Tuesday, March 20, 2012

E-books vs. traditional: Can't we all just get along?

I had thoroughly enjoyed reading the article on Yahoo that offered up images and descriptions of some of the best bookstores in America. I had even taken notes on a few I wanted to visit - Tattered Covers in Denver and Baldwin's Book Barn in West Chester, Penn.

I just wasn't prepared for one of the reader comments posted underneath it.

"I look at the photos of these beautiful bookstores," someone posted anonymously. "And then I look at all these people on their Kindles. I think, "What a bunch of a$#holes."

Oh, dear. I have a Kindle. I like my Kindle.  Was I just a big  ...well, you know?

But, you know,  I love bookstores, too. In fact, I can’t resist books – I have hundreds of them in my house.

Then I thought of my brother. He's a smart guy, but he's not normally a recreational reader. However, since he got an iPad for Christmas, he's been devouring books while he's away on travel. So, e-books have their benefits, too.

They’re wonderful for their convenience and their price. And they’re drawing in new readers.

But I can't savor the beauty of Tasha Tudor's illustrations on an e-book. And there's something satisfying, something solid, about holding a book in my hand.

I sell my own book in e-format because it's affordable and it just makes sense.  But when I can afford it, I'd like to publish a paperback companion.

So does anybody have to be the a$#hole here? Can't we all just get along?

Friday, March 16, 2012

When life imitates art - and brings a funnel cloud too close for comfort

Yesterday morning, I was a few minutes late for work. I couldn't help it - Linnette McAfee was trying to outrun a tornado and it was bearing down on her, fast and furious. I couldn't just leave her there by the side of the road ... she was scared to death.

I was, of course, sitting in my car, engrossed in an audio book. This time, it was 74 Seaside Avenue, a book from the series by Debbie Macomber that follows the daily lives of the citizens of the fictional town of Cedar Cove, Wash.

But by yesterday afternoon, I was looking nervously out my window at the all-too-real dark clouds in the sky of southeastern Michigan. They were thick, gray and forboding, and I drove home with a lead foot, trying to beat the oncoming storm.

I couldn't help thinking of Linnette.

I made it home safe and sound - just about the time the storm hit and the radio announcer informed me those clouds had twisted into a tornado that was wreaking havoc in a tiny town about 30 miles away from my house.

Sometimes life imitates art ... and it's a little too close for comfort.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Story idea? Check. Laptop? Check. Self-Confidence? Um . . .

I remember back in the day, when I worked at a newspaper, sitting at my desk and grumbling to a fellow reporter.

I had this idea for a book, I told her, but I wasn't sure I would write it. It probably wouldn't ever get published, I said. I didn't have any big-shot connections; I didn't have any money. I didn't know anybody in publishing.  And really, what else could I do?

It was a solid idea - a newsroom murder mystery - but the odds were stacked against me. I wasn't sure I'd even try.

My colleague - her name was Kathleen - looked at me intently with her big blue eyes. She had amazing eyes, beautiful eyes, the kind of eyes described in romance novels. I wondered often if her sources were taken in by the guileless look of those eyes. Kathleen was actually sharp as a tack; her reporting tactics were fearless.

"Oh, I don't know," she told me then. "I think if you've written something of quality, there's always a way to get the word out. You just have to believe."

This was years ago - before e-readers, before Amazon, even before blogs. But she was right. Writers were still crafting queries, still creating chapbooks, still selling poetry from the trunks of their cars. If they believed in what they wrote, they were absolutely relentless about spreading their words.

That's the key, isn't it? To believe, to keep the faith? But that's so hard sometimes. It's much easier to sit, to grumble about the other guy getting all the breaks and wait for that sweet publishing deal to simply land in your lap.

It won't. You have to make it happen. Kathleen knew that, way back then. Me? I'm just a slow learner.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cleaning house ... and starting a writing blog

Welcome to my new website!!

I'm doing a little online spring housecleaning - way overdue - and I've decided to reorganize my blogs just a bit. 

Right now, you're on my main site - you can  get to the other blogs from here, and feel free to click around! But here is where I'll be posting more general topics on reading, writing and publishing.

My other blog,, will still focus on kids and family life, and I'll use my book blog,, to talk about the Death on Deadline series - particularly since I'm working feverishly on a sequel, tentatively titled Paper Cut.

Many thanks to my friend Erin Scheffler for helping me put this together.  Without my techie friends to help me, I hate to think where'd I'd be.

Anyway,  if you're a writer or avid reader, I hope you'll give me a follow, or just check in from time to time.  After all, any friend to books is a friend of mine.