Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kristen Lamb's blogpost on FINDING YOUR VOICE

Hi folks,

I have the honor of having my craft book, FINDING YOUR VOICE, featured on Kristen Lamb's blog. If you get a chance, drop over and pay her a visit.


Blue skies,

Noir at the Bar and other stuff!

Hi folks,

I’m counting the minutes! On Friday morning, my wife Mary and I are hitting the road on our way to St. Louis where I’ll be reading from my new novel THE BITCH at the famed “Noir at the Bar.” This is a seminal event in my career—getting asked to read here is the pinnacle for noir writers in the U.S. It’s hallowed ground. I cannot begin to list the luminaries who’ve appeared here and my hands are sweating already in nervous anticipation.

Jed Ayres, who hosts the readings along with superstar Scott Phillips, has been in contact with me and every time his email pops up, there’s some more good news. Yesterday, he emailed me that there’s a possibility that two of my heroes may make the trip to the reading. Frank Bill, the author of the brilliant CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA and one of my favorite singers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, who sings real songs about real people—the kind of people I call my “homies.” Here’s a link to one of my favorite Ray Hubbard tunes, SNAKE FARM.

Here are a couple of links where our appearance is announced:

My publisher of THE BITCH, Cort McMeel (Bare Knuckles Press), is the guy who arranged for me to read. He’s also reading from his terrific novel, SHORT. With us on the podium (or whatever they have… standing on the bar?) will be David James Keaton (ZOMBIE BED & BREAKFAST) and standup-comic/shortstory hack/comic book writer-illustrator Erick Lundy.

And then… some serious drinking, I think…

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all you wonderful, generous people who’ve purchased the ebook version of FINDING YOUR VOICE. This is a book I’m very proud of and which did very well for Writer’s Digest Books for several years, and which is experiencing a rebirth as an ebook. And, for the first time with any of my books, I’m earning a decent royalty on it. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet and have an extra $4.99 lying around or in the couch cushions and want one, just go to:

And finally, there are just a couple-three days left to vote for THE BITCH for Best Novel in the Legends category in the Spinetingler Magazine awards. I can use every single one of your votes! To vote, just go to:
and scroll down to my category (Legends) and click on your vote for THE BITCH. Once you’ve voted, just scroll down to the bottom and enter your vote as per the directions. And… THANK YOU!

If you want to buy a copy, please go to:

Please click on the “Like” button if you don’t mind. I’m told that helps sales. (Same with any of my books.)

A couple of days ago, I was interviewed by Brian Davis on his radioblog show featuring the LoBianca/Sharon Tate murders by Charles Manson’s followers, about my “friendship” with ol’ Charlie. Here is a direct link to the full podcast. You can "right click" and "save as" on your PC :

Lots of good things happening in my life, but today we got some bad news. My 22-year-old son Mike has been suffering from excruciating back pain for a week and just went into the ortho today and got an MRI. Turns out he has a pinched nerve and a severely ruptured disk—may have to undergo surgery. His mom and I are worried and could use your good thoughts and prayers. He’s too frickin’ young to have back problems like this.

Finally, for my writer friends, here’s something to think on. A person busier than you… is out there… writing…

Blue skies,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

FINDING YOUR VOICE available as an ebook!


Hi folks,

I’m extremely proud to announce the release of my first self-published book, FINDING YOUR VOICE: How to Put Personality in Your Writing. It’s up and available for sale on Amazon, Smashwords and other ebook outlets.

It’s not exactly a self-published book. It came out in hardcover and paperback in 2003 from Writer’s Digest Books and eventually sold out. My agent, Chip Macgregor, requested the ebook rights from them and they graciously granted them and the result is the ebook is now available.

We priced it at what we felt was a fair price--$4.99—which is half the price of the paperback version.

We also changed the cover. I’d never liked the cover Writer’s Digest had provided and I saw this as an opportunity to come up with one I did like. I loved the cover they’d done on my second book for them—Hooked—and wanted to come up with something that would tie into that look. My nephew, Bo Goff—a very talented artist—came up with exactly what I wanted. The same blue background in Hooked and instead of the goldfish, he used a parrot. Get it? Hooked=fish; Voice=parrot. And, we needed to create a new press for this so I came up with… ready?... you guessed it. Blue Skies Books.

I’m very proud of this book. It was my first writer’s how-to craft book and I saw it as a response to what I perceived as the single biggest obstacle to a writer getting published—not writing in their particular, original, unique voice. As an editor myself, I knew that to be the case. For more times than I could count, I read cover letters from writers that immediately triggered my “this guy/gal can write!” antenna, only to begin reading the manuscript itself, which seemed to be written by an entirely different author. An entirely different boring writer. They’d departed from that really cool voice that was their own in their letters to this… writerly person trying to impress.

And it didn’t.

What follows is from the introduction and lays out clearly how I came to write this book and why.

I've written all my life (in my case, that began just about the same time as dinosaurs were put on the “endangered list”) and have also been privileged to teach several hundred writers of all levels and abilities as an online teacher of creative fiction writing in the famed UCLA Extension Writer's Program and these days for other venues. Even though I'd enjoyed success myself as a writer and teacher, I was much like most of my students—searching for a “secret” that would guarantee for my work the light of publication. I hunted along all the canyons and woodlands wherein such a secret might lie ... workshops, writing magazines, “how-to” books, queries to published authors I met… and so on. Even though I'd been published, I was still convinced that others met success without as much blood and sweat as I had. There just had to be some kind of “secret” Tim O'Brien and Kurt Vonnegut and Barbara Kingsolver weren't sharing—were holding close to the vest, so to speak.
Well, there was.
I discovered that secret in the most unlikely of places. In the Indiana state prison at Pendleton.
In my wild and tempestuous youth, I had gone afoul of the law and ended up serving time in that institution. I'd come home from four years in the Navy, the last two spent in Bermuda, and just kind of went crazy “back home in Indiana.” I fell in with some other guys who were very pleased to let me go insane right along with them and ended up committing a bunch of burglaries and robberies and getting my very own personalized number on my blue denim state-issued shirt. They say you remember your social security number all your life, as well as your military number. Along with those numbers, I find it hard to forget an additional series of digits . . . #49028. That was my “personality” for the next couple of years.
Decades later, having straightened up my own mess of an existence, I felt I owed something of a debt to the guys I'd left behind and so, a few years ago, I began to pay visits to the inmates downstate. I'd offer up my own life as proof that anyone can overcome the label of ex-con and go on to contribute to society rather than simply take from it.
What began to happen was that after many of those visits, an inmate would write me a lengthy letter, telling me that he, too, had ambitions to become a writer and could I advise him on how to go about learning the craft. These letters would also go into great detail about how the unlucky incarcerate had personally been “bum-rapped on the litigous” (a term I coined in one of my short stories titled “Dream Flyer”, available in my collection titled Monday's Meal). The letters would tell marvelously-inventive stories of how society had dumped on the inmate and how it wasn't his fault that he found himself in a six-by-eight-foot cell, painted an unfashionable gray. A con job, but what good writing isn't?
The thing was, these stories had all the elements of great fiction. They were rollicking, exhilarating tales of car chases, lawyerly ineptitude, shootouts, and judges they were convinced had been “fixed” or just politically motivated to be perceived by the voting public as “crime-fighters.” I might also add that many of the letters were rife with misspellings, along with grammatical and punctuation errors, but through all the slag and dross that might cause an English teacher to cringe, shone the unmistakable luster of literary gold. These guys were writers! I wrote each of them back, asking them to create for me a short story and we'd go from there.
I felt like a budding Maxwell Perkins. I was “discovering” writers and would have a major hand in shaping their craft. At least one of these guys was going to emerge a major American author, when I was done. Eat your heart out, Normie Mailer—my cons were more better than yours ever were, dude…
Not so. The stories I invariably got back could never possibly be matched to the authors of those original letters. In every single case, the author had opted to become ”writerly.” I could imagine the earnest tyro sitting on his bunk, hunched over a yellow legal pad, scribbling with a blue-capped Bic… with a Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Random House Thesaurus open beside him. Plus a copy of a coverless Zane Grey glommed from the prison library's priceless collection. Instead of the stories so passionately expressed in their letters, I was given tales of rustlers in the Wild West and Sam Spade retreads in Los Angeles and ”Noo” York City… written in a hand unmistakable as an imitation of the original…
The same thing happened when I began teaching for UCLA in the nineties. I'd get these great letters at the beginning of the class in response to the bios I asked for from my students… and then the stories that began to emerge utilized an entirely different voice.
It dawned on me what had happened. Faced with writing something an “authority” (that would be moi…) would actually be reading (and judging), they had fled from their own natural, wondrous voices and succumbed to what I started to recognize as the “writer's inferiority complex.” An inferiority complex I began to see everywhere in beginning writers and even in some fairly-seasoned pros.
As time went on and I began to teach more, I saw the malaise among beginning writers everywhere. Universally, it manifests itself in definite patterns.
The writers afflicted with this most wretched of all writer's maladies almost always “hold themselves back” from their best writing (read: natural voice) because they approach their craft with overmuch respect for the published word and/or to satisfy the critical voices they hear in their heads from all the writing teachers or mentors they've had, and end up trying to create prose they feel is in what they see to be a “writerly” style.
Instead of the very likable voice that is unique to each of them, they try to be a William Faulkner or a Sandra Cisneros clone, or, in the case of many of my inmate friends, a Zane Grey-ite, as well as for all those writing “authorities” sprinkled in their pasts, and in the process do much good for their mail carriers' end-of-year bonuses, keep the paper mill industry profitable and amass a significant collection of editor's rejection slips, but do little for their own careers.
Some of these folks do get published, but many times only because they've learned how to be technically perfect. The piece of writing accepted didn't hit any of the editor's “hot” buttons, those buttons that allow them to get through that humongous pile of manuscripts staring at them from across the desk. The buttons I'm referring to are the “don't's” of writing, i.e., improper format, misspellings, grammatical mistakes, etc.
Editors are busy folks and to get through the mass of manuscripts most use an internal checklist of “mistakes” to automatically reject a manuscript. If a story or an article makes it through that minefield, it sometimes gets published simply because it didn't hit any of those buttons or “mines.” As an editor of The Crescent Review, I would see stories like that being accepted every now and then. Sometimes, I wish we'd published the writers' cover letters instead, since those were in their natural voices and much more interesting reading.
About that “natural voice…” The theory I've arrived at through these observations is that readers select certain authors to read in much the same way as they select their personal friends: on the basis of the “voice” (personality) of that person. All human beings in the world have a circle of people who like them and want to be around them… and they also have folks who don't like them all that much. The same is true of an author's readership. They are the “friends” he or she will accumulate. Contrary to what many think, I don't believe readers are attracted nearly so much to plots and characters as much as they are to the personality of the person regaling them on the page. The same holds true for nonfìction—a reader may initially be attracted because of the subject or to the basic “facts” revealed, but unless the author provides a personality to the material, many won't stick around till the end or will only read it because they’re forced to by a boss or a teacher.
Which doesn't mean that every single person who picks up your article or story will be fascinated and mesmerized to the very last word, but lots more will than if you don't make the story or piece unmistakably yours and yours alone.
Although some won't…
That's not bad, folks. Just as in “real life” you don't honestly expect everyone to like you or want to join your “gang,” neither should you expect everyone who picks up your story or article or novel to feel a rapport with you. That's just not reasonable to expect. Don't worry about it whatsoever. You'll pick up lots more friends (readers) by being yourself than you will be by writing in a beige voice. Lots and lots more!
What is reasonable for you to expect is that no matter how idiosyncratic or “different” your own, particular voice may be, there will be a number of readers who will lìkc it. Who will be drawn to the personality on the page.
It's usually a mistake in any business to try to be “something to everyone,” and that's kind of what writing in a neutral or colorless voice is kind of doing. Trying not to offend by being so bland that the readers' emotions are left untouched.
I think that's a mistake. By being yourself on the page, you'll more than likely attract more readers because of your individuality than you would by hiding your personality behind a neutral style. Consider the departed Howard Cosell. He got it right when he said he didn't care if viewers hated him or loved him… just so long as they watched him. In fact, for those of you too young to remember Howard or those of you who couldn't care a fig less about sports, there were vast legions of people who actively hated the man and his nasal voice and belligerent projection of superior attitude. Cosell-haters probably made up half his audience! He actively cultivated those folks and they helped pay his salary by tuning in and increasing his Nielsen numbers to be much, much higher than those numbers would have been if he'd been a more neutral and unbiased observer and commentator. Providing commentary in a “beige” voice, so-to-speak…
Do you suppose everyone in America loves John Grisham's voice? Or Stephen King's voice? These are authors who are megasellers as we all know… and yet, there are lots and lots of readers who wouldn't dream of picking up their books. Think that bothers Grisham or King? Not on your life! They're very much aware that you can't be all things to all people. By developing their own personalities in their writing, they don't attract every single reader there is ... but, boy, do they attract a lot of others!
And you will, too.
Much of this writing thing is in the delivery. Professional comics realize this. They know all too well that two comedians can tell the same joke and one will get belly laughs and the other mute stares. Think about your own experience. Remember in the third grade when Joey Dultoid told a joke and everyone just stared at him and an hour later, in the lunchroom, Anna-Banana Smith told the very same joke... and had the gang hooting until they cried? Different personalities at work…
Even though Joey bombed with one audience, however, chances are he was a hit with his own circle of friends, a different audience with different sensibilities. Kind of like authors and their readerships. Anna-Banana may be the Stephen King of the lunchroom and may enjoy a large and appreciative audience because she just happens to have the kind of personality that appeals to more people, but Joey also probably has an audience, albeit smaller. If Joey tried to imitate Anna-Banana's style of delivery, chances are not only would he fail to gain any fans in that group, he'd also lose his own audience, albeit smaller. Even if the number of people who enjoy his jokes is smaller, it's still an audience, one that would probably disappear if he tried to be something he wasn't.
Kind of the same deal in writing.
Employ your own personality and, to steal a popular saying that came from the movie, Field of Dreams, “they will come.” Be someone else on the page… and they won't.
This is where I think many books on writing leave a hole in the advice given. Granted, it's vitally important to know the nuts and bolts of writing, but more importantly and universally neglected, is the tremendous role your personality plays when you arrange words and sentences. How you tell a story is at least as important as the content of that story and I contend it's quite possibly even more vital. The most important concept we can grasp as writers is sublime in its simplicity—to be yourself on the page\
And this is what the book you hold in your hands will concern itself with. Not only the critical importance of being yourself on the page instead of trying to emulate someone else or writing in a neutral voice, but also to offer up some concrete methods by which you can accomplish this goal.
To discover that your own voice is desirable is incredibly liberating and empowering. It will bring out some of the best work you've ever done. Writing that has a much higher possibility of being published.
In my own experience, ever since I've discovered this and incorporated my theories in my teaching, my students' efforts, without exception, have improved exponentially and perhaps even more important, the percentage of those getting their work published has risen dramatically. In my files, I have dozens of letters attesting to that from students who tell me my classes are head and shoulders above every other class they've ever taken and chiefly because I forever challenge them to find their own, unique voice. Now it's time to find yours.

And that’s what Finding Your Voice is all about. Hope you pick up your own copy! If you like what you read, please consider posting a review and hitting the “Like” button. I’d appreciate it!

Blue skies,

P.S. Hope y'all all got a free copy of THE PERFECT CRIME when it was available as such. Looks like the promo worked well--it's selling like hotcakes now. Also, if you haven't yet voted, I could really use your vote in the Spinetingler Magazine's awards for Best Novel in the Legends category for THE BITCH. Thanks!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Hi folks,

I thought you might be interested in a recent exchange I had with author Richard Godwin. Richard is interviewing me for his blog feature “Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse.” It’s a fantastic feature, where he interviews authors and asks the most fascinating and “deepest” questions I’ve ever been asked by any interviewer. Richard is interviewing me at the suggestion of noir master, Paul D. Brazill, a mutual friend.

Here's the link to his blog and his interviews.

Richard conducts his interviews by posing one question at a time. Once you respond to that question, he sends you another. It’s an exhausting process but when we’re done, it’ll be the most comprehensive interview I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. I’ll be sure to let you know when it appears.

I had just sent him my reply to his second question and he sent me the third. When he emailed me, he asked me the question below and I thought you might be interested in the answer, since it’s about an old acquaintance, Charlie Manson, and I know there are people out there who are interested in Manson. (This isn’t the interview question—it’s just a personal question he asked in response to Paul Brazill’s suggestion that he do so as he knew the story and thought Richard might be interested.)

Be advised there are a few instances of strong language.

Here’s Richard Godwin’s question and my reply:

Paul (D. Brazill) suggested I ask you about Manson. I do not mean to put you on the spot, this is not part of the interview. My first novel Apostle Rising was mentioned by a few reviewers in the context of the Manson killings, as this review shows
All the best
Richard (Godwin).

Hi Richard,

Well, Charlie and I have a bit of a history.

About ten years ago or so, a professor at the University of Toledo—Dr. Russell Riesling--was writing a book about the drug experiences of famous people during their youth. He had folks like Big Brother of Big Brother and the Holding Company and some other folks. For some weird reason, he had a chapter on me. I’d done drugs but definitely wasn’t famous!

Anyway, Russ interviewed me for his book (which hasn’t been published yet, alas), and we became friends. I sent him a copy of my story collection, Monday’s Meal. About two weeks after I sent it, I got a phone call from him. Seems he’d been out to Corcoran Prison to visit with and interview Charles Manson (who also had a chapter), and during the visit, Charlie spotted the copy of Monday’s Meal that Russ had with him. He asked if he could “borrow it” and Russ loaned it to him. A few days later, he called Russ and was really excited (according to Russ). He said he’d read the book and loved it and that I was “the real deal” meaning a real-life outlaw, ex-con. He asked Russ if he’d ask me if I’d mind if he (Charlie) called me. I told Russ, sure, and thus began a series of phone calls from him to me.

Now, when I was in prison, we weren’t allowed to call folks. At all. One of the many things that have changed. Because of that, I wasn’t aware that all such phone calls are made collect. At the end of the month, after which he called 3-4 times a week, I got the bill and it was astronomical! My wife had a cow and I told Charlie we needed to dial it back a bit. (Pun intended…)

Mostly, Charlie talked and I listened. He’s not hard to figure out. He’s a nutcase, pure and simple. Knew lots of guys like him in the joint who just weren’t as famous. We swapped stories and he may have told me a few things he’d done that he hadn’t been nailed on and I may have returned in kind, but I won’t talk about that. Nothing incriminating on either of our part--they record these things! Anyway, I kind of got tired of talking to him—it was same-o, same-o all the time—and was about to disassociate myself, when he told me his cellmate, Roger Smith, really wanted to talk to me. I said okay and thus began a series of phone calls with Roger.

Roger bills himself as the “most-stabbed inmate in U.S. history—and he is. As of that time, he’d been shanked over 300 separate times. The reason he was Charlie’s cellmate was that both were in protective custody as there were hits out on both of them from just about everybody in Corcoran. Over the years, Roger had hired himself out as a hit man for every single gang in the joint and now all of them had a hit out on him. The reason he wanted to connect with me was that he thought I was a “great writer” (his words and they had little effect on me—I’ve been on the receiving end of a shuck job attempt more than once…), and he wanted me to write his life story. According to Roger, he’d had his “come to Jesus” moment and wanted to right all the wrongs in his life. He said he wanted his life story out there to help keep young kids from following in his footsteps. He’d been locked up ever since he was a juvie and all that. Grew up in one joint or another.

I had to laugh when he told me he was “saved.” He sounded contrite… but every other word out of his mouth with “fuck this” or “motherfucker that” and he didn’t sound much like the converts I’d met down at the First Baptist… But, I’ve been inside with a lot of guys who had these jailhouse conversions and he wasn’t unusual.

He told me Charlie was letting him use his personal secretary—some gal who lives in North or South Carolina (forget which) who has all of Charlie’s journals and communications and writings and such and who handles all his commercial business. He can’t profit by books and interviews but he does take checks from the networks and publishers and the proceeds all go to charity. Roger told me he’d kept journals from when he was a little tad tyro outlaw and they were with Charlie’s secretary and he said he’d have her send them to me—from what he said, a LOT of journals(!)--and that he’d answer any questions I asked.

I told him I was just too busy with my own work and really couldn’t do this project, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Called me incessantly, trying to persuade me to write his life history. Finally, one time, he said, “What’s the real reason you don’t want to write it, Les?” I asked him if he wanted the real reason and he said yeah, so I told him. “Roger,” I said, “you’re like a serial killer. In fact, you are a serial killer. Three hundred hits, dude.” “Yeah,” he said. “and why would that prevent you from writing my story?” To which I answered that serial killers just flat-out bored me (and they do). I told him serial killers just keep doing the same exact thing, over and over and over, ad nauseam. After about the third one, they’re just boring. And, I didn’t want to tie up a year of my life on writing about some boring-ass serial killer. I mean, how many ways can you write the same old scene?

There was a silence and then he exploded. Called me everything nasty he could think of. Sounded like he’d kind of backslid on the “saved” deal. Screamed that if he ever got out of Corcoran my house was the first place he was heading. I listened to him ranting and screaming at me and then said, “Roger?” He got quiet and then said, “Yeah?” I said, “Roger, you’re not ever getting out of there unless there’s a major earthquake and the walls fall down and that isn’t likely. But, if somehow you do get out, I’m aware that you prefer using a shank on your hits and if you come to my house to nail me, I won’t have a shank. It’ll be something that makes a louder noise. So, it’s been nice talking to you and have a nice life, loser.”

And that’s the last I’ve talked to either Roger to Charlie. But, for awhile we were all jam.

So that’s the story of me and Charlie Manson, Richard.

Hope you enjoyed this little anecdote, folks. And, if you haven’t read Richard Godwin’s books you really should. They’re fantastic.

Here’s a link to his latest, Mr. Glamour. I highly recommend it.

Blue skies,

P.S. Voting still going on over at Spinetingler Magazine! Please cast your vote for THE BITCH in the Legends category if you haven't yet. And thanks to all who got a free copy of THE PERFECT CRIME. It ended up #1 in category downloads and #4 in overall sales of all books. Yay!

Friday, April 13, 2012



Hi folks,

Well, you folks did it! Thanks to you, my thriller THE PERFECT CRIME has just hit #1 in Free Kindle Sales in the Hard-boiled category and #23 overall in all sales! I’m thrilled! Hope folks enjoy it and will return to plunk down some cash for my other stuff. Check it out at:

In the U.K. market, it’s #4 in the Hard-boiled category. Thanks to my friends across the pond!

And, stuff keeps on a’happenin’

Not everyone will be irritated, but some might…

Carl asks my opinion on noir and other subjects and I give it to him…l

And, then we have a few openings for the next Skype class that author Jenny Milchman and I co-teach for the New York Writer’s Workshop on story beginnings and getting published that begins next Wednesday. If interested, here’s the link for the class with all the info:

As those who visit here regularly know, we’re about to come out with an ebook version of my Writer’s Digest book, FINDING YOUR VOICE. Probably next week. As it happens, a writer just put out a blog post on it—talk about timely!—that you might want to check out. Read Linda Cassidy Lewis’ opinion of it at:

And, lastly, voting continues over at Spinetingler Magazine. If you haven’t yet, please consider going over and casting a vote for Best Novel for my thriller THE BITCH in the Legends category at :

Lots of good stuff! Some bad stuff, too… The phone company just notified us if we don’t make a payment today the phone gets shut off. And you thought all that stuff up above translated into BIG AUTHOR BUCKS… Yeah, right… Just part of life… (The sucky part…). But, whenever stuff like that happens I just think of all the nice things that are happening and it balances out.

Hope everyone’s writing is going well for them this week!

Blue skies,

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Hi folks,

Some late-breaking news! Just learned  that my publisher for THE PERFECT CRIME is making it available for free for the ebook version (it's also available in print). Didn't know this was going to happen, but it's doing well. It's right now at #7 in the U.S for Hard-Boiled crime fiction and #10 in the U.K. in the same category.

I imagine it will be free for a couple of days. If you want to grab a copy, for U.S. buyers go to

If you're in the U.K. market, you can get it at

If you get a copy, it would help if you'd click on the "Like" button. And, any reviews are always appreciated.


Blue skies,



Hi folks,

I know some of you have purchased copies of my first writer's how-to, FINDING YOUR VOICE, and in recent months I've heard from others who've tried to buy it from Writer's Digest Books (the publisher) via Amazon, and were told it was sold out. Well, we've done something about that! My agent, Chip MacGregor obtained the ebook rights for it and we're bringing it out in ebook format and at a greatly reduced price. Right now, it looks as if it'll be available for $4.99. which is half of what WD ebooks usually sell for.

I've changed the cover (below) and my very talented nephew, Bo Goff, designed it for me. Bo is my wife Mary's nephew which make him mine as well, right? Right! Anyway, Bo is a hugely-talented artist who won all the art awards he could carry when he graduated from St. Francis University. If anyone is looking for a cover designer, you might want to talk to him. Just email me and I'll put you in touch with him, okay?

And, I'm putting it out under a new imprint, called... ready?... BLUE SKIES BOOKS! Go figure...

It's in the process of being formatted and should be available on Amazon in less than a week. Hope you glom onto a copy when it goes up for sale. I'll announce it here and provide the link when it does. If those who've already got copies and found it valuable, I'd appreciate a short review when it appears and also if you guys could hit the "Like" button.

I'm very proud of this book. Over the years it's been out in hard- and soft-cover, I've received lots and lots of letters and emails from writers who found it helpful in their own writing.

Oh--on a week from this Friday, Kristen Lamb is having me on as a guest blogger on her very popular blog, Warrior Writers, where I'll post a chapter from FINDING YOUR VOICE  for those who like to sample the wares before plunking down their hard-earned cash. Check it out on April 20 at Kristen's place at

One last thing... If you haven't yet voted in the Spinetingler Magazine's awards, voting is open until the end of the month. I could use every single vote you can send my way for my thriller THE BITCH in the Legends Category. Just go here and vote away: I can't begin to tell you how much it would mean to me to win this puppy!

Or, if you want to purchase a copy, go here:

Okay. Thas' all.

As always, thanks so much for everyone's support. I'm pulling for you as well--after all, we're all in this together aren't we!

Blue skies,

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Hi folks,
I want to introduce you to a friend of mine--Maegan Beaumont--and ask you to check out her new blog and join if you like what you see.

You will find it at

Maegan has been a student of mine for a couple of years now. She's on her 7th or 8th class with me--not sure--time flies by! At this point, she administers the class for me, along with another terrific writer, Linda Thompson, although Linda has pretty well turned over the job to Maegan.. Maegan has a special place in my heart as she spent nine weeks in what the folks who take my class refer to as "inciting incident hell." Maegan holds the record by a long way!

Nine weeks! Out of a 12-week class. Here's what it amounts to. In my classes, students have to create a proper beginning for their novels before they're allowed to proceed. That means they have to write a scene with the inciting incident as that's where novels need to begin today. When the trouble begins. And, that's with the inciting incident. Each student is allowed to send in up to five pages until they escape inciting incident hell. Most spend several weeks there--that's the norm. It means that until they graduate what they've reduced to shorthand as "Inc Inc" they have to keep rewriting that first five pages until they've created a bona fide inciting incident. That means that Maegan spent over two months--nine weeks--writing five pages over and over. And over...

Most would have given up in half that time or less. Not Maegan! She's tough and she's persevering and  there's no quit in her.

Get this. When she began the first class with me, she had a finished novel, and was sending it out to agents and publishers. A 700-page novel...

(That novel is long gone... It's in a drawer somewhere, I understand...)

She confessed later that she hated me. I can't say I was surprised. If I'd been in her place I probably would have hated me as well. Probably more than she did.

But, she stuck it out! She's a fighter and she's one of the people I want in my foxhole.

Since that long-ago class, she's finished a publishable novel and has secured an agent and is on her way to what I feel are going to be huge successes in writing. She writes thrillers and has a protagonist that students in our classes say "out-Reacher Jack Reacher." Her Sabrina is a kick-ass bad ass who you wouldn't want to get on your bad side...

She's also the master of plotting. That's what she's basing her blog on--plotting. So, if you have questions or issues about your own novel's plot, run on over to Maegan's blog and ask her.

More, she's just an inspiration to me and everyone who knows her and has worked with her. Check her out and I think you'll agree.

Oh, yeah... Maegan began writing her second novel in our present class and breezed through the inciting incident. She's also breezing through this novel and it's a winner. As she's learned, the things you learn in creating a quality beginning carry through the entire of the novel. The rest of the novel becomes infinitely easier to write if you just take the things you've learned in that endeavor and apply them to the rest of it.

Blue skies,

P.S. And, since you're already on the 'puter, once you check out Maegan's blog, consider heading over to the Spinetingler Magazine voting booth and vote for my own novel, THE BITCH, which is a nominee for Best Novel in the Legends category. You'll find it at