fantasy author Rebecca York will deliver a keynote address at Friday’s dinner.

Reason #11 to register now: It's a chance to spend a 3-day weekend with fans and authors of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction. 

Reason #10 to register: The registration fee includes five meals: Friday’s dinner, 3 meals Saturday (Including the banquet dinner) and Sunday breakfast. Readers and writers dine side-by-side in a comfortable, informal atmosphere.

Reason #9 to register: Attendees are all invited to contribute to the C3 blog which posts their comments year round. Promote your books, or ask your fan questions, to all the C3 attendees.

Reason #8 to register: All attending authors are invited to submit a short story to the exclusive C3 Anthology which goes to every attendee.  This exclusive collector's item will never be sold in stores.

Reason #7 to register: Attending authors can sign up for agent pitch sessions.

Reason #6 to register: Mystery author Brad Parks will be interviewed at Saturday’s lunch and will give a master class for authors.

Reason #5 to register: Paranormal/urban fantasy writer C.J. Ellisson will be interviewed at Sunday breakfast and will give a master class for authors.

Reason #4 to register: Published authors get to spend time with their fans, and to expose new readers to their writing by presenting on panels.

Reason #3 to register: Registered authors’ books will be available for sale in the on-site bookstore and there will be two giant book signings.

Reason #2: Attending authors will be pictured in the C3 program book and linked on the C3 web site.

AND the number one reason to register for the Creatures, Crimes &Creativity conference today:
If you register now you save $40 with the Early Bird registration cost.

So... get to the C3 web site and REGISTER TODAY!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Web Site Wisdom

A lot of what this blog will be about is what has worked for me in terms of writing, publishing and selling novels.  Sadly, I don't  have the keys to the universe in any of those areas because the universe of publishing has changed radically in the 14 years I've been living in it.

For instance: I've recently completely rebuilt my web site.  Is it better?  I think so.  It's at least what I want it to be.  But how do you know what a writer's web site should be?

Interviewing web hosting experts and publicists gave me a lot of contradictory advice.  There is a definite voice in the business saying that a good web site is where readers will get everything they want or need to decide to buy your books.  They recommend having samples of your books and posting short stories or articles.  Character descriptions could attract fans.  There should be a media page with author photos, bios of varying lengths, contact information and of course your book covers.  Of course you need a list of upcoming events, your favorite links, reviews and blurbs you've received and links to your social media pages. 

This voice thinks your web site should also be entertaining, with video, audio features, theme music and special effects. The content should be layered, to hold visitors with plenty of "value added" material, eventually leading them to a way to purchase your books.

But there's another voice, just as loud right now, saying that your web site should be as simple as possible.  It's merely a home base for people who Google you to find your titles.  This voice portrays the web site as a billboard, contending that you really communicate with the reading community on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

With such opposite philosophies expressed by the experts, how is  an author to decide what his web site should look like.  Well, you could hire a professional web site designer and turn them loose, but that will only give you what someone else loves.

My suggestion is that you list your ten favorite authors and go look at their  web sites.  Make note of what you really like on their web sites, and how they're structured.  If you see one that really makes you smile, save the URL and tell your web builder to imitate it. 

As you can see, I went with the second theory for my new web site -  - keeping it simple and direct.  Let me know if I made the right choice, or if there's something you feel I need to add to make it the perfect web site.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Identity Crisis

Most of the authors I know have an alternate source of income.  When asked what they do they will respond by naming that primary job.  “I’m a teacher,” they say, or “I’m a lawyer.” 

I’ve often told writers that until they identify themselves as authors they limit their success.  I think if you’re a writer you need to feel like a writer, to think of yourself as a writer. When asked what you do, you should be comfortable saying, “I’m a novelist.  I also…” 

For me, this all changed nearly two years ago when I helped launch Intrigue Publishing.  In addition to being part owner of the small press I am its editorial director.  That means I help select which manuscripts we will acquire. Once that decision is made I also work directly with our new authors to fine-tune their manuscripts.  Our goal is to select great books.  Afterward my goal is to make great books even better.  It has been very gratifying to work with some superb writers and I enjoy the push-and-pull exchanging ideas that can upgrade a book while pushing aside ideas that would interfere with an author’s vision or style.

My new responsibilities are rewarding, but they also absorb a lot of time.  They divert my attention away from the manuscript I’m developing.  Refining other people’s characters is pushing Hannibal Jones and Stark & O’Brien out of my head.  And I’ve found myself reading incoming books when I would have been writing my own.  I’ve had to ask myself, is this who I am? Am I a publisher who writes or a writer who publishes? 

That question has haunted me for months, but now it seems to be answering itself.  The next Hannibal Jones novel called me to read what I had so far.  About halfway through a working title appeared.  Three quarters of the way through I realized I needed to add a suspect and deepen Hannibal’s relationship with Cindy.  My characters wanted attention.  More to the point, my story was feeling betrayed. 

If that last sentence didn’t make sense to you, then you’re not a writer.  I am.  I have to face that fact now.  I’m a publisher because I want to bring great new books to the public and help new writers become published authors.  But I’m a writer because I need to write.  I write because I have to, because if I didn’t something inside me would die.  

So, while some writers may suffer identity confusion, mine is past.  I’m also a publisher.  That’s something I do.  But first and foremost I’m a novelist. That’s what I am. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I'm Baaa-aaaack!!!

A new beginning.  Every new year brings a chance to reexamine our lives and make a fresh start. For me, that process has resulted in, among other things, a new title for this blog.

In preparation for 2014 I had to plan my goals and objectives. In doing so I realized that describing this as an author’s life was no longer accurate.  The life of a publisher is also exciting, and hopefully of interest to those of you who aspire to be published authors, or who just want to know what it’s like to be one.  Besides, publishing is as big a part of my life now as writing, and the two roles are often in conflict.  We all have the same number of hours each day and have to choose carefully what we do with them.  But, as a publisher I have responsibilities to others and they often win out over my selfish desire to add words to my next novel. 

So, yes, high on my list of things to do is completion of the next Hannibal Jones mystery.  And I am dedicated to making sure the second Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference is even better than the first.  But as editorial director of Intrigue Publishing I owe it to my partners and the emerging writers I work with to read and appraise incoming manuscripts with care, and help the authors we sign with to make their manuscripts as good as they can be.  So I add to my goals the release and publishing of at least six exceptional works of fiction.

There is also the matter of promotion to face.  Only now, in addition to marketing my own novels I must dedicate time and energy to promoting my company and helping to establish our place in the publishing community.  So my objectives now include attendance at a certain number of conferences and assisting with events that support our authors.

But I am off to a pretty good start. I’ve set myself some deadlines.  I’ve cleaned out my office so I now have an uncluttered place to work.  I’m scheduled to be on panels at two literary conferences.  I’m 58,000 words into my next novel and realized this week that it needs another suspect. And Intrigue already has three magnificent books in the hopper scheduled for 2014 release.

SO, if you’re interested in how I juggle my different roles and seek balance in my life, or if you just want to know how my books and publishing venture are doing, keep reading this blog.  And if you have something to say about the writing life, or the life of a publisher, please send me your thoughts and opinions at I am always happy to host guest blogs.

And I’m always happy to see comments on my blogs.  In this case, what are YOUR plans for 2014? And how will you stick to those plans?