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Widget Alert

Okay, so you've got your website. And your blog. You've got a Facebook and a MySpace page. Maybe you even Twitter--I just joined Twitter for those who want to see what I had for lunch.

You're pretty web-savvy. Congrats. People can find you on the Internet.

But once they find you, how easy do you make it for them to buy your books?

I drone on incessantly about things you can do to attract traffic. But once people show up, it's obviously in your best interest to direct that traffic to somewhere your books are sold. The easier, the better.

The smart folks over at AdaptiveBlue.com have got it covered. Author Kristy Kiernan turned me on to a widget that considers this other end of the spectrum, and is pretty cool to boot. You'll notice in my sidebar (and also on my website) there's a list of my five Jack Daniels novels, plus the These Guns For Hire anthology I've edited. If you click on one of the covers, something neat happens. A window opens that lets you find a myriad of places on the net that sell and/or refer to that book. These links are instant, well organized, and current. Go ahead and play with it. I'll wait...

All done? Pretty wild, huh? I liked it so much I contacted the company that makes it, wondering how much they charged for this service. Fraser Kelton, director of business development responded:

Fraser: We love when authors contact us about our free widgets. Yep, they're free :) In fact, we'll create a free widget for any author that contacts support@adaptiveblue.com and says that they found us through this blog.

The widgets can be easily installed onto your various websites, blogs, and some social network pages. Unfortunately at this time we're unable to support MySpace pages.

The widgets help support your online marketing and promotion - they allow fans to buy the book directly from their preferred store, they can save the book to book social networks such as Shelfari or LibraryThing. Additionally fans can find out more information about you via the widget.

JA: So how can you do this for free? Don't you need to make money somehow?

Fraser: We make money via affiliate revenue - each book within the widget contains links to a large number of online retailers. By default all affiliate IDs are ours. If the individual who installs the widget wants to enter their own affiliate information they can, and they enjoy 100% of all affiliate revenue generated from that ID.

Additionally, we work with publishers and media companies to provide them with the technology (i.e.
http://ug.oreilly.com/promote/bookwidgets.csp/ and http://www.nytimes.com/ref/movies/1000best.html/)

Through these methods we're able to provide the technology for free to authors, bloggers, and book groups.

JA: I checked out the Adaptiveblue.com website, and the term "Semantic Web" is used. Can you give me a quick definition of what this is?

Fraser: Right now the web is built around 'dumb' pages and neither the computer nor the browser knows what the user is looking at. It's up to us to infer that we're looking at a specific book, a particular music album, or any other item. The semantic web is about introducing meaning and understanding to the current web so that the computer and browser recognize what you are looking at.

JA: What are SmartLinks, and how do they enhance a web surfing experience? (These are the little squares you see next to These Guns and Kristy's name.)

Fraser: SmartLinks recognize the unique object - the noun - that the user is interacting with. Once recognized, a SmartLink presents a list of the most relevant links - the verbs - for interacting with the unique object. When it's a movie you can read reviews, rent it, watch a preview. When it's a book the verbs are different and the SmartLinks accommodate for that. By presenting all of the relevant "next steps" in a contextual way, the user experience is great.

JA: With so many websites trying to attract (and keep) visitors, what is the advantage to making it easier for people to leave your site and go someplace else?

Fraser: You mentioned the benefit to authors - to sell books from online stores. But for other websites the benefits are just as strong. People are savvy enough to know that there is other content out there on the web, content that can compliment what's on the current page. By not linking directly to it you're limiting the experience that people have on your site. You're forcing them to go find the information on their own. By linking to relevant information, sites provide a positive experience and strengthen the relationship with the readers. They'll be inclined to return to your site because they know that you'll not only provide good content but you'll compliment it with links when they want more information.

JA: What are some of your other popular widgets?

Fraser: The book widgets are our most popular widgets. Hundreds of authors, publishers, and book groups are using them to highlight and promote their books on the web. We offer a Netflix Widget that is popular as well. Individuals can highlight their personal queue on their site in a widget - and it updates automatically. Also popular is our Amazon Wishlist widget.

JA: I'll be honest here. I love playing around with widgets, and the only thing I like about Vista is that I've got widgets on my desktop that make things a lot easier. But your widget is the coolest I've found, and I really can't see why any author with books for sale wouldn't want to use it. I probably sound like a paid endorsement here, but I expect to see this popping up on many author websites and blogs, especially since you folks have kindly offered to create the widget for us. One final question: If people wanted to add some custom links to the widget, or edit some of those you've provided, is there a tutorial?

Fraser: In the current release of the product only the top title link and corresponding thumbnail image are editable. These can point to any page that you would like. This pair of links are one of the most frequently clicked link in the group (people like to click on images). In future releases of the product we're exploring a way to make it easy to customize and configure the links.

JA: Thanks for letting me pick your brain, and thanks for the widget. And a reminder to those reading this: It's free, and they'll create it for you. Tell 'em JA sent you.

So what do you folks think?

Validate My Parking

Writers crave validation.

It's built into our psyches. We believe our words are good enough to put down on paper, and then we have the narcissism to think that others will not only enjoy our words, but pay for the privilege to read them.

Because of that, we tend to get attached to what we write. These words are our babies, and criticism is hard to bear. We take it personally.

This is silly. Everyone has an opinion, and all opinions are valid. Yes, if your writing failed a reader, it's your fault. But your job isn't to enthrall every reader. Your job is simply to enthrall more than you fail.

The fact is, you'll fail some readers. Lots of them.

You'll get bad reviews. You'll get angry emails. You'll get snotty comments. Some will be aimed at your writing. Some will be aimed at you personally.

This is a good thing.

Not because these comments are correct---though if enough people say the same thing, you should really start to listen. But because getting feedback, good or bad, means you're reaching people.

The bigger you get, the more negative feedback you can expect.

So how do you deal with people who don't like you?

If you want to be a grown-up, you should ignore them. I've never seen anything good come out of engaging a critic. Once you begin to defend yourself--or even worse, attack--you've pretty much lost some face.

What Peter says about Paul shows more about Peter than about Paul.

As for how you should feel, well, you should act like a grown up there as well. Sticks and stones. Unless someone is burning a cross outside on your front lawn, you really can't take negative people seriously.

You shouldn't take positive people seriously, either. But you can say "thanks" to those who offer kind words. If you're really grounded, you can thank the naysayers too.

But JA, isn't validation the reason we become writers in the first place? Didn't you read your opening sentence?

Yes. But get your ego boost from your royalty check, not from reviewers, critics, fans, blogs, awards, peers, and message boards.

Then who are the people you should listen to?

That's easy. Turn on your cell phone. Look at your contact list. Those are the important people in your life. Take praise and criticism from them. Everyone else is window dressing.

Some people won't like you. Get used to it. If you can't, don't be a writer.

You're a pompous, egotistical, self-important know-it-all.

Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading. :)

Now Somebody Scream

The Newbie's Guide To Publishing Book has been grabbed over 2000 times in the last two weeks. But you couldn't tell by looking at that blog entry, which (at the time of this writing) only has 18 comments.

While feedback is an indicator that people are tuning in, it isn't a precise one. Yet, as writers, we crave feedback on not only our stories, but on our blogs and MySpace and websites.

I'll assume, because you're reading my blog, that you're a writer, and that you'd welcome more feedback. Maybe you want to get comments on your blog. Maybe you want fan mail. Maybe you simply want to know that people are out there, even if they don't even respond.

First issue first, how can you tell people are tuning in?

For download tracking, I use http://www.bfnsoftware.com/, which is free. It requires a bit of HTML knowledge to set up, but once it's up and running you can leave it alone and let it do its thing.

For website and blog hits, I use http://www.statcounter.com/, also free. StatCounter is a great service that not only lets you track hits, both repeat and unique, but also tells you how long the visitor stayed, where they came from, what keywords they used to find you, what browser they viewed you on, and what country they're from, among other things.

For my emailing list, I use http://www.ymlp.com/, which is $160 a year. This allows people to sign up for or remove themselves from my newsletter list, and I can send out 9000 emails just by pressing a button. I've played with other bulk email senders, and found this one to be the best.

If people aren't hitting your site, aren't signing up for your newsletter, I've written extensively on how to drive traffic. Remember to offer free entertainment and information, make sure you have a lot of links going in and coming out, that your metatags are specific, and that you have your URL on your email signature, business cards, and on everything you publish.

But what if you want actual human interaction rather than just a hit counter? What if you want email and comments and feedback? Counters let you know people are tuning in, but actual responses are so much more encouraging.

I'm still not 100% sure why certain things get big responses and others don't. Some of my blog entries have over a hundred comments. Some, under a dozen. I started a second blog over a year ago called The Anonymous Publishing Vent Club, which allowed people in this business to let out steam and point fingers without naming names. I expected it to get a lot of traffic. It did, for a while, but it didn't get any contributors. With no one posting, traffic died.

But I have learned a few things about how to get responses. If you want someone in cyberspace to reach out and touch you, try the following:

Contests. I held writing contests for a few years, until it became too hard to keep up. But it did generate traffic, spawn links, get me mentioned by others, and get me a lot of email. If you're holding a contest, make sure it is for something people actually want. A cash prize works best.

Giveaways. This works even better than contests. Instead of having people jump through hoops to get a freebie, just give it to them. Between the contests and the freebies, I spend over a thousand dollars a year just in postage.

Newsletters. I don't abuse my newsletter list, only sending out one or two a year. Some writers send them out monthly. Some even weekly. I don't believe micro-updates are necessary, and more intrusive than welcome. What do you think?

Bulletins. For instant feedback, nothing beats a MySpace bulletin. Of course, only a small percentage of your friends will respond, so if you want a lot of responses you need a lot of friends.

Polls and Quizzes. I've posted a few quizzes on the Newbie's Blog, and just put a poll on my website because I was getting so many emails about the ending of my new Jack Daniels novel, Fuzzy Navel. People like to do more online than just read, and letting them interact and interface seems to get results.

Asking Questions. Seems obvious, but how often do you ask for readers to respond? If you want people to contact you, ask them to. Encourage this by soliciting their feedback with thoughtful questions, such as "How Many Newsletters Should an Author Send?" Seriously, I want your response on that. One or two a year? Three to eight a year? Once a month? Once a week?

Being Controversial. The blog post that receive the most comments are the ones where people disagree. I love it when people think I'm wrong. Conflict is interesting, and as long as it doesn't devolve into a flame war, differing opinions makes for great reading. Nothing heats up the blogosphere like taking sides on a hot issue.

Again, for any of these to work, you have to make sure that you're providing a good reason for people to visit you in the first place. So many agents and publishers tell authors to get a blog, and so many other tell them not to bother because they don't help. Both are right and wrong.

Online promotion will help, but only if you understand how it works, can set attainable goals, and are able to measure your effectiveness.

Of course, one of the best measures of effectiveness is feedback...

Bending Over and Taking Advice

I give advice all the time, often without being asked.

A wise man (Baz Lurhmann) once said: Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

He's right. We feel we've earned our experience, and sharing it with others makes us feel good by believing we're helping someone else.

Because advice is more about the advisor than the advisee, most of it is useless.

Of course, this blog is a notable exception, and my words should be taken as gospel.

"But JA," the canny among you might say, "you can give advice, but can you take it?"

Yes.

And no.

While everyone truly believes they have an open mind (they also believe they have a sense of humor and are an above-average driver), very few truly do. We're saddled with years of prejudicial, repetitive behaviors, and very little can make us entertain new ideas, let alone attempt them.

Anyone who has heard the story of how I got published knows my eureka moment was when I realized I didn't know what I was doing and starting looking critically at the situation and listening to others. In other words, I did the best I could to become a blank slate with an open mind.

My mind ain't so open any more.

The problem with being right is you take being right for granted, and assume one successful strategy means they're all successful.

Of course, they're not. Learning is about observing, asking questions, and experimenting with what works. It's not about getting an idea and automatically knowing it is the gospel truth.

So, like most people, I feel I know a lot. But I also try to listen to contrary viewpoints, and if possible, incorporate them.

For writers this is essential.

Since it's impossible to be objective about our own work, and our own careers, it's mandatory to get the advice of others. Family. Peers. Agents. Editors.

When they say things we automatically agree with, that's not very helpful. Sure, validation is nice. But you won't get better or smarter unless someone tells you what you're doing wrong.

It isn't easy being told you're wrong. But it is a wonderful opportunity to learn something.

When I'm given advice I don't agree with, here are some strategies I use to gauge its usefulness:

1. Consider the source. If the source is a trusted friend, or a respected peer, or an industry professional, I listen more closely. The importance of the person offering advice doesn't make the advice correct, but it does give it more weight than that overly-critical dunderhead in your writer's group or your Aunt Helga who keeps asking if you're rich yet.

2. Consider the intent. The best advice comes from people who have a good agenda. A flippant remark from a jealous sibling doesn't mean as much as a detailed critique by your agent, who is trying to sell your work.

3. Drop your guard. You can't hear advice when you're being defensive. Attacking the advisor turns it into an argument, not a discussion, and offering knee-jerk rebuttals is childish.

4. Listen. Listening is something that very few have mastered, but it is THE most powerful social skill. Completely hear the person out, and ask questions to clarify things.

5. Imagine. Think, really think, about the possible outcomes if you take this advice. Worst case scenario is you always learn something by trying it. Best case scenario is the advisor is 100% correct and just saved your ass.

6. Weigh. Advice, by its nature, usually goes contrary to what we're currently doing. In some cases, it gives us direction where there is none. But in many others, it asks us to change our direction. After you imagine where this advice might take you, you must weigh that against the path you're already following. Drop your pre-conceptions, and look at both ideas without ego. What are the pros and cons of each, and which will be better for you?

7. Act. You learn by experience. I think everyone should try just about anything at least once. Bias doesn't help you to grow. Denial doesn't help you to learn. Only through action can you truly understand cause and effect. If you like the advice, then take the advice rather than just dwell on it. I also believe that you should try taking advice that you don't necessarily like, just so you can study the outcome.

8. Thank them. Being grateful, and gracious, makes the advisor feel all warm and toasty, and ensures you'll be getting advice again.

I also need to add that giving advice, while cheap and easy, requires more than just an opinion and a big mouth. Many people don't want advice, so you should only give it when asked, or at least offer to give it before blurting it out. I try to give advice based on experience, rather than on hypothesis. This blog is about the things I've learned. Sure, there are also educated guesses, and my opinions are still subjective and hardly universal. My advice might even be flat-out wrong for you.

But if you want to know whether you should take my advice, you should take my advice about taking advice.

How Not To Start A Story

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm in a bad mood. For the past few days I've been wading through hundreds of short stories. I'm a paid judge for a big contest, and my verdicts are due.

This bad mood has been brought about by seeing the same story mistakes, over and over and over and OVER AND OVER...

So, for the benefit of the newbie writing world, and to save me future pain if I ever judge a contest again, please take the following to heart:

DO NOT START A STORY WITH WEATHER
Yes, you can work weather into the scene. But I don't care that it was sixty-five degrees on a spring morning, and if you make that your first sentence you're going to remain unpublished.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH CHARACTER DESCRIPTION
Your protag may be named Bob McTestes, and he was born in Sunndydale, Ohio in 1967, but you need to work that into the body of the story and not make it the first sentence. Better yet, don't work it in anywhere.

DO NOT START A STORY BY ADDRESSING THE READER
"You'll never believe what happened on July 2, 1943." You're right. I won't believe it, because I just stopped reading.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH PREMONITION
"Phil Assmaster didn't know he was going to die that day." But Joe Konrath knows you're not going to win this contest.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH THE PROTAG WAKING UP
Frankly, it shocked me how many stories began like this. More so than any other way I'm warning against. Opening your eyes because you had a bad dream or heard a strange noise is a quick way to put the reader to sleep.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH CLICHES
Once upon a time. A long time ago. This is a true story. Ugh. Next time, save me the trouble and put the story in your own recycle bin.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH SETTING DESCRIPTION
"Moronville, Ohio was a town of 8371 people originally founded in 1872 by Quakers." Hopefully, one of those Quakers has a gun and will shoot me.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH TELLING
"Josh felt terrible." Really? How am I supposed to picture that? Maybe I picture Josh's stomach aching, his head throbbing, and the hole where his heart is supposed to be. If I'm picturing that, perhaps you should have as well and written it that way.

DO NOT START A STORY WITH DESCRIPTION
I don't care if you're describing a person, place, thing, era, or whatever. I want to read about conflict, not helper words.

DO NOT USE HELPER WORDS
Force yourself to pare away every adverb, and half your adjectives. Also kill any speaker attribution other than "said" and "asked."

DO NOT START A STORY WITH A PROLOGUE
Your short story doesn't need a prologue. Your novel probably doesn't either.

DO NOT USE EXCLAMATION POINTS!
Especially a bunch of them!!!!!!!

DO NOT USE THE SAME FARUQING WORD TWICE IN THE SAME FARUQING PARAGRAPH
Get the faruquing point?

GRAMMER AND SPELING SHOULD BE PREFECT
If you don't care, why should I? Ditto annoying dialect spelling. Y'all get a-ight wit dat sheet, 'kay?

And finally:

DO NOT MAKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER AN ANIMAL
Ever.

Are there exceptions to these rules? Of course. There are always exceptions. But I didn't see any in the 2000+ stories I had to endure.

Also, for the love of all that is good, use 12 point Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman, double space the text, one inch margins, and indent each paragraph but don't add extra spaces in between them.

Rant over. Ignore at your own peril. Now I'm going to go have some bourbon and scour my eyes and brain with steel wool...

The Newbie's Guide To Publishing Book

An all-inclusive writing book over four years in the making, filled with more than 750 pages of tips, tricks, and advice. And it's 100% free.

Click HERE to download an Adobe .pdf copy, or get one at my website, www.jakonrath.com/.

I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. It contains over 300 essays broken down by the following topics:
  • Writing
  • Breaking In
  • Publishing
  • Promotion
  • Touring
  • Peers
  • Internet
  • Reviews
  • Newsletters
  • Motivation
That's more than 250k words worth of material, organized, indexed, and bookmarked for your reading convenience. To use Bookmarks in Adobe Reader, click the bookmark icon on the left side of the .pdf when you open the file. You can also click on the page number in the table of contents and be taken straight to that article.

Best of all, there are hyperlinks to the original blog entries, allowing you to read and add to the comments on hundreds of different topics.

Extra special thanks to Rob Siders for his help in putting this together. When you finish writing that novel, Rob, I demand to be your first reader...

Success = Pwned

Call me crazy, but I believe that when a writer creates a character, they're allowed to decide what that character says and does.

But, strangely enough, when a writer reaches a certain level of success, they have less control rather than more.

A few weeks ago I was at a local restaurant-slash-arcade watching some people play the new Rambo video game, which involved shooting large plastic assault weapons at a giant screen. When David Morrell created the character more than thirty years ago, he probably couldn't have conceived of it some day being a coin-operated attraction. But when David sold the rights to that novel, and that character, others were able to decide what Rambo did.

Rights, however, don't matter much to fans. I've noticed a growing trend on Amazon.com where fans somehow feel justified in saying authors aren't being true to the characters they've created.

I'm guilty of this myself. My very first (and only negative) Amazon review was of Hannibal written by Thomas Harris. I was hugely disappointed in how Harris had turned the ultimate evil serial killer into a hero who only kills rude people.

Apparently I helped to spearhead a disturbing trend, because in recent years there have been thousands of fans heaping such criticism at Anne Rice, Patricia Cornwell, Janet Evanovich, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, and many others, claiming these authors have disrespected their own protagonists.

What a fascinating social phenomenon this is.

It's one thing liking or disliking a book. But it is something else entirely for a reader to take ownership of a character, and to chastise the creator of that character for causing said character to do things the reader doesn't believe that character should do. Can you imagine painting a picture of a duck and then having other people tell you that it isn't a duck at all?

Expectation plays a huge part in this. When we're entertained by things we've read, we expect more of the same. But when the writer does something that we don't agree with, then our expectations aren't met, and we're disappointed and perhaps even angry.

Consider how odd this is. Characters are no longer confined to the page, or to the imagination of the writer. They exist in the minds of the readers. And if something on the page doesn't mesh with what is going on in the reader's head, the author is to blame.

But the author really can't be untrue to a character they created. It's impossible. As the creator, the author can chose to do whatever they want with the character. There is no intrinsic right or wrong, true or untrue, fair or unfair.

Yet readers can become attached to characters to the point where they take ownership of them, and then they decide for the writer what is allowed and what isn't. If they believe that the writer wasn't true to their own creation, the 1 star scathing reviews begin to accrue.

Does this affect the writer? It has to, to some degree. All opinions are valid, even if you disagree with them. The artistic part of the writer can't help but be hurt by the negative comments, and the business part of the writer can't help but think that haters can't really be good for the bottom line.

So does that mean, when you reach a certain level of success, creativity is more about placation than invention?

I haven't reached a level where I get scads of emails from people who don't like what I've done with my characters. But I can foresee it happening. Books are like children, and once they're out in public the writer/parent has little control over what they do and how they effect others. Success means you will invariably disappoint a segment of your audience.

Strangely, though, our expectations and opinions can change. We've all seen movies that we disliked, then saw them again and liked them, and vice versa. Art needs an audience, and is only endowed with the attributes we ascribe to it. In other words, what you bring to the table may be more important than what's being served.

So now I look back on my review of Hannibal and I think I was wrong. Not in disliking the book, but in blaming Harris for my disappointment. Hannibal Lector belongs to Thomas Harris, and only he can dictate what his character does. He saw his character differently than I did, and he's allowed to do that because he created him. I'm allowed to dislike the choices that Harris made, but I have to realize that biases and expectations aren't on the page; they're in my head.

Because we're such an opinionated species, and because the Internet allows for the anonymity to say things we'd never say in public, we're quick to voice our disappointment in public forums.

But maybe instead of rushing to post that 1 star review we should try to figure out who is truly to blame...

Summer 2008 Newsletter

Straight Up - The Official Newsletter of Author J.A. Konrath #8

In this issue:
--Introduction
--Book Launch Party
--The Fuzzy Navel Tour
--Reviewer Contest
--Free E-Books
--MySpace
--Speaking Engagements
--Recent News
--Be AFRAID
--Jack Daniels Movie Update
--Freebies


--INTRODUCTION

You're on this mailing list because you love books. I love them too. This email is my way of reaching out to readers, librarians, bookstore employees, and fellow authors, and giving you free stuff. If you want to be taken off this list you can opt out using the link at the bottom. If you've asked to be removed from this newsletter and haven't been, I apologize. If you've signed up for this newsletter and haven't received it, you probably aren't reading this, but I apologize anyway.

My fifth Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller novel, FUZZY NAVEL, will be released in hardcover and on audio CD and MP3 on July 8th. The first four novels in the series, WHISKEY SOUR, BLOODY MARY, RUSTY NAIL, and DIRTY MARTINI, are currently available in paperback, hardcover, and on audio. They'll make you laugh, and then scare your socks off. Please head to your favorite bookstore and buy eleven copies of each for yourself and everyone you know.

Now let's get to the fun stuff:


--BOOKLAUNCH PARTY

I love book parties, especially those that take place in snazzy venues where the food and liquor are free and there are plenty of cool people to talk to.

I'm not having one this year.

However, on the launch date for Fuzzy Navel, July 8th, you're all invited to my CEREBRAL BOOK LAUNCH PARTY!

Instead of a brick and mortar restaurant with an open bar, this party takes place entirely in my mind. There will be celebrities, big surprises, and everyone who attends will win $300 and a Toyota Prius. It's going on from 7pm-9pm, in my head. Please RSVP via telepathy. I hope to see you all there.

Then, after the party, go to a real store and buy my book.


--THE FUZZY NAVEL TOUR

I'll be visiting stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. Keep an eye on www.JAKonrath.com for when and where.


--REVIEWER CONTEST

I love being reviewed, whether it's in a newspaper, a newsletter, a listserv, on a website, a blog, MySpace, a bulletin board, an online review site, a bookstore site, etc. People who wrote reviews of DIRTY MARTINI were thanked in the acknowledgements of FUZZY NAVEL. I'm doing the same thing for this book.

Write a review of FUZZY NAVEL and put it someplace where people can read it, and you'll be thanked in the acknowledgments of CHERRY BOMB, coming out next year. Simple as that. Email me a link to your review (if you've already reviewed it, please send me the link again) and you'll be entered in a contest.

Ten lucky winners, drawn at random, will receive free signed stuff. You'll have a choice of any of my previous or future books or anthologies.

One very lucky grand prize winner will get dinner. Yes, I'll actually buy you dinner. Drinks too. The only downside is that I'll be there with you.

So if you want free books, or you want to have me all to yourself for a few hours while I ply you with fine food and drink, then please review Fuzzy Navel.

Oh, and each different place you post the review online counts as a separate contest entry. So if you write one review and post it on your blog, your MySpace page, your Facebook page, Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, Booksnbytes.com, Amazon.com, BN.com, Borders.com, DorthyL.com, and Yahoo Groups, then that's 11 entries, and 11 chances to win. How badly do you want to eat with me?


--FREE E-BOOKS

Haven't read any of my books yet? Now you can, for free. I have several full length novels and several dozen short stories available as free downloads on JAKonrath.com. Check them out, and keep an eye out for my new website design coming in July.


--MYSPACE

Are we MySpace Best Friends Forever yet? Visit my page at www.MySpace.com/JAKonrath and join my 15,000 other BFFs, each of whom I know by name and stay in constant touch with because they are so very dear to me. I also have a Facebook page, and you can befriend me there as well. Though, in all honesty, the best way to befriend me is by seeing me at a writing conference and handing me a beer.


--SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

Are you affiliated with a library, book club, writing group, university, book fair, conference, or convention and would love to have me come speak? Of course you would. And I would love to come. Email me with a request and we can discuss my outrageous fees and unreasonable demands.


--RECENT NEWS

Harry McGlade, Jack's ex-partner, is the star of two novellas. The first, SUCKERS, is co-written with cult horror author Jeff Strand. Jeff's series character Andrew Mayhem (star of three hilariously gruesome books) teams up with Harry, and the jokes fly fast and furious. It's limited to 300 hardcover copies, and a really funny book. Get it before it's gone forever.

Harry is also in LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO, an anthology edited by Bill Breedlove. This story, called THE NECRO FILE, is officially the silliest thing I've ever written. Both of these books are available at www.horror-mall.com. If you're a JA Konrath completist, a Harry McGlade fan, or just want to blow some money on stupid stuff, I encourage you to buy copies of each. But a warning: These aren't for the faint of heart.

I had the pleasure of collaborating with F. Paul Wilson on a story in the upcoming anthology BLOOD LITE, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Look for it at bookstores everywhere this October.

DIRTY MARTINI was nominated for a Barry Award for best novel.

I wrote a funny werewolf novella for the anthology WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. It's being released in October.

For those of you keeping tabs on what I eat for breakfast, this morning it was Frosted Mini Wheats. Yesterday, eggs and bacon. The day before, Mini Wheats. Tomorrow, I'm planning on Mini Wheats if any are left. If not, fried bologna.

I've collaborated with author Henry Perez on a novella featuring Jack Daniels and his character Alex Chapa (the main character from his upcoming thriller KILLING RED). The story, written for charity, is slated to appear in the upcoming Echelon Press release MISSING, which will debut at Bouchercon in Baltimore.

My blog, A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING (jakonrath.blogspot.com) was named one of the Top 101 Websites For Writers by Writer's Digest magazine.

JAKonrath.com is being overhauled with a new look and easier navigation, hopefully by the end of July. It will also include a message board, since I know all of my fans want to be able to interact with each other. All three of you. Expect another email from me when the website relaunches.

The biggest news of all came in the form of an email. Apparently a Nigerian prince has named me as an heir, and is going to deposit 16 million dollars into my bank account as soon as I send him the routing number. I plan on using the money to buy Nebraska, which I'll rename Joebraska and then have a rave party in the largest city, Joemaha. You're all invited.


--BE AFRAID

I've written a book under a pseudonym. It's called AFRAID, and I'm using the pen name Jack Kilborn. It will be available this year in Australia and Great Britain, and next year in the US. I tried my best to create the scariest novel of all time, and by early accounts I've succeeded. The website www.JackKilborn.com is coming soon.


--JACK DANIELS MOVIE UPDATE

Nothing to update, because no one has bought the rights. But if you've got fifty bucks, or even a case of good beer, call me and we'll talk.


--FREEBIES

Free stuff is cool. A few times a year I have a random drawing for free J.A. Konrath merchandise, and everyone on my mailing list is eligible. Five newsletter subscribers have been randomly picked to receive some cool gifts.

The lucky winners this time are:

lisa@tigerluna.com
knelson60@yahoo.com
rona.skene@btinternet.com
dl650@mac.com
kathyfranklin11@comcast.net

Email me to get your swag.


Thanks very much (your name here) for reading this far. Keep an eye on JAKonrath.com for updates and news. See you on the road!
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