Friday, July 29, 2011


Feeling hot and bothered this summer? Take a look at B.B. Haywood's new book, Town in a Wild Moose Chase. It should make your temperature drop. Candy Holliday and her friends are at it again in the third book in the Berkley Prime Crime series, this time during Cape Willington's winter carnival! The book will be published, appropriately, in the winter of 2012. Read it to see how a cozy is put together!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Addendum to article below....

For some reason, the link I enclosed for today's post--a great essay in the New York Times--seems to be broken. It requires sign-in to the the NY Times site. My apologies. The article is just great. It was published on July 24 and talks about  imprisoned writers through history whose writing improved because of their incarceration. Find it, read it, if you can.


Maybe what I need--maybe what you, as a writer need--is a stiff prison sentence. That might be just the ticket to get us all focused and inspired to churn out the work we so desperately need to do without the distractions of the digital age.

But I have to confess, it's not simply the Internet that gets in the way of my productive work. It's my aged mother-in-law, my failing cat, and the umpteen things that I'd rather be doing during the summer than putting nose to grindstone.

Here are a few tips I've come up with to help myself do what needs to be done. Maybe they will be helpful to you as well:
  • Exercise in the morning, before the day begins. Then you have no excuse to quit working mid-day.
  • Get your in-box down to a reasonable number and KEEP it there. (This is advice I really need to follow with upwards of 500 queries as of this writing.)
  • If you are writing, write. Don't email or answer emails. Don't talk on the phone. Don't surf the web. Write for two hours or so, then do those things.
  • Reward yourself with a night out, a movie, a visit with a friend after a long, productive day.Or, do you think the Internet helps you?
What do you do to keep yourself organized and prolific? Does the Internet slow down your progress?  How do you avoid its allure? Or, does the Internet help you?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I just spent two days cruising the BEA in New York City. One day as a publicist, the next as an agent. From what I can see the book is still alive and well--it's just morphing as I write this.

On my bus trip home from the city I sat next to a lovely young woman who was juggling her smart phone along with a Kindle. As she settled next to me she seemed to be having difficulties with the latter. We were just leaving the Lincoln Tunnel when she turned to me and said, "Please excuse me. I am not one of those people who talk on the phone all the time, but I do have to make this call."

I thanked her for her courtesy and told her that it was no problem. But, since I was practically sitting on her lap, I overheard every word of her conversation with the Help Desk at Kindle headquarters:

Oh, I hope you can help me! I just took my Kindle out of my bag and it's stuck. The screen isn't cracked, but there are black lines running through it and I can't turn it off or on......No, I didn't drop it. I'm right in the middle of this book and now I can't read it and I'm so devastated!...What? Oh, you will? When?....Oh, I can't believe it. You'll send me a replacement? Really? But, what about all my books?....You can load them onto the new one? Oh, my!....You'll have my new one shipped right now?....Of course. I'll pack the old one up and send it back as soon as the new one comes!...Thank you so much!

The young woman turned to me and said, "That's the BEST customer service I have every had! I'm positively addicted to my Kindle and they will replace it, no questions asked!"

"My husband gave me the Kindle for Christmas--a complete surprise! I didn't know if I would like it, but I tried it and fell in love. I've read 30 books since then. I work at home and have two little kids, so you know I'm a dedicated reader. But what will I read on the way home?"

I mentioned to her that my new Droid smart phone has a Kindle app. Her phone did not, but she was able to download it right then and there, access her account, and read the rest of her book on her smart phone. The book she was so desperate to finish? A Discovery of Witches. She finished it before I got off the bus 2 hours later and had already begun another.

So what does this tell us about the state of reading? I think it's an inspiring and hopeful story. People of all ages are still reading--books, e-books, audio books--they're even reading on their smart phones.

We still need authors and publishers are still important. The trick is to make sure authors get paid well for their work and don't become victims of the e-book revolution.


The first rule of blogging is to be consistent--blog daily, if possible; weekly, for sure; bi-monthly, if that's the best you can do.
Sue me--I've broken all those rules. Time to get back in harness. Here are some topics I'd like to tackle:
  • Zombies--Are they really still hot?
  • Women's fiction--Is there a place for "grandma-lit?"
  • Can anyone write a book--If "yes," SHOULD they?
Don't give up on this ignored blog--more to come!

Monday, February 21, 2011


I've spent much of this President's Day reading queries and organizing the emailed partials and manuscripts I've requested. Later in this post I'm going to sound like that old, cranky English teacher you had in high school. You remember--the one who insisted that you write your term paper in a conventional style and that you number the pages and write your name clearly. But for now, in the interest of transparency, I must confess some organizational sins of my own.

I asked for the same manuscript--twice. That's the trouble with electronic submissions. If you're not very organized, you can get in trouble. I have a new system in place which should prevent these kinds of mistakes.
I know I've done the same thing with rejections. How awful to get rejected once and then get rejected again. So sorry.
My current problem is that I'm loving a manuscript I requested, but the author did not put her contact info anywhere. It's not on the manuscript, her bio or the synopsis. I no longer have the original query. No way for me to contact her unless she reads this blog. Lisa T--email me?
Please remind yourself to identify everything you send to agents. Write your name, address, phone number and email address on each item. Use a running head on each page of your manuscript with your name and title of your book. Simple to do and it could mean a lot.
And, yes, a super-organized agent would never lose a contact. In a perfect world, all agents would be perfect secretaries. Trouble is, sometimes we're just not as together as we should be.
Oh, the photo above. It's just for fun--the first of the three amaryllis bulbs we received for Christmas from our daughter-in-law, Phaedra. They are all in bloom now and they make winter easier to bear.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Here's one for the "You Can't Please Everyone" files. This email came in tonight:

i send in my query with a SASE, and the best you can do is scribble a rejection on the bottom of my own query letter and send it back to me? that's not just rude, it's unprofessional; a professional would have had the courtesy to reject my query with a form letter. wassamatta- is your printer broken? unpublished writers don't merit simple human decency?

and you people are supposed to be in charge of public relations? shame on you.

This missive annoys me for several reasons:
  1. It's Jon who "scribbles" on snail mail queries. He does it because he thinks it's more personal than a form letter. This person sent the email to me--I'm innocent here. I scribble my rejections via email and don't even deal with snail mail!
  2. Authors tell us time and again how happy they are to find an agent who will respond to a query in ANY fashion. Many agents simply tell authors that if they don't hear back, consider it a rejection. I've been tempted to do that but Jon thinks it's tacky (and not very professional) not to respond.
  3. I'm annoyed by the tone and attitude of this email. Somehow this author thinks we don't respond with "simple human decency"--pul-eeze! Human we are and we really bend over backwards to be decent!

OK, I think I'm done now. Just needed to rant and while the author certainly merited "simple human decency," I didn't think that email merited a personal response.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This winter has been one for the books. Up until a few days ago our sidewalk sported an ice wall on each side, compliments of a Pennsylvania 1-2 punch--snow, then freezing rain with resulting ice moguls everywhere. It's enough to make you use a steak knife on your partner. That's what a local lady did, according to our newspaper. She asked her boyfriend for a cigarette and when he said, "Get your own!" she stabbed him with a handy steak knife. Her excuse was the weather and that I can understand.

But, I digress. Today it's over 40 and ice is melting everywhere. Tomorrow it will be even warmer and I'm feeling pretty chipper.

But, let me apologize to all of you who are waiting for Jon and me to get back to you about your queries, partials and manuscripts. We are making progress, but we're still behind. Your patience is much appreciated. Why are we so behind? Is it the weather?

Can't use that as an excuse. It's simply that there are so many good writers out there and we're doing our best to sift through their work and to select those projects we think we might be able to sell.

The glaciers are melting, spring is forthcoming and we continue to work through the backlog.

Monday, January 17, 2011


A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
December went by so quickly--I had elective surgery to correct a hernia (of all things!) on December 9. Publishing typically grinds to a halt between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, so I figured I'd take advantage of the lull and get this thing done. Everything went swimmingly and I was back on my feet the next day. On my feet SOME of the time, but on the couch MOST of the time watching terrible daytime television and sleeping.
The weirdest thing is that I thought I was of sound mind. I wasn't. I really can't remember much about that week except that Oprah really looks nice and the "Real Housewives of......." are just addictive! Jon, sweet man that he is, took very good care of me and discouraged me from working much. I couldn't face the stairs down to the office, so I set up my netbook on the dining room table to keep up with queries somewhat.
I'm embarrassed to say that I took advantage of my invalid condition. When my son Frank called to see what I wanted for Christmas I said, "I want a wireless modem and I want you to hook it up for me--this Sunday."
Now, I'm not that kind of mom, really I'm not. I blame the post-anesthesia-haze on that kind of cheeky request. But, the worst part is, Frank was over Sunday afternoon, modem in hand and we are now a wireless cottage. (Thanks, son, I really appreciate it!)
All's well now and we're very excited about new projects upcoming. The second book in the Candy Holliday series will be on sale next month. The title is Town in a Lobster Stew--look for it!