An interview with Dr. Glenn Parris

Professional PhotoAs a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long.

 Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of nearly 23 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.

Website URL: www.GlennParris.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlennParris.FictionWriter

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Glenn: I’ve been writing for pleasure for over 20 years, but I really think I started writing in 2010 when I went to a workshop for physician writers hosted by Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Glenn: I was extremely happy when the first few reviews started coming through.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Glenn: No. I guess like all writers, I thought that writing my stories was the hard part. Developing characters, plot, tone, etc. that’s a major milestone, but the real challenge is marketing the book.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Glenn: Say that to an audience of writers and you’ll get more laughs than a Robin Williams bit (rest his soul). You might make enough for a nice vacation if your sales are fairly good. You can do a nice renovation on a basement, kitchen or bathroom if sales are good, you might even put a kid through college if you’re lucky and sales are very good. Hit the jackpot and you can quit a good day job.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Glenn: Writing the next story and getting the word out in advance to booksellers and reviewers. Developing a loyal audience is key in this day and age.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Glenn: I self published which used to be a terrible thing to admit, but that lingers among agents and publishers mostly. I publish when I think the story is ready for the world of readers. For me it’s usually about two to three years. A little faster maybe for sequels.  If you have a good editor and your story is popular, I don’t think readers make the distinction.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Glenn: I would have liked to have met a good publicist before the release date and developed more of a plan.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Glenn: You have to have good people around you who know what you don’t. When you self pub you need very good people around you. And a lot of friends.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Glenn: Fans. I can’t find the words to describe the feeling I get when readers share my visions and feelings. Not everyone will like your work so no matter how you go about publishing you need a thick skin, but even critics who are honest sometimes give good feedback you may incorporate into future works.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Glenn: The realization that so many people who identify themselves as readers can’t find time to read these days.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your book?

Glenn: I got a cold call e-mail from an agent who heard the premise for The Renaissance of Aspirin, and asked to see the manuscript that she heard about from another agent I pitched to at a workshop.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Glenn: This is the first work of fiction to address Fibromyalgia. It’s a condition that’s poorly understood even by experts in the field and so many suffers are shunned into silence as family and friends believe they are hypochondriacs.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Glenn: Keep writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Read in your chosen genre and analyze what you read.  It’s the cheapest workshop you’ll ever find! Work with other for feedback.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Glenn: Even in this world of digital media, I find going where readers go to be the best strategy.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Glenn: Digital media. Facebook, twitter and blogging don’t come naturally to me so I struggle with them.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Glenn: Book Warehouse and Books for Less.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:TRoA cover

 

The Renaissance of Aspirin


PJ: Where can we buy it?

Glenn: Book Warehouse, Books for Less, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and of course my publisher Xlibris of the Penguin Publishing Group.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Glenn: The Renaissance of Aspirin is a modern southern romantic thriller. I think it works as a work of fiction, but the scientific theme reinforces the need for more research and support in fibromyalgia and other systemic diseases.

HOW TO: Throw a Successful Facebook Book Launch (even when you have the flu)

HOW TO:

 

Throw a Successful Facebook Book Launch (even when you have the flu.)

 

By

 

Pamela DuMond

 Dumond

 

I’m an Indie author and I don’t plan these events months in advance. I also do not schedule a book launch event for 12 hours or two days. The reason? Every time I receive one of these sorts of invites—I cringe.

 

‘But, Pamela,” you say. ‘There are 20 authors supporting this book launch and we all get to take an hour and explain how our books are important, the lead author’s new book is super important and then we field questions about our books etc. Why would you not want to click the ‘Yes-I’m-attending Button’ and support our auspicious event?”

 

Because a 12 to 24 hour book launch sounds… DAUNTING. I have a life. My readers have a life. Then guilt creeps in and I wonder if I should hit the ‘Maybe’ button, which basically translates to  ‘No— but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.’  Ack!

 

So, instead I pick a date and block out two to three hours and create a Facebook Event Page. I named it something festive like a — Cocktail Party.

 

I write a fun description based on my book.

 

Part-time Princess: Hold tight to your tiara! Stop by and have some fun with other readers, writers, artists, musicians and wacky folks. There’s plenty of royal bling to be given away. Enter a photo of Who-Looks-Best in the Tiara Contest (You can enter ahead of time.) Issue your Royal edict. Virtual snackies, cocktails, champagne will be served.

 

I invited people on my regular FB page when suddenly Facebook schooled me. I discovered that as of August, 2014, FB has capped the number of folks you can invite. So DON’T invite everyone. Only those you think might actually be interested.

 

I ask my author friends to participate and post links and descriptions of their new books. The more the merrier. It’s a ‘cocktail party.’ It’s not a mandatory college lecture. I start posting links and comments, images, etc. to my Event Page ahead of time. I included my book’s description and a link to my book on Amazon.

 

Consider the ‘THEME’ of your book and fashion a party around that. Part-time Princess has a ‘royal’ theme so I wrote up a couple of royal quizzes for folks to answer via multiple choice. These included questions about the movie The Princess Bride, notorious female royals in history and even trivia about Princess Grace of Monaco. I bought inexpensive princessy bling to award the winners of the various contests.

 

Michael James Canales of http://www.mjcimageworks.com created a Part-time Princess Royal name Generator for me.

 

Crossing the SPAM line

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

I read yet another announcement on Facebook this morning that said, essentially, I don’t care if your book is an Amazon bestseller, or if it’s been selected for reading by some book group I may or may not have ever known, if you keep posting advertising in this group I will NEVER read your book and I suspect I’m not alone in feeling like this.

We’ve all seen similar posts and maybe have posted similar posts. I hadn’t had coffee yet, but it set my mind whirling. Most marketing experts tell authors to be more active in social media, to tweet their hearts out and make sure they’re posting regularly. And honestly, what is advertising but putting your product information out in venues where it’s likely to be seen by potential buyers?

If I subscribe to a cooking magazine and sit down to read it when it arrives, I shouldn’t be surprised to find advertising in it that is somehow related to food. It’s expected, actually. I may not know the company that’s doing the advertising. In fact, I probably will come across quite a few products that I never knew anything about until I saw it there. I think that’s the point. Whether I like it or not, or will buy it or not, that’s a different story.

If you ask some people what crosses the line from discussing or introducing a book to spamville, the consensus is often whether the poster is known to the group in which he or she is posting. At first thought, that seems logical to most and heads will nod. But can you give me a comparison from general marketing guidelines? Where are the rules?

If you’re talking about groups to join on Facebook or LinkedIn or wherever, maybe that could be compared to those rare occasions when you get to watch a television movie with “no commercial interruptions”. I’m not saying spam is ok. I can get annoyed as anyone when that typical BUY MY BOOK tweet interrupts my feed for the umpteenth time and, no, I probably will not go buy the book.

Society is bereft of the manners with which I was raised oh so long ago, so I shouldn’t be surprised when some trample over any semblance of etiquette in social media situations. But I admit as a publicist I do feel a twinge of regret that this person wants very badly to see his or her book succeed and it’s too bad that he or she is going about it in the wrong way. I’d like to think that if we ranted less and offered well placed advice more, there might slowly be change. But then few take unsolicited advice to heart and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to stick their necks out. Pearls before swine, as it were.

What are your thoughts? When does ill-advised attempts at advertising cross the line to spam?

Off to find that missing coffee…

Have you met Tom Sawyer yet?

193_tomcrop3Edgar and Emmy-nominated, novelist, screenwriter, playwright Thomas B. Sawyer was Head Writer/Showrunner of the classic CBS series, MURDER, SHE WROTE, for which he wrote 24 episodes. Tom wrote/directed/produced the feature-film cult-comedy, ALICE GOODBODY. He is co-librettist/lyricist of JACK, a musical drama about JFK which has been performed to acclaim in the US and Europe. Tom authored bestselling mystery/thrillers THE SIXTEENTH MAN, & NO PLACE TO RUN. His new novel, CROSS PURPOSES, introduces NY PI Barney Moon, who doesn’t drive, hates LA, and is stuck there. Learn more about Tom and his work at http://www.thomasbsawyer.com/.

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Tom: Full-time professionally, about 35 years. During my first career as a graphic artist starting in comic books, I did a little writing, but my focus was illustration.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Tom: After about three years in Television.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different? 

Tom: Coming to Hollywood, I’d anticipated directing, which was what I’d been doing back in NY (commercials, short films, some stage-work). I tried TV writing because I was assured that writers ran that business – which very happily turned out to be true.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Tom: In TV and film, way surpassed them. Less so in novel-writing.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Tom: Still the same – getting published – but with more and more focus on promotion. Very few of us can make it in the book biz without a lot of BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion), and other types of publicity.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Tom: About six months.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Tom: Probably not.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Tom: It’s a juggling act, but I enjoy it. I write and/or promote pretty much seven-days-per-week.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Tom: Having JACK, my opera about JFK, produced by the Schuberts – and the thrill of writing for Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach for 12 years.Angie & Tom

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Tom: Not being instantly recognized for my brilliant talent.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Tom: Being compared with writers of the caliber of Elmore Leonard and Damon Runyon.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Tom: Humor, economy, entertainment. Our mandate in TV writing: Deliver the audience to the commercial-break. They’re all sitting there with thumbs hovering over the channel-clicker. Bore them for a second and you’ve lost them. That’s the way I write novels. Read ‘em and you’ll see.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Tom: It’s terribly important – strike that – vital – to know – with absolute certainty – that anyone who rejects you or your work is out of his or her mind. Believe in yourself!

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Tom: Persistence. Noise. Word-of-mouth. I’d say all of those, plus networking.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Tom: All of it. Getting noticed at all in a world so full of people yelling “Look at me!”

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Tom: Diesel Bookstore in Malibu, CA.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

  1. Cross Purposes Cover_Thomas B. SawyerTHE SIXTEENTH MAN (Thriller)
  2. FICTION WRITING DEMYSTIFIED (Instructional)
  3. NO PLACE TO RUN (Thriller)
  4. CROSS PURPOSES (Mystery Thriller – w/Humor), 1st in the Barney Moon, PI Series.

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Tom: A routine arson case sends New York PI Barney Moon to what he regards as an Alien Planet — Los Angeles. His should-be one-day mission quickly escalates to murders and conspiracies, trapping him in Tinseltown – and in growing danger. Worse, Barney doesn’t drive, a problem he solves by apprehending gorgeous would-be car-thief, Melodie, 18. Narrowly evading and outwitting assorted bad guys, LAPD detectives and at the last second, violent death, this comically mismatched pair foils a bizarre terror plot just as it’s about to kill thousands.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Amazon (print or e-book), and it can be ordered for you by any bookstore.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Tom: No secrets that I can think of…

 

There you have it folks!  I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Cross Purposes or some of Tom’s earlier work. I trust you’ll enjoy!

Hudson Valley Writers Guild Marketing Panel

 

M.E. Kemp

M.E. Kemp

M.E.Kemp was born in 1636, Salem, MA – no, that’s not quite right.  The first baby in the family was born then.  Kemp’s ancestors settled in Oxford, MA in 1713, the founding of the town by the English after a Huguenot community evacuated following an Indian attack.  Her roots, her Grandmother’s family tales about the Civil War and her father’s love of American history influenced her to set her mysteries in the Boston area, rather than the myriad books set in medieval Britain.  American history is just as bloody and colorful, she believes.  Her detectives are two nosy Puritans, since Puritans were supposed to keep track of their neighbor’s doings.  Nosy makes a good detective. She has five books out and is at work on #6.  Check her out on her website: mekempmysteries.com; or on facebook under Marilyn Rothstein.

 

Marketing Panel – Hudson Valley Writers Guild

A panel consisting of poet Dan Wilcox, self-publisher Barbara Traynor, mystery writer M.E.Kemp and newpaper critic/reviewer Elizabeth Floyd Mair addressed the issue of marketing in “Selling Your Words,” held at a local library.  Moderator M.E. Kemp started off by recalling her first writers conference where a mid-list publisher stressed in no uncertain terms that writers must sell their work themselves, not to depend upon the publisher.  “Shy people need not apply,” she stressed – although today’s technologies allow more marketing efforts behind a screen.

Poet Dan Wilcox said he’d had some early success by joining with two other poets in readings as “Three Guys From Albany.”  Giving readings is the main way for poets to market their work.  Wilcox arranged with the local Social Justice Center to give a series of readings by local poets once a month, with open mic to follow.  My granddaughter Betty Rothstein recently read her own translations of contemporary Russian poets, including some of her poetry in Russian and in English.  (Betty majored in Russian studies.)  Wilcox said there is a strong audience for poetry in the upstate New York area.

Barbara Traynor’s book on self-publishing has gone through two editions.  One of the ways she markets herself is to contract with newspapers for articles as she travels across the country in search of warmer weather during the winters in upstate.  Traynor plans well ahead of time for this trip for her marketing campaigns.  She gave the audience a sample of her time-lines.

M. E. Kemp stood up to reveal one of her marketing tools – a black tee with the cover of her latest book in bright colors on the front.  She suggested that writers find a special niche market for their books.  Since she writes historical mysteries set in and around the Boston area, she speaks to historical societies, book clubs and libraries with a special talk offered on the Salem Witch Trials – always a selling topic.  She is also a member of the Sisters in Crime/New England speakers bureau, as well as setting up writing conferences for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

Elizabeth Floyd Mair gave some practical advice on how to approach newspapers for a review.  Writers should always include a press release in their packet, making it clear with personal info who you are, a local connection to the paper and a good summary of the book in the release so the reviewer can judge whether it’s a book they might like to review.

Key speaker for the conference was Frankie Y. Bailey, Professor of Criminal Justice at the local university and author of two series of mysteries, including a new police procedural set in the future in Albany, NY.  Bailey gave a very funny anecdote about how she came up with the subject off the top of her head while speaking to her publisher. Bailey brought a pile of books on marketing but she recommended only one, the old stand-by WRITERS DIGEST.  She advised writers to find their “purple cow,” the one that stands out in the field.

Meet Peggy Hanson

Peggy Hanson

Peggy Hanson

I am an unlikely author to ask about her writing career.  Virtually nothing about my experience fits into the proverbial “box.”  And that question PJ asks about “when did you feel successful as a writer?”  Well, I’m still hoping that moment will come!

The one thing I have in common with all writers is that I have always done it, have always loved it, have always had it as a goal. I’m never happier than when I exercise the discipline to write in a serious way.

And I will admit that when I got down to applying that discipline (built up by being a journalist on deadline) to polishing up and actually publishing my first two novels in the Elizabeth Darcy series, DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN it felt pretty good.  After all, by that time, I was age 73!

 

The truth is that I have always written, just to write.  I never really focused on publication.  Often, I didn’t even read over or edit my random jottings.  Life has been varied and complicated enough to hold my interest:  teaching English for the Peace Corps in Turkey, returning to the US; having two children; taking them to Turkey and then to Yemen for several years; divorce; news career with Voice of America as an international radio broadcaster; remarriage,

In the village of  Dhra Yemen

In the village of Dhra Yemen

complete with a surprise third child 20 years younger than his oldest sister; living in India and Indonesia with that child, while also working as a foreign correspondent…

 

And that’s where I began to write fiction—living in Indonesia.  Suharto’s dictatorship didn’t allow me to practice journalism there while married to a World Bank economist, so I quit VOA.  It was the first time I’d felt free enough to devote myself to what I’d always wanted to do.  With cook, driver, house cleaners, gardener, guards to keep everything running smoothly and ferry my young son to and from school and activities…the situation was ideal for a writer. I joined a writing group and wrote the first draft of DEADLINE ISTANBUL.  It was a joyous experience to return to Turkey in memory, conjuring up the sights and sounds of 8 years in that amazing country.  Later, when we moved back to India, I wrote the first draft of DEADLINE YEMEN.

 

But let me try to make an organized structure out of this “career,” while answering some of PJ’s actual questions.  (I put quotation marks around career because it feels a little fraudulent to call writing that when my dear husband Jim has been able and willing to support me through the whole process.  I know that has taken much of the “bite” out of trying to get published and trying to sell my books.  I admire and respect beyond measure authors who actually have to make a living doing this!!)

 

From first draft to publication of both the DEADLINE books, several years ensued.  I honestly don’t know why I persevered through rejections and, frankly, a lack of interest on the part of agents and editors in esoteric topics like Turkey and Yemen.  Adding to the problem was my “soft” approach to topics more usually in the realm of thrillers:  terrorism, drug and arms smuggling, assassination, international cast of shady characters.  I mean, really:  Jane Austen, cats, woman with a sense of humor…terrorism?  Really??  Set in places where these things really exist (though I would point out to Americans that we of all people should recognize that terrorism is NOT limited to that arising in Islamic cultures.)

 

So…no niche, no interest, lots going on in my life.  Maybe I would never publish the books.  Would that matter?

 

Peggy reading at MWA University

Peggy reading at MWA University

Well, to me, it mattered.  (My kids wouldn’t even know my computer password, for Pete’s sake!) I kept going to conferences and writing courses (thank you, Noreen Wald!), jotting down stuff in diaries and travelogues, meeting with other writers in various venues, including a long-term writing group that met at my house and had several well-published authors in it.

 

Then, a couple of years ago, at Anne Hillerman writer’s conference in Santa Fe, I met my agent, Liz Trupin-Pulli, who expressed interest in my work.  I took the day-long writing course there from Sandi Ault (full of practical suggestions) and then put nose to the grindstone for a period of four months and rewrote both DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN for Liz to see.  She accepted me and did a great edit on both books.  I HAD AN AGENT!!!

 

We still had the “niche and unknown countries” problems with big editors.  Fortunately, a member of my book group, Carla Coupe, had begun working for a small press, Wildside Press.  They accepted the books and Liz and I decided that would be a good route for me.  Carla did another edit, and after two more months of nose-to-grindstone, both books came out.  My talented daughter, Anne Welles (of Lunatic Fringe Productions), painted dramatic and impressionistic covers for both ISTANBUL and YEMEN.  She had grown up in those countries, after all, and could get the feel of things as no other artist could have done.  I’m about to get her going on DEADLINE INDONESIA, with palm trees and volcanoes!

 

Since I am writing books in two different series right now (DEADLINE INDONESIA and the first book in the MARY MATTHEWS VICTORIAN MISSIONARY SLEUTH series) I have not had time (or talent, or energy, or aptitude) to sell my books broadly.  That is where PJ Nunn has made all the difference.  Elaine Viets told me to go to her, and what a dynamo she is!  (Both are, really.)  PJ has made me write several guest blogs, has gotten me radio and television interviews all over the country (scheduled but not yet aired), has contacted bookstores and libraries—I cannot keep up with her!  Having PJ means that I can concentrate on doing what I love, writing, and follow her orders about what to do about selling.  It’s going well, I think.

 

My biggest discouragement about writing?  Probably the fact that agents and editors weren’t interested in the topic or the approach.

 

My biggest pleasure derived from the writing?  The fact that friends all over the world, of various nationalities, who either bought the books or were sent the books, are clamoring for the next volume.  That’s what I always wanted to do:  provide some pleasure, comfort, fun, and interest to the lives of other mystery fans.

Evening on the Nile

Evening on the Nile

 

Next month when I spend three weeks in Cairo and Upper Egypt, thanks to my husband’s work, I will be doing what I always do:  jotting notes to send back to family and friends.  This time, because of PJ, I will try to publish those jottings.  It’s a whole new world out there!

 

Istanbul coverDEADLINE ISTANBUL outlines the adventures of Elizabeth Darcy, newspaper reporter, as she seeks answers to the death of her friend, the Istanbul Deadline Yemen cover by Annecorrespondent.  She’s supposed to fill in for him.  But Elizabeth is too nosy for her own good, and soon she is coming up against hidden dangers on every side, from the storied souqs to the enchanting Bosphorus dividing Istanbul.  Some of the men she encounters are attractive.  Are they also dangerous?  And what, pray tell, about the women?  Everyone knows the female is more deadly than the male.  It takes all of Elizabeth’s ingenuity, along with a little help from a cat and a journalist, to survive the outcomes of her investigations.

 

Both DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN are available from independent booksellers like Edgar Award-winning Mystery Loves Company (Kathy Harig), from Amazon as either paperback or Kindle, and on I-book.

 

 

 

 

Van cat Sultana

 

For those who’ve already read the books, meet the real Sultana, above.

 

 

Peggy and camel friend on recent trip to Egypt

Peggy and camel friend on recent trip to Egypt

Peggy Hanson has lived more than twenty years in Yemen, Turkey, India and Indonesia.  An avid mystery fan, she draws on her background as a Peace Corps volunteer and International Broadcaster for the Voice of America to bring the world to her readers through the mystery medium.  She finds it more fun to write fiction than to stick to facts as she had to as a journalist, though she tries to be as accurate as possible.

 

Peggy has published two mysteries in the Elizabeth Darcy series, DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN.  Both take the reader into the intricacies of people in those Islamic countries, with which she is very familiar.  She is working on the next in that series, DEADLINE INDONESIA.

 

She is also beginning a new series featuring MARY MATTHEWS, Victorian American Missionary Sleuth in the Balkans.  That series is based on the diaries and letters of Peggy’s great aunt, who was ultimately sent out of Macedonia–possibly for being an American spy.

 

Peggy lives in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, DC, with her husband Jim and two lively cats. http://peggyhansonauthor.com/