Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No Hesitation

By Shannon Baker

As writers, we often insert situations in our stories that illustrate principles. Of course, we try to be subtle as we layer in symbolism and analogy. But sometimes, real life gives us great stories to serve as life lessons.
I am not a risk-taker by nature. So when I’m afraid to try something new or I’m tempted to settle into the known and secure life, I remember an incident years ago.

My daughter, Erin, was eleven years-old and we were camping at Horseshoe Campground just outside of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills on Labor Day. Summer was dwindling to a close and school had already started so this was our last outing before the rampaging activities of fall at our feed store in Nebraska and school sports geared up.

A large rock guarded the corner of Horseshoe Lake. To my memory it seems like it rose straight up from the water about 50 feet. It was probably much shorter. I can tell you it was one high platform. Local teenagers jumped from the rock into the deep lake. They were having a blast, sailing in and climbing back up.

Erin watched this with interest the first afternoon we camped. On the second day, she decided she wanted to try it. I climbed the rock with her and peered over the ledge as she contemplated the jump. To give her courage, I scurried back down and swam out and treaded water not far from where she’d enter. She stood at the edge trying to get her nerve up and I treaded water until my legs felt weary. In the end, she retreated without jumping.

What she perceived as defeat stayed with her throughout the evening and the next day as we toured the Black Hills. The next morning, as we packed up camp, I caught her gazing longingly across the lake as the big kids once again gathered and threw themselves off the cliff. We finished loading the gear and piled into the pickup. She never took her eyes off the rock as we drove past and headed out of the campground.
We stopped before entering the highway that would take us back to our real lives. Suddenly she shouted, “Wait! I want to jump.”

To the grumbles of the other family members, I insisted we stop, dig for our suits and let her change. We drove back and I once again swam out into the cold lake as she climbed the rock. This time, she only hesitated a second, then hurled herself off the cliff.

She hit the water and sank deep. A second later, her head bobbed up and her face split in a grin of accomplishment. Her pride spilled over and lasted for days. I don’t know, maybe it was a brick in her character growth and helped make her the strong young woman she is today.

What I do know is how it affected me. If she hadn't pushed herself beyond her comfort zone, if she hadn’t wanted to experience the flight and splash, she’d have gone home to the status quo and wouldn't have lost anything.

But by pushing herself, overcoming her fear, she earned not only the experience, she gained confidence to jump higher next time, to live fuller and freer.

When I asked her why she finally decided to try again, she said, “I realized I might not ever have another chance.”

When I’m hesitant to try something new and take a big chance, I try to seize the courage my young daughter taught me that day. I make a decision, put aside the fear and…


Monday, July 29, 2013

Editing a Galley Proof

By Beth Groundwater

 I just finished editing the galley proof for my November book release, A Basket of Trouble, the long-awaited third book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer series. What is a galley proof, you might ask? It's a page-by-page layout of the print-ready manuscript, sent to the author and others to do a final edit before it goes to the printer. Where did the term come from? As Wikipedia explains, "Galley proofs are so named because in the days of hand-set type, the printer would set the page into galleys, the metal trays into which type was laid and tightened into place. These would be used to print a limited number of copies for editing mark-up."

My Midnight Ink copy editor sent me the galley proof two weeks ago along with a few questions and a request for two missing items, a dedication and the acknowledgements. I was given the choice of marking my changes on the paper manuscript itself and mailing it back or emailing detailed change instructions to the copy editor. I always choose the second option and send back a list of directions that say, "Page xxx, xxx lines from top: change xxx to xxx." and so on.

This time, the file of changes was 5 pages long. Why so long? Well, one page of that was the Dedication and Acknowledgements.  Another set of changes were suggestions of which reviews of prior books in the series should be quoted in the pages prior to the start of the novel.

A full page of changes was due to a reader winning a character name in a silent auction at the Left Coast Crime conference in Colorado Springs, CO, this spring. I not only changed the character name to match hers, I changed the character's hair color to match hers and the character's shirt color to match her favorite color. I try to weave in personal details like this for readers who "win" a character name in a silent or live auction at a mystery conference.

Another set of changes were to address a question asked by the copy editor, who pointed out that I was inconsistent in talking about a business trip taken by my sleuth's husband, Roger Hanover. I made sure all references to the trip were for the same length of time and that references to his return all used the same day of the week. I sent him on the trip to get him out of the way, so Claire could feel free to snoop as much as she wanted. The trip was unimportant, really. But this is just one example of all of the small details that have to be kept consistent in a novel. This is especially true for mystery novels, where inconsistency could be interpreted by readers to be a clue!

Am I sure that all the errors have been caught? Heck, no! The copy editor and I are human, after all, and humans make mistakes. But at least there will be fewer mistakes in the final book than there were in the galley proof. And, the proof is going out to other Midnight Ink staff and reviewers, too. They all may catch errors that I and my copy editor did not.

My main concern is that A Basket of Trouble be a fun and exciting read. Hopefully no readers will be pulled out of the story by stumbling across a typo, spelling or punctuation error. Have you been pulled out of a story recently by such an error? Share it with us here!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Readers and Authors, Together in Perfect Harmony

by Jennifer Harlow

**Okay, before I begin, I just want it known I in no way, shape, or form want you to think this is my way of asking you, my lovely readers, to do any of the below. If you decide to, more power to you. This is just for illumination purposes to let you know what goes on behind the scenes as a writer trying to market books.**

I've just published a book! Huzzah! what? How the frak do I get people to discover the damn thing? 1,000 books a day are published. A DAY. That's a lot of people screaming for readers attention. You mean I have to become a marketer as well? Um...huh? Okay, I'll just Google it. What the hell are book bloggers, street teams, Amazon analytics, head hurts. I want my Mommy.

I am not a good salesperson. I hate asking people for help. It physically hurts when I do. That's just how my daddy raised me. "You really can't count on anyone but yourself. Don't expect someone to give you a fish, learn to bait a lure, baby doll." And let's face it, any type of rejection stings and there is no shortage of it in the publishing world. So marketing, and relying on other people to help spread the word about my book, does not come naturally to me. But I query book bloggers, I'm semi-active on social media, and I now know what a street team is. But with more and more people publishing than ever before, the marketing noise is louder and more grating on readers and bloggers. 

I recently read a thread on KBoards about this very problem. Please note though, I'd say about 96% of authors don't engage in the behavior below, but that 4% is ruining it for us all. Both writers and readers commented. The consensus was overzealous authors with their constant selling and begging for reviews was putting readers off from reviewing any books and not joining mailing lists or social media. Readers are tuning all authors out, even those who aren't guilty of the offense. I know I've Un-Followed about a dozen writers on Twitter for just this reason. But dear readers, we need you. We need you now more than ever, not just to read our books but also help spread the word of it's wonders. To be it's champion. I commented that if we just explained why reviews and word of mouth are important, and also spread word to authors how to stop alienating the lifeblood of the industry, maybe things can improve. So, let's give it a whirl:

To authors: Readers want to interact with us. They want to hear about our new works, our process. What they don't want is every damn Facebook/Twitter post ten times a day to be about it. You get a nice review? Awesome, share. Do it seventeen times a day? Not so much. They want to know you're more than a SPAMbot. Readers want to hear about your life. Your family. They want you to ask them questions, then respond. The ratio of selling vs. being a human being should be at most 1:4, if that, which means no asking for reviews or newsletter sign ups or anything where they have to do something for you. Show them you have a personality because if they like you, they'll be more inclined to read your book. I know I've bought books from people just because they seemed like a good, interesting egg, and I was never let down. And if these wonderful people do go above and beyond for you, do the same. If they post a review or join your street team, send them something exclusive like a magnet or new story you've written. Show your appreciation. 

As for book bloggers, more and more are refusing to review self-published books not only because of the quality but also the majority have received threats, literal threats to their lives, for not reviewing a book. Send the query, if they want it they'll ask for it. Don't inundate them with e-mails and damn well no threats. You're a professional now, act like it.

To readers: Okay, first off, you bought our book? You don't owe us authors a damn thing after that. Not a review, not even to buy our next book. Giving an author a chance is more than enough. Our transaction is complete. That being said,it's hard out here for a pimp. My four, soon to be six by the end of the year, girls are working the corner with two million others on Kindle alone, they need any leg up they can get. (No pun intended) My bitches and I don't have the full force of Random House advertising, hell it's really just me in my basement with what little is in my checking account. So, you liked my wares and you're willing to help an author out because you are a man/woman among men, what can you do? First, tell people. Tell your mother, your sister, your local bookseller. Recommend, recommend, recommend. If you're on Goodreads/Tumblr/KBoards regularly anyway, start a thread. It only takes one connector to start a massive viral wave (See 50 Shades or Grumpy Cat.) Then you can honestly say you liked it before it was cool. 

Next on the author's wish list is reviews and author page likes, especially on Amazon. This is very, very important. They have these complicated algorithms where if you reach a certain amount of reviews or likes, you'll get more visibility in the system, which once again can make a book. Then there's street teams. Until a few months ago I didn't know what this was. Basically it's a group of readers around the country who spread word and promotional materials to bookstores/libraries/people in their area that an author made and sent them. Not comfortable with any of the above? Just sign up for the author's newsletter so you know when they have a new book out. You can always unsubscribe. Every little bit helps.

A good start, no? Readers and authors,working together because, you know what, we need each other. The circle of life: without authors readers wouldn't get their supply, and without readers, authors wouldn't have any incentive to write. Let's be good to each other. 

So, what have I forgotten or you wish I'd included for either party? What is effective marketing for you? Sound off in the comments below.             

Also, if you haven't already picked up a copy of my new book Justice, you're in luck. From 7/24-7/26 this week on Amazon it'll be free! Pick up a copy! And as if I weren't busy enough, on Aug 1st the third F.R.E.A.K.S. book, Death Takes A Holiday come out. it's available for pre-order HERE now.  The beautiful covers are below...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sweat, Sweat and Tears

By Deborah Sharp

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That's the sound of me, squeezing out enough sweat to fill a baby pool. It's mid-July in south Florida: Sweltering temperatures; suffocating humidity. All that, and my AC has been AWOL for a full week. The whole unit must be replaced, and our air conditioning guy is so backed up with work orders we had to schedule an appointment almost two weeks out. It's easier to get past the velvet rope at a South Beach nightclub than it is to hire this guy.

I'm not able to work at  home. I'm barely able to think. Just one thought keeps running through my brain, a continuous loop of misery:
I'm SO hot. 
I'm SO hot. 
I'm SO hot . . .

I have another four days to wait. I'm not sure I can make it. (Right now, I've fled to the air-conditioned comfort of a Starbucks). Funny thing is, I grew up in south Florida before air conditioning was as pervasive as it is now. I remember my mother stashing my PJs in the freezer before bedtime, then letting the fan blow over me so I'd fall asleep before my body realized how hot it  was. When we were kids, my brother and I would go to the movie theater downtown just to sit in the air conditioning, no matter what show was playing. My father, from a family of Florida pioneers, would roll in his grave if he knew how soft and spoiled I've become.

Wah, I'm sweaty. Boo-hoo! 

The only saving grace about the soaring temperature? Jokes that answer the question, How HOT is it?
It's so hot I saw a homeless guy on the street with a sign that said Will Work for Shade.
It's so hot I saw a group of Amish girls wearing spaghetti straps and Daisy Dukes.
It's so hot the birds are using pot-holders to pull up worms from the ground.

My father worked on construction sites, as a carpenter. Much of his work was outside under a searing sun. I can't even imagine how hard that and other physical jobs are in this kind of weather: road worker, bricklayer, grass cutter or ditch digger. The most difficult labor I perform is straining for a metaphor, and I still can't manage to concentrate on work. The heat saps my brain power.  It's embarrassing when I imagine the extreme situations other writers have faced. The polar explorers of the early 1900s managed to update their journals, despite frostbite and starvation. Chinese prisoners eke out memoirs in inhuman camps. George Orwell wrote 1984 while he dying of tuberculosis.

How about you? What's the most extreme circumstance you've written under? Or, like me, do you cave when your surroundings are hot, noisy, or just plain uncomfortable?


Saturday, July 13, 2013

INKSPOT NEWS - July 13, 2013

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 14, 2013, from 3:00 - 5:00 PM, Beth Groundwater will sign copies of her June release, Fatal Descent, and the other two books in her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series at Who Else Books, Broadway Book Mall, 200 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209. This is part of the bookstore's Mystery Weekend, and Beth will be joined by fellow Colorado mystery author, Bonnie Biafore, signing copies of her Fresh Squeezed release.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


By: Maegan Beaumont

    I've had more than a few people email me and post on my FB author page, to tell me that the CARVED "reads like a movie" and ask, "when is the movie coming out?"

    My reply is always, "thank you!" and "just soon as someone Hollywood deems important cuts me a check."


    Still, it's fun to play pretend... so, here are my fantasy cast picks, ya know--just in case :

Sabrina--Jessica Biel. I'll admit of all my characters, Sabrina was the hardest to pin down. I didn't want someone too obvious (Angelina Jolie) but she still has to have the physicality necessary to pull it off. I think Mrs. Timberlake offers a good balance of vulnerability and toughness. If you doubt me, watch Blade: Trinity... What? I'm an action movie junkie. Don't judge me.

Michael--Sam Worthington. Okay... Worthington and Jeremy Renner were neck and neck. Both are great action stars but Worthington is a bit more low key, which I like. He has that vulnerable yet tough thing going on. Besides... look at those eyes!
Movie justification: Terminator: Salvation

Strickland--Damien Lewis. I've been a big fan of Lewis since he starred in a little-watched NBC show called LIFE. Strickland has a razor-sharp, tough-as-nails center, disguised by a slobbish, slightly sarcastic candy-coating. Lewis fits him to a T.
If you can find LIFE on hulu or netflix, give it a watch.

Val--Sarah Shahi. I'm not sure it came through on the page, but Val is tiny.
Tiny but fierce. She's the only person on earth who can go toe-to-toe with Sabrina and feel she might win with any degree of confidence. Shahi portrays that take-no-prisoners attitude beautifully.
Shahi starred opposite Damien Lewis in LIFE, she currently has a re-occurring role on CBS's PERSON OF INTEREST.

Nickels--Ryan Reynolds. Yes, I'm well aware that I now have both feet firmly planted in the Land of the Ridiculous but whatever, it's my movie! Reynolds is all kinds of hot, plus he has that wholesome, boy-next-door thing going on... with just enough hard-ass to keep him interesting.

Lark--Idris Elba. Lark is tricky... he's huge. I mean, huge... when I wrote him I kept picturing Michael Duncan Clarke who was 6'5... At 6'3, Elba comes in a few inches shy but he's got more than enough bad-boy in him to make up for it. He was just about the only thing I liked in PROMETHEUS. I've had more than one person say to me when we discuss the book, "I didn't know Lark is black!"
So... Lark is black. Now you know.

Tommy--Adam Beach. I've had a crush on Beach ever since I saw him in WINDTALKERS and he is exactly who I thought of when I wrote Tommy. Just the right mix of boyish charm and wisdom.

Carson--Warren Cole. Carson is a complicated guy... he's not really a bad, he's just too wounded and entrenched in the past to evolve into something more than what he is--a small town cop with a chip on his
shoulder. Cole plays bad beautifully (Have you seen THE FOLLOWING??) and I think he would do a great job at bring out the complexity in Carson's character.

Wade--Michael Fassbender. This one might seem like a head-scratcher, but hear me out. Like with Sabrina's character, I didn't want obvious. I want someone you'd never see coming. He's charming and handsome but at the same time, if I look hard enough, I can see a hint of cruelty. That's who Wade is to me.

Ben--Chris Hemsworth. My daughter is in love with this guy... me? He's super cute but not at all who I pictured when I wrote Ben's character. The guy I pictured isn't an actor. He's an Irish boxer named John Duddy, with whom I had a brief, yet intense, obsession. All the same, I promised my daughter that if CARVED was ever made into a movie, I'd make sure Hemsworth was in it... and a promise is a promise.

Mandy Black--Kristen Bell. You know, the coroner we see for about five minutes. She's featured prominently in book two and I like her so much that I'm thinking of moving her to the forefront later on in the series. She's witty, sharp and not afraid to put Sabrina in her place, which makes her awesome. Bell, whom I've loved since her Veronica Mars days, fits her like a glove.

And there you have them, my picks for Carved in Darkness: The Movie. If you've read CiD, I'd love to hear your thoughts on who you'd place in the roles, given the chance.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Maintaining Balance in a Creative Life

by Sheila Webster Boneham

Balance. I’ve long been a great believer in balance in life. Not necessarily moderation, mind you, but balance. Hard work balanced against hard play, or hard rest. Think very long nap on a rainy afternoon after writing from seven until noon, with a couple of hours bicycling or hiking in the early evening. Balance.

Indian Paintbrush looks to me like
creativity feels.
©2011 Sheila Boneham, Evans Canyon, Reno, NV

For creative people – writers, painters, musicians, actors, crafters, and more – balance can be hard to achieve. The siren that is creative work is seductive. It can sing its way into our brains and make us attend to its needs until our joints lock. That same siren, though, can be painfully shy, hiding itself at the first hint of distraction. Something good on tv? You can write that poem later! Friends want you to come play parcheesi? The painting can wait. The socks in your sock drawer are rebelling? Clearly more important to organize them than to write that novel.

I jest. Sort of. The truth is that there’s ALWAYS something else to do. Some distractions even look from the outside very much like actual work. You’re a writer, you’re on the computer – checking what’s happened on Facebook in the last ten minutes, and reading the latest writers’ group digest post, and checking the five hundred blogs you frequent because HOLY COW! You might miss something that will make or break your career!

There's always some seductive path
calling, "Follow me!"
©2011 Sheila Boneham, Wrightsville Beach, NC

I confess. I do all those things. Sometimes. But in the past fifteen years I’ve also written twenty three and a half books, sixteen tons of articles (more or less), a pile of short stories, a small clutch of poems (very recently!), and the various related documents – query letters, proposals, blurbs, bios, bull..., er, marketing materials. So, rumors to the contrary aside, I do maintain some degree of balance.

How? A surprising (to me, anyway) number of people ask me that. It’s no mystery, really. Like many busy people, I compartmentalize my time, and have done so for so many years that my "time habits" are part of me. I write in a local cafĂ© every morning, beginning around 7:00, ending around noon, with a half hour or so off for breakfast with my husband. I go home, have lunch, have tea. I read for a couple of hours. Take a short nap most afternoons. Go for a long walk, sometimes with my dog Lily, sometimes with my camera, sometimes just with my thoughts. I often write more in the evening, or meet my writers’ group, or friends, or go to an event or movie, or paint and listen to music, or watch a movie at home. And, yes, reading social media and posting on my Facebook author page, or updating my website or my own blog.  And ok, maybe an hour of Frasier reruns. Hey, we all have our vices. I read some more late at night, when everything is quiet. I sleep. And the writing gets done, because I know I have those four or five hours of dedicated writing time, and I use them to....write!

I find that other creative pursuits,
like painting, help feel my work as
a writer. Creativity begets creativity.

©2011 Sheila Boneham, "Sydney," watercolor

Balance, of course, should extend to all of life, not just work. Because creative work is so personal, it can be very difficult to separate the artifacts of our creativity – the books, the paintings, the hand-thrown pots – from our Selves. But the truth is that our creativity comes from without as well as from within. We need experience of the world to feed the fire inside. The precise experience each of us needs varies, but we all need something. A few days without my writing time make me crave my keyboard, but I know from experience that if I lock myself away to do nothing but write for more than a day or two, my siren stops singing. I need time in nature, travel, long walks, cuddles with my dogs, talks with my husband, flowers, music, my friends, good books, photography, art, and more in my life if I am to have anything worth saying.

What do you need to create balance in your life and work?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

INKSPOT NEWS - July 6, 2013

Here are the new releases from Midnight Ink for July, 2013. They're both wonderful reads!

Out of the Frying Pan by Robin Allen

 “A must-read for cozy lovers.”—Publishers Weekly

“Allen delivers a breezy and likeable menu.”—Kirkus Reviews

Pickle in the Middle Murder by Jessie Chandler

“In Chandler's thrilling third Shay O'Hanlon caper … Chandler keeps the suspense high as flustered Shay and spunky Eddy Quartermaine, Shay's mom stand-in, seek to prove JT's innocence -- and learn a few surprises about her past along the way. ”—Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This IS My Happy Face

by Shannon Baker

I recently saw a funny ditty on You Tube about Bitchy Resting Face.

At first I laughed, then realized, that’s what’s happening to me. My dear companion often asks me, “What’s the matter?” Or, “You’re scowling out the window again.” Or, “What did I do to piss you off?”

I’m not angry. I’m not sad. I might be puzzled and a bit frustrated, but all in all, life is pretty fine. The cause for the Bitchy Resting Face is that I’m trying to work out something. Several somethings, in fact.

First, there is the disturbing fact that I was laid off my day job two months ago. So now I’m wondering if I ought to do contracting, thus setting my own hours and making time for my dear companion’s strange schedule and my writing. That would lead to less income, more stress as I start up my own business and lots of stuff I keep putting on the list. Meanwhile, I’m sending out resumes and wondering if any of those jobs would be fun and exciting. If I actually land a new position, I’ll be starting a new job at a new company with new people and new routines. Thinking about it makes my face scrunch all up.

Then, I finished a draft of my next book and sent it out to critique partners. Will they like it? Will I end up dismantling it and doing major rewrites? When will they get back to me and how much time will it take to fix what they find wrong?

I had a book released in March. How are sales of that going? What promotion do I need to do to increase them? Maybe I ought to add a few signings. I could write a few more blogs.

Book two is somewhere in the publishing pipeline. I think I’m pretty much finished with it until copy edits or galley proofs or whatever the next step really is. I’ve seen a simple mockup of the cover and I’m happy with it. But I need to write the acknowledgments and dedication. I think. Maybe I already did that. I need to check.

I’m plotting a new series and book one of that series. It’s more ambitious than anything I’ve done before. Am I up to it? From the brick wall my brain turned into, I’m doubting it. I spend a great deal of my time holed up inside my head wondering what clues Kate can find that will lead her to the solution and just how soon they should be revealed.

In the meantime, since I’m not chained to a 9 to 5, I’ve been tearing up the trails and paths, getting out on my bike or with my backpack as often as possible before I go back to gainful employment.

I’d tell you that as soon as I get this job issue straightened out and the new series plotted and book 3 is turned in, I’ll be a glowing portrait radiating inner beauty. I know better, though. By that time, there will be another book, another life crisis, and I’ll be working out something complicated in my head.

So while I’m at the pool or wandering by a mountain stream swollen with summer melt-off, or even just sitting on the patio enjoying the soft breeze, my eyebrows are drawn together, my mouth is puckered and I seem to be scowling. Understand, I’m not unhappy. Sadly, I suffer from Bitchy Resting Face, exacerbated by deep schizophrenia and aggravated distraction.

This is me, displaying my natural Bitchy Resting Face. I'm actually having a really good time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Are Your Books in Libraries?

By Beth Groundwater

This is a question I often get asked by readers, and I'm happy to answer, "Yes!" However, I usually go on to explain how readers can get their hands on a copy of one of my books at their local library system. Libraries are increasingly strapped for funds, and as a result, are reducing inventory on their shelves.

Instead, libraries are participating more in interlibrary loan systems where they share materials with other libraries. So, if a reader can't find a copy of one of my books on their local library's shelves, I tell them not to give up, but to search for the book in the electronic catalog. If the local library has a copy and it's checked out, the reader can request a hold. Otherwise or instead, the reader can see if a copy is available via interlibrary loan and request a copy that way.

For instance, my small local library in Breckenridge, Colorado, is one branch of three in the Summit County Library system. And the Summit County Library (SCL) belongs to the Marmot Library Network that has municipal and educational library members throughout western Colorado. After I find and reserve a book from the SCL on-line catalog, when I actually receive the book, it could be stamped as belonging to the Eagle Valley Library District, Colorado Mesa University, or one of the other member libraries. Then when I return the book, it gets sent back to the owner library.

I looked up my own name in the SCL catalog, I find that collectively there are a mix of trade paperback, large-print, and ebook copies of all five of my published mystery novels in the Marmot system that are available for checkout. If I was just browsing the shelves of the library branch in Breckenridge, though, I might not find any.

The most extensive interlibrary loan system is WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services, which, as of November, 2011, included 72,000 member library systems from 170 countries and territories. SCL is a member of WorldCat, so even if the Marmot system does not have a copy of a book I am looking for, a librarian could find a copy for me and borrow it through the WorldCat system. So readers should never despair if they don't find a book they're looking for in their home library--even if you're a bookworm and check out the maximum allowed number every week as I did as a child!

The WorldCat system has another use for authors. It's a great way for gauging the extent of your library sales. For instance, when I searched for Deadly Currents, the first book in my RM Outdoor Adventures series, I found copies in 419 different library systems (some of which can contain tens of branches), including in countries as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Having either a large-print edition or an ebook edition, I've found, results in even wider library distribution. One thing to remember is that the number (419) is the number of library SYSTEMS that have copies of the book, not just the number of libraries or the number of copies.

I even used WorldCat to research publishers when my agent and I were looking for a new publisher for my mysteries that would produce trade paperback and ebook editions. At that time, I was with a publisher that produced hardcover and large-print editions, and the two books they had published for me had wide distribution in WorldCat. When Midnight Ink offered a contract, I looked up some Midnight Ink titles in WorldCat, and found that they, too, had wide distribution. So, I wouldn't be giving up library sales by going with them, and I'd be gaining retail bookstore sales.

I encourage both authors and readers to use the on-line catalog resources available to you to search for books and see where you can find copies in libraries. So, Inkspot readers, I have a question for you. What's the rarest book you were able to find and read from a library? Let us know!