Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Breaking News - Subway Series? By Morgan Mandel

I was going to blog about something else today, but how many times does this happen? Every 102 years?

The Cubs and the Sox both in the playoffs? Strange, exciting and true.

The Cubs clinched their playoff spot first.

Tonight, wonder of wonders, the Sox beat the Minnesota Twins and also clinched a playoff spot in an exciting winner-take-all game.

I confess I am not the most rabid baseball fan, but these circumstances could get even a fair weather fan like me take notice.

My problem now is who will I root for? They're both Chicago teams. This is not easy.

When you're writing a novel, make it easy for your reader to identify with and root for the main character. One way to do this is to introduce that character first. That way your readers can immediately get into that character's point of view and root for him or her.

What are other ways? Please leave a comment if you can think of any.

Morgan Mandel

Monday, September 29, 2008

ASK ANGELA Column Hosted Soon By Morgan Mandel

Angela Wilson
What mystifies you about marketing? What don't you know about virtual book tours?

You'll find answers here in a new feature column called Ask Angela.

Angela Wilson, author publicist and virtual tour editor for PopSyndicate.Com will clue you in on things you should know, whether you're a newbie, intermediate or seasoned pro.

Don't be afraid to ask even the most basic questions, because it's the only way you'll learn. You may be surprised at how many other people would like to know the same things.

Angela says, "There is no stupid question. I am always surprised to learn of how many people don't know how to use Twitter or MySpace or Facebook. But that's OK. That's what I'm here for - to share the knowledge."

Send your question(s) to morgan@morganmandel.com with ASK ANGELA in the subject line.

If you're a published author, be sure to include your author name, latest book, and website or blogsite, so they can be included. If you don't have a book out yet, leave your name and website or blogsite, because it's never too early to start promo. If you don't have a website or blogsite, better get one or both.

If you don't want to post your name, use some other identifier, such as "member of such-and-such listserv or writing organization" and I'll include that instead.

As soon as we round up enough questions and hand them over to Angela, the feature can get started, so don't delay.

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Color of Leaves by Morgan Mandel

One of the draws for visiting the NorthWoods in the Fall is color. It looks like we may have hit it right on our vacation this year. It's predicted the colors should hit their peak in midweek. Already we've seen some great displays.

It may seem obvious, but it bears mentioning. In your manuscript, be sure to add seasonal colors for flavor.

Leaves have always been a great way to describe the Seasons in a book. This is what happens in Illinois, Wisconsin and other neighboring states:

In Spring, except for evergreens, most leaves are light green in color. Summer turns them into a deeper greenish hue.

In the Fall, leaves change into a splendid spectrum of colors --- cranberry, russet, tan, orange, and gold. They're not only on the trees, but also in the wind and underfoot.

Then Winter arrives. The leaves are gone. The trees are bare.

I don't know if this holds true in other areas of the country. If anyone not from around here would like to share, please leave a comment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back on the Road Again by Morgan Mandel

Off to Wisconsin again. This time for Fall colors and Beefarama in Minocqua.

Hope to have some good photos to share in my blog. Also, I hope I don't lose

too much money at slots at Lake of the Torches Casino.

Lots of traveling today, so I'm keeping this very short.

Morgan Mandel

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Write? By Morgan Mandel

I’m listening to the radio and wondering. Why do Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and so many other popular singers keep recording? Don’t they have enough money already?

Then there’s the movie industry. What makes Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt keep acting? They have to be loaded by now.

I see the window display at Barnes and Noble. Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Richard North Patterson, Stephen King all have books out. Why? They’re rolling in dough.

There has to be some other reason besides money that drives these people. What keeps them going? Is it ambition? Is it name recognition? Is it insecurity, feeling somehow the money will vanish? Is it sharing? Is it wanting the world to know they exist? Is it addiction? Is it more than one of these?

I don’t know the whys governing these people’s actions. I only know what I would do. If I were lucky enough to be a bestselling author with no money worries, I’d still write. It’s so ingrained in me, I can’t think of doing without it. It's part of who and what I am.

Bottom line-- I’m a writer. Writers write.

What about you? If you got rich off of one or more of your books, would you stop writing? If not, what would keep you going?

Morgan Mandel

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor By Morgan Mandel

Love Thy Neighbor

As I walked to the train station this morning, I said hello to a neighbor down the street. That simple action got me thinking. How many variations are there on a neighbor theme in a book?

Here are some:

· A mean neighbor who loves to scare kids.
· An elderly neighbor who bakes cookies for children in the neighborhood.
· A murdering neighbor who looks normal on the outside.
· An unfaithful husband or wife fooling around with the neighbor.
· A persnickety neighbor that keeps his or her property perfect & expects that of others.
· A neighbor whose home and property should be condemned.
· A rich, snobby neighbor.
· A rich, sharing neighbor.
· A poor neighbor struggling to make ends meet despite horrible odds
· A neighbor who has lost a spouse or child.
· A stealing neighbor.
· A neighbor who doesn’t control his or her children.
· A neighbor who makes lots of noise: radio, muffler, you name it.
· A neighbor who has strange looking friends.
· A neighbor who throws block parties and mingles with everyone.
· A shy neighbor.
· A helpless neighbor people feel sorry for.

From my list, you can see there are plenty of ways to fit a neighbor into a story. Think about using one of them some time.

Morgan Mandel

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blog, Website, or Both? By Morgan Mandel

Lately, I've spent more time here on my blogspot than on my main website. I'm trying to get it just right so people will know more about me as a person and as an author through reading my posts. Hopefully, they'll want to look further and check out my novels. I do try to keep my website updated, but not every day.

That got me wondering...

How many people use a blogspot as a website?
How many own websites but not blogs?
How many people prefer both?

Pro Blogspot
I update my blogspot here every day by doing a new post, but can't say the same for my website.

My blogspot is a capsulized version of my website, including vital information, such as links to book excerpts, order information, other blogs, a blogroll, my website.

Pro Website
I offer lots more information on my website which I can't fit into the blog. That makes it much more diversified. It's chock full of book signing photos, other author photos and links, badges from networks I belong to, and so much more. I can add pages at will, using different layouts, backgrounds and color patterns for diversity.

Still, for someone in a hurry, my website may seem cumbersome.

What are your thoughts?

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Iphone Culprit or Coincidence? 3G Woes By Morgan Mandel

On the way to work this morning, I inserted my A T & T network card into the laptop computer as I usually do. It takes a while to connect, but the blue flashed and then remained steady, like it was supposed to do. The bars all turned orange in the bottom tray, like they were supposed to do.

The little box telling me what was going on with the card said connected to A & T like it was supposed to do. It pulled up the Internet Explorer browser like it was supposed to do.
But…It told me the connection to the server could not be found.

What was going on?

My purse was open right next to me on the seat. Inside was my Iphone. The network was set to 3G. In desperation, I switched it off 3G to Edge.

I retried the laptop connection and it worked!!

Was that a coincidence or did the Iphone interfere with my connection? It does make me wonder. I'll need to investigate this further.

Writing tip: If you're writing a book, be wary of coincidences, even ones that have happened to you. Readers do not like them. Make sure everything follows logically.

Morgan Mandel

Monday, September 22, 2008

Say Goodbye to Randhurst by Morgan Mandel

I've heard that stories about developers changing towns are not as popular any more. Maybe so, but this particular story rings home for me, because it's true.

I had an eerie feeling as my husband and I visited Randhurst for the last time this past Saturday. As we strolled through the shopping center, oldies tunes played in the background, a reminder of the songs shoppers heard in the mall's heyday.

The stores were dark, except for a few shopkeepers waiting it out until the bitter end. One or two sold refreshments on the upper level, which at one time was jammed with hungry shoppers taking time out to eat.

The Venetial carousel played a merry tune as a handful of children rode the horses. The next day the carousel was slated to be dismantled and shipped to a mall in California, where other children would enjoy its wonders.

Further down, the play area teamed with more children having a great time. I wondered if they knew soon their playspace would be no more.

I've always loved Randhurst. It was just the right size -- Big enough to offer variety, yet small enough not to be confusing. Woodfield in all its grandeur has never been my preference.

Randhurst will be transformed into a lifestyle center, with completion scheduled for 2010. With it's departure, something fine will be lost in our community.

That's progress, I guess.

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dann & Raymond's Movie Club 2008 By Morgan Mandel

Dann Gire, film critic for the Daily Herald in blue, Raymond Benson, former James Bond novelist, in brown, hosts of In The Library, No One Can Hear You Scream.

Silent screams, scary monsters, familiar and unfamiliar screen images...what a great way to spend a Thursday evening at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

Along with short film clips of horror films, Film Critic, Dann Gire, and Mystery/Thriller Author, Raymond Benson, filled the audience in on little known facts about Universal Studios, talented cinematographer, Karl Freund, and ever-popular actors, Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and others.

Lights and shadows, musical scores, and monster makeup application were some of the topics discussed, along with types of monsters, such as werewolves, vampires, things with no names, and ghosts.

With so much information to impart, the deadly duo had only enough time to cover the '30s. On the third Thursday of October, at 7:30 pm they'll return to go through the '40s to the present day.

Also on their agenda is a political movie evening the third Thursday of November and a Holiday movie theme in the same time slot for December.

Anyone in the Arlington Heights area, come on over to the library at 500 North Dunton Avenue, Arlington Heights, Illinois, and join the fun. These two hosts are not only entertaining, but also quite knowledgeable.

Morgan Mandel

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Cubs are Division Champs!! As of this very minute, the White Sox are 7 games out.

Subway Series anyone?

If so, we may have a Chicago Civil War on our hands. (G)

What does this have to do with writing?

I don't know. Just thought I'd throw it in.

Morgan Mandel

Overpacking by Morgan Mandel

We've got one more trip left to visit our cottage in Wisconsin next weekend. Before we owned one, I thought if we had our own place I wouldn't need to pack as much.

Wrong. I pack even more. Not only that, I overpack. Then I get to the cottage and have to unpack. Since it's not a large place, finding room for everything presents a challenge.

The same thing can happen with manuscripts. It's easy to make an exception here and there. Pretty soon the manuscript is loaded down with adjectives, adverbs and those little no-no words, like just, that, so.

There's little room for them. Remember to get the majority of them them out before you send your manuscript off on a trip to an editor.

Morgan Mandel

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's the little things by Morgan Mandel

Little things mean a lot. They can make the difference between a good and bad day.
On the way to work this morning, one of my shoelaces was loose. Since I'd run out the door at the last minute and trains don't wait if you're late, I didn't have time to tie it. So, all the way to the station, I kept thinking of how loose my one shoe was.

Waiting at a restaurant to be seated. That's another thing that's irritating. If there's more than a fifteen or twenty minute wait, we usually leave.

Someone bumping into me on the street and not apologizing. Someone honking a horn too loud, even if not at me - another little thing.

A lot of these little things add up to a miserable day.

Same thing with a manuscript. Watch out for the little things. Make sure you put your commas in where you should. Check your spacing. Check for those little words like a, an, the. Did you forget to insert one? Use an easy to read font, one that the editor you submit to likes.

There are many other little things to watch out for in a manuscript. Try to catch them all or you'll get a rejection letter which means a lot.

Morgan Mandel

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm A Twit. Are You? By Morgan Mandel

I confess. I'm a twit. There are lots of us.

We're the ones who pop in with 140 or less character messages, and pop out again.

Some of us cheat and leave more than one message in a row, sometimes about the same thing, sometimes not.

We like to follow people and be followed.

Some of us have fancy backgrounds, some of us are plain.

We often repeat what our friends say. We send replies and put funny @ marks in the post.

We use links and website urls, hoping someone will check them out.

We play favorites and put stars next to special messages.

We may seem clandestine, but we're not. Anyone can join us.

Just go to http://twitter.com and sign up.

Then you can tweet like the rest of us in twitland. Be careful, it's addictive.

Morgan Mandel
PS Please follow me and I'll follow you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shine Your Light By Morgan Mandel

It doesn't matter if you blog, write a newspaper or magazine article, or even an entire book.

You're the only person that can share what's inside of you. You may have only a few words or sentences to share. What you have to say may only reach one or a few people. If you're fortunate, more. The important thing is someone somewhere is reading your words, sharing your experiences. You could make a difference in that person's life. Make a sad person happy. Make an uncaring person care. Teach someone something new. There are many effects your words can create, even when you don't know it's happening.

So shine your light, be it big or small. It's what you say that counts.

Morgan Mandel

So, shine your light. There's no other like it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nothing Dinky About This By Morgan Mandel

Eagle River, Wisconsin

Where will your story take place? That depends on your character.

Here are some questions which may help you decide setting:

Is your character urban, suburban, countrified?
What pastimes does your character enjoy?
Is your character single, married, divorced, separated? Any children?
What family members will the character relate to?
What kind of friends will your character bond with?
Does your character like to hear noise or only enjoys peace and quiet?
What about animals? Does your character require the company of one or more? What kind? A dog, cat, bird, horse?
What kind of job does your character have or is that person retired?
Does your character enjoy traveling?
Would your character rather live abroad than in America?
Or is your character afraid to leave the house at all?
Does your character like company or is your character a loner?

These are basic questions. I'm sure there are lots more, but at least they'll get you started. Answer them and you'll have a clue as to where to place your character. It may even be a quaint Wisconsin town like Eagle River.

Morgan Mandel

Monday, September 15, 2008


Rascal's DoggySpace Profile Shot

I've got a sweet addiction, but it's not about sugar. It started innocently enough. I was over at Bentley's Corner Barkery with my husband and Rascal talking to Lisa, the co-owner, when she asked me if I'd joined DoggySpace. I'd heard of it, but had never signed up.

Saturday night, I had a few extra minutes after scooping water from the basement, so I put up a profile for Rascal, using a photo taken in the van on the last trip to Wisconsin. It was easy for Rascal to make friends. In 24 hours she already had 142.

Along with the profile shots, each member gets a journal spot, like a blog spot. Also, comment sections. They can give away virtual presents like frisbees or bones to each other.

I started reading some of the posts and they were fascinating. One was upsetting, about people who left dogs tied in their yards when they evacuated the hurricane area. Then there was a dog who suffered from separation anxiety and needed medication because the owner-husband had to go out-of-town for one day.

I'm finding it difficult to tear myself away. The dogs are so precious and the blogs so engrossing.

In a way I'm wasting time there, but not exactly. Most members of Doggyspace use the dog's point of view in their posts, as if the dogs were writing them. So, I'm getting great lessons in going deep into doggy point of view which will stand me in good stead as I continue on with my children's book about Rascal.

If you have a dog and would like to make virtual friends with Rascal, her profile page at Doggy Space is http://www.doggyspace.com/profile/15418.

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, September 14, 2008

RAIN By Morgan Mandel

We're nowhere near Texas, where Ike was, yet Illinois still received way too much backlash rain. I believe our neighborhood got close to 7 inches. DesPlaines, not that far away, is way flooded and the river hasn't even crested.

As much as scientists talk about controlling the weather, I don't think it can be done. Not counting lives lost, it's sad to see so many people's memories and homes that they've worked hard for all their lives just washed away.

We were lucky. We got off with large pools of water in the yard, a foot or so of water in the basement, and some window well dripping. Not everyone can say the same.

Sometimes life intrusions interfere with writing. When that happens, after everything is back to some kind of normalcy, remember what you can about the experience and write about it.

Morgan Mandel

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Group Blogs By Morgan Mandel

If you need another Angela Wilson fix, never fear. Angela will be dispensing valuable advice about marketing on Wednesday, September 17, 2008, at my
group blog, http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com, as she continues her tour.

I hope everyone enjoyed her stay and learned a few things. I'll be hosting guests off and on here to offer variety.

While I'm mentioning group blogs, a great one to check each day is The Blood-Red Pencil, at http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com, where you'll get scads of editing advice, kind of like going to class.

Consider joining or starting a group blog, especially if you don't have time to blog every day. They're great for promotion. You'll also get great Google hits.

Morgan Mandel

Friday, September 12, 2008

Angela Wilson - Parting Thoughts on Virtual Tours & Final Remarks by Morgan Mandel

Angela Wilson

Angela leaves us with a few parting thoughts today. For More From Angela Wilson, be sure to go to http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com on Wednesday, Sept. 17, when she'll share marketing suggestions.

Conclusion to Series on Virtual Tours

You may not realize the pay off immediately, but you should see additional activity to your MySpace, Facebook and Web site during the tour and the first few months afterward. You should also have a new network of contacts for future tours, book deals or even critique groups. Track your tour in a spreadsheet so you can see what sites were beneficial and which ones may have been a waste of time. Even heavily-trafficked sites can be duds if they don't fit your niche.

If you want your blog tour to be a success, then you have to devote the time to it that it deserves. Enlist the help of friends and family, who can easily respond to comments or other general items while you handle the tough stuff. Also check out listings for virtual tour companies and, if the budget allows, think about hiring someone to do the set up so you can concentrate on networking and sales - and writing.

Thanks for turning the tables & letting me be the guest!
Angela Wilson


Want details on Pop Syndicate virtual tours? E-mail Angela at authorangelawilson@gmail.com.

Pop Syndicate's Group link at Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/130844

Some content originally posted at Mike's Writing Workshop & Newsletter - http://www.mikeswritingworkshop.blogspot.com

A great big thank you to Angela for sharing her Virtual Tour secrets with us. See her contact information above if you'd like to inquire about a book blog tour at
Pop Syndicate.Com.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angela Wilson With Blog Tour Tips - Intro by Morgan Mandel

Continued from Wednesday - Sept. 10

Angela Wilson is an author, freelance Web content director and Book Blog Editor for Pop Syndicate, a pop culture site with more than 8,000 hits per day. Each week, Pop Syndicate hosts authors on virtual tour. I was fortunate enough to be one of those authors. Here's a link to my interview by Angela that week: http://www.popsyndicate.com/books/story/book_tour_virtual_sitdown_with_morgan_mandel

Enough about me. Once again, I bring you Angela Wilson who'll give you some valuable tips about virtual book blog tours...

Virtual Tours - Part Two
When venturing out into the blogosphere for the first time, start slow. Plan a three-month tour. Secure space on blogs every week during that time. Check the sites each day to be certain your sponsors post your items. Reply to any comments submitted by readers. The personal touch goes a long way with people in an age of impersonal communication.

Send thank you notes to your sponsors, as well as updated newsletters that tell them where you will be featured. Ask them to post that as well, so readers can follow you throughout the blogosphere.

Do not pay to be placed on a blog. If someone wants cash, get site statistics and feedback from other authors before you cash in. Google the sites and see uninhibited feedback about them; don't just trust the owners' word.

Some authors take whatever blog space they can get – which is not a bad idea when you are first starting out. Other authors, both experienced and new, have specific criteria for blogs that feature them, including a certain number of hits per day and demographics. (See Cheryl Kay Tardiff's blog about her criteria.) When first starting out, some big-name blogs may be reticent to host a small-time author, e-published or self-published novelist. Be prepared to take what you can get, then build on that as your career grows.

Not a blogger but excited at the prospect of using this free interactive tool? Don't jump into the blogosphere on a tour. It is hard, detailed, sometimes mundane work. It can be overwhelming for authors who don't have the experience with the programs. (Yes, they are out there!) First, start a blog at a free service like Blogger or Wordpress, play around, see how it works and your comfort level with it. Also read other blogs and see what they are saying. If you don't like to blog, or don't want to learn how, consider hiring a virtual PR firm. There are those now that specialize only in virtual tours, and work to play your columns and excerpts on sites that fit your target market.

Only experienced bloggers should venture into contests while on tour. The best ideas I've seen so far come from authors in different genres. Delia Latham and Michelle Gagnon asked readers to post comments on all blogs where they were touring. Then, the authors collected names and emails from those posts, put them in a hat and chose a winner. Another author sent readers directly to their guestbook, and chose a winner based on signatures during tour time. As a virtual tour host at Pop Syndicate, I can safely say the most streamlined method is using a guestbook. That places all contest entries in one place, instead of over several blogs on the Web.

Do not expect your virtual tour host to handle the contest. Most blogs and sites will not handle details of a contest, but will be happy to post contest details. Write your own contest copy and allow hosts to tweak as necessary for their site.

Until Tomorrow,
Angela Wilson

Want details on Pop Syndicate virtual tours? E-mail Angela at authorangelawilson@gmail.com.

Pop Syndicate's Group Linkedin link - http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/130844

Some content originally posted at Mike's Writing Workshop & Newsletter - http://www.mikeswritingworkshop.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Angela Wilson, Book Blog Editor, About Virtual Tours, Intro by Morgan Mandel - Pt. 1

Can't afford to travel? Consider a virtual book blog tour. Here's the first of three installments where Angela Wilson, Book Blog Editor for Pop Syndicate, tells you what you need. Angela Wilson is a freelance author publicist, an author, freelance Web content director and Book Blog Editor for Pop Syndicate, a pop culture site with more than 8,000 hits per day. Each week, Pop Syndicate hosts authors on virtual tour. And now, here's Angela...

Virtual Tours
Authors have found an innovative way to use the Web to promote themselves and their work. Virtual author tours, or book blog tours, are fast becoming an inexpensive way to meet new readers and further develop your fan base.

Blog tours allow authors to post content on a variety of sites during their heaviest marketing season. It's a great way to get your name up in Google searches, and introduce yourself to new readers. It's not difficult, but it is time-consuming, and any author who goes this route should be prepared to give up a little writing and a family time to fulfill blogging obligations. Don't let that time element scare you. With proper planning – and short-term tours – any author can manage to do it.

Standard items you need for your tour:

One-page bio. You can use the one you have in your media kit, but make certain it is written in Web-friendly language.

Q&A. Make a list of the most common questions you get from both readers and interviews. Intertwine a few questions unique to yourself, or allow you to offer up unique tidbits about yourself and your writing. Answer them and you're good to go.
Columns. Have five to 10 columns about anything – writing, life, balancing career with family, your latest FAB review. Use one column per blog submission. Use the ones that are best suited for a particular blog. For instance, you will want to send a column about writing to a blog about writing. You want a good variety of columns because you don't want to be too repetitious. Readers want fresh content, and you don't want them to get bored by reading the same copy on different sites. There will be times when you need to write a new column, but at least you will have a stash to get your started.

Audio interviews. If you have them, use them, giving credit to the group or business that conducted the segment.

Book trailers. Be sure these are up and ready on YouTube, and forward the EMBED code to your tour hosts.

High- and low-resolution JPEGS of yourself and your cover art. Try to include a few different poses of yourself, maybe one relaxed at home and a studio shot. Adjust the size so they can easily email, or post them in the media section of your Web site for downloading.

A list of blog tour stops. Post this on your Web site, blog, MySpace, Tagged, Ning, Facebook, and give copies to your blog tour hosts. Also send out to your listserve or everyone in your address book.

Leave yourself open for unique items requested by various Web sites. If a site receives thousands of hits per day, you will want to work a little harder for them than a site with 12 hits. Be sure to save all documents with your name and the content. For example: AngelaWilson.Q&A.doc, AngelaWilson.mug.JPEG, etc.

Don't sweat it if you don't have everything now. Just get the basics together and add to your tour folder when you can. Remember that Web 2.0 will demand audio and video elements – the two most lacking – for future audiences. Start off with at least three unique columns and add to those when you can.

Until Tomorrow,
Angela Wilson


Want details on Pop Syndicate virtual tours? E-mail Angela at authorangelawilson@gmail.com.

Join Pop Syndicate.com Group on Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/130844

Some content originally posted at Mike's Writing Workshop & Newsletter at

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sneak Preview of Virtual Tour Guest, Angela Wilson

Angela Wilson

A Hint of What's to Come:
I'll be hosting my first virtual tour guest this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when I turn the tables on Angela Wilson. You see, Angela is the host for a great many virtual book tours at Pop Syndicate.Com, and I might add that she does a marvelous job. Her topic will be no surprise - Virtual Tours.

I met Angela Wilson at the Love is Murder conference a few years ago when she was recording podcasts for authors. At the time I was impressed by not only her outgoing personality, but also her talent and smarts. Since then, I've bumped into her and traded anecdotes many times on the Web.

To give you a little bit about her background, Angela Wilson is a freelance author publicist, an author, former journalist, and freelance writer and director of Web content and programming for clients through Learfield InterActive, a division of Learfield Communications in Jefferson City, Missouri. She is also the book blog editor at Pop Syndicate, a pop culture review site. Her passion is writing fiction. Between PC crashes, a PC to Mac conversation, and doting on spoiled cats, she toils over her erotic thriller and an urban fantasy series.

I invite you to stop over here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week and leave a comment. Angela says she's also open to questions, so think over what you might want to ask her during her tour.

Until then,
Morgan Mandel

Monday, September 08, 2008

End Of Watch Contest at Morgan Mandel.com

I'd been so busy with blogging and promo, I'd neglected my website. To make up for it, I spent all weekend doing updates, changing the look, and putting up a new contest. I had some issues with the navigation bar, but hopefully they've been resolved.

Anyway, I've got a new contest you can access by clicking the Two Wrongs cover on the main page, then the contest tab on the navigation bar. The page you get will explain the rules.

END OF WATCH by Edward M. Burke and Thomas J. O'Gorman, makes not only absorbing reading, but it's also a great pictorial and coffee table hard cover book, with over 575 pages and 400 photos.

Hopefully, after you get your contest info, you'll linger longer at my website to check out more nooks and crannies. Say hello to Rascal while you're at it.

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Word of Mouth by Morgan Mandel

We're going to see the Dark Knight today. Everyone says it's a great movie, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool not only in the movie industry, but also with books. A publisher's backing, as well as a well-thought out author's marketing plan, can contribute to book sales, but ultimately it's recommendations that seem to sell the most books.

If people have read your book and like it, thank them for the compliment. Then mention if they really enjoyed it, would they please tell a few friends either in person or online.

Also, it doesn't hurt to donate your book, especially to booksellers. If they like it, you've got a great selling campaign going.

Morgan Mandel

Saturday, September 06, 2008

DON'T BE A CHICKEN By Morgan Mandel

I played tic-tac-toe against a chicken at Lake of the Torches Casino on vacation. The chicken won!

Anyway, chickens usually denote fear and not taking chances.

Some writers spend a lot of time working on their manuscripts and getting them just right. Then, afraid to find out if their work qualifies to get published, they never submit it. They're too afraid. The manuscript just sits in a box or under the bed or somewhere else collecting dust, when it could be enjoyed by readers.

Don't be a chicken. Take the chance and submit your manuscript. You'll never know unless you try.

Morgan Mandel

Friday, September 05, 2008

TIME FRAMES By Morgan Mandel

While I was at the Apple Fest in Eagle River, Wisconsin, I had to ask the vendor what date it was before I could write out a check for the earrings I wanted to buy.

A few times I had to think twice about what day of the week it was, since this vacation started on a Wednesday, instead of the usual Friday.

Then, after trying to dodge the raindrops on the way to work, when I got there it seemed like a Monday, though it was Thursday.

It's easy to get mixed up about time. That's why when you're writing your manuscript you need to insert subtle hints here and there about the time of day, season, day of the week and year.

Here are a few easy ways to do this:

Time of day - Describe the sun coming up, or going down. What does the moon look like?

Season - Raking up leaves, throwing snowballs, watching new buds come up, feeling the hot sun on your feet at the beach.

Day of the week - Monday blues, Tuesday settling down to work day, Wednesday hump day, Thursday can hardly wait to go out Friday night, Friday pizza night, Saturday cleaning house day, Sunday church day.

Year - This will depend on when you set your novel. If it's during a bygone time, you'll need to insert hints about happenings then. The main thing is to keep track of when the novel starts, how many years it spans. You may need to show the change of seasons or the aging of your characters.

Hope this helps you keep track of time. If you remember to drop these hints in your manuscripts from the start, you won't have to go back later and try to figure out the time line. Believe me, it's not easy to figure it out later. I know from experience.

Morgan Mandel

Thursday, September 04, 2008

BE PREPARED By Morgan Mandel

As I rushed to get ready for work,I was glad I listened to the weather forecast last night - rain and lots of it was predicted. I already had a rain coat, umbrella, cap, and extra plastic cover for my computer case ready. My grubby, ugly gym shoes were also ready instead of the nice, clean white ones.

It turned out it wasn't raining as much as I thought it would, except under the trees where the accumulated water spouted out.

The catch is the heavy rain hasn't started yet. Remnants of the hurricane are predicted to hit Illinois. At least I'll be protected on the trip home.

When you're a writer, you also need to be prepared. Producing a grammatically correct, unique and spellbinding manuscript is not enough. You need to be ready for the future. That means starting another one right away and working extra hard to get it done.

Why? Because if a publisher or agent likes your manuscript, the next question will probably be, "What else to you have?"

If you have another one or two ready, especially if they're part of a series, you may be lucky enough to clinch a multi-book contract.

So, your book is finished. Don't just sit back, relax and congratulate yourself. Get back on the treadmill and do another.

Morgan Mandel

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Be a Turkey - Stand Out From The Crowd by Morgan Mandel

I could have saved these vacation photos for around Thanksgiving, but couldn't resist posting them now. My good friend, Jeanne, in Wisconsin, has a backyard that's like a wildlife reserve. Not only do deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds, chipmunks, raccoons and sometimes a bear visit, but lately she's had a mother turkey and her nine offspring coming over for freebies.

Note the one turkey on the railing scooping up the best of the food, while the others stay below.

Authors also need to stand out from the crowd. Though many of us find it against our nature, we need to get out in the spotlight and be noticed. The more we do, the more we'll stand out.

Today I'll just cover how to improve on the basics to stand out. Some other time I'll give examples on more far-out things to do. (Maybe around Thanksgiving, so I can put up another turkey photo.)

You should at least:

1. Set up a website
2. Do blogs
3. Distribute bookmarks
4. Distribute business cards
5. Do book signings
6. Belong to a writing group and attend meetings
7. Go to conferences
8. Join listservs and other online groups

Turkeys do all the above, but better.

To go beyond the basics:

1. Website - Get a designer to do your website, such as Diane Whiddon-Brown at http://novelwebsitedesign.com
or, if you'd prefer to do your own, either vary the template's colors, fonts and structure, or make up your own design.

2. Blogs - Change the layout from the normal template, use a catchy title, add links, a blogroll, photos, a sitemeter, a bookmark, guest appearances, to your blog. Check out other blogs for appearance and content. There's always room for improvement. Leave comments on other people's blogs. They'll remember.

3. Business cards &
4. Bookmarks - Don't just distribute these at normal places, like book signings, book stores, goody tables at conferences. Give them to waitresses when you pay your bill, leave them at rest stops when you travel, leave them on bulletin boards, do a co-op with authors in other states.

5. Book signings - Don't sit at the table next to your books, waiting for browsers to notice you. Get up and approach people. Enter into conversation with them. If possible, put your book in their hands for them to look over.

6. Belong to a writing book and attend meetings - Contribute to your chapter by being an officer or being in charge of the Christmas party or some other event. Join in aloud in the critiques. Let chapter members know about your book signings and what else is happening in your writing life.

7. Go to conferences - Not only attend conferences, but participate in panels. Also, help in some other way, such as registration, timing editor appointments, setting up the goody table, etc.

8. Join listservs and other online groups - Be active online by contributing what you've learned. Respond to posts by others, congratulate them on their successes.

So, be a turkey. I dare you.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Blood-Red Pencil - Morgan Mandel

I'm excited to announce that I'm one of the participants in a brand new blogspot called The Blood-Red Pencil. I invite everyone to come on over to http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com. The Intros are up for you to read about our bloggers who will share their perspectives on the various aspects of editing manuscripts.

Also, please read my post about Backstory and leave a comment.

See you over there,
Morgan Mandel