Thursday, December 30, 2010


There's been a lot of online chatter about Kindle sales figures, so I decided to post mine. Not sure this will help anyone because there are so many variables. One big thing to keep in mind: I do zero promotion, and that probably impacts my figures. I decided to spend my time writing and working on new material rather than focusing on my backlist. Another thing to note is that my reissues contain errors. I don't think they contain a lot, but they aren't error-free. The professionally formatted books have errors, the books I formatted myself have errors, the pirated copies have errors. Doesn't seem to matter. Yes, I downloaded pirated copies of my books and put them on Amazon. Thank you, pirates. But please try to do a better job of formatting next time.

FYI: The cleanest is probably PLAY DEAD, which I edited and formatted.



Do you have ebooks available on Amazon?

Please consider leaving your sales figures in the comment area. I'd really like to see writers come forward about their sales, especially those writers who have only sold a few copies. Making your backlist available in digital format takes a massive amount of time and can be a big expense. Is it worth it? Anonymous comments are fine!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Or thoughts for a Sunday when I'm trapped by the biggest snowfall we've had in a gazillion years...

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
When one door closes, another door opens.
What doesn't kill you makes you meaner, stronger, meaner, tougher, meaner.
(Or something like that.)

What do these lovely cliches have in common? I hate them all.

Even if they're kind of true. But today I was thinking about some of the fantastic writers I know who've experienced huge failures only to come out on the other side with major book deals. Some with movie deals. Does failure lead to success? In some cases I think it does. I think artists reach a point where there is nothing to lose. Nothing to risk, because we've already hit bottom. We've already lost everything.

Nowhere to go but up. There's another one. Hate it too.

Cream always rises to the top.

But I do think we develop this screw-you attitude. And also this sense of freedom. My god, the freedom! I'm especially talking about writers who've been dumped by their publishers. Taboo topic! Taboo! Is this a published author's biggest fear? I think it is. And we can't talk about it even though it's always looming.

Elephant in the room.

Once that thing happens that we've worried about from the moment we get up until we go to bed (I used to dream about getting dumped, and would wake up in the middle of an anxiety attack), there's no longer anything at stake. Nobody to please. Nobody leaning over our shoulders, breathing down our necks. Yes, it's terrifying, because there's nobody WRITING CHECKS, but we end up turning to the one person we can trust. Not an editor. Not an agent. Not our friends and family. Not fellow writers. Although all or some of those people are still around to support us.

We turn to ourselves. Through misfortune, we've been given the opportunity to shut off the noise and listen to our own voice for a change. That's where great art comes from.

What is your voice saying?

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm shutting off the comment section because of spammers. Maybe that's all for the best since I'm trying to cut down on Internet socializing. I love it too much! Working on a new book and have 100 pages written. Should have the complete first draft by March or April. I've always done the bulk of my writing November - May, and winter has definitely arrived with near-zero temps in the forecast.

Have a lovely and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Most interviews consist of the same questions, and when the interview is over I often find myself wishing the interviewer had dug a little deeper. So when Nigel asked if I'd like to interview myself, how could I resist?

Check it out at SEA MINOR.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I've been working on my option material and have hit 65 pages (option proposal can consist of synopsis and three sample chapters.) Contractually, this proposal can't be submitted until 90 days after the first book (The Orchard) has been officially approved, and that won't happen until I receive and follow the edit notes. Once the editor approves my corrections and cuts the check, the 90-day clock starts ticking. If everything goes smoothly, the edited material will be approved in December, which means the earliest I could submit proposal for second memoir would be March 2011. I'll have the first draft of second book done by March, so I might decide to wait and submit the entire thing once it's gone through revisions and a good polish.

I don't even like to look at the contract. PUBLISHERS RIGHT TO TERMINATE always jumps out at me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Discount Noir available from Untreed Reads


If you thought standing in line at your local warehouse store was murder, then you haven't been to Megamart. These flash fiction tales of superstore madness and mayhem will make you think twice the next time you hear "clean up on aisle 13."

This anthology contains works by: Patricia Abbott, Sophie Littlefield, Kieran Shea, Chad Eagleton, Ed Gorman, Cormac Brown, Fleur Bradley, Alan Griffiths, Laura Benedict, Garnett Elliot, Eric Beetner, Jack Bates, Bill Crider, Loren Eaton, John DuMond, John McFetridge, Toni McGee Causey, Jeff Vande Zande, James Reasoner, Kyle Minor, Randy Rohn, Todd Mason, Byron Quertermous, Sandra Scoppettone, Stephen D. Rogers, Steve Weddle, Evan Lewis, Daniel B. O'Shea, Sandra Seamans, Albert Tucher, Donna Moore, John Weagly, Keith Rawson, Gerald So, Dave Zeltserman, Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen, Jay Stringer, Anne Frasier, Kathleen A. Ryan, Eric Peterson, Chris Grabenstein and J.T. Ellison.

From Co-Editor Patricia Abbott:

In October 2009, my co-anthologist Steve Weddle suggested I use a website that I’ll call The People of Megamart as the inspiration for a flash fiction challenge.

Keeping a blog can be a solipsistic and silly venture, and to combat this tendency, I’ve promoted several communal activities over the years and I have maintained a website. The first was Friday’s Forgotten Books, in which, every Friday, crime and western fiction writers and readers write brief reviews of books they believe to be forgotten.

But since most readers of my blog are short story writers, I decided in February 2008, to issue a flash fiction challenge. (I was far from the first to do so.) This was not a contest but rather an inclusive invitation to write a story of about 800 words and post it on an assigned day. This first challenge was to write a story set on Valentine’s Day. For those without blogs, Aldo Calgano posted stories on his flash zine, Powder Burn Flash. Gerald So helped to advertise the challenge. It was a success and each of the succeeding four challenges drew more entries. Each challenge had its own topic—my favorite being one in which each participant wrote an opening paragraph that was passed on to someone else.

For our sixth challenge, Megamart: I Love You, writers were asked to contribute a story set, or partially set, in a Megamart or Megamart-type store. This topic generated more than thirty stories, all published simultaneously on various blogs on November 30, 2009. Those stories and a few more can be found here. I hope you enjoy them.

Note from Anne: This title will also be available from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Scribd, and some other places I can't remember.

Thank you, Patti, Steve, Stacie, and Untreed!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flimsy Excuses

Excuses for not blogging:

1) I'm under contract and I have to behave. I will. I must. When I'm under contract I understandably feel less free, and that's really the fun of blogging. Just letting it all out. Now I question and second guess everything I write (like this!). No fun. I tend to lean toward Twitter and Facebook simply because I feel less exposed and the format is much less formal. It doesn't feel as permanent, and I don't feel the need to be as professional.

2) I'm working on a second memoir. Yes. Yes. Yes. I'm not ready to go into full writing mode since I want to enjoy the last days of fall, but I'm working. Really.

3) I'm still having neck issues, so the less time I spend on the computer the better.

I don't want to be one of those writers who steps away from her blog only to reappear two months before a book release, suddenly blogging like crazy with one goal in mind: sell the book. I've always blogged as a way to share and gripe. It's therapy for me, but I'm trying very hard to be professional. Not easy for me. BE ADULT. BE ADULT.

On a personal note, I'm now ordained so if you'd like for me to officiate at your wedding, let me know! If you'd like the wedding to be held at my studio/prairie church, it can be arranged. Really.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I think I may have rounded a corner in my understanding of cover art. I'm still a huge novice, but a few days ago I finally came to understand that the font is more important than the image, and that it's okay to obstruct image with text. But how to create a cover without Photoshop? Not easy, and I'm still using Picasa. Tried to download Gimp, but my computer froze (which never happens!) and I'm afraid to try it again.

I'm excited about this last cover attempt because I think I may have finally come up with something better than the original. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fantastic image in the new version, and the poor quality of the artwork on the original cover. That poorly-drawn man with his skinny lips and swollen neck!

Original Penguin Putnam cover:

My cover design:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Interview With LK Rigel

LK Rigel's Space Junque is receiving rave reviews on Amazon. So exciting, especially considering that LK recently joined the brave new world of self-publishing and Space Junque has just come out.

As some of you already know, I had the extremely fun job of editing Space Junque. Back some time ago, I was thinking of starting an editing service and possibly attaching my name to projects that I felt were of high quality. I’ve since become pretty busy with my writing career, but I’m still intrigued with the idea of an editor or writer being a small part of the self-published release. I think one thing self-published books lack is that voice of authority and the understanding that this book has gone through a process of vetting. One way to instill reader confidence would be to include some stamp of approval. I honestly don’t think my name carries enough weight for that, but I’m stamping SJ regardless because it’s a damn fun and fine read.

And now a few questions for LK Rigel:

AF: Could you give us a brief description of Space Junque?

LKR: Space Junque is a paranormal space opera romance, set about eighty years from now when earth metamorphoses into an alternate reality.

At the brink of world-wide catastrophe set off by oil spills, sea level rise, and massive pollution, Char Meadowlark accepts an invitation to the Imperial Space Station from Mike Augustine, her dead sister's fiancé. While Char is in orbit, eco-terrorists set off a planet-wide environmental cataclysm.

Though Mike pressures her for more than friendship, Char can't stop thinking about the man who saved her life, Jake Ardri, the pilot of the shuttle Space Junque. Meanwhile, Char confronts threats normal and paranormal before she can return to the transformed planet where the very survival of the human race is uncertain.

It's a light romantic romp! But, as I like to say, is love even possible in flagrante apocalypto?

AF: I don’t believe you ever considered a traditional publisher for SJ. Could you share your reasoning behind that decision?

LKR: This could take up an entire post. Maybe I'm a lazy narcissist.

AF: Yes, that was certainly a clueless statement, because nobody works harder than the self-published author. And as far as the narcissist comment goes, let me roll my eyes. I think all writers, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers, whatever, are narcissistic to some extent. We live in a narcissistic society.

LKR: The simple answer is: I didn't consider a traditional publisher for Space Junque because I didn't have to.

For an unknown author, querying agents these days is degrading and soul-crushing. If you get to a deal, you give up over 90 percent of the proceeds, have no say on the cover art, and wait another 18 months to publication.

Publishing on Kindle and Smashwords, Space Junque was available to readers three days after the manuscript was ready. I can track my sales in real time. I can choose what promotion I want to do. The story will be available forever. I can price the book reasonably. Instead of 8 percent, I get 70 percent, and I am paid once a month.

Now, I still don't actually "get" 70 percent because I'm paying for quality editing and covers and advertising -- but in this case that expense money is going to promote and improve my book, not the book of my publishing house's current star or the CEO's bonus.

Plus, I get to tell the story I want to tell without forcing it into some commercially proven template.

AF: I have to step in to make a point about traditional publishing. The potential for units sold is much, much higher with a traditional publisher. 8% isn’t bad when you think about the possibility of selling 100,000 copies. Most self-published books will never come close to that number. But I totally understand about agents and queries and wanting to be in control of the whole process.

LKR: Oh, that’s absolutely true.

AF: Space Junque has an amazing cover. How did that come about?

LKR: Isn't that cover wonderful? I found the source images at and played around with them in Gimp until I had the feel for what I wanted. The result was certainly good enough as a working cover but definitely not done by a pro. The fonts were never right, and it was so dark that you had to turn the screen at a certain angle to see it properly. I sent the cover to Robin at Robin Ludwig Design, and she worked her magic. I love the cover.

AF: The edit was done a little differently. Rather than sending an entire manuscript, you were gracious enough to email me a few chapters at a time because I like to work on small pieces of material. Do you think this helped you in the process, or was it an annoyance?

LKR: I loved doing it that way. First of all, you were able to stop me in my tracks before I ventured too far onto -- shall we say a mistaken path? Getting that feedback on an ongoing basis was invaluable. Also, breaking it down into smaller chunks made the whole process more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

AF: When it comes to DIY publishing, readers sometimes point to quality control issues. You used the services of an editor, a copy editor, and proofreader. Could you lead us through that process?

LKR: I can't stress enough that content editing is not copy editing or line editing. As content editor, Anne, you looked at the story and the gross mechanics or technique involved in telling the story, the pacing, the authenticity, the ideas -- the creative content.

By the time the story is in its final shape, it's too late for the author and the editor to do any decent copy editing or proofreading. They've looked at the words too many times. You need a fresh eye to find the typos, misspelled words (I spell minuscule "miniscule" and Word never catches it). I recommend Cara Wallace for a last look at your ready-to-go manuscript. She's thorough and always right -- even when I disagree with her.

AF: What are your plans for future works?

LKR: Space Junque is the prequel to a series set several generations later on an alternate reality earth. That world is based on a blend of Ancient Near East mythology and Gnostic Christian creation stories -- and also has shapeshifters! The first book, Bleeder, is going through its last run-through before content edits. I hope to have it ready in November. There will be at least three novels set in that world.

I had to cut some events from Space Junque because they didn't fit the arc of the narrative. One event in particular is so delicious that it's screaming to be told, so there will be another novella set in that time period.

Beyond that, who knows? As you can probably confirm, telling stories feels good. Now that I've actually put something out there, I don't think I can stop.

AF: Would you ever consider a traditional publisher?

LKR: Of course! But unless I get the big offer, I don't see traditional publishing in my future. I've had a lot of fun putting out Space Junque, and I don't think I'd be happy giving up control. The traditional model is fantastic for bestsellers and established authors, but I think that train has passed me by.

AF: I don’t think that’s the case. Publishers still love and still promote debut authors.

LKR: I'll tell you what I do dream of: being selected for Amazon's Encore program.

AF: I hope that happens! Thanks for visiting, and best of luck with Space Junque!

Be sure to visit LK's blog for details on how to win an Oberon gift certificate worth $100.00!

Friday, September 17, 2010

orchards and cemeteries

I've been jotting down a lot of things for my next project. In the process, I sometimes come upon notes that I wrote for previous books, notes that I never used. This is something I found today, written for The Orchard:

And I myself am fooled by time and distance. The photos represent an idyllic life, and I contemplate that life with the eyes of a stranger, feeling the pull of a perfect world.

I want to live there, raise my children there. And then I remember... I did live there. I did raise my children there. And I have to remind myself of the other things, the hidden things.

Orchards and cemeteries feel the same.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A few months ago I gave a talk at a local library. When I asked if there were any book clubs in the area, I was told about an interesting one that has been around for over ten years.

Two things I like:

1) They meet in a bar.

2) They don't read an assigned or chosen book. Instead, everyone brings the books they've read in the past month and tells the group about them. They swap books and give away books. They rave about books, and they slam books. I've been to two meetings, and the average number of books discussed in a single meeting is around 30. Not sure how many beers are consumed.

What I've learned about myself:

I will never again read a book as a reader. This is pretty much understood by all authors, but it really hit home for me as I sat among these women who were so passionate about books. Even though I'm a writer, even though I immerse myself in the world of writing almost every waking hour, I felt like an alien in this group of book lovers. Wonderful, interesting, friendly people I felt I had nothing in common with. Isn't that odd? Me? Someone who has been writing for twenty-five years? Someone who started writing because I loved books?

Since the meeting, I've tried to analyze my feeling of alienation. I look at fiction from a totally different perspective. I read to get the feel of a novel and check out the writer's voice. And here is the scary part: I rarely finish a novel unless I'm reading to supply a cover quote. I don't need to read the whole thing, because finding out what happens isn't why I read. I read to check out the book, to get a feel of the author's voice and the mood and tone of the story. Even novels I love go unfinished. Because that sample is all I need to answer my questions.

Will I go to another meeting? I don't think so. It made me a little sad, but I think it was more about a poor fit. I love hanging out with other writers, talking about books, talking about the business, but I can't be a reader. Not even for an evening.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 2010

I've had so many blog posts I wanted to write, vacation stories, vacation pictures, but a flare of old neck pain has kept me from blogging. I really need to just stay away from my computer for a while. And I will! But I did want to let people know that LK Rigel's entire novella is now available on Amazon. I hope to post more later (when I'm feeling better), because I think people might be interested in hearing about the editing process and how Linda came to give me editing credit. This is something I've thought about for a while. Editing books, then allowing my name to be used if the end result is something I can get behind.

Space Junque is a fun, smart read, and I really think people will enjoy it. I hesitate to make comparisons, but I think it has a bit of a Firefly vibe to it.

Space Junque

The image at the top of my blog post? Nothing to do with anything. :) I just like it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

temporary cover

update 9/3/10: You can find the final temporary cover to the left (finalized with input from the publisher). Not sure if this is just a placeholder, or a design we will end up using for the actual cover. It will need a tweak and polish if we use it for real. At Killer Cocktails, information about the book will be in a brochure that is handed out to booksellers, media, book buyers, reviewers. Along with the cover image, I put together a short blurb that includes the names of all of the contributors, so it's good publicity for everyone involved! Last year was the first Killer party. I didn't attend, but I heard it went over very well and everyone enjoyed it, so I'm really looking forward to going this year! What to wear... What to wear...

I'm putting together some promo stuff for Killer Cocktails, a party that kicks off the Midwest Bookseller Association trade show. Too early to have a cover for the Halloween anthology, but I'm trying to come up with something that would work as a temporary cover.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

short stories

Several years ago I was invited to be a part of a short-story anthology, and I reluctantly declined. I'd never written a short story before, and the idea terrified me. Didn't know if I could manage that kind of distilled writing. About a year later, I was invited to submit to the Once Upon a Crime anthology, and I said I'd try. I cheated a bit, because I actually expanded a flash fiction piece I'd already written.

Since then, I've written about eight short stories, and with each one I think I get a little closer to getting it right.

I don't know the specific rules for short stories other than a length of 1000 - 3000 words, but I do know what I like.

The circle. In my mind, the perfect short story looks like a circle. It circles back to the beginning. Most of my stories don't circle back, but I'm working on it.

A complete story. Unlike flash fiction, I think the best short stories feel complete. Even one thousand words. I want to feel that it's a whole story, beginning, middle, end. This is another thing I'm working on, because mine sometimes feel like a slice of life. A little window. And that can be wonderful too, but not as wonderful as the complete story.

Surprise and delight. I think a really good short story ends with a bang. This can be achieved with a twist, a revelation, humor, emotion. Close on the highest note. Again, I may have achieved this in a couple of my stories, but not all of them.

I'm sure there are guidelines for short-story writing, but I've never read any. Maybe I should. Or not. Any advice for writing short stories?

Monday, August 16, 2010

How can I blog when I have nothing to bitch about?

I refuse to say things are going well, because those words could set off a string of bad. So I won't say it. Instead, I will talk about the wonderful movie I rented through Netfix.

Sweet Land

I wanted to attend the limited showing in Minneapolis, but couldn't make it. I vowed to rent it when it became available on Netflix, then promptly forgot it existed. So the other day I was going through indie films. What's this? It sounds intriguing. Oh, wait! I wanted to see that a few years ago. I think some of my poor memory can be explained by the totally forgettable title. One of those titles that leaves no imprint on your brain, so you can't even recall it the next day. But anyway, title aside, a lovely film. Gorgeous film, gorgeous cinematography with music that was perfect. Perfectly cast. Not a lot of plot, but that didn't matter. Too much plot would have gotten in the way. I loved this so much that I plan to rent it AGAIN. Definitely the best movie I've seen in quite a long time. But I do have a soft spot for distilled rural American stories set in the 1900s. And it also echoes my memoir, a familiar story of the land, the passage of time, and two people who hardly know each other. I think the last indie I was this passionate about was Wisconsin Death Trip, also a visual delight.

Sweet Land

Saturday, August 7, 2010

When the past informs the future

Back in the early nineties I wrote a proposal that my agent rejected. It was one of those books of the heart, something I really wanted to write. The proposal was three chapters and a long synopsis, plus artwork. It went something like this:

Setting: rural farm
Main characters: female who’d moved away, became an investigative reporter, had a baby, got divorced, developed cancer. Story opens with her in remission, returning to the farming community to rest. She ends up attending funeral of old male friend whose father just died. The male friend draws the wrath of the community because of his stand against pesticides. The two join forces to expose some dirty doings, thus endangering their lives. Murder! Love! A cute toddler! Danger! And more!

My agent turned it down, and I was devastated. Just stunned and shocked, my spirit crushed. Because the story had meant so much to me, and had come from my heart and my life. Fiction, but I was drawing from everything around me. That was the first time my agent flat-out refused to submit. He suggested I work on something lighter. So I put together a proposal for Cool Shade, which is kind of a dark comedy. This was my option material, and the publisher turned it down. They said they were looking for something darker and more mature from me, maybe a story of a divorced woman facing some kind of hardship. Hmm. Sounded a bit familiar, but with the rejection of the option material, the relationship with that publisher was over.

And this is the thing.

I’ve moved several times since writing the agent-rejected proposal, and in later years I’ve come across that proposal while packing. And every time I’m struck by how good it is. And I came to finally understand that it was by far the best thing I’d written during that period of my career, but it took years for me to be able to see it for more than a failed piece of shit.

So when I turned in The Orchard and my agent said it didn’t work for him and it would never work for him, I remembered that other story, a story that was similar in tone, the one I later realized was good. That knowledge led to my decision to move on and try to find another agent. Because I knew we’d made a mistake fifteen years earlier. I knew he could be right this time, but I couldn’t take the chance.

I’d been with my agent for twenty years. He’s a fantastic agent and he made a lot of really good moves for me, so I was out of my mind with the thought of having to leave him. And after leaving him, I made a poor decision, but it was brief and I now have a wonderful agent who is a treasure. OMG. So amazing. But the problem is, you just don’t know until you are in the relationship. You just don’t know. And I keep thinking that if I hadn’t had that earlier disappointment accompanied by the later revelation, I probably wouldn’t have moved on and The Orchard would just be another manuscript to come upon every time I pack and unpack.

I don’t know why I’m rambling about this. Just something that’s been on my mind. I guess it underscores just how without sense and how almost chaotic this business is. How even some of the sharpest people aren’t right all of the time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Space Junque by LK Rigel

I don't know how editors do it. Editing a full manuscript. It's so intense and physically demanding. Just so much work, so much sitting, so much peering into a tiny screen and trying to read your own edits in a tiny little edit bubble. For me, a freelance manuscript edit takes 30 - 40 hours, and I try to complete it in a week or less. So physically demanding. When I write, I'm up and down all day long. Write a paragraph, wander away from computer. Jot something down on paper. Figure out what I want to do next. Go type it. I'm not really that attached to the computer throughout the process.

So anyway, to get to the point, and I do have one, I've really enjoyed working with LK Rigel on a couple of projects. For several reasons, one being that she's a great writer and a joy to work with. (Linda is a contributor to the Halloween anthology coming out September, 2011). Another thing -- she sends me about twenty pages at a time. The magic number for me! I love doing a content edit on these small sections. I'm a sprinter.

You can find the first two chapters of Space Junque on Smashwords. Free! Check it out!

Friday, July 23, 2010


I sometimes get emails from people who want to know what happened to the third book of the Tuonela series, and they especially want to know what happens to the characters. And the baby! What about the baby?

My old publisher wasn't interested in a third book, and I seriously doubt I'll ever write it, so I decided to post this rough synopsis. Keep in mind that I write a horrible synopsis. This was more an outline written for my own benefit, and much of it won't make sense if you didn't read Pale Immortal or Garden of Darkness.

FYI: Digital versions of Pale Immortal and Garden of Darkness can be purchased through Smashwords.

Book 3 in the Tuonela series

Every tattoo tells a story. Of the land of the dead and the nightbirds. Of Michael Fontaine’s upcoming death.
Michael began tattooing himself in his early twenties. Now his body is a story of the past and the future, the story of Old Tuonela and new Tuonela, of dark events yet to unfold. "Don't love me," he tells women. Not because he won’t stick around, not because he isn’t interested, but because he knows his days are numbered.

Evan Stroud and Rachel Burton have at last found happiness and are living a relatively normal existence in spite of Evan’s disease and his allergy to sunlight. But Evan and Rachel’s newfound fragile relationship is built on unstable ground. Evan has more than a disease -- he is part revenant and part Pale Immortal, and he keeps his dark side suppressed with drugs. Rachel is in denial about her own lineage and their baby’s aversion to light.

Evan’s father moved back to Florida, and Evan and Rachel have returned to the house in Tuonela, the house on Benefit Street. Alastair Stroud’s job as Chief of Police was filled by a young outsider named Michael Fontaine.

One evening Evan and Rachel go out for dinner. Upon returning home, they find the sitter dead and their baby kidnapped.

After baby Aiden was born, Evan and Rachel discussed leaving Tuonela to start over in a new town with new names so the baby could have a normal life. But in the end they decided the child was safest in Tuonela where everybody understood their situation and for the most part accepted it. Wrong decision.

Graham Stroud and his girlfriend Isobel are touring prospective colleges when Graham gets the news that Aiden has been kidnapped. He drops everything and returns home to Tuonela.

Police Chief Michael Fontaine has secrets of his own. He spends his evenings tattooing his flesh with the visual story of Old Tuonela, a story that his police uniform hides. From the time he was a small child he drew pictures of people he didn’t know and a place he’d never seen. When he got older he apprenticed under a tattoo artist and began tattooing his collection of images on his own flesh. Research finally placed his family in the area of Old Tuonela at the time of the mass exodus, and he realized the images and people were from that dark past. And he suspects he might be a descendent of the Pale Immortal, descendents he calls nightbirds. Outsiders, lost souls who walk in two worlds.
How many of them are there?

Kidnappers leave clues and ransom notes, but they are nothing more than false leads meant to keep any remaining legitimate police tied up with misinformation. Aiden is safe and alive, hidden underground, below Tuonela.
Fontaine is active in the investigation, but Rachel doesn’t trust him. Not only is he an outsider, she senses that he has secrets. Dark, deep secrets, and she even suspects that he may have been involved in the kidnapping.
But Fontaine is innocent.

The mayor of Tuonela is behind the kidnapping and murder. He knows the baby is the offspring of a revenant and the great granddaughter of the Pale Immortal himself, and he knows the child is the key to a race of immortal beings. He’s convinced he’s doing what’s best for the child and what’s best for the town. He’s hiding the baby from darker powers while a team performs tests on the infant hoping to unlock the secret to their own immortality.

Tuonela corruption runs deep. The mayor and his helpers fake the infant’s death with the body of a dead baby they’ve robbed from a grave. Many of the townspeople are in league with the major, and by switching DNA they are able to “prove” that the dead infant is Evan and Rachel’s child. At the funeral the mayor tells the grief-stricken couple that they must move on, and that they can have more children. Evan refuses to accept that the child is gone, lunges for the mayor, but is stopped by the sunlight.

Evan, who belongs more to the land of the dead than the land of the living, controls his darker cravings with the constant sedation of powerful drugs. The kidnapping and death of his child sends him spiraling into despair. The drugs are abandoned and he becomes the one he has always feared becoming – the Pale Immortal. Even his love for Rachel isn’t enough to save him this time. He vanishes into the darkness, and his shadowy form is spotted along country roads and in the heart of Tuonela. The townspeople are terrified and no one remains on the street after the sun goes down.

Kristin Blackmoore came to town for the funeral, and ends up drawn to Michael Fontaine. She spends the night with him, but doesn’t see his tattoos because he insists upon having sex in the dark. She has died more than once in her young life, and something about Fontaine speaks to the part of her that has experienced the other side.

In the morning, Fontaine is dressed in his uniform when Kristin wakes up. But as his fingers nervously hurry over shirt buttons, she catches a glimpse of black ink and he finally lets her see what his clothes have been hiding. Skin as art. Skin as history.
Every tattoo tells a story….

Rachel begins to feel uneasy and distrustful of the DNA test results, and asks that her child’s body be exhumed. When she can’t get permission, she and Graham dig up the infant’s body in the middle of the night. She takes DNA samples, sends them to the lab, and discovers that the baby is no relation. Which gives her hope that her child is still alive.

She tries to find Evan to tell him the news. She can feel him watching her in the woods. He attacks. The information about the baby means nothing to him. He is no longer Evan but some mad creature. Rachel escapes, and once home she begins to plot how she can catch Evan. It will take light and restraints. A cage to lock him up.
Evan is no longer Evan, but a being very close to the Pale Immortal. He attacks a young girl and is arrested and put in jail by Michael Fontaine.

Fontaine has very little space left on his body, but he adds one final tattoo – this of a dying man with nightbirds above him, waiting to carry him off.
Fontaine discovers the mayor is behind the kidnapping. He knows he can trust very few in Tuonela, so he decides to enlist Evan’s help. Unsure if drugs will subdue Evan’s darker side, he sedates him and waits for signs of a change.
Could this new person be the old Evan? Or evil in disguise? Fontaine takes the chance. He and Evan rescue the baby, but Fontaine is killed, his premonition coming true. The mayor and his henchmen are arrested.

When Fontaine’s body is on a slab in the morgue, Rachel discovers the tattoos. The history of Old Tuonela. The great exodus. The birth of her child. Fontaine’s death.
And people. Many other people. The undead. The nightbirds.

Every tattoo tells a story.

Evan will write the history and the truth of Tuonela. It is time. All secrets will be revealed. And more people like Fontaine will come, looking for answers, looking for their roots.
And many will stay.

Author’s note:
If you are someone fortunate or unfortunate enough to find Tuonela on a map—and if you go there—you might really be returning home. You might be a descendant of the Pale Immortal.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You Don't Complete Me

A lot of people have asked me what I'm working on now that the memoir sold. Good question. I've been vacillating between another memoir and literary suspense. Can't decide, but leaning a little more toward another memoir, one that would focus on growing up in southern New Mexico during the Vietnam war, the setting a town located between Roswell and White Sands Missile range where the first atomic bomb was tested. The story would cover four or five years, kind of a dysfunctional Freaks and Geeks. But I'm having trouble nailing down a main theme. Have some ideas, one would be to focus on people who marry the wrong person, and the reasons behind such destructive decisions and the far-reaching impact such decisions can have. And how children have a tendency to repeat the choices made by their parents, not recognizing the same patterns in themselves. This would also explore the loss of true self that goes along with many relationships.

The suspense involves an injured cop on sabbatical who questions her decision to abandon her true passion to go into law enforcement. While recovering from injuries, she uncovers a mystery from her childhood. (Don't want to go into too much detail here.)

I know it's early, but I"m putting together a blog for The Orchard. Although I guess it's not that early, because galleys will be going out in just about a year. Can't believe that!! Does it look okay? Especially in Internet Explorer? (I have a Mac, so I don't use Explorer.)

The Orchard

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A new writing contest at The Clarity of Night! These contests are always so much fun, and it looks like Jason has really outdone himself this time.

From Jason's blog:

In one mere (less than a week now!) week, the "Uncovered" Short Fiction Contest will open here at the Clarity of Night! It will be my lucky 13th contest!!

And this one is special. (Of course, they all have been.)

We will be welcoming Stephen Parrish and his debut novel, THE TAVERNIER STONES. Stephen is an old salt of the blogosphere, and we're lucky to have him join us in the festivities. The contest theme and photo is inspired by his novel, which opens with the discovery of a 300-year-old corpse holding a massive ruby. Is it one of the lost Tavernier Stones? Are you ready for a treasure hunt??

Because, get this. With the very kind assistance of an anonymous donor who loves writing, the prize pool is downright MASSIVE for this contest. In total, $290 and two signed copies of THE TAVERNIER STONES is on the line. There is a $100 prize for first place alone! Not bad for 250 words, my friends. Not bad at all.

So stay tuned, get thinking, and spread the word. The last contest was huge enough with 237 entries and tens of thousands of visits. You are NOT going to want to sit out on this one.

July 19th. Then 10 days to enter.

The clock is ticking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Couldn't resist!

I write like
Jack London

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Oddly enough, this is the second time my writing has been compared to that of Jack London. The first was in a recent review of The Lineup, Poems on Crime. I don't think I've ever read any Jack London.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I use google reader to keep up with blogs, and if your blog has no way to add you to my reader then I'm most likely not reading you. When I first began blogging, I didn't mind visiting blogs, making my daily rounds to see what others were up to. I didn't mind signing up for email updates. I don't do that anymore. Occasionally I'll visit a blog I haven't seen in a while, thinking to add it to my google reader, but I'll then realize no RSS feed exists. Or if it does, I can't find it. If your blog has no way for me to add you to my reader, I'm probably not reading your blog.

Do you use some type of reader to follow blogs? Or do you just drop in on your favorite blogs to see of anything new has been posted?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


My Smashwords stories

When I first started doing this, my Amazon sales were much greater than my Smashwords sales. Well, in fact I had stories sitting at Smashwords for months without any purchases. But now I'm selling four times more at Smashwords. I'm not going to say I'm selling a lot, but I can definitely see a fairly rapid increase. But of course I'm also putting more titles on Smashwords, but for the same title (Pale Immortal) I am now seeing slightly more sales at Smashwords.

I just uploaded Play Dead last night. Have to admit it's my favorite Frasier title. Love Savannah, love spells, love characters who believe in that crazy stuff. My short story in the Once Upon a Crime anthology featured the same characters, and last night I was thinking how I'd love to write another Elise Sandburg, David Gould book. Don't think that will happen, but I'd love to do it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Signed the contract for the Halloween anthology!

Yesterday I met with Norton Stillman, the publisher of Nodin Press. If you haven't heard of Norton, you may have heard of The Bookmen, the adored and much missed book distributor. Booksellers loved The Bookmen, and waayyy back in 1988, I bought cases of my books from The Bookmen because Norton and his brother gave booksellers and authors such fantastic deals. Most publishers don't allow writers to resell their books unless purchased through a bookstore or a distributor. The Bookmen gave writers and booksellers such a good deal that writers could actually afford to buy and resell their own titles. But after four decades, The Bookmen were forced out of business. They closed their doors in 2002, and booksellers and writers alike still mourn the loss.

The Bookmen warehouse was turned into lofts.

Nodin Press is located directly across the street from the lofts in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis not far from the new Twins stadium. When I arrived at Nodin, Norton was on the phone, hidden behind the floor-to-ceiling boxes of Nodin Press titles, and a Twins game blared on a radio that wasn't quite tuned to the correct station.

The anthology, which still needs a title, will be released September 2011. We talked about holding signings at Halloween festivals around the state. I'm already excited!

Contributing anthology authors:

Bill Cameron
David Housewright
Jason Evans
J.A. Konrath
Heather Dearly
Julia Buckley
Kelly Lynn Parra
Linda Rigel
Marilyn Victor
Mark Hull
Leandra Logan
Pat Dennis
Patricia Abbott
Paul Brazill
Michael Allan Mallory
Shirley Damsgaard
Stephen Blackmoore
Lance Zarimba
Paula Fleming
Anne Frasier

Story descriptions:

1. J.A. Konrath, Mr. Spaceman

A hooker ends up in an encounter of the strangest kind when her client turns out to be a new-in-town alien who has one thing in mind: making babies.

Joe is one of the funniest people I know, and his humor is evident throughout this delightful story. Laugh-out-loud-funny.

2. Bill Cameron, Sunlight Nocturne

Ex-cop Skin Kadash spends Halloween day building a bat house with his neighbor, four-year-old Danny, while helicopters circle overhead looking for a murderer who might be hiding nearby. This wonderful story skillfully contrasts a lazy fall day with a brutal murder and police search. Bill Cameron writes crime fiction, and is the award-winning author of Lost Dog, Chasing Smoke, and Day One.

3. Pat Dennis, Dead Line

Sibling rivalry and a suburban Halloween decorating contest cause Kate to take a pitchfork to her sister’s yard display. As she dismembers a stuffed goblin, she discovers that her annoying husband needs to be taught a lesson. Pat is a stand-up comic, popular writing instructor, publisher, and published author.

4. Marilyn Victor, The Ogre of Her Dreams

Fledging witch Aurora Piddleworth wants a soulmate, but when she blackmails instructor Olympia Dalrymple into creating the man of her dreams, he turns out to be an ogre who lavishes attention on the young witch and won’t give her a moment’s peace. The spell cannot be undone, yet Aurora agrees to go to extreme lengths to banish the new beau from her life.
This is a clever, well-drawn, delightful story from beginning to end. Marilyn Victor is half of the crime-fiction writing team of Marilyn Victor and Michael Allen Mallory, known for their zoo mysteries.

5. Patrica Abbott, The Angel Deeb

When a pickpocket begins to grow wings, he finds himself contemplating a new line of work. If you’ve never read Patti Abbott, you’re in for a treat. Patti is truly one of the best short-story writers around today.

6. David Housewright, Time of Death

A young girl under arrest for the brutal murder of her cheating boyfriend attempts to convince the investigator that she is innocent, claiming the murder was committed by a ghost. David is an Edgar-winning author, and writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

7. Stephen Blackmoore, World’s Greatest Dad

By the time Franklin Delacorte wakes up, he’s been dead six hours and is unsure of how he feels about his sons turning him into a zombie. When Franklin begins behaving...well, like a zombie, the boys feel compelled to undo what they’ve done. But Daddy knows best, and Franklin doesn’t want to stay dead.

Stephen Blackmoore has an uncanny skill for writing black humor, and World’s Greatest Dad is a hilarious zombie tour de force. Stephen recently signed a two-book deal with Daw.

8. Shirley Damsgaard, Bewitched

So what if you don’t have the right ingredients to cast a spell? Rachel buys a magic book from an antique store and uses household ingredients to bring Mr. Right back into her life. Only Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. Wrong. Shirley is the author of the popular Ophelia and Abby mysteries.

9. Lance Zarimba, Fangs and All

It’s love at first bite for Billy Joe Jim Bob when he brings his first vampire home in this hilarious and deliberately cliché-packed story. Lance is a multi-published author.

10. Leandra Logan, You Called

A bitter, lonely woman spends Friday nights drinking cheap wine and entertaining herself by redialing the days unanswered calls to harass telemarketers. She finally meets her match when a mysterious man answers one of her calls. Leandra is a multi-published, bestselling author.

11. Julia Buckley, Motherly Intuition

A mother’s job is never done, and death is no reason to keep Daphne’s mother from looking out for her daughter. Julia Buckley always delights, and Motherly Intuition is a great showcase for her charm and humor. Julia is author of the Madeline Mann series.

12. Anne Frasier, The Replacement

After a young man is reanimated, he has forty-eight hours to find a replacement for his empty grave if he wants to remain above ground. The best candidate for replacement is the man who murdered him. Anne is a USA Today bestselling author, and recently sold a memoir to Grand Central Publishing.

13. Jason Evans, She Came on the October Wind

A stray black cat appears nightly at Natalie’s window, bringing with it memories of a sister who ran away years earlier. Jason is the author of the blog, The Clarity of Night, where he hosts and judges a popular fiction contest.

14. L.K. Rigel, Slurp

Feed your Muse takes on a whole new meaning when a writer has a breakdown just as trick-or-treaters arrive at her door. A wicked, fresh, and clever tale by an emerging writer.

15. Kelly Lynn Parra, Graveyard Soul Sucker

It’s Halloween, and group of college students visit a graveyard in an attempt to reanimate a dead serial killer with a ritual found in an ancient book of spells. Kelly Parra is the award-winning author of Graffiti Girl and the more recent Carina Press release, Criminal Instinct.

16. Heather Dearly, Troubled Water

The anniversary of two deaths brings about the return of the Grim Reaper to Anya Madjigijik’s house on Cemetery Road. A haunting, moody, and beautifully written tale by this previously unpublished author.

17. Paul D. Brazill, This Old House

If you want a job done right, do it yourself. Or in the case of This Old House, never hire an idiot to burn down your home. A plot to collect on homeowner’s insurance goes horribly wrong when the man hired to carry out the deed gets his holidays confused. Paul lives in Poland, and has quickly established himself as a masterful short-story writer.

18. Michael Allan Mallory

19. Paula Fleming, Tricks, Treats, and Terror in Tin Lake

Halloween is the one day of the year when alien Adeela can shed her costume and walk freely among the humans. Until someone burns down her house.

Paula Fleming is a short-story writer and busy freelance editor living in Minneapolis.

20. Mark Hull, Friday Night Dining with Marianne

It’s Halloween, and a food critic finds herself dining on chubby Boy Scout, mountaineer eyeballs, and sea monkeys. As Marianne finishes her meal, she decides the mysterious restaurant is the perfect place to bring an annoying associate. If Bram Stoker had written comedy, it would look exactly like this. Mark Hull’s Friday Night Dining is pure charm and delight from beginning to end. Mark is a contributor to The Rake, a Twin Cities lifestyle magazine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dark and Disorderly by Bernita Harris

Online friendships are weird. Some of my...let's call them hardcopy friends, don't consider online friendships real friendships. I do. It's a different kind of friendship, but a friendship nonetheless. Sometimes the online friendships don't hold up in the real world. Other times, when you finally meet the person face-to-face, not a beat is skipped. But that's something to explore in another post.

Bernita Harris and I have been online friends for at least six years. Although we've never met in person, I can easily imagine hanging out with Bernita in her backyard garden. So I was so excited when I heard that Bernita had sold to Carina Press. Her first book, Dark and Disorderly, comes out today. It's been getting rave reviews. I just downloaded my copy from Amazon, and can't wait to read it!

Dark and Disorderly

"I was standing there naked when my dead husband walked into my bathroom..."

Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance.

Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband comes to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan's ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband's murder and reanimation.

But what's most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan—and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband's murder—before his corpse kills her...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Sometimes I can't keep track of who I am. I started out writing under my real name, but when I switched to crime fiction the marketing department thought I should use something new. My middle name is Anne. My editor suggested Frasier, and that was pretty much that. At about the same time, I moved from Iowa to St. Paul where I met a new group of writers and booksellers, and they came to know me as Anne. I gave up trying to use Theresa, because nobody could keep it straight. I even had trouble emailing various people at the publishing house because they didn't know who Theresa Weir was, and I quickly realized I had to make a full transition in order for my career to move smoothly. And now I will eventually be transitioning back. It's possible that I'll continue to write suspense under Frasier, but at this point that's unclear. The hardest thing to change will be email. I've used the Frasier email address for so many years. Just not sure how to make that switch, but at the same time I'm afraid continuing to use Frasier will be confusing for people. And what's really weird is that in a lot of ways I feel more like Anne Frasier than Theresa Weir. I've been Anne for ten years, and I left that old life and that other name behind long ago. I'm sure I'll eventually get used to being Theresa again, but it all feels so strange! Sometimes I wonder if I just shouldn't get my name legally changed to Frasier.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


More book news!
I'm excited to say the Halloween anthology has found a lovely home! I can't share many details until I meet with the publisher, but it will be released in trade paperback September 2011. I couldn't have done it without all of the wonderful stories. Once the details are locked in, I'll post an official announcement including the publisher and a list of the contributors.

Above is my original mock-up cover which I doubt will be used. Back when this project was just a twinkle in my eye, the title was Bats in the Belfry because I'd planned to publish the book myself and I was calling my little publishing venture Belfry Press. But when the stories began rolling in, and they were so damn good, I felt we should reach higher. Now I think we might need a new title, and I'd like to have a list of options when I meet with the publisher. So please leave your title ideas in the comment section!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


A couple of weeks ago someone posted a thoughtful piece on self-publishing, or rather the dangers of self-publishing. I wish I'd bookmarked it, because now I can't recall the details, but it was something about self-publishing making it too easy for writers to publish before the book is ready to be published. And publish before the writer has really honed his skills. I don't even know if that's what the article was really about. All I can recall is my mental response and another viewpoint it triggered in me. And I've been thinking a lot about this lately because of my own interest in self-publishing.

My concern isn't that unpolished and undeveloped stories will be published, my concern is that good books, fantastic books, will go unread.

Writers who would normally take the traditional path - the tedious queries and rejections, the waiting and waiting, the revisions and waiting and revisions and more queries - many of those writers will decide to self-publish and we'll never read their stories.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Criminal Instinct by Kelly Lynn Parra

I'm so excited about Kelly's book, Criminal Instinct. It's one of the first titles for Carina Press, which officially launches today, June 7th!

Read about Kelly's long journey beginning with her initial conception of CI to today's launch. It's heartbreaking and inspiring.

Words of a Writer -- A Personal Journey


purchase from Carina Press

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I'm trying to build up my supply of storycards. Got some cute new paper. Really like the paper in the upper right-hand corner. You can't tell from this image, but it's flocked.

I'm in the process of getting slides scanned, and I will be posting some digital images in the coming weeks and months. I'm also going through my late husband's artwork and notes. When he was dying and could no longer speak, all conversations took place on paper. Of course these are just his side of the conversation, but it's easy for me to figure out who he was talking to. Probably twelve notebooks in all. At first he wrote everything on an erasable board, then we switched to spiral notebooks and legal pads. At the time, I didn't think about keeping them -- it was for convenience, because the erasable would sometimes vanish before he was done writing. I've been scanning some of this stuff, but it's hard to get a clear image since it was written in light pencil. But anyway, I'm digging through boxes and sorting and reading. Missing some slides and artwork, but hopefully they will show up.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Several friends have books coming out this month, and I will start with the first two just-out titles by Bill Cameron and David Housewright, both wonderful, wonderful writers, both of whom have stories in the Halloween anthology.

David (House to many friends and readers) happens to be doing a signing at Once Upon a Crime June 8. I haven't read this book, but it's on my to-buy list (you can't go wrong with a book by David Housewright) along with Bill's Day One. If you would like a signed copy of David's book, you can call Once Upon a Crime. They do mail orders! (Hey, you could order both books at the same time!)

Once Upon a Crime: (612) 870-3785


(Edgar and Minnesota Book Award author)

The Taking of Libbie, S.D.

7 PM Tuesday, June 8, 2010

from Once Upon a Crime:

Join us for a publication party at:

Once Upon A Crime

604 W. 26th Street, Minneapolis

Edgar Award-winning author Housewright jumps right into the story in his seventh Rushmore McKenzie mystery: it opens with two men breaking into McKenzie’s Minnesota house, zapping him with a Taser, throwing him into the trunk of a car, and transporting him several hundred miles to, of all places, Libbie, South Dakota. Once there, they discover they got the wrong guy: they're looking for a con man who used McKenzie’s name and identity to bilk the town of Libbie out of a lot of money. Believe it or not—and McKenzie can scarcely believe it—the abductors then ask the abductee to help them out by finding the con man and bringing him to justice. McKenzie describes himself as a knight-errant doing favors for friends (he’s way rich and doesn't need a day job, but that's another story - which we have:, namely A Hard Ticket Home).

"charmingly unlikable in a likable sort of way" – Booklist Online (referring, of course, to McKenzie, rather than the indisputably likable Housewright)

Bill Cameron
might dispute this description, but I would define his writing as literary crime fiction, partially because he is so good when it comes to the interior of his characters. I once said this about Bill's writing:

"Real is the word that immediately comes to mind when stepping into a world created by the exceptionally talented Bill Cameron. The landscape he illuminates is one we've seen before, but never with such focus or appreciation."

Bill's anthology contribution features some of the characters from Day One, and I can tell you the short story just blew me away, so I'm especially anxious to get my hands on a copy of his new release.

About Day One:

Born and raised in southern Oregon farm country, Elie Spaneker flees her home and abusive husband, unaware she's being tracked by an ex-cop in the hire of her vengeful father-in-law.

In Portland, retired homicide detective Skin Kadash fills his idle days drinking coffee and searching for Eager Gillespie, a teen runaway of special interest as the only witness in a troublesome and long unsolved murder. Eager, meanwhile, is on his own, grifting and working the angles in the homeless underground, oblivious to the unfolding events which will force him to face the consequences of a crime, and a longing, which has haunted him for years.

These disparate trails converge at a bloody standoff, the harrowing end of a series of brutal crimes which trace a path from the high desert to the streets of Portland, committed by a perpetrator known only as Shadow.


“Readers will get caught up in this thriller's various plot threads, which will lead them to a sad yet satisfying conclusion.”
—Library Journal

“Unrelievedly bleak and gritty yet thoroughly compelling.”

"The characters’ operatically intense passions are powerful."
—Publishers Weekly

I'll round out this post with a June release by friend Mary Logue. Mary is another awesome Minnesota writer. She and Bill are both published by Tyrus Books.

Frozen Stiff

The next installment in the Claire Watkins mystery series.

Car mogul Daniel Walker is celebrating New Year’s Eve alone. Or at least he thinks he is. The temperature is twenty degrees below zero outside, but he’s roasting in his sauna with a bottle of Stolychnaya. Not only is he about to be rid of his wife, but he has just conned an older woman out of her family farm. Everything is going his way. At midnight, he runs outside naked for a quick roll in the snow. But when he tries to get back in the house, he can’t. He’s been locked out.

The next morning he’s found, frozen and covered in snow. When deputy sheriff Claire Watkins gets to the scene, she calls an ambulance, remembering that sometimes people in this condition can be revived. As the doctors pump warm fluids through his body, his loved ones gather: his model daughter Danielle, his soon to be ex-wife Sherri Walker. Claire learns of others who weren’t happy with him: the son of the woman who sold the farm and the housekeeper’s daughter who is giving birth to an unexpected child in the same hospital.

While solving this midwinter crime, Claire realizes how tenuous love is and how frozen she’s been since her first husband was killed many years ago. She has been happy living with Rich Haggard, but in this chilling season she finds she wants more. Maybe she’s finally ready to step into the marriage he’s wanted all along.


"Readers who care more about intelligent depictions of passionate emotions than the details of police work will be most satisfied."
—Publishers Weekly

"A satisfying entry in a consistently entertaining series."

"Sure to appeal to Logue’s fans and readers who enjoy regional Midwestern mysteries."
—Library Journal

Monday, May 31, 2010

writing junkie

I've always thought of writing as an addiction, and I'm not sure you really have to believe in yourself to sell a book. You just have to be obsessed. This theory hit home with my recent sale. A few people have said, "You believed in the book. You believed in the story and yourself." No, I didn't. I didn't believe in it at all, but I was obsessed with telling it anyway. And later, I just needed to follow the thread to the end and have definitive proof that this was a story no publishing house would want so that I could just move on.

Years ago I knew a guy named Willy Dixon. He and his wife are long dead, so they won't be reading this. But Willy spent about twenty years working on a memoir. It was horrendous stuff, and he sent pages to me and he sent pages to the little rural community paper. And people, being what they are, would sit around and read his stories out loud and laugh. Over the years, I gave Willy advice, but he wouldn't listen to any of it. He just wrote and wrote and wrote. He was obsessed. And while I was writing The Orchard, I kept thinking: This is my Willy Dixon book.

When I sent it to my agent of twenty years, he sadly said it was nothing and couldn't rep it. Another male agent read forty pages and came to the same conclusion. I put the material away for a year, but I couldn't quit thinking about it. I began to wonder if the story didn't appeal to men. If men simply wouldn't respond to it. And at that point I decided it needed to be read by female agents. They would tell me the same thing, and I could move on and put the material away once and for all. But of course that didn't happen. Three publishers were interested, and my sense that this was a book for women proved to be right. I think it's a book for single women and childless women and mothers and daughters and sisters and aunts and grandmothers. I think women connect to the earth and the soil in ways that men don't. Not that men care less than women -- God, no! We just connect in a different way.

Sorry to talk about this again, but I keep replaying pieces of the last three years, analyzing, trying to figure out what key elements led to this particular place, and I think it comes down to obsession. I always have to finish what I start, and I couldn't let it go long after I quit believing in it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

free short stories on Smashwords

For the next few days I'm offering a couple of free short stories on Smashwords. Please be my test readers! You have to use the coupon code to download free titles. If you spot any typos, let me know!!

Crack House coupon code: WJ44U

Girls From the North Country coupon code: BX94M

Sunday, May 16, 2010

those crazy storycards

Over the past few months I let the storycard thing slide, still unsure about the whole concept and packaging. (Is this stupid? Not stupid?) Friday I participated in a fundraiser for the local library. I donated about 15 of my Frasier books and gave a talk/discussion. I also donated most of my remaining stock of storycards. Weird thing? Everybody loved the storycards. They were a much bigger hit than my books. Since all of my storycard sales have been by mail, I hadn't actually witnessed the response to the cards. People seem to love the way they feel, love the size, love the concept, love the choice of patterns, love that they are handmade. So I'm feeling kind of buzzed about them again. It's a tough thing, because I don't think Etsy is really the place to sell them, and I don't think a bookstore is really the place to sell them (even though the audience is there), because I would have to almost give them away in order for the store to make any profit. I've added another story, and I plan to add three more in the next few months.

my Etsy page

Saturday, May 15, 2010

when everything new is old again

My daughter took these photos last Sunday using an iPhone app. They look like lovely Polaroid transfers:

Perley lilacs

flowering crabapple

planting an apple tree

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Am I done?

I'm busy with freelance edits, but as I'm editing I sometimes come up with things to share.

Am I done yet?

Before moving on, I ask myself if I've thoroughly explored the emotional depth of a scene. Of course I've been doing more navel-gazing lately, but I think this kind of question can apply to most writing. If a scene falls flat, ask yourself what you're missing. Try to unlock the secret of that scene.

Had a lovely Mother's Day. The offspring came and we drank New Glarus beer, ate pizza, planted a Haralson apple tree, went mushroom hunting, transplanted Perley lilacs, and listened to rough mixes of two new songs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

discussion topics for book groups

My latest project is ready for submission, and my agent asked that I put together a brief explanation of how I got to this point. Why this story? Why now? Those of you who've been following my blog know what a long journey this has been, and know I pretty much bet the farm on this one. But if I hadn't written it, I would have spent the rest of my life regretting that I'd never tried. A few years ago I think it would have sold. Now...well, let's don't go there.

As I read the material one final time, I realized that the book lends itself to discussion topics. Even though the main story is about farming and living on a farm, I think this book has the potential to speak to everyone.

All of us can reflect on our lives and and in retrospect see those decisions we made that ended up having a much bigger impact than we could have anticipated. And it's interesting to follow that thread back, back, back to the beginning, to that very first trigger. So my first topic for discussion would be this:

What single event, large or minuscule, changed the course of your life in an unexpected way?

I realize this isn't a new question, but I think it's one that doesn't get old and is always fun to think about.

I've never participated in a book-group discussion, so if anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them. Is the focus always about the book, or can the topic turn around and be about the reader?

Monday, May 3, 2010

writing tip: just do it

The best way to learn how to write is to write. Okay, we've all heard that a million times, but it's true. Write, then give that material to someone who knows how to write, and let that person show you what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. Because I don't think all of the tips in the world mean anything or really sink in until someone points out what works and what doesn't.

I'm not trying to plug my editing service, because I'm kind of swamped right now. But because of my service, I'm coming to understand that these writing tips are just Charlie Brown's parents until the writer is led to his mistakes. Ah, yes. Now I get it.

Just do it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Cat's Meow

A year ago I came up with this concept for a trilogy. The first book in the series was The Cat's Meow. Kind of chick lit. Kind of romance. Kind of fantasy. I thought it was a delightful idea. Unfortunately, I was the only person who liked it. One agent said it was definitely the oddest thing she'd read all year, so it has that going for it. I've posted the first chapter on Smashwords, where you can read it for free. Leave a review or rating if you like. Or if you hate. At this point, the first book is half done. I stopped when I started racking up negative feedback.

The Cat's Meow

Saturday, April 24, 2010

writing tips

More tips!

* Don't introduce too many characters in a single scene, especially in the first and second chapter, but not a good idea anywhere. The reader can't keep track. Beginners tend to introduce too many characters in the first chapter.

* Once you've introduced a secondary character, make sure that character reappears at certain intervals, otherwise reader will forget who he is. And if he disappears for long chunks, is he really that important?

* Mix it up. We tend to skim names when we read, so make sure character names vary. Make sure they don't sound or look alike, and don't start with same letter.

* Don't stick two stories together. You know what I mean. You've written 150 pages of one story, get sick of it, think of another plot, but don't want to waste those 150 pages so you just stick the two together and do a little sanding at the seam. I've seen this A LOT. You aren't fooling anybody.

* try to get rid of words like:


Watch out for the words was and been. This can sometimes indicate weak writing, but not always.

* Easy on italics. Apparently some people don't mind italics, because I sometimes pick up books that contain whole chapters of it. I won't read these books, and I wonder how many other readers feel the same. I would say no more than a page or two at a time. Different formatting can sometimes be substituted for italics, such as a block of text with wider margins and condensed spacing. To me, that says this is just as important as the other text.

Saturday, April 10, 2010



This topic really needs a post of its own, because it's controversial. Every day we read agent blogs and tweets telling us to avoid trends. I understand where this is coming from, but I also think a hot trend can be an unpublished writer's foot in the door.

My friend Linda, who used to write wonderful historical romances under the name Jessica Douglas, used to say you don't want to be the first wagon through, and you don't want to be the last, but that place in the middle? Sweet.

If you recognize a hot trend you'd love to write, and if you can write very quickly, I say go for it. It's an opportunity. And when I say write fast, I mean have that manuscript ready to go in eight months. Because trends can turn overnight, which is why agents are always warning against them. I lied. Actually, they don't turn overnight. From my observation, it takes a minimum of two years for a trend to really go belly up. Once saturation point is recognized, doors to hot trends slam one at a time, and with each slam your chances of selling go down.

A slow writer should avoid jumping on a trend, because there's nothing more heartbreaking than working years on a story no one will even look at. If you can't have that story ready to go in under a year, then maybe trends aren't for you.