Archive for April, 2009

Why do we blog, tweet, etc.?

April 27, 2009

If you are blogging, tweeting, meeting Facebook friends, etc. what are these forms of communication replacing in your life? Anything ?  In a finite day, where do they fit in?   I really do want to know about this.

After admitting I can’t manage any of these or similar connections easily because of our antique phone lines and access only to dial-up and I can’t hook up with some of them at all, I want to know how people feel about communicating in this manner.  How much am I missing?  (Truly…and you don’t have to sign your names. Make a nom up if need be.)

I am assuming readers stopping by here are mature, therefore many aren’t used to having ear pieces for hearing (I don’t mean deaf aids) and don’t have thumbs flying to text instead of speak.

I have books and other writing to promote or I probably wouldn’t care all that much whether you or I are Facebook Friends or display our wildly absorbing book trailers across computer screens.  However!!!  From what I read on lists for writers that I participate in, these communication methods are major ways to promote one’s work today. Probably so, but technology is rushing in so rapidly that I think all of us are still assessing the benefits of one activity when the next comes along and folks rush to adopt it instead. (I hope INSTEAD, in most cases, or the participant in one-too-many is likely to blow apart with all the activity.)

On my favorite lists I often read questions from an author like this:  “How many book sales have resulted from your…(fill in the blank), blog, tweets, book trailer, and so on ?”  No one seems to have a quantitative answer.

Perhaps more important, how do YOU balance the value of quiet contemplation against all this rushing to type into the next technology?   Is it worth it?  Is there too much chatter?

Are these answerable questions?

Let me know,  Radine


Let’s go to a convention….

April 15, 2009

There’s more fun to reading for fun than just the reading part.  (Did a professional writer really create that sentence?)

Book discussion groups, book reviewing, writers’ clubs, conventions….

Conventions.  I know they happen in most genres, as well as for poets, and for literary writers covering all areas of life.  There is at least one convention in New York specifically for women writers (and probably some for men).

I write in the mystery genre and there are dozens of fan/author conventions available to us around the United States each year. A few are huge, drawing thousands of people and offering a bewildering array of author panels, talks, and other writing-related events  for attendees to enjoy over several days. (Bouchercon, Malice Domestic.)  Most are smaller, expecting attendance ranging from a hundred or so to, maybe, five hundred. These are scattered all over the USA and most of the guests will be from a nearby area of the country.

Example?  Mayhem in the Midlands, held in Omaha, Nebraska each May.  Ever been to Omaha?  If not, you have a treat in store. It’s one of the most delightful cities my husband and I have ever visited.  The convention itself is held in an Embassy Suites hotel located in the heart of the city’s restored historic district. Brick streets lead tourists into fascinating shops with merchandise you aren’t likely to see anywhere else. (Much of it hand-fashioned in Nebraska.) My favorite is a shop carrying hand-made hats. There is a huge selection of restaurants for the hungry, and lots of entertainment otherwise. While at the convention, all of this is within easy walking distance. No struggle for parking.

A short ride will take you to a world-famous art museum, a superior zoo, and other attractions to fit individual interests.

Mayhem in the Midlands opens with a cocktail party and complimentary buffet on Thursday evening, May 21.  Make new friends and meet old ones.  There’s plenty of time to sit and chat, usually about the favorite topic– mystery writing.

The convention itself begins Friday morning with panels covering several topics. At 9:00 I’m moderating a panel titled “Not just a royalty check: What you need to know about being published.”  I’m also taking part as a panelist in “What difference does age make? Senior v. younger sleuths,” (Friday at 1:30), and “Causes and Casualties: Issue-driven fiction” at 10:00 on Saturday.

My husband John (who, thus far, has published only non-fiction) is also a panelist on “Marriage is a mystery: Meet the spouses” at 9:00 Saturday.

There are numerous special events as well, including a mystery dinner on Saturday night (actors chosen from conference attendees) and a fabulous Sisters in Crime breakfast buffet (included in registration) on Sunday, featuring Dana Stabenow and Jan Burke, both top-selling mystery authors.

What’s not to like?  Read the list of authors and all about the convention itself at

See you there?           Radine

Welcome back, Dan Krotz, from Books at Sow’s Ear

April 4, 2009

“The Ubiquitous Pig” is Dan Krotz’s witty and sometimes outrageous newsletter from “The bookstore at  Sow’s Ear. ” Anyone who helps wife Susan name an antiques shop “Sow’s Ear” has to be a wit, and then he compounds the wit (and some degree of nerve)  by adding “And Books.”  So, here’s  news from a very literary Dan Krotz at The Sow’s Ear.   ENJOY!

The Uses of Poetry

By Dan Krotz

When I was 19 years old I went to England. I arrived at Heathrow with $11 American in my pocket and great expectations. Obviously, I needed to find a girlfriend with money. As a recent graduate of the Richard M. Nixon School of Charm I was confident of abilities to do so, yet sadly, both amatory and monetary ambitions went unrealized. Imagine that.

I solved my insolvency in a time honored fashion; I became a beggar. I found a shady spot at Piccadilly Circus and propped a small sign against my upturned hat that said ‘American Poems upon Request.’

“…ere, ow ‘bout that Indian Gitchie Gume? By that whanker, Longfellow?” Ah yes, the whanker Longfellow.

‘By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

By the Big Sea Shining Waters

Stood the Wigwam of Nokomis

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis…’

“I like that Benet guy, I do. Whatcha’ got?”

Jesse James was a two-gun man,

(Roll on Missouri!)

Strong-arm Chief of an outlaw clan.

(Roll on Missouri!)

By dinner time I’d made 4 Pounds 10 Shillings and was well on my way to the price of a room. I’d probably still be buskering for pence had not a large hearted girl in a small Mary Quant mini taken pity on me and given me a job playing the tambourine in her jug band. As I recall, it was Frost’s ‘Two Tramps in Mud Time’ that won her heart. PS, I had no idea how to play the tambourine (and still don’t).

Fifty years later I continue to find poetry useful. One of the poems I read often is David Zimmerman’s ‘Nautilus:’

A strong man comes to love

Towards the end of time

And brings with him the power of his age,

Each tender feeling amplified

Through all the chambers of the years,

The ardor of an ancient, well-worn heart.

The usefulness of this poem is that it reminds me that the old person my wife is married to—yes, the one with hair spouting out of unfortunate and misaligned locations—can still remember what it felt like to be 19 years old, and in England.

I also like Ann Carter’s ‘Since I Swore off Romance,’ for obvious reasons:

Since I swore off romance, the full moon’s rise

Is tonight’s big event, a celestial floor show

Where a Mae West moon shoulders out in

Barely decent orange, and then lets those clothes

Drop for the snow-white skin she’s in.
I’ve gotten Ann’s poem a bit wrong (your handwriting is illegible, darlin’), but the idea of Mae West as Moon is absolutely hot and bothered, stunning and right, and I can hardly wait for this October’s late night burlesque.

Every time I check into a hotel, I think of Auden’s very funny book, Academic Graffiti:

John Milton

Never checked into a Hilton


Which was just as well.

About the only thing poetry isn’t useful for is selling. I’ve got yards of the stuff lying around and I’m confident that it will be lying around years from now, a bit like the Unknown Soldier—much honored but, well, unknown. I don’t care. It makes me happy. 
Book Night: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Grandview Hotel
April 16th, 2009
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Moderated by Eddie Keever and John Turner
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Sow’s Ear
April 23rd, 2009