Bloody Point 1976

Another author in our Working Writers Forum, Brent Lewis, has just published his first novel, Bloody Point 1976. Wednesday night he had a signing at The Crab Deck on Kent Island. Brent told me he was a bartender here twenty-five years ago. This is the place to go for crabs on Kent Island.

Brent Lewis book signing

I got there early as I was on my way back from Baltimore. Brent told me he didn’t know why he looked so distressed in this photo, but he wondered if he was concerned nobody would show up. Book signings can be awful, but Brent’s peeps showed up and he sold 125 books in two hours. That’s frigging awesome!

Here’s the back cover blurb: Fourth of July, 1976. Tooey Walter, a young Chesapeake Bay waterman on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore, is hired to retrieve big shot Harris Bradnox’s rebellious daughter Dee from The Block, Baltimore city’s grimy and notoriously dangerous red-light district. Thrown into a menacing world of vice and violence, with hometown goon Clacker Herbertson on his tail, Tooey collides into a lineup of mind-blowing strangers, including: Salt Wade, Dee’s murderous “manager” and his mysterious case; Dr. Merriman, the fallen from grace, drug-addled “Block-doc,” and Amy Ruari, the red-headed waitress with a carbonated personality who might know more than she lets on. A coming-of-age crime adventure mixed with an epic quest and garnished with a funky slice of Bicentennial Americana; told with fishhook-sharp dialogue and a boatload of twists, Bloody Point 1976 is a rowdy and racy tale of unforgettable characters born of voice, humor and truth, trying to navigate their survival in a changing time and place.

And talented Laura Ambler did the cover!

bloody point cover bigger

Laura and I were mentioned in the acknowledgements because Brent Lewis is in our Working Writers Forum critique group. That’s twice this month we’ve been mentioned in new books. Forum has been reading chapters of Bloody Point for two years and we couldn’t wait to find out what happened at the end.

Brent’s writing has a wonderful Eastern Shore voice and he is a master storyteller. Put this book on your reading list. It’s a page turner.


Believe in Lightning!

It’s New Year’s Eve and time to look ahead. If you’re a writer you’ve heard the expression, “You’re more likely to be hit by lightening than to sell a movie script.” But we keep believing. 2015 might just be the year.

For Christmas Laura gave me a wine sippy cup. A truly thoughtful gift. I think it was in anticipation of celebrating all things writing.

wine sippy cup

It sparked memories of the book signing where I knocked over my drink and almost ruined a pile of her books. The waitress brought me a sippy cup. Read more

This sippy glass is much more elegant. And plastic to boot. I’ll use it to ring in the New Year, although we never seem to make it to midnight. My husband and I are joining Laura and her husband for an early New Years dinner and then we’ll watch Sharknado New York. Hopefully it will be right up there with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Watching Sharknado has been on the “to do” list for months and we just never got around to it.

This has been a great writing year for Laura and me. We had our play, The Santa Diaries, produced again. This time in Minnesota and we were there to see three performances. We’ve completed several scripts and one of them is actually being “considered” by a production group, but we’ve been asked not to talk about it yet. Who knows, 2015 might be the year.

Happy New Year to everyone with wishes for health and happiness and joy. And to all the writers out there, don’t give up on your dreams. Keep believing in lightning.

Book Signings In Bars

My first book signing was in 1984 in front of a Walden’s Books in a Harford County (Maryland) mall. I sat behind a table with my book What’s Special About Our Stepfamily? piled in front of me. This local signing had been arranged by Doubleday, the publisher of my book.

Note from Wikipedia…In 1988, Doubleday became part of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, which in turn became a division of Random House in 1998. In late 2008 and early 2009, the Doubleday imprint was merged with Knopf Publishing Group to form the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

In 1984 Doubleday had given me a $10K advance, and I was happy to do any marketing they arranged. That was back when there were more than six publishing houses and they actually paid you to write a book and you didn’t have to earn it back against royalties. It was also a time when publishers had marketing divisions which arranged book tours, etc.

I was really looking forward to chatting with people and telling them about how the book came to be. Stepfamilies weren’t openly talked about then. People sometimes called them blended families. I wasn’t a blended mother, I was a stepmother and it was often a struggle. It wasn’t any easier for stepkids which is why I’d written the book. I just knew it was going to be a big seller!

So there I sat. As the mall filled, more and more people walked past my table. I smiled, trying to engage, but they put their heads down and kept walking. Seriously, they wouldn’t even make eye contact. This went on for four hours. No one said hello, let alone bought a book. It was a lesson in humility and dashed expectations for this introverted writer.

Fast forward almost thirty years to last December when friend and fellow writer, Brent Lewis, arranged for a book signing at Bridges Restaurant on Kent Island. There were five others signing and selling books: Brent Lewis, Kenton Kilgore, Jerry Sweeney, Robert Bidinotto, and Laura Ambler.

The stepfamily book had long since gone to the shredders (another humiliating story) but I had my two romantic suspense novels piled in front of me. Laura was at my side and she had the children’s books for which she had done the illustrations. We didn’t have our joint YA novel, Big Skye Ranch, because it’s an ebook.

Bridges is a restaurant with a lively bar. This is where the book sale tables were set up. I was drinking Coke, the high octane stuff with caffeine and sugar. For me, that seemed a better option than wine. A couple of glasses and I become a chuckle-head who falls asleep. But even without wine I can be a klutz so it wasn’t long before I knocked my Coke over. Fortunately we were able to pick up books before any were ruined, but now the table was sticky.

Our waitress was great. She quickly wiped the table and we were back in business. People were talking to us and actually buying books. I asked the waitress for another Coke. She must have known who she was dealing with because this time my Coke was served in a sippy cup with a lid.

Tip for Writers: only do book signings in bars. People buy more after a couple of glasses of wine! And ask for a sippy cup!