Literary Gifts for the Holidays

If you stepped into any retail stores on November 1, you probably noticed the holiday jpg_pumpkin_vector_image_031citems already available for sale, and holiday decorations adorning said stores as well. We barely blew the candles out in our jack-o-lanterns, or sorted through the Halloween candy, while the stores were busy changing over from Halloween to Christmas and other December holidays. They’re not even waiting ’til after Thanksgiving!

Shopping Choices catalogs 1Also, my letter carrier has been delivering catalogs every day. Most offer free shipping if you place an order of a certain amount by a certain date.

Every year I promise myself I will start preparing for the holidays early, and then be able to enjoy the year-end parties and gatherings instead of shopping and wrapping.

Here’s my chance!

I’ve been perusing some literary gift sites and thought I’d share them with my fellow Women of Mystery and our dear readers.

The Literary Gift CMugompany offers literary gifts, and then specifically, gifts for writers.

Etsy, of course, has unique literary gifts. has 142 items listed on their site when searching “literary gifts.” has over 1,700 items listed as Literary Gifts and Merchandise. posts, “50 best literary gifts for a modern-day book lover.”

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? has pages of literary gifts!jpg_FHH0208

Do you plan on ordering holiday gifts online, shopping in stores, or both? Happy shopping!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13



Brooklyn Book Festival

September 2015 marks the Tenth Anniversary of the Brooklyn Book Festival. The week long celebration of literacy and literature ended on Sunday with the lovely green plaza  filled with readers, writers and publishers and surrounded by Brooklyn Borough Hall, Court Houses and the Post Office .Book_Festival_market I was lucky enough to have a story in the most recent issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and luckier still that I got to sign copies for eager readers while hanging out with Senior Assistant Editor Jackie Sherbow, Emily Hockaday and some of the other fabulous staff at Dell Magazines, home of Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Asimov and Analog magazines.


Terrie Moran, Jackie Sherbow and Emily Hockaday

Terrie Moran, Jackie Sherbow and Emily Hockaday

We had a grand time at a wonderful event. Congratulations Brooklyn! May the Brooklyn Book Festival last for many decades to come.


The Cultural DNA of “To Kill A Mockingbird”

In the L.A. Times, Michael Schaub writes how “46 times ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ echoed throuTKAMgh pop culture,” which includes movies, TV, celebrity offspring, music, shopping, and more. Look for the Etsy links for TKAM-related items for sale, including this bookmark. The literary masterpiece by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim FederleAlso, check out Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by @TimFederle.

In another article, Michael Schaub writes that after an expert examined the manuscript in a safe deposit box used by Harper Lee, he determined that no third novel will be forthcoming.To read further on this issue, visit an article by Laura Stevens and Jennifer Maloney in The Wall Street Journal.Go Set A Watchman

Lee’s second novel, Go Set A Watchman, is on Twitter @GSAWatchmanBook.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Selling Books-Amazon Reviews

What efforts do you make to reach the reader to introduce them to your work?

Unknown-1Jenny Milchman takes herself on a book tour and has done so with huge success. I’ve done my smaller tour with book signings hosted by my family. I talk to rotaries, and libraries.

Online, I keep in touch with several blogs on a daily basis. Does Goodreads help? I find its site confusing, but that could just be me. Linked-in?

I’ve gotten forty Amazon reviews for my March release, Broken Window, many from those I don’t know, but there is also a fair share of those who I’ve asked to post a review once they read Broken Window.

But do the reviews help? Does Amazon push your book more? I know at least two reviewers focused on writing Amazon reviews, I was glad to get a fine review from them.

I love the libraries and I’ve not been to a book store yet.

What’s your secret to reaching the reader?

When do you see a difference in the sales, or do you?

Ginning the Bestseller Lists, Old-School

imageI came across a fabulous write-up on the hoax of I, Libertine, which conned the New York Times bestseller list, also literary reviewers, publishers, and booksellers (even a lit professor) in the mid-fifties. Not because it wasn’t an obvious hoax. I encourage you to read the whole post to see how funny but transaparent the hoax was, and how easily it could be detected by people who asked questions rather than pretending to have the answers. From the blog of author J. Mark Powell:

Shep [Jean Shepherd, radio host and satirist] may have been working in Manhattan, but having been born and raised in Hammond, Indiana (where A Christmas Story is set, by the way) he still had Midwestern sensibilities. One thing that astonished him about New Yorkers was (and still remains) their slavish obsession with Top 10 lists. “The 10 Most Beautiful People…” “The 10 New Looks for Summer…” “The 10 Hottest Movies…” Shep felt New Yorkers blindly followed whatever appeared on those lists without thinking or questioning them. The one that got his goat most of all was The New York Times Best Seller list for books….

But here’s the thing: in Shep’s time, despite its name, the criteria for making the list involved more than just book sales. It included customer requests for and questions about books to book sellers. So if a retailer had a stack of a particular book that wasn’t selling, he could gin up enough queries about it to get the title included on the best seller list, which then made people go out and buy it.

You have to read it all to marvel and laugh at how long the hoax went on, how many people knew, and how many other people fatuously pretended to have read the book or to have met the author. The truly turgid cover above came rather late in the game, actually, when a real book was finally written to fit the hoax. Yes, it also hit the bestseller list.

There are still ways that people try to shift this list or that one, and the keepers of the lists still put their own thumbs on the scales, too. But also, for me, the story also highlights the way that people still assume if they haven’t read about it or seen it from a handful of media outlets, something couldn’t possibly be happening or be true. I’ve come across this more in New York than other places I’ve lived, to be frank. The downside, if there is one, of immersion in perhaps the preeminent media capital of the world is that people within may not look outside very often, assuming they already know all that’s worthy of knowing. Therefore, a story that’s unremarked and unreported in the northeast ends up working like a very successful “conspiracy,” because a huge number of people (in this case, listeners across 37 states) know something of which the self-appointed tastemakers and trendsetters remain ignorant and/or are satisfied to have other people remain ignorant.

In some salons, Frederick R. Ewing was considered the acme of success, but who among us will ever compare to his reach (not to mention his genius)?How do you define a writer’s success? How tough are you on yourself about your own?

Speaking Techniques

I told an official of a local rotary on the day I was there to give a presentation that I was not a speaker, that I was a writer. But we have to do both. Although I’ve picked up some technique, it’s still a puzzle at times.Unknown-3

Are they really interested in what I’m talking about? I ask myself that as I look around the room while speaking.

I know I can find this in a book, but I thought I’d ask sister and brother writers what works for them.

For instance, do you look at those you are speaking to, or not?

If it’s a business group, do you still talk as if you’re addressing a crowd at the library telling them where your idea for your latest book came from and how you go about getting it down on paper, and more, how you got it published? Unknown-1

My last address to business people was about how I carved out a career as a novelist. I had a good time. I kept it short and then asked for questions. I joked and they joked back. It worked that time but will it work the next time?

Any suggestions?



Queens NYC Lit Fest

Queens NYC Lit Fest made its debut this past weekend, with lots of poetry, music and prose, all presented by literary artists (you can call us writers) and musicians who live in Queens. Author Nancy Bilyeau organized a Queens contingent from the Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter.


On Saturday, Laura Joh Rowland and I were the MWA representatives.



I chose to read an excerpt from a short story entitled  “The Sneaker Tree” because the entire story takes place in College Point, Queens. It was originally published in the  New York/Tri-State chapter of Sisters in Crime second anthology Fresh Slices: A Mystery Anthology, which I am delighted to mention, is presently being offered at a reduced price by Glenmere Press which is owned and operated by Woman of Mystery Lois Karlin.


Laura did an excellent job reading a small piece that took us back to the time of Jack the Ripper. It was sexy and creepy all at the same time. That’s some combination, right?

On Sunday, Nancy, along with Megan Abbott and Alex Segura held down the MWA slot. I suspect they were fabulous.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Woman of Mystery Cathi Stoler who, along with her husband Paul, stopped by on Saturday to cheer us along.

*****JUST IN! My friend Abby Haddad took a video. I hope I can link it here.




Why Can’t I Just Write?

Gaming the System by Laura K CurtisI know I am not the only one who gets frustrated by the business aspects of being a writer. But I do try to curtail those frustrations. My close friends know them, but I don’t blare them out publicly. After all, people (okay, not a lot of people, but some people) are reading stories I made up. Do you realize how cool that is?

My latest self-published romance, Gaming the System, came out a couple of weeks ago. Is it selling like hotcakes? Nope. It’s selling better than my first self-pubbed romance did, though. But I am working harder at selling this one, too. Once you have more than one in a series, you can play with promotional ideas. At the moment, the first book is free everywhere except Amazon–I’m still waiting for them to price-match. I’m also madly writing for several blogs, and I will be reading at Lady Jane’s Salon on July 21, the eve of the big Romance Writers of America conference in NYC.

It’s a lot of work. And it takes away from my time editing Mind Games, the Penguin romantic suspense that comes out in November, and writing the book after that.

And that’s frustrating. Not just spending time on those blog posts and readings and promotional strategies, but spending energy and money on them, too. Hire a publicist? $$$. Do all the things she tells you to do? Time and energy sucked away. Why should I do any of that stuff when everyone tells me that all that matters is writing a good book?

Well, I should do it because I want people to read my stories and order for them to want to read them, they have to know about them.

I hear a lot of complaints from the writing community. A LOT. Sometimes, I feel like just leaving the community altogether because I can’t believe how much people whine.

I have had people complain to me because their publisher isn’t picking up their next book. Publishers are businesses. If you’re not making as much money for them as the guy next to you is, why should they keep you?

Lately, people are screaming bloody murder because Amazon changed their policy about what they pay for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited. Again…Amazon is a business. They’re not your fairy godmother. And no one said you had to put your books in KU — if you don’t like the policy, take your books out!

I had someone tell me that she drew the line at spending money to publish her books. Well, okay, but understand that if you say that my response will be “then don’t complain to me that your books aren’t published.” Because if you want your book out there and you don’t have a traditional publisher, you will have to pay for editing, and more editing, and covers, and—unless you want to learn to do it—formatting.

If you really want your books published and you really want them to be the best they can be and you really want people to read them…all those things are possible. You just have to make up your mind, set your priorities. It’s up to you to make it happen.

We all have days where we wish we could “just write.” But if that’s your priority, understand that you may not find readers. If you want to be read, you have to do more.

Book Signing; A Family Affair

My family, in Bluffton, South Carolina, invited friends, neighbors and clients to a book signing party for Broken Window. We had fun and sold books.

One of my daughters and husband and two of my fourteen grandchildren

My daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Don, and two of my fourteen grandchildren, Faith and Hannah.

The picture is taken in the beautiful house of my granddaughter, Hannah, and her husband, Mike. She’s the one holding a copy of Broken Window while I take the picture.

Having too much fun, we forgot to take pictures while the book signing was going on two days before.

Hopefully, at the moment, people who would never have read Broken Window are reading it, and more, at least a couple are purchasing Murder at the P&Z, the first book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series published by Mainly Murder Press.

The local library was fully booked for the summer for author talks when I called. My daughter, Lauren, and granddaughter, Joy, did the major work and I can’t thank them enough for it.

Why did I become a writer? One of the guests asked me that question and we were off to the races for a nice give and take talk.



The Nuts and Bolts of Blog Tours

CaughtReadHanded_newcomp.inddAs we sometimes do, the Women of Mystery were chatting the other day. Someone suggested that one of us write a post on the nuts and bolts of blog tours. I raised my hand and offered to do so because I have a tour starting July 6th as part of the launch extravaganza for the release of Caught Read-Handed on July 7th.

How does a blog tour start? I am sure that every writer has her own path to blog tour success. I am happy to share mine. The first thing I do, at least six months before the release date of a book, is to contact Lori at Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Lori is a tour guide extraordinaire. I recommend you be prepared to tell her whether you would like to tour for one week or two and what dates work best for you. I will tour fourteen blogs in fourteen days. Most of the bloggers will write a review of Caught Read-Handed and so will require
review copies. In addition, most of the bloggers will do a giveaway of a copy of your book. Again, you or your publisher will have to provide copies. Lori will ask if you want to have a tour-wide giveaway which will be done by rafflecopter at each blog site. I put together a few book/beach related items, including a mousepad, necklace and note paper and took a picture for the rafflecopter. I will be responsible to mail that prize to the winner. Separate from the tour, I have chosen to advertise on Dollycas for two months and I will also do a blog post for the Dollycas blog after my tour is ended. Some of the Dollycas bloggers want me to write a guest post and some sent me interview questions. All of this material plus my bio, any pictures that I think will go well with my posts and anything else I think will be helpful must be sent to Lori a few weeks before the tour starts. I handed them in this morning.

Rafflecopter Prize

Rafflecopter Prize

Separately, the publicist from Berkley Prime Crime has asked me for several blog posts that she can deliver to her cadre of bloggers. Those are also due weeks before the release date. I submitted them two weeks ago.

Finally there are blogger buddies who are kind enough to invite me to visit their blogs. I try to accept every invitation and, most importantly, I follow every blogger’s rules.

The rules of a blog tour are simple: do exactly what the blogger requests, submit the work on time, comment on the blog shortly after it goes up and then check on it frequently. Comment often. If prizes are involved, make sure they are sent.

Here are some examples of blogs with rules:

I had a request from one blog that I visit them only on a day when I will not be present on any other blog and that the material I present to them be fresh. Done.

Deb Lacy over at Mystery Playground does Drinks with Reads posts on Fridays. It happens that Lori assigned me to Mystery Playground on July 10th, which turns out to be a Friday. As soon as I looked at the calendar I knew that a “drinks” post would be in order. Done.

I keep a separate calendar just for blog tour info. I find it necessary because there are often surprises, such as this mention by Lisa Kelley over at Lisa K’s Book Reviews.  Each Cozy Food Friday, Lisa talks about a cozy mystery. Last Friday it was Bushel Full of Murder by Paige Shelton, and includes a fabulous recipe for Shrimp Tacos. On Fridays Lisa also posts and links to two memes Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  and The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.  I am honored and surprised that Lisa chose Caught Read-Handed as her meme book last week. The Book Beginnings link includes the opening paragraphs of Caught Read-Handed and The Friday 56 includes a quote Lisa chose from page 56 of the book. Lisa was kind enough to let me know that I would be in the memes, so I watched for the post and linked to it here and there.

And that is the final rule. Bloggers work very hard. A blogger who invites a writer to visit a blog is doing the writer a huge favor. In turn, the writer must spread the word to help readers discover that blog. That’s called Fair Play, and it is what the mystery community is all about.