Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading

Florida Heritage of Writers Book Fair & Photo Gallery

The Florida Heritage of Writer’s Conference concluded after two days of workshops and a Saturday book fair. I met Robin Cook, mystery author Elizabeth Sims, along with many other authors. Looking forward to next year.


5 Tips to prepare for a Writer’s Conference

canstockphoto6504670It’s open season on authors, which means that writer’s conferences and critique groups are on the calendar.

I’m attending the Florida Heritage Book Fair and Writer’s Conference this week, and looking forward to it. This is my second year to attend, which gives me an advantage. I know what to expect and how to prepare. Last year, I just showed up and, well, listened. This year though, it’s game on.

So here’s what I suggest doing to prepare for a writer’s conference:

  1. Bring a tote bag with a new notepad and pencils (or to carry your tablet)

Plan on taking notes, lot’s of notes. You’re also going to be collecting a lot of handouts and sometimes there are even door prizes. You’ll probably buy a few books. So plan accordingly. And even if you use a tablet (like me) it’s still a good idea to have a few pens, pencils and notebook on hand. You’re going to be looking for pen and paper at some point. Trust me.

  1. Plan to network

To me, that means two things: First, bring a stash of simple business cards with your name, contact info and name and genre of the books you’re writing. Include your social media, website and blog info, if you’ve got it. Second, have a note pad and pen in your tote bag for people to write down their contact information for you.  You’ll be meeting new people from around the state, if not the country, and making new friends. Make exchanging contact info as easy as possible.

  1. Be prepared to purchase some books

That means budget. Almost every speaker will have at least one book available to buy, not to mention books written by your fellow attendees. And, like the FHW, there will be a book fair with even more book buying opportunities. You’ll want to own a few of them. Personally, I like to have some cash on hand.

  1. Dress like a Professional Writer

This isn’t a trip to a Home Depot Saturday morning workshop. You’re meeting writing professionals in a professional setting. There will be authors, publishers, and agents there. You need to represent.  Business casual is generally the most appropriate attire, and leave the torn jeans, flip-flops and t-shirts at home.

  1. Wear your name tag 

Honestly, I lost mine on the first day during last year’s conference and it made me a little unapproachable. Everyone attending will be meeting a lot of new faces. It helps your fellow attendees (especially if you’ve already been introduced) to recall your name. So, plan on wearing your name tag every day, all day. As an author, your name is your brand.  You want people to see it and see it often. Registration may require it as well.

5 Favorite Movies I’m Watching over the 4th of July Weekend

canstockphoto11411825I’m taking the long 4th of July weekend to work on my new novel, and looking forward to watching some movies (while I’m writing.) Seems like a good way to spend a hot July weekend, right? Because there’s nothing more American than movies featuring fireworks, barbecues and patriotic fervor. These five films are so chock-full of American spirit that you’ll be standing and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” before the credits roll.

In that spirit, here’s my list of Movies for the 4th of July Weekend!

Top Gun (1986)

Pilot prodigy Maverick shuns teamwork and the rules of engagement, while making love to his flight instructor, performing dangerous and daring flying maneuvers, and ultimately causing the death of his best friend. In the end, he learns the importance of cooperation and discipline. It remains one of Cruise’s most iconic roles, and naval aviators have never looked so charismatic. If it does nothing else, “Top Gun” demonstrates the emotional impact of the wind-rippled stars and stripes, waving in slow motion.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAfbp3YX9F0]


A League of Their Own (1992)

This movie tends to be most fondly remembered for that important lesson that “There’s no crying in baseball.” But this fictionalized big-screen retelling of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is memorable not just athletically, but historically. The movement that plucked girls out the kitchen and plopped them down on the diamond, with bats in hand, changed the sport of baseball, changed the way the country viewed its female workforce, and most importantly, changed the way women viewed themselves. “A League of Their Own” captures this spirit perfectly with a heart-warming story about the strong, independent women who kept America running while the boys were fighting overseas in World War II. Ultimately though, there’s a deeper lesson about the All-American ideal of equality.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcN392H2jx0]


The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot is a true blue, American childhood film set in the summer of 1962. A boy moves to a new town and wants to join the neighborhood kids playing baseball on a vacant lot. He borrows his stepfather’s prized baseball –autographed by Babe Ruth – and loses it in a yard patrolled by a dreaded, killer guard dog. He was looking for friends but finds a summer filled with America’s favorite pastime and good ole backyard adventure. Nice touch when the kids play ball at dusk, aided by the flickering lights from the town’s Fourth of July fireworks. In a display of innocent, youthful patriotism, the boys forget the game and get lost watching the brilliant flashes in the night sky.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QDq-e1GbjE]


Jaws (1975)

Jaws is the summer blockbuster prototype, and practically wrote the rule book for every great monster film that followed. Set over the Fourth of July holiday, vacationing city folk swarm the beach of Amity Island, only to run afoul of a big, bad shark. Some have described the waving flags in the background as representing the idealized American Dream, and the monster shark representing whatever cultural phenomenon that’s corrupting that dream, but I view the movie as just good, old fashioned summer entertainment. Plus, Steven Spielberg’s awe inspiring film career began with this adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMl6t3UYvu8]


Independence Day (1996)

There is absolutely no better movie to watch on Independence Day. Not only is it named after the American holiday, but it includes action, sci-fi, humor, romance and cool ’90s Will Smith — all coming to a head on July 4th. In the climatic end, President Bill Pullman declares this day “Independence Day for the world.” Happy Fourth of July, indeed!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGeIsCLOI-U]



Did you know you can add an Amazon Store to Facebook?


Did you know that you can add an Amazon bookstore to your Facebook Author Page? It’s actually fairly simple, and I just set-up a store on my Author Page.

Here’s how.

  1. Slide3Sign-up for an Amazon Associate account. It’s free and available at the following address: http://affiliate-program.amazon.com
    1. On the tabs at the top of the screen, select “aStore.”
    2. Select “Add a Category Page”
    3. You can change the category name, if you’d like. I set mine to “My Books on Amazon.”
    4. Next, you’ll want to “Add Products.” You can select books by the ISBN or ASIN.
    5. You can choose several templates by returning to “Create aStore Pages” and click “continue” to “Color & Design.”
    6. There are also several “Sidebar Widgets” with even more options for customization.
    7. Finally,  select “Finish & Get Link.” Choose the “Embed my store using an inline frame” option from the dropdown menu.
  2. Set-up a “Static HTML: iFrame Tabs” on your Facebook Author Page.  It’s free and available at the following address: https://www.facebook.com/appcenter/static_html_plus
    1. From the App Center page, click on the “Visit Website” button.
    2. Select the “Add Static HTML to a Page” button
    3. Select your Author Page from the drop down
  3. From your Author Page, find the new app (it should have a big star on it) and insert the code from Amazon.

It didn’t take me long to set-up, and wasn’t as intimidating as it sounds. If you’ve got a question or need some help, feel free to message me.


Introducing my new Facebook Page

facebook_logoI’ve set up a new Facebook Page. It’s located at www.facebook.com/AuthorJcGatlin. Seems the Facebook Page was formerly called a fan page. Now people “like” a Page rather than “fan” it. Apparently, once the page receives 30 likes then I get access to insights about the page’s activity.

I have a personal Facebook page, but after reading several marketing books, it seems that it’s best to set up a Page in addition to a Profile. As authors, we can promote our books, include hyperlinks to an Amazon page in About and create a header with advertisement links. Facebook frowns upon you doing any of that in your personal profile.

If you get an opportunity, please jump over to Facebook and “like” the new page.

Facebook Page

Index of A to Z Blog Challenge Articles – April 2014

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cJust completed the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Nearly 2,000 bloggers signed-up to participate this year. We started on April 1, 2014 with a topic themed on something with the letter “A,” then on April second another topic starting with the letter B, and so on until you finish on April 30, 2014 with a topic based on the letter “Z.”

My theme was, obviously, on mystery writing — and I wrote about everything from Amateur Sleuths to Zealous Zodiac. Participating in the challenge doubled the number of my blog followers, and I met several interesting writers!

Here’s the rundown of my articles in the challenge:

A – Amateur Sleuths: How Your Next Door Neighbor Solves Crimes

B – Bad Guys: The Whole Point of the Mystery

C – Cause of Death: Procedure from Crime Scene to Death Certificate

D – Deadly Doses: Death by Poison

E – Endings: Crisis, Climax & Resolution

F – Forensic Files: Bridging Fiction with Science

G – Great Escape: Getting your Sleuth Safely Out of the Frying Pan

H – Heroes & Heroines: 3 Tips for Writing a Kick-ass Protagonist

I – Investigations: Steps in Investigating the Crime Scene

J – Jargon: Classifications of Murder

K – Keen Killings: 24 Inventive Ways to do in Your Victim

L – Language of the Body: Add Visual Dialog to your Conversations

M – Motives for Murder Mysteries

N – Nobody Knows: What Type of Mystery are you Writing?

O – Obstacles: Road Blocks in your Hero’s Journey

P – Private Eyes: Getting a P.I. involved in a Murder Mystery

Q – Quirky Character Traits

R – Romantic Subplots: 20 Ideas Beyond Romeo & Juliet

S – Suspicious Behavior

T – The Ticking Clock: 25 Ideas to add Suspense to your Mystery

U – Unlawful Behavior: Just How Bad is Your Bad Guy

V – Vibrant Victims: Two Types of Dead Bodies in Your Murder Mystery

W – Writer’s Block: Stuck on What’s Supposed to Happen Next

X – The X Factor: The Unexpected Twist

Y – Yielding Yesterdays: Writing a Character History

Z – Zealous Zodiac Characteristics: Basic Character Templates

Whew! That was tougher than I thought it was going to be. I guess that’s why they call it a “challenge.” :)

Blogging from A to Z Challenge – April 2014

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cCheck out this cool blogging challenge. Nearly 2,000 bloggers have signed-up to participate in April 2014. This is a great opportunity to get exposure for your website and connect to other writers and bloggers.

According to their website:

“You would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letterA, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn’t even have to be a word–it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day.”

I’ve signed-up for the challenge, and will attempt to write 26 murder mystery topics.

For more information, check out their website at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/what-is-blogging-from-to-z.html.

Hurry. The deadline is approaching fast.