The differences are obvious

TCBF2Last year, if someone had asked me what a book festival was like, I could only comment from a visitor’s perspective. Now, after having three of them under my belt (she says as she polishes her nails on her chest), I’ve got a few things to compare and contrast and an opinion as to what an author should look for in a festival of the book.

My previous post on the Baltimore Book Festival outlines what I thought about that event. Huge, expensive, will probably leave you in the hole financially but also gratifying in a way. Against all logic, I would probably do it again if the mood suits me, but never on my own. There’s safety in numbers and the BBF is proof of that adage.

The Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival on the other hand, is a very different affair.

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Things I learned from the Baltimore Book Festival

A great chance to talk about writing with fellow authors.

Multiple authors sharing a booth and my professional looking banner helped make the festival worth it this year, at least for me. Participation should be carefully considered.

My writer friends and I have had multiple conversations about book festivals. The bottom line question is, are they worth it? We toss around questions like, can you sell enough books to cover the cost? Is it worth it to invest in banners, posters, cards and other give-aways? Does participation result in readers who look for you later to buy books online?

This is what I learned from participating in the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival.

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Baltimore Book Festival 2014

What a weekend! The Baltimore Book Festival was a bit overwhelming and a lot exhausting. As crazy as it was to get past the massive crowds and find a place to park, it was amazing to see so many talented authors of every genre imaginable all in one place. I loved the opportunity to meet and talk to other writers about their experiences, but by far, the best part of the weekend was the opportunity to meet and talk to readers. What a joy it is to watch a stranger purchase your work–people who don’t know me as a person let alone as a writer. People who don’t know the books and yet, they still take a chance and buy the work. It’s an amazing feeling.

I’ll write more about the experience soon. Until then, here’s a little gallery of photos from the event.

Always cool

ambitionMan, it just never gets old. The box arrives. Your heart clacks like a freight train with a gazillion cars. You cut the box open, take out the stuffing and there. You get that first glimpse and have to pause for a second…is that really it? Is it really here?

You pick it up, run your hand over the cover, turn it over and read the back. Then you flip through the pages thinking about the hours it took, the characters you created.

Then you smile to yourself.

Alien first contact


I preordered this book and had planned to read it right away when it downloaded, but got caught up in other things. I’ve read much of what Michael Siemsen has written and have enjoyed all of it, so I knew I had something special to look forward to. As soon as the weekend rolled around, I wanted to start reading it, but I had a long list of chores to do and I kept telling myself…no, just wait until you have some time to really sit down and enjoy this.

At one point, after finishing some task, I decided to reward myself with a few minutes with Exigency After that, I didn’t accomplish a single other thing on my list.

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The afterglow

Available now for pre-order!

Available now for pre-order!

I quit smoking a couple of decades ago, but every now and then I still have a craving for a cigarette. It’s not so much the taste of nicotine I crave. It’s usually some event or activity that makes me think I’d like to light one up and blow some smoke around. A late Sunday breakfast with the newspaper. A long chat on the phone with a friend. That afterglow feeling you get when something is finished, some major project has been taken to completion. Somehow a cigarette seems appropriate to mark that accomplishment.

After typing The End on the latest project, the afterglow has been long and satisfying. I like this book. And I like the people I’ve created. Harper and Harry, McCallen and Jerreau, Ramsey and Santos. I like them. I used to think of the Harper mysteries as a three book series but it’s obvious Harper will go on from here. A companion short is in the works and I have some ideas for where Harper will go next.

But before I start thinking too much about another project, I’m going to bask in the afterglow for a few more days and weeks.

Things you shouldn’t do

LP Part 1 CharlieWhat is it about doing things you’re not supposed to do that causes so much pleasure? I was such a risk taker in my younger years.  It’s amazing that I’m still alive or never went to jail…well, except for that one time…

What I mean is, considering all the crazy crap I did, I was very lucky. There’d been a time when I’d take just about any dare, try anything—at least once—and go into the wrong-headed endeavor without fear.

I don’t live that way anymore. Continue reading

Hawke’s Point is well worth the read

The first thing you’ll notice about Hawk’s Point are the atmospherics. The story takes place in Beacon Junction, a little place hawks pointwhere everyone knows everyone, the small town newspaper prints things everyone has an opinion on, a place where you can predict where someone will be according to their habit at any time of the day and life seems to progress on an expected, and steady pace and that’s just how this story is; evenly paced and fully explored.

But like most small towns, dig a little deeper and there’s much more going on, everyone has secrets, everyone has losses they are fighting through and they all seem to be struggling with something significant as we all do. The ethical dilemmas abound in this story. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it matter?

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New release! The General’s Ambition

CoverFinalMD-TheGeneralsAmbitionFirst, let me say that this is NOT the cover. I needed to put something together in order to get the pre-order up on Amazon as
quickly as possible. Earthly Charms is hard at work on the real cover and I’ll reveal it here as soon as it’s perfect. In the meantime, there’s this to wet your appetite and help me announce THE GENERAL’S AMBITION is FINALLY READY FOR YOU!!

On Nov. 1, you’ll be able to order the paperback and ebook versions, but for now at least, you can pre-order the ebook on

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The value of the beta

Do you mean, some people don’t HAVE beta readers? How can that be?Beta

I can’t imagine how maddening it would be to actually publish a book without first hearing from several people whether or not it works. My sister is usually the first one to read my work and as much as I appreciate her feedback, she’s my sister.

I would never have the courage to hit publish without first hearing from other folks, like my writing group, who are not afraid to be brutally honest and have fun tearing apart my paper thin plot maneuvers, my repetitive sentence structure and my abundant spelling and grammar errors. And while they are invaluable—I’m mean really and truly the greatest group ever—they usually read the work in thirty page chunks. It’s difficult to judge if a plot holds together when you don’t read the whole way through.

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