Mr & Mrs - all in the family

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Did You Feel Finally Established as a Writer? HA!

                           WHEN Do You Know You've Arrived as an Author?
Quick & Dirty Answer:  When Agents, Editors, Producers, and Saudi Kings are seeking you out.

But seriously....  Recently, this question was asked of me.  I had to take a moment, sit, ponder before laughter erupted. When indeed does an author feel secure, feel he has arrived, feel that he has some financial security or that he can reasonably expect to feed a family?

Hell, look at me at sixty-one and I am still the grasshopper while all the ants have accumulated their wealth and wealthy lifestyles. Writing is without guarantees or benefits or retirement funds. It is why I still teach.

I could never be truly established especially as I've always gone against conventional so-called "wisdom" in a flawed and often failed business model or system. One I have my entire career railed against. If you fail to play the game of being pigeon-holed and fit snugly into the idea that you are a writer capable of only wriitng one book over and over again and remain in one category, branded by your very name, then you never reach the gold ring. But writing the same book over and over, being a man of "one book" repeated has never been an option for me, and I have paid dearly for it. Closest I came to being a franchise was my Instinct Series and even there I had to fight over and over with agent and editor that each book be a stand alone and unique in and of itself.

Never once had an argument with a reader when I went tangentially away from the modern serial killer ME FBI format of the chase to do historical novels, or to do something like Titanic 2012 with dual time periods, historical and science fiction and generational horror rolled into one. But looking back, my early Brain Stem which they turned into the lousy title Brain Watch, well it was police procedural paranormal fall in love with an OCD ghost that has taken over your body! Then dovetail with Disembodied, Aftershock, Abbadon....all disparate from one another despite paranormal, woo-woo, and horror elements, each was shockingly different and not easily categorized, and imminently Turn Downable or rejected....

As to getting a foothold in ebooks to the point of enjoying some actual income well above anything I ever saw from paper book publising, now that took about a year to get to where I am having a blast counting coup and counting books sold (or rather readers reading). When I first put the books up a year and three months ago, I had such weak sales that I decided it was all just another head banging against the wall exercise, but even if only making fifty bucks a month, then eighty, then suddenly 899. Well then I got to do a happy dance, and now, well now I groan and bitch if I make less than what I am worth just as I did in the old system. Still, it is like a retirement deal for me as I have NO damn retirement funds coming in because I was and remain pretty much an itinerent teacher....something like one of Colbert's itinerent farm workers.

So for me it took close, close onto a year for my advertising on FB, Twitter, anywhere online at NO costs to me and promo deals like contests on my blog to truly begin to see any results. But man-o-man, I never saw any results with sitting about hoping my paper publishers' efforts at PR or marketing would pay off because there were no efforts taken on behalf of my books from not one of my 8 or 9 different publishers over the past thirty years.

Nowadays, I do a better job at online free publicity gathering, PR, BSP, marketing efforts than my publishers ever did--as they were always rather busy with their Kings and Queens and Jovanovich knockoffs.

My publishers never got around to understanding what they had in hand, even when their editors did....but now I am responsible for all of it, and I love the freedom of it all. Ebooks rock and Kindle is fact, Kindle can make a KING of anyone depending on the tastes of readers and what they say or fail to say. Sorry to say they do next to no Amazon reviews but hopefully more and more review outlets for ebooks will come about.

In the meantime, I will be putting up a fifth exclusive to Kinde Original full-length novel, again one too ambitious and too large for dead tree publishers, my Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic  to be launched on or around Halloween. What a launch this promises to be.

Rob Walker - Free opening chapters of Titanic 2012 and Children of Salem

Saturday, September 18, 2010

FEAR of Being Sued Freeze Up Writers!

A newbie author about to place her book up on Kindle, all set to go, and suddenly she freezes up, terrified due to her having created “authentic” settings and naming real people, places, and things—issues like maybe the OJ case, Lady Gaga, Obama, Hanity, Beck, Stewart, Colbert or a local malt shop.  Come on, please!  Never let FEAR run your book.  Below my comments  on this issue are the “rules” or many of them (like never use more than six lines of a copyrighted song all in one block in your book), but before you read the “rules” know that libel is hard as hell to prove and malice aforethought nearly impossible to prove (what was going on in his mind when he ‘attacked’ her character?).  But by all means you cannot obsess over such an issue and hope to write a decent novel.

While Carla Rene (who has graciously added here the rules of the game to stir clear of being sued) is thorough below and absolutely correct, I have broken just about all of these "rules" of the road at one time or another and guess what, in fact, have never been sued for defamation on any score. While I use real places, real towns, cities in just about every -- no ALL of my fifty ODD books, no one has come charging after me. The Field Museum of Chicago is where a particularly ghastly "reincarnation" of my most awful killer, Mad Matthew Matisak is finally cornered and as he likes to collect human spinal cords for his unusual splatterpunk art showings, his death comes at the hands of a spinal column when he falls several stories onto the bony protrusions of a dinosaur display while all the monied patrons of the Field Museum are sipping their wine and listening to a private lecture this evening.  I do not expect to hear from the Field Musuem as they were in no way defamed.  If I have any prejudice it is against the rich--whom I privately do detest.

I have also routinely placed names of people in my books who have won contests to be there with the caveat they just might die in the book. Titanic 2012 a lead character has to go but her namesake won a contest I ran for the privilege. I also have a poker game going on while Titanic is going down and the band is playing wherein all the guys around the table are writer friends, all named by name. Year ago Steve Savile who is cranking out novels and novellas left and right now won a contest, so he is both in my books for two reasons, friend author and contest winner in more than one book, and I once armed Joe Konrath in an Instinct title, giving him a gun!  He is among those going down with Titanic around the poker game that deteriorates into a brawl that only Inspector Alastair Ransom can win.  Among the authors Ransom beats down is one named Walker as well.  I also pull the infamous/famous Capt. Edward Smith down from the pedestal that history and legend has afforded him in Titanic 2012. I could not have done that if I was paralyzed by fear that his ancestors today might come after me with a law suit for defaming a dead man. For that matter, the descendants of Nathaniel and Judge Hawthorn(e) or Cotton and Increase Mather or anyone named Putnam (maybe the publisher Putnam) will come after me for a writ of execution for what I said about these family names in Children of Salem? Sure...I am shaking in my boots. They're all long dead for one thing so even if I were malicious it can't hurt them!

There is hardly a product I have not used in my novels--just as Stephen King utilizes Excedrin and Coca-Cola, as serial killers and nutbags have to eat and drink and stave off those headaches as well as anyone. Aloha airlines gets pegged for bad service or poor peanuts if the setting is Hawaii, and if in London there are the shops now aren't there but I also created a cathedral out of a church on a certain street and cemetery only because I really loved the name of the place.  I don't attribute blame or cause to any of these places, and just because the killer is a big Elvis fan, I don't attribute his killings to have been motivated by Elvis' music or Gordon Lightfoot for that matter but they all run through my books as they run through life.

Bottom line is KNOW the rules as Carla has laid them out here and then judiciously put them aside because no one can write well worrying about them. I ignore them just as much as I ignore the worry that my mother will read this shit.  Fact is, my eighty-five year old mom DOES read all my books and she peeks over the top, checks me out, mentally saying, "OMG, did this come out of my womb?"

Anyone who remain at all interested in this subject -- just write your book without malice aforethought toward anyone--a thing near impossible to prove and trust that court costs will bounce back to any idiot who thinks otherwise.

Okay; here's what I've gleaned on the subject over the years from other published writers and publishers.

For writing fiction:

It's best advised to not use the name of a real town, real address or real persons.  However, you CAN use the real names of all of these, AS LONG AS you do not portray them in a negative light, worthy of libelous action.  (in The Gaslight Journal, I set the town in fictitious Faritown, NY (which some publishers do NOT like), but Isabella, my heroine, is just returning from Christmas break from Radcliffe--the first year they allowed women in their classes.  Along with her student status, however, that is the only time it's mentioned, so I've written nothing detailed enough for libelous action.)

If using the name of a public business, that's fine, as long as you do not write something libelous--you do not need permission. 

You can't portray the location or business in a bad way.  During the movie "Castaway," the FedEx people had a major heart attack AT FIRST, because it was their plane that went down, losing all that mail.  However, after seeing the treatment of their brand, they reaslied their brand awareness had risen dramatically in Asia and Europe upon the movie's release.  Kinda stands to reason THAT screenwriter didn't procure permission, did he?)

If you're using the name of a private business, then you need permission.   (I mention the names of several private businesses in The Gaslight Journal along Main street, and they are all fictitious names.)   Can't afford cat litter--automatically KNOW how much trouble a whopping-ass multi-million libel suit would skank up my day.)

For writing non-fiction:

Public names such as addresses, cities, street names and public business are fine.  Private business again, need permission.

From The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition:
Section 4.66 on page 132 under Author's Responsibilities:
"The author should also warrant that the work does not libel anyone or infringe any person's right to privacy." :-)
Streets can't sue you for privacy; however, town councils and city governments can IF the address of your specific street was the cause somehow, of something horrible that painted the town in a degrading light.  Now I'm not sure it was treated as fiction or non-fiction, which would make a different, but I'm positive that when the screenwriters for the movie Mothman Prophecies had to at least notify that city's council that they were involved in a screenplay treatment, because announcing to the whole world that an entire town comes equipped with its own monster/haunted entity, well, just wouldn't boost the church tourism, ya know??
However, again, it's non-fiction, then they play by their own set of rules.
It is the responsibility of the author to check out all these facts during the writing of the book, and not to rely on an editor, agent or publisher to sort those issues.
And of course, don't ever use real people in your stories.  Besides the obvious defamation and libel, another interesting reason:
But far more to the point in fiction copy, real people--taken straight over and put on the page of a story--are dull.
What this means is, real people aren't vivid enough.  Good characters have to be constructed, not copied from actuality.

Now as I, Robert W. Walker, once had someone come after me because she ‘thought’ she had a case but her lawyers knew better, I have had some close encounters. So sure weigh it all up but NEVER obsess to the point of freezing or becoming paranoid or paralyzed over these issues. The nonfiction writer has to worry FAR, far more over such things as the names of people , places, and things he writes about. But folks THIS IS FICTION, make believe, and no right-thinking person or judge in the land can tie it to malice aforethought or libelous action unless you left a huge paper or verbal trail that this was the intent of your book, to blow the lid off a company or to destroy a life or reputation.  That’s my Bottom Line on the subject and I hope some Write Adie for you. Gee…hope I don’t get sued for writing this blog…. hehehehe!
Robert W. Walker

Thursday, July 8, 2010

But Damnit, I'm too Old to Write...Not!!

Whenever you begin to tell yourself that you are too old to write, or too slow to write, or too young to write, or too whatever to write pull out these words from 87 year-old Jim Ingraham, Five-Star published author of Sahara Dust (the prestigious 5-Star Books, and Evidence of Evil, an title (work in progress: Duff Kerrigan).  Here's Jim in his own inspiring words:

"It's not how age affects me as a writer that's important. It's how it affects me as a man. Because I have shed many illusions about myself and my life and have accepted who I am and who I have been, my relationship to people and to my work is more sensible than it once was. I am no longer crippled by fears that I won't "make it." I know that "making it" is an illusion. The only important result of writing is the work itself.

I liken it to playing golf. Winning a tournament is fun, but trying to is not what keeps me playing. The real reward is striking the ball well, that feeling coming into my hands when I watch the ball sail down the fairway, when I watch it fall into the hole from 30 feet across the green.

If the reward of your work is something other than finding the right word, building a solid paragraph, turning out a well-crafted story, then you miss the true rewards of being a writer.

If I am true to myself, the results of my work will reflect the gains I have made over all the adversities that have plagued my life. I hope that readers grow from my work. It pleases me that others enjoy my stories. But I write, not to please others, but to please myself.

Jim Ingraham
   following is a photo of Jim and his son at the piano!

Wow, man...wish I had Jim in my creative writing class; what an inspiration.
Find Jim online at and look for Sahara Dust, Evidence of Evil and in future Duff Kerrigan.

As for my Titanic 2012 opus you can now get the first 14 chapters, 7 per each storyline of 1912 and 2012 for FREE, just click on it at

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Root of All Great Character-Building

The Fully Realized, Completely Materialized Character (steps onto the page)

                                       by Robert W. Walker

The Root Mon & How He Came into Being....

You hit on an idea, and it surrounds a character, right? Something in his swagger, his manner, his appearance, his carriage, his stage presence…or something in the way she talks or walks or balks--something undeniable in the sense she will not be denied as the one character that insists on being fleshed out, fully realized, completely materialized. The one of many “character” voices that will demand or claim the LEAD role in your next story or novel. She steps up and onto the stage of your mind-right smack dab at the frontal lobe, and when you either wish her away or try to put her off, or go off and do various chores to put her out of your mind, because you had other plans for the story or a life to live, she is still there, lurking-if not in the frontal lobe, someplace else in there, and you know it because she isn’t going anywhere until you pay her the attention she demands and claims of you. She may flatter you, call you her creator, her God, or she may bedevil you and claim she is your creator, your God. Either way, she or he or it has a stranglehold on you.

I know it sounds weird, especially to those who do not write or create, but it’s oh so true. When you listen to a psychic like John Edwards speak of those “spirits” who are all rushing in at him at once, all of them demanding attention and shouting, “Take me! Take me!” -you understand where he’s coming from even if you don’t understand where the “spirits” are coming from. Writing can and does often feel like channeling spectral voices out of the past or out of the psyche or out of the collective psyche, but that’s too deep to go into here. Still, it is a lot like that when an author is fishing around for a new lead character to cast in his next novel or story-that the casting couch can get extremely crowded. But always one voice, one powerful character drowns out the rest for the duration of a story or in the case of The Root Mon from the Root Heaven Store-a poem crafted around such a truly noisy, irritating character that not only demanded to be heard, but demanded it at the oddest of times and over a long, long period of time that I NOT shut him out try as I may….

In fact, I originally wrote the poem long years ago just in order to get The Root Mon out of my line of vision and out of my head, so that I could go on and live a normal writer-ly life, if there is such an existence. But before I banished him, it would take months and many return engagements, and just recently he mysteriously returned. I came across it, made the mistake of picking it up and reading it, enjoyed it, and wham, he was back! Kind of smacked me on the back of the head The Root Mon did. He had yet two more stanzas to add to the piece! After all these years! He’d been lurking in the dark recesses of my mind all this time, awaiting the day I should revisit him, and bada-bing, he jumps out at me and claims my frontal lobe again; abducts me and forces me to come to terms with two stanzas that needed adding! Confides that I got it wrong the first time around. All this and I have not cracked up in any meaningful F. Scott Fitzgerald fashion as yet.

Now mind you, when he first showed up, it was just to do three stanzas and boom, I was to be done with The Root Mon and poetry! How very often had I been warned off the writing of poetry as anything I attempted stank to high heaven. Warned off it as a tone deaf person is warned to stay away from any attempt at music or song. So after those few stanzas, I felt confident that The Root Mon’s visit had come to an end; that bye-bye meant bye-bye. That I could write something easy now-like a mystery novel. The next in my Instinct Series. Besides, I wasn’t terribly impressed by The Root Mon’s poem anyway. But like a horror film, I found him in my head again while I was trying to sleep, while I was trying to shower, and while trying to dress! At every turn of my day, this crude guy demanded another stanza. Done! Go away now! Again done with The Root Mon, I went out to hoe the garden out back and wham, he came again with yet another stanza demanding I jot it down. Standing in the check-out line at Wal-mart, bam, another stanza. Just demanding as hell.

This went on. At breakfast another stanza, at lunch, at school, at the dental office, in the library while researching anything else! At the beach…in the ocean…no pen at hand! Again and again he came back at me, always demanding: “Com’on, mon…you gotta do dis one. Dis gotta be in de Root Mon’s poem!”

My wife was beginning to become suspicious. To be sure, I was distracted-living with this wild and crazy Root Mon in my head. He was telling me that I hadn’t “fully realized” who he was or just how much “ju-ju” he possessed, and that he wanted to “completely materialize” on the page I prayed, so I had to put up with him wanted me to fully flesh him out (on the page). That kind of magic meant another stanza, and another, and even now years later, he has COME BACK! Scary, yes. Exhausting yes, but in the end, I’m proud to present The Root Mon of Root Heaven below and you tell me if “living with your characters” for a time does or does not pay off. I think this is a cogent and quick example the “fully realized, completely materialized” character-as in a nutshell. Here is the Root Mon in his own words and on the stage that he built:

The ROOT MON --a poem by Anton “Mystic Ruler” Dupree aka Robert W. Walker (*to be read to the sound of Reggie music playing in your head; the poem and character also makes an appearance in Pure Instinct, pre-Katrina New Orleans)

ThE RooT MoN

You carrying a curse?
Got urgent pain?
Can’t make de water?
Head a bustin’? wife a-fussin’?
Jus’ you come to Root Heaven…
the famous Root Mon’s Store

Here’s a broth,
here’s a stew
you want both
for what you gotta do.

You got needs?
Plannin-a-big sacr-o-fice?
We god seeds
and chickens on ice!
We got bugs, scrubs, and herbs,
and all kinna spice!

Need dem magic words?
Have a dose-a-crawlin’ lice.
Eat a canna magic rice,
a-pinch of snuff
for dat ol’ wart
and to kick-start the heart.

Toad sweat’ll get you up’n'fit
wid no shivers, shingles, or sneeze,
so get whatever you please
wid heavenly-heavenly ease
at the Root Mon’s store--
Glory Be Root Heaven.

We got fat slugs
and tobacco plugs.
Got fuzzy cut worms
for cuts, scrapes’n'burns.
For fever it’s the poltice
and the crucifix cross.

Got many things for stings:
herbs, toots, roots’n'things.
Go-head, make my day
wid dat bottle
of turtle-nip-spray.

Toss a snake rattle
o’er your left shoulder
onto a big boulder
beside a flowin’ river
at the midnight hour.
So get whatever you need-
no talk, guilt, nor greed.

Join de Root Mon’s club!
Special on de belly rub,
and on de herb’n'potion.
Jus’ whisper who gets
dis notion, dat lotion.
Hex on/off as you please
to get ridda that sneeze.

Get stalks and stone,
min’rals and bones,
cat tails in pails
wid good’n' plenty snails!

Got a clip of royal bangs,
eyelashes from de King,
Bob Marley’s gol’ ring!
All’s at Root Heaven!

Take dat magic tobacco,
wrap it in calico and
fill it wid cat gut.
Den find a cemetery,
and dig a deep rut,
to just bury it up.
Prescription filled!
Got de enemy killed!

Fix you up wid a hex sign,
tack it to de nearest pine.
Throw a magic lotion
into the nearest ocean.

Chew eyes of black raven
whenever your cravin’
the really big ol’ cure.
All at your Root Mon’s Store!

Swallow de snail slime!
Ain’t no crime
to be fit and prime,
and in self-help
there’s protection
and at once
you be sheddin’ dat
godawful middle-section.

In de health we trust.
Guard your fleas
Curses come in threes!
Get even however you can,
And glory-be, mon
If’n you want
joy, and prosperity,
then you lis’n to me!

Fatherly Root Mon advice,
in other words so right!
Forget dat old 7-Eleven!
Get yow-self to Root Heaven!

THAT’S my story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy Writing and Reading
Rob Walker

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Write Aide - Marketing a book from Its Womb

Marketing Book Before It’s Written? eBook eVolution

                          Robert W. Walker, Mystery-Suspense-Thriller Author

How often over a 30 year career in writing supported by teaching and scraping have I had to “Re-invent” myself? I forget at this juncture, but this year I had to do it again. I did so in what I consider two bold moves… One has to do with going “gaga” for Kindle for good reason, and two taking a page from Julia & Julia, the movie.

In what I consider a bold move, a writer decides to resurrect his “dead books” – all those out of print titles and some gathering dust, never before published, in his desk drawer. In a second bold move, he creates a journal-type blog that will follow his work in progress—which he also intends to take to Kindle, thus bypassing traditional routes to publication (and to be sure with thanks to many hundreds before who self published for the past 30 years!

Furthermore, in this journal-blog. The bold Prof. Walker makes challenging deadline predictions for completing the rough draft and the edited-vetted final: a book in a year, a rough draft in three months. This prediction came in mid-February of this year. You can learn more in depth on how I did it at DIRTY DEEDS – ADVICE.

This idea came about after seeing the film Jiulia & Julia. I figured why not “Cook Up a Book” and I sent it forth using that as my marketing ploy – Let’s all Cook Up a Book in Julia & Julia styled blog. I went forth to garner followers interested in looking over my shoulder as I worked who could make comments as I worked. I felt confidant as a writer to make it happen once I had decided what the project would be, and it was and is an ambitious one: a retelling of the Titanic story that blows away every other “theory of the crime” for my theory. In a sense if Michael Crichton had rewritten this chunk of history, well he is high up on my most admired authors list. I blogged once a week at outset, then more like every other week as the book progressed, also noting when things were going badly as well as smoothly. Along the way, I took up issues that any author must deal with in crafting a novel such as dialogue, action, setting, etc.

At the same time, I used social networking to let people know about the online Journal for my Titanic efforts. I managed to make my first prediction fairly closely. While I failed to finish the rough draft in three months, I did so in three and a half months—while teaching and dealing with life’s typical obstacles at the same time. Now that I am doing my first major reading and rewrite, there is a lot more for the journal to cover. Finishing in a year appears now to be a deadline that I will come in on early – perhaps as early as November which would be ten months. I may make that prediction soon.

Aside from just carrying on at the online journal, I have targeted all my chat groups, Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook, of course. I have pushed the idea for other authors to try on MurderMustAdvertise and DorothyL, encouraging anyone on these sights to have a look-see. I have also placed it up on Kindle boards and at KindleKorner in quick bursts. I increased the number of blogs that I am a regular on—four now, and on each of these blogs, I give comments on for the online journal – marketing a book not yet written…now not yet edited…and not yet published or being written on speculation for an agent or editor. I have never turned down a request to guest blog, and I am writing articles routinely for and In this I have an online presence that supports my Julia blog but also supports sales of my Kindle titles.

Early on in the process, I decided to take my predictions and climbing out on the limb much further. I announced that I am writing this work in progress not for anyone anywhere but Kindle Readers. This will go straight to Kindle, by-passing the usual clap-trap of sending out outlines and parcels to agents and editors. I have been doing that for 30 years. Thanks to I am given an attractive alternative, and since my other 44 titles on the Kindle bookshelf are doing extremely well, making me more money in the past month than I have made in paper/traditional publishing in the past three years! – well you might imagine that writing a fifth “Original to Kindle” title is the way for this author to go. If interested in learning more about ebook pubbing with Kindle, go to which is where I started, and if you’re interest is POD with Amazon, check out

I work hard to get discussions going on Facebook where I truly open up and just “be me” asking silly, crazy questions, exploring fun issues as well as making my feelings felt when others bring up issues on FB. I try to build interest in me first before hammering FB friends about my books; often I tease them with a line. Often I bring up a theme in a book, a location. I set up contests and raise interest in the issues being discussed at my various blogs. Social networking is ADVERTISING for my ebooks. I believe the initial sales of my books on Kindle were as a result of all of the above activity that I set in motion along with smart “packaging” of the product(s).

Once you acquire those first, early readers, then news of a good read goes viral—and your readership grows exponentially—far more so than with paper book readers. Still, my early kindle book sales a year ago were terribly unimpressive; some might say dismal. I had little faith it would improve and it did not all summer (I began in June last year), but when I placed up the Instinct Series on the heels of Children of Salem, suddenly sales soared, along with the Edge Series. This tells me that the word and idea behind SERIES works wonders on Kindle as all my earlier titles were stand-alone titles! Then the series followed and whamo!

This is significant as the first to take off was Children of Salem but I billed it as 3 Volumes in one at 160,000 words! A whopping “self-contained” epic SERIES. In fact, I wanted it to have an old traditional book feel to it so I divided it into three volumes. People on Kindle truly responded to this novel—a novel turned down by every agent and editor who’s ever looked at it. Then getting up the eleven-book Instinct Series, which is now out-distancing Children of Salem. Behind but not by much is the four-book Edge Series. I have as a result put up my DECOY Series of four, and my Dean Grant ME Series of four books, a trilogy, a two-some, etc. as Kindle readers appear to absolutely “love” series characters, I feel this is a significant DISCOVERY. And so my response—put up my Abe Stroud horror trilogy and my two-some about the monster behind Spontaneous Human Combustion. Next on horizon is a two-some of YA historical coming of age novels along with Titanic which is in and of itself TWO books in ONE, the 1912 story with Insp. Alastair Ransom, and the 2012 story with Oceanographer David Buckland.

Even if you have only one book to place on Kindle, I suspect you would do better to indicate that it is “just the beginning” of a series wherein this ensemble of characters will play a part in future titles. In point of fact, I also place Chapter ONE of the next book at the back end of the one preceding it, and this I believe helped my sales tremendously as well.

Then too Joe Konrath and I did some cross-pollinating by his placing one of my chapters back of one of his books and visa versa—and whenever, wherever, as buddies will do, we talk each other’s works up on social networks.

This new Kindle era venue has been a huge boon for new writers but even more so than anyone? Yes, the hugely put-upon Midlist Authors – and many of us have been wise in regaining our rights to out of print or DEAD books, and miraculously these are resurrected for an entirely new generation now who do not have to scrounge around in dusty used book stores for them. Plus they are offered up at prices below two and three dollars; they also offer a whole new income for their authors with a better contract or “treaty” than any Indian or workhorse (midlist author) has ever imagined – a 70/30 split in favor of the author!

Do not be fooled, a publisher puts a book up on Kindle for you and prices it at 16.00 or at the same price as the paper book (which is the case with my City Series, controlled by HarperCollins) and I have made NOTHING on these as they are selling nothing, so the price per unit holds it like a stone going nowhere, whereas the new Amazon model of selling in bulk at say 1.99 or 2.99 has earned me enough to give some thought to a vacation this summer. So another thing, 70 percent of 1.99 is far better than say 30 percent of 25.00 or even 7.00 if there are NO sales at the higher price but sales are going through the roof at the lower price. I make far more on the Amazon model than I do the HarperCollins model.

For the likes of Joe Konrath, Rob Walker, and many more whose series have been cut by our publishers, it is wonderful to be discovered anew by young and old thanks to the advent of the Kindle reader. And now I am planning a 12th Instinct title, a 5th Edge title etc. despite their being “dead series” to NYC’s Penguin Publishers.

Furthermore, my control and freedom is a wonderful new sense given the author too. In fact, a dream and a miracle come true for yours truly as no publisher could ever keep up with my output anyway, so I always dreamed of lottery winnings so I could afford to become my own publisher. The Kindle has given me my dream and the times they are miraculous as a result for on Kindle I am the publisher, producer, PR and marketing rep, ultimately editor, copy guy, all of it and it feels great to be in charge. It is a wonderful boon, and nothing succeeds like success, and since I am a happy camper, I have more positive vibes running through me and far more motivation and energy to pursue all the steps I need to take in terms of marketing, PR, social networking, etc. necessary to keep the train on the tracks.

One more thing is the “dreaded” bottom line as Kindle allows you to see your bottom line at any time of day, any day – no waiting months to know sales results & no returns beyond a handful electronically handled. Now for more on what I am doing Google me on Google, and also Google: Write Aide a blogspot wherein I give advice. Another presence is where I blogger-mouth every other Saturday. Another is my staple, each Friday at

Yes you can generate buzz for a novel not yet published, and you can start at inception, before birth! Hand out those cigars! Think of it: a blog that WARNS people of your impending opus.

Finally, with regard to writing “Original to Kindle” titles it cost you nothing to set a novel down on the virtual shelf. Should you do this with your work in progress? I will admit, writing novels has become somewhat second nature after doing some 50-odd novels, but part of the purpose of the blog is to demonstrate just how many ways I mess up and pick myself up and go on in the face of adversity and life in general and STILL craft the best novel I can create. My best advice to get a winner on Kindle pay close, close attention to your title, cove art, and description. All three MUST capture the imagination and enrapture a reader in those early moments where his or her eyes are on your book.

Write the most important short story you will ever write – the story about your story. Be sure to put in as many of the journalistic 5 Ws as you can along with character and place names. Be specific and brief at once. Write what your “dream” of what should be on the backflap copy of your book. Get professional help to edit your description (no errors!) as you must get professional help to edit the book itself as I do. Get a pro to do your cover art as well. I rely on my son, a pro..

Check out Killer Instinct (for ME fans) and Children of Salem (for HYstery-Romance-Mystery fans). Below is an EXAMPLE of a description I wrote for my second highest selling ebook:

Children of Salem

An eccumenical spy, Jere Wakely returns to Salem Village Parish where it has become obvious to church athorities that this parish is in serious trouble. Wakely works for Increase Mahter. But he is reluctant for many reasons, not the least being that his heart is broken and returning to his boyhood home means he will inevitably run into Serena Nurse

Jere assumes that Serena is by now married with children. He had left her without saying goodbye to go off and make something of himself. He has no their love would be rekindled, but it parallels a greater fire—one of terror amid the infamous Salem Witch Trials. A witch hunt in this important election year of 1692 is backdrop to a romance filled with intrigue and mystery; the history is accurate, and the truth is disturbing yet fascinating.

Man, I sure hope I didn’t misspell ecumenical in the descript….

Hey all, major thanks, and do find me on facebook and twitter and elsewhere! And do leave a comment here, please!

Rob Walker

Friday, May 14, 2010

Works of Fiction Working Memory Lane

A Question of Memory - or How does memory affect the writing of the novel or short?                

God help the writer short on memory. It takes a great deal of recall work to put any sort of mind-boggling, twisting, turning, pleasantly surprising fiction together. Short stories, not so much but still...Memory is essential. Memory affects the process of writing and the writer himself in so many ways and on so many levels we often take it for granted till we lose it! And you needn't be aged to lose it. We all like to believe that no one and no force can deprive us of our talent but think again. There are such forces out there. Some of us have run smack into them.

Memory is a slippery quicksilver substance if you are having problems in the real world ranging from personal loss, depression, financial drain, or trauma and health issues (some speak of writer's block, but it is life block is what it is).

Imagine being unable to recall pivotal moments in the story upon which you had planned to resolve matters? ‘Loose ends’ as a pharase takes on a whole new meaning. Being unable to recall vivid memories of a real life situation the author wishes to place in her novel can be devastating. Being unable to recall vivid details in chapter one that need come back in on page 200 or Chapter Thirty from a character's eye color to the breed of dog on his lap is equally frustrating.

Each missing memory chip creates a hole in the story. If one can't recall details of character traits, names, ticks, etc., he may well use the computer nowadays as a crutch to re-locate such details, but this takes time away from writing the story. Questions of plot and plot development aren't so easily fixed; how do you do a search and rescue effort on a plot development gone horribly awry? Memory in both the creative artist during the creative process and embedded within the characters created becomes an absolute necessity.

Imagine creating a character without a memory. Of course, if that is part and parcel of the storyline, amnesia for whatever reason as in Mr. Budwing or The Bourne Identity that's one thing, but an unintentional outcome stemming from a character who can't remember his lines or remember his own traits might be a sticky problem indeed. Actually, there is no "might be" about it. As a rule of thumb then, characters require sharp memories (unless a confused old 'lodger' or 'codger' needs to have an inadequate memory for the sake of the story), especially our main detective(s), cops, medical examiners and such.

Our Sherlock has to be up for battle, up and alert to catch the clues and ultimately the horrendously bad guy(s) and sometimes the terribly bad gal(s) who typically leave a trail of clues to the requisite doorstep. Again unless the intent is to create and develop a bungling Mr. Magoo who really does have memory lapses (which could be an interesting premise for a mystery detective tale or only frustrating a 'ell to the reader), we're going to want our hero or heroine to be fairly sharp if not razor sharp in the memory department--even if he fakes forgetfulness as in Columbo's case.

Besides, as a rule, characters require secrets, fears, experiences which all equate out to either pleasant or unpleasant memories. Memories in fact help greatly to establish and build character 'biographies' in the story. Bumper Sticker Alert: Hard to remember a memorable character who did not have memories. Harder still to imagine an author who could possibly work without memories to ahhh...Yeah, work with.

I have gone through periods when writing became impossible, due in large part to a shut down of the senses without which no memory gets through. We and our characters react to smell, sound, taste, touch, and sight, any one of which or any combination of which sets memory into motion.

A story is a war, and it is only as good as the effect its conflict has on the reader. A great story is filled with characters hoarding secret scars, hurts, memories, some of which are revealed, and in the revelation of character, secret, and memory, we find a fully fleshed out, fully-realized character staring back off the page of ink marks, someone we relate to because we share the secret and the memory now as we do with all the classic character from Ahab to Heathcliff.

Memories...Memoriessssss--as the song says, so important. Certainly Jeremiah Wakely's ten year memories of his childhood girlfriend figures highly in my Children of Salem set in 1692, and my Dead On, a modern noir Atlanta tale wherein Marcus Rydell's memories have him on the brink of suicide until dreams of vengeance open hin up to a goal worth living for!

Hope you will share some of your "memory" concerns here on the comments section!

Rob Walker
FREE 1st 20 pgs. of Children of Salem up at

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Friday, April 23, 2010

IDEA KILLERS stop YOU in Your Tracks

Guess what Think Tanks are for? Brainstorming, right? But so many of us Stop the Brainstorm too soon. Look, no idea is born in perfection, no invention, no artwork, no novel or product. So start a new revolution in yourself: GIVE an idea a home; give it a chance to grow. Below are the top ten Idea Killers - responses to an idea that Destroy it at the roots and cut it off at the ankles:
10. Get a Committee to look into it...

9. You gotta be kidding...

8. We're already overextended (or overexposed).

7. We'll never find the time for that!

6. You don't/can't REALLY mean that...

5. Who's gonna do it? Take the lead?

4. It doesn't fit the system (in publishing: doesn't fit our list)

3. We tried that before & it doesn't work.

2. 'They' will never buy it (no matter who THEY are)

1. It doesn't GRAB me.

Robert W. Walker

author Children of Salem, Killer Instinct, plus 50 other published novels

Friday, April 9, 2010

Writing the Pitch or Platform or Query Letter

You can write a great description or Pitch or Log Line --whatever you call it, and you can use it in letters to editors as a compelling reason to buy the book. Or you can use it as a descript for your ebook that you self publish as an Indie Author on amazon/kindle at

If I put one of these up every day, and if you read say 44 of them and you begin to see the pattern of why all of these books sold, you will learn something about writing your own pitches or sales letters or platforms, or synopsis to sell to an editor.  This novel sold in 1979 right out the door, why?

Sub-Zero by Robert Walker

A spoof of men’s adventure and sci-fi, this ask the question of if an ice age descended over Chicago in the year 2010, would there be a madman out to kill the weatherman—and the answer is a resounding YES, but the killer keeps missing weatherman extraordinaire at WLS-TV who is seen as something of a god in his free-wheeling helicopter as he can rise above the weather while everyone else suffers. But the killer’s misses hit others around Dr. meteorologist Dr. Mark Wertman. The weather problems stem from the US’s having stored nuclear waste in the Arctic Circle and the subsequent warming trend as result! Meantime, investigative reporter Tim Crockett uncovers the fact the building they are all trapped in is sitting on a nuclear reactor itself. Meant as tongue in cheek fun, this commercial novel was published without fanfare or any understanding whatsoever of its being a spoof but rather as a “good read”! That in itself is funny as hell to the author.

The above title is today a Kindle ebook and can be found on under the Kindle Store marquee.

Thanks for helping to kick off my new blog and do leave a comment!
Rob Walker