Sunday, July 10, 2011

Taking Back America One Cause At A Time

On July 8, 2011 Arizona took a step toward sanity. Due to the efforts of a group called Citizens for a Better Arizona, a sufficient number of signatures were gathered to recall Senate President Russell Pearce - the right wing lunatic author of the "Papers Please" SB1070. This means that Russell Pearce - the first Senate President in the history of the United States to be recalled - has five days to resign or be required to face off in a primary. I make up that in his arrogance he will not resign and then we will see how serious Arizonans are about regaining their collective sanity.

According to reports Citizens for a Better Arizona collected more than a third more signatures than were required for the recall. They reported that people were pouring into their offices to sign the petition. To Read More

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Victim is America not Weiner

There is a significant amount of conversation on line about how the Weiner scandal will hurt the Democrats. That's not what I see. I see the victim as the American people with the further fall of any credible American government. This is as a result of the Republicans in particular focusing on other people's sex as a way to distract the American people from their disastrous policies and their horrendous efforts to keep the government from working so they can win the next election. It's not Weiner's fault - what he did is disgusting but it is not what's bringing down America. What's bringing down America is the Republican strategy to win elections. To Read More

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Thomas Drake Debacle

It's really interesting for me to see the "Department of Justice" so consistently go after people who are trying to bring transparency to government while the liars (Anthony Weiner being a notable exception) get off Scott free. This is a case we should all know more about because it is about a man who should be protected by the government not persecuted by it. He was doing a good thing - blowing the whistle on NSA excesses. Unlike Bush and Cheney who lied to the American people about torture and WMD, Cheney who outed a CIA operative and jeopardized an entire network designed to protect America because he was mad at her husband - Thomas Drake was whistle blowing about NSA excesses - NSA law breaking.

The craziest part of all this is that Eric Holder and Co are using the Espionage Act but even they say he was not a spy.

We really have to pay attention to the Obama "Justice Department" because they are prosecuting the innocent and allowing the guilty to go free. Those innocent would make our government better - those guilty would make it worse. It's up to us to support people like Thomas Drake, Bradley Manning and others who should be protected by law and because of Holder are not.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Rich Say The Want To Pay Their Fair Share

Some of the Rich and Feckless it would seem are patriotic Americans not simply greedy. They say they reject the Bush Tax Cuts - not to mention the Ryan Tax Cuts - because they believe those cuts are hurting the country they love - and they're right. Here's what you do rich and feckless - you buy the politicians - that's what the unpatriotic Americans like the Koch Brothers are doing - and then you tell them what you want them to do.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How To Use Cars (and other forms of transportation) To Enhance Character Development.

I started writing my book "What Car Would Hamlet Drive? 2000 questions to ask fictional characters for students, actors, writers and readers of fiction" because I had a very hard time making small talk at social events. I feared I might have as much difficulty thinking up things to ask fictional characters as a writer. Along the path of compiling thousands of questions, I discovered that I have written a seminal book about Character - not definitive because every time I let anyone read the book they came up with a dozen questions I'd forgotten - but definitely seminal. And the book in itself is a great conversation piece, because people I meet have all kinds of ideas about questions to ask characters and all kinds of suggestions as to how the answers advance understanding of people, plots and stories. The following is an excerpt from the book.

Cars and Other Forms of Transportation.

A car is generally a statement about the person driving it. Car choices convey how the character thinks about himself – how he wants other people to perceive him. Car ownership often has history behind it.
* A character drives a Cadillac because he thinks they make him look successful.
* Another character would never drive a Cadillac because he thinks they are a reflection of being nouveau rich.
* A character would never buy a new car.
* Another character would never buy a used car.

To Learn More Click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Go To The Bookstore Before You Write

Writing a book generally starts with a visit to the bookstore - not the library. You are looking for a whole bunch of very important information not the least of which is what area your book fits in.

Collect Titles Of Similar Books

Bookstores and publishers and readers want books that are similar but different. It is a rare book that is totally unlike any other that gets into a bookstore. They don’t hate you; they just won’t know where to put it on their shelves. Describing your book is similar to the way a high concept movie, which is sold in a single sentence, is pitched to a Hollywood Studio. “It’s like Die Hard on a Cruise Ship.” “It’s like Sound of Music in Africa.” “It’s like The Beverly Hill Billies in Manhattan.” You hook to something easily recognizable (and preferably very successful) and then give your twist that makes the subject unique to you or your project. If you would like to read more, click here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ISBN Numbers and Bar Codes

If you self-publish and e-publish you may have to get your own ISBN number in order to place your product in a store or an on-line store. If you do, here is what they are and where to get them.

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique, numerical commercial book identification number. When you publish a paper book it must have an ISBN number and a related barcode on the back if you intend to place it on or in bookstores. If you publish an ebook ISBN numbers are only required on sites like Sony and IPad and barcodes are not need at all.

The price of the paper book goes on the ISBN Barcode when you order it. If you are self-publishing you can generally buy ISBN numbers from the self-publisher or from companies that specialize in selling ISBN barcodes. They come by email as .jpegs and are easily attached to the cover art. If you published a book without barcodes on the cover you can print them on labels and paste them to the cover.

Different ISBN numbers must be put on each variation of a book (except reprints). For example, hard cover books get one ISBN number, paperbacks a different ISBN number, e-books another ISBN number. If for some reason you change the price of the book, you also have to get a new ISBN number. If you notice, when they make sales at the big bookstores they make different barcodes that are pasted on the covers – so you need new barcodes if you change the price of your book.

ISBN numbers are for books only. Bar Codes that are not ISBN specific go on other products like CDs, audio books and DVDs. You get those barcodes from sources that specialize in them. Once again, you can’t get these products in stores like and into bookstores and other commercial venues without barcodes.

The company I contact for ISBN bar codes is :

Bar Code Graphics, Inc.
444 N. Michigan Ave #3500
Chicago, IL 60611
312-595-0725 Fax

The person I contact for non-book barcodes is:
(888) 446-CODE (2633)

Getting an ISBN number is only half the process. Next you must register the fact that you bought the ISBN Number because without that registration you can’t get a PAD number and without that you can’t place books in major book stores. You want to register your ISBN number with Bowker’s “Books In Print.”

The address to register is:

If you have a ten number ISBN number you need to convert it to a 13 digit ISBN number which is easy. Google ISBN Conversion and then click on Type in the ISBN 10 digit number and hit submit and you will get your 13-digit number.

If you are using to publish you have to go to your dashboard/ISBNManager and when you give them your new ISBN number they will register it with Bowkers for you. You do not need to do that if you want to publish on Kindle and Barnes & Noble, you do need to if you are planning to be published on IPad and Sony.

Excerpt from "How To Write A Book That Positions You As An Expert In Your Field"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Read The Opening Of My New Book - Free

10 Day Book Club invites you to read
the opening of author Joan Meijer's latest manuscript "Accidental Consequences"
prior to publishing. Please comment, give feed back, make suggestions.

Join Joan’s book club would love you to
comment on her manuscript, and
join her for a live chat.

Joan’s Book Club is online now through April 26
(read at your convenience)

Author’s Chat is April 27
(details on the website)
Read for FREE! Internet Access Required

10 Day Book Club
Everyone (18+) that registers
on 10 Day Book Club’s website
is entered into
the iPAD giveaway in May.

Problem with Google

Does anyone else have the same problem with Google that I am having? Because I am about to drop Google as my search engine.


Every time I go to look up something, anything, Google redirects me to some stupid site like "Gimme Answers" which gives you NOTHING - there are dozens of these sites that are redirects. You can't get back from them without closing Google - they are advertisement sites that have NOTHING to do with what I'm searching for. They are a total waste of time and provide NO value except to screw with Google.

If I completely go out of Google and try the same request again, eventually I get to the site I'm looking for, but it's a ridiculous, aggravating waste of time. AND I get no help from Google.

If you know how to contact Google and you too are being screwed with by these useless sites - let Google know that they have a problem.

Digital Short Story

Last Saturday I participated in a joyous event. Four published authors wrote one short story together. It was like the game we used to play with a folded piece of paper where someone started a drawing - the next person had a few lines below the fold with which to continue the drawing - and what turned out was nothing like the original idea but was a wonderful, exciting, story that made complete sense.

Check out Blood Bond it's fun.

This opened huge doors for me. I see that I can write short stories about the characters in my upcoming books. Things I wouldn't put in the story but which create deep and rich background from which to draw as I write. Because of the new publishing model, these stories don't have to be relegated to my file drawer - they can be published and create interest in the final novel. It's thrilling what is happening to publishing and the world of writing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Blog Changed My Life

This is the year of my regurgitating computer. The year I discovered "thar's money in them files."

I have dozens of nearly completed works of fiction languishing in my computer files - languishing because finding and dealing with agents and publishers is such a royal pain I just didn't want to do it for my fiction (I've done it for years for non-fiction and I'm not going to do that again either).

Then I read a blog that finally put paid to the need for agents and publishers for all time. A blog that told me that there has been a paradigm shift in the publishing world and that I can sell my books and get the lion's share of the royalty for myself.

Thank you Barry Eisler for having the conversation I needed to hear, the conversation that says to self-publish to your hearts content and to get those books OUT!

If you are a writer wannabe, wannabe no more. You still need to be professional, but there is no gatekeeper preventing you from having your dream. Even having a high profile on the internet is no longer necessary if you have a lot of book shelf on the e-pubs and on, and B& It's a new world for writers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

To Outline Or Not To Outline

Suzy Prudden and I have written books without complete outlines and we have written books with complete outlines. I can assure you that working from a comprehensive outline that you and the publisher and editor have agreed on before hand is better than working from a verbal agreement with no outline. A good outline guides you. It lets the publisher know exactly what you’re going to do before the fact, so there is no chance of a misunderstanding that could cost you your advance. Without an outline you can go completely off course in your writing. I speak from vast experience.

When in doubt – create an annotated outline. An annotated outline gives the chapter heading, a sample opening paragraph – demonstrating how the chapter will read – followed by an outline of what the rest of the chapter is going to be about. It is truly easy to write a book after you have made a comprehensive annotative outline. One really good piece of information I got from someone was to make each chapter heading interesting. The best chapter heading I ever wrote was for our "Suzy Prudden's One Stop Diet Revolution" which reads "Why Exercise and Sex Are Better In The Morning."

A book proposal for an agent or publisher includes:

* Title Pages
* Table of Contents
* Annotated Outline
* Comparison Sheet
* Synopsis
* One Page Bio
* 2-3 Completed Sample Chapters
* A Realistic Marketing Plan.

By realistic marketing plan I mean you can actually do it because you will be using contacts you really have. Publishers are not impressed with dreams and possibilities nor should you be. Statements like, “I plan to call every talk radio program in the Los Angeles area and talk to the producers until they agree to interview me,” are grounded in what you realistically plan to do – it’s an action plan. “I will receive nationwide radio coverage for the book,” is not grounded in reality. It would be nice, but there’s no action in "I will receive" and your book might not fit with every radio station even those that cover books. If you said you planned to call every talk show producer in America that might be a little better, but it’s still awfully big to get a publisher’s mind around. Even worse is, I will do everything to market the book you set up for me and tell me to do.
The following are some suggestions of places you can do your own marketing and placement.

Your Website – develop a website about you where you make yourself interesting. It can be sophisticated or very simple – what is important is that it be informative, and that you give lots of information away.
My website is simple you can find it at I laid it out, wrote the material and sent it to Nancy Villella at who laid it all out and posted it on line. You can post your own, or have someone do it for you. I chose years ago not to spend the time building the skills to create websites and focus on writing instead.

I have a little store where I sell autographed copies of my paperback books – those which are available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon without autographs. I have a little news page where I announce things that I do. The newspage is filled with reviews and announcements. It is not filled with press releases. You post frequently so that people get to know you if they are wondering who you are. My website is also posted to my blog which I write on two or three times a week - usually I write about writing, sometimes I write reviews.

On my home page I have two good reviews of my latest novel which shows that reviewers (third parties) like what I’m doing. I have only five pages. I connect to my blog and to Facebook and Twitter. Eventually I will contact to YouTube and have a podcast about writing tips. Your site doesn’t have to be big or fancy, it should be interesting and informative. In the next few weeks I will post a radio and television interview that I have done recently. That should give me much more traffic.

I pay attention to traffic and have a website that keeps track of my visitors.
I am in the process of researching key words and I will use those keywords on my site and on my blog. Keywords also position you as an expert in your field.


Create an annotated outline for your book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You're THAT Joan Meijer?

Some weeks ago I read about the site for people like me - emerging. Writers who are starting out in one field or another and who would like people to know about their books. My new book is "Tranquillity Initiative" a medical thriller about an anthrax attack on New York City which is getting really good reviews.

I contacted the site and asked how I could get covered. As I have been saying in my blogs, self-promotion is what getting published is all about today. Mike contacted me right back and the announcement of my book and the interview is the result.

The announcement and clips from my reviews came first. Mike has a great template that makes it easy for someone like me to organize my material. I was asked for my bio.... three or four of the best clips from my reviews and a short run down about the book. Those things are very handy to have in your files if you're going to promote a book anyway, so his asking for them made me very aware of what I needed to write.

Next Mike asked me for interview questions. I wrote 13 of them - and answered them and he selected the ones he liked. It's increasingly fun to be interviewed because I discover things I about my writing that came naturally and that I hadn't actually thought through as technique during the process.

The interview was posted today.

If you are a beginning writer be prepared to talk about yourself as you have never talked before. As the family introvert, I have spent my life walking behind my self-promoting mother and sister wondering how they do it. When I was a teenager my mother, Bonnie Prudden, was very famous for having conducted a physical fitness test which resulted in the formation of The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Within 30 seconds of meeting someone she would have them down on the floor to be tested - and I would be pretending I came with someone else. My sister Suzy Prudden has never missed an opportunity to get up on a stage and I've been in the back of the room selling our books and product. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard Suzy say, "I'm famous...." and fully a third of a room full of people will have indeed heard of her... "You're THAT Suzy Prudden?"

I'm not at the stage of "You're THAT Joan Meijer" yet, but I walk into rooms announcing myself as a novelist now instead of sitting in my chair wondering if I should say something. I contact people who might interview me regularly. And the great surprise for me is how much I'm enjoying it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Radio Interview

As the daughter of a famous person, Bonnie Prudden, and the sister of a famous person, Suzy Prudden, I spent a lot of time being support sitting in the back of the room listening to them be interviewed.

My interview for my new book "Tranquillity Initiative" the medical thriller about an anthrax attack on New York City has just been posted at The Author Show. It's really fun to be the one being interviewed. I hope you'll listen and give me feedback.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To Get An Agent Or Not To Get An Agent

You don't need an agent to self-publish. You generally do need one to get a major publisher. Sometimes publishing companies approach you if you have established yourself as an expert in your field. Here's where agents come in handy.

Agents are useful to negotiate your contract with a big company – they usually can’t sell your how-to book much better than you can. Contrary to popular belief agents don’t sell books. Subjects, recognized expertise, great proposals, great writing and connections sell books, but if you don’t use agents in a negotiation there’s a good chance you may lose money – you can bet that publishers come to the table with lawyers.

Because she was so famous that publishers were coming to her with offers, Suzy Prudden’s and my mother, Bonnie Prudden, sold most of her books herself. She didn’t always make the best publishing deals but she made millions on her books. Suzy and I have had both good and bad experiences with agents. One agent I worked with killed a book deal I had gotten by myself. She killed the deal over recording rights, an issue I didn’t remotely care about - she never asked me if it was important to me. The result was I didn’t do business with a company that would have published four books for me. Agents have, on the other hand, gotten more money for us than we would have made for ourselves.

The way to work with agents and lawyers is to make certain they know what YOU want going into a negotiation so they don’t kill deals you don’t want killed for the wrong reasons. If you’re going to self-publish you don’t need an agent. You do need a good editor.

There are books on how to get agents. I have used the Guide to Literary Agents: Where & How to Find the Right Agent to Represent Your Work to great advantage. There are also agents listen in The Writer’s Guide. If you are going to use a book to get an agent, you have to write a zinger of a query letter that lets them know that (a) you have a book a publisher might buy and (b) you are ready, willing and able to self-promote. Self-promotion is the thing that all writers have to be willing to do. That's setting up book signings, that's active back of the room sales, that's creating a high on-line profile, that's speaking wherever possible. Don’t forget, agents get 15% of your income if you sell to a publisher.

The most important thing that I can tell you about agents is that they know their fields and they have contacts in the publishing world. If you are going after an agent make certain to research what they specialize in because that will be an indication of their contacts. They generally say what they specialize in and you can also tell if you have a fit by looking at the books and authors they have represented. If they are working in the field you are writing in, they know what will sell. They aren’t always good at telling you what is wrong with your book, but you can ferret out the information if you listen carefully and objectively. The absolutely most self-defeating thing you can do is get mad at an agent for giving you honest feedback.

I recently worked with a client who got so angry at an agent for telling him the truth about his book that he had to drop the project. If an agent spends time telling you things, figure out how to use that information and make your project better. One of the reasons that self-publishing has such a bad rap is that authors (a) do not get feedback and (b) do not listen to feedback. If you need to, step back from your project for a month or two before re-reading it. Once you are away from the project for a period of time you get more perspective on it. As a general rule, when you are up close to a project you like it so much you can't see its flaws. Giving yourself detachment is the best tool you can have to see where you can improve your work. Seek feedback even if you have to pay for it. It's important. As a general rule, giving yourself time so that you can get your book published is better than rushing your book through and having a product that either won't get published, or won't get sales.

There are agents who will charge you to read your book. I have not had a great deal of success with them. They have taken my money and given me nothing of value in return. I don't mind people no liking what I write as much as I dislike people who take my money and give me nothing valuable in return. I would highly recommend that they are rip offs and to avoid them. If reading your book is their only profit center, they have no incentive to improve it so they can make money getting it published.

This blog is taken from my book "How To Write A Book That Positions You As An Expert In Your Field" available on Kindle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review by Jennifer Shaw at Book Noise

Tranquillity Initiative Review

By: Joan Meijer


The United States is at war in endless war in Astrakhan. It is an election year. In order to extricate itself from the war President Charles Anderson authorizes the Tranquillity Initiative - use of American Anthrax weaponry in Astrakhan.

Two of the bombs are stolen from the American base in Turkey and smuggled into New York. One bomb is opened accidentally - which puts the city on notice of the threat. Dr. Cassandra Williams of the CDC and Senator Richland Powell must use every ounce of intelligence to find the terrorists and stop them. Unbeknown to then, a secret White House cell - trying to prevent knowledge of Anderson's use of American weapons is trying to stop Cassandra from stopping the terrorists and identifying the origins of the anthrax.

My Take:

Tranquillity Initiative is a thriller loaded with realistic weaponry and intense action. With elections around the corner two soldiers are given an order to drop a bomb ending the war with Astrakhan. Terrorist cells have infiltrated the White House. To make matters worse a few bombs have been stolen and are making their way to N.Y.

If you are looking for an action packed thrilling read them Meijer's Tranquility Initiative is the book for you. Meijer keeps you on the edge of your seat as Cassandra delves deeper into a conspiracy that is so realistic it's scary as hell.

I have to admit that this is not a book I would have read if I saw it on the bookstore. The cover didn't speak to me and left a lot to be desired in my opinion but once you start reading you are enthralled by the conspiracy and can't wait to see what happens in the end. This is a fabulous read that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys a really good thriller. Tranquillity Initiative is fantastic. Meijer tells a superb story that will have you wanting more.

Jennifer Shaw
Book Noise (

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To Get A Publisher Or To Self-Publish That Is The Question

This particular question is for people who are looking to publish books for back of the room sales, but it actually has a wider application. If you want to be a writer in today's market, you have to look at whether it is advantageous to self-publish. If you do self-publish what are the venues available to you.

Most writers aren’t candidates for big publishers. They may be candidates for small niche publishers but, in the day of self-publishing, getting published by other people isn’t all that necessary, since the authors are going to have to do the bulk of self-promotion anyway. I repeat that - you are going to have to do your own self-promotion.

Big name publishers, like Doubleday or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which all used to be separate companies, are becoming fewer and fewer. Yes, they give advances, which you pay back out of the sale of your book, but you have to pay back in full if it turns out they don’t like your final product. Yes, they sometimes put money into a national tour, and they take care of all the little problems like lay out and copy editing. But, there’s just one major problem – if your book isn’t a hit in a few weeks, it goes off the shelves, out of the book stores, gets remaindered and you get to buy whatever copies are left. Also, with the advent of the big discounts at the super stores which are in competition to see who can sell the most by lowering the price of your book, you get less profit from your books.

Finally, there’s the issue of who gets the profits. If you get 5% of the sale of your book with a big publisher you’re lucky – and that’s not entirely unfair. They take the risk, make the advance, have the book edited, copy edited, printed, distributed and, if they do happen to publicize it, keep the huge staff to do that on their payroll. They have big buildings for which they pay maintenance and taxes, big staffs, international representation and a lot of overhead. So you take your couple of bucks profit and keep your day job.

Since you’re going to have to store a bunch of your books anyway for back of the room sales you might as well do it yourself and keep the profit. Profits for self-published books are 85% as against 5%. Books that have been published by big publishers usually don’t usually have a long life – although that’s somewhat less true with the advent of Heads up, my experience with Amazon has been dreadful. I know dozens of people personally who have bought my books from Amazon and I haven't realized a penny from that company. If you are using your book in your seminars and workshops for back of the room sales, you need to have copies for the duration of your career (which you buy at half price from the big publishers as long as they’re in print and then you self-publish). Unless you have a big name and a large following, it’s probably best to self-publish from the outset.

With the advent of the Internet and the e-book the whole scene is changing. More than 50% of all books sold by Amazon are now sold on Kindle (where I have my books and still haven't received a penny). There are companies that convert your books to eBooks - I've just loaded my books onto Smashwords and my account is still so young there I don't know if they pay better than Amazon but they certainly communicate better than Amazon. Every time a transaction happens around a book of mine I am notified by Smashwords. I never get a word from Amazon. In addition, several of my books are co-authored and Amazon refuses to list sales by individual book sold so I don't know how to split profits if I ever see any.

What Smashwords does is convert your book to all the different formats that are used by all the different epub opportunities - Nook, Kindle, I-pad and so forth. They also sell your book on Smashwords. And, as I have mentioned, they communicate with you. I don't yet know if they pay.

You can use a publisher (see my list in my book "How To Write A Book That Positions You As an Expert In your Field") available on Kindle, on my website - Soon to be available on Smashwords. You can use or - to print on demand one at a time books so that people can order on line. But if you use them, you can't really sell hard cover or even paperback on Amazon or the other on-line bookstores because the books are too expensive for them to make a profit. I have used CafePress and never made a nickel - same problem with Amazon they don't communicate anything with the authors. You gather I'm not happy with these companies.

NOTE: Even if you are going to submit your project to a publisher, it’s a good idea to have a copy editor look it over before you send it in. Editors don’t like misspellings, awkward English and typos. You're going to need a copy editor if you self-publish. If you go with companies that do on-demand you are going to have to pay for your own copy editor or their copy editor. Copy editing is one of their profit centers. I have a good copy editor listed in "How To Write A Book That Positions You As An Expert In Your Field."

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Green Hornet - minus 5 stars with an R rating for inapproprite language

As a movie that eight and nine year olds might be dumb enough to enjoy this movie passes for a kiddie flick until the eight year old turns to you and says, "What's an orgasm?" Why it would be necessary for a child's movie to describe French Kissing someone's ass hole I don't know. It certainly wasn't good enough as a movie for adults to do anything other than look at their watches every few minutes to monitor time crawl.... but it was disgusting for children to watch. I give it a minus five stars and hope parents will be warned not to take their children to it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Write An Autobiography That Sells

I lecture about writing to non-writers – hypnotists, numerologists, psychics, housewives, businessmen and women and people who often tell me that I should write about them because “they have had very interesting lives.” I start my talks with a question. The first question I always ask is, “Who wants to write their autobiography?” About three-quarters of all audiences raise their hands. My next question is, “Can you tell me who will buy your autobiography?” Generally, most of the hands go down, the audience looks uncomfortable and shoulders begin to shrug. That second question is the first question you should ask when considering writing in the area of (auto) biography.

People who get to write autobiographies, or have others write their biographies for them, are men and women who have done something really special in their lives. They were famous movie stars. They were national or international politicians. They were presidents and first ladies. They were incredible fashion designers. They built great dams and bridges. They were successful generals.

Even reaching a high status does not guarantee a biography. William Henry Harrison was only president for 31 days. He did nothing more as president than catch pneumonia at his inauguration and die. So even being president does not guarantee a biography. There are a kazillion generals in history but most of us can count the few we ever heard about without running out of digits. If you want to test that theory Google “Civil War Generals” and see how many there were and how many names you recognize. Even Custer probably would have been an ‘also served’ had he not had a last stand.

The first rule of (auto) biography is, “An (auto) biography is not about a person, it is about what a person did.” Very often, even if they have had a big career that's not enough. If Audrey Hepburn had been a housewife she would not have generated a biography no matter how gorgeous she was. It is possible that Katharine Hepburn would not have generated a biography without Spencer Tracy.

The second rule of biography addresses the question, “What did the subject of the biography do that would interest an identifiable market that is willing to spend money buying the book?” Books are easier to sell to identified markets than they are to general markets. Even if you have not done something huge in your life, if you have done something small that several thousand people could be expected to want to read about, you can probably get a book published – or sell a self-published book.

Occasionally someone related to a famous person will generate a biography for the famous person, which is really their autobiography that has a large market because of the fame of the parent – particularly if there is a twist to the fame. A case in point was Christina Crawford who wrote “Mommy Dearest.” Her mother Joan Crawford was a horrendously abusive mother. In this case the answer to the question “who will buy your book?” is people interested in nasty gossip that will make a relatively famous movie star look really bad. Joan Crawford became less well known for her successful Hollywood career than she was for the harm she did to her daughter. It is quite probable that Joan Crawford would never have been the subject a biography without that abuse. It is an absolute given that Christina Crawford would not have merited a biography without the abuse by a relatively famous mother.

For years I thought that books were about writing. They are not. They are about selling. 80% of your time as a writer is spent selling your book; selling your book to an agent, selling your book to a publisher, and then selling your book to an identified market. If you don’t sell your book, you don’t get to quit your day job. It is essential that you identify the people you think you can sell to and allow the interest of your market to inform your writing. Your book comes out of what you know that people like you need or want to know.

The easiest way to sell your autobiography is to identify a market that wants to read about what you have done, write specifically for that market and find organizations that are interested in that subject that you can use as a venue to sell books to their membership. For example, if your child survived a rare form of cancer you can write about what you did to help that child survive. Write about all the information that you learned during your child’s battle against cancer that would be interesting and useful to other families facing a similar battle. The parents of children with cancer, and particularly that form of cancer, are your market. The organizations built around fighting cancer, and particularly that form of cancer, are your marketing venues – the people you talk to, the people you sell your book to. All the things that other parents should know about battling that disease, the way you felt and how you handled your feelings, any techniques that you used to help your child cope with chemo and needles and hospital stays, what you did to help your other children deal with feelings of jealousy and neglect, all that is grist for your mill. What you did, not who you are, is the stuff of (auto) biography.

You can also slide your (auto) biography into “How To” books as part of the introduction that establishes you as an expert in your field. 20 or so pages, about what you learned and how you got to your level of expertise, that inform the reader about why they should read what you have written is your bio-introduction. These biographical chapters often encapsulate the highest and most exciting parts of your life which solves a problem about (auto) biography. Most of us live fairly boring lives with occasional spikes of excitement and activity. Most of us could write an article about the high points of our lives rather than a book. If you turn what you’ve learned into a “How To” book and talk more about what you can teach and less about yourself and your life, biography is easier to write.

Fictionalizing your biography is another way to write about yourself, interesting episodes in your life and what interests you. In fiction, I generally write in the area of medical thriller or medical rescue. I am a former New York City Paramedic which is a job that can be surprisingly tedious. It is a ‘hurry up and wait’ profession with a great deal of very dull transport in between a few extremely exciting rescues. In my books I slide in high points from the ambulance. I describe people that I found interesting, situations that fascinated me, amazing accidents and rescues that I participated in or heard about from other Paramedics, techniques that we used in the field, things that we studied that I imagined using in the field. It’s not exactly an autobiography, but it pulls from my life, my interests and the lives of those around me. Turning what interests you into fiction increases the amount of material available to you.

Since you may be writing about a field of interest rather than about yourself, you may want to research what has already been written on the subject. Simply because there are other books in your area of expertise does not mean that you should not write in a given area. Think of how many cookbooks there are. What you want to do is read everything that has been written in your area of interest or expertise and figure out what is missing or how you would handle the issue differently. At the very least, you bring yourself and your personal experiences to the table. I wrote a small book called “Date Rape: It’s Not Your Fault” which was inspired by my own rape. Are there other books about date rape? Of course there are. But those books did not include my story and how I handled my recovery and they did not reach the same market that I can reach.

To begin the process of writing (auto) biography start by answering the following questions:

* What have you done that other people would be interested in reading about?
* Who would be interested in what you want to write about? - be specific.
* How big is that potential market?
* How do you reach that potential market?
* Check out Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Buzz, Yahoo and MySpace to see if there are existing groups that are interested in that subject.
* Are there organizations that might be interested in your subject? If yes, contact them. Become active in them. Become known within them.
* What questions would people who are interested in your subject need or want to know? Make a list of those questions.
* Are there other books on your subject? If there are other books, how would you treat the subject differently? What information did other authors leave out that you consider important?
* How can you organize your book to stress the differences in what you bring to the table?

These questions should get you started and should lead to other questions that will help you write and organize books about you that will turn you into a successful writer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

When Characters Argue Back - an Excerpt from my novel "Provenance"

My writer friends agree that once you start writing a novel the characters take on a life of their own. In Provenance I actually had an argument with a character. I needed Fiona to be a bit once sided. She needed to be a nasty drunk and she didn't want to be quite as nasty as I needed her to be. As she came through I would find her saying things that were out of character for what she needed to be. It is quite possible that she would have been a better character if I had made her more well rounded, but she would utterly have failed in what I needed her to be. I would let her have her say and then I would edit out the nice bits.

What interested me in developing this character is that she is very much like the mother that a teenager might describe if they truly dislike a parent. Very one sided. There was a discussion about that over "Mommy Dearest" the truly nasty biography of Joan Crawford written by her daughter Christina. When Faye Dunaway developed the role in the movie she brought some understanding of the difficulties Crawford herself was facing and softened the character making her much more human than her daughter saw her.

Provenance has a single focus on Fiona. It does not go into the struggles she has in communicating with her daughter. She is bitter and mean and filled with superstition that obviously must have come down through the generations. It was interesting to experience her wrestling with me to make her nicer and to explain some of her behaviors.

Excerpt from Provenance:

Fiona was raging drunk.

"God gave me a hard life," she slurred at Danielle. "Brought me nothin' but pain and sorrow. Brought me a mealy mouth little, goodie girl, lost me the son I wanted. God killed my man..."

"It's okay, Mommy," Danielle comforted, stroking her mother's head.

"Be good and careful of your man, Danielle. After you're twenty, men don't look at you any more. You only get one chance to be young and beautiful. Look at me. All my beauty gone, like my man."

"You're beautiful, Mommy," Danielle knew the risk of talking, but being quiet held equal risk if Fiona was fishing for a compliment.

"Shut up, stupid little bitch. What do you know?" Fiona marched to the refrigerator and rummaged for the beer.

Danielle was afraid. She knew what came next. Next came the beatings. But sooner or later Mommy would fall asleep. Then it would be safe for Danielle to take care of her.

Fiona bellowed with rage and moved to slap her daughter, the slender child moved out of the way and Fiona fell striking her head on the corner of a table. She didn't get up. Urine fouled her dress. Danielle got a towel from the bathroom, removed her mother's underwear and wiped her clean. Urine burned the skin. Even the skin of an adult would show signs of diaper rash if it wasn't cleaned soon enough. Danielle had learned that the hard way.

Next Danielle cleaned the floor. She got a pillow and a blanket from the hall linen closet and made her mother comfortable. Finally, she moved around the living room straightening the furniture and Fiona's knickknacks. Fiona would be sick in the morning. She didn't need to wake up to a mess.

Her duties done, Danielle went to her own room. The room was spotlessly clean and ordered. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. She took out her schoolbooks. It was late, but Fiona had been awake until now and her condition had required Danielle's uninterrupted vigilance.

Sighing, Danielle began her studies, losing herself in the numbers on the page. Mathematics was such an orderly, disciplined subject. Mathematics brought her peace. She was tired, but it wouldn't do to come to school with homework unfinished. What would she say as an explanation? "So sorry, my mother was falling down drunk again last night and I couldn't study?” No, no one must know what went on with Fiona.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Editing Lesson - Using Smashwords

I had a question. How do I post by new novel "Tranquillity Initiative" as an ebook for ipad and nook? I Googled the question and discovered Smashwords. Smashwords is a free program that allows writers to put their books up on ipad, nook, Sony and many other epub sites - not on Kindle as of this minute.

Smashwords has directions for preparing your document in Micrsoft Word. For me, this has been a lesson that has set the standard for all future submissions - whether to a book publisher or an e-publisher. I learned a great deal about working with Word that I had not known before.

The step that was so important to me was to turn on the show/hide button. I generally never have it on because it's annoying. However, for making certain you have a clean manuscript, it's invaluable. The other step that was essential was to turn off all the AutoCorrect Options under Tools so that Word wouldn't be second guessing what I actually wanted. Once I got my manuscript uploaded to Smashwords turned most of the AutoCorrect Options back on, but for this project they have to stay off.

Since I did not know about the automatic indent feature that Word offers under Format - Paragraph - Special - First Line Indent - I had tabbed every single paragraph. I couldn't figure out how to globally remove all the tabs so I had to do it manually which was not a bad thing as it turned out. Moving that slowly through my manuscript showed me that occasionally there were half a dozen irrelevant tabs at the end of my paragraphs (epublications don't like tabs) and occasionally there were returns for no reason. More than that, there were strange boxes with in the manuscript, that word had thrown in for no reason, that I had no idea about (epubs don't like things in boxes which is why you remove your page number inserts which come in boxes). There are special instructions for handling pictures but I don't have pictures in my book so I didn't learn that step.

When I was proofing my print edition, I wondered why the publisher had thrown in a few strange returns. Now I know that those returns were in my manuscript and that I had not known enough to look for them since the manuscript fit well on my page.

Smashwords Style Guide is really a primer on many word features that affect epublishing. It is an excellent read even if you don't want to epub. This exercise has taught me how to prepare a really clean manuscript not simply for epub use but for submitting to my publisher. There will be differences of course between the hard copy and epub editions, particularly in the title and copyright pages and between chapters, but the manuscript itself will be completely clean and easy for the publisher to reproduce.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Tranquillity Initiative positions Joan Meijer to compete with Robin Cook and Tess Gerritsen

Throughout Tranquillity Initiative are the consequences of the anthrax attack on the New York City. In his five star review of Tranquillity Initiative, Sean Remfrey talked about a woman he only met in a page that he cared about to his surprise. I believe that woman was Meggan Pollam. The reality of the threat of this is what caused Allen R. Cook to favorably compare Joan Meijer to Robin Cook and Tess Gerritsen in his review. saying:

"Look out Robin Cook and Tess Gerritsen – there is new competition
in the medical thriller field!

That competition is Joan Meijer!

Excerpt from Tranquillity Initiative:

In the vaulted space of the ancient third-story loft, photographer Meggan Pollam coughed violently as she stirred thick noodles into the vat of chicken soup on her gas stove. The loft had originally been built to house a sweatshop during the expansive years around the turn of the century. It now served as Meggan's studio. She considered herself lucky to have it, even though lofts had become popular on the New York housing market, and the rent was driving her crazy. The high ceilings, the fantastic exposure, the great light were a treasure in her profession. She loved 'the old fire trap,' as she liked to call it.

Meggan had felt like hell all day. At first she thought she had a cold, then she knew it was the flu. She'd been sick before, but never like this. After considering the financial edge on which she skated, Meggan had cancelled her appointments for the day. The cancellation of work was a true measure of how sick she felt.

She had considered dragging herself over to the Beekman Downtown Hospital Emergency Room, but she didn't have the money for an Emergency Room visit, nor did she have the energy for a ten-block walk. She had settled instead for chicken soup and sleep. Her mother swore by chicken soup. It would have to do.

She spooned some of the hot broth into a ladle and brought it tentatively to her lips. It burned a little and tasted watery. It definitely needed salt.

Meggan reached over the stove to the shelf at the back, which her ex-husband had built as a home for the numerous bottles and boxes of herbs and spices she considered essential for cooking. She had told him at the time that she thought it was a dangerous place to put a shelf, but he hadn't listened. Alex had never listened, which was why he was her ex.

In her weakened condition, Meggan did not take her usual precautions around the gas stove. As she leaned forward, the flowing material of her bathrobe brushed against the hungry open flame that reached out from under the vat of soup. By the time she noticed that the rayon was on fire, the flames were licking up her arms, melting the synthetic material onto her skin.

Even if Meggan had been well enough to react to the emergency, and escape the curtain of fire that fed on the highly flammable material, she would have been seriously burned. But she was not well, and her reflexes were slow. Within seconds, she had become a human torch, dancing in the agony of consuming flame.

Meggan could think of only one thing to do; run and get help. As her skin blistered and popped, and the subcutaneous layers of fat sizzled like bacon, she ran for the front door. Unable to see through the wall of flame that rose from her chest, scorched her eyelids and seared her breathing passages, she careened into the kitchen table. She paused only long enough to set fire to its cheerful checked table cloth before she bounced away into the doorway, where she set fire to the velvet curtain which separated the kitchen from the rest of her living quarters.

By the time Meggan Pollam collapsed on the braided rug near the front door, she had spread the fire to four different areas in her apartment. In the time it took her neighbors to notice the smoke, the fire had reached Meggan's dark room with the floor to ceiling shelves of volatile chemicals she had stored in anticipation of hard times. The resultant explosion guaranteed that the building and three of its ancient neighbors would not be saved. All anyone could do was run for their lives.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How I Build Tension In A My Thriller Novels

I am unendingly interested in the technique of writing. I read and re-read novels to get an understanding of what they did and how they did it. In my novel "Tranquillity Initiative" which is about an anthrax attack on New York City, I created fear and tension in the reader by laying out exactly what would happen if an anthrax bomb were properly deployed from a skyscraper over New York. The following excerpt is from a discussion between Cassandra Williams, an anthrax expert from the Centers For Disease Control who has been sent to New York to investigate a mysterious outbreak of the rare disease pulmonary anthrax and Senator Richland Powell who has been warned that a bomb was opened accidentally and that the terrorists have a second bomb they intend to drop.

"The next areas to break down would be police, fire and sanitation," Cassandra continued, describing what might happen if Tranquility were optimally deployed. She could see the scenario she was describing as if she was sitting in a movie theater. "The fires would be worse in the old buildings. Row houses, blocks of warehousing, could all go up in flames. New York burned to the ground once before, and without outside help, it might do so again. The first time New York had been incinerated, its Fire Departments had been decimated by a cholera epidemic. Firemen in the city would also have been infected by the anthrax. Fire stations would be critically short of staff. Without massive support from other states, half the city could burn."

"Would the National Guard help?" Powell asked, worrying about the how many Guardsmen would be available with so many of them in Astrakhan.

"I don't know. Are they trained for urban fire fighting? I mean it's a fairly specialized art. Maybe help from other cities with tall buildings would be more useful," Cassandra mused, trying to work at the parts of the problem that were not her specialty.

"I'll look into it," Powell said, making a mental note.

"Provision would have to be made to start collecting bodies. Secondary diseases would spread rapidly if the bodies weren't collected," Cassandra closed her eyes. She could picture the way New York would be. It wouldn't be Armageddon of course, the rest of the country would still be functional, and many people could come to the aid of the city, but it would be very ugly before things got under control. "Sanitation departments would also have been decimated by the disease, and the task they would face would be daunting even without reduced personnel. That's probably where your National Guard would be helpful.

"It's entirely possible that once the public got wind of the epidemic there would be rioting: looting would spread in volatile areas. Especially if people thought they were going to die anyway. It wouldn't matter that there would be whole areas of the city that would not be directly in the path of the infection. That probably wouldn't register with the rioters. The police force would have been decimated by the disease as well, and there would be too few of them to control the rioting."

"We'll definitely need the National Guard," Richland Powell whispered, his administrative mind organizing the problems that would have to be dealt with if even half of Cassandra Williams' scenario became reality. "They definitely can be used to control the rioting."

"Yes, and don't forget the body collection. I can't begin to tell you how important that will be," Cassandra replied, not fully registering the fact that she and the Senator had just changed tenses. They were now speaking in the future, as if Tranquility had become a reality.

"Finally, a lot of people will try to run away. You'll have free-for-alls at every exit out of New York. The bridges and tunnels will become killing grounds. As soon as the suburbs figure out that hordes of hypothetically infectious New Yorkers are heading their way, there will be vigilante attempts to close the outlying towns and cities down to anyone but residents. You can expect mass slaughter on top of whatever damage the disease and the riots will do."

"But they wouldn't be infectious," Powell said, hoping he hadn't missed something.

"No, but try telling that to a home owner with three kids in Connecticut who's been watching what's happening in New York on CNN." Cassandra was quiet for awhile, as the pictures her words had elicited sank in. "The good news is, that's not going to happen."

Richland Powell hardly heard her. He asked, "Is there any way to prepare for it? Could we vaccinate the city or something? Could we at least inoculate the police and fire department personnel?"

Cassandra suddenly became aware that he was not treating her story as theoretical. Hearing fear in his voice, she asked, "Is there something I should know, Senator?"

To buy Tranquillity Initiative go to To see what reviewers are saying about "Tranquillity Initiative" visit my press room at autographed copies are available on my store.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

David Baldacci’s Hells Corner - Book Review

The fourth in the Camel Club series is okay – at least I finished it – although I could have put it down at almost any time and not felt I was going to miss much. I don’t find Baldacci a totally satisfying writer and probably the only reason I still read his books is because my sister gives them to me.

In this story – in Baldacci’s constant theme of protecting America from its Spy Masters – John Carr (a.k.a. Oliver Stone) a recovering top assassin turned all American hero, is once again at odds with the government. He’s hired by the president to work for the government, then fired by someone in the government, then works on his own, then seems to be working with the government again…. It’s that kind of book. He avoids working with the Camel Club, then works with them, then tries to protect them, then endangers them… I could have skipped the ending even if it was needed to tie up a loose end.

The story opens with Carr nearly being blown up while walking in Lafayette Park across from the White House. The explosion turns out to be more than it seems as missed clue after missed clue is revealed. The theme of the story is about being misled by “clues” that turn out to be diversions. Unlike the other Camel Club stories in which the fuddy-duddy members of the Club are in focus and make the story character rich and fun, this story is more like The Clash of the Titans and the Titans aren’t all that interesting. The usual and predictable people wear the black hats.

This book, unlike other Camel Club stories, has a lot of Deus Ex Machina twists and turns in which things happen and no one knows why. Its solutions to its multiple problems are contrived and in many cases unbelievable. Baldacci is a good story teller but I find his books really badly constructed.

I give it three stars.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Opening is Familiar

My 5 star rated book " Tranquillity Initiative" opens with a familiar situation - President in an unpopular war facing election needs to "win the war" and resorts to an illegal solution. This book has been likened to Robin Cook and Tess Garitson for it's medical thriller - I like it to John Grisham for the underlying politics.


Wars were the inevitable result of the destabilization of the Middle East. They were small wars as wars go; bloody, destructive, battles waged between ethnic groups in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq and its subsequent defeat at the hands of the insurgents. Even with the emergence of dictators, who kept their mutual hatreds and suspicions in check for a time, the differences between ethnic groups and religious factions could not be held in check forever. Now those differences emerged with new vigor.
The wars that were the creation of religious leaders hoping for bigger power bases, focused the people's attention on the grievances of their divisive past at the expense of any hope for a prosperous future. Brushfire after brushfire flared up throughout even relatively stable Middle Eastern nations. Before long, they had traveled up into the Muslim areas of the former Soviet Union. They spread in all directions, until they came at last to the sixteenth century Tartar strongholds in the ancient war zone that surrounded the historic city of Astrakhan.
The members of the European Economic Community and NATO, threatened by their own Muslim communities, were determined to avoid involvement at all cost. Burned by the War in Iraq, and wary of their own huge Islamic populations, they steadfastly refused to be dragged into the swirling vortex of ethnic dissention playing out in ever widening circles on their eastern flank. They chose, instead, to let the various factions settle their differences among themselves. The predictable result was genocide.
Then, ten years after the turn of the 21st Century, the bloody skirmishes took on a whole new significance. The Nation of Islam united, and began to ascend outside the Middle East. When it became obvious that the bottom third of the former Soviet Union was falling under the influence of the Iranian mullahs, Europe became restless. As the Jihad nibbled at the corners of the western world once again, Europe went on the defensive.
The United States became involved in what became known as the Astrakhan War, by increments. It had all looked good on paper; a UN Peacekeeping profile, with the support of NATO, doing the right thing to prevent world war. Americans joined their allies in an all out effort to contain the threat to the European way of life. There was worldwide agreement that something had to be done and, if done in concert, would naturally be victorious. Once again, American mothers sent their children to fight on the side of right. Once again, the leaders of the free world were dead wrong.
The concept of peace through war only works when the countries seeking to interfere in the affairs of another country are, and continue to be, committed to the fight. In a religious war, people who lack fanaticism are at a decided disadvantage. As the Astrakhan Intervention dragged on, the American population was once again faced with a test of its resolve. 9/11 was a distant memory, and without a similar catalyst, Americans could not see the point of protecting the citizens of a country thousands of miles from home. What had started as a firm desire to do the right thing, became a grinding intervention in the kind of civil unrest that would not go away. Taxes were raised, the balancing of the budget was put on hold, body bags began to flood into hometowns, and the people took to the streets.
It was now six years after America had stepped into the Astrakhan Intervention, and tear gas flooded American streets with increasing regularity. President Charles Boynton Anderson's election four years earlier had been the war's repudiation. Anderson had campaigned to end the bloodshed and bring the troops home. Americans had flocked to the polls and, despite the fact that polls showed that 63% of the electorate didn't trust his ethics, they had elected Anderson by a landslide. The American voter had spoken.
But ending a war without victory is a daunting task for a politician. Three years after his election, Anderson found himself bogged down in a bloody, costly conflict that would not end.
In January, Anderson had begun to face concerns for his own reelection. As early primary results came in, the President was made painfully aware that the American public, urged on by a stable of hungry candidates, was holding him responsible for the nation’s continued involvement in Astrakhan. It didn't take rocket science to figure out that if he did not take some drastic measure, he would be without a job in November. He needed a final solution to the Astrakhan War, and he needed it badly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And Another 5 Star Review.

Tranquillity Initiative gets another 5 Star Review from "The Book Review" warning Robin Cook and Tess Garretson that there's a new medical thriller writer on the block. This is really gratifying.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another Five Star Review for "Tranquillity Initiative"

5.0 out of 5 stars

creepy, scary, but excellent book,

January 6, 2011


A. Zittel (MA) - See all my reviews

This review is from: The Tranquillity Initiative (Paperback)

This book was a thriller, all right. I do not generally read thrillers (nor do I like to watch them) - those are the types of things that keep me up at night, or give me nightmares, and I already have problems enough sleeping. But the premise of this book caught my eye & I agreed to review the book (I received a copy for free by the author).

I was immediately hooked into the book, and read it in a little less than a week. I could have easily finished faster, but the book is darker than I would have liked, so I couldn't read it at night (again, read the bit about giving me nightmares). This book is a very scary read -- not horror movie scary, more like Stephen King "Under the Dome" scary, but worse. I think what makes this book such a scary read is that it is so believable, and in the crazy world we live in, you can see most of these events actually happening, especially the germ warfare part. My coworkers saw me reading this book on my lunch break, and we got into conversations about germ warfare, and got us talking - good stuff!

There are a few scenes that were graphic for me, that I could have done without, but this book is excellent & I would definitely read anything else Meijer comes up with!

The next great writing moment

I took my musician son to the opera a few years ago and was delighted to discover that he had watched the orchestra more than he watched the stage. He was fascinated by the interaction between the musicians, the conductor and whatever was happening with the actors. I can honestly say I have never watched the orchestra at an opera. As a student of character development it fascinated me.

Then one day I had the pleasure of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with an artist friend. I believe it was in the Greek exhibit when it became clear to me that I didn’t see like an artist. She described a Greek vase to me and I couldn’t believe all the things there were to see. In a flash I understood that this was how she translated the world around her and why she was such a good artist.

This week I noticed how I read. I notice things about character development and interaction, structure and word choice that I bet a person who isn’t a writer would never think about.

I realize that people who work in an art see according to their art. They see and experience the art of other people differently from those who are not practicing an art form. I think I recognized that I had become a professional when I realized that I was excited about structure and form as much as I was in reading a story or watching a movie. I might read good books several times – the first time for enjoyment, the next several times to pick apart how the author had accomplished something interesting. I have read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series dozens of times, each time exploring her mastery at writing as much as her good story telling. It's a variation on the theme of "Hang out with greatness."

Being this focused on the writing rather than the story doesn’t destroy the story for me. It adds another layer of excitement to the reading. I’m always looking for the next great example of fine writing to pick apart, examine and admire.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A review of my book that simply took my breath away.

It is so exciting to receive reviews like this after all the years of wondering if I really could write. This is really amazing and gratifying.

Book review for:
Tranquility Initiative

Written By Joan Meijer

This is a book that all should read, especially in today’s unsettled world where anything could disrupt peace and every day living. Tranquility Initiative gives the scenario of anthrax being spread across the world, started by The United States through a secret project. While it is fiction you will find yourself shuddering every time the danger of anthrax and the individuals hurt before a grueling death it places within a human. The story tells just how easy it would be to spread such a fatal disease by several humans working together to steal one or more of these anthrax bombs and drop it to kill as many people as they possibly could at almost any location where it would kill the most.

The anthrax was first spread by The United States in a nation called Astrakhan ten years after the turn of the twenty-first century. The death in Astrakhan was devastating dropping people that never knew what had attacked them or who did the attacking. Supposedly top United States government officials secretly planned and carried out this genocide after Europe fell apart and was being controlled by the Nations of Islam united. Two pilots noticed the red, white, and blue coloring on some strangely shaped bombs that were being loaded into their airplane. It reminded them of years past when their parents and grandparents told of germ warfare, but this couldn’t be that since it was outlawed by past presidencies. But the closer they came to taking off and dropping those “different” looking bombs, the more they worried about what they were about to do. They did not want to kill innocent people.

A few of these bombs were stolen with no one certain they actually disappeared. However, when anyone responsible for handling, transporting, or dropping these bombs started to vanish, it got very strange; they were found dead or disappeared. The CDC was notified about the anthrax and Dr. Cassandra Williams was brought into New York where the anthrax was now appearing. Meanwhile the families of the ones that released the anthrax in New York City became sick as well as the bombers themselves. They still had one more they had to set off so the race began against death. An unknown government official had to be involved in this but that person was not known. A United States Senator, Richland Powell, was also involved assisting Dr. Williams in tracking down the source of the disease.

This book will blow your mind away. When one thinks it couldn’t happen here, the reading of this book will change your mind. Those that would hurt us for any reason will find a way around anybody and anything to make that hurt come about. I highly recommend this book. I compliment Joan Meijer on her writing. It is very complex without leaving the reader behind.

Review written by

Cy Hilterman of a book supplied by the author

January 4, 2011