Five Star Author Blog

We're a group of authors published by Five Star Publishing ( Our genres include everything from Romance, to Mystery, SciFi, Adventure, and Suspense. Welcome to our world - the world of writing.

Friday, May 30, 2008

If You Build It, Will They Come?

At LCC in Denver recently, I had the wonderful fortune of moderating a panel on the creative process titled “Where Ideas Come From.” Imagining the four delightful, witty, smart women on the panel (Donna Anderson, Jane Cleland, Alex Sokoloff and Penny Warner) might have an even greater affinity for the analogy than I, I suggested writing books, mysteries, is a little like being pregnant. The germ of an idea gets planted in a writer’s mind and gestates.

Within six weeks of the conference, I gave birth twice. And now I have post-partum blues.

The first birth was the release of my stand-alone suspense thriller Island Life. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the thrill of seeing ideas take form in the pages of a published book. Hardcover, trade paperback, mass market, makes no difference. Seeing it sitting on a shelf next to books of authors I read and admire seems to give the ideas within it more validity, more meaning.

In the months before publication, I took off my writer’s hat and put on my marketing cap, doing all the things I could reasonably afford, to spread the word about this new child about to come into the world. I printed up business cards with the book’s stunning cover on one side. I had postcards printed and sent them to bookstores and reviewers. I made sure my publisher sent out ARCs and hired a publicist to send out more.

I designed a web page solely for the book, produced a book video on my own and posted it both on my web page and on all the right sites—YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, CrimeSpace, etc. I engaged in NSBSP (not-so-blatant-self-promotion) on forums like DorothyL and CrimeSpace, careful not to break the BSP rules.

I attended LCC and plan to be at MITG, arranged a launch party at my local bookstore, offered free autographed ARCs on DorothyL and free autographed copies of the real McCoy on

Reviews have been very good. But is it enough? I spent far more than I expect to make on the book in hopes of building exposure, building the portfolio of positive reviews my books continue to garner. I built it, but will they come?

Time will tell. So much in this business is serendipitous. Stephen White, the LCC Guest of Honor this year, said in his interview with Elaine Viets that the reason he became an NYT best-selling author is that the lead title the month his second book came out in paperback wasn’t ready yet. In a meeting to decide which book should take its place, his publisher’s editorial staff decided right before going to lunch to make White’s book the lead title that month. Being lucky is as important as being talented. More so.

All I can do now is continue to look for inexpensive ways to keep promoting it for a month or two until the “new book” window closes. Yesterday, I sent copies to Oprah and Kelly Ripa with sticky notes on the covers that said, “Great beach reading—with a message!” and a press release tucked inside with an unusual hook. You never know …

My second birthing experience happened just the other day when I finished the first manuscript in a new series I’m writing. I spent a few days going through it, fixing a typo here, a rough sentence there. I’m proud of it. I like it. It may have problems, so I’m giving it to a round of first readers for feedback. But I think it’s good enough that I also shipped it off to an agent.

After all the tightening and polishing, after living with these new characters for eighteen months until they told their stories (I write slowly, never could understand how some authors churn out two books a year), I let them go out into the world. Will the book find a publisher? Will it sell? Will it be the breakthrough novel I hope it is?

I don’t know.

All I know is that the only cure for writer’s post-partum blues is a congratulatory glass of champagne before getting back to work on something new.

I write. It’s what I do.

Mike Sherer

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs

My Next Five Star book comes out next January, but I thought I'd drop in with a note about another book just about to be released. It just became available for pre-order, and it's only going to be printed in a 100 copy run (though hopefully with a cheaper mass market version to follow).

The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature will be out in July....

Here's the cover, and the back cover blurb...

“Whatever grows, must decompose” — Cletus Jehoshaphat Diggs

When Cletus J. Diggs gets a visit from his buddy Jasper and learns about the dead man sticking boot-first out of the fishing hole, he has no idea what it will lead to. web_ready_cletus_cover.jpg

How could he? Old Mill is famous for a lot of things, good fishing, barbecue, over-sized satellite dishes and disappearing beer; it is not known for genetic research, ancient rituals, or alien abduction.

From the moment Cletus and Sheriff Bob drag the corpse from the fishing hole to the final moments of terror, the action is non-stop, tense, and filled with surprises.

Between the Reverend Dozier and his church, the swamp witch, the albino twins, and the local lodge’s well-hidden secrets, the strange events in Old Mill, NC are pretty much out of control. Only Cletus, ordained minister, common law attorney, journalist, private investigator and jack of all trades can draw together the people and resources necessary to set things right. The question is, can he do it before it’s too late?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Five Star Book Upcoming - and updates

Just a note - though this seems to be a pretty dead blog, that I have a new Five Star title due in early 2009 - VINTAGE SOUL - Book I of the DeChance Chronicles. This is an urban supernatural dark mystery...sort of. More info on that to follow.

I've been reviewing books, doing updates on my writing, and generally keeping the masses entertained over at my new WordPress site...thought I'd drop in and provide a link. I have three new books due this year, and I'm nominated for The Bram Stoker Award in three categories - it's a good year!

Drop by! Macabre Ink


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesdays with Joanne - "Post, anyone?"

Hi guys,

Every time I read our Five Star loop, I see where more of us are going over to the Dark Side, where no one has gone before ... MySpace. The wonderful Mr. Baxley has given my site a mention on the Five Star MySpace page, but I've yet to create my page. I promise I'll "gird my loins" and learn what I need to do.

Do you "Who Still Post On This Blog" feel this blog is worthwhile or do you think we should all use MySpace and/or the FS loop? Code for, is this site a useful tool for us or not?

Just curious, guys.

Joanne Sundell
Next: The Parlor House Daughter 12/08

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

While researching the twelfth century . . .

My latest romantic suspense release BETRAYAL is set in 1122, England. I did extensive research into that time period so that my people would be true to the customs, everyday concerns, and political climate of the day.

One of the aspects of that time that I found fascinating was the influence of the church. The rules set out by the church were not to be broken, and for those suspected of an infraction, the church's punishment was swift and severe. Suspected heretics, for example, were subjected to impossible tests - called trials, at that time - to prove their innocence. One method used was to tie an accused hand and foot, place him or her in a sack weighted down with rocks then throw that sack into a lake. If the accused floated to the top, alive, then he was judged not guilty of a crime against God. If he did not surface, then it was decided that God's justice had been served.

In BETRAYAL one of the characters who antagonizes heroine Katherine is a bishop. Once she is introduced to him, she soon comes to realize that this particular bishop has an agenda of his own which he furthers by using his power as a member of the church. After reading of some of the methods used to prove heresy, I couldn't resist including a scene in which Katherine's faith is called into question. The scene turned out to be quite powerful.

I won't spoil it by revealing anymore, in case you haven't read BETRAYAL.

Research, I find, triggers thoughts and ideas to deepen characters and further the plot. It also makes for fascinating reading : - )


Wednesdays with Joanne - "You're never too old for Harvard!"

Hi all,

Yep, you can congratulate me. I've been accepted at Harvard College, ie, my novel, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, is listed as part of the Harvard College Library. Okay, admittedly it doesn't take much to get me excited (the beauty of being over 50 is that no one cares what we say or do anymore) but having my debut novel purchased by Harvard College, well ... I'm still trying to settle back down to earth! Sure I'm not the only Five Star author who's in the Harvard Library, I'm still dancing in the clouds on this one. I got into nursing school years ago on my good looks (yeah, right) but I got into Harvard on "my good book!" I know, I'm having fun with this one but why not, right.

If any more of my books are accepted at Harvard College, I'll eat my covers!!! Ummm ... deelish!!!

Thanks for letting me have my Academic Moment in the Sun,


Next from Five Star:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whoops, I forgot!

I forgot to include on my "Wednesday Post" to you (I know it's leaving you all breathless), that I, like Jon B., would love you to visit my webpage on squidoo at , in hopes you might put in a "good vote" for me. I don't think I'll ever hit #30 on the charts in A&E, but I'm oh-so-happy Mr. Baxley has!

Thanks guys,


Wednesdays with Joanne - "The HOOK in us all"

Hi guys,

Bet you thought I meant to say the BOOK in us all, but oh contrar`...

What I love about what we do, writing, is that we're all unique; all coming up with our own unique HOOK for our BOOK(s). Not so easily done, as we all know, but do it we must (if we want to sell a book or two along the way.) Every time I meet a new author, I'm struck by the fact that this writer has actually written a book, then gotten it published of all things! It still is amazing to me that any of us get published but that's for another day. Right now I want to celebrate the HOOK in us all.

We are all unique, with our own perceptions, our own way of doing ... well ... just about everything. Geez, does that ever come in handy in attempting a novel. What are we without our uniqueness? Not a whole lot, I'm thinking. That is in fact what we bring to the writing table. We're ever in a daily struggle to combat cliche` and convenient storylines. "When I have fears that I may cease to" write, I do my utmost to remember that there is a HOOK, all our own, just around the corner. I just have to find it. Like Harry Potter, but not like Harry Potter. Don't we all love the wizardry he cooks up! Finding a HOOK is a bit like finding a "portkey" in Rowling's amazing stories. Once we do, we close our eyes, endure a bit of turbulance, then we're there!

Oversimplification? Perhaps. At the end of the day, we get ourselves to the end of our book(s), hoping indeed our hook(s) can withstand reviewers and skeptical readers, appealing to many a librarian and bookstore owner. Whew! The ride can be a turbulant one, but I think we can all agree it's definitely worth it!

Relax, it's just writing!

Hah! Want to know where that came from? I read off a gift bag from the Hustler, their motto: Relax, it's just sex! (For all of you chick-lit writers ... good title for you.) Anyway, my point here is that when we're looking for our next Big Bad HOOK: RELAX, IT'S JUST WRITING!

Until next time ...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Remainder Table...AndShameless Self-Promotion

A sad fact of publishing is that books go out of print. These days that happens rather quickly unless you’re She-Who-Is-Named-All-Too-Often or Stephen King or—well, you know. And when books go out of print, publishers first try to sell the inventory they have on hand at cut-rate prices. Copies they can’t sell, of course, are stripped and sent to the recycle bin.

I hate spam and junk mail, too, but please hear me out. My publisher is sending all remaining inventory of Death Is No Bargain to the remainder table. I couldn’t stand to see that happen, so I bought out most of their stock. This is your last chance to get a brand new, autographed copy! This book is officially out of print, so once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Death may not be a bargain, but my latest Emerson Ward mystery is! Get an autographed hardcover copy of Death Is No Bargain at a blow-out price! Hurry! Offer good only until August 31, 2008!

It’s a great book, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what people said about Death Is No Bargain:

"Think Travis McGee in Chicago, with an Alfa Romeo coupe instead of a moored houseboat, and you have a terrific series." —Jeremiah Healy, author of Spiral and The Only Good Lawyer

"Michael Sherer gets better with each book. I hope he continues the trend for as long as I keep reading. Top drawer." —John Lutz, author of The Night Spider

“Get ready to turn some pages, fast.” —Sam Reaves, author of Dooley’s Back

“… quite amazing storytelling that kept me turning the pages.” —Mystery News

“… never slows down as the sleuth follows a meandering trail that climaxes with a fabulous final spin. Fans will appreciate this solid murder mystery.” —Harriet Klausner

“Sherer is a great storyteller.” —Cynthia Lea Clark, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine

“The fifth Emerson Ward caper is an unusual mix of straight-ahead and thoughtful discourse on hot-button social issues. The characters are as complex as the issues with which they wrestle, and the mystery is cleverly presented and resolved.” —Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

“I like the Ward novels. I like Emerson himself. You will, too.” —David Pitt, I Love A Mystery

“Sherer is able to combine nearly breathless action with deep insight into the human psyche so well that it is often hard to tell where the action ends and the inner struggles of his well-crafted characters begin.” —Emily Burson,

Get your copy of Death Is No Bargain for only $11.99, including shipping! Heck, at that price, get a copy for everyone on your holiday gift list and finish your shopping early! Still not convinced? Check out a sample chapter at

Ready to get a copy? Send an e-mail to with your name, address and return e-mail address. Tell me if you want your copy personally inscribed. I’ll e-mail you a PayPal invoice with instructions on how to submit payment through PayPal. Your autographed copy of Death Is No Bargain will be sent via Priority Mail. Free shipping to the first 10 orders.