Archive for March, 2009


March 28, 2009

Around fourteen years ago, not long after my first book (DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow) was published, I was hired by the Chamber of Commerce in Gravette, Arkansas, (pop: 1800) to teach a writing class. They were beginning a community school for adults, and I was to be part of that. When the class was completed, my little group of about ten students didn’t want to quit meeting. I suggested we form a writers’ club.

We all lived in the Spavinaw Creek area, so the group acquired the grand name,  “Spavinaw Authors Guild.”  (At that time none of us had heard of THE Authors Guild.) We began meeting one evening a month in the Gravette Public Library.

Over the years membership changed.  Folks moved away or lost interest.  Others came in.  Today, the Spavinaw Authors Guild has eight active members, and a few more inactive who come when they can.  Our meeting format consists of work-in-progress read-alouds while members follow the text on print copies of the manuscript provided by the author.  All jot down notes while the author is reading aloud, then the problems/strengths are discussed by all the group. We now meet at the library every other week from six to eight in the evening.  Our time is always full. We do not chat about families, politics, or anything but WRITING.  Occasionally a member shares information about new publishing opportunities, conferences to attend, and so on.

One of our currently inactive members just had his first book, which was vetted through our group over ten years ago, published.  Yes, submission persistance pays!  We had a big party/book signing for him in the library last Thursday.  (He is still one of us though he had to stop attending when he took a job teaching evening classes .)  Others have been published in magazines or newspapers.  All currently active members are working on novels, though, thus far, only two of us have published books.  (I’m working on my seventh book,  the sixth mystery novel in my “To Die For” series.)

This group has been wonderful for me and, indeed, one of my novels is dedicated to them.  BOY can they find problems I missed, and it’s so much more than “take out or add a comma.”  They make plot suggestions, tell me when a scene or idea doesn’t work, offer ideas for word or dialogue changes.   The day after our meetings, I line up their print copies of my chapter-in-work they critiqued across my desk and go to work on changes.  Do I make every suggested change?  Of course not.  But all of us are so much in tune now that we can critique each other without hurtful comments or any changes to a writer’s unique voice.

Spavinaw Authors Guild is a wonder and a marvel.  Groups like this are jewels without price for any writer.  Look for such a group if you aren’t in one.  If none are in place, form one.

Other helpful groups may be found on line.  As a mystery writer, I am an active member (submitting posts) to:  (Named for Dorothy L. Sayers, premier British mystery author) (Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Chapter)

Now, go and join something!              Radine


Plain ol’ Radine

March 15, 2009

No fancy pictures or other entertainment here. Two reasons: We are still on the most primitive dial-up Internet access out here in the boonies, (no other options…believe me, we’ve investigated) and the whole system clogs up over fancies. The other reason? I use some things about the Internet comfortably, but others bewilder me. Even were I able to post pictures (or receive them easily) it would take me some time to puzzle out how to do it.  Frankly…I’d rather be writing.   But here are a couple of fancier locations for you to enjoy.   I did.  When you see them you’ll understand why.


It was great fun to respond to these interview questions as you might imagine.  The second site has interviews with a lot of very interesting authors, doesn’t it?
Someone asked me recently what my most successful promotional tools and events have been.   That’s an easy question to answer (and I have done it here before in various ways) but here goes with a bit more:
Promotional tool?   Friendship.  With everyone.  Over the years I have been fortunate to enjoy friendship with media people, bookstore owners and managers, and especially other writers.  But the “everyone” part takes in readers as well.  Being sincerely nice to our fellow humans as well as being eager to help them when we can, is absolutely beyond price when comes to enjoying life and–I have discovered–to book selling.
One example?  When any newspaper feature writer has a column I enjoy, I always write and thank the person, telling a bit about why I enjoyed that particular feature or column.  Authors like me can live on a happy high for days after one nice comment about our work.  Journalists are no different.
I’ll talk about successful events next time.

Writers looking for a publisher must, first of all, THINK!

March 2, 2009

Way back in history when–after quite a few years of writing for newspapers and magazines–I came up with an idea for a non-fiction book, being published (or not) was comparatively simple.  You wrote the best book you could, probably finding advice and help from other writers, writing classes, writers’ magazines and “how-to” books, plus–sometimes–free-lance editors along the way.  Then you looked at a current copy of WRITER’S MARKET or another similar list of opportunities,  located agents and/or publishers (most often in New York) who presented work similar to yours,  and began submitting.  (Often getting rejections, submitting again, and submitting… until….)

Wow, has the publishing world changed.  New York biggies are now conglomerates, with home offices in Germany, France, and elsewhere, as well as in the United States.  These biggies manufacture and sell books, yes, but also offer  a whole department store full of entertainment and other services and “things.”  Except in small pockets within the overall firm, bottom line, not a love for books, rules corporate policy.  “BUY ONLY BESTSELLERS” is one long-time biggie rule I have heard quoted and, whenever I hear it, I always think  “Huh?”   In any case, we also hear that the chance of having one’s first book accepted by any of these biggies has decreased exponentially, and authors who have been with NY publishers a long time are being dropped.

But, if nature loves a vacuum, so does the publishing industry, and each year there are more small presses eager to answer the prayers of thousands of busy writers similarly eager to see their work in print (or, increasingly, on line).

So, what’s a writer to do?

Pay attention. Investigate. Ask others. Most of all, THINK.

What, as an author, do you really want?  What will satisfy you, make you happy?  (Be realistic.)  What do you want to publish? A  family history for grandchildren? A how-to book you’ll sell when you give workshops and business advice to groups in your profession?  A novel that will make you rich, and earn you adoring fans around the world?

Whoa! How did that last sneak in?  Replace it with: How about a work of fiction with your name on it as author that you’re going to do your darndest to promote in your own area, as well as (perhaps with the help of your publisher) distant places.

To help you as you think about options, you need to understand the following terms: Agents, E-publishing, small presses. mid-sized presses. P.O.D., subsidy publishers, self-publishing, distribution, promotion.  Know and understand the significance and place of each of these in the publishing business before you leap into the submission process.

As an author, you are running a small business. Don’t go into business with your eyes shut.  There’s lots of help out there, beginning with the before-mentioned magazines and books full of advice for writers.  Join a writers’ group, attend conventions and conferences in your genre, continue THINKING, processing options.  Published authors consider understanding the publishing pond (or, maybe, roiling ocean) important enough that they frequently speak on the topic at meetings and conventions. (Example: At a four part pre-conference workshop at “Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats,” a conference sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, SW Chapter, June 19-20 in Dallas, TX. this year, there will be a workshop on “Everything you wanted to know about publishing but were afraid to ask.” Speakers are L. C. Hayden and Radine Trees Nehring.

What motivates us is a creative urge, a love of words, and ideas that won’t stay hidden.

What allows us to share all that is publishing.  Sure, earning publication can be time-consuming, heart-wrenching, even boring, as each of us pours over options, thinks through pluses and minuses, or waits for replies from agents or publishers.  Is it worth it?  Only you can decide.  So THINK!