Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron's writing has been called "unputdownable" (Laura Lippman) "unsettling" (Seattle Times), "ingenious" (Joseph Finder), "richly atmospheric" and "Hitchcockian" (USA Today), and "deliciously creepy (Publisher's weekly). Her award-winning NEVER TELL A LIE was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network. With THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN she delivers her most accomplished novel of psychological suspense yet. Hallie teaches writing; her WRITING AND SELLING YOUR MYSTERY NOVEL was nominated for an Edgar Award. She also reviews crime fiction for the BOSTON GLOBE.

When I started writing THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN, it felt like stepping off a cliff. It's been so gratifying that early reviewers are praising the two things that worried me most -- my old woman and the Bronx neighborhood I wrote around her.

As I wrote Mina Yetner, the book's 91 year old protagonist, I tried to channel my mother-in-law who died at 91 and who claimed she felt no different than she had when she was 21.  When my daughter read the book, she told me Mina reminded her of her grandmother. Fist pump!

But I do think Mina is very much ME, or at least the person that I expect to be when I'm so old that I don't feel like I have to apologize for having so many opinions.

As much as this is a book about an old woman, it's also about a place. I imagined Mina sitting on her back porch, sipping tea, the newspaper obituaries column in her lap, gazing contentedly across "her" marsh to the Manhattan skyline. That's the scene I started writing, and that's how the book begins.

I thought I'd have to go to Jamaica Bay to find a spot like that, but a friend who scouts locations for films told me about the perfect spot in the Bronx. Marsh. Skyline view. Quirky old houses. It's on the western edge of Clason Point in the Bronx, approximately where the Bronx River meets the Long Island Sound, overlooking the Soundview Lagoons.

That's where I set the book. I call it Higgs Point -- a fictional neighborhood in a real geographic location (got that?). I named it after Thomas Higgs, a real historical figure who once owned that land.

Though I invented the details of the neighborhood, I used its history. Its narrow lanes are lined with houses built on long narrow lots where there were once beach-front tent platforms. Summer-weary residents of Queens used to come over by ferry (there was no Bronx Whitestone Bridge) to camp out. The Siwanoy Indians who once lived there called it Snakapins, meaning Land Between Two Waters. How cool is that?

With her spectacular view of Mahattan, I knew Mina needed to have a connection with the Empire State Building. Eventually I discovered that when she was little, she watched it go up. As a young woman, she got her first job working there. And she was working there when a B-25 bomber crashed into it on a foggy morning in 1945.

The pieces tie together -- the remnants of a long-gone amusement park, the Empire State Building, a historic fire -- through the relationship between two main characters, a young woman and a very old woman who lives, not in a shoe, but in the Bronx.


I've written a couple blogs about promotion and things I'm learning while promoting "Whimsey: A Novel."

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 30

Topic of the Day

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Care & Feeding of Your Favorite Authors

Dear Friends - please heed, not just for indie authors, but for ALL your favorite authors. And if your favorite indie bookstore (AND LIBRARY!!) doesn't carry our books, ask them to order a couple. Thank you! Word of mouth is what we count on and we all appreciate your help.
Note the little "Like" button - Very Important!  We like seeing and hearing that we're liked (and it helps our Amazon ranking greatly). 

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 26

Topic of the Day
"Something I Did"

Monday, March 25, 2013

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 25

Topic of the Day
"What's In Your Drawer"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Photo a Day Challenge - Day 24

Topic of the Day
Photo by Don Barley

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 23

Topic of the Day
"What I do for Fun"
Hang out with my mom

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whimsey Webpage

I've been working on redesigning the Whimsey Webpage  -  I hope you'll take a look and let me know what you think - - -

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 21

Topic of the Day

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 20

Topic of the Day
I now have a wet nose print on what was once a nice clean page

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March Photo a Day Challenge - Day 16

Topic of the Day
"Ansel Adams Inspired"
Photo by Don Barley

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 15

Topic of the Day
Photo by Don Barley

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Whimsey Promotion

I'm writing a little about the pain of promotion, and listing a few dates I'll be visiting some blogs to chat about WHIMSEY -

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 13

Topic of the Day

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Delivering Bad News - How to and How not to

So Whimsey has received its first "not so great" review.  sigh.

The one really good thing about that is that I can now quit fretting about it.

It happened and life goes on.  And, as I think I've said before, "Life is Good."

And, of course, I didn't expect the whole world to love Whimsey.

But still -



This came right along with some other not so great things happening which I'm not going to go into 'cause you'll just fall asleep.  Other people's woes are pretty boring truth be told.  Especially when they're petty - as mine are.


These are things I hope I remember for the rest of my life.

When delivering news to someone and it's not really great news, it will hurt less if its delivered in a kind manner with a little grace.

Here are ways "not" to start your delivery . . . .

"Oh, I really wanted to like this."

"You're going to cry."

"I hate to say this."

I mean, think about it, do you want to have news delivered to you starting off that way?

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 12

Topic of the Day
"In the Distance"
Photo by Don Barley

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 11

Topic of the Day
 Photo by Don Barley

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Whimsey, oh my

WHIMSEY: A NOVEL is collecting lots and lots of lovely reviews. 

I am gobsmacked.

Totally and awesomely gobsmacked.

Thank You to everyone who has come out in support of Whimsey.  I love you to the moon and back. 

I've been posting the reviews at the Whimsey webpage, you can see them here.

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 9

Topic of the Day

"Funky" might be reading an Alice comic book by the light of a Lava lamp  

Friday, March 8, 2013

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 8

Topic of the Day
This is my favorite picture of my favorite two guys at my favorite place on God's green earth - home

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What I've Learned (so far) About Being A Self-Published Writer

When I wrote a piece back in January about why I had decided to self-publish ( ), some of you asked me to keep you posted on how I did things, how they turned out and I felt about it all.

But stop right here for just a minute.  You've written YOUR book!  Be proud.  Remember to hold this dream in your heart 'cause if you're a writer, the chances are the rest of this stuff isn't going to really be your cup of tea.  BUT.  It's necessary. As necessary as having an editor.  You've done that, right?  Had your book looked at by an editor?  If not, back up.  Have your book edited by someone other than yourself.  NOT proof read - edited.  By someone reputable, not just some name you randomly pulled off the web.  Ask your writer friends to recommend someone.  Several someones. Talk to people before you make your final decision.  But this step is every bit as important as the writing was.  A good editor is going to make your work better.  Believe it.

So here's the story (so far).

I honestly didn't have a clue as to what I was doing, so I asked a few friends questions, gathered the information that was useful to me and just kinda jumped in.  If you're writing and considering your options whether or not to self-publish, I would encourage you to do this.  Do your research! Ask questions!  And ask them of people you know and trust.  Everyone has different goals and experiences, so you're still going to have to make your own decisions based on what you want.  And you're going to have some surprises along the way.  Be prepared.  Not everything is going to go as planned.  Try to remember it's a learning experience and what you learn the first time around will help things be easier the next time around.

One of the most helpful things I found was Kimberly Hitchens' webpage for her company,  Hitch is extraordinarily generous with her wealth of knowledge in the world of self publishing and shares a lot of it in her "eBookery 101 - The Handbook."  After reading through "The Handbook" a couple times and looking through her website, I decided to turn my manuscript over to a pro and have them do the eBook conversion.  One of the smartest things I've ever done.

While working with, I hired another pro to do my cover.  Luckily, I happen to have a friend who is well versed in design work and I knew I'd be happy with what we came up with.  I knew exactly what I wanted and she helped me get it right down to the smallest detail.  I went to some of the royalty free photo places on-line and searched out the different aspects I wanted to include.  If this is a new venture for you be aware that "royalty free" does not mean the images are free for you to use at will.  They're not.  You pay a licensing fee to use these images.  Some are very reasonable and some are much more expensive that I could afford - just browse and enjoy the art work and you'll find what you want at a price you can afford.  A couple places you might start looking are and  But that's just two of many.

Here's probably a good place for me to send you over to L.J. Sellers' blog.  (Another person sharing a wealth of information!)  This is a place you'll need to bookmark (along with Hitch's handbook) and refer to often. 
The way I'm telling things may, I'm afraid, make everything sound a lot more simplistic than it really is.  For example - your cover is separate from your eBook conversion.  But it needs to be included in your Kindle upload.  And you'll need your cover files from your cover designer in order to upload it. 

You don't need to be afraid of the process - just knowledgeable.  And the knowledge is available.  Between L.J.'s blog and Hitch's handbook, you're going to be well on your way.

My next step was taking my book file from and my cover file to amazon and uploading my files at Kindle Direct Publishing, where it popped up at amazon WAY quicker than their original estimate. 

I then went to (also an arm of and uploaded my manuscript for the print version.  Again, CreateSpace will walk you through, step by step.  It was not a difficult process, but it was a lengthy one.  And you will also need your cover files here.  And not just the front cover, but the back cover and a spine.  I "think" there are cover templates at CreateSpace to help you design one on your own if you don't already have one.  (I "think," but I'm not sure about this).

This is probably an obvious point to everyone, but it wasn't to me.  My first upload to CreateSpace (thank goodness they send back a proof!) was all wrong.  I just "assumed" that my manuscript was fine to upload as it was.  "As it was" happened to be as it was created - 8 1/2 x 11.  That's what our Word files are, right?!  Right!  But, wrong for making your manuscript into a book.  Change your paper size on your computer to the book size you choose at CreateSpace. 

And do your proofing thoroughly.  By this time you're going to be sick to death of reading your manuscript.  No matter.  Do it!  And when you send it back to CreateSpace to make the changes (and you will) be sure and look over that next proof thoroughly again.  Don't assume they've caught all your changes.  (I had this happen).

Some people do this differently than I did.  Some will take their manuscript to CreateSpace and do their print version first, then have CreateSpace communicate with Kindle Direct Publishing to have the electronic version done.  Your choice.

Here's another thing I did which, again, is a personal choice.  I was told by an independent bookseller who I know and trust that a lot of booksellers would rather buy their book stock through their normal distributor - which in most cases is Ingram.  In order for your self-published book to get to Ingram it will need an ISBN number.  The ISBN given to your book through CreateSpace is for their own inventory purposes.  So.  In order to get an ISBN (IF you want one) you'll need to go to the only place that sells them.  That's Bowker.  And you have yet another bit of "paperwork" to do, and it too is timely but not difficult.  Just read the directions and follow them.  Don't assume anything while you're doing this - read the directions and you'll be fine. 

Something to be aware of.  If you purchase your own ISBN, there's a lag time from when your book will appear at and when it will be available through Ingram.  That period is about 6 to 8 weeks.  If you want booksellers and libraries to order your book, it's best to wait and alert them once you're sure your ISBN is showing up in Ingram's database.  A bookseller can easily check this for you.

Okay.  So.  You do all this and voilĂ , your books are available (and it feels great!).  Now you get to do some promotion.  And you get to decide how much promotion you feel comfortable doing.  Remember Hitch's handbook?  There are some great suggestions there. 

And in answer to a couple final questions. 

Am I happy with my decision to self-publish?  Yes.

Will I do it again?  Yes. (and doing everything exactly as I did the first time - but with a bit more knowledge this go 'round). 

Have I made any money?  Considering the up-front costs, I admit, I was concerned.  But in my first month I have recouped what I spent (whew!), and have a bit of profit to boot. 

Am I going to get rich?  Pffffft.  Noooooo.  But I'm having fun and I'm gratified with the reviews and comments and notes I've gotten from readers.  Who - by the way - have grown to include people beyond my friends and family - Yay!!!!!  But friends and family helped enormously by helping me spread "The Whimsey Word."  As you've heard a million times, writing may be a solitary art, but getting your work noticed and selling it can't be done by just one person.  Let friends and family help. 

One more thing.  Not everyone is going to be as supportive as you think they will.  But at the same time, support will come from places you might never expect.  And I'm thinking of different kinds of support here; financial and emotional - intertwined but separate.  Be prepared. You may feel confident that those you've supported in the past will support you in return.  That's not necessarily so, and it hurts me to say that, but, there you go.   And - not everyone is going to like what you've written.  It's okay.  Not every book is written for the same audience.  Don't worry about that.  Your job is done - you've written the book YOU wanted to write.  What other people think at this point is no longer your business, really.  Will you get your feelings hurt?  Oh yes, you betcha.  But you've written your first book and you'll write your next book.  And THAT'S REALLY WHAT COUNTS.   Be damned proud - it's an accomplishment to be proud of.  It's an accomplish you alone now own and no one can take it away.  Don't allow them to even tarnish it the littlest bit.  Anyone who thinks it's easy hasn't done it.  And those critics?  Honey, their opinions are no more valid than the next reader's.  And the next reader may very well love what you've given them. 

So - - - - - -

And have fun!!!!

Then feel free to shout it out - loud and proud.

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 6

Topic of the Day

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hanging Out With Janet Rudolph

I want to be Janet Rudolph when I grow up.

Seriously.  I love the woman and she's always doing interesting, fun things.

She has a great mystery blog where you can keep up with all the latest news in the mystery world, Mystery Fanfare -


she also has a great chocolate blog, Dying for Chocolate.  Today I'm her guest and she's posted one of my favorite recipes.  Check it out! -

I'm thinking this is a recipe that may need to show up in the next Whimsey book . . . .

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 4

Topic of the Day

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Oh, Kaye!"

Today is my day to play as "Oh, Kaye!" at Jungle Reds - .  I'll be chatting about girlfriends and red crayons. AND I'll be giving away a copy of WHIMSEY (which just got another terrific review  at amazon - squeeeeee!). So. Drop by, say "HEY!", and leave a comment to enter the drawing.

March Photo A Day Challenge - Day 3

Topic of the Day

Friday, March 1, 2013