Saturday, January 31, 2009

How Many Computers Do You Have?

I'm trying to remember how many computers we have in our house.

For laptops I come up with one Compaq, 2 IBMs, 2 Dells. Of these, I'm actually using one Dell and have convinced the DH to use my latest hand-me-down Dell. It's a little heavier and slower than my laptop Dell of choice, but suits him well at home, especially for listening to streaming music from WJJQ FM, the Tomahawk music station we listen to on vacation. The Compaq and 2 IBMs run off very old programs and have little memory. In other words, they're obsolete.

For desktops, there's my old Pentium One upstairs which the DH had wanted to use for playing the game programs, which he never does. There's also a Windows 98 computer the DH insists on keeping, mainly for his Outlook Express messages, but I'm slowly weaning him off of it. For one thing, it's tediously slow.

Then there's my old Dell XP desktop, which I replaced about six months ago with my super high speed Dell XP Vostro with the 19" monitor, which I absolutely love. I intended to give the old Dell to the DH, once I got all his Outlook Express messages loaded onto it, but he seems drawn to my Vostro with the high speed. Maybe it's the convenient location, right in the dining room, which is a misnomer for the room, since we only eat breakfast there.

That's okay, since we're TV tray people and don't usually entertain guests, except for Christmas.

As usual, I'm digressing. Anyway, the question is How Many Computers Do You Have? Do you keep your old computers? Do you use them occasionally? Are we the only computer savers? Please share.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Eating Habits

Just wondered what everyone does about eating. I know I should eat healthier, and I try some, but could do better. Here's a sampling of my daily meals:

On weekdays, I eat cold breakfast cereal, usually Rice Chex, with white toast and butter spread.

For lunch, I usually have a large, warm meal at the bank cafeteria not far from the office - something with pasta and chicken, if that's available, along with a roll with real butter and skim milk.

For dinner, I eat piecemeal with whatever is around the house that I can fix in our microwave. That often means hamburger or chicken thighs, along with either a microwaved baked potato or microwaved french fries, with an English muffin and butter spread. Then it's on to desert, which I only indulge in at dinner. It's usually a small bag of those tiny Entenmann muffins, like blueberry or banana chocolate chip, followed sometimes by taco chips. Cafeine Free Pepsi Free at dinner is a must.

Friday nights are often carryout nights for gyros or Italian beef and fries, or maybe pizza. Once in a while, we splurge for Chinese takeout on nights other than Fridays, but not too often.

Once in a blue moon I cook something special over the weekend, like a roast or an entire chicken. Otherwise, it's my usual staples, pasta with tomato sauce, hamburger and mushrooms, or chicken thighs.

That's a sample of what I usually eat, barring special occasions when we go out to dinner, which we don't do often.

I don't pay much attention to my characters' eating habits in my books, which I should. Next time around, I'll include them.

Time to eat now. What about you? What are your eating habits? What about the characters in your books? Do they have eating foibles? Please share.

When I'm really busy over the weekend I eat peanut butter on white bread to hold me down until I can eat.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Please Welcome my Guest, Shelia M. Goss

The author of the national best-seller, My Invisible Husband, is back with her fifth novel - His Invisible Wife.

To celebrate her upcoming release, she's made a stop here on the"Invisible Love" Virtual tour.

Here's What Shelia Has To Say:

The Relationship
By Guest Blogger, Shelia M. Goss

The relationship between a writer and a reader can equate to a love affair. First it’s the courting period. Before the first date, you, the writer must introduce yourself and your book title. The title should be catchy; something easy for readers to remember. Don't be shy. Tease them with a short synopsis about your book.

If you're feeling risque, now would be the time to flirt a little by allowing readers a sneak peek of the book by offering a chapter excerpt on your website.

Once you get your readers’ attention, put your best foot forward and make sure on one of your dates you show an eye-appealing book cover for your new book. If you don't have a book cover yet; don't fret; readers are not going to turn you down just because you don't have the cover. In fact, with a catchy title and unique premise, readers will be salivating at the mouth to see you unveil your cover.

While building up a solid relationship with readers, make sure you keep communication open. Communicate your release dates and where your books will be sold.

Readers, just like lovers, like gifts. Don't hesitate to offer prizes for purchasing your book. Don't forget about your faithful mailing list subscribers either. I know it may be hard when you have so many potential lovers, but you must treat them all as if they are special.

Also remember just like you, readers love others; so there’s no need to hate. There’s enough love to go around. Cross-promote with other writers and reach more book lovers.

When the “release” date finally arrives, don't be shy.

After courting the readers, they'll decide if they will take you up on an exclusive relationship for X amount of hours by purchasing and reading your book. When readers picks up your book, they are expecting to be taken on a journey. Let the journey be enticing and enthralling so that your book lovers won't hesitate to tell friends about the great love they've found in your book. In the book love fest, the more the merrier and the pleasure you'll get from hearing about a book club selecting your book is immeasurable.

If you build a solid relationship with your readers, they will look forward to your next release. Continue to learn ways to improve your techniques and hopefully with each book release, you will gain more lovers.

I hope readers fall in love with my two new characters Jake and Brianna.

More about Jake & Brianna from His Invisible Wife:

How far would you go for a million dollars?

Texas businessman Jacob "Jake" Banks is about to lose his business and everything else he's worked for until his uncle dies and leaves him as the executor of his estate--only catch is, he has to marry and marry a specific woman in order to cash in on the inheritance. Big problem, since Jake has vowed to be a bachelor for life.

Brianna Mayfield is at her last rope. Her father lost his business due to Jake's uncle turning down a loan. She's convinced this caused her father to fall into a deep depression. She blames the Banks and vows to pay them back one day. When she sees an ad in the paper for a job at her self-proclaimed enemy's company, she feels her luck is turning around. She applies and is later approached by Jake with a proposition she can't turn down.

His Invisible Wife can be pre-ordered on It will be in stores in July.

Shelia M. Goss is the Essence Magazine Best-Selling author of My Invisible Husband, Roses are thorns, Paige’s Web, Double Platinum and the new teen series, The Lip Gloss Chronicles. His Invisible Wife is her fifth women's fiction novel.

For more information, visit Shelia's website

Please leave a comment to welcome Shelia here at Double M.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Samaritans

Most everyone has done something absentminded at one time or another. Last Sunday, I left church and started walking across the street with my husband, when a man yelled from behind us, asking, "Is this yours?"

I had been so busy zipping up my coat, getting my scarf, hat and gloves on, I forgot my purse! Fortunately, I got it back before any damage was done. I could have gone all day not realizing it was missing until I needed something in it. Someone could have walked out of church with it and enjoyed my Iphone, credit cards, money, keys and other items inside, but thanks to the man who had been sitting in back of me in church, that didn't happen, thank goodness.

About a week before, my husband decided to use cash instead of his charge card at the grocery store. He put his card down and forgot to pick it up. He didn't realize it until hours later at home. He called the store. Fortunately someone had noticed it and turned it in to the service manager, so he was able to retrieve it. He called the credit card company just in case, but no charges had been made in the interim.

Thanks to goodhearted people, we were extremely lucky. What about you? Do you have any incident where a Good Samaritan came to your rescue? Or, maybe you've included one in a book you've written or seen one in another book. Please share.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Google Is My Friend - Is It Yours?

I don't know about you, but Google is my friend. Google is always there when I need it, that is, unless my Internet is down, but Google can't help that.

All I have to do is go to Google and search for something, and there it is. A few days ago, we had issues with the DH's computer, an old Windows 98 which he prefers not to part with despite my many pleadings. Anyway, we had loaded some new anti virus software and the RAM couldn't handle it. How did we know? It took about 45 minutes for the desktop to show up, then before we could do anything, the monitor shut off.

So, we were in a bind. How could we get the software out when the computer wouldn't let us do anything? I couldn't remember how to get to Safe Mode, but Google knew. I went to my own computer, typed in How to get Safe Mode in Windows 98, and there were all the instructions clear as day and they worked! We got into the Control Panel, the Add/Remove Programs, removed the software, and got out. The computer is working fine again.

Google tells me other things, also. When I type in my name, it gives me a list of where I am on the Internet, along with email alerts. That comes in handy, especially when I find out I'm in spots I didn't know I was in.

I also use Google Analytics to figure out how many people visit my blogs. Oh, you may have guessed it, Blogger which runs my blogs is run by Google.

Yes, Google is my friend. Is it yours, too? What does Google do for you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Please Welcome My Guest, Vivian Eisenecher

Author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy / Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness, Vivian Eisenecher has been an inspirational speaker, mentor and writer since 1996. Using her experience, strength and hope, she is committed to helping educate and enlighten the general public about the puzzling aspects of the addiction/recovery process and the strong correlation between anxiety, depression and alcoholism. Vivian holds a marketing degree in Business Administration (magna cum laude). Her other published works include articles for The Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Woman’s World, Viewpoint, and JUST FINE: Unmasking Depression and Anxiety Disorders (due out in 2009). She is featured on the 2009 Faces of Recovery Calendar and is a Board of Director for A New Path (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing). You can visit Vivian Eisenecher's website at:


Recovering Me, Discovering Joy reveals how to recover (from any ailment or condition) not to normal but to a better normal. After numerous attempts at sobriety, stints in more than three rehabs, followed by repeated relapses, Vivian shares the “secret” that finally brought her lasting recovery and profoundly changed her life. In an effort to improve the success rate of recovery and quite possibly save lives, one of the book’s main goals is to raise awareness about the profound correlation between depression, social anxiety, and alcoholism. Vivian has struggled with these disorders and is in recovery from all three.

In addition, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy is a remarkably honest book of creative non-fiction about the positive nature of life’s problems. It is about the journey to know oneself. With a sense of humor and an uplifting spirit of gratitude, Vivian suggests ways to live a more meaningful life. She offers a fresh look at enduring truths which we all tend to forget in our day-to-day fast-paced lives. By using stories from people in recovery, famous quotes and personal reflections, she re-establishes the importance of faith in the healing process. Her experience, strength and hope provide the reader with keys to living a richer, easier and happier life.

Recovering Me, Discovering Joy is for anyone who has ever had to forge ahead after a negative life event. If you have ever had to bounce back from a failed relationship, convalesce from an illness, recoup any kind of loss, or just recover from a bad day, then this book will be beneficial. It will help you with your recoveries, and it will help you move on to live a richer, easier and happier life.

Recovering Me, Discovering Joy takes a good honest look at how I, my husband and countless others have used recovery not as a disadvantage, but as an opportunity and springboard to an improved life. We learned that it’s not about recovering to normal – it’s about recovering to a better normal…from anything.

This book is about my transformation from a depressed, anxiety-laden alcoholic to a successful, grateful and joyful woman. For me, it took my total collapse and complete failure to finally understand that I wasn’t just battling alcoholism, I was fighting two other distinct disorders as well. Believe it or not, this realization paved the way for me to finally enjoy life. Until then, my life had been a struggle, an uphill climb within the grim-looking landscape of my mind. My newfound love for life was such a complete turnaround that, to benefit others, I wanted to commit to paper pivotal parts of my journey. It took the diagnosis and successful treatment of not only alcoholism but also my chronic low-grade depression, called dysthymia, and my social phobia or S.A.D. (Social Anxiety Disorder) for me to recognize that these two lifelong disorders were ‘triggers’ for my alcoholism. They were the ugly underbelly of the beast. Substance abuse was a mere symptom of two underlying disorders that were not discernible to anyone, not even me.

All my life, I had wondered why everything seemed so hopeless, why my life seemed so meaningless, and why I was unable to experience any real joy. Along with that, I had a deep, lifelong fear of encountering people who I deemed ‘better’ than me (anyone with more money, better educated, etc.). Even though I had never known anything different, somehow I knew the way I felt wasn’t right. I had no idea that I was depressed and anxiety-ridden until I was curiously (and serendipitously) treated for both conditions.

Here's What Vivian Has to Say Today:
Dysthymia (Chronic Low-grade Depression)
What does it actually feel like

Depression, in its various forms, affects nearly 19 million Americans each year according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). With prolonged major depression, shortages or imbalances of mood-influencing chemicals in the brain usually play a role.

Studies show that depressive illness can and often does run in families. The genetic connection is beyond controversy. Another proven fact is that women, as a group, are twice as likely to experience depression.
Up until the age of 46, I had gone through my entire life feeling blue, never feeling quite right. I was missing a dimension, a dimension of joy. I don’t remember ever experiencing real happiness until I was successfully in recovery from alcoholism. By then, I was already in my mid-forties. My life had looked all right, but my quality of life was severely compromised by my low-grade blue moods.

There was rarely any reason for my dark moods, but they transcended everything I did. My internal outlook diminished all peak experiences. I envied other people’s rosy perspectives, and often wondered how they could feel so good. I felt deprived. I felt like I was missing out on something very basic.

There was a sad undertone lurking beneath even my happiest events. I’d wake up not really wanting to get out of bed. I could never quite shake the awful, all-encompassing feeling of “What was the use of it all.” At times, I merely went through the motions of living. I remember thinking that everybody couldn’t feel like this, or it would be the topic of conversation on the news, talk shows and amongst my friends. I don’t know how many times I asked myself, “Am I the only person who feels like this?” Somehow, I knew that I couldn’t be the only person who felt so low.

Because I usually put on a happy face, nobody seemed aware or showed concern that I had this constant drag pulling me down. I subconsciously thought that if I acted normal, I might feel normal. I knew something was wrong, but I felt that I couldn’t describe it to anybody without them telling me to just get over it. I do remember my husband giving me pep talks from time to time, but the way I felt just wasn’t pronounced enough to seek professional help, or so I thought.

I figured I was different, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t think there was anything legitimate that could ever relieve my cheerlessness. I always thought psychiatry was for crazy people, and the only way to feel better was to pick myself up by my bootstraps and do something on my own to alleviate my sadness.
The best I ever hoped to feel occurred when I was totally distracted, immersed in something that diverted my attention or completely consumed me. So, I worked hard at staying busy, achieving and excelling in whatever I did, in spite of the way I felt.
I now know that all those years I was suffering from chronic, low-grade depression. This condition, called dysthymic disorder, is a long-term, less severe form of depression that is rarely detected, recognized or talked about.

I spent the majority of my waking hours battling a constant smothering, confining hopelessness, until my depression manifested itself in a more outwardly visible debilitating condition.

Why hadn’t I recognized that I had a treatable disorder sooner? Besides, how could I say that I wasn’t happy when I didn’t know what happy was? And sure enough, when researching this mood disorder, I found that the majority of people suffering from depression don’t understand what they are experiencing. With most people, clinical depression goes unnoticed and untreated.

I never knew there was such a thing as chronic low-grade depression, but I was far from alone in not recognizing my depression for what it was. According to NIMH, only 20% of people with mild depression recognize what it is and seek help, and only 50% of people with severe, incapacitating depression ever receive medical advice.
There are a number of reasons why many people are reluctant to seek professional help. In this great nation of ours, there still exists a general feeling that seeing a psychiatrist represents some sort of personal failure. A psychiatric problem is no more a personal failure than diabetes or heart disease, but we don’t want to be classified as ‘abnormal.’ We truly want to believe that everything is ‘fine,’ but no problem has ever been solved by denial.

Because I hadn’t experienced any of the more blatant manifestations of depression such as insomnia, loss of appetite, or even thoughts of suicide, I had decided that what I felt couldn’t be depression, and that I was just not as happy as most people. I was able to function, but I felt bad much more often than I felt good (instead of the other way around—the way most people feel).

At times, getting through my daily life was difficult for me, but I always talked myself out of having a serious condition. With few outward manifestations, chronic low-grade depression doesn’t always escalate into a crisis (thank God it did for me), therefore it seems as though there is nothing to address. It is an insidious disease in that it exists, but nobody else knows about it other than the sufferer. You feel terrible but, essentially, it’s a non-issue.

The bottom line is that if the depression doesn’t result in some other more blatant negative condition, such as substance abuse, many of us are likely to suffer our entire lives. When I was finally given an anti-depressant, I felt like an incredible weight had been lifted, one that I had been carrying all of my life.

Pump Up Your Book Promotion
“We take books to the virtual level!”

Please Leave a Comment Below to Welcome Vivian to Double M

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ahhh or Feel Good Moments

I was happy tagged last week by Debra St. John at Acme Authors Link. Since I've already done a happy blog and tagged off, today will be a variation, with no tags involved.

Today is about my feel good moments, which I call Ahhh moments. They're kind of like happy, but not as deep. Here are they are:

1. Seeing a cute baby or puppy.

2. Having a teller or supermarket register open up after I've been waiting in a long line.

3. Sitting down after standing for a while.

4. Stepping into where it's warm after being out in the cold, or vice versa, stepping into a cool place after being out in the heat.

5. Feeling the shower water on my back.

6. Getting out early from work on a day before a holiday.

7. Thinking up a fun topic for my blog.

8. Landing a book signing at a store. Hand in hand with that is selling one of my books.

9. Taking off my boots or shoes and putting on my slippers at home.

10.Having a cool drink when I'm thirsty.

Now it's your turn. What are your Ahhh moments? Do you share some of mine? Remember, they don't have to be deep, just feel good moments. Please share.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Late for Work Excuses - Real & Imaginary

On Friday, I had to call my boss from the train station to let him know I'd be late for work because my train had not yet arrived.

I remember another morning when our area was hit by a supposedly hundred year flood, with water pouring down from the basement windows and up from the sewers. I say supposedly because the following year a similar flood occurred. Anyway, that made me late for work.

Maybe you'd like to share your experiences. What real or imaginary excuses have you used to explain being late for work? Or, what happend to one of your book characters on the way to work?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Please Welcome Children's Book Author, Linda Thieman

Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story
Chapter book for ages 7-10
Click for Paperback link
Click for Hardcover link

Nine-year-old Katie Russell and her family LOOK like a normal family. But the Russells don't know they are living with Kimble, the ghost of a ten-year-old girl. That is, until Katie discovers Kimble and the two of them set off on a quest to find out what happened to Kimble's mother. -- Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story is a chapter book at RL3 (reading level 3), and is the first in a series. The Katie & Kimble books are funny, engaging and exciting, but are not fear-based.

Linda Thieman (pronounced TEE-mun) writes the Katie & Kimble chapter book series (RL3) and runs the Katie & Kimble Blog ( She has a master’s degree in applied linguistics and is a former English language teacher who has created a set of reading skills worksheets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download from the Katie & Kimble Blog free of charge. The materials correspond to the first two books in the Katie & Kimble series and are guided by the standards set for third grade reading skills in Iowa school systems. Linda lives in Sioux City, Iowa.

Here's What Linda Has to Say:
Making Kimble Real: How an Entire Family Comes to Believe in a Ghost

by Linda Thieman

When I set out to write the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7 to 10, I knew that in order for future stories to work, the reader had to be convinced that Kimble, the ghost of a 10-year-old girl, was not just a figment of 9-year-old Katie Russell’s imagination. As a matter of fact, it was essential to future storylines that Katie’s whole family knew that Kimble was real.

How to accomplish that was the dilemma. One thing that helps Katie make up her own mind about Kimble is that both Toby, Katie’s two-year-old brother, and Twinkle, Katie’s dog, can see and hear Kimble. And they like her! From this Katie is able to deduce that Kimble is not only real but is also friendly.

By the end of the first book, Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story, Katie and Kimble have become fast friends. Katie’s mom, Mrs. Russell, believes in Kimble but still can’t see her. She has become convinced of Kimble’s existence, though, because when Katie got into some big trouble, it was Kimble who used her own ingenuity to notify a still-not-quite-believing Mrs. Russell of where Katie was and the need to get there quickly.

So, by the start of the second book, Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish, Mrs. Russell will casually include Kimble in conversations with Katie, but Katie’s dad, Mr. Russell, still knows nothing about Kimble. The family has only been in the new house for a few days and everything has happened so quickly that Katie never got around to telling her dad about Kimble.

That is all to change, and dramatically, when Katie and Kimble find a coupon for a magic wish in a box of breakfast cereal. The girls figure out the rules for the wish, talk it over, and decide it would be great for Kimble to be human for two days. The girls try it and the wish works, and the next thing you know, Kimble is in the arms of Mrs. Russell, whom she adores and calls “Mama.”

But no sooner has Kimble transformed than the three of them are faced with the central dilemma of the novel: how are they going to explain Kimble to Mr. Russell? There are no houses around, Katie has no friends, and Kimble is dressed like a girl out of time. As soon as Mr. Russell and Toby get home with the groceries, the girls bungle their way through an explanation, and Mr. Russell is suitably shocked.

Eventually, Mr. Russell just kind of lets the unreality of the situation wash over him and accepts Kimble as a normal child. And unless he is reminded, he keeps forgetting that she is actually a ghost.

In the end, the two days are over and Kimble disappears. But this time, there is proof that Kimble was there, that Kimble was real. For one thing, when Kimble was riding Katie’s new bike, she fell and the bike got scratched—and the scratch is still there. For another, when they had a picnic with Kimble out in the backyard, Mr. Russell took a picture of Katie and Kimble together, and the picture still exists once Kimble disappears.

The upshot of Kimble’s two days of being human is that once she returns in ghostly form, both Mr. and Mrs. Russell can see and hear her. The fact of whether she is real or not is never addressed again. She is real, and now it’s time to integrate Kimble into the family. There are a few bumps in the road along the way and boundaries need to be set when one lives with an active and intelligent little ghost. And that is the story of book three, Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door, which will be out in the fall of 2009.

Linda Thieman

Please leave a comment below to welcome Linda here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do you recall an embarrassing incident from grammar school?

Wednesday night I went to see Sunday School Cinema by Vicki Quade at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center. She's the one from the play, Late Night Catechism, which was such a hit.

In Sunday School Cinema, as in Late Night Catechism, she dressed in a nun's habit and played the part so well, it was hard to believe she was a lay person. Those who went to parochial school as I did, even those who didn't, had fun listening to her satire and jokes.

Except when she singled people out, like a teacher in grammar school. Then it got flustering for some.

On the subject of embarrassing moments in school, I can recall some.

I threw up twice in grammar school. Once, after drinking chocolate milk, and the other time, during reading class. Another embarrassing moment happened when the teacher made me leave the classroom because I was having a coughing fit.

Do you remember any embarrassing incidents from grammar school? Or, have you made up an embarrassing childhood moment for one of your novel characters? Please share.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Come on Over

Although Ginger Simpson is fast gaining in popularity over the Internet, I don't believe she's in any way related to a certain Jessica, who shares the same last name, unless the two are keeping it hush-hush.

Maybe because of their last name, I couldn't resist titling my post today with Jessica's song title, Come on Over.

By now, you may have guessed, I'm off on another journey. You're partially right.

Through a stroke of luck, my guest blog, Confessions of a Blogaholic, is up today at Ginger Simpson's "Dishin' It Out," as is also my featured writing tip, Don't Do It Alone, at Candid Canine, Chris Verstraete's blogspot.

So, I'm asking you to come on over and visit my friends' blogspots, leave a comment, and make them feel happy they hosted me today. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, comments also make me very happy.

Thank you, Ginger Simpson and Chris Verstraete.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Which is Best for Promotion? Blog Talk Radio,Commercial Radio, or Public Radio?

The intrepid Dani Greer's enlightening interview about blog book tours, which was hosted by Chris Hamilton at Blog Talk Radio on Sunday, made me think. If you can't pay for a radio commercial, which is the best way to plug a book? Is it better to be a guest on an Internet talk show, such as Blog Talk Radio, or a guest on a commercial or public radio talk show?

On the one hand, the Internet spreads its tentacles further and further every moment, reaching more and more people. Its surfers are constantly venturing into new areas of exploration. Many of them land, stop and listen to podcasts, blog radio shows and the like. Since blog radio shows are relatively in their infancy, a guest on one can often claim a huge chunk of time, such as Dani's hour last Sunday.

On the other hand, commercial radio has been around a long time. Its listeners are loyal. If an author were a guest or a caller on a favorite program, followers might be swayed to buy that author's book. The catch is it's not that easy to get your say on one of these programs, especially for more than a few minutes.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention public radio talk shows, such as Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?, on Saturdays. Authors on such shows receive individual attention and opportunites to promote their books. Listeners to public radio are also loyal, but their numbers are not as great as on commercial radio.

So, given the choice, which would you rather do? Why? Have you already been a guest on any or all of these type stations? How did you like it? What were the results? Please share.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here I Go Sending You Off on Another Journey

Hi Gang,
Here I go again, sending you off to somewhere else. Today, I'm asking if you'd please click the link to Make Mine Mystery. It's my day to post over there and the topic is expiration stamps on books. The forbidding photo which will greet you was taken on vacation from our van in Wisconsin on the way to my friend's house. That week was a particularly stormy one.

As always, I'd really appreciate your comments here, there, or both spots.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Which is Better? Individual or Group Blogs?

At first, I blogged on Wednesdays at my group blog, Acme Authors Link. Funny, but sometimes I had trouble fitting it in my schedule and thinking up topics to write about. Acme's members come from various genres, from mysteries, to humor, to YA, and various types of romances.

I also started up a mystery blogspot, called Make Mine Mystery. As the name implies, it's comprised of mystery writers. Visitors there know that's what they'll get, although mysteries come in all shapes and sizes, as do our members and their posts.

Then I was invited to join The Blood-Red Pencil, a blogspot devoted to editing. Last count, this blogspot has attracted 137 followers. One reason for its popularity is that writers are curious to learn the secrets of turning out manuscripts worthy of publication. This blogspot is also popular with editors and agents.

With group blogs, each member attracts followers, but also benefits from spinoffs. Those happen when a reader comes over, reads a post, and also discovers a post from one of the other members. Another advantage is the group concept itself. There's something about presenting a solid front that holds a certain cache. Loyalty also plays a part. Not only do we want to succeed on our own, but we also want the best for the group.

For the reasons I've mentioned and more, group blogs are a wonderful thing. So are individual ones.

After blogging occasionally for a while, I heard that daily blogging was a great way to go. Doing that meant resurrecting this blogspot, which I'd only used for special occasions, such as my book releases and their launch parties.

At Double M, whatever I write, be it good or bad, reflects directly on me. I can't depend on spinoffs from other members to gain followers, but need to pull my own weight. Instead of once a week, I need to concoct posts each day. That's scary, but also exciting.

One method I use to attract followers is to ask questions for readers to answer. I also offer writing, blogging and networking tips I've picked up along the way. I host guests and get spinoffs that way. Other times I write about my dog or how I cope with the happenings in my life. Before, when I'd only belonged to group blogs, I visited other blogs once in a while. Now I spend time each day going through my blogroll and visiting other bloggers.

An individual blogspot with a daily post requires more dedication and commitment, but the rewards are great in not only name recognition, but also friendship with other bloggers.

What about you? Do you belong to an individual blogspot, a group blogspot or both? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Please share.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Memes and Tag Games - What are They? Do You Love or Hate Them?

What is a meme? Wikepedia describes it as "a neologism used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an inside joke."

The first time I was included in one by Marvin Wilson I had no idea what it was. I fast learned.

The rules are fairly simple. A meme usually involves using a blog to acknowledge and link back to the person who named you, plus pass along the meme to a specified number of bloggers by naming and linking to their blogs. When many links are involved, it can take a while to get everything together, since each person linked needs to be notified.

Memes usually include a list answering a question on a certain topic, with a specified amount of answers. Tags are derivations from memes.

Some people think such blogging games are silly or a waste of time. I believe they're a great way to make and keep blogging friendships, improve rankings and affirm standing in the blogging community, while also helping fellow bloggers gain recognition. That makes such games a win-win proposition. Not only that, they're an easy way to get subject matter for a blog.

Speaking of memes and tag games, I've been tagged by the lovely and talented blogging buddy, Dana Fredsti, with instructions to provide a list of six things that make me happy. That's easy. They are:

1. Relaxing with my husband and dog, Rascal. Most of the time I'd rather stay at home with my little family and eat a carryout while watching a DVD on my couch at home, than to get all fixed up and go out to a fancy restaurant.

2. Reading and Writing - Both are passions I wish I could indulge in more often than time allows. Unfortunately, I have a day job.

3. Blogging, networking and marketing on the web - I'm fascinated by the Internet and spend countless hours there making and expanding friendships,passing along tips I've learned and also telling people about my books, Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams.

4. Country Music - I love the songs, the stories, the singers. I listen to my favorite station, US 99.5 FM when I go to sleep at night and wake up to it in the morning.

5. I love vacations to Wisconsin, where I eat too much, enjoy the surroundings, hangout with not only the hubby, but also Rascal, and my good friend Jeanne. Jeanne and I indulge in shopping expeditions, and go somewhere else we really like. See #6.

6. Slot playing is another obsession of mine, which you may have heard me mention before. My friend, Jeanne, and I can and do spend hours on end playing the penny slots at Lake of the Torches Casino, which seems almost like a second home to us. It doesn't matter if we're winning or losing, we just love playing. That's dangerous and expensive, so I save this vice for vacation time only.

Okay, I've named the six things that make me happy. I'm now tagging Nancy Parra, Jenny Beans and Jennifer Ertmer to do the same. Have fun!

I've just demonstrated how a tag works by answering the one I received from Dana.

What about you? Do you like Memes or Tags? Do you Hate Them? Have you ever done one? Please share.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Random House's Unusual Marketing Ploy - Do You Know of Others?

These days, rarely can an author write a book and expect to get away without marketing it. Publishers expect their authors to sell themselves and their products a/k/a books.

I understand that's the name of the game, so I do my part by making public appearances in the form of book signings, panels, and other doings. I travel just about everywhere on the Internet - on blogs, listservs, social networks, such as MySpace, Twitter, Book Place, GoodReads, and more. During the course of my travels, in person and in cyber space, I've met other authors also scrambling to make names for themselves.

Depending on the publisher, authors can expect a range from minimal to heavy marketing help. Some authors are awarded special placement for their novels on bookstore shelves and tables, color ads in magazines, book tours and more. Those are the exceptions. Most authors understand that the burden of advertising lies on themselves.

At a movie in the Classic Cinema's chain a few weeks ago, I was surprised to come across an unusual marketing ploy by Random House. As my husband and I handed over our tickets, we received Novel Sampler DVDs, featuring excerpts from five teen novels, purportedly the hottest of the season, some with video trailers, one even with a podcast. I surmised Random House was taking advantage of the popularity of the book and movie, Twilight, to reflect favorably on their offerings.

Have you seen any unusual marketing ploys by publishers? What about authors? What have you seen other authors do? And yourselves, do you use the tried and true methods, or have you done something unusual to sell your books? Please share.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter and Cold Weather Precautions - Or Don't You Need Them?

39 consecutive hours of below zero temperatures in the Chicago area! 9 below, 16 below, I'm shivering as I hear the forecast.

Lots of precautions on the news. I thought I'd pass some of them along to you, plus a few of my own, in case you live around here or have a visit planned some time soon.

Bundle up when going outside. Dress in layers. Cover your head so the heat won't escape. Thick gloves or mittens are a must. Tie a scarf around your head so you can breathe through it, instead of breathing in the frigid air. Try to keep as much of your skin protected as possible. Keep your outdoor time to a minimum to prevent frostbite or hypothermia.

Wear boots if you can, since there's plenty of snow and ice that won't go away any time soon. Watch your step, especially near curbs or driveways or bridges, since ice has a habit of forming in those areas even more so than in others. Don't walk very far if you can help it.

Don't try it if you have heart or respiratory problems. Don't put too much on your shovel at one time, or you'll end up with a bad back. Don't step into the street without checking for traffic because cars will have difficulty seeing you around the mounds of snow. Do it in shifts, so you're not outside too long at one time. Stop if you feel dizzy or weak.

Start your car in a well ventilated area every day, even if you're not planning on driving anywhere, so your battery doesn't die when you need it. For a long trip, keep a blanket and a flashlight in the car in case you get stuck somewhere. The main roads will be in better shape than the arteries, but you'll still need to proceed with caution. Make sure you have your cell phone with you to call for help if needs be.

I'm sure there are plenty more precautions I've missed. Okay, now's your chance. Do you have any advice to add? Or, do you live somewhere that is not inflicted with snow and cold? If so, you can gloat. I promise not to delete your post. (G)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Begging for a Vote at P & E, Plus Hosting Beverly Stowe McClure Today

Hi Gang,
If you haven't yet voted at the Preditors & Editors poll, today is the last day. Please consider voting for

Girl of My Dreams by Morgan Mandel - Romance Category at

and/or Author - Morgan Mandel at

Enough shameless plugging for myself. Please direct your attention to YA Author, Beverly Stowe McClure, my guest at my group blog, Acme Authors Link, at

I'd appreciate it if you'd hop on over, read all about Beverly and her book, and leave a comment to make her feel welcome. She's got a great post there about what her teen years were like, which I have a feeling a lot of you can relate to, as I did.

As usual, comments here are always treasured.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do You Belong to A Writing Organization?

Here I am with Mary Micheff, on the left, at our Holiday party. She was the President of Chicago-North RWA when I first joined.

I've been a member of the Chicago-North Chapter of Romance Writers of America for years. I was trying to remember how many and came up with at least 13, maybe more, since time goes by so fast.

As you may know from previous posts and remarks I've made in person, I credit my local chapter for passing along enough encouragement and know-how to launch me on the road to publication. I doubt if I could have made it without them.

I also belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and EPIC. Through listservs and networking, especially at conferences, such as Love is Murder, I've learned valuable information.

What about you? Do you belong to any writing organizations? Has membership helped your career? Or, do you go it alone? Please share. Feel free to brag about your organization.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tables are Turned - I'm Being Interviewed Today

The tables have been turned. I'm the one who usually hosts authors at my site, but today I'm being interviewed by Spunk on a Stick, L. Diane Wolfe, at

I'd appreciate it if you'd hop over and learn more about the real Morgan Mandel.

Oh, and if you wish, please leave a comment here, there, or both spots.

Thanks a bunch. As always, I appreciate your support.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Window Washers and Writers are Over at Blood-Red Pencil Today

Today, I've got two posts running, the one below about receiving the Premio Dardos Award, plus another over at about Window Washers and Writers.

The Blood-Red Pencil blog is about editing books, so if you need editing pointers, it's a great place to go. We've got lots of great editor members onboard.

Hope you enjoy one or both of my posts today.

Feel free to leave a comment here, there or below.

Double M Gets a Premio Dardos Award

Today, I'm happy to accept the Premio Dardos award from two bloggers, Jane Kennedy Sutton and Vivian Zabel. Premio Dardos means ‘prize darts’ in Italian and it is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.

The rules are:
1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. Since I received this award from two bloggers, I'm doing an all-in-one blog today.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Here they are:
Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog
Grandma is a Writer
Joanna Campbell Slan
Lea Schizas - Award-winning Author/Editor
Lesa's Book Critiques
Let Us Play
Murder by 4
Mystery Mania
Oak Tree Press Blog
On the edge of the chair of literature
Ramsey's News Corner
Rocky Bluff P.D.
Spunk On A Stick's Tips
Sylvia Dickey Smith
The Life of a Publisher

There are many more worthy blogs out there, but 15 is my limit. I'm sure the blog owners would be thrilled if you stopped by and told them Morgan sent you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do You Only Pay Attention to the Top Blog?

After I read and comment on a blog, once in a while, if the post below it catches my eye, I'll read it and place a comment below, though it's not the current blog of the day.

I wonder how many blog readers check the post below the current one. Do you comment on that post or maybe another further down? By the way, if you haven't checked the post below today's, please do so. It features Friday's guest, Louise Lewis,

Also, when I'm at my own blogspot, I look down the page and check for new comments to prior posts, especially ones that are dear to my heart.

What about you? Do you only pay attention to the top blog when you read or blog? Please share.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Welcome Louise Lewis - An Inspirational, Spiritual, Philosophical Author

Louise Lewis

Bio: Louise Lewis is the author of a new book, No Experts Needed: The Meaning Of Life According To You! She has two decades of experience in marketing and advertising, having held senior-level positions on the client, advertising agency, and ad sales sides of the business. Louise considers herself a self-growth junkie, continuing to seek light, love, and wisdom in her daily life. With an innate passion for spiritual growth, she has a strong desire to give back to the world. Along with the inspiration and direction received from Spirit, Louise continues to touch the lives of all she meets. She volunteers at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Louise earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications at California State University in Fullerton. Born and raised in Louisiana, she resides in Southern California.

About the book: Losing a job always delivers a hard blow, but it was especially hard for forty-something author Louise Lewis, one of many victims of the technology industry's dotcom implosion. No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You! tells the story of how she pulled herself together and discovered a new life of meaning. Just minutes after being "set free", Lewis, a single woman with a mortgage to pay, sits in the San Jose, California, airport panicking over her future.

While toying with the option of giving into depression, she receives a powerful message from God that instantly releases the weight of her worries. "This is just a new chapter in your life. You hold the pen, I'll guide your hand, and together we'll write one hell of a chapter." Through Spirit's continued involvement, Lewis is inspired to ask normal, everyday people to answer Spirit's question: what is the meaning of life? No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You! weaves through a vast collection of spontaneous, thought-provoking answers and inspirational stories that demonstrate how the simple act of listening to Spirit can add meaning to every moment of your life.

Excerpt: I have always believed that everyone has a book in them. They merely have to take a look at their lives, past or present, to realize that life is indeed stranger than fiction. More likely than not, everyone’s lives would make for quite an entertaining story, to say the least.

Buy Link:

Now Here's What Louise Has to Say Today:

Things happen for a reason…

If you hang around my world for more than two minutes, you will hear me say, “There are no “accidents” in life. Things happen for a reason.”

I’ll ‘fess up…I know that some folks find my repetitive chants annoying. Of course to that I’d say: It’s no accident that I’m annoying you, and I’m doing it for a reason.

As trite as my belief may sound to some, I’ll go one Polly Anna step further and share with you the fact that I believe I can learn from the life events of others. So I listen and watch others very carefully.

In the past few weeks, three events happened in and around my life that have given me a wake up call. All events have to do with health issues. Since I turned a half-century a few months ago, the job of maintaining my health now blinks brighter than ever on my radar screen.

The first event happened this past December. Beverly -- a 50-year old friend of a friend --was found by her co-workers unconscious on the floor of her office. When Beverly woke up, she was in the hospital. Head shaved. And learned that she had already undergone brain surgery. Long story short, the fluid around her brain was not draining and the doctors had to go in and place two drainage shunts.

Weeks later, we – a roomful of other 50-year old gals -- lovingly drilled her about her ordeal. How? What? Why? What caused this? What could you have done to prevent this? Of course, we were really asking: What can I do to stop this from happening to me?

The second event happened earlier this week. It first started by watching Oprah’s confessional show. You may have heard that Oprah has owned up to why she fell off the (weight) wagon. The interview she gave explained the how/why/what about the life events that ultimately led to her regaining the extra weight. Her honesty was inspiring.

Then the next day’s show (beginning her “Best Life” series) had an appearance by Dr. Oz. During the show, he spoke directly to me: “Louise, now that you’re 50, you must get an EKG and a stress test and a colonoscopy!” I replied: “Okay. You have my attention. I’ll book all the appointments right now.”

Did I book the doctor appointments? Hardly. I did anything and everything else under the sun. Why was I avoiding making these calls?

The third event happened two days later…today to be exact.

I received a call from my friend Lindsey, a 53 year-old male. Lindsey began the call by dropping an unexpected bomb. He blurted out, “I had a heart attack the other day.”

My jaw stayed on the ground for a long time. You see, Lindsey has always eaten right. Always active with exercise. Did what you’re supposed to do. That’s what made his news even harder and scarier to comprehend.

As “they” say, things happen in 3s. For me, Beverly, Oprah and Lindsey have been my wake up call to motivate my fingers to grab the phone. As the procrastinator that I am, I needed to hear these stories in order to receive the V8 slap upside the head. I am placing the calls today.

Am I worried…scared…anxious over what all of these future test results may show? You bet. But for me, the fear of the unknown is like being afraid of the dark. It all goes away when I allow in the Light.

Here’s to a happier and healthier year!

“No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You!” – Louise Lewis
FREE Read at:

Please welcome Louise with a comment below.

A Blogger's Confession - I Steal Friends. I'll Show You How.

Now that I've been blogging a while, I've developed some sneaky habits. I love comments, so if people comment on my blog, there's a good likelihood I'll click their profile shots, get to their blogs and leave comments.

On workdays I can't always do this because we're not allowed to visit websites on the office computer, only check email. When I'm lucky, the network card on my laptop computer is working properly and I can access blogs on my breaks. Otherwise, I try to catch up while watching TV at home.

I digress - Back to the subject at hand.

You might say there's nothing unusual or underhanded about reciprocating comments.

What I do next is - I steal other people's friends, kind of like I do on MySpace. After I leave my comment on someone's blog, I look for other people's comments. If I see a likely target, I'll click on that person's profile shot, check out that person's blog and leave a comment there. Later that day or the next, often I'll receive a comment back on my blog from that blogger thanking me for visiting. If I'm lucky, and sometimes it happens, the blogger will like my blogspot and come back more to visit and leave comments.

This sneaky way of making friends has gotten me into trouble, but it's a good kind. Every time I do this, I've added another friend's blog to an already bulging list for me to go through when I can, check their blogs and comment. That's my reward and my punishment.

What about you? When readers comment on your blog, do you reciprocate? Do you take it a step further and steal their friends?

Please share or confess.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eight Reasons to Comment on Blogs

I'm curious. I wonder how many blog readers like to comment and how many don't.

It wasn't until I got heavy into blogging that I understood the values and joys of commenting. Before that, I would read a blog that caught my interest, but wouldn't think of leaving a message below it to say what I thought of the blog.

If you don't leave comments, you're missing out on some great opportunities, such as:

  1. A chance to slip in a tie about your latest work-in-progress if it relates to the blog topic;
  2. A chance to get your brand out to the public;
  3. A chance to rack up another Google when people look up your name;
  4. A chance to be considered an expert on a subject;
  5. A chance to make cyber friends;
  6. A chance to share your thoughts with the blogger and successive readers of that blog;
  7. A chance to promote your own blogspot by including a link at the bottom of your comment;
  8. A chance to make a fellow blogger look good. You may not have thought of it before, but regular bloggers do check other bloggers' posts to see how many comments they receive.

Can you think of any other good reasons to comment on a blog?

If you don't usually comment, has my post convinced you to try? I'd love it if this were the first post you commented on. It's easy, just click at the bottom right side of this post where it says comments (or the number of comments if someone has already made one). A pop-up window will come up. You may need to answer Yes. After that, you can add your thoughts. When you're done, it may also prompt you to say Yes again. Once you've done that, a message should say your comment is saved.

If you're a regular at commenting, as always I welcome your insights.

Regulars or rookies, please share.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Followers Gadget on Blogger - Part III - The Benefits of Being a Follower

If you've been keeping up with this series, you already know:

  • How to add the Followers feature to your blogspot.

  • How to follow another blogger's blogspot.

If you missed the first two posts of this series, just scroll down to the two posts below and you'll get caught up to speed.

Today's post covers why you should be a Follower.

Part III - The Benefits of Being a Follower. You may or may not have noticed some of the rewards that'll come your way when you decide to follow someone else's blogspot. Here are the ones I've discovered. Maybe they'll convince you to take the step of being a Follower on your favorite blogspots, if you haven't become one already:

  1. If you click and agree to follow a blogspot, your photo (unless you choose to be anonymous) gets added to the Followers grid on that site for all visitors to see.

  2. Anyone who moves the mouse to your photo will see your name displayed.

  3. Anyone who clicks on your photo will automatically land on your Profile, which, if you've filled it in correctly, should contain your website, your blogspot(s) and other valuable information, along with any blogspots you're following.

  4. Because the links to the blogspots you're following are conveniently listed on your Profile, you can easily follow the blogs you like by accessing the list on your Profile.

  5. Here's something else, which I found surprising, and you may not realize - If you Google your name, or receive Google Alerts, your name most likely will come up on that blogger's blogspot even if you haven't visited it that day. This has happened to me quite often.

  6. You'll make a blogspot owner very happy you decided to be a Follower. Doing that will give you a warm feeling inside.

  7. If warm feelings aren't enough, look at it this way. Following is one more way to network. The more webs you weave, the more opportunities you have to become known and get your brand out.

Have these benefits convinced you to be a Follower? Or, are you one already? Do you know of any other reasons to be a Follower?

Please share.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Followers Gadget on Blogger - Part II - How to Follow a Blogspot

In my first blog about the Followers feature of Blogger, I showed you how to add the Blogger feature to your own blogspot. If you missed it, just scroll down. That post will be at the bottom of this one.

  • Today, I'm going to tell you how to become a Follower on someone else's blogspot.

  • Tomorrow I'll finish this series by revealing the benefits of following other blogspots. You may be surprised by what you find out.

Part II - How to Follow A Blogspot:

  1. Look for the section marked "Followers"

  2. Click on the phrase, "Follow this blog"

  3. A popup window will come up asking if you wish to follow by using your own name or being anonymous

  4. Indicate your choice and click Follow at the bottom of the popup

  5. If you get a question asking if you really want to follow, answer yes

  6. That's all there is to it. Now you're a follower. If you answered yes, your photo will displayed with the others. That means anyone visiting my blogspot will see your photo. That's not all the benefits you'll get by being a follower. Stay tuned for much more.

Please come back tomorrow for Part III of my series which will explain the many benefits you'll now receive because you've become a Follower.

Did this mini-course teach you how to be a follower? Or, were you already a follower here? If so, I thank you.

If you're one of my new followers as of today, I also thank you.

Do you need to learn more about the benefits of following before you commit?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Followers Gadget on Blogger - Part 1 - How to Add The Followers Gadget to Your Blogspot

Blogger has all sorts of neat gadgets to make a blogspot more appealing. I've had lots of fun using them at Double M and at my group blogs.

This is the first of a three part series.

  1. Today I'll tell you how to add the Follower feature to your blog.

  2. Monday you'll learn How to Follow Someone's Blog.

  3. Tuesday you'll get the scoop on Why you should be a Follower. You may be as surprised by the benefits as I was.

So you've heard about and seen this cool feature called Following on other people's blogspots, but you're not sure how to add it to your own. It's not that hard. Here's what you do:

Part I - How to Add the Followers Gadget to Your Blogspot:

  1. Sign in to with your username and password, either from your own blog or just by typing the url at the very top of the screen;

  2. Find your blogspot on the dashboard. You may only have one, unless you're blog crazy like I am with many of them;

  3. Click the Layout button. The outline of your layout will come up;

  4. Click Add a Gadget;

  5. You'll get a popup screen with Gadgets listed. One of them is Followers;

  6. Click the plus sign by Followers;

  7. Keep the name Followers or you can call it something else. Click Save in the popup window;

  8. Blogger automatically puts the gadget at the top. If you wish the Followers feature at a different location on your blog, drag the box labelled Followers or whatever you've called it yourself to a new spot;

  9. Click Save again when you're through deciding where it goes. You can always change your mind again by dragging the Followers box somewhere else later and saving it.

  10. Click at the top of the layout where it says View Blog.

Now that you can view your blogspot, look in the spot chosen in the layout. It should say Followers (or whatever other name you gave it), plus it will say Be the First to Follow This Blog. After you've snared your first follower, it will say Follow This Blog instead.

You've done it! The Followers feature is now up and running on your blog. Here's hoping you have many followers.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I tell you how to become a follower, then on Tuesday when you learn the many advantages of why you should be a follower on other blogspots.

I'm curious. Have my instructions helped you to put the Followers gadget on your blogspot?

Or did you already have it? Please share.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Market No-Nos

When I first joined Chicago-North RWA at least 13 years ago , one of the things I learned was if I wanted to get published, I needed to study the market.

The fiction market at the time frowned on singers, sports heroes, older people, or people with infirmities as main characters in books.

Since then, it appears the market's attitude has loosened, but I wonder how much. I've noticed that Boomer authors are getting older and some of their characters are aging along with them. Other Boomer authors are still writing about people younger than themselves. So far, my published novels are about younger characters, although I am a Boomer. My work in progress does contain middle-aged characters, but they don't stay that way for the entire book. You'll see what I mean when it's published. (G)

Anyway, I have noticed more novels which include blind characters, cancer survivers, and people with other disabilities, but not many yet about singers or sports heroes.

What do you think? Have you noticed a change in the market? Do you write about characters who were once considered no-nos?

Please share.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Tracking - How do you keep track or don't you?

If you have a blog, it's a good idea to know how many people are reading it. You can do this by installing a tracker which will tell you how many hits you're getting. Some popular trackers are stat counter and site meter, as well as the one I use, which is Google Analytics.

This tracker can be visible or invisible, depending on which you prefer. If you're a beginner or someone who doesn't expect high traffic on your blog, you may want to keep the stats to yourself. Vice versa, if you're proud of the amount of readers you pull in, you may wish to advertise.

Since I'm still building the following on my personal blog here, I don't share my results. Although other people can't see them, I can access these results by going to Google Analytics and checking my report. I also own group blogs at and, which I track at Analytics.

For tracking to be effective, it's best to check the results each day. I use a small spiral notebook to mark them down. I include the date, the amount of visits and how many visitors. Visits and visitors can be different, since sometimes people visit the blog more than once. I also filter out my own IP number, so that my visits back and forth to my blog are not counted in the mix. To find your IP number, you can go to

For the dates I have higher results than the others, I write down the blog's subject line in my notebook. That way I can keep track of which topics produce the most results, so I can blog about similar topics later and hopefully get good responses.

If you don't track your blog hits and you're serious about blogging, I advise you to get started.

If you do track, which tracker do you use? How do you keep score? Please share.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

How Good Are You at Names?

I might be the world's worst person at remembering names. I can be introduced to someone and five minutes later I won't remember that person's name. Or, I can remember a name that day, but if I meet the person a week or two later, I won't remember the name. I've known people for years, but can't remember their names and am too embarrassed to ask them.

On the subject of names, if I'm looking over a book to decide if I'll read it, if I don't like the names in it, I'll put the book back down and skip reading it.

I actually had a few hours today to spend on my work in progress. You'd think I would have noticed it before, but for some reason three characters in the book all had the same name of Marilyn. Of course, they were spread out into different sections, even supposedly living in different states, but still I can't believe three. Two, but three, that is very name scatterbrained!

If a novel has people's names even beginning with the same letter, I get confused about who that person is in the book.

What about you? Do you have trouble with names? Have you caught yourself doing some kind of name slipup? Please share.