Monday, August 25, 2008

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Robin Wasserman

Robin Wasserman_Heidi's Pick SixRobin Wasserman
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
This question is harder than I thought it would be, but I think it's got to be Harper Grace, the main character in the Seven Deadly Sins series. Harper is the first real character I ever created (at least the first one who ever got to star in her own book). Several years ago, back when I thought being a writer was just a ridiculous fantasy that I would eventually have to forget about, her name popped into my head, attached to a character: a spoiled, insecure girl who expects the world to give her what she deserves -- but deep down, isn't sure what that really is. The world of the Deadly Sins -- the setting, the other characters, the plot -- all unfurled from that one character. And that eventually became my first book series. So I guess I owe Harper Grace my career!

2. Tell me about your travels.
Last May I spent a month (ie, best month of my life) in Paris. I rented an apartment on the left bank, a couple blocks away from the river, and spent my time writing in cafes, getting lost on purpose (and by accident), eating large quantities of crepes, Nutella, and croissants, picnicking along the banks of the Seine, and understanding about 1 in 100 things that anyone said. I used to think that New York, where I live now, was the greatest city on earth. It turns out I was wrong.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Milk, but only if it's *chocolate* milk. Preferably the kind you get at a diner, when the chocolate syrup is so thick you have to stir it in yourself, and even then it still coats the sides of the glass.

4. What else can you do besides write?
Alas, nothing that anyone would pay me to do, so let's hope this writing thing works out. But I do have, let's call them talents. I can: play the piano, juggle three balls for a minute or two, yo-yo, cook a mean baked ziti, recite most of the state capitols and all of the countries in South America from memory, speak French (a little), speak German (a very little), and explain the theory of relativity and the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics.

5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Chips and salsa and some homemade guacamole. I think I could also eat a fresh tomato and mozzarella sandwich every day for a few years before I got bored. (Actually, I did eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day for eleven years -- ages 3 through 13.)

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Robert Downey Jr.'s been at the top of that list for a while now, but Neil Patrick Harris is making a run for second place. (If you saw him in Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog," you know why.) However -- Nathan Fillion, Hugh Laurie, or guy-who-plays-Chuck-on-Gossip Girl, if you're reading this? You should also feel free to call me!

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Robin Wasserman grew up in suburban Philadelphia. Every day she wished she would get a dog, get better hair, and grow up to be a writer who lived in New York and ate pasta for dinner every night.

She never got the golden retriever, but the rest of it came true (even the part about the pasta, at least most nights).

Robin penned the Seven Deadly Sins series. Her latest release is Skinned.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conference: 2008 WPF In Your Write Mind Retreat and Seton Hill Residency


Almost There Panel_June 2008Almost There Panel at WPF In Your Write Mind Retreat and Conference from L to R: Heidi Ruby Miller, J. A. Konrath, Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency, Jason Jack Miller, and K. J. Howe

We had a full schedule of workshops and panels at the Seton Hill WPF In Your Write Mind Retreat and Conference, as well as thesis readings and graduation for the WPF Graduate Residency, which was running concurrently.

I moderated the "Almost There" panel about those of us in the middle stages of the novel publishing process: after the classes have been taken, the books have been written, and the queries sent out, how do you keep up your momentum?

Here are a few other photos from the residency and retreat.

Red Star_WPF Retreat 2008WPF attendees at Red Star

Red Star2_WPF Retreat 2008WPF attendees at Red Star

Tim Esaias_WPF Retreat 2008WPF mentor Timons Esaias at Adrienne Kapp's thesis defense

Adrienne Kapp Thesis_June 2008WPF graduate Adrienne Kapp at her thesis defense

Grad Luncheon_WPF Retreat 2008Seton Hill WPF graduate luncheon

Grad Luncheon2_WPF Retreat 2008Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction graduate luncheon

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

From The Authors Guild: Accounting Practices of F&W Publishing and Adams Media

I received this recently via email from The Authors Guild:

"Internal e-mails, including an admission that Adams Media has "no system in place for tracking inbound Royalty Statements from translation rights deals," and a recent arbitrator's ruling in Massachusetts awarding $209,000 to an author raise serious questions about the accounting practices of F&W Publishing and Adams Media.

Authors Guild member Sherry Argov brought an arbitration more than four years ago against F&W Publishing and its subsidiary Adams Media regarding the payment of royalties for her book "Why Men Love Bitches." The arbitrator found that F&W had purposefully withheld documents needed by Ms. Argov to complete the royalty audit to which she was contractually entitled. This amounted to an "unfair and deceptive practice" under Massachusetts law, leading the arbitrator to award $209,000 to Ms. Argov. The arbitrator's review of the work done by F&W's outside expert, however, led the arbitrator to conclude that domestic sales had been properly accounted for.

Accounting for foreign editions and translations appears to be a particular problem for F&W and Adams Media. In a stunning e-mail dated October 18, 2006, an F&W employee admits, "We have no system in place for tracking inbound Royalty Statements from translation rights deals. We do not go looking for missing statements from our Translation rights customers. No one is responsible for the collections on either open contracts nor balances indicated on Royalty statements." Another employee adds, "in many cases, we have not received statements from the foreign publishers per the contracts (specifically, on Sherry's titles, but there are lots of others)."

The arbitrator didn't rule on foreign royalties. Instead, it urged F&W to report to Ms. Argov what amounts may be owed her for foreign editions, so the company could avoid arbitration on that issue.

For more information, please see the Publishers Weekly story or the arbitrator's ruling.

We'd like your help on this matter.

1. If you have knowledge of F&W or Adams Media's royalty accounting practices, please get in touch with the Authors Guild's legal department.
2. If you are an F&W or Adams Media author (whether you are a Guild member or not) and would like to be kept up to date on this matter, simply send us an e-mail.
3. Feel free to forward and post this alert in its entirety.

Contact: or 212-563-5904.

The Authors Guild ( is the largest society of published book authors in the United States."

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Veins_Lawrence C. ConnollyVeins by Lawrence C. Connolly

I started out as a reader, and I’m still convinced that reading is the best way for a writer to begin. If a person doesn’t like reading the stuff, why bother writing it?

I read everything I could get my hands on: classic and contemporary sf novels, anthologies, and (most importantly) the magazines.

When I got the notion to try writing for the magazines, I sat down and dissected some of my favorite stories, noting everything from placement of exposition and dialogue to the length of paragraphs and use of punctuation. Then I went to work, following Heinlein’s three step approach to writing success: I finished everything I wrote, submitted everything I finished, and kept submitting everything until it sold.

I made my first sale to Amazing Stories and followed it up with three more to the same editor before moving on to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazines, Year’s Best Horror, and lots of others.

A Hollywood production company optioned one of my stories a few years later. Three more options followed. I began thinking seriously about writing a novel, but it would be many years and over 50 story sales before I got around to finishing Veins.

I sent Veins to the agent who had been handling my film rights. A few days later, I mentioned the novel in a letter to Will Horner at Fantasist Enterprises. Will had purchased a story from me for one of his anthologies, and he wanted to hear more about the book. He got in touch with my agent, and shortly thereafter we had an agreement.

Veins has just been released in a beautiful trade paperback, with cover and illustrations by Star E. Olson.

Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:

Fleeing from what should have been a perfect crime, four crooks in a black Mustang race into the Pennsylvania highlands. On the backseat, a briefcase full of cash. On their tail, a tattooed madman who wants them dead.

The driver calls himself Axle. A local boy, he knows the landscape, the coal-hauling roads and steep trails that lead to the perfect hideout: the crater of an abandoned mine. But Axle fears the crater. Terrible things happened there. Things that he has spent years trying to forget.

Enter Kwetis, the nightflyer, a specter from Axle’s ancestral past. Part memory, part nightmare, Kwetis has planned a heist of his own. And soon Axle, his partners in crime, and their pursuer will learn that their arrival at the mine was foretold long ago . . . and that each of them is a piece of a plan devised by the spirits of the Earth.

Fantasist has some nice advance notices on Veins from Michael A. Arnzen, Gary A. Braunbeck, T.E.D. Klein, Robert Morrish, and Mary SanGiovanni at the novel’s official website:

You might also want to check out this live journal review of the Veins debut at Garden State Horror Writers.

~Lawrence C. Connolly
August 2008

Veins is available through most of the major chains, but Fantasist is giving a nice discount for direct orders through their website:

Also available at the Fantasist website is a cool Veins T-shirt.

You can visit Lawrence online at and

He has a lot of stuff in the pipeline. Next up will be a new horror story entitled “Painkeeper,” due out in Cemetery Dance 59; a new ghost story entitled “Flames” in a new anthology from Ash-Tree Press, one of his favorite small-press publishers. The anthology will be called Shades of Darkness, and it is due to be released in October, in time for World Fantasy. Also due out in time for World Fantasy is a full-length CD of ambient music inspired by Veins. Fantasist Enterprises will be releasing that one, and you can hear one of the tracks at Toward the end of this year, look for “Reckoning” in Terrible Beauty, Fearful Symmetry from Dark Hart Press and “Die Angel” in Darkness on the Edge: Tales Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen from PS Publishing.

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Friday, August 01, 2008


The Marathon Murders_by Chester CampbellThe Marathon Murders by Chester D. Campbell

My path to publication as a novelist was as twisting as a snake. I wrote my first mystery while a journalism student during the day and a newspaper reporter at night. That was back in 1948. A publisher rejected it and I put it away. Before I tackled another novel, I worked for two newspapers, served as an Air Force intelligence officer in the Korean War, wrote non-fiction for magazines, worked in public relations, wrote speeches for a governor, and edited a local (Nashville) magazine. The second book spent about six months with an Avon editor before it was rejected. I worked as an advertising copywriter, did more PR, and managed a statewide trade association until retiring in 1989.

That’s when I started writing novels in earnest. By 1998 I had written seven mysteries or thrillers and gone through four agents who sold nothing. I took a trip to the Holy Land that year and got the idea for Secret of the Scroll, a thriller involving a retired Air Force OSI agent and his wife. A small press took it as part of a three-book contract. My first novel was published in 2002 when I was 76. It won a Bloody Dagger Award in 2003 and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Mystery Book of the Year. I liked the characters so much I decided to use them for a series. Designed to Kill came out in 2004 and Deadly Illusions in 2005. After writing book four, The Marathon Murders, I parted company with my first publisher and was accepted by a new independent, Night Shadows Press. The novel came out in February 2008 in both hardback and trade paperback.

Here's a blurb from The Marathon Murders:
Did Sydney Liggett, assistant treasurer of Marathon Motor Works in Nashville, skip town in 1914 with embezzled funds, or was he framed and murdered? That's the question PI's Greg and Jill McKenzie are hired to answer in The Marathon Murders when 90-year-old documents found during restoration of the company’s buildings disappear. They discover the contractor who had them has been murdered. As they follow the twisting path, more bodies are found and their client, Liggett’s great-great-granddaughter, may be next.

I have lots of friends in the mystery community who have been fortunate enough to link up with the right agent and a large publisher to enhance their success. I haven’t been so lucky, but I have enjoyed what I’ve achieved. My books aren’t on the shelves at most stores, so they sell in the low thousands rather than the ten thousands. My wife and I work as a team at book signings and have done well there. We attend several conferences a year and enjoy traveling about the country and meeting readers.

When my first book was published, I did a crash course on promotion. I set up a website, started a quarterly newsletter, joined Internet listserves and got my name out every way I could. I incorporated much of this information into my website’s “On Writing” link. My latest venture is Murderous Musings, a blog with five other authors. You can read more about me at:

~Chester Campbell
August 2008

Sylvia Cochran at Roundtable Reviews had this to say about Chester's new book:

“THE MARATHON MURDERS is a skillfully woven tale that shows detective fiction wannabes how it’s supposed to be done. Chester D. Campbell’s vibrant characters all but leap off the page and the scenes are so realistically crafted that you cannot help but feel part of the plot. This book is a page turner, and it is not surprising that the literary world has finally caught on to the fact that one of its greatest assets has been flying under the radar for far too long. This reader eagerly awaits the next installment in the McKenzie series. A must read!”

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