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Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Title: White Witch 
Author: Larry D Thompson

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson
About the book:
When a ruthless American aluminum company plans to strip mine the Jamaican rainforest, they send former Navy SEAL Will Taylor to Montego Bay to deal with local resistance. But he’s unaware that the British had signed a treaty deeding it to the Jamaican Maroons, descendants of escaped slaves, over 300 years ago. The Maroons fought and died for their land then, and are willing to do so now. Upon Will’s arrival, a series of inexplicable murders begin, some carried out with deadly snake daggers that were owned and used by Annie Palmer, a voodoo priestess better known as the White Witch. She was killed 200 years prior, but is said to still haunt the island.
Forced into the middle of it, Will is finally convinced to join the Maroons, headed by Vertise Broderick, a Maroon who resigned from the New York Times to return to Jamaica to save the rainforest. To stop the mining, they hire a Jamaican attorney to prove that the Maroon/British treaty is still valid, and they take it upon themselves to solve the White Witch murders, because the legend of the White Witch can’t possibly be true…
Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Warning this excerpt contains some strong language


Will returned to his room, too wound up to sleep. He stripped to his underwear and flipped channels on a large screen HD television until he ran across First Blood with Sylvester Stallone. Having lived that life for a few years, he never passed up the opportunity to watch it again. He settled back and had drifted off to sleep when his cell chimed. He glanced at the television to make sure it was not coming from there and found Fred Astaire waltzing Ginger Rogers around a ballroom. He turned off the television and reached for his phone.


“Will, Alexa here.” It was nearly three in the morning and Alexa was still at her desk. Smoke drifted from a cigarette in her ashtray while she sucked on a Tootsie Pop. She was on the speaker phone. When Will answered, she walked to her window and stared at the lights of Baltimore.

Will turned on the nightstand light, glanced at the clock, and swung his feet
into a sitting position on the side of the bed. “Yes, ma’am. Little late for a booty
“Cut the crap. Kaven was just found at Rose Hall. He’s dead.”

“What? Are you sure? I just saw him a few hours ago.” Will got to his feet and began pacing the room. “Shit.”

“Must be those goddamn Maroons. He called me last night once he got back from Accompong. He told me about what happened up there. By the way, they let the pilot go. They said they had no beef with him.”

“So I heard. What was Kaven doing at Rose Hall? When I saw him, he was going to his room.”

“How the hell should I know? I got a call from some local detective. They found his employee identification in his wallet. When the detective called here, the operator knew I was still in my office and put the call through to me. You need to get to Rose Hall now.
“Yes, ma’am,” Will agreed.
“And I’m flying down there tomorrow before this gets any more out of hand. See if you can keep anybody else from being killed until I get there.”

Will’s cell went dead. He put it on the nightstand and picked up the hotel phone. Pleased to find it working, he punched the key for valet parking.

“Good evening, Mr. Taylor. How can I be of assistance?”

“Bring my company Land Rover to the front as quickly as possible.”

Getting assurance that it would be there when he got downstairs, Will hung up and walked to the bathroom. Five minutes later he was met at the hotel entrance by a valet.

“Can I give you directions, Mr. Taylor? It’s a little late at night.”

“No thanks. I know exactly where I’m going.” Will got in the car, fastened
his seat belt, and left the hotel.
When Will got to Rose Hall, he turned onto the road they had just come
down the evening before. At the top of the hill he could see the mansion, now
well lighted. He dodged tree limbs and utility wires and parked among several
other vehicles. Police cars were positioned so that their headlights focused on the
steps of the mansion where Will could see the yellow police crime scene tape. He
walked up a path from the parking lot between the police cars that faced the
mansion to the yellow tape where an officer stood watch. The officer came to
attention as Will approached.

“Sorry, mon. I can’t let you past here. We’re investigating a murder.”

Will kept his voice even but controlling. “I know, officer. That’s why I’m here. Name’s William Taylor. I’m head of security for Global American Metals. Here’s my identification.” Will tried to hand him an ID. The officer just shook his head. “Officer, the dead man is one of Global’s employees. Can you get someone in authority to let me up there?”

Before the officer could reply, Miles Harper, the St. James Parish Chief of Detectives, approached. Harper was a lean, fit man with a shaved head and a no nonsense manner. He was dressed in a brown suit, yellow shirt, and matching tie. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ Magazine, even at three in the morning.

“Mr. Taylor, I’m Miles Harper, Chief of Detectives in this parish. I was told by your company to expect you.”

Will extended his right hand. Harper ignored it. Instead, he nodded at the officer and motioned for Will to follow him. Harper went up a dozen steps and turned to Will as he stood beside Kaven’s body, sprawled on his back with dagger in his chest. Will bent over for a closer look and found that the handle of the dagger was in the shape of a snake. At the top of the handle was the snake’s head. The snake’s eyes were two bright rubies.

“Shit,” Will muttered, “He was almost killed because of one snake on the road today and now someone finished the job with a, what would you call this, a snake dagger?”

“That’s as good a name as any, Mr. Taylor. My officers reported what went on up in Accompong and the incident with the boa.”
Will continued to study the body. “Looks like he’s been dead a couple of hours. I last saw him about ten last night. Who found him?”

“The hotel has a security guard that roams the mansion grounds and up to the club house in a golf cart. He spotted the body.”

“Where’s your coroner?”

“He’s a local Justice of the Peace, not a medical doctor. He won’t set foot on these steps until morning. My men here won’t go past the tape either. They believe the White Witch did it.”

Will shook his head in disbelief. “Come on, Chief, this is the twenty-first century.”

“Old beliefs die hard, Mr. Taylor. Come on. Let me show you something.”

Harper stepped around the body and climbed the steps with Will behind him. Entering the ballroom, Will said, “I was just in this room yesterday evening during the storm.”
Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”

Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”

Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”
Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been broken and the daggers were gone.

“You see this case when you were up here?”

Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.
It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer. evening during the storm.”

Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”
Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”
Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”
Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been broken and the daggers were gone.

“You see this case when you were up here?”

Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.
It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer. Surprising that she didn’t show us these daggers when she was telling the story.”

“Interesting,” mused Harper. “You have any idea why your man would come up here in the middle of the night?”

“Not a clue. Have you checked his cell phone? He always carried it.”

“Yeah. The last calls were with you yesterday afternoon and one with Ms. Pritchard later in the evening.”

Will nodded. “He called me from Accompong, warning me of trouble up there. I should have gone with him.”

Harper shook his head. “Whether you were there or not wouldn’t have made any difference. Just would have been one more person that was in my police car that rolled, assuming, of course, you didn’t take a bullet up on the mountain.”


“How did you get in the mansion?”

“Vertise said she knew where a key was hidden and let us in.”

“Strange that she could get into the locked mansion. It was my understanding that only the manager of Rose Hall had a key. He locked it and left when the storm was hitting. The hotel spent a fortune on period pieces to recreate how it looked two hundred years ago. One of his jobs is to make sure they are not stolen.”

“Any signs of a break-in?” Will asked.

“This is not for publication, you understand, but when I got here the mansion was locked and the lights were off.”

“So, you’re saying that someone got into the mansion, stole two daggers, let themselves back out, killed Kaven, and left no trace.” Will paused to absorb all that he had just said. “Wait a minute. If someone wanted to kill Kaven, why not
just use a gun? Why go to all the trouble of getting that dagger to do it?”

“I’ve been wrestling with that very question,” Harper said. “It’s illegal for a private citizen to own a gun in Jamaica, but that doesn’t mean they are not available if you know the right people. My working hypothesis is that the killer or killers wanted the public to think voodoo was involved, or maybe even the White Witch. The only other possibility that comes to mind is that the Maroons are trying to send a message to Global. They tried to kill Tillman in Accompong and failed. Maybe the message is that they finish what they start. Either way, someone is trying to make trouble for your company. I have another problem
that may not be apparent.”

Will looked quizzically at the detective.

“As you can see, there were two snake daggers in this case. One’s accounted for out on the steps. The other is gone. Nearly everyone around here thinks that they are voodoo daggers with magical powers. They were found in an overseer’s grave during the restoration of the mansion thirty years ago.”

“Does ‘everyone’ include you? Looks to me like the killer or killers are just trying to mess with the minds of my co-workers, maybe keep some locals from
hiring on with us.”

Harper stuck his hands in his pockets. “Not up to me to decide if they’re magic or not. I’ve got a murder with one of those daggers. My job is to solve the murder and along the way, find that other dagger before someone uses it.”
Will’s eyes searched the room in a futile effort to see any clues to the crime.

Then he focused on the chief. “Look, I’m going to need a gun. My company is
obviously under attack. I’m licensed to carry back home.”

“No way, Mr. Taylor,” Harper exploded. “Foreigners are not permitted to have guns in Jamaica. For that matter, as I just told you, neither are Jamaicans.
And I want you to stay the hell out of my investigation. We don’t need your help. Understand?”

“Yeah, I understand. You know that each of our mines on this island is permitted a certain number of guns for our guards. I’ll just get one of those.”

“The hell you will. Don’t you dare go behind my back. Those guns never leave mine property. I have an officer that inventories them. If one turns up missing, I’ll confiscate every damn weapon that Global has and put you under house arrest. Clear, Mr. Taylor?”

Will clinched his fists and tried to hold back the anger that was apparent in his face. Without another word, he turned and stormed out of the mansion, pausing only to gaze at Kaven and say a prayer for him and his family. At the bottom of the steps, he got in his car and glanced toward the mansion. The lights from his car somehow caught the ruby eyes of the snake, making them appear briefly to be alive. Will shook his head, put the car in reverse, and returned to the hotel.

Purchasing link:

About the Author: 

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson
After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Larry spent the first half of his professional life as a trial lawyer. He tried well over 300 cases and won more than 95% of them. Although he had not taken a writing class since freshman English (back when they wrote on stone tablets), he figured that he had read enough novels and knew enough about trials, lawyers, judges, and courtrooms that he could do it. Besides, his late, older brother, Thomas Thompson, was one of the best true crime writers to ever set a pen to paper; so, just maybe, there was something in the Thompson gene pool that would be guide him into this new career. He started writing his first novel about a dozen years ago and published it a couple of years thereafter. He has now written five highly acclaimed legal thrillers. White Witch is number six with many more to come.
Larry is married to his wife, Vicki. He has three children scattered from Colorado to Austin to Boca Raton, and four grandchildren. He has been trying to retire from the law practice to devote full time to writing. Hopefully, that will occur by the end of 2018. He still lives in Houston, but spends his summers in Vail CO, high on a mountain where he is inspired by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Catch Up With Larry on larrydthompson.comGoodreadsTwitter, & Facebook!


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What Book Bloggers Wish Authors Knew About Book Blogging

What Book Bloggers Wish Authors Knew About Book Blogging

Continuing the series of posts to help authors better understanding blogging, today's post takes a look at what book bloggers wish authors knew about book blogging.

I'm an author and a book blogger, but not all authors understand how much work goes into maintaining a book blog. Lots of authors damage their chances of being hosted on sites because they don't fully understand what happens on the other side. To stop you making any mistakes when looking for book bloggers to host you, I'm joined by some of my book blogger friends to share with you some of the things you need to pay attention to.

Randi Rachelle from

Like many book bloggers I have a 'will work for books' attitude toward my blog. However, just like you want your books reviewed by bloggers who will help you reach potential readers; I want to review for authors who are going to help me reach potential followers. Nothing makes me happier than getting a like/ retweet or follow from an author. While 'will this author retweet my review?' is never going to be a deciding factor in accepting a book, when I have multiple books with similar publication dates and I know I won't be able to read them all it absolutely plays a role in my choices. I work hard to write that review. The little dopamine boost I'll get when you like it on Facebook or Twitter will ensure you always have a willing reviewer.

Jenn Garey from

The thing I wish authors knew is that our review policies are there for a reason. Most every book blogger takes the time to write a review policy of their requirements to be considered for review. It’s rude if an author emails us and clearly shows that they’ve never read it. As book bloggers, we get many emails and requests and sometimes it comes down to who followed our policy. We all have busy lives and reading books takes a lot of time.

Lainy from

There’s not a lot that I think they don’t know really, most authors I have come across seem to be so thankful and appreciative of book bloggers, I hope they all know how much we all love reading their books and that our review will always be truthful and that we do take a lot of time to write them.

I haven’t had this happen to me personally before, but I’ve seen some authors get annoyed when someone posts a review and haven’t enjoyed the book.
I would hope that all authors know that not everyone is going to love and feel the same about the book.

Oh, and also that we love replies to our reviews, (almost every author I have tagged in a review has replied) it’s lovely and make the review feel worth the while (although I would still write it even without the reply!)

Kate Parton from
We are so incredibly happy to read and review your baby. We know how much time, energy, passion, and vulnerability went into making your book what it has become to hit our hands. We are grateful that you’ve selected us with this honor, and most of us take it seriously. We will promote our own book blogs across all of our own social media platforms with your book review—essentially giving you advertisement across all platforms for the price of one e-copy.

Here are some things we wish you knew:

1) At Book Ink Reviews, each book reviewed has between 5 and 10 hours spent on each review. Between reading the content, staging the gorgeous covers for a unique to BIR graphic, thoughtfully reviewing the content, then promoting that review I have a part-time job for a hobby!
2) At Book Ink Reviews, all negative reviews of Advanced Readers Copies are written, then rewritten, then rewritten again. This is in effort to fully explain why the book wasn’t liked while staying completely respectful to the author’s thoughts and feelings. Please know, book bloggers hate writing negative reviews. Some hate it so much they never actually write them. We know you’ve worked hard, we know you love your work and we try to bridge the gap between empathy and honesty.

3) There are mixed opinions on reviewing books book bloggers didn’t (or couldn’t) finish. Some people feel they should review DNFs because there were legitimate reasons that they couldn’t finish a book. Others, like Book Ink Reviews, have personal policies where they never review DNFs because they feel it is dishonest to their followers and a disservice to the author and sincerely hope you understand when we say we can no longer review your book because of that that you do not take offence.

4) SHARE OUR SOCIAL POSTS! We work hard to promote your book. We worked incredibly hard on your review. We’ve done our part, now please help our reach grow by sharing our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest posts linking to your review if it is positive. Besides, who doesn’t want a glowing review of their work to reach as many potential readers as possible?

Benjamin Thomas from

1) Consistently creating blog posts is A LOT of hard work, but we do it because we love books.

3) We don't get paid to do what we do. Period. Wordpress claims to power 29% of the internet, and that's only one blogging platform. Show some appreciation for their hard work.

4) We love authors!! Avail yourself for interviews, guest posts, or answer simple questions. It makes a world of difference.

Adrianna Schuh from

I wish that authors new that what I do is a lot like what they do, except I don’t get paid for it. I review your books because I have a passion for them. I promote your books because I love your work and I want to help you succeed. And when you take the time to read and share my posts it means the world to me. I wish that authors knew how much work went into book blogging and how much we sacrifice to run our blogs. But mostly I wish that they knew how much they mean to us, how much our work depends on theirs, and how much we appreciate them.

Megan & Crystal from

That negative reviews aren't personal. We aren't writing negative reviews to trash authors or beat them down. Some people just don't like some books. It should be used as constructive criticism. And, of course, there are exceptions to this rule - people who rant. That, however, isn't my style.

Rachel Poli from

I wish authors knew how much work it actually is. We read for fun, to escape reality because we love it. When it's a request from an author it's considered "work." You have a deadline, even if it's a loose one, and sometimes you're reading outside your comfort zone to broaden your horizons, but some books are harder to get through than others. Then you write the detailed review and it's rinse and repeat. It's like a part-time job without getting paid and it's very easy to get a backlog of books and it can take months for you to look at your own bookshelf and pick out a book YOU want to read. I want authors to know it's time consuming and hard work.

I agree with all of these. They really do make a difference so here's a summary:

1) Read and follow review policies and submission guidelines.
2) Promote their blog, and share your post as much as possible.
3) Reviews should always be honest and that may mean less than 5 stars.
4) Bloggers appreciate your comments on their posts.
5) Don't get annoyed with them for having an opinion.
6) Be patient. Bloggers have long TBR lists.

What Book Bloggers Wish Authors Knew About Book Blogging

Interview with Moira Allen, M.Ed.

Interview with Moira Allen, M.Ed.

Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is the third edition of “Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer.”  As suggested by the words “third edition,” this is a revision of a book I originally wrote quite a few years ago.  My original goal when I first wrote the first edition was to create a book that answered the types of questions new freelance writers most commonly ask – and to create a book that would enable a would-be writer to start basically from scratch and, following the steps in the book, build a successful writing career.  As the freelance world (and in particular the online world) evolves, this book has been evolving as well, and I believe it still fulfils the goals that I originally set for it.  This book guides you step-by-step through the process of becoming a professional freelance writer, from market research to handling your business taxes.  It will help you brainstorm article ideas from areas of your life that you might never have considered “mining” for freelance materials.  It explains how to craft a query that will get an editor’s attention; how to draft and polish an article; and how to handle the submissions process.  It also looks at ways writers can make the most of social media and their online presence (including why a traditional website is still a vital tool for freelancers); how to become a copy-writer; how to handle the business side of freelancing (including negotiating contracts and understanding your rights); and how to move from writing articles to writing books.  Finally, it addresses the question of when and whether to “take the plunge” from part-time writer to full-time freelancer.

Interview with Moira Allen, M.Ed.
How was this book published? (traditional, small press, self pub, etcc...)  Why did you choose that particular publishing route?
The book is commercially published through Allworth Press/Skyhorse Books.  While I have self-published, a commercial publisher is still the only way to get your book into bookstores across the country.  The book is also available on Kindle. I presume it will eventually be available as a Nook Book as well, since the previous edition is. So you can get the book on Amazon, B&N, etc., as well as in quite a few bookstores.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?
Yes, I do.  I don’t really “deal” at all.  I accept either as the opinion of the reviewer.  Of course I’m thrilled by good reviews, but I don’t let negative reviews get me fussed.  It’s not worth the time. 

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
Oh, gosh, I have so many.  I have a huge list, because I create a writer’s planner for my website (you can download it there for free) and I put in a quote for writers on just about every other page.  Here are a few of my favourites:

 “There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.” – Anthony Trollope

 “Please don't entertain for a moment the utterly mistaken idea that there is no drudgery in writing. There is a great deal of drudgery in even the most inspired, the most noble, the most distinguished writing... Believe me... if you wait for inspiration in our set-up, you'll wait for ever.” - Ngaio Marsh
 “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” - Stephen King
“Doing things, and not dreaming about them, is the secret of success.  Thinking out plans will never come to anything unless the thought be followed by a determined will to execute.” – Anonymous quote from a Victorian women’s magazine
“When I consider what some books have done for the world, and what they are doing, how they keep up our hope, awaken new courage and faith, soothe pain, give an ideal life to those whose hours are cold and hard, bind together distant ages and foreign lands, create new worlds of beauty, bring down truth from heaven; I give eternal blessings for this gift, and thank God for books.”  – James Freeman Clarke
What's the best thing about being a writer?
That’s sort of a trick question.  If you are a writer, the best thing about being a writer is being a writer.  You should only be doing this if you love writing.  You will only ever do it well if you love writing.  If you don’t love writing, there’s no “best thing” about being a writer – it’s  just never going to be “your thing.”  If you do love writing, there is no other “best thing” – it’s not about fame, or money, or even that elusive quality of “independence” that we associate with the idea of working for ourselves or freelancing.  The best thing about being a writer is the only thing about being a writer: writing.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Since this particular book is for writers who wish to improve their chances of success in the writing business, the best place to learn more is my website for writers, (  This site has hundreds of articles for writers of every type and level of expertise; its purpose, like that of the book, is to guide you in the steps necessary to achieve your writing goals and dreams.  I have a host of editorials on the site (look under “Editor’s Corner”) – and that will certainly give you a chance to get to “know” me a bit better!  But let me also take a moment to plug my Victoriana website,, which is an archive of articles from Victorian periodicals and the site of my monthly Victoriana e-magazine, “Victorian Times.” 

How long did it take you to write your book?
Since this was a revision, I gleefully expected that it wouldn’t take me long at all.  The first time I wrote the book, it took nearly a year.  Well, so much has changed in the writing world between then and now that it took about six months to complete this edition.  I kept finding more things that needed to be added or changed, and the result is that this is the longest edition ever (I was amazed at how fat the book was when it arrived a few weeks ago!).  So I guess the moral is – whenever you’re planning a project, assume it’s going to take quite a bit longer than you expected.  I don’t think a book can ever be written “quickly.”

Do you believe in writers block?
Yes, I do.  I’ve known too many people who have developed writer’s block for one reason or another to dismiss it as nonexistent, or just something that you should be able to “get over” if you were just more disciplined or something. 

That being said, when I develop writer’s block, my belief is that my subconscious is trying to tell me something.  When I’m writing fiction and I  run into a block, it’s usually because I’ve made a mistake, written myself into a corner, or created a contradiction or an impossible situation.  My inner editor is telling me to stop writing and figure out what I’ve done wrong and fix it.  Otherwise, I could go on writing and writing – and have to back up and throw most of it out because I was going in the wrong direction. 

In nonfiction, if I run into a block, it’s usually because I have absolutely no interest in what I’m writing about.  I might have an article assignment and I just don’t care about the topic.  Then it’s very difficult to drag myself through the process.  I can usually do it, but I always feel that the result is of poorer quality than when I am enthusiastic about the material.  I think there, my inner editor is asking, “Why are you wasting precious writing brain power on something that means nothing to you?  Is the money really worth it?”  

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
It would be “start sooner!”  I always knew I “wanted” to be a writer.  But I was the world’s worst procrastinator.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have chased my younger self around, kicking it in the behind to actually start doing something about writing. 

In my book, I reference Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset.”  Dweck conducted a study that indicated that when you tell someone (i.e., a kid), “you’re really good at X,” you’re actually doing them a disservice.  When you tell a child, for example, “you’re really good at writing; you’re a natural at it; you have a gift,” etc., the child tends to develop the notion that skill at something like writing is something that comes naturally and easily.  If you’re “good” at something, it means you don’t have to “work” at it.  I was always “good” at writing in school.  I didn’t mind essays and ten-page reports.  Conversely, I was never “good” at math; I had to work at that.  So obviously I was “meant” to become a writer, not a mathematician, right?

Only, when you start writing in the real world, you find out that it’s a lot harder than it looks.  What worked in high school doesn’t work in the real world.  (One of the first things I had to learn was that writing a newspaper article was completely different from writing a college paper!)  Writing is work.  When it no longer comes easily and you’re no longer being told (by teachers who are comparing your essay to a host of others from the same class) that you’re wonderful, you get discouraged.  I hadn’t learned how to push myself outside of my comfort zone as a young writer.

Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was getting a job as a magazine editor.  One of the first things I was told to do was to take a pile of information and sit down and write an article on flea control for dogs.  What, just like that?  I was used to waiting for inspiration to strike; I’d never imagined that you could just take a pile of clippings, start going through them, sit down at the typewriter and crank out an article in an afternoon.  But in the “real world” of working for a magazine, that was exactly what you had to do, and what I learned to do.  That’s when I learned how to put the behind in the chair and get the job done, even if it wasn’t easy or fun. 

I’ve written quite a lot in the last few decades, but I do wonder how much more I might have written if I could have gone back in time and given myself that advice??

Interview with Moira Allen, M.Ed.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Very mixed!  I’ve done both.  When I wrote my first nonfiction book, “Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet,” I had just come across a book on self-publishing, and it intrigued me.  I did send out some proposals to commercial publishers for the book, but I think I was already half-convinced to try self-publishing even when I did that.

Now, keep in mind that this was 1987.  The Internet did not exist.  The Macintosh had just come out, and was making it possible for the first time for a self-publisher to set their own type. (Otherwise, you’d pay $10 or more per page, which was obviously out of the question.)  I designed and formatted my book on one of those old Macs that look like an overgrown shoebox – remember five-inch floppies?  We didn’t have a laser printer so we took the files in to my husband’s office to print.  I still had to do the paste-up the old fashioned way, by hand, with blueline sheets and rubber cement.  But I got it done, and then settled into the endless process of trying to promote the book.  I didn’t make my money back on that edition, but that book has remained in print – through self-publishing – to this very day, and I’ve sold something like 17,000 copies total.  It hasn’t made me rich but it has more than repaid my initial investment and keeps on selling.

That’s my success story.  I’ve self-published a number of books since then that have gone nowhere.  Part of the problem today is that I no longer have the time or energy to devote to the nonstop marketing that I gave that first book.  So I do see self-publishing, and various forms of DIY publishing such as POD through avenues like Lulu or CreateSpace, as viable for certain types of nonfiction projects.  If you have a strong platform in a narrow market niche, self-publishing can be the way to get a book out there that a larger commercial publisher wouldn’t consider economically viable.

I do not see self-publishing as a viable option for most fiction.  There is so much fiction out there that the reader doesn’t have to browse through pages and pages of independently published author websites trying to find something to read.  While there are occasional dramatic author success stories in the fiction self-publishing field, you have to recognize how occasional those really are.  If you want your book to be in bookstores, airport shops, Walmart, grocery store shelves, and all those other cool places where people grab books on impulse, the only way to get there is through a commercial publisher.  If you want your book to be available around the world, you need a commercial publisher.  And if you want your book to be read by thousands of people, not tens or hundreds, you need a commercial publisher. 

What disturbs me today is that so many writers are choosing self-publishing not because they can’t get a commercial publisher, but because they are impatient and don’t want to bother going through the painful process of trying.  The DIY marketplace has sung a siren song of how you can be in “control” of your book, how you can “own” it, how you don’t have to be subject to the whims of a marketplace that is just driven by money, yadda yadda yadda. 

I’ll give just one downside to this – if you have a book that is almost good enough for commercial publishing, and you submit it to a publisher or agent, there’s a chance that you might get some valuable feedback on how to make your book better, more publishable, and more marketable.  You might not like that feedback.  But if you’re aiming for commercial publication, and you find that you need to keep polishing and editing and reworking your book until it’s “good enough,” that’s what you’re going to do.  And along the way, you’re going to end up not only with a publishable book, but with better skills as a writer to bring to your next book.

But if you bypass that process – if you dismiss commercial publishing as just a bunch of bean-counters who don’t care about good writing but only about the bottom line – and you just dump your novel on Kindle and move on to the next, you’re not doing anything to improve your writing.  You’re not facing the challenge of what it takes to be “good enough” to “get published.”  You want to get your book into the marketplace today, right now, forget the two-year wait involved in finding a “real” publisher.  And so you settle for 50 readers, or 100 readers, instead of the thousands that you might have had.  I see all sorts of rationales for writers who say they just love being able to “connect” with their 50 readers... Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’d rather have 50,000 readers that I maybe don’t chat with every day, but who love my books and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

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