Saturday September 27, 2008 

Cabernet Afternoons, Starry Nights, Great Friends…

There are few things in life as enjoyable and just plain fun as sitting in our northern Michigan home at the Homestead, looking out at the Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes and sharing a bottle of wine with friends and family.    One thing we always look forward to “up north” is visiting with our retired friends – the Jordans (Al & Mary) and the Burkes (Bill & Sue). 


During our past trip, it was our turn to host so I pulled some special bottles from my cellar comprising of a 2004 PlumpJack Cab, 1997 St. Supery Meritage and a 2005 Clos Du Val cab so we could all enjoy.  Al brought a 2000 Norton and Bill produced a 2005 Castle Rock Reserve to complement the evening.  Roberta artfully executed an decadent meal consisting of filet mignon, shrimp scampi and sautéed vegetables which was only topped off by Mary’s (made from scratch), irresistible peach pie. 


There are few things as pleasurable and fantastic as cracking open a great bottle among friends.   To say we enjoyed the wine – not to mention the company – was an understatement.  We started with the St. Supery and served cheese and crackers out on the deck, opened the Castle Rock and Norton during the appetizer phase so we could compare them together, and then served the PlumpJack with the steaks.  (Don’t ask me when we opened the Clos Du Val – I somehow lost track but believe me we sampled that as well both before and after the meal).


As the sun set and the stars materialized, we kept with our tradition of ranking the wines from one to five.  In the past, I must admit that we haven’t always rated the most expensive wine the best tasting.  But on this night, the PlumpJack was king with the St. Supery a very close second.  (Al said the St. Supery actually had an advantage since we drank it with a clean palate, while Bill felt its robust flavor came due to its aging.  It was the oldest wine we drank that night).  Nonetheless, we all agreed that the PlumpJack was hard to beat and deserved the Number 1 ranking.


The Castle Rock Reserve and the Norton came in neck and neck for third place (with the Reserve getting a slight nod) while the Clos Du Val surprisingly came in last.  Before the evening ended, we took in the northern starry night one last time, amazed at the beauty and splendor of the Michigan night.  Our friends soon departed, but not before planning our next get together at either Thanksgiving or Christmas time. 


Hmmm…holidays, winter in Michigan…I know just the perfect bottle of wine I’m going to bring.  


Tuesday August 26, 2008

I've Hooked up with an Editor…

Wow – it’s been a while since the last time I posted to this blog, and yet there’s been so much going on!  The most exciting piece is I finally hooked up with an editor!

After making several inquiries to various sources, I came up with a short list of potential editors to solicit for assistance on my Predator Within novel.  I contacted each and to my disappointment received word back that they were either no longer editing, too busy to take on new clients for several months, or were busy caring for an elderly parent (something I know about).  Now feeling really depressed and not sure which way to turn, I received the following message from a member from the  
Book Autopsies Done by The Knife Editorial Services at "cut rate" prices. The Knife has published over forty novels and has taught writing for over 30 years without a single complaint. Clients have gone on to publication. Contact the Knife at with query line - Knife Services.”   

Not sure what to expect, I sent an email requesting information on the services and was pleasantly surprised when Robert W. Walker emailed me back.   Having written over forty novels within the mystery and horror genres, Rob is not only an accomplished writer, but someone I felt I could connect with.

I immediately contracted him to help edit my book and to gain insight into the publishing world.  The experience has been of tremendous help as Rob has taken me through a mini writing workshop of POVs’, tenses and structures.  But he has provided much more.  

Rob doesn’t just proof read my work for grammar and spelling, but has given me advice on structure, dialogue and even some of the sequence of events.  So far, he’s given me a perspective that I haven’t received thus far –true feedback and input from a proficient writer.

I’m still working on the final pages that were sent to me over the weekend, but so far my experience with Rob has been enlightening and helpful.  I would highly recommend Rob to anyone looking for editorial assistance.  He can be reached at the above email address or visit his website at

Monday August 11, 2008

What a Great Book… 

After reading several reviews, I must admit I was really looking forward to reading the epic The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by debut writer David Wroblewski.  

I wasn’t disappointed!

Okay, on the surface you look at the 562 pages and wonder if the author can sustain your attention for that long.  Let me reassure you – not only does Wroblewski weave an interesting story- but this is one of those books that comes along only once in a great while.  I don’t remember a novel that has captivated me this much since reading Lonesome Dove or
Watership Down (still two of my favorites)
.  Once I got into the book I actually began reading it slowly, appreciating each word, hoping to extend my enjoyment that much longer.  

Wroblewski magically creates an astonishing and strange coming of age tale of Edger Sawtelle and his family who maintains the family business of breeding specialty dogs.  You don’t have to love dogs to love this book, but if you have a link with a canine, it will enhance your reading experience.

The story takes you on a roller coaster ride filled with excitement, sadness and heart break.  As I approached the ending, I did so with regret – knowing that soon my experience with Edgar and his dogs would soon end.   

I really loved this novel and highly recommend it.    

Saturday August 2, 2008
Getting Search Engine Optimization… 

Since I started my website on May 5th, I've received almost 1400 hits (which is nothing to sneeze at) but still not the type of activity I was hoping for.  Then I saw an article in the latest Money magazine about increasing “search-engine optimization”.  

Now, I have to admit that although I’m not a computer illiterate, I still have quite a bit to learn about the internet.  So when the Money article referenced two sites ( and to get tips for improving traffic to websites, I decided to attempt to achieve some results on my own.   

I sheepishly admit that on my website grade was only 4 out of 100!  (At least it wasn’t 1 out of 100)  Boy – I knew my work was cut out for me.  For anyone with their own website, this is a great site to get a report and even see how your website performs against some of websites similar to yours.

I quickly realized as I scanned through the report I received, that my website wasn’t ranked on Google (major – considering over 75% of the people searching the web utilizes Google), wasn’t being tracked on Alexa, wasn’t in the DMOZ Directory, or listed on Yahoo and ZoomInfo. 

 Among other things the report showed that my blog page wasn’t connected to – the most popular blog service out there.  It’s almost mind boggling what you have to do to be noticed on the web.

So what’s an aspiring writer to do?

 Well for one thing…I realized I have a lot of work to do. 

Getting my Blog onto Technorati at  and getting on the Google directory today is only the start.  There are still a number of items that need addressing.  Will it help?  Will it improve traffic to my website?  Only time will tell.  There’s nowhere to go but up!  

Tuesday July 31, 2008
My Wife’s New Favorite Author… 

Did I ever tell you that my wife Roberta is an avid reader?  I’ve always told her that she reads so much, she should be writing book reviews.  Two weeks ago she received an advanced review copy of Patricia Cornwell’s The Front and was asked to read it (which she did) and give her comments back to the publisher (ditto).  Suffice to say, this was one time it was probably good she wasn’t a book reviewer.   

Once Roberta and I find an author we like, we either look forward to their next new book, or we go back and buy their previous novels.  We’ve done this with Robert Parker, Tess Gerritsen, Jan Burke and C.J. Box – all mystery writers that we discovered well into their writing careers.  I must admit though, Roberta goes about this with much more fervor than I.  She proceeds to her new author’s websites, joins their newsletters, makes a chronological list of all their books and then sets out to read them.  It’s not uncommon to see several packages from Amazon on our front porch at a time.

 Needless to say, Roberta’s latest, favorite author is Harlan Coben.  She can’t get enough of the witty, stylish way he writes.  I must confess, I’m a little jealous (it seems she spends more time in bed with Harlan than me – okay - the truth is we both enjoy reading for several hours prior to sleeping).  She says that the way Coben writes is both clever and humorous and that the main character (Myron Bolitar) in many of his novels is refreshing and entertaining.   The stack of books below is only the tip of the iceberg of what she has read so far.


I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed Coben’s latest Hold Tight (highly recommend) and look forward to reading more of his novels.  But unlike Roberta, I like to mix up the authors I’m reading.  That’s why I’m currently enjoying The Story of Edward Sawtelle by David Wroblewski and looking forward to Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry.   So while the Harlan Cobens of the world can rejoice today because for this period they’re Roberta’s number one author, rest assure that Wroblewski and Barry’s time is coming.   

How do I know? 

Because Roberta has already put them on her “to read” list.  That is – right after she finishes the Joseph Finder books she just ordered!  


Saturday, July 19, 2008 

Query Letter Campaign…

What’s that old saying…better late than never?   

Well, this week I’ve finally sent out my first agent packages (only one month late).  Still, it feels pretty good.  Sure it seems like an insurmountable challenge getting my book(s) published (and even Roberta has her doubts), but I’ve decided to go after this the same way I’ve gone after everything in my professional life – with focus, study and determination. 

Since I’ve recently left my position with Thermo Fisher Scientific, I’ve been researching and soliciting companies for new opportunities.  Even though the labor market in the greater Detroit area (where I reside) is depressed, I still feel confident.  Why you ask?  Simple…because I’m confident in my skills and background and I have many different acquaintances in the business world that I can contact for advice and assistance. 

But unlike the business world, I have absolutely no links into the publishing world.  Sure, I’ve joined Mystery Writers Association and various web groups like Writers and Authors, and Midwest Mystery Writers to make connections and network, but the process has been slow. 

I started looking at some research books that would give me greater insight into what I was doing.  I must say, some were much better than others.  I particularly found The Sell Your Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon, Your Novel Proposal – From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook, The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published by Evan Marshall and the Guide to Literary Agents very helpful.  Now I realize the query letters I previously sent out were woeful and unappealing.  No wonder I received rejection letters!  Looking back on those query letters, the most descriptive word I can come up with is pathetic.   

I’ve put together an Excel spreadsheet targeting agents who my book might appeal to.  I looked at their personal background to see if the authors they represented were similar to me or had interests similar to mine.  Unfortunately with my work travels and responsibilities, I’ve haven’t been able to attend any mystery conventions or conferences in the past.  I’m hoping in the next couple of months to be able to attend one or two to make additional contacts. 

As a part of this process, I’ve contacted several independent editors in the hopes of hiring them to give me feedback on my manuscript(s).  Once I connect with them, I will report on my progress in that endeavor. 

In all, I’m not giving up.  I feel just as confident in this process as I do in my “other” job search effort.  Tonight I’m readying additional packages to go out in Monday’s mail.  I know there’s one agent… (and one publisher)…out there that believes like I do.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008 

Some quick hits… 

Okay, things have still been pretty intense around here.  It seems that I’ve been in and out of the hospital so much the last couple of weeks that I should be writing a medical thriller.  My father in law’s health has declined, necessitating two trips to the emergency room and admittance to the hospital.   It’s depressing to see him in this state, but I’m glad that my work situation has allowed me to be there for him and the family. 

Needless to say, my blog has been quieter than originally planned - as has my agent pursuit.  Although I’m not exactly in the mood to type out a complex blog, I figured I’d do a couple quick hits to let you know what I’ve been up to…  

Books I’m reading or recently read Hold Tight by Harlan Coben (loved it – don’t miss it),
Phantom Prey
by John Sanford (enjoyed it – vintage Lucas Davenport),
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon (a unique book that I loved – read it).   
Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (this is the next book I have on tap to read).  After reading all the great reviews on this book, I’m really looking forward to a good, summer epic.  It’s supposed to be a magical book that you just lose yourself in. 

How I’m faring on the Job hunting front -Certainly my decision to stay in the greater Detroit, Michigan area has limited my opportunities with how hard the automotive industry has been hit, but I remain optimistic that something will come up at the right time.  Until then…I’m networking, soliciting companies and sending out resumes.  Oh…and I’m finalizing details on my consulting company.

What I’m watching on TV –
Let’s face it, its summer and there’s really NOTHING on television right now.  So instead I’m catching up on old X-Files shows on DVD (can’t wait for the upcoming movie), watched I Am Legend when Roberta was on business travel, and readying my DVD recorder for the Twilight Zone Marathon on the Sci-Fi channel July 4th! 

What I’m enjoying –
My time home with my wife (after over 10 years of constant business travel) Walking our two dogs everyday (except when it’s raining)
Getting that fresh cup of coffee every morning (before the day seems to race away)
Sharing the tough times with my in-laws (yes in the toughest times you gain the most satisfaction).


Friday, June 20, 2008 
Slightly detoured...

Well, it certainly has been a hectic couple of weeks - and none of it has been writing related.  Needless to say (or should I say I'm ashamed to say) i have not gone out with my agent packages yet.  My progress on that endeavor will have to wait for another blog.

I’ve been busy at work (yea) and also working hard with my wife getting her parents moved to a senior housing community closer to us.  I wish some author had written a “how to” book on moving elderly parents and dealing with all the stress and demands that come with it.  (Hey – wait a minute…J)   

To say that the last couple of weeks getting mom and dad packed and moved have been demanding is an understatement.  Compounding the challenge is having one in declining health.  But we managed to pull it off last weekend and I’m sure having them closer will afford us the opportunity to care for them better. 

On their second night in the new place, we received a frantic call at 3 am.  As I raced over there, I started thinking about my sister Eileen.  You see, during my parents' final years she agreed to take them into her home to care for them.  My mother was dying of pancreatic cancer and my father had suffered a debilitating stroke.  Eileen had to deal with their failing health while balancing her family life.  Her long, tiring days included playing nurse, orderly, prescription drug administrator, counselor, chauffer and even parent to them.  She fed them, cleaned up after them, bathed them and was at their beck and call. 

She was essentially on shift 24/7. 

Sure there were trying times, and days that she must have wondered what she’d gotten herself into.  But through it all, my sister preserved and essentially put aside her life to care for them until their final days. 

So as an early morning call arrives, or the need to clean up, or chauffer one of my in-laws to the doctors comes up, I’m going to think about my sister and sincerely thank her for being there for our parents in their time of need.   

And then, pray that Roberta and I can be as equally strong caregivers for her parents.  ________________________________

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Now for the fun part...

As I start the next step in my writing journey – namely trying to get published – I’m reminded of a quote that has stayed with me for a long time:

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”  - Harper Lee from “If you want to be a writer” Writers Digest September 1961.

Who said that trying to get published would be fun?  Obviously the great Harper Lee, she of “To Kill a Mockingbird” fame put the whole writing thing in perspective.  And for anyone not listening - the thick hide you have to develop is due to the rejections writers go through during the whole process.  Not only is it tough getting an agent or a publishing house to notice you, but even after all of that – when a writer finally manages to get their novel in print - the biggest obstacle is developing a reader base and selling books in order to continue publishing.  Talk about a vicious circle.

So why write?

Are you kidding?  Where else can you have this much fun creating characters and coming up with plotlines and then putting those ideas to paper?  I get so engrossed in my story that I just have to write to find out what comes next!  No kidding – I find that my characters actually take on a life of their own. 

There’s no doubt that soliciting agents, editors and publishers is something outside my comfort zone.  I mean, it’s not exactly something I’ve done in the past and writing a query letter and a synopsis is completely different from the creative writing that goes into a novel.  But like any business – it’s something that needs to be mastered in order to be successful.

So…I’ve re-edited my query letter, joined the MWA Midwest Yahoo Group and solicited members for professional editor referrals…all in an effort to improve my writings and my opportunities to get noticed.  I’m going out this weekend with several queries and will be finalizing my editor search as well.  I’m hopeful that someone is going to see that I’m serious about writing and will give me a closer look.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to have fun. ________________________________

Monday, May 26,2008
Everyone Has a Dream

Is it presumptuous to think about being nominated or winning an Edgar when I don’t even have an agent interested in my work yet?  I don’t think so.  I mean, you have to dream big.  Throughout my professional career, I’ve always thought big. 

After the big auto layoffs in 1977, I found myself working in the company mailroom.  Essentially I was one step from the door.  At the time I didn’t despair.  Instead I started reading the newspapers, magazines and other material the VPs in “Mahogany Row” were receiving.  This was when I first aspired to be a Vice President in a company.  So why think small now?

You don’t have to look any further than the recent American Idol competition.  Who would ever have thought that a bartender from a Kansas City suburb would now be the latest star on the music front?  Talk about the American dream!  And to think that David Cook only came to the auditions on a lark to support his brother makes his story even more incredible.

So here’s to any of those naysayers out there that question my motives - anything is possible when you have the will and drive to succeed. 

And if you have a dream. 

In order for something to become a reality you must dream.

Friday, May 16, 2008

So…One week later…

So…it’s officially been over a week since my website has been up and running.  I’ve really been encouraged by the number of people who have visited my page and I appreciate all the phone calls and emails you’ve provided.  I want you to know that I’ve listened and as a result, I’ve made several formatting changes to the site and also added a guestbook page.

This is a picture of my library (yes I built the bookshelves myself).  I love this room…with all my books and knickknacks.  My ultimate goal is to have several of my published works on these shelves.  Now armed with this website as a marketing tool, I’m once again ready to begin submitting query letters – with the goal of finding an agent who’s interested in representing me. 

 I’ll be documenting my progress – through the depression of the rejection letters and the elation of an acceptance – right here on this blog (among other things).  I will be updating pages on a regular basis so please tag this to your favorites and come back to visit.

Thank you again for your comments – I hope you enjoy sharing in my adventure.


Sunday, May 11, 2008
Hold Tight!

Here's a shout-out to congratulate Harlan Coben on his recent novel "Hold Tight" debuting at number one!  If you haven't discovered Harlan yet , you're missing out on a very talented mystery writer.  This one is one of his best.


Monday, May 5, 2008
Read a Book and Build up Your Brain Power!

With our hectic schedules and longer working hours, the hobby of reading can be elusive as ever.  When do you catch up on your reading…as you lay in bed before sleeping, on a plane during a trip, or early on a Saturday or Sunday morning before the kids wake up?

Are you someone who likes to read but can’t find the time? 

Everyone knows that physical exercise is good for your body.  Well, what would you do if I told you that reading is good for your brain?   As if we need a reason to read!  You carve out time for the stationary bike, why not for reading?  Need some convincing…okay, look no further. 

I love looking at different websites for inspiration and information (hence my Links page).  Sometimes it can be downright addicting, so I surf the net early in the morning or late at night.  One site that I find particularly useful is  No matter if you're an executive, production line worker, or writer - everyone deals with stress and the effects it has on our lives.  Sign up to receive weekly emails which provide updates on improving your lifestyle.

Anyhow, a recent Realage article discussed the benefits of reading!  Imagine that - reading can actually good for you!  Think of that the next time you pick up a book in the store.  For all you writers - at your next signing or conference,  let everyone know that reading a mystery, thriller or romance novel this weekend is good for your health.  Consider it mental exercise for your brain.

Come on - everyone considers an athlete the tougher specimen over a bookworm (don’t you remember those ninety-pound weaklings getting sand kicked in their face on the back cover of comic books?)  Reading actually provides the bookworm an edge in being mentally fit.  It’s been proven that reading increases your cognitive skills and that book readers regularly outperform non-readers when compared in cognitive testing. 

Who would have thought that reading a James Patterson, Tess Gerritsen or Harlan Coben novel would actually improve your cognitive skills?  Now if that isn’t a good reason to read, I don’t know what would be. 

Except…maybe because the author is really talented and the book rocks!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Why I'm doing this...


This website is devoted to one of my true loves – writing.  I’ve been writing in one way or another for over twenty years.  Everyone dreams about creating the "Great American Novel", getting discovered by a super agent, becoming a published author and I’m no different.   Being an avid reader, I’ve always dreamed of writing my own novel and seeing it in bookstores.  

Come on, how hard could it be?

Little did I know how tough it would be!

Early on, I joined Horror Writers of America determined to write something Steven King, James Herbert and Dean Koontz would be envious of.  Instead, I delivered a novel that wasn’t really that good – even I had to admit it.  Although it took me about a year and a half to complete, I wasn’t discouraged.  Instead, I was more determined than ever.  I mean…how many people do you know have actually started and completed a novel?

So with pen in hand I started my second novel.  It took me one year to complete – all 120,000 words of it! I liked the characters and the story, but still was not satisfied to share it with anyone, never mind an agent.

 So I started another…and finished that one too. 

I was getting closer, but still no cigar.  Meanwhile, I completed a non-fiction book on finding a job and also wrote a children’s picture book for my nephew.

 In all, I’ve written ten different books…some that will never see the light of day again.  But I do hold out hope for my PREDATOR series.  I love the characters…the stories…the plots…and hope that someday someone agrees with me.

I will continue to query agents in my quest to be discovered.  I remain confident that someone will see my potential and take a chance on me.  I hope they do because I have a whole lot of stories in my head to tell.

 In the meantime, you can catch me right here…reporting on my activities. 

I want to thank my sister Eileen for all her help with my website.  She truly is an inspiration.  

If you want assistance with your website contact her at

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