Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

 I'll be taking a hiatus for a few weeks.  Let's call it research.  I'll tell you about it when I get back.  But, before I go, one last parody to bring in the New Year:

Should auld acquaintence be forgot
If not found on the 'net?
I've searched on Facebook, LinkedIn, too,
And haven't found one yet.
I've friended all my neighbors' kids
Though one of them's a brat;
I've "liked" my plumber, TV shows,
And photos of a cat.

So here's my url, my trusty friend,
Give me an url of yours,
Then we can meet in cyberspace
And play at Mafia Wars.
I'll read your blog if you read mine,
I'll post some family pix;
We'll reconnect through tweets and such
And share our YouTube flicks.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010


For Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.
For Part 3, click here.

A Visit From St. Nick
by Elena Santangelo

Final Installment

Led him to the kitchen and served up a plate,
He tasted it, snarfed it, then said, "Gee, it's late!
Just wrap up the rest‑‑I'll take it along."
His hands had stopped shaking‑‑he broke into song:

"The heck with the elf pipe, I've found a new vice,
God bless this falafel, it's sheer paradise."
I gave him the pot and a clean plastic spoon,
Then watched him fly off by the light of the moon.

The very next day I set up a website
For selling falafel, called "St. Nick's Delight,"
A homeopathic cure for addiction,
As well as every other affliction.

Now I'm so rich, an estate I inhabit,
And all from that night I broke Santa's bad habit.
Though I wonder if he didn't fake the whole thing‑‑
If this was the gift he'd intended to bring‑‑

So herein I thank him for my new career:
Merry Christmas, St. Nick, and a Happy New Year!

Happy Christmas to all, and to all,
Good Night,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


For Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.

A Visit From St. Nick
by Elena Santangelo

Part 3

Then from behind me I heard St. Nick swear.
"You've ruined my pipe, and I don't have a spare.
I've only just started my work on this night,
And without my smokes, I can't make the next flight."

His hands started shaking, his gestures all jerky;
I regretted at once making him go cold turkey.
Not that I cared if small tots got their toys‑‑
They get bored too soon and make much too much noise‑‑

But one thing was sure if St. Nick called it quits:
There'd be no exchanges on day twenty‑six,
And the country's economy was already stinking;
This fat elf must finish his work, I was thinking.

I said I'd run out to Walgreen's for a patch,
And some Nicorette Gum‑‑I'd buy a whole batch,
But Santa said 'twasn't a nicotine fix
He needed; the elves made a herb mix:

"One pipeful can keep me alert through my trip
And make me quite hyper, to 'round the world zip,
But now the pipe's gone, so I'd much rather doze‑‑"
At that point, another smell entered my nose:

The scent of falafel that's done through and through;
Asked Santa to join me‑‑the least I could do. . . 

Come back for the last installment on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 20, 2010


For those of you who haven't read Part 1 yet, click here first.

A Visit from St. Nick
by Elena Santangelo

Part 2

I presumed 'twas St. Nick by his costume and hat,
And his sack full of toys, and the fact he was fat.
From a pipe in his teeth, a dense smoke, it arose,
So I couldn't see much of his eyes or his nose,

But his white beard was stained a nicotine‑yellow,
And ditto his teeth when he bid me "Hello!"
But worse was the odor, which hit me full force,
For the smoke from his pipe was the absolute source.

The green swirling fumes did set me to choking,
Yet I managed to gasp, "Santa!  What are you smoking?
Not that it matters, nor why you should do it,
You can't smoke in here‑‑That's all there is to it!"

And snatching his pipe from his droll bottom lip,
Away to the fish bowl, with breath held, I zipped;
I tossed the pipe in, then yanked my hands back,
So my pet piranhas could not on them hack.

The fish were unhappy with this new seaweed
And I promised them fresh meat in tomorrow's feed...

(Watch for Part 3 on Wednesday.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I'll post this in installments, every other day for the next week, so if you want the whole story, you have to come back.  And no, I won't apologize to Clement Moore.  I think he would have liked this version.

A Visit From St. Nick
by Elena Santangelo

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Came odors pervasive, like a day‑old dead mouse,
And stockings in need of a wash in some Tide,
And body parts soaking in formaldehyde.

My five cats were nestled, all snug in my bed,
Breath smelling of tuna and goose pate spread,
But all that was normal as I in my cap
Settled my brain for a long winter's nap‑‑

When into my room came an odor so awful,
It gave me a craving for Truckstop Falafel.
Away to the kitchen I flew like a flash
Tore open the chick peas and fried up some hash;

While it was sizzling, I opted to go
And find what that smell was‑‑I just HAD to know.
I looked out my window‑‑no skunks did appear,
But with my flamingos grazed tiny reindeer,

And a miniature sleigh was blocking my drive,
Which meant that St. Nick was soon to arrive
Or already had, so I ran to the den
Where my stocking hung next to the pit bull's playpen;

I hadn't a hearth; my chimney went straight
To my furnace‑‑heat rising through each hot air grate;
But that wasn't all that on this night arose,
From below came that odor to tickle my nose;

Then the grate was pushed back by an arm sleeved in red,
Which was followed by feet and a rump and a head...

(Stay tuned for Part 2.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Ravin'

I'm late posting this month. Truth is, I've got a medical procedure scheduled for right after the holidays (I won't say more, other than, for a mystery writer, it's a very appropriate procedure), and right now I seem to be getting every virus that comes along. So I've been too preoccupied to write, or even to do much Christmas decorating and shopping. For my blog this month, I decided silliness is my best option. Enjoy!

(apologies to Poe)

Once upon an Advent dreary,
While I wandered bleak and bleary
Over many a crude and crowded mile of department store,
As I wrest a roll of wrapping, energy within me sapping,
Tired of fighting all their trapping‑‑
Trapping me to spend some more.
"I won't buy but this," I muttered,
__ "wrapping at this blasted store‑‑
Only this and nothing more."

Only then did I remember 'twas the fourth week of December,
And each separate day did number‑‑to my horror‑‑twenty‑four;
No time could I beg or borrow,
Christmas day would come tomorrow,
Think how great would be my sorrow‑‑sorrow if the toys I bore
Failed to awe my radiant children‑‑
Would they think my gifts were poor
And so hate me evermore?

Suddenly my guilt grew stronger; I could shop a little longer,
Though to add debt to my credit cards already I'd foreswore;
Yet, I'd buy more than this wrapping:
PC games, opponents strapping;
Robot dog with ears a‑flapping, lapping water from the floor;
And a doll that does the mambo, for my youngest to adore.
That was it, though, nothing more.

Back into the maelstrom turning, all my guilt within me burning,
Soon again I heard the tapping as the sales clerk tallied more,
"Surely," I said, "surely this is...
Something in your store amiss is,
For, you see, each price that's here is
Twice as much as 'twas before."
But the sales clerk simply shrugged and
Waited for me to fork o'er;
Stood and shrugged, and nothing more.

Open there I flung my card fold,
Then retrieved my Master Charge Gold,
Warm still from my day of shopping,
Buying Christmas gifts galore,
Swiped my card the clerk then did he,
Shook his head, but not in pity,
Said my card was maxed out, that I couldn't use it, furthermore,
Stood and said, "I need another card
Or cash...or there's the door."
Told me that, and nothing more.

Startled by the words he'd spoken
(Could my credit line be broken?)‑‑
"Doubtless just a glitch of software
In the network of this store."
This I said to stem disaster, then to show him I was master,
Handed over Visa card‑‑its limit was a little more‑‑
Thinking, after holidays, I'd no more shop this horrid store.
No, never, nevermore.

Then the clerk commenced his swiping, as my brow I was a‑wiping,
Hoping that consumer confidence to me he would restore,
But the Visa was no charmed card‑‑
Sales clerk, summoning an armed guard,
Told him to politely discard me at nearest exit door;
Told him to remove my derriere from this department store;
I could come back nevermore.

Only now am I admitting, as bill payments I'm remitting,
Possibly my Christmas shopping went a little overboard;
With my credit, I'm not clever‑‑I'll be paying this forever,
Learned my lesson now, however, and will charge things nevermore;
(Yet the After‑Christmas sales are so good, how can I ignore?
Just this once‑‑then nevermore.)

Merry, merry,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Your Books Out There

Both my computer and I were out of commission last week, me with a stomach bug and insomnia, the PC with a sticky switch, a bad memory, and other age-related ailments. I take comfort knowing that something in my house is showing more signs of age than I am. Anyway, since writing wasn't an option, I worked on publicity.

Many unpublished writers imagine that the end of the writing process is seeing their books in print. Or if they think about selling their books at all, they imagine book signings where all they have to do is show up and smile. Someone else, surely, will make posters and do the advertising. And the readers would love nothing better than to skip a night of vegging in front of the TV to meet an honest-to-Pete author, right? They'll show up in droves.

Nothing is more discouraging to the finishing of a second novel than the realization that hardly anyone is buying/reading the first one. And chances are, as a first-time novelist, folks who've never heard of you aren't going to go out of their way to help you get that book under the noses of readers (at least until they read it and love it themselves). You've got to start thinking in terms of advertising, marketing, incentives, and name recognition.

I'm no expert on publicity. Even after 4 published books, I find I'm still experimenting with what works. Yet, I could probably write a year's worth of blogs on the subject. One thing I do know--you have to get out and meet your potential readers. Join your local Sisters in Crime chapter. Team up with other authors to do joint book tours and signing events. Volunteer at your local library or senior center to speak on a topic you know well. Go to one or 2 book conventions a year if your budget can stand it. Go anywhere you think potential readers will congregate.

Remember, readers hang out in cyberspace all the time. Join listserves like DorothyL. Get yourself a Facebook profile, at least, and actually post to it once a week--don't just let it sit there idle. You don't want readers who do find you to give up, seeing that the last time you posted was Christmas 2006. Network through it with other writers (though, be friendly--stalking will NOT sell your books). You can also list your events there and link them to your website. Put a Facebook badge on your website so you can be found.

Write a weekly blog on a topic you know well. Link it to your website and have it send an update to your Facebook page each time you blog. Use the site to list your signings, then link that to your website.

These are just a few avenues of publicity open to the writer and these won't break the bank. They DO take some creative time away from your writing, but unfortunately, marketing isn't a luxury. The more creative you can be about it, the more you can keep to your budget and the more you sell.

My project this week? I put up a fan page on Facebook for my most popular character, Miss Maggie, called "Miss Maggie (Magnolia Shelby) & Friends." My intention is to post recipes from the books, my signing and speaking events, news about my next book, a link to this blog, and whatever else I can think of that might be interesting or series-related. The more entertaining I can make it--and the more active I keep it--the more fans I hope to pick up. If they haven't read my books, maybe they'll give me a try.

If you'd like to take a look at Miss Maggie's page, click here or on the badge in the lefthand column. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to browse through it.




Member, Delaware Valley Mystery Authors