Monday, November 22

Stephen Leather's book, Once Bitten, reaches top of Amazon's bestseller list

I took a break from writing to nose around the internet and found out that, on this November 15th, a self-published book had reached the number one spot on the paid Kindle list at  I don't know if this is the first time that's happened but, even if it isn't, congratulations to Stephen Leather on his success.  

I bought the book from -- at 99 cents who could resist? -- but haven't had a chance to read it.  Here is a quote from the site:

Jamie Beaverbrook is an English psychologist working for the Los Angeles Police Department. His job - to sort out the insane from the sane, the crazies from the ones who are pretending to be crazy. But Beaverbrook's life is turned upside down one night when the police find a girl crouched over a man with his throat torn out. The girl has blood on her lips but claims she only found the body. Beaverbrook doesn't take long to establish that she's totally sane - but he is forced to face a bigger question. Is she a vampire? And what does she want from him?

I look forward to reading more of Stephen Leather's books in the future.

Stephen Leather's Blog

Friday, November 19


A friend told me about fotopedia, a "collaborative photo encyclopedia", the other day and it seemed like a fabulous idea! I searched on the keyword "cats", because I love cats, and came up with this picture and thought I'd share. :)

powered by Fotopedia

Thursday, November 18

Amanda Hocking

Indie author Amanda Hocking just tweeted this:

"Wow. Just did some crazy math: I have sold over 30,000 books in the past 214 days. Prior to 214 days ago, I had never sold a single book."

Good for her!  

Tuesday, November 16

Jamie Oliver Rules the World ... or at least the world of books

I was just reading an article over at about how Jamine sold about 86,000 copies of his book, 30-Minute Meals, last week.

Philip Stone writes that:

... the biggest high-profile release of the week, George W Bush's Decision Points (Virgin), sold just 4,300 copies across all editions (3,736 in hardback; 564 in trade paperback) in its first week in UK bookshops, and fails to chart in The Bookseller's bestseller lists. Its opening-week sale is around one fifth of the 21,069 first-week figure posted by his predecessor Bill Clinton's My Life (Hutchinson) in 2004. Decision Points was the 77th bestselling hardbook book of the week and falls short, in volume sales terms,  of titles such as Hannah Montana Annual (Egmont) and Ben Collins' (a.k.a. The Stig) The Man in the White Suit (HarperCollins).
Go Jamie!

Sunday, November 14

Robin McKinley

Another wonderful thing happened yesterday -- a lot of good stuff happened yesterday! -- I discovered an author who I am sure will become a new favorite, Robin McKinley.  I went to a ... not sure what to call it ... a Robin McKinley party to celebrate the launch of her new book, Pegasus.  Everyone at the party was fabulous and I had a wonderful time.  We took a picture -- a number of them! -- that our intrepid organizer is going to post on a blog.  When she emails me the link I'll try and remember to post it here.

The Hero's 2 Journeys

Yesterday I watched The Hero's 2 Journeys by Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler.  Awesome stuff.  Inspiring and helpful.  The visual quality of the video isn't the best but that wasn't what I was interested in so it was, at most, a minor irritation. 

As I write this I'm thinking of a story I wrote years ago when I was a teenager and how I felt there was something missing from the climax but I couldn't pin it down.  I finished the book but something stayed with me, a niggling doubt.  Well, now I think I might know what was wrong.  I had completed the hero's outer journey, but I had left the inner journey unresolved.  

I can't recommend these videos highly enough to writers. 

Wednesday, November 10

Scams and Scammers

I like to keep my blog posts only about writing but I think today I'm going to write about something else as well.

I belong to The Romance Writer's of America -- a group I can't recommend highly enough.  They provide all kinds of support and information to writers at every level of the profession, but (at least, this is what I have found) with an emphasis on helping serious new writers.  And they do help.  A lot.

Today one of the members of my local chapter sent out a link to a blog post by Daryl Sedore detailing how he had been scammed.  Daryl Sedore is a writer who says he was scammed out of 10,000 dollars US by an independent editor.  He tells the entire story in three blog posts and, at the end of the post, he names names.

The names shocked me because the two people he names, an agent and an independent editor, have in the past attended a well known writers' convention in my area, one that I attended for the first time this year.  (To be clear, they didn't attend the year I went.)

My skin crawls.  I like to think that I would not be an easy mark for this kind of a scheme but I have looked up the edtior's website and read the blog of at least one other person who uses her.  She talks a really good talk and I don't think I would have sensed anything amiss, at least not until it was too late.

This story made me think of how things can go so very wrong, how our expectations can be subverted in the cruelest ways.  Yesterday (and this is the part that doesn't relate to writing) I watched Frontline: The Confessions.  The program was about four men who, incredibly, were coerced into confessing to a crime they did not commit, a crime three of them had absolutely no connection to and, in at least one case, had a rock-solid alibi for.

The connection I felt between the two cases is this: the 'scammers' in each case were people  I would trust.  I know that there are bad police officers but I think most of them are the good guys doing a tough job in the best way they know how.  Similarly, the agent and editor had been invited to a well respected writers' convention.  I would have taken that as a tacit stamp of approval.

When I went to my local writers' conference if an editor had said, "I think you have a best seller here, but it needs just a bit of work before it is ready to be sent out.  I don't usually do this, but I know a top NY agent who would be interested in reading the manuscript when it is ready," I think that I would have believed her and, if I had the money, may have payed the editor for her services to whip the manuscript into shape.

Perhaps the moral is that it can be very dangerous to be naive.

Next blog I'll try to write a more upbeat post!  Till next time.

Monday, November 8

Query, Synopsis and First Three Chapters are In The Mail :-)

Today I (finally!) mailed off the requested materials for my story, Until Death, to Harlequin.   Yea!  My writer friends told me that I simply had to celebrate this milestone so I treated myself to a tall eggnog latte and holiday gingerbread at Starbucks.  Yum.

I had planned to mail the Synopsis out a week ago but one thing after another came up until I felt like Sisyphus, but instead of pushing a rock up a hill I was trying to put my query in the mail!  Most of the things that came up were silly things like not realizing I had to buy US stamps for the SASE and my printer running out of ink -- instances of Murphy's Law rearing its ugly and unpredictable head.

Talk to you tomorrow. :)

Saturday, November 6

On Writing by Stephen King

 For years I have wanted to read Stephen Kings book, On Writing.  Last week I broke procrastination's steely grip and picked up a copy.  Wow!  I wish I had read it when it was first published.  Death to Adverbs!  We'll let the occasional adjective live, but only on prisoner's rations.  I realize I'm flirting with cliches and other bad habits, but it's fun and that's what writing should be, right?

Today I’ve been looking through some of my favorite books with a critical eye.  Do they rely on adverbs or the passive voice, etc.?  The results have been interesting.  I opened a friend's book to a random page.  Those paragraphs which had few or no sentences using the passive voice, adverbs, etc., were much easier to read, they flowed off the tongue.  It makes me feel like a dunce, I should have realized this before.  Better late than never.

Thursday, November 4

Cirque du Freak

A couple of weeks ago I watched The Vampires Assistant.  When the movie was reviewed on At The Movies, the TV show, the reviewer thought was watchable.  Overall I share his opinion but I was dissatisfied with the ending: there wasn’t one.  There was no resolution.

The day after I watched The Vampires Assistant I heard that it had been based on a series of books by Darren Shan.  More to find out what the ending was than for any other reason I started reading the series and am very glad I did.  C. S. Lewis once said that, "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."  These are good children's stories.

Here is the reading order for the series:

Cirque Du Freak: A living nightmare
The Vampire’s Assistant
Tunnels of Blood
Vampire Mountain
Trials of Death
The Vampire Prince
Hunters of the Dusk
Allies of the Night
Killers of the Dawn
The Lake of Souls
Lord of the Shadows
Sons of Destiny


Darkly Dream Dexter, a novel by Jeff Lindsay

A couple of weeks ago I was prowling through my local bookstore looking for something interesting to read, and I found it: Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay. 

Have you ever been bored while reading a book?  I'm not talking about cardboard characters or a plot that makes no sense or an action, such as looking out the window, that seems to take up an entire chapter.  I'm talking about prose that is flat.  Lackluster.  Jeff Lindsay's prose is perky.  It jumps and pirouettes. 

I haven't read Dexter is Delicious, just the first chapter, but that was enough to make me feel that I absolutely had to read the first book in the series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter.  I did and I loved it. 

If any of you watch Dexter on HBO, I thought the first book stayed very close to the TV show, but I have been told that isn't the case for the rest of the series.

I am delighted to have found a new favorite author.

Tuesday, November 2