Category Archives: editors

A New Discussion Forum

Apex Book Company, publisher of the recent reprint of my first book When Darkness Loves Us, has initiated a new online forum.

There’s a place there to discuss WDLU or any of my other books with me or with other readers, as well as the other Apex authors.

Stop by and say hello. Click here.

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Filed under editors, Promotion, Selling, Writing

A New Book Contract!

Contracts are due to land on my desk today for the publication of my latest book, Martini Moon.

This is sweet for me for a variety of reasons.

First, I love this book, and am more than delighted that I will be able to share it with my small, deeply-disturbed fan base.

Secondly, this indicates to me that the economy is on the upswing. Not only did the Dow close above 10,000 yesterday, and a headline today reads “Recession Ends in 79 Metro Areas,” but I got a book contract.  That means my publisher is investing in me and my readers, libraries, and the book buying public in general. We will not let them down.  Publishing provides jobs, from artists to copyeditors to box manufacturers to bookstore baristas.

And, of course, the sale of this book provides both public and private confirmation that I’m writing what people want to read. One person told me one time that I write “grim stories about unattractive people.” This is true. I do not write Danielle Steele books. But the people I write about are the people I know about. They’re real people. Real people have grim stories and many of them are unattractive. But they all have the spark of the beautiful inside them. This story, a mystery, is also about the little guy fighting city hall for what’s right.

I don’t have a publication date yet for Martini Moon. Most likely this time next year. Stay tuned, either here or on my website at

I’ll let you  know when the launch party is.


Filed under Beauty, editors, My New Novel, Personalities, Promotion, Reading, Writing

Writing a Synopsis

A well-written synopsis of your book will encapsulate all that you wish to accomplish, from beginning to end. This blueprint will also help you circumvent a wealth of troubles during the actual construction of your novel.

 A synopsis will include your protagonist’s comfortable state of mind before trouble was visited upon him. It will include his reluctance to step into the problem. It will include his agreement to resolve the conflict so he can return to his peaceful life. It will include the antagonist, and his motivations. It will chart, in brief, the major points of conflict along the protagonist’s journey, hint at a few subplots and their leading characters, then end with the protagonist resolving both internal and external conflicts.

A good synopsis should be written in the same style in which you expect to write your book. If your book is funny, the synopsis should be funny. If your book is suspenseful, your synopsis should be suspenseful. You will revise the synopsis occasionally as your characters find their own course through your story, but a synopsis, frequently referred to, will also keep you and your characters on track.

Writing a two-page synopsis is not easy, but it will show an agent or editor that you know how to tell a story from beginning to end. Muster all the enthusiasm you can, use active, powerful verbs, a touch of dialogue if you want, and tell an intriguing story with clean, clear lines.

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Filed under Discipline, editors, Writing

My New Old Novel(s)

Apex Books just announced the new cover for the re-release of my very first published book. I’m very pleased with it, and I’m very pleased with Apex Books. You can see more information here, but for now, here’s the new cover:

When Darkness Loves Us cover art

When Darkness Loves Us cover art

Don’t forget that the book launch will be at Orycon in Portland, OR, this November.


Filed under editors, My New Novel

Let’s Talk About Professionalism

I just finished editing an anthology for Rick Ramsey at TripleTree Publishing, and I need to say a word about professionalism in our industry.

I hear would-be writers cry the blues all the time about not being able to get published. Well, I just remembered why. You don’t do your homework, and you have a misplaced sense of entitlement.

I received manuscripts late. I received manuscripts that were incomplete. I received manuscripts that were single spaced. Or that were double spaced, with an extra space between paragraphs, some of which had no paragraph indentations. I got manuscripts that had funky punctuation which I had to fix (very time consuming) before it could go into the file for the book designer. I edited manuscripts, kicked them back to the authors for their okay on the revisions and never heard back. I got whole new manuscripts back after editing, making all my hard-earned revisions useless, because the old formatting was back.  Which I had to re-do.Some of these were professionals. And then, on top of all of that, I had two rude authors. I don’t need rude.

Not everybody behaved badly, but I could easily tell who was a professional.

One manuscript stood out because of this: It was perfect. It arrived on time, in pristine condition. I had not one single editing suggestion. It didn’t even have a misplaced comma. The story was tight, well-told, and I knew instantly that this was a professional author. I was right. Linda Clare.

So listen up. If you want to be a professional, then dammit, act like one. Stop whining. Make your deadlines. Submit what you’re asked to submit when you’re supposed to submit it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Act like a professional.

And be nice.

If you do those simple things, chances are, you’ll get published. A lot.


Filed under editors, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s Kind of a Dream…

…that a publisher might call out of the blue and say “Hey, we’d like to reissue your out of print books.”  And then one day it happens.

Like today.

Apex is going to republish When Darkness Loves Us in time for launch at Orycon this year, and perhaps Black Ambrosia.

My first two books.

Very fun.


Filed under dreams, editors, Writing

TripleTree Publishing

TripleTree Publishing has a new owner.

I have sold the business to Rick Ramsey, a friend, a writer, and an enthusiastic guy who has great vision and big plans. He has asked me to guest-edit the next MOTA anthology, he is putting together a great retreat in Ireland with a resulting anthology of stories written there, and is, in general, carrying on the tradition I started of putting worthy new writers in print for the first time. Bravo.

Turning the reins over to him was a bittersweet moment.

But a good one. TripleTree rests in good hands. Check out his website and keep your eye on what Rick is up to.

It’ll be good.

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Filed under editors, Writing

Kindle update and clarification

People seem to be very interested in the Kindle and what it will mean to the publishing industry.

I don’t know. I only know that I can read the New York Times in bed at night without folding over giant pages, getting ink all over my hands and figuring out what to do with the piles of newspaper as they accumulate. The Kindle is like what… five ounces and the size of a paperback book. A subscription to the daily NY Times is $13.99/month. To Time Magazine: $1.49 per month. A free 15-day trial subscription to each magazine or newspaper is included. The NY Times is automatically downloaded to my Kindle every morning around 3am. I get up, and there it is.

But books are what we’re talking about here. Electronic rights have been an issue for publishers and authors alike for some time. The field of electronic publishing has been in flux, and yet zooming ahead, leaving everybody confused. The publishers want to tie up the rights to a book for electronic media not even invented yet. I assume that’s why I can’t download Geraldine Brooks’ new book–or any of her books, in fact.

But John Saul’s new hardcover, The Devil’s Labrynth, still in hardcover, is available for download for $9.99. His book Perfect Nightmare, out in 2005 and currently available in paperback, is available for your Kindle for only $5.59.

Do the authors still get paid? Of course. The price is cheaper because there’s no printing, no paper, no ink, no fancy four-color, embossed covers, no gas consumed by shipping palettes of heavy books.

I downloaded Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and paid a whopping $9.99. It’s still in hardcover for $26.95. I can annotate my copy, highlight passages, do anything I could do to a hard cover book, and I don’t have to store it in a bookshelf and I don’t have to box it up if I move. If I delete it eventually because of lack of space on my Kindle, stores a copy for me, complete with my annotations, so I can download it again for free later if I need it. My electronic bookshelf is at their place.

I know of a New York editor, who, instead of schlepping heavy boxes of manuscripts to and from home every weekend, now converts manuscripts to .pdf files, loads them on his Kindle, and he has only 5 ounces to take home with him. Pretty sweet.

Again, I’m not trying to sell these things here. I’m just spreading the word about an amazing new product. Technology that works. 

Again, I’m shouting for joy. 

This is the ultimate tool for readers.


Filed under editors, Joy, Reading, Writing

Selling your short stories

Attention, class.

This is a very brief description of how I have come to have close to 300 short stories, articles and essays in print. I’m not going to talk about articles here, because they are a completely different thing from short fiction and personal essays. 

Today I received a submission in the mail for a defunct series I used to publish (last edition edited in 2003 and published in 2004!). He sent me what is clearly an original, typed copy — it was worn and had seen many submissions — it was a translation, and it came from India with no SASE or international return postage certificates. Normally, I throw these in the trash. But this? This is going to cost me time and energy to return it to him, and that makes me mad. I’ve thrown it away and pulled it back out of the trash three times so far this morning. And now I know I will take the time to take it to the post office, and put the postage on it and send it back to him. Grrr.

Over the ten years that I edited and published short fiction, I was continually astonished at the unprofessional submissions that crossed my desk: single-spaced, printed on both sides of the paper, no SASE, no return address, submitted three years after the series expired. So hear me when I say this: If you look and act like a professional, you’re already in the top ten percent of those who submit.

So here are my rules for successful story and/or essay submission.

1. Make certain this story or essay is ready to go. Never send anything to an editor straight out of your head. Be sure you give it sufficient (at least two weeks) cooling off time after writing it before submitting it. If, after letting it cool, you read it and decide that major rewrites are in order, give it another two weeks after rewriting before sending. Trust me on this. You will save yourself much embarrassment. Know the proper manuscript format. Make sure that your contact information is at the top of the first page, and that your name and the story name, along with the page number is on every page. During that cooling period, it wouldn’t hurt if you let a friend read it, or if you passed it by those in your writing group.

2. Make a list of potential markets. Be familiar with these markets. I rate them in order according to how much they pay (those who have published my work before are always at the top of the list), but if you’re a new writer and are seeking publishing credits, pay should not be as important to you as a high chance of success–i.e. sending it to the perfect publication. I try to put twelve publications on my lists of potential markets. If you’re not familiar with twelve publications that publish what you’re writing, then you don’t read widely enough. Get busy.

3. Send your manuscript, with a short cover letter (1-2 paragraphs that state your credentials) to the first publication on your list. If you have no publishing credentials, you don’t need a cover letter. Be sure to include a #10 Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope (SASE). Assume they will not return the manuscript, but will either send you a contract or a rejection letter. Put a copy of your cover letter in the file where you keep a copy of the story and your list of potential markets, or note on your list the date you sent it. (This is also the file where you will keep all contracts for that story.)

4. Forget it. It will either come back or it won’t. Meantime, get busy writing something else. If it never comes back (this has never happened to me, but sometimes it has taken a couple of years), then some day you’ll come across it, dust it off and continue its rounds. I don’t keep track of these things on a spreadsheet because then I will tend to agonize, and if I’m agonizing, then I’m micromanaging, and if I’m micromanaging, then I’m bugging editors. I absolutely forget it and get on with the next project at hand. Once it’s out into the world, what happens to it is someone else’s job.

5. If the rejection letter comes, print out another copy of the story and send it to the next name on your list that very day. Do not let your story sit on your desk overnight, or you will be tempted to read it. Then you’ll reread the rejection letter (even if it is a form rejection letter), trying to divine some secret truth in it that will help you become a more successful writer.  Then you’ll want to rewrite the story, but you can’t do it now, maybe next week.

And there your story will languish.

Please do not do this.

Once I deem a story fit to publish, I trust that instinct. Only when it is rejected from every publication on the list (this can literally take years), or I receive sincere revision suggestions from a respected editor, do I reread it. Then I will probably rewrite it, make a new list and begin again.

6. When your story has been accepted for publication, note the date that rights revert to you or else give it 18 months courtesy time after publication, then begin selling it again. I have sold stories up to five times.

Being a professional writer means acting like a professional. It’s a business. Have nice-looking letterhead, because that is the first impression you make on an editor. If you view yourself as a pro, so will the editors.

Always remember that competition is stiff for those limited slots in the best magazines and anthologies. Submit only your best.

So get busy, slick up those stories and get them circulating. They aren’t going to get published while idling in your file drawer.

Good luck!

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Filed under editors, Essays, Selling, Short Stories, Writing