NEWS NOTES: July 25, 2016

More About Foreign Rights

Last week I wrote about the Independent Book Publishers Association’s coop exhibit at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Bob Erdmann, an independent consultant, offers another possibility. He produces an annual catalog that he sends out to foreign publishers and agents worldwide. It will also be posted on his website for a full year in September.
Let him know if you’d like to be included for 2017 and he’ll email the registration forms. Deadline is July 31. Participation fee for this program is $195 per title. He will receive a 15% commission on the royalty advance for any sales that he makes or 20% commission if one of his foreign agents is involved. For more information, go to
Bob Erdmann, President
Columbine Communications & Publications
1116 Oakmont Drive, Suite 6
Walnut Creek, California USA 94595
Ph: 925/274-1348
Web Site:

Ethiopia for Real

Several years ago I spent two weeks in Ethiopia, a fascinating country steeped in history. Its first king, Menelik I, is said to be the child of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Every king since then is supposedly a direct descendant. According to legend, the Ark of the Covenant is hidden in a tomb in Ethiopia. Continue reading “NEWS NOTES: July 25, 2016”


NEWS NOTES: July 18, 2016

Foreign Rights: If you write non-fiction, consider sending your book to the Frankfurt International Book Show in Germany. Selling rights to translate and publish your book by a publisher in another country costs very little but can net you big profits. As a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, we have participated in their cooperative exhibit at the Frankfurt Show and sold rights to our books to publishers in Germany, Korea, Thailand, Serbia, Croatia, Brazil, and others. Cost per book is $185. IBPA’s deadline is August 31. I specify non-fiction because unless your novel is a huge bestseller, other publishers are not going to take it on. IBPA is well-known at Frankfurt and its impressive exhibit displays books face out.

IBPA also offers other cooperative marketing services as well as workshops, seminars, and their annual conference, Publishers University. Check it out.

State Associations: I am the new president of the Maryland Writers Association, and we have an excellent, hard-working and committed board. Like other writing associations, Continue reading “NEWS NOTES: July 18, 2016”

Who Is Creative?

kid for blogI get so bored with standard thinking parroted as Truth. For instance, I’ve heard forever that children are so much more creative than older people. So when I took my five-year-old niece to a gingerbread house decorating party one year, I stood back to watch all the young kids create with the candies and other doodads available to decorate their own gingerbread house.

Didn’t happen. The little types looked to us adults. “What should I do?” some asked. “How do I put these things on?” asked others. In the end, the results were. . .unimpressive. There was no creativity, no spontaneity, no imaginative results. The houses that made it through the process were, shall we say, banal?

What passes for creativity in young children is actually ignorance sometimes converted, for the traditionalists and with parental indulgence, into “a fresh look.” Actually, the kids don’t have much information or experience to draw from so they do the best they can. That’s why tree trunks are brown and straight with a green ball on top. Somewhere they’ve been told that tree trunks are brown and leaves are green. They don’t have sharp observation skills, so girls are drawn with a pillar on each side of the face representing hair. I could go on.

If you want true creativity, you have to go to the olders, sometimes the older the better. Older people with imagination, sharp observation skills and a wealth of information and experience to draw from. With these older people, you can get original, creative expressions in art and literature.

They’ll look at a tree and see the individual tree with its rutted bark in shades of gray, perhaps, and individual leaves in shapes that differ according to species. Older people know that hair grows around the head, not just on the sides, and can be groomed in a huge variety of ways.

Older people with imagination and skill will beat the pants off the most creative child with the freshest of looks.

HopeWorks – Healing Through Art

Michael Caine once chastised an actor who had delivered a particularly wooden performance by saying, “Acting is about emotions; why don’t you show some?”

Poetry is also about emotions. Last night I attended an outstanding poetry reading at the monthly meeting of the Howard County (MD) Chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Assn. The poems read had appeared in the Dragonfly Arts MagazineDragonfly mag, a publication of HopeWorks, Howard County’s sexual assault and domestic violence center. The poems are reflections on life, love, trauma and hope, and submissions to the magazine are open to anyone. They don’t necessarily have to be survivors. I felt it a privilege to be at this reading.

I am also impressed that HopeWorks would take such an innovative and visionary approach that goes beyond providing the usual services to people shattered by rape and domestic violence. HopeWorks uses the arts in three important ways to accomplish its mission: to support survivors in their healing; as a vehicle to increase awareness; and to imagine creative solutions to bring about social change. Dragonfly allows for artistic expression of the emotional response to savagery.

According to the HopeWorks philosophy, the creative arts as a way to help people improve and enhance physical, mental and emotional well being. The creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people in a variety of ways. When we create art and reflect on it, the processes increase self awareness, initiate awareness of others, and help us cope with stress and traumatic experiences. Creative expression facilitates ending or finding solutions to conflicts and problems.

The HopeWorks brochure quotes from a National Institutes for Health report that through the arts people can ease pain and stress and improve the quality of their lives. “…there is evidence that engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of one’s own creative efforts, can enhance one’s moods, emotions, and other psychological states as well as have a salient impact on important physiological parameters.”

The HopeWorks artistic programs are open to the public and include:

* Poetry N2 Wellness and Action Workshops use the power of words to encourage healing, community-building, cultural shifts, liberation and celebration. In a small group setting, topics such as stress, gender roles, trust, joy, justice, stigma, and relationships are explored through expressive activities like writing, collaging and music.

* The Women’s Circle is a roundtable activity group that often features arts-based workshops.

* I CAN We CAN Workshops are modeled after the national campaign called One Billion Rising. During the workshop, participants talk about what they can do to end violence at home, in the workplace, or at school. Then using their hands as a canvas, they create artwork to inspire peace and healing.

The Rogue Wave

I posted this blog first at, but thought you might enjoy it too, so I’m repeating it here.

5/29/2016 – The Rogue Wave

Last night I watched the movie, Abandoned, about four men lost at sea for more than 100 days after a rogue wave wrecked their sailboat. When they were finally rescued, the media expressed intense skepticism. People didn’t believe their story until a close examination of the wrecked boat proved the sailors told the truth.

The movie brought back memories of living on a motorsailer called the Hardtack for three years back in the seventies. A motorsailer is a hybrid between a sailboat and a powerboat. Our boat was a heavy, double-planked classic boat designed by famed naval architect John Alden. The single mast was stepped to the full keel and 58 feet high. However, the boat also had a heavy-duty Caterpillar diesel engine.Hardtack

The Hardtack was a comfortable, roomy boat for live-aboards with a large cockpit that served as a “playground” of sorts for our toddler daughter. It was also very forgiving, which saved our lives more than once. Continue reading “The Rogue Wave”

Selling Books Successfully at Festivals

The weather was warm and sunny and the crowds relaxed and interested at the annual Kensington (MD) Festival of the Book on Sunday. We were busy at our booth all day. At my booth, I displayed my 90’s Club mystery novels, author Millie Mack displayed her Faraday mystery novels, and my husband Roger McIntire displayed his practical books for parents.

Selling at a book fair is not easy. Most passersby will do just that. Pass by. You have to stand out front, establish eye contact, and ask them, “Can I tell you about my books?” Most

Millie Mack, author of the Faraday mysteries.
Millie Mack, author of the Faraday mysteries.
people will say, “Okay.”

All three of us at our booth were generous to the others. After describing our books and answering questions, we directed the visitor Continue reading “Selling Books Successfully at Festivals”

The Detection Club and the Golden Age

The Calendar:
I will be exhibiting along with Millie Mack, author of the Faraday mysteries, at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book on April 24. This is a delightful outdoor festival on the town’s main street which is closed to traffic for the event.

The Detection Club and the Golden Age

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a London pub, was supposedly the haunt of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Oliver Goldsmith, and other literati of the late 18th century. The Algonquin Round Table in New York City included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Sherwood and others who met regularly for lunch in the restaurant of the Algonquin Hotel. I would love to find such a regular gathering of mystery writers like, say, the Detection Club of the 30s and 40s.

The Golden Age of Murder
by Martin Edwards, author of the Lake District mysteries and a commentator on detective fiction, details the history of this elite club of outstanding mystery writers of the 30s and 40s, “the golden age” of detective fiction. Members included Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Julian Symons, Simon Brett, John Dickson Carr, and many others. Edwards’ book lists the members and the year they were elected to the club. The club’s first president was G.K. Chesterton. The last members to join the club were Michael Innes, Michael Gilbert, and Douglas G. Browne, elected in 1949.

This is a delightful book, full of interesting tidbits about the lives and personalities of the club members and guests. It opens with the impressions by Ngaio Marsh, a guest for the evening, of a meeting in 1937. The evening began with a banquet in an opulent dining room. After the meal, everyone rose and the party went to another room. There, the ritual began, with lights out, then a door opens and the Orator enters holding a taper. The rest of the ceremony involves a grinning skull and lethal weapons. For this meeting, an oath was administered to a burly man in his sixties who had been elected to preside over the club affairs. He pledged to honor the rules of the game they played:

“To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honor the King’s English…and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the Club.”

Lengthy chapters describe the lives and foibles of Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie, Douglas and Margaret Cole, and John Dickson Carr.According to Edwards’ account, Dorothy L. Sayers spent her life hiding the fact that she’d had an illegitimate child. Cynical Anthony Berkeley, was witty and charming but loved to confound people’s expections. Agatha Christie was pleasant and likable but her thoughts were hidden.

Edwards also discusses the detective fiction of the time and the influence of politics and two world wars on the novels.

The Poetry-Loving, Quiche-Eating Motorcyclist

Don’t you just love shooting down stereotypes? I like to write about characters who use stereotypes to outwit antagonists. My 90-year-old detective Nancy Dickenson in the 90s Club mysteries appears like any sweet, little old lady, and she uses that image. The idea for her character came from meeting a grandmotherly type woman who was actually a private detective. One of her gambits was to go door to door, leash in hand, in a neighborhood where she thought a suspect was hiding. She’d ask if they’d seen her runaway dog. Sometimes they’d invite her in for a cup of coffee and then she’d get the gossip about the neighborhood.

So I went to the latest meeting of my Sisters in Crime chapter to hear police Lt. John Weinstein talk about campus shooters and other campus policing challenges. Sisters in Crime is an association of mystery writers and fans. Continue reading “The Poetry-Loving, Quiche-Eating Motorcyclist”

More Things in Heaven and Earth

PRAISE for The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock
Just received this review from the Midwest Book Review: “An impressively well crafted and thoroughly entertaining mystery that plays fair with the reader from beginning to end.”

Enter the book giveaway for this book at Starts Feb. 14, ends Feb. 25.


We all know our perception of the world around us depends on how well our senses function. This fact alone should cause us all to be humble about any pronouncements we make on the nature of reality.

For instance, plants. How conscious are they? Do they really care if I talk to them? When I weed my garden, do the weeds know I’m killing them and are screaming at me? Do I not hear them because their voices are beyond my range?

Sounds crazy, but I just read a review by Amy Stewart of the book, The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey. Stewart cites from the chapter on plant intelligence in which Mabey describes a study of mimosa plants. Mimosa leaves snap shut when they’re touched as a defensive mechanism. In the study, potted mimosa plants were dropped several times from a height of six inches. After several drops, some of them stopped shutting their leaves as if they had learned that this movement was not a threat. Continue reading “More Things in Heaven and Earth”

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