BETWEEN all the marketing gurus, social networking mavericks, and the guys who personally know the latest and greatest Hollywood producers for our projects, you’d think all that authors need to do is fork over a little bit of money to make it big time with even bigger returns on our investment. After all, we are told, we are investing in ourselves.

Hint number one: Open a good book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox.

We know we are still on a new journey in the publishing world, but does this make us authors marks?

I sometimes think so. I often know so. They are appealing to our egos and our dreams and our investment of hard work. They are preying upon us.

Like many authors, my inbox is flooded with offers of the magic path toward becoming a best-selling author and having my book land on the big screen.  Sometimes they actually ask me to fill out an application with about five questions. Guess what? I’m a perfect fit for them every time! To the best of my knowledge, not one purveyor of the Golden Goose of Publishing has read any of my books.

Hint number two: Open a good book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox. For sure, do not reply.

The social networking mavericks might be the most annoying group. I succumbed to one, and sent her a large sum of money. Her tricks were all dated. Nothing was current. Also, nothing was earth shattering news. Oh. Because it was old news. Many of these offerings for me to become a best-selling author come with the caveat I must do exactly as they say, and they will always say I did something wrong if I want my money back.

My personal favorite? A person contacted me with an offer I should not refuse. For a sizable fee he could get me in front of scores of Hollywood producers, and I found that fascinating as the event was only held for one evening and I was going to have face-to-face time with all of them. I turned him down but I’m still on his list. Guess what? Now, he is looking for investors for his growing company. He is looking to me to invest in him. That’s a switch. Are you kidding me?

I guess the days of Lana Turner being discovered at the soda fountain counter at Schwab’s are long gone, but I’m pretty sure someone needs to read my writing before they can promise me my dream come true.

Hint number three: Open a GREAT book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox. Do not send money. Not one dime.


OPIODS to HEROIN: The Quickest Long Journey.


TUCSON, AZ: Lala Corriere announces the release of her sixth novel, TRACKS, which explores the opioid and heroin epidemic in the United States and beyond.

The meticulously researched book leads readers through the facts that clearly warn readers that the war on drugs is not working. Corriere chronicles the softening of the marijuana market as its legalization spreads to more and more states. This softening of the market means diminishing profits for the likes of persons such as El Chapo. In its place, poppy fields are flourishing in the Sinaloa Mountains, and the opioid market is hot.

Unscrupulous physicians are over-prescribing opioid-based medications, fueling the market. But when doctors do stop refilling the prescriptions:

  • Patients know there are products on the streets. They need them.
  • They don’t know what is in those products, and they are expensive.
  • Addicts are trying to hide their addictions.
  • They turn to heroin which gives twice the high for half the price.
  • The soccer mom next door particularly likes that she doesn’t have to use a needle anymore. She can now swallow a pill.

In TRACKS, gutsy private investigator Cassidy Clark takes readers through Tucson, Italy and Australia as she pushes to gets the answers she needs. Along the way she gets entagled with the mafia.

Corriere, whose five previous books include the critically acclaimed “Widow’s Row” and “Cover Boys and Curses,” is available for print, internet, radio and television interviews. To arrange one, visit her website,, or email her at





I’m the author of ten novels and hundreds of short stories. I’m honored and grateful to have this career and I have the privilege of being a published writer. But there are things I wish I had done differently. For instance –


My first YA novel was nominated for an Edgar. Published by a small New England press, they worked very hard to promote me. I appeared on television, on radio, I spoke in schools all over the east. I quickly wrote a sequel and thought for sure that I was well on the path to fame and fortune.


Lesson Learned:

The fame was fleeting and the fortune non existent. I didn’t win the Edgar and two days later, my publisher told me that the company had gone bankrupt. (Perhaps they spent too much money promoting me.) While on my writing journey, I have met many helpful, kind people. But in the end, it’s all on you. No one can hold you back and you shouldn’t count on anyone to push you forward.


The market is flooded with so many books, especially cozy mysteries. When I began to post on Facebook, announcing my recent publication with a bright, colorful picture of the cover and a brief description, the response was dismal. I got a few likes from relatives but, after a while, even my sisters didn’t bother to hit the like sign. The problem was everyone was posting, begging readers to “buy me” or in some cases, “download me”. For free.


Lesson Learned:

Kristin Lamb writes an excellent blog for writers and she often says, “Know me, like me, buy me.” There is just too much competition and the chances that someone is going to pick up my book, because they’ve read me before, because they like the description, or the flashy cover, are bleak. But maybe if they are following my blog (which is mostly fashion) or look forward to my tweets (which are mostly inspirational) they just might take a chance and download a sample.



When I wrote my first novel, I spent a lot of time sending out queries to agents, one at a time. I didn’t dare write another letter, (just in case two people were interested at the same time, yeah, right) until I got a response, or until a month went by, and I got the message I was being ignored. After this procedure proved unsuccessful, I queried small publishers and again I waited. For over a year. Finally I found an editor who was interested in my novel. And I waited some more. Until the novel was finally published.


Lesson Learned:

Don’t put all your hopes and dreams on one novel, one agent, one publisher. Don’t wait around while dreaming of that packed book signing. As soon as you submit, get busy, and write something different, something better. That way when you get an e-mail that says no, doesn’t work for us (or no e-mail at all and your heart sinks every time you examine the junk folder, and no, nothing there either) hope will still be on the horizon.


I once decided to self-publish a novel on Amazon. I was lured by stories of unknown and unpublished authors, who wrote books, targeted audiences, made money, and was courted by major publishers offering huge advances. I worked hard on the novel, paid someone to design a vivid cover, found someone to do the formatting, and then I held my breath. The book was a story about purgatory, a kind of a ghost story, appealing to some Catholics. I was surprised when people actually bought it and posted reviews. Readers were impressed by the novel and the plotting, but the book was slammed for lack of editing, which included multiple spelling errors and bad punctuation. And, oh yes, I was an English teacher. I had no choice but to withdraw the book.


Lesson Learned:

You cannot find your own mistakes. So before you send your well crafted novel into the world to fend for itself, consider hiring an editor. If you can’t afford one, at the very least, hire someone proficient in the English language, who will give it a careful read. (I’m very good at finding other people’s mistakes.) No matter how wonderful your novel is, if the reader is constantly distracted by a multitude of typos, the willing suspension of disbelief is shattered. And so are the hopes of the reader finishing your book.


I cannot tell you how many times I have given up on my dream to become a bestselling author, on the New York Times list, and earn enough money to actually buy a Manhattan penthouse. But the odds are clearly not in my favor. According to a survey from AARP, in 2015, 700,000 books were self-published in that year alone, and the chances of your book making it to a bookstore are a dismal 1%. Well, I’m not self-published (not that there is anything wrong with that, except it’s harder) and a few of my books did make it to the shelves of stores. We are all competing for the same small piece of pie and it’s exhausting.


Lesson Learned: I remember what Mark Cuban once said. “The beauty of success, whether it’s finding the girl of your dreams, the right job, or financial success, is that it doesn’t matter how many times you have failed. You only have to be right once.”


Brief Excerpt from Trouble Purse Sued

“Where are you?”

The desperation in Mrs. Hopwood’s voice immediately put Mrs. Johnson on guard. “I’m just leaving the baseball field, after watching the twins play. I have to tell you that they’re the backbone of the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up being professional players.”

“They’re six years old. Listen, you have to do me a favor.”

“What sort of favor?” Mrs. Johnson was wary as she rifled through her handbag for her car keys.

“I need for you to come and pick me up at my Aunt Eunice’s. It’s not far, right on Franklin Street. And if you can, bring the van.”

“That’s not possible.” Mrs. Johnson was irritated by the request because she thought in spite of her protests, she was probably going to get roped into doing the favor. “I’m meeting Peter and the twins at Alfredo’s for pizza. He has the van. I thought Montgomery was picking you up.”

“Well, here’s the thing.” Mrs. Johnson hated it when Mrs. Hopwood said, “here’s the thing” because it always involved a long, complicated, convoluted explanation. “Evidently Aunt Eunice used to have a shop, where she sold used clothing, which, of course, now is vintage clothing. You wouldn’t believe what I found in one of the trucks. The most exquisite dresses and skirts and blouses and jewelry, and five handbags, well, four, because I took one. And Monte, well, he refuses to let me bring the stuff in the house. He actually had the nerve to call me a hoarder.”

“You are a hoarder, Julia.”

Mrs. Hopwood was undeterred. “Whatever.  So I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, you could store the clothing and the bags and the jewelry, in your cellar, in that nice little space you have near your boiler. And then every morning you could bring me an outfit, your choice, and I could change in the teachers’ room and then I could change back at the end of the day and that way Monte would never suspect that I’m wearing the clothes and he couldn’t accuse me of hoarding because I’m not the one who is actually doing the hoarding. Of course, it would be really great if you could text me in the morning to let me know which outfit you choose and, then that way, I could make sure that I bring in the matching accessories.”

For a moment Mrs. Johnson was speechless. When she finally found her voice, she lashed out. “Have you lost your mind?!” She was screaming so loudly that a group of parents (on the losing team who stared at her every time she clapped for her twins) were now glaring at her. She lowered her voice. “You don’t think I have enough to do in the morning, trying to get the boys ready for school, prepping myself to come in to St. Polycarp and deal with a hostile staff, worried about losing my job in the fall, and now my back is killing me -”

“What’s wrong with your back?”

“I’m in horrible pain, probably from lifting the twins. You have asked me to do some insane things, some dangerous things, but this – this!”

“All right, all right, calm down.”

Mrs. Johnson did not liked to be told to calm down when she had every reason to be irate. And where were her darn keys? She hated this handbag.

“No one seems to realize how valuable this merchandise is, especially the jewelry. There are price tags on everything and even in those days, they were high end.”

“Then why don’t you,” Mrs. Johnson had finally located her key ring, stuck to the bottom of her purse, “for once in your life do something for someone else and sell all the clothing and jewelry and donate the profits to St. Polycarp?”

Mrs. Hopwood was silent. Mrs. Johnson suspected she had gone too far.

“That was unkind,” Mrs. Hopwood was clearly hurt.

“I’m sorry. I’m just really overwhelmed. I got to go.”

“No! Don’t hang up. I just got a brilliant idea. Why don’t we have a fashion show? You know the upper school girls think that they’re models already and they would love to strut down the runway wearing Aunt Eunice’s clothes.”

“And how exactly does this hair brain scheme make money for St. Polycarp?”

“We can hold an auction and sell the clothing right off of their backs.” Mrs. Johnson hesitated, which gave Mrs. Hopwood the opportunity to jump right in. “I’ll do all the work. You won’t have to do a single thing, except come and get me and the clothing right now. You have to admit, I might be a little shaky when it comes to the metric system and world geography, but one thing I do know is fashion. And there’s then Sister Grace Maria -”

“Sister Mary Grace”

“When she sees how much money we made and how hard we’re trying, she’s sure to reevaluate her plans for September.”

“Well, maybe” Mrs. Johnson was thinking of all the things which could go wrong.

“You won’t regret it,” Mrs. Hopwood promised.


Author’s bio

Marianna Heusler is an Edgar nominated author of ten novels and hundreds of published short stories.


Her cozy series, taking place at St. Polycarp School, in which two amateur teachers solve murder mysteries, are originally published by Hilliard & Harris. The first three novels were chosen by Harlequin as part of their Worldwide Book Club. The fourth book in the series, Trouble Purse Sued, was just released.


A former elementary teacher at an all girls’ school, Marianna makes her home in New York City with her husband and her son and her little dog, Dolce.


St. Polycarp, the beloved school of Mrs. Hopwood and Mrs. Johnson, is facing closure due to dwindling finances. Determined to turn the situation around, Mrs. Hopwood, decides to host a fashion show, using the vintage clothing and accessories she has recently inherited from her great aunt, Eunice. But unbeknownst to the two teachers, hidden in one of the accessories is a clue to a long ago brutal murder.

Social Media Links

I have blog where I feature fashion that inspires.


I have a website –


On Twitter, I have almost two thousand five hundred followers –

Marianna Heusler@mariannaheusle1


I am on Facebook as Marianna Heusler

On Pinterest where I frequently post to Fashion that Inspires and Book Covers and Writers


On Instagram –


And on Goodreads –

Goodreads Marianna Heusler (Author of Murder at St. Polycarp)


Buy Link

My Writing Process – What Worked and What Didn’t by Laura Elvebak

Much has been written lately about the working process. Outline or write by the seat of your pants. I have tried both in varying degrees.

I’ve been writing all my life. First as a sideline while employed and supporting a family. But in 2006 I decided to get serious and get published. I wrote magazine articles, short stories, several screenplays that never got produced, and a one act play. But my focus narrowed to writing novels.

The timing of 2006 was due to being laid off from an oil and gas exploration company. As a bonus, I would be paid for three months after leaving. It couldn’t have come at more perfect time. Instead of looking for another job, I could finish my novel. I read Stephen King’s On Writing and I was pumped. I said to myself, “Self, if Stephen King can write ten pages a day, you can, too.” 10 pages a day for 90 days equals 900 pages, or, in other words, a book.

Being used to writing screenplays at the time, I set up a storyboard on my easel. The set up used the first fifteen pages. Plot points followed, the climax, the all-is-lost point, and the dénouement were all meticulously planned out. By the end of two-and-a-half months, I finished with 500 pages of manuscript. Just in time to go to the Austin Film Festival and sell my idea for the book and/or screenplay.

Such are the stuff of dreams. Not real life.

The book was raw and I knew it. I got invited to join a critique group that wrote only mysteries. I was a member of Mystery Writers of America, and mysteries were all I read and what I wrote. The group was talented and their critique honest and brutal. I listened. Two years later I had re-written the book twice, cut the pages from 500 to 280, and found a publisher. The book was Less Dead, the first Niki Alexander mystery.

I still belong to that critique group and another one, and attend both religiously every week. They give me incentive and a deadline. They give great feedback, and sometimes they offer plot ideas I hadn’t thought of before. Another thing, I always edit my pages before continuing.

Lost Witness followed in 2009. In 2012, the rights of Less Dead and Lost Witness reverted to me and I reissued both as e-books, print, and audio. In January 2017, I signed with Black Opal Books and the third Niki Alexander mystery, A Matter of Revenge, came out in paper and e-book format. A standalone, The Flawed Dance, came out in 2016. The first of a new series, The Past Never Dies, will be out in early 2018.

What is my process now? First I write bios for each character. What are their goals? What’s stopping them? What do they believe in enough to fight for? I write a brief synopsis. Then I start writing.
At page 50 or thereabouts, I’m usually at a standstill. My characters have taken left turns I didn’t expect. So now I outline, chapter by chapter, what I’ve written so far. Then I continue writing. I’m outlining backwards. I write ahead, then put it in the outline. That way I keep track of the plot and characters, and keep my creative juices flowing.

Everyone writes differently. There is no right way or wrong way. It’s whatever works for you. My way is a mix, but so far it’s working for me.

Laura studied writing at UCLA, USC, Rice University, and Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. After taking a directing class in Houston, she co-wrote, directed and acted in a one-act play. She optioned three screenplays to a local production company, and co-wrote a script for the 48 Hour Film Project.

She is the author of the Niki Alexander mysteries, Less Dead, Lost Witness and A Matter of Revenge. Niki Alexander is an ex-cop turned counselor for a teen shelter. Her standalone, The Flawed Dance, takes place in Philadelphia in the late sixties, about a young woman fleeing from an abusive lover and hides in the demimonde world of go-go bars and mobsters. Laura is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters-In-Crime, The International Thriller Writers, and The Final Twist Writers and has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Good Reads, and Amazon Author Central.

Website URL:                    

Blog URL:               

Facebook URL:                  

Twitter:                    @lauraelvebak


Skype:                                        laura.elvebak53


A Matter of Revenge buy links:

Dancing through the pages by Jamie Cortland

Dancing through my pages is a natural for me. When I’m working   on a novel or meeting a deadline, I may lose track of time and miss lunch or dinner. At some point, you must take a break. It’s not good for you to sit so long. Get up from the chair you’ve become glued to, turn on the music and dance.


It could save you from a heart attack or a stroke. You need the exercise. You might be surprised how well dancing and writing blend. There are plots upon plots to be found on the dance floor. Characters to build a novel upon abound, not only for a romance novel, but also for a mystery. Jealously is       seething. Students often fall in love with their instructors and are terribly jealous   of the other students. Competition is at its highest, especially when in training for a competition. A ballroom dance floor is the perfect setting for a budding romance to form or a murder plot to hatch. If you think you have writer’s block, I guarantee when you leave the studio, it will disappear.


Other than both dancing and writing are creative endeavors, there are similarities between the two.  Both require a flow, a rhythm and balance.   My mother was a dancer as well as a gifted artist, my grandfather, a musician who not only sang, but also played many different instruments. Exposed to the creative arts at a very young age, I have always loved dancing, drawing, and telling stories. So, why not combine all of them? Once I decided I could do that, I signed up at a well known dance studio for a dance class, expecting to learn enough to begin a novel in which the heroine was a dancer. Five weeks of lessons soon turned into five years of lessons and dance competitions, national and international.


A year or so later, “Dying to Dance” a romantic suspense, was born. Currently, its sequel, “A Sharp Turn in Destiny,” a romantic suspense as well is taking shape. Did I mention, I also signed up for additional ballroom dance lessons? I can’t tell you the murder’s occupation, but I can tell you that the heroine is a dance instructor.


If you have a little time, need some exercise, or would like to lose weight dancing is a perfect activity to become involved in. For those of you who have just moved into a new town, it’s a great way to meet people.


If you think this sounds like fun, sign up for a few lessons.  The first thing you need is a pair of dance shoes for the type of dance you plan to take. If you take ballroom as I do, you may choose smooth or rhythm or both. I wanted to learn both as well as Flamingo dancing. Now, I have my favorites which, are the tango, the rumba, and the waltz. I could build a novel around each of them.


As far as what to wear, in the beginning, just a skirt and blouse or a pair of pants and shirt is fine. Later, you can purchase a full dance wardrobe if you like. So, call a dance studio tomorrow, make an appointment and get started on your adventure.

Weslynn McCallister, pseudonym, Jamie Cortland was born in Evansville, Indiana and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. Today, she lives in the southwest.


A published novelist and an award winning poet, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and is a founding member of the Florida Writers Association.


Website URL: Weslynn McCallister, Author

Facebook URL: https//

Twitter: Weslynn McCallister@twitter

LinkedIn: Weslynn McCallister, Author


Buy links:

What Lies Within

Dying to Dance


On Becoming a Hybrid by Albert Bell

My wife drives a Toyota hybrid. I understand that the term (hybrid, not Toyota) is now being applied to certain authors, and I’m one. A hybrid author, I’m told, is someone who has been published in various ways. I have been published by traditional, royalty-paying publishers (both small and large), and now I’ve taken advantage of technology to publish an e-book and a couple of books that are available as e-books and paperbacks.


For much of my publishing career I looked down my nose at self-publishing. When I began getting published in the late 1980s there were a couple of vanity presses who, at considerable cost, would print copies of your book which you could then pile up in your garage. I didn’t want to go that route and was fortunate enough to find a small press to publish my first novel.


Everything I read in the writers’ magazines told me I was on the right track. I had published stories and articles in some national magazines. Now a novel. Then a non-fiction book with Thomas Nelson (now Harper Collins). I was sure I was working my way up. In 1999 I got an agent in New York. She had recently opened her shop. After two years, she closed it. I got an email from her saying, “The publishing world has gone crazy.”


Around the turn of the century things were changing, with the arrival of outfits like iUniverse. Now, the promise was, authors could eliminate agents, publishers, and all the rest of that New York apparatus. “Publish” your book in a new way. There was no need for a garage full of over-priced hard cover books. Your book would exist as an electronic file until someone ordered it. There would be kiosks in Barnes & Noble stores (which owned iUniverse). Order your book, get a cup of coffee, and by the time you were finished, the book would be printed.  Frustrated by my lack of success, I did put out a couple of books that way.


Two years later I hooked up with a traditional small press and we began publishing a series of mystery novels set in ancient Rome. Library Journal said the second one, The Blood of Caesar, was one of the 5 Best Mysteries of 2008, “a masterpiece of the historical mystery genre.” I figured I would get a call at any time from a big New York publisher wanting to pick up the series.


But it didn’t happen. And then my publisher, Ingalls Publishing Group, decided to focus on Southeastern books, and my Roman mystery series didn’t fit, so we parted company. Within 24 hours, thanks to the internet, I had found a new publisher, Perseverance Press. They have published the last three Pliny books and I’m working on the next one, the seventh in the series. Meanwhile the owner of Ingalls died and the press closed down.


I’m at a stage of my life when I know I’m never going to get an agent or have a book published by a major house. The experience of another fellow in my writers’ group has taught me a lesson. An excellent writer, he got an agent and had four books published by St. Martin’s—my dream for years. But sales of the last two books were slow. St. Martin’s dropped him and his agent kicked him to the curb. He now has another agent, but one reason he can’t find another publisher, she says, is the poor sales on his last two books. Potential publishers of his current projects are well aware of those sales. He has resorted to an online site to keep his books available.


By now I’ve given up on trying to get an agent. At my age, if I got one and if he/she was able to sell any of my projects to a publisher, it would all take a couple of years. I’ve got my bucket list—several books that I want to get published. The small presses I’ve worked with publish only four or five books a year and they have plenty of authors to fill those slots.


So I’ve become a hybrid author. With the help of a tech-savvy friend, I’ve put my backlist up on CreateSpace, along with two new books: Murder My Love, a romantic mystery set in Italy, and Death by Armoire, a cozy set in an antique shop in South Carolina. They won’t make me any money. They’re just two more books among the 3,000,000 or so published every year. But they’re out there, and I take enormous pleasure in that fact alone.

Promotion from here by Randy Rawls

       P.J. suggested I write about how I approach promotion of my books. Oh, boy, she couldn’t have picked a worse person. Therein lies my Achilles heel, no doubt about it. Thanks to her, I do have an opportunity to promote JUSTICE SECURED, my recently released Josh Hawkins book, which I’ll get to in a moment. But, the truth is I’m envious of the authors I see posting, blogging, tweeting, and who-all knows what in such effective manners. It seems they have mastered a monster that I dare not approach. So, promotion is probably not the subject I should be writing about.

However, from my side of the fence, I can sound off about the lack of promotion. JUSTICE SECURED is my thirteenth novel, and I don’t claim to be a best-selling author. Why? My ego and the reviews I receive refuse to let me think it’s because I’m a lousy writer. Quite the contrary. I’ve received enough accolades to make me think I put together a pretty good story, well written. So, why am I floundering near the bottom of the “reader’s pool.” The answer is so simple, I cringe when I think of it. Lack of promotion. If I had the perseverance and whatever else it takes to push myself and my books into the face of every prospective reader, I’d sell more books. But, you know what? I can’t do it. I’m simply not built that way. I value the opportunities I am given, but just can’t force myself to do the “carnival barker” bit. So, here’s a thanks to P.J. for allowing me to write these words and an apology to same for not being able to do a better job of it.

The second subject that P.J. suggested is how I’ve changed my approach to writing since I began. I’m changing that a wee bit to how the industry has changed. When I began about 25 years ago, an author could submit direct to a major publisher in NY—over the transom, it was called. Agents were few and far between. Today, one cannot get near a NY publisher without an agent fronting him. Agents have become the power that stands between the author and a major contract. And, even though there has been a proliferation of agents, there has not been a proliferation of opportunities. We are at the mercy of agents who are looking for the new million-seller, while nursing their current stable of writers. The agent that can land that next NY Times number one is basically set for life. Mind you, I am not complaining, I am simply stating that’s how I see it. And, as much as I’d like to resent it, I cannot blame an agent for bashing our dreams as they pursue their own.

And, finally, before I lose all of you, a bit about JUSTICE SECURED. It’s a standalone (or first book in a series) featuring Josh Hawkins, a South Florida PI and ex-Army Special Forces officer. He is recruited by a Federal task force to bring down an “invisible” crime lord that the authorities cannot touch. His tasking is simple: make the man disappear in such a way his body is never found. This brings Josh into conflict with his conscience which berates him for being an “assassin-for-hire” versus the loyal American law-abiding citizen he believes himself to be. However, he must split his concentration between the “offer” and a case his fiancée, an assistant state attorney, is prosecuting against a wife-killer. Josh vows the accused will pay for his crime no matter what the jury decides, but his decision must be kept from the woman he loves. It’s a long, crooked path Josh must track before he discovers the truth about himself—and what kind of man he truly is.

Justice Secured via Amazon