Monday, December 28, 2009

here's another one

After some time away, the pregnant woman is still my favorite. Maybe this addresses some concerns:

Monday, December 21, 2009

test covers

Now that Max's story is done, I plan to do a final edit/polish, beg someone to proof it for me, then make it available on Smashwords. There's been some talk here, on Facebook, and in emails of my doing more with this. Maybe a full-length novel, maybe a pop-up book. While I would love both of those, I doubt I could find a publisher. However, I can imagine putting together a picture book through Lulu or Lightning Source. Another idea is to actually do the book binding myself, with each book being slightly different. I was looking up book binding online, and I think I could manage the thread kind of binding. But once again, a lot of work and probably not enough interest. But anyway, here are some covers I put together to possibly use on Smashwords. Input appreciated! I hope to have someone tweak the cover of choice. All could really use some Photoshop.

or this:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Lineup - Poems on Crime

In eighth grade literature class I had to write a poem once a week. I kind of hated it. I can still recall the frustration of having this deep emotion I wanted to convey, yet being totally unable to transfer it to paper. And I still remember lines from some of the awful poems. One had the saccharine title of Love Be In Clover. This was during the Vietnam War, which easily explains the first two lines:

So you’re gonna go and fight,
You do what you think is right.

This very well could have been my first piece of writing. It was pretentious, phony, awful, and I knew it.

When Gerald So asked me to submit a poem to be considered for The Lineup 3, poems on crime, my first reaction was to tell him no thanks. I don’t write poetry. I don’t know anything about poetry. And the lines of the above poem kept circling in my head. So you’re gonna go and fight….

But I can’t resist a challenge, so I decided to give it a try. I spent several hours working on a poem. Here’s what I came up with:


He holds me
And whispers, “I adore.”
A kiss

He pushes and whispers, “My darling.”

A rush of air, a splash
I descend through water, past broken moonlight
Past slumbering fish

Toes and fingers rake the river bottom
Stirring up sediment
Slow motion

The current coaxes
Water moves across skin
Hair sweeps my eyes
In death, I swim.

It was okay, but certainly nothing special. Like my eighth grade poem, it felt forced and kind of phony, written from the outside instead of the inside.

But it was done and that was that. I would proof it one more time before emailing it to Gerald in the morning. But then an odd thing happened. That evening another poem popped into my head almost fully formed. I wrote it in about five minutes, wondering where in the hell it had come from, because I’d had no plans to write more than one poem. Not even on my agenda. With that piece, I managed to capture 90% of what I wanted to convey. It was also very different from what I would have consciously tried to write. The second one came from me, and it felt authentic. That second poem ended up being chosen for next year’s poetry chapbook.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This was such an amazing episode of Dollhouse. What a loss. Two episodes air Dec 4, and another two the following Friday. (I believe.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smashwords and Kindle, a comparison

I've been talking about Smashwords and Kindle for quite a while, and after publishing with both, I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. Smashwords leaves Kindle in the dust in every area, the biggest being ease of use, formats, and flexibility. If you want to see what Smashwords is like, just upload a Word file and give it a test run. Smashwords has something they call the meat grinder that turns your creation into a multitude of files so it can be read on any device. (Download Stanza to your computer if you don't have an ebook reader.) And if you format correctly, your book will end up in the Barnes and Noble premium catalog. And if you don't format correctly, Smashwords will tell you what you did wrong, and how to correct it. The thing I love about Smashwords is the flexibility. If I want to change a price, I change it and the new price appears on my page as soon as I hit save. If I want to change the description, instant. If I want to upload a new copy, instant.

Amazon... If you change one tiny thing, price, typo, etc, you start over with the approval process. This can takes days or weeks. Pale Immortal has been on Amazon for over 6 weeks, and the description still hasn't shown up.

With Smashwords, you have completely control of your book. With Amazon, you have zero. And say you want to REMOVE a title. It can't be done without contacting someone at Amazon, another exercise that could take weeks.

Frustration level with Smashwords is zero. Amazon is off the chart.

Okay, now for sales. I don't think I can even speak to that, because I've sold zero books through Smashwords and three through Amazon. I'll never break even, and I really could have written a novella in the time I spent converting Pale Immortal from print to ebook format.

The takeaway:
I need a publisher for my print and ebook titles. It's that simple.

But I do think Smashwords is going to be huge and they're going to kick Amazon's ass when it comes to self-publishing and a user-friendly platform.

UPDATE: Smashwords Adds Kindle Store, Makes Acquisition. More Smashwords news from Publishers Weekly.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm so impressed with Smashwords. Will blog about them at some point, but I'm really hoping they leave Amazon and Kindle in the dust.
from Jason Boog and Galleycat

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I don't know if it's like this for everybody, but as soon as I email my manuscript to my agent, as soon as I hit Send, everything changes. Up until that point, I fantasize about the book release, the cover, an editor who loves it, a publishing house that's backing in. Maybe even a mini tour funded by someone other than myself. Some national buzz and great reviews. Walk past bookstores to see copies displayed in window. An invitation to guest on MPR and WPR. Already wondering if I should do it when the invitation comes, because I'm not good at that kind of thing. Maybe it would be best to decline. And yet... And now I'm already thinking about the questions they will ask, and formulating replies.

Then I hit Send.

In that instant my brain does a 180.

Nobody is going to buy my book. I'm already imagining editors looking at the manuscript with a WTF expression on their faces. I'm imagining emails from my agent with attached rejection letters, her enthusiasm dwindling with each response. Now I'm mentally trying to find a job. Would Burger King hire me? A bar? The casino? A waitress at Wayne's Diner? Or would I be better off to start another book, a different book? What are people buying now? I've had my head buried in this failure for two years and I haven't paid attention.

Oh, reply from my agent.

Reprieve. It looks like the manuscript won't be submitted until January because of the holidays. And now I'm once again imagining the book tour, and the lovely cover, and the glowing reviews.

Where would writers be without their delusions? Would we write at all? It makes me wonder if optimism is just delusion dressed in pretty clothes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

view from the belfry

A sobering post about an issue that is constantly on my mind:
Sarah Weinman's blog

These are dire times, and I would broaden the darkness to include nonfiction. The truth is, publishers aren't buying and agents aren't selling, and this has been going on for over a year. My memoir will soon be ready to submit, and I will be dumbfounded if it sells. And how depressing for all of us to pound away on material we know doesn't have a chance in hell of selling. I'm not used to working in that mindset, and it's crippling. This has nothing to do with the book, because I think it's my best work, but it has everything to do with the state of publishing. You can look at Publishers Marketplace and see that many agents haven't had a sale since last fall. It seemed there was a slight surge in the spring. Those were probably the titles that agents didn't submit until after the holidays. (How long can these agents remain in business with no sales?) My experiment with publishing my own books and backlist in digital format has been a dismal eye opener. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! What the hell was I thinking???? And ebooks might be the future, but they are not the present. A massive shift to digital readers (as in people) could take years, or it could happen fairly quickly. I suspect there will be a lot of Kindles and Nooks under the tree this year.

All over the web, people are talking about no longer needing publishing houses, and no longer needing agents. A year ago, after working with the wrong agent for a few months, I'd wondered the same thing. But after my misguided foray into what I consider self-publishing, I'm convinced that we NEED publishers. We NEED agents. We should be supporting them, not kicking them to the curb in these horrible times. Writers are stomping off, saying they will just publish their own freakin' books. I said the same thing, but I'm now singing a different tune.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

adorable socks

Okay, I have to admit that even though I'm not someone who cares much about clothes, I happen to have a thing for adorable socks. I was drooling and commenting online about Ozone's cool designs, and the lovely people from Ozone sent me some of their awesome socks! I can say that they are even more attractive in person. I was particularly intrigued by their Sock of the Month Club, which seems like a fantastic Christmas gift. Practical and adorable at the same time!

Ozone Socks

Be sure and check out their cool tights.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I hate meeces to pieces

After a discussion in the comment section of previous thread, I decided to start a post about my mouse problem. So far I've trapped ten mice in the trunk of my car, and today I was driving to town to get mothballs, and a mouse ran across the floorboard! Yikes. I turned around, went home, and set three more traps.

Found a massive thread at WombatNation. Seems that Honda Pilots are the most attractive to mice. Damage cost ranging from hundreds to 18 K. Mice ate my car.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

(I tell this story every Halloween.)

from Wikipedia:

The word "doppelgänger" has come to refer (as in German) to any double or look-alike of a person. The word is also used to describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision, in a position where there is no chance that it could have been a reflection. They are generally regarded as harbingers of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person's friends or relatives portends illness or danger, while seeing one's own doppelgänger is an omen of death. In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance.

My Brother's Doppelganger

When I was fourteen and my younger brother was eight, we lived in an isolated desert town in southern New Mexico. My brother stood out in the largely Hispanic community because he had straight white hair and pale skin.

Enter Halloween.

My brother was going as a vampire. He and my mother were in the bathroom where she was putting on his makeup. I stood watching in the doorway. We were chatting and laughing. Someone knocks at the front door.

I leave the bathroom, go approximately ten steps, turn on the porch light and open the door, expecting an early trick-or-treater. There is my brother, standing at the bottom of the steps dressed in his black cape. No bag in his hands. Nothing on his head. His white hair. No cars around. No people. No trick-or-treaters.

He looks terrified.

My mind is struggling with the impossible logistics of the situation. I’d been looking at him in the bathroom when I heard the knock. I ask how he got outside. Terror in his eyes. I ask, What's wrong? He runs beyond the circle of the porch light, into the dark where he seems to vanish. I rush those few steps to the bathroom to tell my mom. To find out how they pulled off such a trick. There they both are, just as I left them.

This is a very small, one story house. less than 1,000 square feet. The bathroom is just a few paces from the front door. It has a window above the tub, but it’s one of those high, crank-out things, almost to the ceiling, and very small. If my mother had been able to stuff my brother through the window, he would have dropped six feet on the other side, then he would have had to run around the house to get to the front door. Then he would have had to run back, somehow scale the wall, squeeze through the tiny window, and return to makeup position in the middle of the bathroom. A trick that a rehearsed team could have possibly accomplished in five or ten minutes, but certainly not the seconds I’m talking about.

Over the years I’ve replayed the event in my mind hundreds of times, but have never been able to come up with a logical explanation. I've asked my brother if it was a trick, but he always gives me the same puzzled and confused look he and my mother gave me that night. I’m the only one who saw my brother’s doppelganger.

Friday, October 23, 2009


A short recap: A few months ago I had plans to self-publish my memoir, but then realized I should at least run it past a few agents before going the self-pub route. I sent out two rounds of queries, 5 agents in each round. The first round earned me two no thanks, not for me replies, and three agents didn't reply at all. Before sending out more queries I revamped my query letter, revising the book description. That round resulted in three agents wanting to see material, one no response, and one request three months later.

I know nothing about queries, but I think the first one was too impersonal and stiff.

Here is the second query, with some of the boring stuff removed.

I am currently seeking representation for my memoir, THE ORCHARD.

(note: Bio was here,and it was pretty extensive. Then I launched into brief description of project.)

Current completed project:

THE ORCHARD (a memoir)

THE ORCHARD relates the very personal story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm. At the age of twenty-one, while working in my uncle’s bar near the Mississippi River, I met a young farmer. Three months later, we were married and I found myself immersed in the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, as well as a witness and reluctant player in the futile and fatal attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard. Always an outsider, I was able to view events and people with the eye of an observer. This could be called an environmental love story, and the writing has been compared to that of Joan Didion and Mary Karr. Several writers have agreed to possible endorsements:
(Listed about eight names here.)

the three agents:

Agent 1 asked for the first 50 pages. I sent them.
Agent 2 asked for an exclusive full manuscript read.

This threw me, because I wasn't prepared for the exclusive request. But since this was someone I really wanted to work with, I agreed to the exclusive. This was followed by a signing of papers (never heard of this!) before the material was sent.

Agent 3 called and ask for full. I told her about exclusive and she was surprised and annoyed that that someone would request exclusive. She told me I would also need a platform which should consist of 20 - 100 pages. This was the first I'd heard of a "platform" for a memoir. I did some searching and discovered that while a platform is necessary for some nonfiction, it's often not required for a memoir. I decided I would not send material to agent 3 once exclusive was lifted. I didn't feel she had a solid grasp on memoir market.

Agent 1 quickly read first 50 and requested full. I had to tell her about the exclusive. By this time I really felt I'd been put in an awkward position, and could see that I'd made the wrong decision concerning the exclusive read. Afraid agent 1 would lose interest, I emailed agent 2 (after about two weeks) and was told she wouldn't get to the material for several more weeks, so I regretfully pulled it.
In the end, the material was only read by one agent, and luckily she wanted to represent me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the rejected letter

Probably speaking too soon again, but it looks as if things have been straightened out.

I need Xanax.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I swear I will quit talking about this soon, but it happens to be what's on my mind. It's way too early to come up with solid results, but Sunday's Pale Immortal special sale was an interesting test. Many people tweeted the deal and some Facebooked the event. (Thank you!!)


I sold 7 copies of Pale Immortal for $3.00 each. All were purchased by friends and family. The showing of support truly warmed my heart. One friend admitted she had no way to read it, but she bought it anyway. *sob*

This little experiment underscores the importance of a storefront like Amazon. I doubt I will break even unless Amazon eventually agrees to let Pale Immortal go live. Even with the Amazon storefront, I have my doubts.

Romance readers have been clamoring for the digital release of Bad Karma and there's been some decent buzz about it, but I honestly think if I released BK I might sell 20 copies. Max. This is the reality of self-publishing. And even though my books have the stamp of major publishers and have won awards, they don't have the visibility.

Most self-published books lack a sense of what I'm calling a validity of the moment, and there is no way for me to reach beyond my own small circle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


In celebration of the digital release of Pale Immortal, I'm offering $3.00 downloads until 10:00 pm (central time) tonight. This is a MOBI file best viewed on a Kindle reader, but it also presents very well on Stanza. You can download a free Stanza app for iPhone and your desktop (PC and Mac) here:


update: I'm being told it looks great in Calibre, which can also be downloaded for free (PC and Mac).

To download PI, go to shopping cart in column on right. The $3.00 special price will show up once you hit the shopping cart button.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazon Kindle nightmare, take 10

As expected, Amazon requested documentation for Pale Immortal. I sent them a signed letter from the publisher of Penguin Books. The letter detailed the complete reversion of all rights, but that wasn't enough for Amazon to allow the book to go live. I'm guessing that their script doesn't allow for reversion rights, and if the book shows up in their system as being published by someone else, you're pretty much out of luck. This appears to be utter stupidity on their part, but maybe Amazon is trying to discourage this swampfest of backlist reissues. So anyway, here I sit with a beautiful book specifically formatted for Kindle.

update: I just figured out how to sell through E-Junkie, so you can download the MOBI file through the link on the right, above the Pale Immortal cover. I made a purchase to test it, and it works great. I have to also say that even though I don't have a Kindle, the material looks quite nice on Stanza desktop.

Download free app for iphone and desktop: Stanza

And here is where I really want to mention B10 Mediaworx. In the center of this tangle emerged someone who really delivered, who did exactly what she said she would do. I did not want to offer some slapped together mess, and I wanted to be certain Pale Immortal was formatted correctly. It looks fantastic!!! Oddly enough, I was unable to view it in all of it's glory (complete with Belfry Press logo) until I uploaded to Kindle and hit preview.

Friday, October 16, 2009

deja vu?

I'm beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

My agent read my completed memoir and misses the fiction that I removed. So here we go again.

Do readers and publishers want 100% truth and a less compelling story, or 98% truth and a stronger plot? I doubt anybody knows, but that’s always been my dilemma with this material. When I had plans to publish this myself, I added a fictional device to progress the plot and make the story feel more cohesive. I removed it because my new agent felt the material should be submitted as a memoir.

The material in question probably take up less than eight pages, but it gives the characters more purpose. I've seen memoirs with some pretty big disclosure statements, but they were probably published before the Frey fray. David Sedaris is calling his latest book realish, which underscores the problem so many of us are dealing with. I keep hoping a completely new way of labeling memoirs will eventually emerge, because what exists now is too narrow. But as soon as you call a memoir fiction, you put a different set of expectations on it, diminish the story, and reduce the value (IMO).

update: We received feedback on this issue, and I'm going to disclose the tweak in preface of book. This is how I handled it in original submission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

another bump in the road

For writers considering selling their backlist through AMAZON KINDLE, here's another new wrinkle. Or two. A MOBI file of my book Pale Immortal was uploaded to Amazon's digital text platform on Saturday. Got this notice:

"Your book is currently under review by the KINDLE OPERATIONS TEAM as we are trying to improve the Kindle customer experience. Please check back in 5 business days to see if your book was published to the store. This will not affect any titles you are currently selling in the store, but uploading updates to existing titles will take longer to process."

Kindle blogs are reporting that going live can take 5 - 21 days (or much longer). Another new twist: Writers are receiving requests of documentation -- proof that the material is indeed yours, and that rights have reverted. And yep, this can take another 5 - 21 days (or longer). And since most of the process relies on an automated system, chances of your book never going live have greatly increased with these new rules.

I understand both issues. Readers began complaining about poorly formatted books. People were also glutting Amazon with copy after shitty copy of public domain titles, and Amazon is trying to put a stop to it. I can also understand having to prove that the material your selling IS yours, but I know how messed up Amazon is, and I can't imagine this will end well. I can't even convince them that Theresa Weir and Anne Frasier are the same person in order to combine my profiles. Their method of proof is to contact a publisher I worked for 20 years ago and ask if my current email really belongs to Anne Frasier. 20 years ago... let's see. Yeah, I was writing with a typewriter and making copies with carbon paper.

And when did I start working on this backlist project? February. Proof of a massive time suck, but I've put too much into it, and I want to see it through.

Monday, October 12, 2009


voice and tone:

One issue I had to deal with when writing a memoir was voice. I usually write deep third person. I like deep third POV because it’s easy and tends to read smoothly since the narrative can come directly from the characters. It seemed logical to write a memoir with my own voice, adjusting according to my age. Ick. No. That didn’t work for me. So I came up with a voice and tone that was pretty much the same from beginning to end, regardless of age. The topic is dark, and I wanted to balance that with the tone of a fairytale. That became really important to me. The fairytale tone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm revising the memoir and should soon have it ready to send to my agent. but argh! structural problem! book begins with a scene written in third person, a story about a little girl, kind of an rural legend. second chapter is first person, me as a little girl. i cannot figure out how to avoid confusion with the 2 girls. Readers are going to assume they are the same person. ( I go unnamed throughout entire book, so using names doesn't work.) I've cut and pasted this me-as-child scene everywhere, and it seems to only work at the beginning of my story, after the opening featuring ANOTHER little girl. argh.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've decided to publish Pale Immortal through Belfry Press. I'm antsy and tired of waiting to hear back from possible publisher (although in all fairness, they haven't had it that long). I doubt I'll break even after cost of formatting and scanning, but it will be a good test run. What I've learned is that scanned books, even after they're corrected in Word, are a nightmare to format. That's because they retain the original format, combined with Word format. So you can't just plug them into something like Smashwords. The text has to be converted to HTML and hand coded. And each format cost a minimum of $100, which, when you consider the formatter's time, is a remarkable deal.

Here is a breakdown of cost:

scanning: $100 - $250 (if you scan it yourself, it will take 8 - 12 hours, maybe more)
edit time: two weeks bare minimum
formatting: average of $100 for each format (I decided to start with one format -- MOBI and go from there)
cover design: $50 (I designed my own)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Plans for the anthology are moving along. 16 contributors so far! I'm excited! Some have expressed interest in print books, so I'm considering our options. I'm wondering about using CreateSpace, which is POD, but also wondering about using a real printer. Kind of a profit-sharing writers' co-op. As an example--if every writer ordered an average of 50 copies for a total print run of 1000, books would cost around 1.80, and each writer could pocket his print book sales.

update: I've been talking to a friend who published a print-only anthology, and her experience was that most contributors didn't want to sell copies of the book, and many didn't want any copies other than one personal copy. So I really think going through a regular printer might not be a good choice. I'm back to Kindle/CreateSpace. Beyond that, a contributor could possibly handle formatting and submitting to print publisher if the desire was still strong.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


navel-gazing Sunday

I wanted to write entertaining books, but it was never enough for me to write and get published -- I wanted to be rich and famous. But after twenty years I’ve come to realize fame and fortune probably isn’t going to happen, and I’m beginning to feel okay with that.

Most artists will experience failure of various proportions at various times in their careers. Most will reach a point where they wonder if they should continue, where they wonder about the role their art is truly playing in their lives. Does the damage overshadow the need to create?

For many, the gut reaction to massive failure is to walk away from your art, because, after all, it’s the thing that betrayed you. Wherever you are in your career, unpublished, unsold, unrecognized, recognized by a few, recognized by a handful, you have to be able to live with your own personal level of failure. You have to somehow figure out how to make peace with it.

Walking away isn't the answer (although time away might be a good idea). You have to restructure your thoughts and expectations. You have to think of that thing you love in a totally different way, and it has to take a different place in your life.

I always said I wouldn’t write a book unless I thought it had the potential to be something big. That was the driving force behind everything I did. Twice in my career I wanted to turn away from writing, but here is the question all artists should ask themselves: Where does this need to create fit into my life? How can it enrich without doing great harm?

The majority of my friends and family are artists. They are writers, musicians, photographers, painters, so I know how much art hurts. I think the secret is to make peace with your art, figure out how it fits into your life, and most of all don’t allow yourself to feel betrayed by it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Screw the business model.

Here's what I'm thinking. This is just the daydream stage, an offshoot of something I've toyed with doing for a quite a while. I'm wondering about publishing an anthology of Halloween stories, probably digital format only. A good launch date would be October 1, 2010. I'd pay very little. A friend suggested toy bats, and I like that idea.

But then you get into the problems of submissions. Open submissions? Too many stories to read, and I would feel awful rejecting people. Not sure I could do that. So maybe invitation only. I would do the content editing, but would pay someone else to copy edit, proof, and format.

I put this cover together in order to convey what I would be looking for. No hardcore horror. Maybe some humor, some quirky. But like I said, just mulling it over right now, don't know if it will happen, but I'm open to suggestions and ideas.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


A month into writing the memoir, I realized I was in over my head. I knew zero about nonfiction writing, especially memoir. So I bought several books on memoir writing. None addressed the problems I was having, and none dealt with taking fiction-writing skills and applying them to nonfiction. It had taken years to reach a certain level of skill with my fiction writing, and I was afraid it would take as long or longer to learn nonfiction through trial and error. So when I ran into an agent who wasn't interested in reading the memoir but wanted to rep me, it was easy for me to walk away from it. For a while. Later, when I returned to the memoir, I could easily and clearly see what I'd done wrong. The story was too broad. I'd told too much. It wasn't focused enough.

Quite simply:

With fiction, you start with a seed and build out.
With memoir, you start with a massive block of wood, or marble, or butter (if you live in Minnesota), and decide what to remove.

Deciding what to remove, deciding what to leave out, is the negative foundation that shapes your story and gives it strength and purpose.

(This sculpture can be found at Minneapolis Institute of Arts.)


Thursday, September 17, 2009


I tried same image with Black Tupelo:

I'm still dealing with fallout from the Quartet Press mess, and have been unable to concentrate on my current project because of it. I was supposed to have received the EPUB file for Bad Karma, but it's looking like that isn't going to happen. I could say more here, but I won't because it would just be speculation. But the lack of the file has put me into another tailspin, and certainly put my own publishing venture on hold. And I absolutely cannot take any more time off from my current memoir project, especially now that I have an agent who believes strongly in the material and is waiting for my revision.

That brings me to Samhain Publishing. They've expressed interest in possibly publishing Bad Karma and Pale Immortal. And right now that seems appealing. I work on projects one at a time, and I spent combined total of two or three months on Karma and Pale, then moved them off my plate to concentrate on my big project. But here they are back on my plate. I can either put them aside for several months, or submit them to Samhain. If I put them aside, there's a chance I may never go back to them. If Samhain publishes them, they'll be off my plate and I'll be able to move on. (Although Pale Immortal might not be a good fit for them, and I could end up pubbing it myself.)

I also have something new I might pub (in future, time permitting), and I have a big project I'm working on with someone else that I feel could really be something. Right now we are in the idea stage. I'm not sure it will ever move past that, but if it does we will need a publishing house of our own.


Monday, September 14, 2009


At eighteen, I was sitting at a red light in the pouring rain when I was hit from behind, the impact shoving my Volkswagen Beetle into the intersection. The light turned green, and cars began honking. A face appeared out of the darkness. It belonged to the man who'd hit me. He motioned to the side of the road. "Pull over!" he shouted, rain pelting him. "I'll be right behind you!" He ran back to his truck. I didn't think, I just reacted. I pulled out of the dangerous intersection, then watched my rearview mirror for his headlights. They never came. At the moment he told me to pull over, I was unable to adequately assess the situation, and I simply did what I was told to do. Since that day, I've encountered various degrees of my own failure to properly read a highly charged situation. But I think we all want to believe what people tell us, even when deep down we're afraid it's not the truth. I'm not sure that kind of faith in humanity is a fault or weakness. And now, years later, I still find myself pulling over and waiting for headlights that I know will never come.

tobacco smoke enema device

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I put together a few visuals. Once I come up with a pub name, I will hire someone to design the logo, but this gives me some ideas. I do like the way Black Tupelo lends itself to the tree image.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Please take the time to vote for a publishing house name.

update: two new awesome suggestions:

Tupelo Press
Belfry Press

love Belfry Press. Would like to add that to poll, but I don't know if I can without losing current votes.

Due to the premature death of Quartet Press, I will most likely publish my blacklist. I don't need a publishing house in order to do that, but why not? I feel it would be better to establish a name now, because there's no telling what the future holds. I often daydream of starting a house that would be equivalent to a small indie record label where I would publish one or two books a year. I would do the content editing and line editing, but I would use freelancers for the copy editing, proofing, and epub formatting. For the writer, it wouldn't really be much different from self publishing. The only difference would be my editing and guidance, and my name and publishing house backing the material. Oh, and I'd take a small percentage.

All of the possible publishing house choices have personal significance.

Perley Station was a village that burned down in the late 1800s. The only building left standing was what is now my church/writing studio.

Tuonela was the fictional Wisconsin town in my books Pale Immortal and Garden of Darkness.

Black Tupelo was a bar/whorehouse in Play Dead.

But maybe it's best to be totally straightforward and use names.

I like them all, so I need help!

update: suggestions welcomed and appreciated!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Bad news in the world of ebook publishing. Just got the news that Quartet Press has disbanded. I have no idea what happened, and we might never know, but pay no attention to my reissue release dates in the left column. Very sad, because I know everyone at Quartet Press put in a tremendous amount of work and effort into building what they'd hoped would be a quality ebook publishing house.


update: PW article. I suspected it was a shaky business model. I worried that they'd created too many paying positions before the launch:


I strongly suspect the editorial department killed them.

Here's my idea for a startup:

Begin with reissues only. In that way you completely eliminate the need for an expensive editorial department. Maintain rights one year, two years max, with option to renew. Pay writer 40 - 50%. Build business, then release a couple of amazing new titles that everybody is going to be talking about. Hire outside freelance editors and copy editors.


I've wanted a netbook for about a year and a half. I'm a big woot fan, so when I saw the Asus Eee 900 for 174.00 including shipping and handling, I jumped on it.

Eee PC 900

The little darling arrived about a month ago, and it's been a battle ever since. Here is the problem: I've owned nothing but Macs for ten years and I expect to be able to use a computer right out of the box. No tinkering. No hacking. Just open it and use it. So anyway, this arrives with Linux which takes the hard drive to 98% full. You can't remove any of the totally unnecessary software, which means the browser cannot be updated. This was confirmed by the Asus hotline. You have to attach an external hard drive or remove Linux and install a different operating system. There is a third choice which involves moving some software to another area, but this takes super powers. A new OS would be the best choice, but I know nothing about this stuff and I don't want to deal with it. So I'm thinking of trying to sell it right here. An online auction. Starting bid $50. I'll pay shipping and insurance. So anyway, if you think you might be interested, google the Asus Eee 900. There are blogs dedicated to this little netbook. People who know how to tweak them seem to love them. And love messing with them. Not me. It's like a car. I just want to get in and drive.

At this point anybody can buy it from me for 150ish. I'll pay shipping (US) and insurance. Might take a bit less than 150. Make an offer. I would also trade it for an iPod touch. If nobody bites, I'll be auctioning it off right here on my blog.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm pretty excited to have found directions for adding a third column to my template. I wanted my blog to be a little more like a website, with more space for current info, but didn't want to switch to Wordpress or Typepad. You can find directions here:


Sunday, August 30, 2009




Not long after his own mother's death, sixteen-year-old Samuel discovers a set of deformed triplets hidden behind closed doors in his sleepy Georgia community. The babies—whose shut-in mother believes they were immaculately conceived and whose menacing brother is a constant threat—take control of Samuel's every waking and sleeping thought. His only escape, he realizes, will be to save the monster children. But to do so, he must rein in his darkest impulses as he undergoes a profound transformation from motherless boy to self-defined man—because sometimes the most terrible monsters are those that live inside us all.


This is a debut novel, and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of Sang Pak. It was hard to come up with solid comments for this book, because in some areas it is excellent. If I were to give it a rating, it would look like this:

writing: 5 out of 5
structure: 3 out of 5
total: 4

The title suggests that the publisher was trying to ride the Twilight craze. I'd love to know the original title. Wait Until Twilight is something I would classify as literary horror, because the horror elements, when they appear, are very strong.
Buy it: Indie Bound

Bill Crider's review

Saturday, August 29, 2009


It seems boring and tedious, but readers need to know how much time has passed since the previous scene. They need to immediately know where new scene is located. Ground them. Right away. Otherwise, while reading, they are also trying to put together pieces that aren't on the page. So even though it seems like boring writing, you need markers. The next day. Two days later. Four hours later. If you don't want to start scene with marker, begin with the scene, maybe dialog, but soon you will need something like It had been two days, or two days had passed.

About those two days...

Large passages of time slow the narrative. Sometimes kill it dead. Even a time jump of two days, because reader is once again distracted. Why two days? What happened in that two days? Anything? Even though it's unrealistic for important things to take place hours apart, you have to condense. You should avoid realistically boring dialog, and you might want to avoid realistic passages of time. While you are framing a story, time should be a part of your foundation and plan. If for some reason you need a large passage of time, you'd better figure out how you are going to deal with it and explain it without killing the pace and flow of story.

And that brings me to me. When writing my memoir, passage of time has been the biggest problem. I deliberately avoided time markers because I wanted 20 years to appear to take place in a single season. But without the markers, we have confusion. But with the markers, we have a large span of time, something I detest. So I'm trying to solve this problem. The story itself is very condensed and distilled, very sparse, so it doesn't lend itself well to broad and epic time sweeps. Thought I'd solved the whole problem with the single season idea, but it's just not working. Structure, structure. I will figure this out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Once again I'm editing old material, and what a difference a few years make. With Pale Immortal, I was under contract to write a crime fiction novel similar to previous titles, but containing a slight supernatural element. The accepted synopsis and sample chapters offered a pretty straight-forward police procedural with what I thought was a strong premise. Odd town with a lot of mystery surrounding it. A gang of wannabe vampires (but not real vampires), and a writer who is allergic to sunlight, bodies showing up drained of blood. Town going crazy and blaming the writer dude. A little romance. But when I turned in the full manuscript, I was sent back to reconstruct and add, IMO, totally hokey paranormal elements that weakened the story. And now as I'm editing for Kindle, I see that I was right, and I cringe at the scenes that were added later due to editorial direction. I can see what the book was supposed to be, because it's still there. And even with the additions, I didn't go nearly as far as I'd been asked to go. People flying, blood pouring out of the ground and out of walls. Which is why I'm no longer writing for that publisher. Two polarized visions. One realistic, one fantasy. It wasn't as if I'd been writing vampire books for them. I'd been writing very successful crime fiction, so the requests made no sense. And still make no sense. In some ways, I'd like to forget that these books (Pale Immortal, Garden of Darkness) exist, because I know what they could have been. Although with Garden of Darkness I left the gate with their previous requests in mind, so there really weren't any compromises. By that point, I knew what they wanted, which was horror, so that book isn't as painful to read. It never started as one thing to end up as something else.

A writer can't win in this situation. If you make the requested market-driven changes, chances are you will turn in an inferior book and readers won't pick you up again. If you don't make the changes, you will be dumped. They both end at the same place, just a different jury.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I have no idea why my blog is no longer allowing comments. I've checked out the comment page several times, resaved info, but the comment area is still missing. *sigh* Please leave a comment if you have a solution. Haha!

Hmm. Comment link reappeared with this post.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I have some fantastic news to share. I have a new agent! And when I backtrack two months and think about how this came about…just so weird. I really credit this blog, and the comments left here. To recap, I was looking for blog content, remembered the memoir stuck in my closet, and began sifting through it, posting random scenes. People liked them. So I started thinking of putting the memoir on Kindle and Scribd. Spent a couple of weeks polishing it, then thought: Wait a minute. Nobody in the world has read this manuscript. (One friend saw an early draft.) But good God. Really didn’t want to look for an agent. Didn’t know if I could deal with that again. Okay, I’ll query four or five agents, then make the story available in digital format once they all tell me it’s nothing. Friends were tossing agent names to me, but I decided to pay the twenty dollars a month for the search feature on Publishers Marketplace. That’s how I found her. No connections. No recommendations. I’m not going to post her name on my blog or on twitter, because I think she likes to keep a low profile. Rarely takes new clients, and represents an intentionally small, fairly select group of writers. She has a rich and fascinating history in publishing, and I am truly lucky. And it doesn’t hurt that she believes the memoir is important. For two years I’ve had this bad mojo swirling around me, and I really feel it’s lifted. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Monday, August 10, 2009


so, we've been getting a lot of rain lately....

call me adorable:

call me big as a saucer:

call me a freak:

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I'm still playing around with cover designs using Picasa. Picasa is easy (and free), but very limiting.

Need to add more text to this, but I hope to have PALE IMMORTAL available on Kindle and Scribd in another month or so. Found this great free image on stock.xchng. I still need to add photo credit somewhere on cover.

PLAY DEAD will be the second Frasier title made available in ebook format. I'm guessing it will be ready in a few months. PLAY DEAD is probably my favorite of the six Frasier titles if I can say that about my own books. It's partially because of the setting and the friends I made while researching Savannah. Another image from stock.xchng. Cost about 2.00. Font definitely needs some work, and I don't know if I'll stick with this image. Kinda cute though.

I'm currently editing COOL SHADE to later submit to Quartet Press. I'm also proofing PALE IMMORTAL for Kindle and Scribd. I've given up trying to format it myself, so that will be done by someone who knows what she's doing.

Some other things going on, but no solid news so I'll keep my mouth shut.

I keep waiting for summer, but I don't think it's going to come.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Dear Morning Glory:
What is your secret to beautiful blooms ranging from solid white to solid blue?
And everything in between?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Bad Karma to be released by Samhain Publishing, April 2010.


Award-winning romance from bestselling author Theresa Weir (Anne Frasier)

BAD KARMA was originally published in 1999 by Harper Collins
edited by Anne Frasier/Theresa Weir 2009
2009 cover design by Fia M. Ryan



She had no idea what she was looking for...until she found it.

She's the most exotic thing Egypt, Missouri, has ever seen and Daniel Sinclair mistrusts her instantly. A small-town cop with big-city suspicions, Daniel figures that Cleo Tyler, a psychic hired to locate the town's missing master key, is a fraud. He'd be surprised to discover, though, that Cleo wouldn't disagree. While she longs to believe psychic abilities don't really exist, she can't seem to explain those odd glimpses she gets into other people's lives, nor can she control the terrible flashbacks from her own past. All she wants is to put on a good show, collect the money, and hit the road and the sooner the better, from behind Egypt's quaint facade is a chill Cleo can't shake. She's not sure where it's coming from, only that it frightens her terribly...almost as much as her confused feelings for a certain skeptical cop she'd like to keep at arm's length, yet draw closer at the same time.

from the opening of BAD KARMA:

Folks there called it
Missoura. Daniel Sinclair used to call it Missoura. Now he called it Missouree. That pretty much summed up his status in the small town of Egypt, Missouri. Outsider.
His was a bigger fall from grace than most, because he hadn't always been an outsider. No, Daniel Sinclair had been born into the welcoming, nurturing arms of Egypt, Missouri, which was the only way you could ever really belong. You could live there twenty years, but if you hadn't been shot from
someone's loins on that sacred soil, you were an outsider. And if you were born there and left, well, then you could add traitor to your resume. And if you came back, nobody forgave you and everybody talked about your hoity-toity accent, which was really no accent at all, but rather the absence of one, a fact there was no use in arguing. You would never convince anyone in Egypt that he or she was the one with the accent.

and later:

"That was quite a show you put on today," Daniel said.
Cleo tipped her head to one side and looked boldly into his eyes, trying to find the truth in there somewhere. "You liked it?"
"You had those people eating out of your hand."
"But not you."
"Never me."
"You knew I was faking?"
"But you didn't say anything."
“I've warned them, but they won't listen."
She came closer until she stood directly in front of him. He could see the
starlike pattern in her eyes— green shot with black. "You're not saying words they want to hear."

and later still:

"I'm looking out for both of us," he told her.
"But if either of us were tainted, it would be me, wouldn't it?"
"I didn't say that."
The heat lamp clicked, engulfing them in darkness. He reached behind him searching for the wall switch.
"Leave the light off," she whispered.
"I want to see you."
"I want to pretend you're somebody else."
"You're making me mad."
"I'm just being honest."
"Honest? You don't know the meaning of the word."

You've heard the name, you've heard the titles.
Now you can finally treat yourself to a Theresa Weir book and see what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


As writers we’re racing the clock, and some periods of our lives are better suited to writing. We have an undefined number of years when drive and health are at their peak. During this time, many writers give themselves a deadline. “If I don’t sell in four years I’ll move on.”

We’re all dying. We’re all running out of gas, and the full manuscript policy makes no sense. While spending years (in many cases) working on a full manuscript, the unpublished writer isn’t honing the craft, really isn’t learning how to make the book better. He’s just learning how to get to the finish line.

He’s proving he’s serious and dedicated enough to finish a book. And by the time the manuscript is submitted, years have passed. And this is the point where he hears the bad news, the crushing news.

Truth is, a story can be evaluated pretty accurately in 30 – 50 pages. That’s because those early pages are some of the most important pages in the book, and also the most difficult to write. And 25 pages is approximately the spot where agents, editors, and judges stop reading if the material isn’t working.

I would like to see more agents accept fifty pages of material. I’d like to see this broad rule of full manuscripts disappear.

Demand of a full creates a misconception and skews the writing process. The goal becomes the full, not the craft. When writers finish that last page, they’ve accomplished what they set out to accomplish. And one, two, three years have passed while they toiled away in their cozy little bubble. Now it’s time for the material to go out, and they soon discover that it’s not going to sell. For many, the journey stops there. Time is up. Some might go through this process one or two more times before calling it quits. All the while the clock is ticking.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


So the Kindle thing ended up being kind of a bust. I think with conversion software it would be a lot easier, but I haven't been able to find any such software that runs on a Mac. It seems the only way to end up with correct indents (even when everything looks fine from my end) is by adding html to entire manuscript, or by hiring someone else to format. Someone who can run conversion software.

I hope the time spent editing wasn't wasted. Even before wrapping up the edit of Bad Karma, I was questioning the wisdom of putting it on Kindle. Right now I've scrapped the Kindle idea completely and am talking with an ebook publisher, so we'll see what comes of that.

As far as Kindle goes, I would say if you have a Mac, or know nothing about formatting, hire someone to convert your material and expect to pay a minimum of $200.00.

In the meantime, I'm making my nonfiction visible again on this blog. Still can't decide what to do with it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Someone asked me to put together a little advice for new writers. I've been doing some freelance editing, so I decided to address the problems I see on a regular basis.

There are so many how-to books out there. We've all read them. Turned down corners, highlighted important stuff. Read the books more than once and committed some of it to memory. And yet again and again I see writers making the same avoidable mistakes.

*Failure to establish character goal and motivation right out of the gate. This is very basic story structure, and yet it's often ignored.

*Failure to set up conflict in opening pages, failure to stick to the conflict, failure to ride it through to end.

It's not enough to have interesting characters, amazing descriptions, beautiful prose. Give your story a strong foundation and let reader know protagonist's goals and obstacles within the first few pages. I'm not saying this is the only way to write a book, but adhering to traditional structure will increase your odds of selling.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Once Upon a Crime Anthology Coming September 1

Once Upon a Crime: An Anthology of Murder, Mayhem, and Suspense
Nodin (Baker & Taylor, dist.), $16.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-932472-85-1

From Publishers Weekly:

The warmth felt by the contributors toward the Minneapolis mystery bookstore that gives this all-original anthology its name is shown in the high quality of many of its 24 entries. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith who haven’t encountered Michael Stanley yet will be grateful for the introduction after reading Stanley’s whodunit set in contemporary Botswana, “An Issue of Women and Money.” Anne Fraiser’s “Santa’s Little Helper” is a bit of a misfire, a very short procedural about the gunning down of a man dressed as Kris Kringle whose shock ending might have been more effective if the story had more meat on its bones. Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins offer a new wrinkle on the spoiled city woman stuck in the sticks in “Flyover Country,” with a foreseeable resolution that still packs a punch. Other contributors include C.J. Box, Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Sujata Massey and S.J. Rozan. (Sept.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clarity of Night Contest--"In Vino Veritas (Truth in Wine)"

Three years ago I had the honor of co-hosting The Clarity of Night Lonely Moon Contest.

Some great writers have participated over the years, one being Jaye Wells, co-host of the current short-fiction contest.

from Jason's blog:

Compete for a signed copy of RED-HEADED STEPHCHILD. Compete for eternal bragging rights. Compete for cold, hard cash!! (Well, Amazon gift good as cash.) $170 dollars in prizes will be awarded.

The contest will open on Wednesday, July 8th and will be open for one week. As with past contests, the limit is 250 words. Any genre or form is welcome so long as it is inspired by the "In Vino Veritas (Truth in Wine)" photo. Rules have been posted here:


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

adventures in converting and formatting

I stepped out of my cave long enough to give people an update on my adventures in converting print books to ebook format. When it comes to programs and software I'm going to sound like a total idiot. That's because I am. Most of the stuff on my computer -- no idea what it does or what it's for.

I did a test run with a short story, and it's now available on Kindle and Scribd. I thought that would be easy because it was a Word file. Nope. Took the better part of a day, and the Kindle version still isn't quite right.

So I moved on to one of my old titles. An online friend scanned the book and sent it to me in a rich text file. Now what happens with scanning is that suddenly the scanner decides what should be what, and rugs are suddenly called hags, and flicker is suddenly dicker. Such as: He felt a dicker of attraction as he pushed her down on the hag. Indents are off the page, and paragraphs might be waaayy to the left, or waaaay to the right. Anything unusual, like a strange font, will suddenly create a great vomiting of numbers and symbols.
Average number of mistakes or weirdness per page? About five. And the problem with trying to correct some of the weirdness is that you have no idea what's causing it. So I finally got the idea to start hitting keys and poking at things. For some reason I decided to save the file as an OTD file. I later discovered this means open text document. It automatically opened in NeoOffice, something my son installed on my computer and I'd never used. It has something called nonprinting characters, and I was suddenly able to see why indents were running off the page, and why paragraphs wouldn't line up.

In another few days I might be close to being done and I hope to have the book on Amazon and Scribd next week.

So when somebody asked if it's hard to convert and format print for a Kindle, I will have to say it's hell. Very, very labor intensive. One person who does this for hire told me it's sometimes easier to retype the entire book. I believe it.

Fia M. Ryan, the lovely person who scanned and also chased down more than her share of weird typos, designed the awesome cover. I think it captures the story perfectly.