Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Author Steve Liskow

So, Whadjuh Learn Today?

I’m still teaching myself to plot more effectively and write more vivid description, but now Who Wrote The Book of Death? comes off the presses in May, so I’m learning other lessons about writing that never would have occurred to me six months ago. Ironically, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that NOTHING messes up your writing schedule like actually selling something.

I need to help roll out the red carpet to welcome the new arrival, which means developing the marketing muscles I’ve never had to stretch before. Yes, my publisher is doing the heavy lifting, but they need me to do more than hold the door and steady the ladder. I drafted the bio, log line, cover blurb, and publicity synopsis. I suggested the basic cover design, too, and got a professional portrait (I hate my teeth, I hate my hair, I hate my chin, and Viggo Mortensen was out of town). The package will go to libraries, reviewers, and bookstores. I’ve asked other writers I’ve met to blurb the book. I’m selecting excerpts from the novel and a few stories to read at author events to sell the book.

As you read this, my Web site is setting forth on the Cyber Ocean. I’m getting new business cards. Just to make you think I know what I’m doing, the new card and the banner on the Web site both have a typewriter on them, which is what I suggested for the book cover design, too. If they resemble each other enough, maybe people will make a connection and buy the book. Neat, huh?

I received the ARC last week and I’m now figuring out how to cut a scene so nobody will notice that two or three pages went away. What editors want you to cut and change could be a writing seminar all by itself because they look at the book from a dispassionate point of view—economic, not artistic—so they see issues you never think about in the heat of creation. I’m blogging and guest blogging. Busy, busy, busy. Lots of plates in the air. But, while I learn to do all of these things, remember the big lesson I mentioned at the top? I haven’t written a single word of completely new material since before Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I never throw anything away, which means I can still rework an old piece that’s hibernating on a flash drive.

“Stranglehold” won the Black Orchid Novella Award from the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which will publish it this May, only five days before the novel appears. Since last summer, I’ve been sitting on a novel with the same characters that appear in “Stranglehold” that I hoped would become the first in a PI series. Now that the novella has a home, I’m finding time to incorporate the feedback from a critique and send that novel out. Strike while the gun is smoking, right? Since Mainly Murder Press is bringing Who Wrote the Book of Death? to life, I want to give them something else, which means I will finally get to write something new again.

Several people have agreed to interviews so I can start on a sequel. I hate book and Internet research, but I love interviews. Rather than hiding in a library or hunching in front of a monitor, I can be out in the real world, where there’s food and beer. I used to teach English and had a reputation for knowing my stuff. In the last six months, I’ve learned more than I ever had time to forget in all those years.

STEVE LISKOW has twice won Honorable Mention for the Al Blanchard Story Award and won the 2009 Black Orchid Novella Award for “Stranglehold,” which will appear in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in May. His novel Who Wrote The Book of Death? will also appear in May from Mainly Murder Press. A member of both MWA and SinC, he lives in Connecticut with his wife Barbara and two rescued cats. Visit his Web site at


Cassy Pickard said...

Steve!!! Waving to you from across the state. We WILL figure out our SinC in Connecticut get-together! Yup- it's a small world.

Your comments are great. Thank you so much for joining our blog. I was just having this same conversation yesterday with a dear friend of mine- RITA winner, nominated for another RITA this year- and it was about how we have to have multiple lives. We write, we have to promote, we have to run a business. It's complicated.

You sound as though you've figured it out. I'd love to hear more. And, I think we might be meeting on the 1st of May. Will you be bringing the May Day flowers?

Anonymous said...

Cassy, I'm looking forward to the meeting, too. Actually, it only sounds like I've figured it out, so I guess I'm still fooling everyone. :-)

Sure, I'll bring the flowers (what goes with beer?). I'll probably show up with dozens of questions for people who know more than I do, too--and that's probably everybody. Is it appropriate that we'll get together on May Day, or what?

Cassy Pickard said...

No beer for me, well maybe only one. I'd prefer wine. Of course, unless we are having pizza, that would make a difference.We've got a great group- quite diverse. Folks, for those of you who might not be from Connecticut, we are trying to put together a state-wide SinC meeting as the NE chapter meets in Massachusetts. Sorry for the diversion. I was just so excited to see Steve as part of M&M today!

And to that point, nope, Steve, you will be teaching us. Be prepared to be peppered with questions. Body armor might be appropriate.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great blog Steve. Thanks again for being here. I too am juggling how to promote and write at the same time.

So not easy.

Cassy Pickard said...

Steve: When you figure all this out--we need you back so we can learn from you. Oh, I think that's also called "picking your brain." We're not a shy group. Watch out.

Liz Lipperman said...

Steve, congrats on the book coming out. When you get it down to a fine art, please tell me. I am just starting to think about that kind of stuff. I believe you hit it on the head when you said selling a book is hazardous to new creative writing!!

Thanks for stopping by M & M, and promise you'll visit again.

Steve Liskow said...

Sure, any time.

It was a blast.
Thanks for having me.



Mary Martinez said...

Thank you so much for the great information. I didn't get a chance to read this yesterday. I'm glad I took the time today.