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Issue # 9: November 19, 2002

Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.




Hi, and welcome to another issue of our newsletter. If you want

to catch up on back issues, please visit http://www.mindlikewater.com/newsletter.html.


Wow! I am excited about our new Library Initiative, and judging by what others are saying, so are you. Here are a few comments that we received:


   "I just read your offer on the library promo for ebooks and signed up. I think it's a great idea. Thanks for coming up with it."


   "We are excited about this project that you are starting and think it will be fantastic! We are glad to be a part of it from the beginning. Thank you for the opportunity for our ebooks to be included."


   "Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to get my books out to potential readers."


   "Great idea."


   "I'm very excited about this program. Thank you for allowing me to participate."


   "I love your idea..."


We've had a terrific response to our library offer in only the first few days. Just briefly for those of you who may not have read my last email: Mind Like Water is offering a full year of advertising to over 1,000 libraries for only $29.97. We will dedicate one year to helping you promote your ebooks in one of the best places imaginable -- libraries. This initiative begins on December 10, 2002, so sign up now and don't miss out on a single library.


For more information and to sign up, visit: https://www.mind-like-water.com/library_offer.html, or reply to this email for more information.


Enjoy our feature article, "What's an eBook Worth?"


Best wishes,


Michael Williams





Table of Contents

1. Feature Article: What's an eBook Worth?

2. eBook Author Interview: Dale Brooks, The Claypool Conspiracy

3. Tip of the Month

4. eBook Author Interview: Carol Guy, Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor and A Picture Perfect Kid



Feature Article: What's an eBook Worth?


Oh, how I wish that all things were free. The Internet briefly led us to believe that everything is free, but as you can tell from all of the defunct companies, there is always a price to pay.


First, let me say that there is a wealth of information available online for free. If you doubt that, just visit Project Gutenberg, BookShare.org, or Blackmask.com. All of these sites offer hundreds, if not thousands of electronic novels for free. Of course, the text is usually not that fancy, there's no cover art or packaging of any kind, and oftentimes you have to do some fancy navigating to download what you want. Still, the breadth of information from Shakespeare to Poe is staggering.  


eBook authors, how can you compete?


One thing to remember from the start is that you have an original and unique creation that is valuable. You spent a lot of time and effort working on your creation, so don't fall into the free or nearly free trap.


Charge what your product is worth.


I am sometimes amazed by what I see. For example, original ebooks selling for only 99 cents to 3 dollars. I have to ask myself, why even bother at that point? When I see an ebook priced at 99 cents, I don't even consider buying it because it appears cheap.

I don't think that's the image you want and I don't think that's the image that the ebook community needs.


Our products are valuable and in my opinion worth a comparable amount to other books. I feel like a broken record and maybe I have said this before, but it's the content not the media. If you price your content too low, you are telling everyone that it's not really that good.


Is that the message you want to send? I hope not.


See ya next time.



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eBook Author Interview: Dale Brooks, The Claypool Conspiracy


Diane: It's hard to imagine a time when an eyewitness was what it took to convict a criminal. These days, forensic science allows evidence from such things as DNA "fingerprinting," hair analysis, and blood typing into the courtroom. Your western The Claypool Conspiracy (http://www.puzzlesbyshar.com/adventurebooks) is based on the true story of a Texas sheriff and a doctor who together used forensic science to solve the murder of a prominent rancher in the 1800s. It was the first time a lawman west of the Mississippi had gone to trial in a murder case without an eyewitness, and it forever changed the way police investigations were done in the western United States. When you first learned about this historical event, did you immediately recognize its potential as a novel, or did your idea for The Claypool Conspiracy germinate later? What was it about this event that made it appealing to you as a writer?


Dale: Well, Diane, I had always dreamed of writing books, but realized you need a lot of time in solitude to do so. I had never had that kind of time to spare from my very busy life style. My number one priority was making a living and raising a family of four children. Having been an entertainer most of my life, it gave me connections with people in radio who gave me my first job as a deejay. I had tried several occupations such as a tool and die maker in a steel mill, set up a dry cleaning business, ran night clubs, plus entertaining. But in radio I found a home. I got into selling advertising on radio, learned programming, management, and other skills associated with radio, and was doing well at it. However, I knew there was no "retirement" in this field...not unless you got into ownership and created your own retirement. There were no pensions or anything to live on when you did retire. I went back to school and learned electronic engineering. To own and run a radio station, you needed to know engineering to do it right in small market radio. Even though I had no money or financial support, I did get into partial ownership of radio stations, and eventually met my goal of owning a station totally with no senior partners.


All these years I was still planning to write adventure books, but had no time to write. But a lot of the hours I spent in my car calling on advertisers, I was planning what to write about. I knew a book had to have a "hook," an idea to capture the interest of readers, as you do with the audience when on stage. You have to have an idea to capture their attention and keep them concentrating on what you are doing. So I had a mental outline of the story before I ever started writing. In radio we were heavy on news, so I covered a lot of major crime cases on trial. I frequently talked to lawyers, policemen, and other people in the court system about cases in the news. I learned a lot about how crimes were investigated, how clues were traced, how cases were built, and how they were tried. I was a part-time city cop for several years, and that gave me inside information on investigations. I knew that somebody, somewhere started the ball rolling on forensic science, and got policemen into gathering physical evidence and using it to prove a case. I never learned who actually started this chain, but did find it was used in the bigger cities along the east coast before it finally caught on in the old western frontier.


Western lawmen had little or no contact with eastern lawman in the old days before electronic communications came to be. It took some time for western lawmen to hear about, study and use the "new" techniques being used in the east. This is where I saw an opportunity for a good book. Create a fictional character who learned of this new kind of evidence, got every book he could find on the subject, studied them and learned from them, and used his own imagination to expand this knowledge and make it fit the different lifestyle of the old west.


Obviously, somebody was the first to put a case together with physical science clues. His success would set precedents in the courts, and other lawmen would take note of this and get interested in forensics too. This would start a chain reaction among lawmen and drastically change the way crimes were investigated. In The Claypool Conspiracy, this young sheriff, Hank Sanders, was that man.


Diane: What were some of the challenges in writing a novel -- The Claypool Conspiracy -- that not only had to accurately portray the setting of the "Wild West," but also recreate as fiction a true story?


Dale: I believe a GOOD book has to be believable. How can a man do impossible things and have the reader identify with him? I wanted my book to be as close as possible to how forensic science really first occurred in the west. That was the challenge for me. I didn't want Hank using methods and techniques that hadn't been invented yet. I had to establish a time line to go by. When did they first discover the use of fingerprints? When did they first start using blood typing? When did they start doing ballistic testing of weapons and bullets to prove which gun fired the fatal shot? A hundred other things used today in forensic science popped up sometime along this time line...but when? I pestered a lot of my friends who were doctors, lawyers, policemen and others for this information. It took some time. Some of them had to do some research to answer my questions, and I deeply appreciate their valuable help. With this time line established, I could write a story that depicted a lawman doing what factually could have been done in that time period.


Although the story is fiction, it does tell how forensic science had to have happened in the early 1880s. This book sings the praises of an unsung hero who probably never really knew what a positive effect his efforts created in law enforcement in the Old West. His techniques paved the way for a very dramatic change and improvement in crime investigation.


Diane: You have been involved with music almost your entire life it seems. You spent some 30 years as a deejay, broadcaster and radio station owner, and you have been entertaining musically since you inherited your first band at age 16. You also were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Does music influence your writing? What do you see as the correlations between songwriting and storytelling? For example, do you find yourself paying attention to the rhythm, tempo or tone of your novels, as you would with a song?


Dale: Yes, my musical training and experience taught me many things that helped in writing a novel. One musician does not make a band. One song does not make a concert. And making good music requires several people working together in close harmony.

Perfection spells success.


A character that doesn't really fit into the story, an event that is unreasonable, a technique that could not possibly have been used -- these are like a sour note in a chord...they spoil it terribly. So everything has to be in tune, at the right rhythm, and with a pleasing tempo. And most of all, the tone of a book must both stir and maintain the reader's interest. Add a surprise ending to top it all off. Never let the reader know how your story is going to end after reading only half the book!


By the way, I never knew I was even in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame until I stumbled onto it by accident one day on my computer. Just for the heck of it, I typed the name of my first record, "Ambridge Boogie," into the search field and there it was! I have no idea who put me in there. If I had any effect on the way Rockabilly developed, I wasn't aware of it. I was just having fun and trying to make a little grocery money!


Diane: What has been your experience with the ebook publishing industry? What advice would you give to a writer who was ready to publish their first book electronically?


Dale: I was thrilled to get published at all. It was almost impossible for a new author to get published by anyone. I had a drawer full of rejection slips. If the book market is down, a book -- no matter how good it may be -- doesn't get published. I spent years getting nothing but rejections. I guess I got lucky. Adventure Books was looking for good, new authors, and Shar Durksen read The Claypool Conspiracy and wanted it. We negotiated a contract on that book and others I had written, and that started the ball rolling.


There must have been sufficient response to The Claypool Conspiracy during its first year as an ebook on the Internet for Adventure Books to decide to release it in paperback as well. To have worldwide distribution is beyond my wildest dreams. The nicest thing is this: In the time since Adventure Books signed contracts with me, conventional print publishers wouldn't yet have even seriously read and edited the book. And release could still be years away.


Frankly, I see nowhere for electronic books to go but up. Every day more and more people become aware of the availability of available. And since the availability of online books makes them instantly available anywhere in the world, an author may actually see success while still living!


Diane: Your next novel, to be released soon by Adventure Book Publishers (http://www.puzzlesbyshar.com/adventurebooks), is titled The Homesteader. Tell us about this book.


Dale: The Homesteader is another adventure story that is based on facts. The story takes place immediately after the American Revolutionary War, in the late 1700s. Much of the story is about things passed down to me in family folklore.


My family goes back to immigrants from Holland, England and Germany. Many of them came to America as early as 1741, and wound up settling in what is now West Virginia. Growing up on a farm in the mountains, I learned from my father and my grandfather about the many ways new settlers in this wilderness learned to live there, away from "civilization" and towns. The way they cleared land, built log cabins, hunted, fished, raised crops to feed their families. The only tools they had were the few they could carry on their backs a hundred miles or more over the rugged Allegheny Mountains.


In my family tree are the famous "Pringle Brothers," who were the very first settlers in central West Virginia near Buckhannon. They actually lived in a tree...a huge hollow sycamore tree that served as their "house" during the Revolutionary War. That spot is now a state park, bearing the name "Pringle Tree State Park." Several members of the Pringle's family took turns living in this tree while they constructed their own cabin.


The central character in The Homesteader is a cousin in his late teens whose family lived in the tree while building their homestead in the vicinity. Though fiction, the story depicts the hardships they faced and the way they lived in this primitive wilderness. Faced with harsh winters, hostile Indians who didn't want them there, and ruthless trappers who were often virtual outlaws, it was a dangerous life.


So many of the ways people survived, the way they raised food crops, how they cured meat, trapped for furs, survived sickness and wounds, have long since been forgotten. As people prospered, the area grew in population, new tools were invented, better guns were developed, new frontier industries came into being, and people started forgetting these old practices. They were not passed along to their children anymore. These ways have become more and more forgotten.


I am probably one of the very few people still living that actually learned the ways to hunt, trap, use the tools of that era, and really used the knowledge those hearty pioneers depended on to survive. How to predict the weather by observing nature, how to store fresh fruits and vegetables for your winter diet with no canning jars or deep freezers. How to make tools, make furniture, grow food crops, and so much more. I wanted to preserve this kind of knowledge before it disappeared. I also wanted the story to be an accurate example of what it was really like to be the first settlers in such a remote wilderness. People had to live by their wits and the sweat of their brow. There were no luxuries, as we know them. But they did have fun on occasion, and lived a mostly happy life.


There is one major difference in this book. Most fiction is told as if witnessed by a third party. The third party is not involved in the lives of the characters. He is like an observer who sees the events happen and writes about what he sees. He also has the advantage of knowing what is about to happen, what leads up to it, even what a foe may be thinking and planning. The Homesteader is different...the whole story is told as it is seen and experienced by the main character, the cousin. He knows only his side of a story or event, has no prior knowledge of what's coming up, and has to survive every situation by his own wits. The story comes across as if it is being told by the hero himself. Every detail in it is as seen through his eyes. This was the first novel I wrote. I did not learn until years later that this style of writing is the most difficult way to write a book. I'm kind of glad I didn't learn this until after the book was finished!


My family are very happy I wrote this book. They too were concerned that so many of the customs and ways of doing things in those days would be lost forever. We all hope that those who read The Homesteader not only will enjoy the story, but will better appreciate the things our forefathers faced when they so boldly penetrated this pristine wilderness. It was definitely no picnic.


-- Dale Brooks




Tip of the Month


Give thanks for what you have. Dream about and set goals for what you want.



eBook Author Interview: Carol Guy, Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor and A Picture Perfect Kid


Diane: I read that your "love of a good mystery" can be traced back to the day you picked up your first novel by Agatha Christie, the queen of cozy mysteries. It shouldn't come as a surprise then that you've written a cozy mystery yourself called Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor, to be released soon by Treble Heart Books (http://www.trebleheartbooks.com). For those who might not know, what makes a mystery "cozy"? How are those elements manifested in Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor?


Carol: A cozy or, as they are sometimes called, "traditional" mystery usually takes place in a small town, or other self-contained venue, such as a university campus or secluded estate. There is a minimum of graphic violence, and the crime is usually solved by an amateur sleuth who uses deductive reasoning and keen observation to unmask the killer.


In Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor, amateur sleuth Helen Lawson stumbles onto a murder scene one quiet spring morning in her hometown of Bridgeville when she enters the Bridgeville ice cream parlor for a cup of tea. What follows is a full-scale police investigation that results in the speedy arrest of a local "bad boy." But Helen is convinced that the wrong man is in custody and decides to launch her own investigation into the crime. As she begins to ask questions, Helen meets with many obstacles, including a warning from the town mayor to "stop messing around in police business" and opposition from her son-in-law, a police officer involved in the investigation. Undaunted, Helen continues her inquiries and is finally able to put the puzzle pieces together, solve the murder and unmask the killer.


All the elements of a cozy are present in Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor -- small town, character conflicts, amateur sleuth, the wrongly accused and, of course, the use of logic, observation and deductive reasoning to solve the crime. In the end, a killer is brought to justice, order is restored and life returns to normal in the idyllic little community of Bridgeville.


Diane: You co-wrote Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor with Linda Zimmer, who lives in a different city than you in Ohio. I imagine a lot of us picture authors as solitary figures working at their craft. Explain for us the process by which you and Linda coordinated the writing of Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor. What advice do you have for others who might want to try co-authoring a novel?


Carol: We meet for story consultations. We also work from an exact story outline and create character profiles, so we have in front of us a detailed description of each character including his or her place in the sequence of events. Co-authoring will only work if you are "on the same wave length" when it comes to story line development. I'm not saying you can't have differences of opinion, but you need to be able to coordinate your efforts at some point so you can move along with the project. In our case, we knew exactly what direction we wanted the story to take, so it wasn't that difficult.


Diane: Your other book, A Picture Perfect Kid (http://www.zumayapublications.com/title.php3?id=43), is not so cozy a read. This is a true crime book about the murder of a woman you knew, by her grandson. Tell us briefly about the murder. What did you find compelling about this crime that you thought would make it an interesting story for your readers?


Carol: On the afternoon of Saturday, May 6, 2000 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 16-year-old Joshua Allen Wolf walked out onto the upstairs balcony of the home he shared with his 56-year-old grandmother, Carol Jean Lindley, and killed her with a single shot from a .22 caliber rifle as she sat in the family room below watching television. They had just moved from Columbus, Ohio to Cape Girardeau, so Carol could take a job as an administrator at St. Francis Medical Center. Carol's husband, Bill, planned to join them in a few months, when he retired. Carol and Bill Lindley had raised Joshua since early childhood.


After Joshua shot his grandmother, he took her ATM card and spent the weekend raiding her bank account, as she lay dead on the family room floor. Then, on Monday morning, he went to school, turned in his books, told school authorities he was moving back to Ohio, went home and set the house on fire to cover up his crime.


This is a complex story, with many twists and turns. For me, the story was compelling because I worked for Carol as her office manager at a Columbus hospital prior to her move to Missouri. She was my boss and my friend. The murder occurred in Cape Girardeau, but the seeds were sown in Columbus, and I watched as this scenario for tragedy unfolded in the months before their move.


As I made my way through the hundreds of pages of material provided to me by Cape Girardeau Prosecutor Morley Swingle, I realized that there had been a lot of things going on behind the scenes that would make for very good reading. I also realized that I could bring a perspective to the story that only someone who knew the people involved and was aware of the situation first hand could provide.


Diane: Which did you enjoy the most: the more analytical process of researching and writing about a true crime, or the more imaginative process of creating and writing about a fictional crime?


Carol: Well, whether you're writing true crime or fictional mysteries, you still have to do research. But, having written both now, I can tell you that fiction is easier! And while mystery fiction is my preferred genre, I'm not ruling out the possibility of another true crime book. I didn't mind the research involved; in fact I found it fascinating and very educational. I guess fiction appeals to me because it is less structured and I have complete creative freedom. Whereas, in true crime, the facts are the facts and they cannot be changed. All you can do is try to present those facts in a creative way that will make the piece entertaining for the reader. That is the real challenge.


Diane: What are you working on now? Do you have plans to co-write another book with Linda?


Carol: Right now, I'm working on a mystery novel that isn't quite so "cozy." There's no amateur sleuth in this one, just lots of intrigue, conflict, plenty of victims and even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. It is called Vengeance Can Wait.


Yes, Linda and I are getting ready to start the second cozy featuring our amateur sleuth, Helen Lawson. We hope to revisit the citizens of Bridgeville many times in the future. This one is entitled Murder at the Church Social.


-- Carol Guy

Coming soon from Treble Heart Books, MURDER AT THE ICE CREAM PARLOR by Carol Guy & Linda Zimmer.


A House of Secrets, A Web of Lies, A Teen With Murder on His Mind. A PICTURE PERFECT KID by Carol Guy (January 2003 from Zumaya Publications). http://www.zumayapublications.com 




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