Monday, December 24, 2007

So you want to be a writer?

A few days ago, a high school classmate that I ran into mentioned to me that she wanted to be a writer. Let's call her Ann. She'd seen the newspaper article about me and that got her to thinking about how she'd written back in high school, but how life had conspired to get in the way of that over the last twenty years.

She asked a couple of questions, but the holiday rush kept me from being able to answer them. We exchanged email addresses, though she only half-jokingly said she didn't figure she'd ever hear from me again.

She did. Below is a portion of the email I sent to her. It is a message that I would send to anyone who aspires to be a writer. If that is you, then so is this post.

Dear Ann,

I'm writing to you as one writer to another, to encourage you a little bit. In reply to our discussion over the counter...

If you want to write, do it.

If you think you have writer's block, just start writing about anything -- fiction, non-fiction, a journal, bad poetry, anything. Put words together in a meaningful way.



Read some more. It's like doing push-ups for writers.

Believe in yourself. Every time you write with purpose, you get better. Every time you submit something for publication, you are closer to being published.

Don't worry if you're any good or not. You are. But that doesn't matter, because the more important thing is that you are writing. So you are getting better.

Read Stephen King's book On Writing. It is perhaps the best book on the subject that I have ever read. If you like, I can suggest another that touched me when I was eighteen. But beyond that, don't get too caught up in reading about writing ad nauseum. Instead, write.

Take a class, if you want. I don't put much stock in those classes, unless you use them as a vehicle to get you writing. While I'm sure the craft of writing can be taught (I hope it can, or I'm in trouble!), it is somewhat of a junkyard dog skill. You plug away, you get some feedback, you do some reading on the topic (and lots of reading in general) and you plug away at it some some more. The blend of natural ability (what I believe is the "art" side of writing) and technical skill (the learned "craft" side) come together to create the final product -- your story, article, poem or novel.

Just write, Ann. Don't be one of those people at a party who say, "I always wanted to write." Be the one who writes. I have no doubt you'll write well. The only question is just, will you write?

Carve out a small chunk of Ann time each day. Fifteen minutes, even. Just enough time to write something. That will be a good start. From there, you go as far as you want to take it.

So now you've heard from me, in spite of your expectations that you never would. [wink]. And I'd be happy to help you in any way I can in your journey. A word of warning, though. Writing is like cocaine -- it is addictive. And when you are published, even just a short story in a tiny online magazine? Well, that is like moving up to crack cocaine -- highly addictive. Just a little disclaimer for ya.

Don't let that deter you if you truly want to write. If you truly want to write...write. Don't allow any excuse to stop you. Even if you miss a day or a week or a month, put that pen to paper again. And again.

Be a writer.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Story & Article and ETC at Mysterical-E

My short story "And a Fall Cometh" is now available in the newest issue of MYSTERICAL-E ( Mysterical-E is an online crime fiction magazine published by Joe DeMarco. It features a wide variety of crime stories, reviews and articles.

This is my third time being in the magazine. The first time was in December of 2005, when they published my story "Be My Santa Baby." (I actually wrote a sequel to that story called "Finch and Elias", which is available on AMAZON SHORTS). Then, in March of 2006, they published my story "The Meat-cutter's Wife." That is the first story featuring Dominic Bracco, who has appeared in numerous others since then -- "Rescuing Isaac" (THUGLIT) and "Dead Even" (MEDIUM OF MURDER) as a main character, but several others in a smaller role. (If you want to read the other side of the story to "The Meat-cutter's Wife," it appears in a story called "Running into Darkness," which is in the NEVER SAFE anthology).

"And a Fall Cometh" is a sequel to the story "Pride Goeth," which appeared in the anthology SEVEN BY SEVEN. "Pride Goeth" features Paul, the boxer who refused to throw a fight. His sin of Pride goes unpunished as he is able to win the fight in the round he bet he'd win...thus thwarting Dominic Bracco's plans for the match. "And a Fall Cometh" picks up afterward, chronicling his getaway.

In addition to the short story in this issue, I have an article called "Love, Resentment, and Understanding: The Citizen and the Police Officer." This article explores the dynamic between citizens and cops, as well as offering some explanations for why cops act the way they do...and a little more meandering philosophy, to boot.

So if you get a chance, go to MYSTERICAL-E and check out this issue. Then bookmark the magazine and come back every couple of months. It is published quarterly.

Another reason to check back is that beginning with the Spring 2008 issue, my quartet of SHAE AND LADDIE stories will be published, one in each issue. These four stories are told in reverse order. In other words, the first to be published ("Shae") is actually the last to occur in the timeline. Each successive story takes a step backward in the timeline. The first two to appear are narrated by Laddie, the final two by Shae.

Each of the stories is a stand alone story. It is my hope, however, that the reader will get an even deeper experience by reading all four (and in that order). If you're that reader, let me know.

My sincere thanks to Joe DeMarco at Mysterical-E for featuring my work. Not only is he a great guy, but he also hails from Philadelphia, home of my beloved Flyers. ;-)

Publishing Update

I spoke with my publisher this morning. I thought I'd pass on a little bit of an update on Oh, Enemy Mine, the anthology AISLING is planning to publish.

Due to unforseen circumstances, the book is now slated for a release date of April 2008. This is a hard release date, so expect to see this collection of revenge tales then.
My three stories are:

* "No Worse Curse," which explores the question: What do you get when you cross an English Manor in Ireland, an American scholar, an IRA soldier and a mummy?

* "Jack's Town." Officer Carl Riggins goes up against Jack Talbott, the richest man in La Sombra. This story takes place a year or so after the events in "In the Shadow of El Paso" (MAP OF MURDER) and includes many of the same characters.

* "Prank Call." Antonio Scazetti plots revenge against the man who got him sent to jail years ago. Scazetti spent all his years in prison working out how he was going to repay his "friend" once he got out. Is revenge really a dish best served cold?

With an April release, OH, ENEMY MINE will join MEDIUM OF MURDER and HARDCORE HARDBOILED (from THUGLIT) as anthologies that I am a part of in the first half of next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Auntie's Reading

Well, for those of you who weren't able to make it, the reading at Auntie's was a lot of fun. There were some familiar, friendly faces in the audience.

As always, there was a reading (I stress about this for months...and eventually just read the first chapter...) followed by a question and answer period and then the signing.

Lois, the event manager at Auntie's, was as gracious as ever. And there were some great questions from audience.

Thanks in particular to Kathy and Hilary, John and Sarah, Jim and Diane, Bill and Anni, Sandy and her daughter, as well as the guy who was only trying to avoid drinking and driving.

Hope to see you all again next time...and the rest of you out there in River City!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The group author signing at the Coeur d'Alene Hastings went great. It was very fun to meet the other authors.

This Friday, though, I'm flying solo again. I'll be at Auntie's Bookstore in downtown Spokane (Main and Washington). The appearance is in the evening at 7:30 PM. They are actually doing it in the Liberty Cafe, which is in the same building, so the the whole affair should have an intimate feel to it.

I'll be doing a brief reading, answering any and all questions and then signing some books. So come on out and bring a friend. Could be a fun way to start out an evening, right before getting some dinner downtown or catching a movie.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

See You Saturday!

I hope to see some folks this Saturday at the Coeur d'Alene Hastings for a gathering of several crime writers. Here's the release from Hastings:

Hastings Entertainment will host a "Crime Fighters for Chrismas" author signing event on Saturday December 8th.

The event features authors who are in law enforcement, retired law enforcement, or people who write crime novels. Authors include former Alaska Trooper Mike Kincaid, Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Christie Wood, retired Coeur d'Alene high school teachers Yvonne Dietz, Susan Schreiber and Vikki Moormann, former US Army Officer Edward Santos, and Spokane Police Lt. Frank Zafiro. Between them they have written a variety of mystery and crime novels, tactical weapons books, and childrens storybooks. These include: "Alaska Justice", "Adventures of Woodville" and" Woodville Wedding", "Murder is Only Skin Deep", "Rule the Night-Win the Fight", "Under a Raging Moon" and "Heroes Often Fail". Book signings will take place between 2:00 and 5:00pm at 101 Best Avenue in Coeur d'Alene.

See ya there, eh?

Thanks, Kennewick!

I enjoyed an appearance in Kennewick, Washington last Saturday. There was a lot of traffic and very many were great readers. I had a number of very enjoyable conversations. Don, the book manager, was a great host (thanks, Don!). I'm looking forward to coming back down again.