Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting Your Name out There Part 2

Part 2 of 5

You want your name to show up when someone searches for it on the internet, and the more places you have a presence on the web, the more likely your name will show up near the top of the list. I've heard that if you have interconnections, it puts you higher in the search engine hierarchy. You want to be found when someone searches for a subject relating to you, too, not just for your name. Periodically search for your own name and see how many of the results on the first page are actually you. The more the better.

There are articles, even courses, on how to move your name up with search engines if you want to dive whole hog into this. I'm happy if I show up on the first page, and ecstatic if I show up at the top. On Sunday, the whole first page was me on Google, 9 out of 11 on Bing, 8 out of 10 on Dogpile, and 9 of 11 on Yahoo. Take that, George Kaye (my main rival) So, Yahoo! Something's working.


You may not want to, but I think you might have to use at least some social media. I don't think there's a way to avoid it.

BLOGGING - There are probably a million blogs now, but it's still a good way to get your name out there. You can blog on writing, on your life, on your interests, on anything, really. Visit some of your favorite blogs and see what works for you, what you can make work. Decide what draws you in because you can't write about something you're not interested in and make it fascinating.

Decide where to aim your blog. At writers? At readers? At friends and family? At complete strangers who don't know you and stumble across your blog?

Be sure and use the labels feature so someone can come across your blog when they google topics you've written about. If you're using another writer, say Lisa Scottoline, as a example of something, put her name in the label section of the blog. People who are searching for her will have an opportunity to check you out. I'm not sure if this feature exists on other blog sites, but blogger, or blogspot, which I use, makes it easy.

Other blogging topics: Book reviews and interviews are good. They'll draw fans of the books and authors you're using. The more popular and high profile the book and author, the more hits you'll get.

After you've blogged for awhile, maybe a few weeks or a few months if you're posting once a week, step back and reassess. Are you drawing in the readers you want to? If not, revisit your favorite blogs and try to see what you could improve, what they're doing that you're not. I love blogs with pictures so I try hard to find what I think are cute or interesting illustrations of my topics. Most of my pictures are from wiki commons and are in the public domain. Sometimes I can use photos that I've taken.

I also try to pose questions some readers might want to answer, or have opinions on.

Groups blogs are easier because you don't have the burden of making all the posts. This will also increase your reader base. Each blogger will draw in their friends and fans.

There are blogs about blogging and some of them give great advice. The most important thing you can do, after blogging regularly, they'll tell you, is to let someone know you've posted a new blog.

Do this on lists you belong to, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you communicate online. It works better to try to engage people, too. You can post that you just blogged about mowing grass. Ho hum. Or you can ask people if they have solutions for grass problems. What do YOU do about weeds, bald patches where grass won't grow, shady lawns, lawn mowers that balk? Are riding or push mowers preferred? What's the best way to hang the hammock when you're done? You might get more visitors if you can prompt them to read the blog and, better yet, to comment on it.

Unfortunately, I get a lot of people who comment about my blog on Facebook, not on the blog. Each blog site has challenges to posting, it seems, for some people.

Once you have a book or a story out, you can draw readers in by saying you'll do a free giveaway to a random commenter. I count my commenters, have someone I know pick a number between one and the number, and do my giveaway to that person. IF I can locate their email address. Don't forget to tell people to leave an email address for a giveaway. Do as I say here, not as I've done.



Leave thoughtful comments and make sure your name is displayed. Leaving comments on other people's blogs will encourage them to leave comments on yours, that is, to visit and read it. This is part of the interconnections that will make you easier to find on the web. You can also become a follower of another blog in hopes they will follow you.


Almost everyone who runs a blog is delighted when someone wants to write a guest column. It gives them a day off. Some people solicit for guest bloggers and, for sure, respond to those. This is a golden opportunity. Other bloggers may draw admirable traffic that you'd like to get in on and you can offer and see if you'd be permitted to guest blog there. Be sure you blog about something relevant to that blog and clear your subject with the owner of that blog. Refer, of course, to your own blog or webpage discreetly somewhere if at all possible.

I have listed a few blogs I like to visit, ones I think are successful.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: Split Second

I did this review in August for Suspense Magazine.

“Spilt Second” by Catherine Coulter:

This sixteenth in the series is subtitled An FBI Thriller, but, if you're expecting a traditional thriller, be warned that the books have a cozy feel. The main characters in the series are the married couple, Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, and Dillon is a bit psychic. But there’s another couple that takes over this book, Lucy Carlyle and Cooper “Coop” McKnight. Another character, it seems, is also psychic. Those elements take away from the thriller aspect, but there’s plenty of action.
Lucy and Coop are mismatched, the department logic goes, so they’re paired on a case. In fact, Lucy intensely dislikes Coop and his playboy reputation, but works with him for the sake of professionalism. Both Lucy and Coop harbor deep secrets from their past and the secrets threaten to surface and must ultimately be faced as they work together. Their case involves a guy who is picking up women at bars, drugging their last drink and then taking them to their own places to murder them. The guy has an unusual look, pale, almost white skin, emaciated artistic look, and a harmless puppy-like demeanor that attracts the women.
When the DNA of the pick-up artist is analyzed, they find out just how unusual he is. The agents are shocked to learn that the guy is a female. They’re even more shocked when the DNA is a match to that of Ted Bundy. The agents must put themselves in harm’s way to catch this very clever serial killer who is determined to carry on Bundy’s gruesome tradition.
Another case, an attack on gentle Mr. Patil who runs the Shop ‘n’ Go that Savich and Dillon frequent, runs in the background and provides its own twists.
If the reader can go along with a supernatural element, this mystery is enjoyable, a blend of thriller, cozy and paranormal.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke” for Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Rory Tate, Like a novel: Life with backstory

I welcome new novelist, Rory Tate, to my travels today. She's not a new novelist, but Rory Tate is. Confused? Read on.

The writing life is a choice. You have to really want to write, to express yourself in little words, tiny letters, pages of inner turmoil and alter egos. Like old age, it ain’t for sissies. Nobody is clamoring for your golden thoughts, as you find out once you start submitting to gatekeepers. What sounds to you like the most pithy, amazing, insightful nugget goes right over somebody else’s head. They don’t get it. They don’t get you.

In my twenties I wrote educational media, did newspaper work (mostly film reviews as I was, and still am, a rabid cinephile) and had a few exciting jobs writing ad copy and doing public relations for the Realtors of Bakersfield. But in my spare moments I thought about novels. I scribbled lame ideas on index cards and filed them away. I went back to school and got a masters. I taught broadcasting at a community college and did some video production. None of these jobs really fit. I started thinking again about writing, and wrote a screenplay. I paid $200 to somebody from the back of Writer’s Digest to tell me that it wasn’t very dramatic. Life went on. I decided to rewrite it into a novel as breaking into Hollywood while living in Back-of-beyond, Wyoming, with two small children seemed fruitless.

I spent my thirties writing novels, going to conferences, meeting writers and figuring out what this writing life was all about. Meeting other writers at that first conference in 1988, during the Yellowstone Park fires near the Boulder River in Montana, was mind-blowing. Not only were there other people like me, struggling to find a voice, but here were professional writers. They live and breathe! Although I set my sights on publication before my 20th high school reunion, then my 40th birthday, those milestones came and went. But soon after I sold my first book (the second one I wrote) to an editor I met at that first conference five years earlier. He had changed houses and said yes to The Bluejay Shaman. Actually he said, “It’s too long by 15,000 words. Can you cut it down?” To which I said, “Well, no, I don’t think I can.” I thought about that overnight and went back and told him, “Of course I can!” (Never say you can’t cut your own words. You can and you will, one way or another.)

This was one of the most exciting times of my life. Always treasure that first book. Western writer Terry Johnston told me to buy several boxes of first editions and put them in the garage. (They’re still there.) I walked on air for months. I was published.

Now, three publishers, seven novels, and seventeen years later, I’m not quite as giddy about publication. But holding a book in your hands that you slaved over, cried over, wrote and rewrote and rewrote some more -- there’s nothing like it. My new novel, Jump Cut, had a rocky beginning. I wrote the first half of it and couldn’t figure out what to do with the rest. I rewrote it multiple times. I had many rejections before deciding to publish it with Thalia Press, the small press run by my friend and fellow writer Katy Munger and me.

The independent publishing explosion has given many authors like me a chance to publish books that New York couldn’t see a market for. My last one, Blackbird Fly, is another example. Originally contracted by St. Martin’s Press, it went through three revisions before, for unexplained reasons, they kicked it to the curb. It has a new life now and is doing quite nicely, thankyouverymuchstmartinspress.

I decided to publish Jump Cut with a pseudonym, a choice that my agent first made when submitting it and I kept out of some perverse death wish. Now I am Rory Tate and I feel a bit reinvented. I always wanted to use “reinvented” in a book title but it seemed like a cliché. So I did it to myself. I even have a fake bio:  Rory Tate lives in Seattle and is a former news reporter at a television station there, and in several other major markets. Rory attended an Ivy League university, majoring in slacking and history, then found work in the field of journalism. Self-taught in broadcasting Rory discovered a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and the perfect margarita. A lover of war zones and dark alleys behind the Iron Curtain, Rory caught flack once too often and retired to the computer to spin behind-the-scenes tales of news rooms, danger, and the possibility of being your own worst enemy.

Jump Cut tells the story of a television reporter in Seattle who is her own worst enemy, likes Cosmos by the pitcher, has to work for her Rat Bastard ex-husband, and is desperate for a new job. A narcotics detective is suspected of stealing drugs from evidence. They have to work together to save themselves and the city they love. Read an excerpt and watch the trailer at Available at fine bookstores everywhere. Goodreads is giving away three copies of the book. Enter now -- good luck!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: Damaged

Here's another review I did for "Suspense Magazine." This one is from July.

“Damaged” by Alex Kava:

This thriller is a fast read. Not because it’s short, but because it’s so hard to put down non-stop action. The short chapters, mostly five to six pages long, move the reader through the book like the hurricane sweeps through the story.
Hurricane Isaac is heading straight for Pensacola, Florida. It has already hit Jamaica as a category-4 storm, which means its winds were 131 to 155 miles per hour and caused “devastating” damage, killing dozens of people. It soon picks up to a catagory-5 with winds 156 miles per hour or greater and capable of causing “catastrophic” damage.
Some residents of Pensacola—the ones who rode out the last storm—don’t believe it will hit dead on, but most of the area is evacuating. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bailey, a twenty-seven-year-old Coast Guard rescue swimmer and veteran of Hurricane Katrina, is part of a team who discovers a floating cooler of horror, full of body parts. They’re not even all from the same body.
Meanwhile…Maggie O’Dell, FBI special agent and profiler, returns from a bloody shootout to be sent by her unfriendly boss into the hurricane’s path to help investigate the discovery. No time to recover.
Meanwhile…Colonel Benjamin Platt, an infectious disease expert and a guy Maggie would like to have as more than a friend, is sent to the same area to see if he can figure out what’s happening to cause some mysterious deaths among military patients.
Meanwhile…a funeral director named Scott, who is Elizabeth Bailey’s brother-in-law, is getting himself involved in something that he knows should make him a lot of money. He doesn’t exactly realize what it is though.
The threads are woven together expertly against the backdrop of the impending storm, which is picking up power and heading straight for all these characters. The climax will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Reviewed by Kaye George, author of “Choke” for Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting Your Name out There

Part 1 of 5

I'm by no means an expert, but I can tell you what I've done, and some of it might work for you. I'll also tell you what some people, who are much better known than me, have done.

I've given variations of this as presentations to my local Sisters in Crime chapter, April 2010, and again for the San Gabriel Writers' League in October, 2011. I had to do some revamping between those two. Things keep changing! Neither publishing nor social media are standing still and you have to on your toes to keep up.

Fred Millard - Selling His Wares (public domain)
This will address starting from the bottom, as if you've done nothing, so skip any parts you already have a handle on.


The first thing you need, in order to get your name out there, is--your name.

If you're thinking of using a pen name for any reason, that's your first decision. Pick a name and start using it. But first Google the name you want. Also look for that This might help you with your decision. (More on that later.)

Create an email address with the name you're going to use. The easiest way to do this is by using a free email service like gmail or yahoo.

You want your email to be your name, and to be obvious. Don't use Kevin's Mommy or Mystery Writer or Agatha Christie fan, stuff like that. It's good for everyone to be able to tell who the email is actually from.


Now that you have settled on a name, start to use it. If you belong to online writing groups, sign up with that name, using that email address. If you're already a member with another name, announce that you're changing your moniker, then join the list with the new name. Get people used to seeing it.


Next, you'll need a website if you don't already have one. If you can get the domain for, do it.

If your name is taken as a domain, you might think about using a different one, maybe just a variation. Or, you can tack writer on the end: or Don't tie yourself down to the name of the book or series you're currently working on, or your current main character. If you never get that book published, you might get a totally different one accepted.

When you have a domain, put up at least a temporary message that a webpage is coming soon.

When you get around to designing your site (or having it designed if that's not your thing), keep in mind what you want to accomplish, what you want people to see when they visit. What is the most important thing about you that you want visitors to know?

Here are some suggestions: before you're published, you can offer your bio, some facts about you if you'd like, pets, kids, family, some pictures, what kinds of projects you're working on, organizations you belong to and links to them, and links to other writers' sites and blogs (and to your own blog).

After you're published, you'll need, front and center, information on how to buy your books. Include where you'll be appearing, approximate release dates of upcoming books. Some readers like to visit their favorite authors' websites and they'll even dash out to buy the next book as soon as it's available. Make that easy for them.

Here's another tactic you can use. If you have a hobby or interest that's related to your writing, you might want to start a separate webpage for that, or maybe you can use part of your writing page with a separate tab. Maybe a gardening webpage if you write about a gardening sleuth--draw in people who love gardening; or a site devoted to Maine Coon cats if your mysteries feature them. You can gain a following, from these interests, of people who just may eventually buy your books. People like to buy books from writers they know something about.

That parallel interest ploy can work with blogs, too, in fact even more so there.

This has worked well for a horse racing fan whose book came out recently to rave reviews, Sasscer Hill. Her book is called FULL MORTALITY and was published in May by Wildside Press. Her publicity compares her to Dick Francis and Sue Grafton--high praise! Her blog has been devoted to the horses she breeds and to horseracing and she's used it to the utmost to promote her mystery.

Back to websites and getting started there. Look around at other people's websites and see what you like about them. Dark, bright, background colors, layout, etc.

Choose some that have the feel you want and try to imitate that in yours. You can even contact the designers of the websites you like to see if they're available to design yours. If the name of the designer isn't displayed at the bottom, you could contact the writer to ask for the web designer's name. Sometimes it's a husband or daughter, or the writer herself. But, if you're having someone design yours, you'll want to give them an idea of what you want and pointing to an existing webpage that you like is a good start.
Below are some that have very different looks to them..


Friday, November 4, 2011

Two Book Reviews

I reviewed these two books in June for Suspense Magazine.

“The Fallen Angel” by David Hewson:

This ninth Nic Costa book follows closely on the heels of “City of Fear.” Nic's present adventure takes the reader deep into Rome, not only into the complex family life of the man, Gabriel, who has apparently plunged to his death from a faulty scaffold, but deep into the ancient Cenci family and the mythology that surrounds that fateful clan.
Three days into his August holiday, Nic comes upon a young English girl, Mina Gabriel, bending over her father’s dead form. The similarities to Beatrice Cenci, a tragic Roman figure, are striking. As are the parallels between the Gabriel family and the Cenci family. To begin with, the death happened on Via Beatrice Cenci, where the family has been staying. Something about the accident, about the way Mina looks at him and about the way her brother disappears after an enigmatic statement, ‘She's safe now,’ compels Nic to investigate, even thought it’s August and, as everyone reminds him, he’s on holiday.
So is almost everyone else at the Questura, the police department where Nic works. This makes investigation a little more difficult. The fact that the other police don’t at first think the death is suspicious gives Nic more problems. Why was Mr. Gabriel, an intelligent, popular, respected academic, reduced to living in this dilapidated building in the ghetto? Is the answer in the family’s tangled history or in further links to the Cenci history? Mina and her mother are obviously holding something back, but nothing will make them reveal what it is.
An ancient organization, The Brotherhood of the Owls, with links to Galileo, may hold some clues. But then, again, it may just add to the confusion.
Meanwhile, an attraction to Agata Graziano—a beautiful woman who has given up the vocation of nun—is tugging at Nic. Will the memory of his deceased wife let him pursue whatever might become of a relationship with her?
It was great fun to delve into Roman history and a modern mystery with Nic Costa.
Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

“Revenger” by Rory Clements:

This is a tale of altered history, using John Shakespeare, the brother of Williams, as the sleuth. William even makes a brief appearance and plays a role. The first in this series was "Martyr" and introduced Shakespeare as an "intelligencer" for Her Majesty, the Queen of England, Elizabeth I.
As the second book opens, John has retired from a palace and political intrigue to serve as headmaster of the Margaret Woode School for Poor Boys. His first main problem is an instructor who is too harsh with the students, but whom he is stuck with. The instructor was foisted upon him by the Protestant Bishop as an agent to keep track that no Roman Catholic leanings creep into the curriculum. His second worry is the Roman Catholic faith of his beloved wife, Catherine. She refuses to keep it hidden, a dangerous position in England at this time. John worries for his wife and his young daughter.
Queen Elizabeth, to whom John is loyal, has enemies. England has defeated the Spanish Armada, but Spain is regrouping and King Philip remains a threat. There may also be a plot to arrange a marriage between Lady Arabella Stuart, generally acknowledged to be next in line to the English throne, to Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. This would be a powerful alliance and could topple the queen.
Some rough characters convince John to get back into the intrigue game, some working for Sir Robert Cecil, some for Essex. John isn't quite sure who is on the side of the queen and who is against her. When John's wife quits speaking to him after she narrowly misses a trip to the Tower with the Catholic priest she follows, his troubles are compounded. Somehow, his family is entangled in a plot to overthrow his monarch and he must use his wits to keep this from happening.
The book is quite long for a mystery, 448 pages, but there's excitement and conspiracy on almost every page to keep the reader's interest.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pilgrimage to Canterbury

On Sunday, I was able to take a quick trip to Canterbury, courtesy of Jeri Westerson, whose new Crispin Guest release, TROUBLED BONES, takes place there. Can't wait to read my new autographed copy!

Jeri says that when she found out Chaucer had left his Tales incomplete, she determined, then and there, to finish them up. She waited until the 4th Crispin book to do it, though.

I tell people that Jeri travels with her collection of medieval weapons and the question is always, "How does she get them onto the plane?" They go into the belly of the beast, in a hardcase golf bag. On her trip home from Austin, though, she feared she'd lost them. They were misplaced when she got off the plane in California. They were found, though!

If you ever get a chance to Jeri give a presentation, even if it's without her dueling knights, make every attempt to see her! She demonstrated the proper way to use the sword and the flail and had a knife and a dagger at hand, too. We were all very nice to her.

Book People, where she appeared in Austin, was also celebrating the one-year anniversary of its mystery program, the program spurred on there by mystery buff Scott Montgomery.  So we had cake!