Monday, September 26, 2016


I felt my blood pressure rise when I saw the news item on the MSN page yesterday…things people waste money on. The article keyed to a series of pictures and told the reader they could save so much money annually if they went the free route. Item #1…go with tap water instead of bottled water. I’m fine with that suggestion, as I know what those plastic bottles do to the environment. Item #2…don’t buy books.

I quickly clicked through the next pictures. It didn’t suggest people wasted money on going to the movies or baseball games or concerts or other forms of entertainment.

Really? Don’t buy books. It suggested, instead, going to the library where you can read them for free, or downloading free ebooks. Really? Don’t buy books?

Why ever would someone…a writer especially, as the author of the piece had to be a writer of some stripe…tell an audience not to buy books? What moron (I’m being overly polite) would offer such advice?

My mother bought me books when I was four years old, and she taught me how to read. I’d read the books again and again until they were memorized, and then I passed them along to other kids in the neighborhood…and she bought me replacement books.

As I grew up, I’d save my allowance and haunt the local bookstore. My friends spent their money on candy and pop magazines, Seventeen and such. I bought books. I discovered a used bookstore, which meant my babysitting money could go farther.

Today my house is filled with probably more books than I will be able to read before I die. Books make me feel good. Having books makes me feel good. And though I have enough books, I buy more every season as new releases by favorite authors come out. I buy ebooks, too, but I REALLY like the feel of a paper book in my hands.

And yet, I’m not a book hoarder. Once read, I pass the books along to someone else…unless it’s an Ed McBain or a Gene Wolfe book…or sometimes a Robert Crais (those are for rereading or studying passages). Then my friends can have more books too and I don’t wholly overwhelm my shelves.

Why ever would you tell someone not to buy books?

I wasn’t going to write another blog for a week or so, as I’d just put one up a few days past. But that MSN article royally pissed me off. It said people waste money by buying books. It didn’t say people waste money if they buy bad books, or books filled with so friggin’ many typos your stomach twists. And those free ebooks the article recommended…every free ebook I have downloaded has been filled with typos and was not well-written. I quickly deleted them from my Nook. And now I don’t bother glancing at a free ebook.

Don’t buy books?

If everyone stopped buying books, authors would be forced to stop writing them…especially the good authors. Writing is a profession, and writers should be paid. My husband asked me once why I don’t wait until a particular book comes out in paperback…or go to the library. (I do go to libraries, I love libraries, and I favor their reference sections. But I tend not to check out fiction books from libraries.) I’m a writer, and I want to give my fellow writers the royalty money from a book purchase. It’s investing in my profession, I believe. BUT that’s not the only reason I buy books.

I like to have them…so I can read them when the mood strikes. I usually have three or four books going at any given time, all different. A David Baldacci thriller is on the nightstand right now. A dark police procedural is on the porch. A SF novel is on the end table in the living room. Depends on my mood and where I am as to what book I pick up. And there’s a to-be-read stack. Oh, and I have a mystery next to the couch in the basement…so I can read while my glass fusing kiln is running.

When I packed up to move to Illinois, I stared at the sea of books in my basement. I’ve written a lot of books, and so I had BOXES of copies of my various titles. I don’t have so many anymore. I donated them to schools in Wisconsin. A lot of them went to an inner-city middle school. I got a couple of letters from the teachers there who said the kids were delighted. Coming from poor families, they didn’t have money to buy books for themselves. The teachers said for some of the kids, those books were the first they’d owned.

I think the MSN article should have said “don’t buy books only if you can’t afford them.” I would have been on board for that. But that wasn’t the article’s intent or bent.

Don’t buy books. REALLY?

I’m gonna go buy a book today.

Or maybe two.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

If there's an art... self promotion, I'm one of those dabblers painting Happy Trees.

But I'm learning. And I'm sharing what info I've picked up through my ramblings below.

Back in that proverbial day when I started writing, publishers did all the work on promotions. Those times are long gone...though publishers still help, if you're lucky.

  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Groups

Yeah...there's more social media than that, but I only got time for the above.

Here's the thing: more than one million novels are released annually in the United States, and more than two-thirds of those are self-published.

In this very crowded marketplace, it is not enough to write your book, sell it to a publisher, and start on the next.

You have to promote your novel to boost sales figures…to not get lost in the numbers. There are great promotional opportunities that won’t cost you anything beyond your time. However, spending a little money here and there can improve your exposure. Set a budget, and decide where to allocate your funds.

Bookmarks, pens, tote bags, coffee mugs…they’re all nice, but they don’t return any significant “bang for your buck.” In fact, they usually cost you more than you’ll make from selling a few books to someone who picked up your swag. However, if you really want them…to slip into a book when you have a signing or appear at a convention, here are a couple of links to reasonably-priced services. Look for promo codes to boost the savings.

Some studies have shown that the greatest response to book promotions is through author newsletters. Build your email list, then send out a once a month or twice a month newsletter highlighting what you are working on, and what’s coming out and when. Newsletters should be short; people don’t like to read long missives. Ten good newsletter services, some of which are free, are detailed here:

I HAVE A NEWSLETTER! It comes out twice a month, filled with a bit of promotion on my current project, as well as recommending books by other authors, some useful writing tidbits, and the occasional silly contest. I keep it short so not to take up much of your time.

If you'd like to get my newsletter...which also sometimes has dog pictures in's the link:

Hold a book launch in the first or second week of release. An online event, which could include a blog hop, a virtual book tour, or an “ask me anything,” session. If you are unfamiliar with these activities, publicists will handle them for you (for a fee, of course). Here are four good links about book launches:

Buy a stock of your paperbacks as soon as it is published so you can plan a local book launch at a library or other venue. Publicize this in the local newspaper. Newspapers usually love to do features on local authors. Though the books will cost you, they usually are available at a 40% author discount, and so you can recoup this—and more—through your sales.

Define your target audience and discover where they hang out online. You can promote there. FREE.

Browse the major blogs your target audience reads. Ask if you can do a guest blog or if they will like to your blog. FREE.

Join an author network, where the members cross-promote books. FREE. requests   

Gather reviews and quotes, use these in promotions. Good quotes from respected authors will help sell your book. In some cases you will have to provide the books to be reviewed or pay the service a fee for finding reviewers.

Consider a book trailer. While most of these cost varying amounts of money, there are a few services where you can do short trailers for free. Here’s one of the free sites:

Send a “shout out” to friends with well-visited webpages and well-read blogs. Ask for promotion help.

Attend writing conventions, mystery conventions, or set up a night at the local bookstore or library where you can hold a discussion, a reading, and sell your new book.
I'm picking and chosing from all of the above right now in my effort to promote my mysery novel, IN THE DEAD OF WINTER (which is available at Amazon right now for a 99-cent pre-order sale price).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Lizzie Borden… Dog Lover?
By Christine Verstraete

Welcome to another stop on the book release blog tour for Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter! ** Follow the blog tour and be sure to get your copy of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter in print and Kindle Sept. 13! **

Whatever you think you know about Lizzie Borden—spinster, “plain old maid” as one newspaper called her, Sunday School teacher, accused killer—she also was a dog lover.

Lizzie went on to live a quiet life after she was found not guilty on June 20, 1893, of killing her father, Andrew Borden, and her stepmother, Abby Durfee Borden, on August 4, 1892. She remained in her hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, and bought a large Victorian house she named “Maplecroft” up on “The Hill” where the better-off lived.

Some say she always envied how others lived and used her ill-gotten gains to get what she always wanted. There is no proof, of course, to the rumors, or even that she was even actually guilty of the crimes.

Think what you want, but whatever can be said of Lizzie Borden, she loved dogs. And as the old saying goes, anyone who loves dogs and children can’t be all bad.

Settled into her new, much nicer and more modern home, (gas lights and indoor plumbing!), Lizzie went on to own three Boston Terriers. However, if we add a moment of psychoanalysis, was owning dogs, especially a certain breed, another way that Lizzie could prove her place in society? During the Victorian age in England, little “lap dogs” were a sign of status, according to (

Boston Terriers originated in Boston (hence the name) and soon became so popular that a American Bull Terrier Club was formed. By the end of 1910, the dog was one of the most popular breeds in the US. (

Still, she apparently loved animals enough that following her death on June 1, 1927, her will included a bequest of $30,000 and her stock shares in the Stevens Manufacturing Company to the Animal Rescue League of Fall River. The facility, now the Faxon Animal Care and Adoption Center, continues to receive a small amount (about $5-$6,000) annually, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2014. She also provided funds for other animals. See

The center also cared for her dogs after her death. They are buried at the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery in Dedham, Mass., which dates back to the 1900s. They are buried by a gravestone that is a mini replica of the Borden family monument in the Oak Grove Cemetery. (See Roadside America -

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter:

Every family has its secrets… 
   One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy, and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
   Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them. 

*** Yes, there is a contest to win 1 of 10 Kindle copies (ends 9/14.). Entrants MUST enter an email as a blog comment or on the rafflecopter to be sent a gift copy if they win. Sorry, no time to hunt you down. No email, no chance to win.  ** And please, review it on Goodreads and Amazon. **

Think you know Lizzie Borden? Read on! The blog tour schedule is:
Mon. Sept 5 - GirlZombieAuthors – Introduction – A Little About Lizzie
Tues. Sept. 6 - Jaime Johnesee blog – 12 Questions for Lizzie Borden
Weds. Sept. 7 - Jean Rabe's blog – Lizzie Borden… Dog Lover?
Thurs. Sept. 8 - AF Stewart blog interview
Fri. Sept.  9 - Haunt Jaunts blog – More Lizzie
Sat. Sept. 10 – Stephen D. Sullivan blog  - Lizzie Films
Sun. Sept. 11 GirlZombieAuthors recap
Camille Minichino blog  - Why oh why zombies?
Mon. Sept. 12 - Horror Maiden's Book Reviews
***Tues. Sept. 13 - RELEASE DAY!!!
    Join the FB Release Party - prizes, guest authors, zombie fun!! (See info posted on my Facebook page and website or the GirlZombieAuthors blog.)
Weds. Sept. 14 - Lizzie as a Zombie Hunter - Chapter Break Book Blog

* This isn't the end! Get your copy. Share a review. And come back to the GirlZombieAuthors blog or the author website for info on another blog tour starting Sept. 26 with Bewitching Book Tours.