Saturday, February 28, 2015


Scott D. Parker

I had it all planned out.

Last week, I wrote about the smooth and seamless acquisition of my DBA for “Quadrant Fiction Studio” and the business checking account. By the end of last weekend, I had successfully published on Barnes and Noble after previously publishing on Amazon and Kobo. I had even set up my new monthly newsletter. I was ready for the Big Announcement on Wednesday. I was going to announce via Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else.

Well, things did not go according to plan.

This past Monday, my boy was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pains. The doctors and nurses quickly zeroed in on a possible cause: appendicitis. After three different folks conducted painful ultrasounds, the general consensus was that of a ruptured appendix. He had a successful appendectomy and is recovering very well.

What was great, especially for my wife and I having to keep the worry at bay, was how efficient everything went. I got the call from my wife at ten, we were in the ER before eleven, and he was in surgery at half past three. There were no other surgeries planned so we had the pre-op room and waiting room to ourselves. A little over an hour later, he was in recovery and soon moved into a cozy private room where he’s been ever since. With good test results, he might be able to go home on Saturday.

Needless to say, the announcement of my first published book was pointless beside my son’s health. He’s already one up on me in life experiences as I’ve never had surgery other than the removal of wisdom teeth.

Sure, I wanted the Big Announcement to be this past Wednesday, but, then again, I wanted to have the book published in January and I missed that mark, too. And the only person, at this stage of my fiction career, who cares about publication dates is me. To the rest of the world, it’s just there.

Perspective. It’s a good thing.

Be that as it may, WADING INTO WAR is now available, live and worldwide, at Amazon, Kobo, and Nook. The new cover link over there on the right takes you to the book webpage at Quadrant Fiction Studio. The author page is also up and running. It'll be the place from which I blog from now on. From there you can sign up for the monthly newsletter.

The best thing about making the announcement today? No longer does it just fall on a random Wednesday in February. It now coincides with my son returning home after a week’s sojourn in the hospital.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Shocking Series

Series characters are tricky.

When Dennis Lehane finished Prayers for Rain, he said that Patrick Kenzie’s voice went away from him.  He didn’t hear Kenzie and because of that he moved on to other ideas—Mystic River, Shutter Island, and so on.  Eventually he came back to Kenzie—or, rather, Kenzie came back to him, and Lehane wrote Moonlight Mile.

Back in 2007, I was working on the Jackson Donne series.  Jackson Donne started out as the typical private eye, someone mourning the death of his fiancée Jeanne.  She drives the series, motivates Donne and some other characters. 

The first Donne novel, When One Man Dies, was about to be published and I was working on the sequel The Evil that Men Do—which would be published in 2008.  I was deep into Donne by then, his voice throwing ideas at me left and right.  And then, just weeks after Evil came out, my publisher dropped me.

I needed to reboot, try something new.  I wrote Witness to Death, a book set in the same universe as the Donne series, but with nary a mention of Mr. Donne.  I moved on to other things, and even briefly considered leaving writing—focusing on my teaching career.  I got married, had a kid,  and went back to grad school for a while.

Jackson Donne didn’t stop talking to me, I stopped talking to him. 

Somewhere in there, I self-published Witness to Death and it did quite well.  And for while, I thought about what I would do next.  I’d start a short story and stop it.  I’d scribble some novel ideas down.  Things weren’t going anywhere.  Occasionally, I’d think about Jackson Donne, and wonder if the series was over.  I had no ideas from him.  I was different now, much different than when I wrote about him.

Series characters are tricky, and it’d hard to surprise readers form book to book.

One afternoon, I sat down to watch Doctor Who.  It was during Matt Smith’s second season.  I remember this very, very clearly—mostly because Steven Moffat, the writer of the series, surprised the hell out of me.  He took a character that had been around for 50 years and managed to do something that I didn’t expect.

Steven Moffat killed the Doctor. 

An astronaut came out of a lake and shot him dead, on screen.  Now, we all knew that the Doctor wasn’t really dead.  That somehow, Eleven would find his way back to life somewhere over the course of the season.  But that particular moment came out of the blue. 

And that’s when I really started to think about Jackson Donne again.  About series characters, and about how to surprise readers.  Suddenly, I had it.  The moment that would turn the series on its ear. 
Jeanne wasn’t dead.

I sat down and wrote a chapter.  Then another.  Then another.  I mentioned the idea to Jason Pinter—my original editor at Random House, and now the founder of Polis Books.  He loved Jackson and he loved the idea.

And, as I wrote the book, Donne himself started to surprise me.  He was no longer the typical private eye—actually wasn’t even typical in When One Man Dies.  He’d grown, changed, and evolved in the years since I’d wrote about him last.  He was talking to me, and I was talking to him.

Now, after a 7-year absence, he’s back in Not Even Past, trying to find out why and how Jeanne is still alive.  I’m talking to Donne again.

Yes, series characters are hard—because each book has to be the same, but different.  However, if you’re willing to dig deep and try something different, you can mine new angles and still be shocking.

And, just like Doctor Who surprised me, I hope Not Even Past will surprise new and old readers alike.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Living Wage and the Book Business

by Holly West

Recently, a beloved Bay Area bookstore announced it would be closing in March 2015 due to the increased payroll costs caused by San Francisco's recently passed measure that increases the city's hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

I support the living wage. I hate the idea that a person working 40+ hours a week must still live in poverty and/or take a second job to make ends meet. Of course, I've heard the argument that able-bodied adults with households to support shouldn't be toiling in minimum wage employment in the first place. "Get yourself a skill," opponents say. "Those jobs are for teenagers looking to earn some pocket money." But we all know that "getting a skill" this isn't always a feasible option and that even educated workers often find themselves in positions that require them to take minimum wage paying jobs.

You might call me an idealist (hell, I call myself one), but to me, the real people living in a dream world are the ones who espouse the idea that all it takes is hard work to get ahead in our society or that intervention by the government isn't sometimes needed to ensure (as best it can) that all people are given a fair-ish shake. The playing field isn't even and never has been and if you've managed to somehow convince yourself that it is, well, I respectfully disagree.

It's a complicated subject, and not one I'm willing to discuss in depth in this post. But I bring it up because it's directly related to what I do want to talk about. The bookstore in question was, by their own account, doing relatively well for an independent bookstore. We all know the struggle that these establishments have faced in recent years, but this particular store had successfully weathered many financial storms in their 18 years in business and were optimistic about the future. Then, the minimum wage increase hit and once everything was taken into consideration, management came to the reluctant conclusion that their only option was to close.

And this is where I begin to question, if only slightly, on my support of the minimum wage increase. The issue, for me, isn't whether the concept of a living wage is a good thing (clearly, I think it is), it's whether certain businesses should be exempt from such increases.

The problem, as put forth by this bookstore, is that the book business differs from others in that they can't raise their prices to cover their new payroll costs. Publishers set the price of a book and it's printed right there on the cover. Furthermore, even if they could raise their prices, consumers don't want to pay retail for books in the first place, and with large online retailers and big box stores offering huge discounts, they don't have to.

The pricing "quirks" of the book business and the competition brought by ebooks and online retailers have been an issue for independent bookstores for years now. Some have managed to continue, and even prosper, while others have had no choice but to close. But what happens when an independent bookstore has managed to stay afloat amid all of these challenges, only to be derailed by a government-mandated minimum wage increase?

Some would say it's the cost of doing business (literally and figuratively). It's no different from anything else that affects the financial well-being of an establishment and if it can't find a way to make up for the losses, then so be it. Kind of the free market argument turned on its head, given the circumstances. But this isn't a case of fat cats getting fatter off of the hard work of its low paid workers. This is a small business that has itself worked hard to keep their heads above water. When do they catch a break?

Lordie, if I had all the answers to life's complicated questions, I'd be writing this post from my yacht in Capri. That's where people with yachts take them, right? But I'm really just a simple country girl (I can say that now that I've left the big city) trying to make sense of complicated issues that so many people seem to want to make clear cut. They're just not.

And so I turn to you, dear reader, for your take on this matter. The bookstore I'm talking about recently set up sponsorship opportunity for customers who'd like to support the store. When I learned about this, I was dubious for a number of reasons (a topic I might take on in a future post) but as of this writing, it seems as though they've been successful enough to remain open for the rest of the year. That, to me, is a good thing. Perhaps, with a bit of time on their side, they'll come up with other viable ways to keep the business going. I certainly hope so.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thanks Jeff VanderMeer!

It was great to see Jeff VanderMeer's Area X books rampage across the book universe last year.  I've been following him and his work for more then a decade and this level of acclaim and popularity is well deserved. But today I just wanted to take a moment to thank him for his years of book recommendations. He wrote an Amazon Listmania List! (remember those) called Entertaining But Different: Strange Fiction that came along at the right time for me and opened up my eyes to new books and authors. Around that same time he wrote an article called The Shadow Cabinet (which I stole for my Mulholland Books article) that again pointed me towards many books and authors that I just wasn't that aware of.

Authors are told to read read read if they want to write. This means read widely and deeply. I think this is good advice for anyone regardless of any writing aspirations that may or may not be present. I try to do both of these things as a reader and I think that, in part, it's a philosophy I owe to VanderMeer.

So thanks Jeff, for all of the book recommendations over the years.

A selection of the books and authors that Jeff VanderMeer put me on to (or made me bump further up my TBR) plus his latest work which you should read if you haven't yet.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tales from the Query Trenches: Dream Agent

By Kristi Belcamino

Happy Sunday!

*I dropped the ball this week so I'm recycling an old blog post about being in the query trenches.*

When I first started querying my novel, Blessed are the Dead, I didn’t yet have a “Dream Agent.” I’d heard other writers talk about the Dream Agent, but I was such a newbie, I didn’t even know how to choose a Dream Agent.

Until I came across her. The more I read about her, the more convinced I was that she was my Dream Agent.

This agent killedslaughtered, took hostages, in the crime fiction market, pulling in spectacular book deals with the flip of a wrist.

And on top of that, she was hella cool.

Soon, I was day-dreaming about hanging out with her at bookish events, closing out the bar at Boucheron — and of course — me on a kick ass book tour after she sold a boatload of my books.

Her clients actually had a name, a Team Name. And they were all friends. And I was the wallflower wanting to hang out with the popular kids. More than anything I wanted to be part of her team.

But as nice as she was – and she was extraordinarily nice AND helpful — turns out that my writing wasn’t her thing.

It happens. Fair enough. We all have different tastes.

So I switched my allegiance to a new agent – this one, SHE loved me. That became my new criteria for a dream agent — an agent who LOVED me back. Screw that one-sided love.

This agent saw a future for my books. Then why wasn’t she offering representation? I was confused.

I’d been wooed and left in the dust before. I’d had two hour long conversations with agents who told me how much they loved me and then dropped me like a hot potato.

Total radio silence.

Without any explanation. Not even a response when I emailed to say I’d had an offer of rep from another agent. Fickle people these agents.

I call it the agent tease. I’ve seen this flirtation between other agents and other writers and the outcome has been nothing more than a tease – no offer of representation to seal the deal. Agents on Twitter who become BFF’s with writers and say, “Send me your work, darling. I love you so much.” And maintain a Twitter relationship for years talking about how much the agent LOVES the writer, without ever responding to the writer about the manuscript she or he sent.

Luckily, I avoided that toxic relationship.

So back to the agent who became my new Dream Agent.

Like the other agent, I wanted to hang out with her. And this agent had more in common with me than the other one. The more I got to know her, the cooler she became to me.

So much so that I wanted our families to hang out and our children to grow up as best friends. I imagined long nights in New York City having great discussions over wine and good food. Basically, I wanted us to be new BFF’s.

I think she felt the same way. But still – no commitment – just a flirtation.

So, I didn’t put my eggs in one basket. I kept flirting with other agents, sending out my manuscript, seeing if they liked me.

Then one day, my dream agent told me she wanted to talk on the phone about my book. I didn’t think too much about it (see agent above who spent nearly two hours telling me how much she loved my book and then dropped off the face of the earth).

But this time, Dream Agent offered. I was stunned. I was thrilled. I was so excited to be BFF’s with her. All my dreams would come true. Our kids would be friends. We’d exchange holiday cards and talk on the phone like gal pals.

But I didn’t accept immediately. I’m a rule follower.  I’d studied up on what to do when you got an offer – let all the agents who had your manuscript know about this. (Including the one agent who’d had it for 18 months and kept in touch with me without rejecting it. I’m NOT kidding. She liked the the book, was waiting to see what others had to say about it, yada yada.)

So I sent out emails to all the agents who had my manuscript. I told them I had an offer and was going to respond to the offer within a week and wanted to give them a chance to review the manuscript first.

Then, the ego flailing part happened – agents started dropping like flies – bowing out, wishing me luck. Holy smokes.

This scared the crap out of me. I was on cloud 9 so I hadn’t expected the crushing ego blow of people bowing out. I had no idea this would hurt. Let’s face it, rejection is rejection, any way you dice it. Even when an offer of representation is sitting there on the table, rejection still smarts. But a few agents didn’t dump me.

On Friday night, I got a message from an agent I hadn’t stalked (lucky her, I guess) who said her colleague had passed the manuscript on to her and that she wanted to talk on Monday.

And the agent who had the manuscript for 18 months also emailed to say she’d get back to me, as well.

My ego was stroked. Two other agents besides Dream Agent might like me. I felt like a schoolgirl with multiple offers to the prom. I was “popular!” Who cares about all the agents who dropped off and bowed out when I told them I had an offer. I had the love of THREE agents. My ego was restored.

That was all it meant to me at the time — because after all, I already had established a love affair with My Dream Agent. I am a loyal person. It’s my nature. So, I knew I was going to accept her offer. She knew me, she loved me, and I loved her back.

But then on Monday, I talked to the new, heretofore unstalked agent.

And everything changed.

Not only did I realize there were other Dream Agents out there, but also I knew by the time I hung up the phone with her that there was no possible way I wouldn’t sign with her.

I was, frankly, stunned.

During one phone conversation, she had completely won me over.

Her sales pitch and her personality and her attitude were everything I hadn’t even known I wanted until I talked to her. She was the one.

My choice was clear.

Immediately, I was flooded with guilt. What about my love affair with my so-called dream agent, the one who had wooed me for months?

Part of me tried to justify breaking up with her, saying, well, she could have made an offer to me months before and I would’ve signed with her. But in her defense, she probably was also feeling out the terrain to see if we’d be a good fit.

But the bottom line was that I felt awful dumping her. I was sick to my stomach before I called her back to tell her I was going with someone else. But I had no choice. Every bit of my gut and mind told me this new agent was the right one for me.

So, I made the call. It was one of the hands down shittiest moments of my writing career. I felt like a heel, breaking up with a really wonderful person. But I knew I’d made the right decision – for me and for my career.

Don’t get me wrong — I still want to be BFF’s with the other agent. I really do. I still think the world of her and would love to buy her a drink one day and talk writing, but I have no doubt I made the right decision for my career and for my writing.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time to Put Up or Shut Up

Scott D. Parker

More nuts and bolts stuff in the offices of Quadrant Fiction Studio this week. Two major things I got to cross off the list this week was the DBA and the bank account.

I had jury duty on Thursday. My report time was 12:30. Imagine my happiness when I learned that the very building for jury duty was the exact same building the county clerk's office was in. I could get my DBA and then just hang around until the appointed jury time because, you know, there's gonna be a line. Not really. I was in and out in under thirty minutes.

Holy cow, I thought, I might have time to head on over to the bank. It had been years since I opened a checking account and I'd never opened a business account. I figured I could do that and still get back to the county annex building. Just about an hour later, I walked out of the bank with a brand new checking account registered in my business name. I was grinning ear to ear and let out a little cheer of happiness.

Then it hit me: I was really doing this. I was a small business owner! All these months of talking and writing about becoming an independent publisher was at an end. It was time to put up or shut up.

I'm putting up.

More news next week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Conversation with Laura Lippman

As you begin to get rolling as a writer, I think your influences become clearer - beyond the very basic “I like this person’s work” to a more fine-tuned sense of where certain things come from and why. 

When the germ of Pete Fernandez popped into my head, I figured it had something to do with the books I was burning through at the time - the Nick Stefanos trilogy by Pelecanos, the Pat and Angie books by Lehane and Laura Lippman’s excellent Tess Monaghan series. It was only over time, as I wrote more (and hopefully got better) that I started to see the influence come into focus. That process gave me a deeper appreciation for Lippman’s work specifically - her smooth prose, flawed characters and a deep-seated sense of place. These are just a few of the great things in store for you when you read a Lippman book, whether it’s a Tess adventure or one of her many acclaimed standalone novels.

I’ll admit, I get antsy when series characters go away for a while and come back. And, it’d been a little while since Tess was around. But I needn’t have worried. Hush Hush is arguably Lippman’s best Tess novel, and not only pulls the accidental detective through her most challenging and dangerous case, but also asks important and unexpected questions about who we are and just what it means to be a parent and individual. In short, it does what the best crime fiction should do: make you think while telling a great story.

I had the chance to speak to Laura about her new novel, her work in general and what’s next. It was a pleasure and I’m thankful she took the time.

Hush Hush is a great crime novel - and like the best crime fiction, takes a look at bigger issues, specifically parenthood and the day-to-day challenges of having a child. I imagine a lot of the experiences were drawn from your own life and people you know. When you first put pen to paper, did you have that in mind as part of what you wanted to accomplish with this book?

I definitely wanted to write a book about how judged we feel as parents. Until I had a kid, I didn't feel as if I were constantly being evaluated all the time. Maybe I was, but I didn't feel that way. As a mom, I hear the things people say under their breaths when I get on a plane with my kid -- quite unfairly, she's a pretty good traveler -- I have to endure really personal questions and unsolicited advice from strangers.

One of my favorite things about Tess is that she's supremely human - she doesn't feel like someone's idea of a PI or an idealized version, she evolves and changes and is flawed in believable ways. Each book has consequences and situations that affect her beyond the pages of that installment. Did she spring into your head fully formed? What do you think has kept her around this long?

Tess did, in fact, spring into my head fully formed. There are some details I regret in the earlier books -- I think the tension with her parents in the first book is a little overblown. But, luckily, she was a young woman, so I had the advantage of letting her mature. I guess we both learned from my mistakes.

What are some of the challenges of keeping a series like this going? I don't think it's a stretch to say that a lot of people were probably wondering if you'd finished up your run of Tess books before The Girl in the Green Raincoat - and on the flipside, I think the last two Tess books are two of the strongest entries in the series.

It's an interesting question. The pleasures of a series tend to be static. We return to them because we don't want things to change too much. And yet if Tess hadn't changed, she would have been a terribly callow person. I do think, however, that it's nice for series to have fixed endpoints and I'd like to think I'm going to design a graceful, organic way for the Tess series to end.

I'm a huge fan of Edward Eager, an American children's writer who was very much influenced by E. Nesbit. In Eager's books, children discover some source of magic -- a coin, a book, a thyme garden. But it's always understood that the magic is finite. Tess, to me, is like one of those magic talismans in an Eager book. She can't go on forever.

Hush Hush doesn't feel like a "reunion record" book, if that makes sense. Or, an author returning to a series to try to recapture something lost. It feels like we're picking up with an old friend facing a new and polarizing challenge - in HH's case, it's Melisandre and the questions she raises. Was that more a byproduct of the story coming to you as opposed to you deciding to write another Tess book?

I honestly don't remember why I decided to write Hush Hush when I did. I have zero memory of how it came about. I know that I figured out at some point that I needed to run straight at the challenge of Tess being a mother. And I read a lot about infanticide, an interesting thing to do when one is the mother of a young child.

My favorite detective series feature place in a meaningful way. The way you portray Baltimore in the Tess books (in all your books, really) seems hugely informative but effortless at the same time. How important is it to you to show how your city is and evolves?

It's very important and it occurs to me from time to time -- I need to get out more! Because Baltimore is changing, all the time. The other day I was running errands and I stopped at this new-ish butcher store/restaurant in Remington and there were all these young men with interesting facial hair and artisanal pickles. I kept expecting to see Crow and Carla Scout, eating boudin and German potato salad.

What are you working on next?

I'm working on a novel set in Columbia, Maryland, the so-called New Town that was created in 1967. I went to high school there and it always seemed like a very rich setting to me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Better Watch Saul

by Holly West

This post will be a mish-mash of topics but I named it Better Watch Saul because if you're not watching it, you should be.

Better Call Saul
Saul Goodman wasn't my favorite character on Breaking Bad. Not even close. I've never been much of a Bob Odenkirk fan and Saul wasn't all that interesting to me--I mean, the character worked for Breaking Bad but I really didn't have any need to explore him further. So when I learned they were making a spin-off series based on Saul, I wasn't all that excited, even if, as a big Breaking Bad fan, there was never any question whether I'd give Better Call a Saul a chance. Three episodes in and I'm pretty much hooked.

Thus far, the series stands completely on its own. If Breaking Bad had never existed, I'd still love the show. In Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman was mostly an annoying stereotype of an ambulance chasing lawyer who provided much needed comic relief, but in this prequel, Vince Gilligan's skillful writing and Odenkirk's nuanced performance take this previously shallow-ish man and make him sympathetic and compelling to watch. I'm eager to learn more of his story. Of course, I can't help but keep Breaking Bad in mind while I'm watching Better Call Saul, but it's just somewhere there in the background.

Ten Authors Walk Through the Door
Author Travis Richardson documents ten great entrances in crime fiction.

Recently, an anthology I was really looking forward to contributing to was cancelled. Or, as the editors put it, it was placed on "indefinite hold." I suppose I should count myself as lucky because it's the first time this has ever happened to me. Aside from my long experience with querying agents, I really haven't suffered much rejection as a writer, though I think this is because I don't submit material very often, not because I'm just that talented. I'm just not a very prolific writer.

But this particular project was important to me for a few reasons. One of the editors is a fellow author who I respect a great deal. The fact that he'd asked me to contribute to the collection was an ego boost, for sure. The subject of the anthology was a challenge for me and I'd already put in quite a few hours of research. As a result, I was excited to write my story--I was just on the verge of outlining it when I got the dreaded email. And finally, it was to be published by a comic book publisher and being a big fan, this appealed to me.

In the realm of publishing disappointments this isn't the biggest I'm likely to suffer. The lesson I learned from this one is not to count on potential projects until the damned thing is printed and in stores (or wherever it'll be sold).

Tess Gerritsen's Gravity Lawsuit
This post is a few weeks old, but if you haven't read it yet, you might find it interesting.

Freelance Editors
More and more of my friends are turning to freelance editors to help them polish their work for querying and/or self-publishing. I hired one myself for Diary of Bedlam (the book that eventually became Mistress of Fortune). Her name is Jennifer Fisher and I met her at Left Coast Crime in Sacramento a few years ago.

Jennifer did a developmental edit and some very light copy editing for me. It took about four weeks and I received a detailed edit letter. About a week after receiving it, I scheduled an hour-long phone call so that we could discuss it. If I'm not mistaken, the call was included in the price of editing, which was a bit less than $1000 for an 80,000 word manuscript.

I was completely satisfied with the experience and I'm curious to hear about your own experience with freelance editors. So, if you've hired a freelance editor and would like to recommend one, please do so in the comments.

Have a great week!

Monday, February 16, 2015

How many Edgar best novel winners have you read?

If it didn't become clear in my ode to Goodwill I am an avid thrift store book buyer. Two recent purchases got me thinking. I picked up a copy of Dangerous Ways by Jack Vance and California Girl by T Jefferson Parker. Dangerous Ways is a collection of three of Vance's mysteries and includes the novel The Man in the Cage which won the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery Novel by an American Author (ain't that a mouthful) in 1961. California Girl won the Edgar for Best Novel in 2005. I started to wonder how many Edgar winning books I've read, even if I just looked at one category, Best Novel.

Here is the list of Edgar Best Novel winners:

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Gone by Mo Hayder

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

The Last Child by John Hart

Blue Heaven by C. J. Box

Down River by John Hart

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin

Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan


Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker

The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale

Bones by Jan Burke

Mr. White's Confession by Robert Clark

Cimarron Rose by James Lee Burke

The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook

Come to Grief by Dick Francis

The Red Scream by Mary Willis Walker

The Sculptress by Minette Walters

Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron

A Dance at the Slaughterhouse by Lawrence Block

New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith

Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke

A Cold Red Sunrise by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Old Bones by Aaron Elkins

A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine

The Suspect by L.R. Wright

Briar Patch by Ross Thomas

La Brava by Elmore Leonard

Billingsgate Shoal by Rick Boyer

Peregrine by William Bayer

Whip Hand by Dick Francis

The Rheingold Route by Arthur Maling

The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Catch Me: Kill Me by William H. Hallahan

Promised Land by Robert B. Parker

Hopscotch by Brian Garfield

Peter's Pence by Jon Cleary

Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman

The Lingala Code by Warren Kiefer

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall, Per Wahloo (Pantheon)

Forfeit by Dick Francis

A Case of Need by Jeffery Hudson

God Save the Mark by Donald E. Westlake

The King of the Rainy Country

The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler

Death and the Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters

Gideon's Fire by J. J. Marric

The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons

The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin

The Eighth Circle by Stanley Ellin

Room to Swing by Ed Lacy

A Dram of Poison by Charlotte Armstrong

Beast in View by Margaret Millar

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay
How many of these have you read? Is it a good representation of the genre for the last few decades?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Writers and Write Offs!

By Kristi Belcamino

I am not an accountant, merely someone who changed their major to journalism when the math became too difficult so view this post as an insight into how I'm bumbling through my taxes this year!

Keep in mind this is for my business as a traditionally published author. If you self-publish, a whole other world of deductions are available to you for all the expenses incurred getting your book published.

If you are a writer who considers writing your business, here are some things to keep in mind as we approach tax season.

The first thing I did when I wrote a book was set up a bank account strictly for my writing business. The account is used for writing expenses only. (Confession: I fouled it up off the get go. Because I'm a writer, my wardrobe consists of jeans. When I began appearing at author events, I wanted to look nicer and bought some dresses. I used my business account to pay for them, but have since learned that is *most likely* not a viable business expense.)

In addition, I also copy and print out receipts from items I buy online and save all other receipts in a big messy pile in a folder.

Here is a list of some of the items that writers can write off!

Keep in mind, you can't always write off 100 percent of the cost of the following, but most likely a percentage is fair. Many of these fall under the category of research. Although I wouldn't write off every single book you buy all year long. Or maybe you can, I just don't want to tempt fate.

*Pay-per-view movies
*Amazon Prime Membership
*Mp3 players
*Subscriptions to services such as Spotify
*Internet access
*Business cards
*Agent fees or commissions
*Tax preparation fees
*Professional fees (memberships in MWA, SINC, etc)

Did you go to Boucheron? Or any other writing conference?
Here is what you can write off:
*dry cleaning
*calls home
*meals (50 percent or  use the IRS meal allowance if you don't want to hassle with receipts. Here is how to determine the allowance for the area you are visiting. Click on per diem rates and enter your city.) I looked at rates for hotel and meals for my trip to the 2015 Bouchercon in Raleigh, N.C. The per diem for that trip will be $98 a night for lodging and $66 a day for meals.
Note: I'm just going to assume that alcohol is considered a food in this case since we are talking B'con.

Keep records of EVERYTHING. And notes. For instance, keep notes of your meals while you travel. Who did you eat with and what did you talk about. For instance, one day at the Long Beach Bouchercon, I had lunch with Joelle Charbonneau, Brad Parks, and Lou Berney and we talked about writing and writing retreats. 

Here is a great list from Jane Friedman's blog ( on what records to keep to prove that your writing is a business. She says keep these records for seven years.

"What records to keep:
  • receipts
  • royalty statements
  • sales slips for direct sales (the ones you make at conferences and readings)
  • appointment books
  • brochures, business cards and handouts from conferences
  • manuscript critiques
  • thank-you notes from libraries or schools after readings
  • fan email
  • contest entries and notifications
  • correspondence with freelancers, whether or not you hire them
  • letters from agents and publishers, including rejections
  • bank and credit card records
  • printouts of PayPal summaries
  • W-9s and 1099s
  • sales tax returns"
My more experienced writer friends, did I miss anything? Here are a few questions?
Have you found any way to get around the uniform expense and deduct duds?
What about getting our hair "done" out of town? Are you SOL?
Where do you plug in the registration fee for a writing conference? Is that just under commissions and fees? Professional services? Other expenses?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Adjusting One’s Expectations

Scott D. Parker

First off: have you read Alex’s post from Thursday? You should. My response boils down to this: I am a writer. End of story.

Two phrases have been going through my mind this week. The first is a tag line from the Self-Publishing Podcast: "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." The other is the more internal voice: when you're just starting out, you have to understand your limitations and adjust your expectations.

The do-it-yourself mantra is pretty obvious. I’m on the final touches of readying WADING INTO WAR for publication this month. For all of you who have already done this, I’m now in the decidedly unsexy part of the process: reviewing, tweaking, checking the spelling and punctuation, and all the other stuff like that. I spent my off-day yesterday tinkering with Scrivener. I’ve used the program for years--and highly recommend it--but I have never had the reason to use all the compile features. It took me all morning yesterday but I finally, FINALLY!, figured out all the buttons and boxes to check and uncheck in order to produce the desired type of ebook. I ended up writing my own procedures that I am now able to follow with few headaches. I count that as a win.

Experience. The more you do something, the better at it you get. I had to remember that as I kept updating and building the website. It was in this arena where my second phrase really took hold.

There’s a website I see in my head. I know that I’ll ultimately get there. I’m not there yet. I very much want it to be where it’ll ultimately be in a few months’ time, but I simply don’t have the experience in HTML to do it right now. Moreover, I don’t have the time to learn right now. Day job. Home life. Reading some. Watching something. Writing new book. Editing next book. There’s a lot to do and only 24 hours in a day.

So I have had to adjust my expectations on how to structure the website. I’ve got it to a place where I’m okay with it, at least as a beta release. But it’s a tad frustrating to know where you want to go, know that you’ll eventually get there, but that the road will be long. At least, however, I’m on the road.

For that, I’m quite content.

Best Podcast of the Week

Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self-Publishing, Episode 81 with Chris Fox. This interview can make the dreams swell up big in your heart. Lots and lots of great material in this episode, especially on how you can apply the startup mentality to independent publishing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

When did "crime writer" become a bad thing?

Fair warning: I’m tired, cranky and fighting a cold. Buckle up.

Topic sentence: Being a crime writer is not lesser-than nor is it easier-than any other kind of writing. If you think that, you’re being elitist/a snob/wrong. 

Real talk: I’m not even going to link to the story that spurred this blog post because it involves a writer I really, really like and it’s not about that specific story - but a few moments over the last few years that make this more than a one-off thing. It is a trend, even!

Why is it cool for writers to slag on genre writing? Or to distance themselves from crime fiction because they perceive it as a lower/easier/less “important” form?

It’s not. No argument shall be brokered there. It just isn’t. Read books by Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Daniel Woodrell, Megan Abbott, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, James Ellroy, etc. (you get the picture). Tell me that’s not literature or literary or writer-ly. If you don’t think it is, then hey, you’re wrong. That’s it.

You know what argument does matter? The only argument that should matter? Good vs. bad. Is the book good? Did it make you think? Did it turn you on? Did it make you mad? Did it surprise you? Did it force your brain to move in a different way? Did you put that book down and sigh because the last thing you wanted to do was take a break from reading it? That’s good. The rest is organizational and labeling that exists as a guide not a hierarchy. One is not better than the other.

If you think you’re slumming by writing “genre” fiction, or you think you can make it rain from the advance you get from cranking out that easy, commercial crime novel so you can focus on more “important” stuff...well, good luck.

I’m not trying to be the great equalizer here. Mainly because I don’t need to be: writing is hard, no matter what kind of fiction you’re putting together, however you choose to label or describe it. Also, by implying that one type of writing is harder/better/cooler than another, you’re feeding the trolls. You’re adding bricks to the genre walls that keep different voices apart and constrict the process. To me, genre is a guide - a suggestion that these other books might be like this one. Not as a ranking system. If you’re using it as the latter, you’re doing it wrong.

Allow me a moment of hippie philosophy: We’re all in this together. We’re all pouring our souls into the work we put out, and those that aren’t tend to fade away quickly. Writers have a hard enough time trying to rise above genre labels or expectations - why make it harder?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Again With the Politics

by Holly West

Regular readers of this blog might know that for a long time now I've made it a policy not to post about politics or controversial subjects on social media. It's not about hiding anything about myself: I'm open about my political leanings (liberal) and the fact that I'm an atheist. I have other reasons for avoiding controversial subjects and that works for me. For some writers, however, posting about politics and such is a part of their author platform, and while they may alienate potential readers, friends, or family now and then, it seems to work for them.

I'll cite an example. I have an author friend on Facebook who posts quite often about politics. We've only met a couple of times in person but have had a good conversation or two--I think he's a pretty cool guy. That said, I disagree with most of his opinions with regard to politics (and he posts A LOT of them). When we first became Facebook friends, it got tedious and I contemplated "silencing" him (sounds so ominous, doesn't it), but in the end I decided that his opinions are welcome in my feed.

Why? Because his arguments, in the main, are well thought out and foster meaningful discussion. I often learn something from his posts, even when I disagree with his positions. If you're going to post about politics, people, this is how you do it.

I have another author friend whose political leanings are much closer to my own who also posts frequently about politics. Like Friend One, cited above, she doesn't just post provocative links and move on--she actually engages in conversation and provides informed commentary. The comments such posts receive run the ideology gamut but the conversation is usually lively and mostly intelligent. Not surprisingly, her novels have strong components of liberal politics and quests for social justice. Her posts on social media reflect that.

Conversely, I recently "friended" an author on Facebook whose political posts have drastically lowered my opinion of her. Previously, I'd had friendly conversations with her in person and online, and I regarded her as an intelligent and thoughtful woman. Unfortunately, she frequently posts shallow, even ignorant, political rants that have pretty ruined her credibility with me. By all accounts, she's an accomplished member of her non-writing profession, so kudos to her, but her Facebook posts make me cringe.

Obviously, I don't expect every conversation on Facebook or Twitter to have substance. Clearly, not--most of you've probably seen my own posts. I don't even expect every political discussion to be inoffensive or well thought out. But the fact is that when a "friend" continuously shares idiotic memes, forwards simplistic and factually questionable anecdotes of dubious authorship, and posts links to "news" stories that are hopelessly partisan and divisive, I can't help but form a negative opinion of the person, or at the very least, question their capacity for critical thinking.

I'm not saying an author (or anyone else) shouldn't share opinions or challenge people with controversial subjects on social media and elsewhere. However, when you're tempted to post about such things, I would simply suggest that you consider A) whether whatever it is adds anything meaningful to the conversation and B) whether it's worth alienating or offending one or all of the three "Effs:" Friends, Family, and Fans. Because whether they comment or not, they're probably sitting at their computer screens, quietly passing judgement (or is it only me that does that)?

Maybe that doesn't matter to you, but as George Costanza so aptly put, "we're trying to live in a civilization here, people." Pursuant to that quest, I try to resist being offensive even if I'm not always successful. What I'm really saying is that I have no wish to offend just to offend, and I tend to think twice before I post about something controversial.

I'm curious. If you post controversial or political posts on social media, do you think of it as part of your author platform? Or are you just being yourself?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

There Is No Such Thing As Appropriation of Voice

Back in the dark ages (1980s) when I was at Concordia University studying English Lit and Creative Writing there was a lot of debate about “Cultural Appropriation” or “Appropriation of Voice.” It seemed like a silly discussion to me – a writer creates fictional characters. Every kind of character; men, women, old, young, aliens, talking dogs, whatever.
And yet.
At the time one of the main drivers of the debate was W.P. Kinsella.* For many years Kinsella published short stories written in the first person narrated by Silas Ermineskin, about life on a First Nations reserve in Alberta, Canada. I thought many of the stories were really good, really funny and tragic and very human. I liked Silas and his friend Frank Fencepost was often hilarious. It was fun hanging out with them.
But after many of these story collections (and a few national awards) there were a few complaints of cultural appropriation. Kinsella rejected the criticism on the grounds that a writer has the license to create anything he chooses and called the term "cultural appropriation" the nonsense of Eastern Canadian academics. And I agreed with him.
And yet.
As this article points out, even though the non-natives writing native stories were “doing this to foster and promote a greater understanding of Aboriginal people and their histories. They can't do that forever and ever because it [becomes] the same old missionary situation.” 
And we didn’t even have the term “white privilege” back then.
Still, I don’t believe in appropriation of voice, I believe writers create fictional characters of all kinds. Lots of non-native writers in Canada have Native characters in their writing.
I think the reason the issue has died out, in this case, is because there are now many more Native writers being published in Canada than there were when Kinsella was publishing his stories so it’s less of a “missionary situation.”
And yet.
There is one kind of book which seems to be popular these days which I realized I have a personal prejudice against, my own appropriation of voice issue. I suppose it’s my own problem and I need to overcome it, but when I see a book written by a middle-aged man and the story is told from the point of view of a young woman I’m very reluctant to pick it up.
It’s my own baggage, I get that. But it kind of feels like the Native issue. It kind of feels like a missionary situation. Literature was dominated by men for a long time. At a literary conference I was at recently one of the panels addressed the question, “Is the default voice in literature male?” It could have been “still male.” If you go by how many more books by men are reviewed then books by women (the VIDA count keeps track) then the answer seems to be yes. And now there are all these young “kick-ass” women created by men. Maybe we need a literary equivalent of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
And in Canadian crime fiction we have what seems to be an odd situation. There are a number of bestselling women writers who write from a male point of view and a bunch of bestselling male writers who write from a young female point of view.
But there aren’t many Canadian women writing bestsellers with female protagonists.
So, thank goodness for Hilary Davidson and I hope soon Robin Spano is a bestseller.
And although it’s not really being marketed as crime fiction, Elizabeth de Mariaffi’s debut novel, The Devil You Know is a fantastic story with a young female protagonist.
The story follows twenty-one year old Evie Jones, a reporter for a newspaper in Toronto in the early 1990s. As she says, when you read an article and in addition to the reporter’s byline there is the line, “with additional files from,” that’s her.
This is a novel that uses many real, horrific events in the story and it could easily have become exploitive. One of the reasons it doesn’t, I think, is because of how feminine it is. The way the narrator talks about the silences and the darknesses in her daily life and the way she identifies with the victims, slipping in a casual, “I could so easily be those girls,” that it feels so natural.
This isn’t a book about justice or the search for justice or some detective trying to find the guilty man.
The Quill and Quire review said, “In her engaging, witty debut novel, Elisabeth de Mariaffi challenges the mainstream tropes of the detective and suspense genres by placing sexual violence along the spectrum of intimidation, harassment, and fear that women experience on a daily basis.” And that’s true. Sort of. I really liked how the novel did place the sexual violence along that spectrum but I think it may only be a Canadian review that would see this book as challenging the mainstream tropes. Those tropes have been challenged so much by Megan Abbott and Denise Mina and Tana French and Gillian Flynn and Hilary Davidson and Krist Belcamino and so many more that they’re no longer mainstream tropes.
While I still feel that there’s no such thing as appropriation of voice and writers certainly have the license to create anything from any point of view they want I’m still unlikely to pick up a book with a young female narrator written by a middle-aged man. It kind of feels like a missionary situation these days.
* Kinsella is probably best known outside of Canada for writing the novel, Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa which was turned into the movie Field of Dreams.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A quote and a song

I'm reading a forgotten novel from 1936 that I'm enjoying the hell out of (but I'm not naming because I hope to write about it when I finish). I came across a passage that seemed particularly modern, not only for the implication but the choice of words. 

"Maybe sometimes people wonder why it is the law don't stamp out crime overnight. The cops know the street address of all the important criminals in any town and know enough to send 'em to the pen. But they don't do nothin' except talk to newspaper boys about startin' a war on crime. That's because one big crook don't bother with another big crook unless the other one is musclin' in on his racket."
34 years later, during his 1970 State of the Union Address, Richard Nixon would talk about starting a war on crime to a national audience:

We have heard a great deal of overblown rhetoric during the 60s in which the word "war" has perhaps too often been used--the war on poverty, the war on disease, the war on hunger. But if there is one area where the word "war" is appropriate it is in the fight against crime. We must declare and win the war against the criminal elements which increasingly threaten our cities, our homes, and our lives.
And to this day the War on Drugs continues. One critic of the War on Drugs is David Simon and The Wire is largely about the futility of fighting it and the importance of the illusion of making progress over actual progress.

Anyway, interesting line.

Here's a song. "Suicide Sal" by Karen Jonas

And finally, some good reads:

-"This is the best post-apocalyptic cat detective novel you'll read all year"

-"I didn’t like American Sniper (more on that later), but it did get me thinking about all those war films I watched on Sunday nights and the question of what makes a particular war film, for want of a better way of expressing it ‘good’ or ‘bad’."

-"McKees Rocks is an old mill town, the kind of place that lost jobs when all the steel mills moved away. I knew a guy, years ago, who used to score blow in an old house near a tattoo parlor, down by the river. I think the tattoo parlor is still there. I don’t know what happened to the guy who used to do blow — maybe dead, maybe quit, maybe a lawyer, maybe still at home on his mom’s couch. All those people I used to do drugs with when I was a kid and young man seem like characters I know from books, from movies, all of them stuck in time. It’s hard to imagine someone who snorted coke in a bathroom stall with a Budweiser bottle balanced perfectly on his head ever growing up, let alone old, but I was there too, waiting for my line.

The world forgives worse.

But then, other times, the world doesn’t forgive anything at all."

-"Fair warning, though: a lot of jokes won't make sense to you if you have no affiliation or understanding of black culture. But that's okay! King of The Hill was, like, the 8th whitest show in history and I've still seen every episode. Getting out of your comfort zone is good."

-"My father, Andrew Jefferson Offutt V, grew up in a log cabin in Taylorsville, Ky. The house had 12-inch-thick walls with gun ports to defend against attackers: first Indians, then soldiers during the Civil War. At 12, Dad wrote a novel of the Old West. He taught himself to type with the Columbus method — find it and land on it — using one finger on his left hand and two fingers on his right. Dad typed swiftly and with great passion. In this fashion, he eventually wrote and published more than 400 books. Two were science fiction and 24 were fantasy, written under his own name; the rest were pornography, using 17 pseudonyms."

-"Since the late 1960s, Wurlitzer has been a screenwriter. If you've seen Two-Lane Blacktop or Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid or Walker, you've seen his work. None of the films he wrote raked in box-office millions, and many screenplays he's written have gone unproduced. But he enjoys a reputation that makes people speak about him in superlatives—that he's one of a kind, that he's his own genre, that there's no one, no one, quite like him. His work makes people want to mount retrospectives on both coasts."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Author Etiquette on Twitter

by Kristi Belcamino

Blatantly ripping off Holly West and Steve Weddle's idea of "I posed a question on Facebook ..."

My question was this: What do you all think about someone who sends out an automatic direct message on Twitter when you follow them? AND does it matter what the message says? For instance, if it says, "Hey, you can find me on Facebook or Goodreads here ..." is that different than "Check out my Amazon page ..."

For the record, I do not send out direct messages on Twitter when people follow me. I feel harsh unfollowing someone the minute I get one of these messages, but have to admit I am tempted ... What do you think?

The reason I don't direct message after a follow is this: my understanding of promoting yourself as an author on social media means that the majority of your posts/tweets are not about selling your book. That you are essentially selling yourself and if people connect with you, then they might buy your book. It is about forging relationships and connecting with others and sometimes the bonus is that they want to check out your writing, as well. 

This "understanding" allows me to have fun on social media instead of feeling like a huckster. If I felt like a huckster, I don't think I could do it. I guess I feel like a heel and schmuck to unfollow a really interesting NYT bestselling author simply because she direct messaged me on FB where I could find her on Facebook and Goodreads. She didn't direct me to her books, not exactly.

So, back to the question and some of the responses I received. I received so many I wish I could quote from each one, but here is a sampling of what I saw.

The majority of people felt one of two ways - either the direct messages were completely useless or extremely annoying and offensive.

While I tend to bristle at direct messages after I follow someone, the only message I wouldn't take offense to is from my fellow HarperCollins author, Tonya Kappes, who is a lovely and genuine and sweet person. She said this:

"I have a direct message that says "thank you for joining my limb on the twitter tree" just bc I'm southern and we have a thank you for everything...even when someone runs over you  BUT I hate and immediately unfollow people who tell me to buy their book or follow them on other social media sites. I think it's rude."

Erin Mitchell who is my guru on all things authors should and shouldn't do, said this when asked whether the content of the message makes a difference. For instance, I wouldn't be offended or unfollow Tonya if she sent the message from her comment above, so to me, that is a lot different than someone direct message me a link to their book on Amazon.

"Yes, content matters," said Mitchell, "but my regard for someone plummets when they do it regardless. And I live in the south. For me, it just creates work.

The majority of the commenters had strong feelings against these auto direct messages.

"Hate it," wrote Mary Sutton. "I don't know if I've ever unfollowed someone, but I've been tempted. And if the rest of their tweets are just promo, they're gone."

"It feels like spam to me and I immediately unfollow," said Jody Casella.

Shenya Galyan said this: "I hate the automated messages, no matter what they say. Even if it's a thanks, it's not, really, because it's automated. It's a meaningless thanks. Now, if it's obvious that someone responds to my follow with a *real*, intentional thanks, then I love it. Then, and only then, it's communication and not auto-respond detritus."

"Not down with this. I think it comes off like robo-sales," said Dan Malmon from Crimespree Magazine.

"I hate it all," wrote Joseph D'Agnese. "How professional can you possibly look carrying a billboard ad on your fucking forehead?"

Joelle Charbonneau, said she unfollows someone the minute they send a direct message. 

"It means the conversation they want to have is about me buying something instead of a mutual back and forth that might include me learning more about their work," she said. "That kind of message signals a one way street that I'm not interested in traveling! (That probably sounds harsh, but after getting dozens and dozens of those messages I am still wondering why anyone thinks they are a good idea.)"

"It's Spammish and unprofessional," said Celeste Ward.

"Don't do it," said Steve McPherson.

My favorite anti-direct message comment came from the hilarious and talented  Carol Tokar Pavliska:

"It's the most disappointing thing ever! You see someone has left you a message and it holds all the promise of something shiny and new and possibly illicit and then it's just an auto response. Ruins my day."

Several people weren't bothered by the direct messages and simply didn't pay any attention to them.

Eleanor Cawood Jones said she ignores and erases all direct messages saying there just isn't time to deal with something like that.

"They don't bother me because I totally ignore them," said Lori Duffy Foster.

A few people defended authors who are desperately trying to boost book sales, in essence saying "Hey, we're all in this together, so let us be supportive and forgiving of an author's efforts to make it in this cut-throat world."

For instance, Mike Monson said, "I don't do it because it does seem unnecessary, but if someone does it to me I just delete and ignore, unless there is something in their message that makes their stuff seem particularly interesting. I mean, we are all just trying to get readers, it's okay."

And Melissa Olson added, "I loathe this practice. I've been making an effort to follow more people on Twitter lately (to build my own numbers), and I'm seeing a lot of these auto replies. There are two variations: either "hey, thanks for following me, I really appreciate it" or "Hey, please follow me on Facebook and/or buy my books on Amazon, etc". 
But here's the thing: saying you appreciate the follow feels pretty disingenuous when you and I both know you set an automatic response to say it for you. And asking me to do more things for you is beyond tacky. Following someone on Twitter is like saying "hey, I'm mildly interested in what you're about, and I'd like to learn more." To follow that up with "Hey, OMG, here are more things you can do to help me out" is just plain crappy manners.

"I should add, though, that while it annoys me, I don't unfollow people for doing it, because like Mike said, we're all trying our own ways to use this thing for business."

Julie Oest was one of the few commenters who said it's fine and obviously has more tolerance than most of us, including me! Good for you, Julie!

"It doesn't matter to me," she wrote. "If I'm following an author I'm doing so because I already enjoy their books. One automated message isn't going to make me stop wanting to know about upcoming releases and specials. I think people are too easily annoyed or offended nowadays. When something has a simple fix (delete it) then just do it and go on with life."

The outpouring was awesome so thanks to everyone who took the time to weigh in. After reading all the comments, I've come to this conclusion: Sending someone a direct message telling them to buy your book or follow you on other social media is at best, useless, and at worst, a way to make someone not only unfollow you, but hate you, as well. In other words, it appears to do more harm than good.

I'd say skip it. 

I'll leave you with Do Some Damage Steve Weddle's comment in the form of a picture!