Wednesday, January 25, 2012

That All-Important National Bath Safety Month

I'll bet you didn't know that January is National Bath Safety Month. Of course, it's important to be safe in the bathroom all year, don't you think? I can't imagine that it's OK to slip and crack your head open in February, or to drop the hair dryer in the bathtub in March.

A few months ago, when I slipped and tore my rotator cuff, I began to think my bathroom might be out to get me. I decided to show that darn room. I wrote "The Bathroom".

My character tries to be safe in her bathroom, although she doesn't even know about National Bath Safety Month. She's thrilled to be in the apartment in the building her family owns. After all, the place is much bigger than her former quarters and has both a bathroom and and a powder room. While unpacking and moving in, she imagines the long bath she'll take to ease her tired, sore muscles.

Things don't work out, though. Things didn't work out for my story either. It was accepted by "Dark Valentine" but never printed there.

Would you like to know what happens in the story?

"The Bathroom" is a digital story, now available at Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting Your Name out There Part 5

This is the last post in this series. I hope you've gotten something from it! Thanks for tuning in.


If you do go the short story route, contests can be your entre to fame. Or at least to being able to say you're an award-winning writer. The Short Mystery Fiction Society is a place you can sometimes pick up names of publications. Take note when others get stories accepted in them. Many conferences have short story contests also.


Volunteering to judge contests, such as the Derringers (SMFS) and the Daphnes (RWA) can be a way to get your name known, and you'll be appreciated by the people running the competition.


Here are some I belong to, or have belonged to in the past:
Sisters in Crime, of course, national, local, online chapter, Guppies
Mystery Writers of America, national and local
Writers' League of Texas
Short Mystery Fiction Society
Crime Scene Writers is a huge group where your posts will be seen by hundres

You should post on the lists of these groups occasionally to get your name known to the other members. It doesn't do you any good to join a group and lurk. No one will know who you are unless you speak up occasionally.


Put it in your signature line. Then every post will remind people of an award or acceptance, or upcoming appearance or publication. Also make sure your website and blog addresses are in your signature line.

When you get a story accepted or win a prize, or present a talk at a San Gabriel Writers' League  meeting, you should make an announcement. Some of the places to announce are (and these are other reasons for belonging to these groups):

SinC, local, national, Guppies
on your blog
other yahoo lists you belong to

some organization links:
Mystery Writers of America &
Writers' League of Texas
Short Mystery Fiction Society


Lots of people use Goodreads and Kindle Forums more than I do. Some writers have discussions going on LinkedIn.

You can even have your own blogtalk radio show - do interviews, and so forth. Sylvia Dickey Smith has had great success with this.

Anything you can do to interact with other writers and, eventually, readers will get your name out.


Warren Bull, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR THE DEFENSE and many short stories, has this to say about authors helping authors:

The owner of a local independent bookstore helped me a lot; offered a signing, found a reviewer etc. when I first had a book out. Book store owners and staff can recommend your book and sell one copy at a time. So buy your books from the people who can help sell yours. You can establish a relationship before you get
anything published.

[ME: I certainly do this, buy my friend's books. And I feel it's my duty as a writer to recommend the ones I like to others.}

Warren again: Also you can ask friends family and other authors to write reviews for you on You can do favors for fellow [writers] by writing reviews for them before you have anything published.

People remember those who are helpful and friendly so ask if you can set up
chairs for signings, publicize the store etc. 

Writing reviews for other writers is important to them and it's something I don't do enough of. But has anyone thought of helping at another author's signing as a means of exposure? I haven't.


Here's a comment from Elaine Douts, a friend who was an unpublished mystery writer when I asked her thoughts on self-promotion:

Geez Kaye-this is one topic I don't do well.  In fact, I don't do [it] at all.  I know that I should, but until I get published, even a short story, I'd feel like a fraud doing self-promotion.  I've been told that my attitude is short sighted, but I just know that if I start self-promoting before I get published, it's fait accompli that I never will get published-just because the gods like me to make an ass of myself.  Yeah-there's the how to, but then there's the question why-[why] when no crystal ball says you'll ever get published.

I know a lot of unpublished writers feel that way, but you have to have faith that you'll be there some day. Elaine has since been published as E. B. Davis in short story form.


This is a lot of stuff.

Only do what you have time for and are comfortable with.

If you've never done any of this, start with one item at a time and build until people begin to know who you are. Keep on going after that, so they don't forget who you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting Your Name out There Part 4

To continue from last Wednesday, Part 4:


This has worked for me and for others. But I love to write short stories. If you don't write them, of course, it won't work for you. There are many more outlets for shorts, many more possibilities for publication, than there are for novels, even though they come and go unpredicatbly. Some ezines take everything submitted to them. I'd avoid these and concentrate on those with editors who screens submissions, who turn pieces down as well as accept them. It gives you more credibility. Also look at who is being published in the magazine and, if you see names you recognize, that's a good sign it will do you some good to get accepted there. Study the stories being published and see what you have that would fit, or what you can write that would fit in.



If you don't write short stories, you can still get yourself known by having short pieces published--articles. These can be articles on writing, reading, book reviews, interviews, or life essays, if you're so inclined. If you're featuring a Jack Russell terrier in your novel, see if you can get an article accepted in a dog magazine.

Volunteer to write articles for newsletters for the organizations you belong to. If you live where there are small local publications, see if you can write articles for them.

Local author, Karen MacInerney, wrote a serial short story that was featured in a bed and breakfast magazine to publicize her Gray Whale Inn bed and breakfast mystery series. Very clever!

Beth Groundwater is the author of two series, one featuring Claire Hanover, gift basket designer, and another starting next year with Mandy Tanner, river ranger. She also has just published a science fiction book called THE EPSILON ERIDANE ALTERNATIVE. She started out with short stories, her first in an anthology. She also got one accepted by an airline flight magazine, "Wild Blue Yonder" the inflight magazine for Frontier Airlines. That gave her tons of exposure. I would never have thought of submitting there.

Search out unusual places for articles and stories. Look around and see where you can stick your foot in.

You can put your poetry out, too, if you write that.


I didn't start a newsletter until some time after my book came out. I found I was making appearances I wanted people to know about, so I made use of the email list I'd been compiling for at least 2 years. Anytime anyone encouraged me or commented favorably on me somewhere, they went onto my list. When I sent my initial newsletter out with the option to cancel and not receive any more, I started out with 243 subscribers and I now have 246. About 29 unsubscribed right away, but some of those were duplicate addresses for the same person. For some reason, I keep getting new subscribers, slowly, but regularly, several a month. I have a prominent signup form on my webpage.


The best way to get known at a conference is to be on a panel. Some small conferences will put you on a panel without much in the way of credentials. Larger cons require some sort of publication.

The first panel I was on wasn't planned. A conference in Plano that is, alas, defunct now, had a panel coming up and some of the members hadn't shown up. A friend insisted I'd be able to speak on the topic, Religion in Writing, or something like that. I said I couldn’t, I'd never done a panel before. She practically shoved me up onto the platform and into the chair.

It went amazingly well and, after it got started, I relaxed and was able to say things that, I think, sounded coherent. I also resorted to drawing out answers and clarifications from other panel members, especially the one who had forced me onto the panel. Cindy Daniel. She writes the Death Warmed Over series, and has also written a book with her daughter about her experience with breast cancer.

After the panel, several audience members wanted to talk to me! I was astounded.

I've been on panels at every conference I've attended since then, as a short story writer. Every con seems to have one short story panel.

After a short story panel at Malice Domestic, I even had one person ask for my autograph on her program, since I didn't have a book to sign. I was sitting next to Carol Nelson Douglas, so it was nice to get a fan.

The easiest job is moderator of the panel. All your work is beforehand. You get up a list of questions, or ask the panel members for suggestions, and get that all worked out by email ahead of time. At the time of the panel, you merely introduce the members and ask the questions. They do all the work.

Also, schmooze at cons. There's usually a gathering place with iced tea, sometimes more. This is the place people put bookmarks and fliers at some cons. Don't be shy about sitting with someone you don't know. You'll be wearing a name tag and you'll meet interesting people. At night, there's the bar.

Here's a partial list of conferences for mystery writers and fans:
Malice Domestic, DC area - 4/30-5/2 fan conv
Bouchercon - moves, in San Francisco for 2010 10/14-17 - fan conv 
Left Coast Crime - moves - fan conv in Santa Fe for 2011, 3/24-27
Love is Murder, Chicago IL - 2/4-6, 2011 for fans & writers (some writer workshops)

Mayhem in the Midlands, Omaha NE - small conf 5/27-29                                
Murder in the Grove, Boise ID - small conf Maybe
          no conf in 2010, they are planning 2011, though
Magna Cum Murder, Muncie IN 10/29-31, 2010
Pike's Peak Writers Conference, Pike's Peak, CO, in April
Deadly Ink, Parsippany NJ, 6/25-27
Crime Bake - conf Dedham, Mass, 11/12-14
Sleuthfest - Boca Raton, FL in Feb,
PP WebCon - writers conf online held Oct 24th 2009 for the first time
Killer Nashville, Nashville TN, 8/20-22

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Your Name out There Part 3

I posted the first two parts of this presentation in November, then had too many other things to post in December. As you read this, I'll probably be sitting in the hospital with my Hubby while he recovers from a total knee replacement. Due to the magic of scheduling, I'm posting lessons 3 through 5 this month to finish up this series. I hope someone gets something from these!


Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with it, and I'll bet everyone on it does, too.

I started on Facebook when my son in another state told me that, henceforth, all his children's pictures would be loaded there instead of being attached to emails or put up on snapfish, like he had been doing. It was with much reluctance and dragging of feet, well fingers I guess, that I dove in, but I soon found lots--I mean tons--of people there to connect to. A colleague I worked with 10 years ago found me and my masseuse from when we lived in Dallas. And I started dialoging regularly with my relatives that I usually only see and talk to once every year or two. I really like some of them, too!

My son has loaded grandchild pictures once. I think this is a common tale for people my age.

I have an advantage with  my pen name. I keep my family and close friends on the profile with my real name, and have writer friends and contacts under my pen name.

There's a limit to how many friends you can have on FB. I think it's 5000. After that you have to create a Fan Page. At least that's how it was last week. Whatever FB does, you can count on them changing it within a month or so. That's the most frustrating thing about it.

This is from my friend, Krista Davis, author of the  Domestic Diva mysteries:

Random Observations about Facebook

1. It takes about two weeks of consistent work to reach 3,000 friends.

2. There are a *lot* of bored people in this world.

3. A surprising number of erotic romance writers live in Utah.

4. There are millions of writers out there.

5. People have strange ideas about what kinds of pictures they should
use. Why is an otherwise normal woman, who is not an erotic writer,
posing so that she gives the appearance of being nude? Why would
someone use a photo with hair combed down into her face? Why do
people use pictures of children? I don't know if it's a cute picture
of the person as a child, if it's a picture of the person's child, or
if (heaven forbid anyone think I'm an evil Facebooker) I'm asking a
child to be my friend.


This is completely unknown territory for me and I think this may be obsolete for most people.


This is mainly a place for people to tell about what books they've read and to rate them with a five star system. If you have a book out, you should set up an author page and put your book or books there to make it easy for people there to pick them and read them. There are a LOT of avid readers there.


I honestly don't know what good this is to a writer, but people keep adding me to their lists and I just reciprocate. I don't do anything there except participate in a couple discussions that others invited me into.


The forum set up is very difficult for me. I'm told authors must be very careful about saying they're authors, or they'll be banned from discussions. Some people have gotten a lot out of the forums, but I haven't done much with them. I'm too afraid of being banned!


My friend, Krista Davis, insists that Twitter is different, and better than, Facebook. She says it's because it's viral. (Can you tell she's my informal, but official, social media consultant?)

Krista guest blogged for Cozy Chicks on April 3rd and her topic was Twitter for Authors, Part I. The next day was Part II.

I've put the urls for these blog entries in the handout. They're worth reading if you're new to Twitter.


Mostly I tweet links to my blogs. When other people retweet me, I try to find something of theirs to retweet. Krista says she treats Twitter like a Times Square billboard. Some people will walk by, some will be too busy to read her post, but some will stop and look.

Diane Vallere likens it to a cocktail party. You can pass one group by, maybe stop and chat with another one, maybe get fully engaged in another discussion.

A subject, or topic, is designated by the number sign, #, called a hash tag. These two, #writer and #books, are topics that a lot of people follow and pay attention to. So if your tweet contains either of those, quite a few people will see it. When someone sees a good topic (usually the tweet takes you to a blog or website), they will retweet it, their followers will retweet it and, voila--viral.

Tweetdeck and Tweetchat make the messages more managable since they allow sorting. There are also ways to line up tweets ahead of time so they'll go out at intervals during the day, but I haven't seen the need to do that.