Friday, October 31, 2008


Even though it's Halloween, I promised that today I'd announce the winner of This Time For Always by Debra St. John. It is KAREN MAGILL. Next time it could be you. November 7 is my next blog contest. Mark your calendar now so you don't miss out on your chance to win Michele Cameron's book.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was always a fun time for me as a child, but I don't remember as many decorations in the neighborhood as people have now. Also, it was a lot safer to Trick or Treat. My parents didn't have to come with me.

Here's a few photos I took with my iPhone. I've got some others to get into order from my dog, Rascal's Halloween party Thursday night at Bentley's Corner Barkery. It was the in place to be for every dog in the neighborhood. I'll put those up on Saturday.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ask Angela Featuring Angela Wilson

eBooks: Profitable for Authors?

Rachel asks: What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers such as Kindle to the environment? What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?
Blessings,Rachel - Book Reviews - Honest E-tailer Reviews!

Angela Says:
First, let me share my bias. I dreamed of eBooks when the first PC came into the home. I craved a time when I could bypass publishers and post my own items in a worldwide forum, where I could share my work, cultivate fans and create my own brand - all while remaining in the driver's seat, rather than at the mercy of publishing houses. As a radio host, I also wanted to share stories with readers in audio, have specific shows like those from years ago, with mystery, romance and suspense.

Thankfully, technology has caught up, and now the globe is open to authors everywhere who want to find their audience.

eBooks are a fantastic way to reach fans. You can publish full-length novels and sell them, or offer free short story bonuses on your blog or Web site to generate more buzz.
Some eBook publishers give generous contracts to their authors, who receive upwards of 40 percent in royalties. (Yes, it's true.) I've heard more complaints from authors with big name publishers, who give a pittance compared to what they should. After all, eBooks are easier - and less costly - to produce. Whenever you negotiate with a publisher, be certain to get specifics on eBooks and make sure you get your fair share of the sales profit.

If you self publish, the profits are yours. Period. Any PDF will work in eBook readers like Kindle. You can use a service like Amazon, or go out on your own. If you choose the latter, buyers will just need to email it to their eBook reader account, instead of directly downloading. You can easily create a PDF, post it on your blog or Web site, and charge for it, or ask for donations. PayPal is a great service to collect your profits.

eBooks are fantastic for self promotion. They are cheap to produce and easily downloadable from virtually anywhere. Readers love freebies of any kind. They are more likely to feel like they really "got" something with a free story, and remember you later on.

They also open up market share. Some city dwellers don't have space for traditional books, but they do have space for a small eBook reader that can holds hundreds of titles. You get an opportunity to sit on their virtual bookshelf that you would not get with a traditional hardcover or paperback.

If you do self publish, I encourage you to consider offer your eBook at a price less than a traditional book. I never purchase an eBook that costs the same or more than a paperback. I know technology and I know the only thing it takes to create a PDF is time. I refuse to spend my dollars on something intangible when I can get the paperback instead. I am not alone in that thinking. If you strike out on your own, find ways to generate interest in your work - including financial incentives.

Many authors have expressed concerns of copyright infringement if they do eBooks - especially in light of the unauthorized release of Stephenie Meyer's unpublished work. This podcast will tell you your rights.
~ Angela

Find Angela Wilson at:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Today, I'm very happy to introduce to you a wonderful friend and and great romance author, Debra St. John. To celebrate the release of her debut Western-style romance, This Time For Always, I'm holding a contest in which you might win an autographed copy of her book for yourself. But first, check out Debra's blog. After that, I'll tell you how you can enter.

For more about Debra, hop over to her website at

My Music Muse

A huge thanks to Morgan for having me here today. In fact, if it weren’t for Morgan, I wouldn’t be where I am career-wise at all. So I owe her thanks in many areas.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I have always loved music. All kinds of music. I don’t do much without music in the background: write, garden, scrapbook, exercise, etc. When I was little, my sister and I would crank up our Tony Orlando and Dawn LP and dance in our living room until Mom yelled that we were shaking the whole house. Later we moved on to more hip things. Believe me, in our house, Grease WAS the word.

In high school I went the pom girl route instead of the cheerleader route. I was a huge Rick Springfield fan. In fact, one of my earliest works features a rock star hero that is suspiciously like the dark-haired Aussie. (Too bad I wrote it before I knew what writing was really all about. One of these days I’m going to have to bring that one out of the closet and see what I can do with it.)

After that I moved on to the hair-bands of the eighties. Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Poison, and Motley Crue were among my favorites. I even had a life sized poster of Jon Bon Jovi on my closet door in college. (My roommate was NOT amused.)

On a post-college trip to Texas to visit an old high school friend, I fell in love with country music. It was really this music that started my journey toward publication. After returning home, I found a local bar where I could enjoy my country music and line dance to boot, or boot scoot as it were. Basically from there everything fell into place and brought me to where I am now. There I met the guy who would eventually become my husband. I also met a ton of other great friends. These friends inspired me to write a story set at the bar. That story eventually became “This Time for Always”.

In the course of conversation one day, a friend from the bar mentioned that she belonged to a local writers’ group. When I mentioned that I had always wanted to be a romance writer, she invited me to come along to a meeting. After one meeting, I decided this was the group for me, and I joined the Chicago-North chapter of The Romance Writers of America. Morgan joined the group not long after I did and we became friends.

I dabbled with my writing for years, submitting a couple times to Harlequin and getting rejections. It was a little over a year ago, that I e-mailed Morgan and said that I had decided it was time to get serious about my writing. She suggested submitting to The Wild Rose Press, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, here I am today with my first romance out in print, another under consideration, and a free read coming out in December. I’m also working on the next book in the series that features the bar where it all started. (And these days I count Toby, Kenny, Carrie, and Brad among my favorites.)

The music still brings me inspiration. There’s a story in every song.

So, yes, my music muse has been good to me. In more ways than one. Feel free to visit me at to find out more about where my muse has taken me.

How to enter the contest: Leave a comment at the end of this post, then send an email to , leaving your name and saying you commented. One winner will be drawn from the entries and an e-mail will be sent to you requesting your snail mail address. Good luck!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chicago-North RWA

On Monday night, I attended another meeting of my chapter, Chicago-North RWA. I've learned so much since I've joined there, but I'm always learning more. Sometimes I say I'm going to class when I refer to my meetings, because it seems like one, yet even better.

I don't know what I would have done without the support and friendship of my fellow members. I only know without them I would never have gotten either my mystery, Two Wrongs, or my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, published. Both of them were the object of critiques, where I learned which parts didn't make sense, and I was pointed in the right direction - the path to publication.

Each time a member gets a publication contract, the tradition is to bring chocolate to a meeting. Lots of chocolate made the rounds Monday night. That's a good sign. It means our members know what it takes to get a book published and can help others toward that goal.

On Wednesday, I'll be hosting Debra St. John, a special member of our group. It took a little nudging for her to realize it, but she is very talented. I was honored to provide a blurb for her debut romance, This Time For Always. That was an easy task. I couldn't say enough good words for such a wonderful read.

Debra is one of the many gifted members of our chapter. Anyone who doesn't belong to a supportive writing group such as RWA is missing out on a lot. Check out what's in your area, ask around and see which groups contain people-in-the-know, and consider joining one. It's hard enough to get published. It's even harder if you go it alone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Make Mine Mystery Members Revealed

I never seem to have enough time, so what do I do, instead of freeing up more, I decided to start up a new blogsite at That was Tuesday. I've spent every free moment since then getting bloggers together, putting photos up, and basically getting the bunch of us organized. We're almost on automatic pilot now. Our bloggers will be blogging all week, with special blogs on Halloween.

Starting November 3, we'll be doing a regular rotation. Here's our schedule of star bloggers:

1st & 3rd Monday - Morgan Mandel
1st & 3rd Tuesday - Marilyn Meredith
1st & 3rd Wednesday - Mark Troy
1st & 3rd Thursday - Vivian Zabel
1ST & 3RD Saturday - OPEN
1st & 3rd Sunday - Dana Fredsti

2nd & 4th Monday - Anne Carter
2nd & 4th Tuesday – Marvin Wilson
2nd & 4th Wednesday - Libby McKinmer
2nd & 4th Thursday - Christine Duncan
2nd & 4th Saturday - Jean Henry Mead
2nd & 4th Sunday – Earl Staggs

We've got a great lineup of serious bloggers together and I have high hopes for the new blogspot to be a smashing success.

*On Free For All Fridays, any member bloggers who have not blogged that particular week will have the opportunity of putting up short posts or photos. That means you won't know what you'll see up that day. Or, even a guest may appear instead. It'll be a mystery. Well, maybe not. If a guest is scheduled, we'll all be telling everyone about it so you won't miss any of the excitement.

So, if you like mysteries, after you spend a little time here, I invite you to wander on over to Make Mine Mystery at

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Addicted - I Can't Say No

I'm hopelessly addicted. My home is testimony to that. They're everywhere, in all kinds of nooks and crannies, taking up space. I still want more. When I see them, I can't say no.

So, when my husband happened to mention I could get more on Friday, even though I still wasn't feel that great, I couldn't resist.

Off I went to the book sale at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. And, yes, although I had way too many already, I happily came back home with a tote bag jammed high with more books. I don't know where I'll put them all.

I confess, I'm addicted. Also, I don't know of any cure. Judging from attendance on the first night of the sale, I'm not the only one.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Busy Time

It's been a busy time for me lately. Despite the germ which has taken residence in me for a while, I've been setting up a new blog for mystery writers, called Make Mine Mystery, at

It's already up, with lots of fabulous bloggers waiting in the wings to blog about various aspects of mystery and scary things.

Also, there's a poll up asking if you're afraid of the dark and where you put your nightlights.

Come on over if you get a chance, take a look and come back again. Have fun being scared.

Also, if you missed Ask Angela Wednesday about press releases and media kits, read on by all means.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ask Angela

Debra Shively Welch asks:

I am with a small traditional publishing house and so don't get help with promotion.I have sent press releases out the wazoo but can't seem to get any attention from them. Most disappointing is I can't seem to get my own hometown paper interested. Any suggestions?

Debra Shiveley Welch
Son of My Soul, The Adoption of Christopher
A Very Special Child
Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams
Buy them at the Wicked Wordsmith store!

Angela says:
I must admit, news releases these days are hit or miss. The news business is shrinking. Newspapers barely have enough room for daily news stories - and enough staff to cover them. Book reviews are out, and unless you can sell yourself as a feature story, you might be out of luck.

Hometown newspapers - especially the small ones - are some of the most difficult to break into. So scratch that and broaden your distribution. Have you tried an eRelease service like BoStick Communications? This service specializes in book press release distribution - including those for religious distribution.

If that doesn't work - or fit your budget - consider adding releases only to your Web site and pursue different marketing venues.

You have excellent marketing campaign potential with your books. You have a Christian theme in all of them, which means that you should target a Christian niche. Give review samples to church book groups. Send copies of Son of My Soul, The Adoption of Christopher to adoption agencies, or ask members of an adoption forum to review it on Amazon or their personal blogs. A Very Special Child fits a children's market, so target your efforts to blogs and Web site for children and families. If these are available for sale through a site like, ask someone to post a review on it. Search for children's book readers on Amazon, and ask them if they would like a complimentary copy to review.

To save money, you can always e-mail a password-protected PDF to review.

I recently posted a column on writing news releases for hardcopy and electronic submission. Check it out for tips.

Good luck!

~ Angela

Holly Asks: Hi Angela, My daughter and I just started a Web site selling plays I've written for children to perform. The target market is teachers and youthleaders who are looking for activities to do with children.

We're thinking about mailing half-page fliers to 3rd and 5th gradeteachers in a specific city (Minneapolis). The fliers invite folks to the Web site.

My questions:
1. Is direct mail marketing still
considered an effective use of marketing dollars?

2. If it is considered effective, what are some tips for driving traffic to our site?

3. Are certain direct mail pitches more effective than others? Forexample: post card vs. stuffed envelope, or hand delivered vs. bulkmail.

Thanks so much for your help. We're feeling stumped on this!

Holly Y

Angela says
Holly - Congratulations on your project! What a wonderful way to promote your work and get some quality time in with your daughter.

Direct marketing is still effective - in the right form. For example, political advertisement people receive in the mail many times end up in File 13. That's because politicians use a blanket system that calls up all addresses in their district. They don't break down those addresses by party or other demographics, which makes the mailers a complete waste of marketing dollars, paper, ink and time.

You do not want that to happen to you.

If you really target your niche market, you can spend very little and make a great impact. Your product is for children. You are marketing to people who teach or care for children. You could easily send fun, colorful postcards announcing your site to them. You could mail them or drop them off at district and church offices. Postcards - especially those oversized - are less likely to get lost in transit. Whatever route you choose, be certain the Web site and your contact information is prominent. Be sure the item is designed in such a way that people want to save it, post it on their refrigerators, workplace bulletin boards or other public areas.

That said, this could be costly prospect - especially if you are just starting out. I would encourage you to contact as many schools directly - perhaps work through the district PR offices to distribute the information, which will save postage fees. Join online forums with PTA members and teachers to promote the plays. Contact church district offices or community centers with the information. If you have a Boys and Girls Club, contact the district office and see if they would also be interested.

Use the Web as much as you can. Perhaps choose a group of 10 to 15 people to be part of a group that writes reviews about your site at their blogs or social networks. Ask them to pass the site on to others. Generate buzz from within the community because word of mouth is gold. You have a fun video on your Web site. Be sure to post that at YouTubeand start inviting Minneapolis users to subscribe to your YouTube feed.

You could also choose your top 10 venues and send a sample play along with .

I would also encourage you to consider donating a play for free to various organization to generate buzz. Nonprofits that helps kids after school would greatly appreciate it. Ask them if it would be OK to take video of performances, which you can edit and post to your Web site and YouTube. (Be sure to get signed release forms, so you can legally use the child's image.)

If you decide to go the direct marketing route, wait until after the election craziness settles down, otherwise your postcards or fliers could end up in the trash with political ads.

Good luck!

~ Angela

Angela Wilson
Find Angela Wilson at:
Book Addict Blog Editor
Pop Syndicate
U.S.: 819 W. Arapaho Rd,Suite 24-B #321
Richardson, TX 75080

Tell Me Your Secret - Cold Remedies

Since my cold is very much on my mind the last few days, I was wondering what other people use for cold remedies. I don't like to take much medication, but last night I did break down and take the generic for Robitusson DH after speaking with the pharmacist to make sure it would go all right with my blood pressure and thyroid meds.

What do the rest of you take when you have a cold, or do you just tough it out?
Just wondered.

Getting Better

Getting better, but it'll take a while. At least I'm off work on Wednesdays anyway, so I'm not using up a sick day. I fell asleep again on the couch and woke up a few hours later. It's best to get my sleep while I can. Colds are weird that way.

In the morning, I'll have to think up something special to say here, but for now I better hit the hay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm a Puppy

Well, Rascal may not be a puppy anymore, but I am. To keep my blogs going, I'm posting these few lines. After that, I will try to go to sleep. This cold or flu or whatever it is came onto me yesterday and is getting worse. Bummer. At least I made it through the book signing at Barnes & Noble on Saturday before getting sick. For that I'm grateful, especially since it was very successful.

Good night,
Morgan Mandel

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rascal Gets Blessed - 2008 - The Blessing

It's been a week and a day since Rascal got blessed. Have I noticed any difference? Hmm, Rascal says she's taking the 5th amendment. Actually, she did good today at obedience class. She hadn't gone there in a while, but she remembered what to do and everyone was pleased with her performance.

Of course, that's that's part of her scheming - pretending to be a model dog, then being a brat later, especially when my husband is in the other room or sleeping. She knows I'm easy prey and I fall for almost anything, like when she whines and acts so sad I have to give her a treat or bone to play with, though she's got a bunch of stuff littering the floor. I really need to put my foot down one of these days. Sure.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Easy As 1, 2, 3 - Book Signings

If you prepare ahead of time, book signings can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. See my post yesterday on how I got ready.

One thing to remember is don't sit still. If you must be at your table, it's best to stand. Roaming the store with bookmarks and copies of your book is also a good way to get the word out that you're there. Bookmarks are great conversation breakers. Even if customers don't buy books that day, sometimes they'll order from the publisher,from Amazon, or the library. Also, many people like to decide what to purchase in private, so they'll take the bookmark, walk away and read it, then maybe come back if they're interested.

I'm happy to report the book signing went very well today at Barnes & Noble, Arlington Heights, Illinois. I sold books, made new friends, and enjoyed the company of fellow mystery authors, Michael Black and J.A. Konrath. They had a great selling day also, by the way.

Goes to prove a successful book signing is as easy as 1,2,3 if you know what to do.

1. Morgan Mandel

2. Michael Black, Morgan Mandel

3. Michael Black, Morgan Mandel, J.A. Konrath

Friday, October 17, 2008

Preparing for a Book Signing

Here I am at one of my first book signings - Barnes & Noble DePaul Center in March, 2006.

Tonight I'm getting ready for a book signing tomorrow, Sat, Oct 18, 1-3pm at Barnes and Noble, 13 West Rand Road, Arlington Heights, IL.

For those who don't know how to get ready, here's what I do in advance:

  • Confirm the date with the book store coordinator.

  • Find out if the book store will be able to order the books or if I should bring them.

  • Make sure I have enough books to bring.

  • Tell people about the signing by word of mouth or Internet, if possible newspapers.

  • Make sure I have enough promo to bring with for the event. I bring book posters, a photo of myself, rack cards, postcards, business cards, sell sheets and most important, bookmarks. I've also got some giveaway items, among them pens and keychains.

  • Arrange transportation. Since there's no conflict in schedules, my husband can drive me. Also, this time it's not too far. If it were at an unfamiliar spot, I'd be checking with the store and the Internet, even my Iphone, to figure out how to get there.

If I haven't done it before, the night before I:

  • Make the final decision on my clothes. What I wear depends on the image I wish to project. Tomorrow, I'll wear an argyle sweater with white cuffs and collar, a black jacket for just in case it's cold, black slacks and black leather comfortable shoes since I plan not to sit still, but scout out the readers. This is a safe outfit, which looks professional, but not overly so. Since I have both a mystery and a romantic comedy to sign, I'm treading the line. If I were selling a medical book or something more intense, I'd wear something more staid. I still have to decide on earrings and a ring. I'm not sure if a necklace will go with the outfit. I have time to figure that out tomorrow.

  • Get my books together. This time I've put them in a box which fits in a shopping cart. Although it's a mystery authors' book signing, I'm bringing both Two Wrongs, the mystery, and Girl of My Dreams, my romantic comedy. I've had shoppers pick up both books without looking at them and purchase them on the spot. You never know.

  • Get my promo together. This time I've put them in two tote bags to balance the load.

  • Change purses. I'll pick out one of my many purses that's pretty small because I'll keep it on me when I roam the store. It's not a good idea to abandon your purse at any time during an event like this where it's easy to get distracted. The nicest looking people can hide nasty streaks. Guys don't have to worry about this item on the list.

So, I've got most of my act together. Tomorrow I'll go to aerobics class in the morning, but will have more than enough time to get ready for the 1:00 p.m. start of the book signing. I'll make sure to leave home early to get there ahead of time so I can confirm procedures with the store coordinator and set up my portion of the table. Whatever I do, I don't want anyone wonder where I am. Being late is not the image I want to project.

Time now to relax a bit. I'll be busy enough tomorrow. Let me know what you do to get ready for a book signing. Did I forget anything? Hope not. I'll find out when I get there.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ask Angela - Twitter Help


LAURIE (L.C. LEWIS) asks: Not only do I not know how to use Twitter I don't even know what "Twitter" is. I would also love to know about the value of marketing on Facebook and MySpace, and the best sites for virtual book tours.

I'm writing my current series under the name L.C. Lewis and my most recent release is Book Two in my historical fiction series, "Free Men and Dreamers." It's entitled, Twilight's Last Gleaming.

Thanks for the advice!
Laurie (L.C.) Lewis

Author of the Free Men and Dreamers Series Featuring
Dark Sky at Dawn, Twilight's Last Gleaming
Buy at the Wicked Wordsmith store!

Angela says : Laurie - Great questions!
Twitter is considered a microblogging site, where you only have 140 characters to share your thoughts. Check out my column on how to use Twitter easily and effectively. I also have a column about marketing with MySpace which you might find helpful.

I will say at this time that I have much better luck meeting serious readers and writers on Facebook. This social network - which recently launched a nifty redesign -is cleaner than MySpace, and offers authors the ability to create Fan Pages, like these for Pop Syndicate and Canadian author Elizabeth Van Amelsvoort. When you create a Fan Page, be sure to put the link to the site for folks who are NOT logged in. That way, someone surfing Facebook doesn't have to have an account to find you.

Don't kid yourself into thinking that social networks are for authors who target youth. Everyone is networking with someone online - even if they don't have an account with MySpace, Facebook or Ning.

As for virtual tour stops, you need to target your market. Find sites that appeal to readers in your demographics. Book review sites are a given for nearly all authors of adult fiction. Then, you will want to target sites that support your genre.
Find out more about virtual tours here.
Good luck!

Angela Wilson is an author, freelance author publicist and professional blogger and podcaster. She requests ARCs and manages the book blog for Pop Syndicate, where she hosts authors on virtual book tours. If you have a question about promotions, visit, or email her directly at
Your question may be used on that site and/or here.

Find Angela Wilson at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ask Angela


BILLIE WILLIAMS SAYS: Hi Morgan and Angela,
My question for Angela is about blog tours -- Do these increase sales significantly? Or is there some other method of promotion that seems to do more for individual authors?

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I'll be looking forward to reading this column.

Billie A. Williams
Ancient Secrets
Buy it from the Wicked Wordsmith store!
Mystery/SuspenseAccidental Sleuths solve crimes with wit, wisdom and chutzpah

Angela says: Billie -Thanks for submitting your questions through Morgan Mandel's blog. Virtual tours are the best option for authors with low budgets to reach a massive audience. You do them from home - or a coffee shop - on sites guaranteed to find fans in your target demographic.

Every author I have interviewed says they noticed an increase in page views at Amazon and their Web sites and/or blogs during a tour. Some saw significant sales increases; others got higher search engine rankings and found new fans, albeit on a smaller scale. You may not sell a book from that one viewer, but that person could forward your site to a friend, family member or coworker who likes your genre - and requests your novel as a gift, or adds it to an Amazon Wish List.

The more you are on the Web, the more chances readers have of finding you. In this vast world of books, where every cover is screaming out at readers to buy it - and promotional budgets are non-existent for non-bestselling authors - you need every advantage you can get. Online promotion - particularly virtual tours - allows you to touch base with fans, network with other professionals and save money on gasoline and other expenses.

Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif became a bestseller because of her online promotions. Now, she is taking it a step further by writing her next novel, Finding Bliss, on an iPhone 3G. She has already completed several interviews on using the latest techno gadgets to write. It is a great cross-promotional tool.

I would encourage you to read my column on Virtual Tours to get started. Then, check out my other columns on marketing plans, and integrating microblogs like Twitter into your online campaign.

Angela Wilson is an author, freelance author publicist and professional blogger and podcaster. She requests ARCs and manages the book blog for Pop Syndicate, where she hosts authors on virtual book tours. If you have a question about promotions, visit, or email her directly at
Your question may be used on that site and/or here.

Find Angela Wilson at:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hot Mamas

Okay, after seeing Trace Adkins Friday night at Sears Centre Arena, his performance was so great, some of his songs just happened to stick in my mind. Actually, that probably would have happened even if I hadn’t gone to the show. Like everyone in the world probably knows, I do love country music.

Anyway, his song, Hot Mama, sprang to mind when I read an article in the Daily Herald in the Health & Fitness Section on Monday. It was about Moms participating in an unusual health program called StrollerFit, with all kinds of fun exercises like Peek-A-Boo Lunges and Ring-Around-the-Rosie Squats.

Apparently this craze is sweeping the NorthWest Suburbs of Chicago and classes are being held at many park districts. More on this program is at

Gone is the idea that once a woman has a child she can no longer be attractive. Instead, women are encouraged to get back into shape and not suffer in the process. Many books feature women who have children. Miraculously, somehow they manage to make it through birthing without losing their svelte beauty.

Some themes centering around women who give birth are the Single Mother Going It Alone, Man Falls for Woman with Instant Family, and the Secret Baby novel. Secret Baby is about how a woman keeps the birth of a baby from the biological father. At some spot in the novel he learns about his child and mayhem results. Although it’s been done often, if it’s done well, the suspense and discovery can be riveting. If you’d like to read one, I recommend This Time for Always by Debra St. John. You’ll hear more about her novel in a later post.

In the meantime, I thought I’d put up the link for Trace’s video, Hot Mama, for you to enjoy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Neighbor/Bad Neighbor

I hope to get another video ready of Rascal's blessing, but since time is short today, I thought I'd post about something I observed on the way to work this morning.

I happened to look down on the sidewalk and saw some foam pieces, black on one side, white on the other, in varying sizes. They were also on the grass. It didn't take long for me to figure out what they were and it made me sad. Vandals had destroyed someone's Halloween lawn decorations.

Another block down, I saw a friendly gent named Tom. We've gotten into the habit of exchanging a few words about his dog or mine, the weather, or neighborhood happenings as I fly by on my way to the train. I always feel good talking to someone as pleasant as Tom. Also, his wife's garden is a sight to behold. She spends her time creating beauty for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates her efforts.

Neighbors can be great characters in novels. They can be good or bad, buddies or enemies. There are enormous possibilities of weaving them into a plot, from the best friend to the cheating neighbor. Think about adding a neighbor to your plot if you haven't already.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rascal Gets Blessed - 2008

Well, every year for obvious reasons we like to get Rascal blessed at the Blessing of the Animals in honor of St. Francis Day, either at Our Lady of the Wayside, our parish church, or at our vacation/adopted church, Holy Family, in Wisconsin, sometimes at both if we're lucky.

Rascal is a sweet dog, but let's face it, she's not perfect. After all, she does have a name to live up to and she does her best to do that, especially around me.

Presently I'm writing a children's book about Rascal to share her impact in our lives and lessons we've learned from her.

Anyway, we weren't the only ones who felt the need to have their animals blessed, judging from the assemblage of dogs, cats and owners yesterday at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic Church.

Dean Pierce from St. James Church presided, since our parish priests and deacons were all spread thin. He did a marvelous job. None of the dogs seemed afraid of him, although some were not happy about getting a dose of water sprinkled on them.

Here's Dean Pierce with Rascal and my DH.

I did a long video of the Blessing, so I'm breaking it down. I'm posting the first part tonight, which shows the pets Gathering for the Blessing.

By the way, I'm not sure how well that blessing worked. At the moment, Rascal is staring at me. She's got that look that says she's bored and is wondering what devilment to get into...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Country Concert Review

Awesome Concert Last Night at the Sears Centre Arena!
We had great seats six rows from the stage on the side. Before the show I met up with Marci Braun, Musical Director at WUSN-FM 99.5, America's Country Station.

James Otto came on first for half an hour, put on a great performance and got everyone all revved up.

Then came the guy I really wanted to see - Trace Adkins. I was not disappointed by his performance. His peformance lasted an hour and he was excellent!! I took the most photos of him since he's my fave.

Then came Alan Jackson, who was not a slouch. He did a terrific job and sang so many hit songs for two hours I lost count.

I went home tired, but happy. It was a wonderful venue to see a show. Not only that, the show was worth every penny.

First are my clips from the show, which aren't professional, but it's hard to get any kind of shots in the dark. After that, I found an official youtube video of Trace Adkins for you to enjoy.

Thought you'd get a kick out of this video of Trace's from There's more over there, by the way.

Do You Like Country?

What Country Artist Do You Like? Leave a Comment, please.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Can't Wait by Morgan Mandel

Tonight my husband and I are going to a concert starring Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins. As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of country music. I listen to country music at America's Country Station, WUSN, 99.5 FM, in Chicago each night as I go to sleep and wake up to it in the morning. I also love watching and listening to GAC.

I have no idea yet what to wear, except jeans for sure. I don't have any fringed shirts, but I'll find something. I do have a western hat, but am not sure if I wish to alienate people in back of me by wearing it. I don't expect to be able to take photos, because at places like that they don't usually allow it. Too bad. I would have liked to put some up on my blog.

I haven't been to a paying concert in a while. I've been to plenty of outdoor festivals with free concerts during the summer and was happy with the entertainment, although none of the singers were currently popular.

The last concert I attended at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois was a problem. Although I love Rascal Flatts and it's not really a rowdy group, the screaming fans were so loud I had to stuff tissue in my ears. I still got a headache afterwards. From then on, I decided to listen to their CDs instead.

That was a much younger crowd than I expect at tonight's show, since Alan and Trace are a bit older, closer to my age. Also, it will be at the fairly new Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, so hopefully the acoustics will be better. I've never been there, so I'm curious to check it out.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. I better sign off now. I have to figure out what I'm wearing still.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ask Angela


CAROL GORDON EKSTER asks: I wondered what your opinion is on how many books to send out yourself (as opposed to your publisher) to reviewers or people who might spread the word about your book. Each book costs the author plus the mailing, and I'm confused about how much promotion to do. Any insight you can give would be appreciated.

Thanks, Carol Gordon Ekster
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?-A Story of Divorce
a children's book released by Boulden Publishing, fall, 2008

Angela says: Great question, Carol! First, try to find out from your publisher or publicist where ARCs are sent. Some will have standard outlets that always receive ARCs. As for your personal stack, you should only send to publications that you know want the book and will likely do a review. Don't expect every one to follow through. It simply is not feasible. Don't spend a ton of money send ARCs via FedEx, USPS overnight delivery, UPS or DHL. Send it media mail - unless specifically requested by the publication.

There is no guarantee faster delivery will get you a quick review turnaround. To save time and money, ask reviewers if they will accept a PDF ARC via email. Some will, some won't. Personally, I get a better reading experience from a hardcopy, but I do make exceptions - particularly for self-published/POD authors. You may consider using password protection for the PDF, and sending that information in a separate email. If you don't have the full Adobe program to covert Word to PDF, visit Adobe's Web site, where you can do that for a nominal fee.


JESSICA JAMES asks: I am getting ready to plan a blog tour and have a couple of bloggers I would like to contact. What is the proper etiquette for contacting them, and what should I offer them in return for their time and energy in hosting me?

Jessica James
Author of the award-winning Civil War novel,
Shades of Gray

Angela says : Jessica -Congratulations for your entry into the virtual realm! You will find most bloggers don't stand on ceremony - but that doesn't mean you should send less-than-stellar email queries.

At Pop Syndicate, I immediately delete all queries with rampant misspellings, poor punctuation and incoherent thoughts. I don't expect someone to be formal; just professional. If they don't care enough to send a well-written, but brief, MySpace message, chances are they won't follow through on their tours.

Keep your queries short and to the point. Use the host's name, if available. Tell them why your novel is a good fit for their blog and ask them to consider hosting you. Include your email, address, phone and Web site in the signature line. Do not send attachments of your book cover or excerpts until they are requested.

In return, tell the bloggers you will promote their site and your tour date to your fans on social networks, in newsletters, forums, listservs, groups and any other online venue you belong to. Some may ask you to do a permanent link to share on their site - I'll post your site if you post mine.

Consider these requests, but do not feel obligated. If you do several tours, your list will become too long and difficult to navigate, and will clutter your page.

Read more about planning virtual tours here.

Angela Wilson is an author, freelance author publicist and professional blogger and podcaster. She requests ARCs and manages the book blog for Pop Syndicate, where she hosts authors on virtual book tours. If you have a question about promotions, visit, or email her directly at
Your question may be used on that site and/or here.

Find Angela Wilson at :

Habit - Get Into It

(Tune in tomorrow for Ask Angela, a new Thursday feature. This week authors, Jessica James and Carol Gordon Ekster, get answers to their questions about book tours and ARCs. )

At the end of August I joined a listserv called blogbooktours. The aim of this group is to get people ready for virtual book tours. Their August challenge was for its members to post a blog a day for a month.

I'd gotten in on the tail end of this challenge, but I decided to make my own challenge. Beginning August 29, I started doing a blog each day here. It wasn't easy at first, and sometimes it still isn't, but I did get into the habit of daily blogging.

I went along pretty well, but then a distracting obstacle came along - vacation. Could I or did I want to continue blogging each day while on vacation? With many fun things to do and only a little over a week to do them, did I really want to spend time blogging? Even before I got to our summer cottage in Wisconsin, on Saturday I faced an over seven hour drive. Once at my destination, I also faced unpacking and organizing, which would take up time. Could I do my blog that day?

Fortunately, I remembered a feature on blogger where I could preschedule my posts. I didn't have a bunch of posts to schedule ahead of time, but I did manage to do an extra post the night before I left. I scheduled it to post the next day and it published as promised. The string of blogs was not broken.

I used the feature a few other times on vacation, but most of the time I fit my blogs in no matter what. Why? Because I got into the habit of doing so, even with other things to do, like shopping binges, a visit to a radio station, playing slots at the casino for hours, way too much eating of food, and a book signing at Book World in Eagle River, Wisconsin during Cranberry Fest.

Here's a photo from the signing.
If you start the right one, habit can be a good thing. Think of something you really want to do, but don't know if you can carry it through. It may be blogging. It may be getting a certain number of pages written on your manuscript each day. It may be submitting your manuscript to editors. You decide.

Once you start, pretty soon you'll get into the habit and it won't be so hard to do. Try it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Dream Lost

While I've been working on my blog, in the background is WGN Sports describing the White Sox fans dressed in black filing out of Cellular Field like they were leaving a funeral.

Once again, Chicago's hopes have died. Now both teams are out of the running to advance to the World Series.

It was only a dream anyway, especially for the Cubs fans who've waited and hoped for a miracle for over 100 years.

Still, there's nothing wrong with dreams. I have plenty that might not ever come true. They keep me going and hoping that maybe never know.

For one thing, if I hadn't dreamed, I never would have gotten Two Wrongs or Girl of My Dreams published. In fact, the reality show contest for Girl of My Dreams is based on the producer's concept of his dream girl.

Like many authors, I dream about getting a bestseller, quitting my day job and spending more time writing. I also dream about a larger kitchen with lots of cabinets, eating whatever I want and not gaining weight, so many other things.

What do you dream about?

Monday, October 06, 2008

And Then There Was One

Cubs, Sox and Brewers all in the playoffs! Wow! Lots of excitement around here. I was actually wondering who to root for if they played each other, and I'm not a true sports fan. I usually get involved only when it really means something. Then, I pick any Chicago team, since I live in the area. Also, since our summer cottage is in Wisconsin, the Brewers are my next favorite.

Unfortunately, the Cubs and the Brewers lost three in a row. That left the White Sox.

The division playoff is a great lesson in building suspense. With each loss, the White Sox faced extinction. They lost one, then two. They needed another or it would be all over.

A good author doesn't let anything come easy, but instead makes the character face all kinds of mental and/or physical calamaties on the way to achieving a goal. With each victory, another obstacle presents itself.

The White Six won Sunday's game. Now they've lost two and won one. Will they overcome their deficit or fold? Time will tell.

Remember to keep the suspense going. Drag out the conclusion of your novel as long as you can. Keep the readers guessing, like the Sox are doing to their fans.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Which is Worse?

Which is worse, packing for vacation or packing to go home from vacation? I say the latter. Why? Because I have to look forward to going back to work on Monday instead of goofing off.

One thing I will be happy to get back to and that is my DSL. I know, I rag about the slow network card too much while I'm in the NorthWoods, but I do get so frustrated when I want to get more accomplished and have to be patient. I'm not used to being patient any more. I'm so very spoiled.

I set this post up ahead of time since I know we'll be on the road for at least seven hours and then unpacking. We'll be lucky enough to have time for dinner and getting ready for work the next day.

Though the weather could have been better and I lost money at the casino, all in all I did have a good time. It will be at least seven months until we get to come back and I know I'll miss Wisconsin and my dear friend, Jeanne, who promises to visit our neck of the woods for Christmas.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Book Signing at Book World in Eagle River, WI

I had a great time in Eagle River, Wisconsin at Book World. Sue Greenman, the store manager, was loads of fun. Here she is on the right with me. Sue and her assistant, Laurie, filled me in on all the local happenings, that is, in between when she rang up sales and I hawked Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams. Lots of coming and going of customers since the store is located on Wall Street, the main street in town, and it just happened to be the popular Cranberry Fest weekend. That event is usually a madhouse and today was no exception. The streets were jammed even before we entered the main thoroughfare. The sunny day helped, since the week before was generally cloudy.

This time my mystery, Two Wrongs, though not the latest release, was more popular than the romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams. Because I can't predict readers' preferences, I always bring both along just in case. Good thing I did. Here I am holding them up. No, I didn't stand in that position all day. Just wanted a photo with both books in it.

I've been reinvited by Sue to come back again for the Saturday of next year's Cranberry Fest. I intend to take her up on her offer. I wouldn't miss it. It was a great way to spend the last day of my vacation in Wisconsin.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Meme - Six Book Things About Myself

I missed the first round on the meme since I had my blog critique yesterday, but better late than never I guess.

Chris Verstraete from Candid Canine tagged me to say Six Book Things About Myself, so here goes:

1. I like to use photos to break up my blogs. Here's Rascal at the Blessing of the Animals two years ago. We were disappointed to learn that Holy Family Church wouldn't have the Blessing this year, but Fr. Hoffman promises to have it again next year.
Unfortunately, Rascal doesn't promise to behave in the meantime.

2. I don't stick to one genre when writing. My first book, Two Wrongs, is primarily a mystery, though it does contain a romance. My second book, Girl of My Dreams, is a romantic comedy, though it contains a sliver of mystery. Now I'm working on three books: one is a mystery, another is a romance, the other is a book about my dog, Rascal, based on actual experience.

3. I listen to other people's conversations when I'm walking to work in Downtown Chicago and try to remember what they say so I can include some version in my books. Often by the time I get somewhere to write it down it's lost, just like my dreams when I wake up after them.

4. I don't always know what I'm going to blog about, but figure it out by something that strikes me while I'm walking my dog.

5. I'm a slow writer. It takes me a long time to get the word count up. Part of my problem is I don't always have large blocks of time to write, so each time I have to go back into the story a bit to ground myself. Another reason is I like to edit, probably more than write. Once the words are down on the page, it's a lot easier to make everything better. The problem is getting the words down in the first place.

6. I created Book Place, a network for authors, readers, illustrators, reviewers, librarians, publishers, editors, and anyone else connected with books to market and share thoughts about their books and writing in general. So far, more than 1300 members are over there networking.

That's my six.

I tag these people to come up with 6 Book Things about themselves:

Helen Ginger - Straight From Hel
Dana Fredsti - Zhadi's Den
Vivian Zabel - Vivian's Site
Maryann Miller - It's Not All Gravy

Thursday, October 02, 2008

At the Radio Station by Morgan Mandel

Morgan with Mark Everett

While we're on vacation near Minocqua, Wisconsin, my husband and I enjoy listening to WJJQ FM, from Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

The morning man, Mark Everett, is one of our favorites. He adds personal touches to his program by announcing birthdays when people call in. We get up early on each other's birthdays and call so we can hear the announcements more than once.

Tuesday, we took a trip to the station and brought along my mystery, Two Wrongs, and my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, for Mark to read. He let us into the broadcast booth. It was fun sitting in the On the Air room in the hot seat with the headset on, pretending I was going live.

Mark suggested an on-the-air author interview some time soon. Due to calendar conflicts, the earliest we could settle on was next Spring. I'm looking forward to the broadcast when I can share a bit of my author world with the station's listeners.

Morgan Mandel

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Exciting Happenings Here By Morgan Mandel

Exciting things are happening soon, here at Besides my own blogs, I'll be featuring these guest bloggers:

Beginning Thursday, Oct. 9 - Ask Angela, a new weekly column starring Angela Wilson, author publicist, virtual tour editor and author. Angela will answer questions sent in by readers.

I'm gathering information on more guests. Their dates will be finalized shortly.
They are:

Michele Cameron, author of Moments of Clarity.

Dan Herman, author of a non-fiction marketing book.

Cyndia Depre, author of Oblivious, a romantic mystery.

Consider bookmarking this blogspot to keep track of the various guests.
It's simple. Just click the bookmark link in the left column.

I'll clue you as soon as I get more information.

Morgan Mandel