Happy Blogging Anniversary — to Me!

Has it really been five years?

I started this blog as a way to chronicle the writing process for my debut novel Baby Grand, particularly since I was in the throes of a massive writer’s block in the spring of 2010. I had this thought that sharing and commiserating with and cheering on other writers would help me write my way out of a hole. And somehow it did.

The blogging community has grown much in the past five years. There was a rush of bloggers around the time I started out, and the number of blogs just keeps getting higher and higher. Those of us who managed to stick around have found value in blogging and have readers who have found value in us.

Thank you for your support these past five years. As long as you continue to come, I’ll keep building. :)

By |2015-03-27T08:14:19-04:00March 27th, 2015|Events, Uncategorized|1 Comment

#PubSmartCon Pieces: Jane Friedman

Last week, I attended the inaugural PubSmart conference — an unprecedented gathering of publishing professionals who really are some of the smartest on the planet — in chilly (where were the warm temps??) Charleston, South Carolina. The participants came from all aspects of publishing: self publishing, traditional, small press and hybrid. As a journalist and author, I’ve been to quite a few of these things, and I truly was blown away by the value of the information presented as well as the generosity of spirit of the event’s keynoters, panelists and organizers. (Hugh Howey, the bestselling author who served as one of the keynoters of the conference, is not only a savvy author, but he just might be the most gracious one I’ve ever seen, stopping to answer questions for anyone who asked one. Very cool.) By the time I got on my flight back to New York on Friday, my brain was heavy with all sorts of actionable information.

Today, I’d like to share pieces of Jane Friedman‘s enlightening keynote address titled, “What does it mean to publish?”

  • 25 percent of the top 100 books on Amazon last year were self-published. “This would have been unfathomable at the beginning of my career,” Friedman said.
  • Publishing used to have a scarcity of content and a controlled environment, but now there’s an abundance of content and a scarcity of attention.
  • Through the 20th century, to print something was to amplify it. Not so today. There’s too many competing printed materials. Then whose job is amplification. The traditional role of the publisher was:
    –Gatekeeping and editorial. But… gatekeeping is broken. People are self-publishing en masse. Quality is not a useful debate to have anymore, because we’re not going back to the way it was.
    –Distribution. But… distribution is no longer of value anymore in the eBook world. I distribute. You distribute. Mobile is important to the future of reading. It is a myth that what we have to say has to be in book form. We’re slowly coming out of that cultural myth and moving into trans media: how one story can be told in many different ways.
    –Marketing/Publicity. But… it is now about lifetime marketing. The conversation never stops. Authors have direct engagement with readers. The sales life of a book is no longer a few months, but forever.
  • Free has become the tool of the unknown author who is looking for a readership. “Loyalty comes first,” Friedman says. “Monetization comes afterward.” For example, she said, “I haven’t paid a dime for Candy Crush. You can download it for free, but if you run out of lives, you have to pay 99 cents. Now, the company that produces Candy Crush is valued at billions.”


By |2014-04-21T16:25:09-04:00April 21st, 2014|Events, Publishing, Uncategorized|0 Comments

And We Have a Winner!

The random number gods have spoken, and we have a winner for yesterday’s BABY GRAND giveaway!


Congratulations to Kathy Gunthorpe Ashdown, the second person to leave a comment — that included a birthday wish — on yesterday’s blog! Kathy has won an autographed copy of Baby Grand.

Thank you to all who participated in my birthday giveaway! I hope all of your wishes come true!

By |2013-02-12T05:48:06-05:00February 12th, 2013|Book Promotion, Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Anne Canadeo: ‘All Characters Are a Reflection of the Writer’

Last night, I attended the book signing of cozy mystery writer Anne Canadeo at Book Revue in Huntington, New York. Anne is the author of the Black Sheep knitting mystery series (she also wrote the popular Thomas Kinkade writing as Katherine Spencer) and was discussing The Silence of the Llamas, which is the latest book in the series. As often happens when I attend these appearances and the authors talk about their experiences while writing their books, I find myself nodding along. Here are nine things Anne said that I thought were pretty spot-on:

Anne Canadeo

Anne Canadeo

  1. ‘All the characters in the book, including the villain, are a reflection of the writer.’ Whether consciously or unconsciously, I imbued practically all the characters in Baby Grand with elements of my personality or fragments of my thought process. A piece here. A piece there. What’s fun is when people who know me read the book and pick up on them.
  2. ‘Fun things happen by accident.’ All the time. I plan, plan, plan, but sometimes the characters have something else in mind. I was surprised by many of the twists and turns that occurred in Baby Grand as I was writing.
  3. ‘Even though I knew my ending as I was writing, I wasn’t sure  how I was going to get there.’ Imagine getting into your car and getting ready to drive to a destination that is familiar to you. Hmmm… let’s see, you can take the highway if you want to get there quickly, or perhaps the scenic route if you’re in the mood for pretty. There’s lots of ways to get to one place, and that’s part of the magic of storytelling.
  4. ‘I need an outline or else I find that I’m wandering aimlessly.’ I experience this as well. Although my process is to just jump in and start writing wildly, without an outline, I reach a point — probably about a hundred pages in — where I get that “wandering aimlessly” sensation. That is when I sit down and do a very, very basic outline that serves as a guideline to get me from chapter to chapter and eventually to the end of the book.
  5. ‘Sometimes writing is miserable, but you’re compelled to do it.’ As one of my graduate professors used to say, there are so many more exciting things we could be doing — spending time with our families, meeting friends for lunch, going to the movies. Why do we sit at that computer and suffer? Because, for some reason, we’re compelled to do so.
  6. ‘You can talk and talk about writing, but you really just have to sit down and do it.’ This is VERY true. Waiting for inspiration is a myth if you’re a working (or serious) novelist. Gotta just sit there and write. Now.
  7. ‘When I’m writing, I do not think about the reader.’ It sounds cruel, perhaps, but worrying about what readers will think about a book will keep me from writing anything at all. Everybody is different. We all find different things funny, scary, thought-provoking. I truly believe that if you just concentrate on writing what’s in your heart, readers will find you.
  8. ‘Being a writer is pretty lonely.’ When I’m writing, it’s just my computer and me. In the middle of the day or night. I wouldn’t quite call it lonely, although I am indeed alone. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying the marketing aspect of Baby Grand right now — interacting with readers at store appearances and book clubs. I get to share my characters with others who — thank goodness — seem to love them as much as I do.
  9. ‘The most fun is being done with a book.’ Amen.
By |2013-02-02T08:47:03-05:00February 2nd, 2013|Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Book Revue Author Event

Last night, I had my first book signing for Baby Grand at Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y. — the go-to place for book signings on Long Island (Nelson DeMille will be there tonight, Valerie Bertinelli tomorrow night). More than 100 people came out to support me, braving the rain and the parking. I was completely overwhelmed. A truly great evening. For photos from the event, you can visit the Making ‘Baby Grand’ Facebook page. And here is a video snippet of my presentation where I talk about the inspiration behind Don Bailino, the villain of Baby Grand.


By |2012-10-16T15:16:27-04:00October 16th, 2012|Baby Grand-palooza, Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kevin James: ‘Great Teachers Need to Be Saluted’

Kevin James and Henry Winkler at yesterday’s Mamarazzi event.

Yesterday, I attended a private screening of the new Kevin James movie Here Comes the Boom, as part of a Mamarazzi event led by Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein. In the film, former college wrestler Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher (Henry Winkler), Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Everyone thinks Scott is crazy—most of all the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek). But in his quest, as Scott becomes more and more committed to fighting for the students, he becomes a sensation that rallies the entire school.

It was such a fun film, definitely one of my favorite Kevin James movies along with Paul Blart: Mall Cop. After the screening, Kevin James and Henry Winkler sat down for some Q&A time, and James talked a bit about the writing of the film (in addition to being the star, James served as co-writer and co-producer). Here’s a snippet of what James he had to say about writing Here Comes the Boom:


By |2012-10-11T10:50:49-04:00October 11th, 2012|Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kindle Nation Daily Sponsorship: Worth It?

On August 19, 2012, Baby Grand was Kindle Nation Daily’s eBook of the Day.

My goal for the sponsorship was to introduce Baby Grand to readers who have never heard of the book or of me or my blog — to connect with complete strangers who might enjoy a good thriller. And, hey, if I could make a little money too, even better.

Kindle Nation Daily is a popular promotional choice for Kindle authors (when I purchased the sponsorship back in June there were only two dates left for August). KND offers all kinds of sponsorships, including daily and weekly options, as well as packages, that run from about $30 and up, and their newsletters and websites connect with tens of thousands of readers.

The sponsorship I purchased, eBook of the Day, is priced at $159.99. A bit steep. So right off the bat, I knew there was a good chance that I might not recoup my investment since I had planned on selling Baby Grand at the promotional price of $1.99 that day, which meant that I’d need to sell about 270 books (since Amazon offers 35 percent royalties for books priced under $2.99) to break even.


Choosing an Excerpt

Last month, I did my first reading for Baby Grand as part of the Summer Gazebo Series in Oceanside, New York.

And when I was deciding what excerpt I would choose for the event, I just thought I’d start from the beginning and read Chapter 1 — seemed like a logical place, right?

But I began watching some YouTube videos of authors who had been featured at the Gazebo over the years and realized that Chapter 1 was going to be a poor choice. Why? Well, even though Baby Grand is a thriller, there’s really not much action right off the bat, and my main characters don’t appear until Chapter 2 and beyond. Yes, Chapter 1 is a wonderful beginning to the novel, but, by itself, is by no means suitable as a representation of the entire work. As writer-friend Roz Morris wrote in a recent post about how she went about selecting an excerpt for a reading, beginnings are “for settling down with, not standing up.” I needed an excerpt that not only featured a few of my major players but one that had a little more suspense, something that grabbed listeners and made them want to know more, without giving too much away, of course.

Profanity was also an issue. There are characters in Baby Grand who have a penchant for the F word, so those scenes were out, because I had been instructed to select an excerpt that was more basic cable than premium channel.

What to choose? What to choose? I mean, there are 62 chapters in Baby Grand!

I began to narrow down the possibilities. The excerpt had to be a chapter that was early on in the novel or else too much of the plot could be given away. But it couldn’t be too early, because I needed things to be set in motion to make it more interesting for the listener. There was the profanity issue, yes, and I also had to think about timing — I had been given a ten-minute slot to fill and was told I could not go over, because there would be four other readers (two poets, a fellow fiction writer and a nonfiction writer) there that night as well.


Author Hopping at BEA 2012

One of the coolest parts of attending Book Expo America is seeing authors and getting their books autographed, and this year’s crop of authors did not disappoint. Here are a few of the authors I was lucky enough to meet.

James Patterson at BEA 2012

James Patterson. I got in line to get James Patterson’s latest, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, which was written with Maxine Paetro, a half hour before he even started signing. The line grew pretty quickly and by the time it started moving it stretched clear across the entire Javits floor. I got totally tongue-tied when it was my turn and James Patterson asked me where I was from. I said “Long Island” like it was an apology.

Adriana Trigliani. Truth be told, I have not yet read a Adriana Trigliani book, but she was kind enough to do an author event at my local library recently, and since then I had been wanting to read her work. So I got on the back of what was a pretty decent-sized line but one that I thought was manageable. Turns out, it took FOREVER for me to baby-step my way to the front. That’s because Trigliani was so lovely that she chatted and laughed with each and every person on that line. She seems as devoted to her fans as they are to her. I look forward to reading The Shoemaker’s Wife.


By |2012-06-13T19:26:53-04:00June 13th, 2012|Events|0 Comments

All Set for Book Expo America & ThrillerFest

There are lots of conferences and events held throughout the year for writers. This year, I will be covering Book Expo America and ThrillerFest, both being held in New York City, for this blog and hope to bring back some interesting and useful writing tidbits and tips. For anyone who has attended BEA, which takes place this week at the Javits Center, it’s books, authors and publishing professionals galore! For readers and writers, it’s a veritable Candyland. What I probably enjoy most  are the “Author Stages,” an interview format during which authors discuss their books and share their back stories. Author Stages are held throughout the day, as are autograph sessions featuring an all-star lineup (major celebrity alert), that usually have lines as many as fifty people long.

And if you’re a thriller reader/writer, well… ThrillerFest, which takes place July 11 to 14 at the Grand Hyatt, is pretty much BEA for thriller lovers. Lots of terrific panel discussions and featured speakers on all aspects of thriller writing. Now that Baby Grand is out there, maybe I’ll find some good marketing tips to pass on.

Two amazingly cool events. And I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences there with you.

By |2012-06-04T08:21:25-04:00June 4th, 2012|Events|0 Comments
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