Thursday, October 31, 2013


How has writing your main character changed you as a person?

I’d like to think that writing about my protagonist (any of my protagonists) has made me into a sharper, more self-actualized, wittier, more thought-provoking, more handsome person.

I’d like to think that, but I can’t.

I’m the same semi-schlubby person who wears sweats when he writes. Who occasionally spills food on his shirt. Who sometimes forgets a word that he used JUST YESTERDAY which bugs the crap out of him. Still the same guy who roots for the Washington Professional Football Team no matter how poorly the team plays.

Now what has changed, due to my writing, is my writing. The more I write, the better I get (at least I think so). I came to writing fiction relatively late in life, as compared to many of my contemporaries, so I’ve had to learn a lot in a short amount of time. And I’m still learning (I’m a little weak on grammar; I don’t know a dangling participle from a flying Wallenda.).

With each scene I write, with each draft and second draft and eighth draft, I feel more comfortable creating new worlds and characters. More comfortable with plots and descriptions and dialogue and settings. More comfortable using the strike-through feature. More in control of my story.

More like a real writer.

(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good Morning, My Ass!

Do you ever take out real life rage on fictional murder victims? Are any of your victims based on people who pissed you off in real life?

Real life rage? I’m a mild-mannered guy. I very rarely get to the stage of “rage.” About as hot as I get is “slightly perturbed.” If things really go wrong, I might push the meter to “irked.”

Unless you count that guy who cut me off on the Beltway. Or the person who dented my bumper in the parking lot and didn’t leave a note. Or the telemarketer who woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. Or maybe if you consider the neighbor who runs the leafblower six hours a day during Fall. Or the bank teller who takes forever just to log in a simple deposit. Or the grocery store that didn’t have one SINGLE RIPE AVOCADO when I needed to make guacamole. Or the little old lady who said “Good Morning” to me when it wasn’t really such a great morning. I mean, who died and elected her Queen of Inane Greetings, anyway?

Okay, maybe I do have a slight anger management issue.

In my books, though, I can’t remember singling out a specific person, either as a victim or a criminal, to be the recipient of my real-life rage. (I definitely don’t want a lawsuit. I’m pretty sure that would piss me off.)

But in my book DEADLY CAMPAIGN, I went after an entire group of people—politicians. (Of course, after the events of the last month, is there a person in this country who doesn’t harbor a great deal of rage toward them? For the record, I wrote that book before it was in vogue to actively hate our congressfolk). I didn’t take sides; I skewered the politicos in a bipartisan fashion (I’m an equal opportunity skewerer.)

And I must confess, it felt pretty good.


giveaway graphicHere’s something else that feels pretty good. Giving away stuff! To celebrate my birthday, I’m giving away an ORLOFFAPALOOZA prize package to one lucky winner: A copy of all six of my books (three trade paperbacks, three ebook originals) plus a bonus download of FIRST TIME KILLER in audio. Click thru to enter. Go ahead, don’t be shy…You gotta play to win!


(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An ORLOFFAPALOOZA Birthday Giveaway

This year, for my birthday, I want to give YOU a present! Welcome to the ORLOFFAPALOOZA BIRTHDAY GIVEWAY!

Here’s what one lucky winner will receive:

giveaway graphic

To participate in this giveaway (powered by Rafflecopter—if you don’t have an account, you can sign up—it’s free!), click on the image below, and go crazy. The more points you earn, the better your chance of winning!

rafflecopter screen shot

Giveaway ends October 26—my birthday.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Green is the New Blech

Seeing Green: In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott spends a lot of air time on writer envy—that bile inside her that bubbles to the surface any time a friend (or frenemy) wins a big award or sells movie rights. Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you combat it?

Bill Gates

There’s always someone richer than you.




EinsteinThere’s always someone smarter than you.




most interesting man


There’s always someone more interesting than you.



There’s always someone nicer, tougher, funnier, more determined, luckier, prettier, taller, smoother, stronger, happier, better connected, flashier, more skilled, more beloved, more respected, more more MORE.

Comparing yourself to other people is a losing proposition.

On the other hand, it’s human nature to be competitive, and writers are an observant lot. So it’s pretty hard not to notice how well other people are doing, and it’s pretty easy to feel those pangs of envy as your fellow authors win their shiny awards and get those three-book contracts and sign their six- and seven-figure movie deals, for work that’s no better than the stuff I spill my blood over and grrr, I hate their steaming guts. Kudos to them all.

Personally, not long after I jumped into the writing “biz,” and realizing what kind of nutty, often random, business it seemed to be, and seeing a lot of unhappy, bitter writers complaining about all sorts of things, most of which they couldn’t control, I made a vow to myself:

No matter what happens, I’m going to try very hard not to let things that don’t go as I wish get me down.

I think I’ve been pretty good about it. I try very hard to generate the best work I know how and let the chips fall where they may. If I never hit the New York Times Bestseller list, so be it.

I’ll still hit number one on Alan’s Gave It Your Best Effort list.

And that’s about all I can control.

(This entry is “simul-posted” at Criminal Minds.)