Moving on…

All good things don’t always have to come to an end. Sometimes, they just need to move on.

Since my writing business has become, well, more of a business, I have acquired my own domain name and now have a website with both a way to purchase my books and receive my monthly newsletter.

This blog will remain up for a while, then I’ll take it down and archive it. You never know when one of those old stories might come in handy.

In the meantime, check out the new digs here. And of course – be in the know by subscribing to the newsletter here. No salesman will call, and I don’t share your email address with anyone.

Thanks so very much for reading and commenting these past five or so years!

Come on over to the new website. The party is just getting started!

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World Unknown Review 2014 Authors!

And now you know! Someone not a relative has seen merit in my writing. Looking for the bottle of port now.

L.S. Engler

Now that we’re into December and I’m trying to wrestle with some formatting with the hopes of releasing the debut edition of World Unknown Review to the masses, I thought it was high time I made an official announcement revealing the authors you’ll find inside this eclectic volume of excellent fiction. I can only express the utmost thanks and praise to these eleven fantastic writers who took a chance on a fledgling publication; I’m incredibly honored to put them all together in what I hope is the start of a beautiful and exciting new tradition. It also blows my mind that I’m actually getting the chance to be the first person to publish a lot of these stories, the first stories to be “professionally” published for many of these writers. True, I had to send out just as many rejection letters as acceptances, which was a bit of a surprise…

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Murder on the Amtrak Express?

 

          Writers on the Rails – All Aboard!

Probably not murder, but one never knows what may happen when you put a bunch of writers on a train. ICYMI – Amtrak recently announced their first class of writers-in-residence. This very cool program started out as a brief quip from a blogger and has progressed into a full blown, official long-distance residency for writers.

Imagine the benefits. You get to see the vast stretches of America you normally miss when driving your car. After all, when you are behind the wheel you are either looking for the next restroom, gas station, or speed trap. On a train? You get to people watch with a captive audience! Judging by the potential stories I see every time I go to an airport, a long train ride could also provide excellent fodder for the imagination.

Another plus – limited Internet and phone access. No distractions. Need I say more?

So who are these 24 writers now packing their bags to hit the rails like modern day Hobo-Hemingways? (I just made that up. Can you tell?) I won’t describe all 24, you can read more about them using the link above, but what a diverse group. Among them are a few nationally known broadcasters, a former spy, a sports writer, a movie reviewer, a noted transgender writer, several national award winning authors, and then there’s Ksenia Anske.

If you don’t know Ksenia Anske, you should. A Russian by birth, Ksenia arrived in the US in 1998. Since then she has been named one of the Top 100 Women in Seattle Tech. A published fantasy author, Ksenia is also very, very, very active on Twitter. Not that I am the expert on the Twitter-verse, but I will say Ksenia tweets some of the snarkiest comments I have seen there. Probably why she is so popular? if you are a writer, her Twitter feed is worth checking out @kseniaanske.

Amtrak scored big with this new residency program. I hope it continues; maybe I’ll apply some day. In the meantime, I may just send Google a note asking them to send me one of their self-driving cars. If I had one, I could start my own residency program as I commuted to and from work. That would provide me an extra hour and a half of writing time each day!

If only it came with an attached club car…

 

Help me find a cure for Crohn’s

Hi everyone,

This is not the normal post for this blog. In fact, I have copied and pasted this post onto all three of my blogs in order to get the word out. I am only doing this once. No worries, the start of The 13th Samurai is on the way, as are new recipes and restaurant reviews for the food blogs.

So what am I asking?

The teenaged daughter of a co-worker has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I won’t scare you with all the details, but suffice to say this was not in her college prep plan. I guess there’s never a good time, is there?

Several of us at work have come together and formed a team to raise money on this girl’s behalf. We will be walking several miles at a fundraiser in late September. Please consider using this link and donating a few dollars. A cure is coming; we want our dollars to help find it sooner rather than later.

Thank you.

D.J.

Overnight Success Can Take Years

Today started the next phase of my “get rich quick” scheme of becoming a world-famous mystery writer. Hey, so far so good – I received a free cup of coffee this morning at my remote office, aka Starbucks. I can’t complain. Today’s goal: set up my Query Tracker (QT) search parameters and start building a list of potential literary agents who may be open to representing me and The Apple Pie Alibi.

After successfully querying the database, I diligently started working through the 149 agents who matched my search requirements. I decided to check the QT profile first, then if it looked promising, visit the agent’s website. After a cursory view, if I still had an optimistic feeling (okay, maybe naive?) I would add said agent to my preferred list. The idea being once I had made it through all 149, I would have a much more specific list to send out the query/synopsis/first [insert number] pages of the novel, along with any available bribe money.

The first agent on the list? Mysteries were, in her words, not primary, not secondary, but “something we accept, but are not actively seeking…”

Moving on.

The next two agents? They only accepted queries by snail-mail. Also, no email address. No website. My dad is 88 and he has an email address. And he spends many hours a day researching from his computer.

Moving on.

The next agent has promise. In fact, I will spend more time this weekend performing a more thorough view of the agency profile, but what piqued my interest so far is the agent’s blog. And no, the aforementioned agents did not have blogs, either.

For a good, and very realistic account of what authors and agents go through as they walk, run, trip, stumble, and/or mosey down the road to publication, check out literary agent Sarah LaPolla’s story here. It will show how becoming an overnight success can easily take years, and often has nothing to do with the writer, or the novel itself.

Meanwhile, the query search continues…

 

 

When Literary Agents Wave the Red Flag

Although I have been woefully behind in my reading the blogs of the cadre of fine writers on my “favorites” list, I do see their partial posts via my iPhone. Thusly, I know many of them are at the point of submitting their manuscript to agents and publishers. Here’s some great insight, from an insider. In a nutshell – you may not be as unqualified as you may have been led to believe. Enjoy!

The Daily Dahlia

It’s been almost a full year now since I signed with my agent, but the thing about querying is, if you did it for long enough, I’m not sure you ever forget what it was like.

Me? I did it on and off for four years.

I got something like ten rejections on my first ms before I stopped (not that I’d normally advise giving up after that low a number, it’s just that it was far more of a “market timing” thing – NA! – than anything else), fifty before shelving the second one (what, until my most recent ms, was “the book of my heart”), and then was very lucky to find my agent through The Writer’s Voice contest with my third, for which I only sent about five queries.

That adds up to a whole lotta two things: 1) Research 2) Rejections

When I queried the first…

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Cuban Style Black Beans

Cuban style Black Beans

Cuban style Black Beans

The problem with being a writer is that writing mandates sedentary activity. Is that an oxymoron? If you think about it, even as active as he was, Hemingway couldn’t type while watching out for stray bulls skulking around the streets of Pamplona, could he?

It’s worse for those of us who write about food.

If I’m writing, I’m sitting. If I’m researching, I’m eating. Thus the problem.

As I keep working on the revisions for The Apple Pie Alibi, a culinary-based, cozy mystery using the locked room murder format (in case you had forgotten,) I have started to read a new book – Eat to Live, written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. More on the book later, but I also had Dr. Fuhrman’s accompanying cookbook of the same title. And with a church pot luck today, I needed to cook something.

Hmm. Need to cook something. Brand new cookbook. You get the picture.

This is my version of Cuban style black beans. It is vegetarian friendly; and slightly different than the recipe found in the book. The published recipe is fine, I’m sure. I just didn’t have all of the ingredients, so I had to make do with what I had.

Place the following into a large crock pot / slow cooker:

3 large cans of cooked black beans, drained.

1 cup water

2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and rough chopped

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed (or finely minced if you haven’t a garlic press)

1 Tablespoon of cumin

1 Tablespoon of dehydrated cilantro (use a few sprigs of fresh cilantro if you can get them. It’s out of season on my back porch right now.)

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 good slosh of sherry vinegar, about a shot glass’ worth

Mix well, cover, and cook on low heat for at least 8 hours. Stir occasionally.

Need more heat? Add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper or jerk seasoning. Or both.

Need meat? Add a cup of diced ham. Maybe some chopped pineapple, too; although that has nothing to do with meat. It just might taste good.

Enjoy!

(Normally this would pair well with a Cuba Libre, but given our event was a church luncheon, iced tea worked very well instead.)