Monday, September 1, 2014

Kurt Kamm, An Interview




After reading an review Kurt Kamm's latest thriller, Tunnel Vision, which is available from Amazon today, I decided to find out more about him. He kindly answered the following questions:

When did you first realize you were a writer?

When I was at Brown, I took a career aptitude test and the first recommendation was that I become a novelist. I decided I would rather earn a living and went to work on Wall Street. Now that I am retired, I’ve had the opportunity to write, and I really enjoy it. Me? A writer? I’m still trying to find out.

Since you are such an expert about fires, firefighting and emergency services, tell us something about how all that came about?

I moved from Los Angeles to Malibu several years ago. Soon after I moved in, the Sheriff’s Department came at 4:00 A.M. and told us we had 15 minutes to evacuate. On the way out, I watched my neighbor’s house burn to the ground, along with a church and several other homes. The fire department was literally at my gate when I left, and they stopped to fire at my front door. During this episode, I got a firsthand look at wildland firefighting and thought it was something I had to learn about. Over the years, the LACoFD has allowed me to ride with their crews, attend their training camps, and simply spend time in the stations. It ain’t Wall Street.

How did you first get published?

I submitted my second novel, Red Flag Warning, to several small presses and the first to respond was Aberdeen Bay. At the time, it was relatively new, and I was impressed with the owner. Later I learned that the editor had only read the first two chapters, but I was on my way.

What has surprised you most about being a published author?

The number of people to whom I have sent a complimentary book—usually folks who helped me in my research—who have never even had the courtesy of even acknowledging  that they received it (let alone actually open it).

What do you wish you had known when you first began writing?

That POV is a living breathing thing, and you can mess with it and do a lot of imaginative things. It scared the heck out of me in the beginning

What kind of promotion works best for you?

I’m still trying to figure that out. I have a few thousand Facebook friends (mostly first responders) and have built up a small but loyal following. E-mail and Facebook announcements seem to work better than any number of advertisements and literary website efforts. I’ve done some paid ads in magazines and have had countless radio interviews, none of which have made any difference. Winning contests is nice for the resume, and gives credibility, but doesn’t seem to have any effect on sales either.

And what are you working on now?


Tunnel Visions is my 5th and last firefighter mystery. I’m about 1/3 of the way into a narco – novel, which begins in Guatemala, moves to Mexico, stops on Catalina Island (and yes, there is a hellacious fire), and finally returns to Guatemala.

Kurt kindly provided these pictures:





Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes, Once Again I'm Planning Promotion

The next book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, River Spirits, is due out the end of September. And no, it's not to soon to be planning promotion.

My blog tour will be the month of November, excluding Thanksgiving day. I don't expect anyone to read my blog or anyone else's Thanksgiving day. I've already got all the other days filled with willing blog hosts. I've decided the titles of my posts except for those who told me what they wanted me to write.

Why did I plan it for November when the book is coming out the last of September? I know from experience that no matter what the publishers expects--things don't always go as planned. Too often I've had to have book airlifted to me--too big of an expense--because of a planned event.

I've written about six of the new posts. I also know from experience that it's far better to get as much done as possible because who knows what will happen between now and then. Life is full of the unexpected.

No, I haven't planned a formal launch event--not sure I will. I have several events already lined up for October:

October 11, the Visalia Arts Consortium Street Fair.
October 18, the Manteca Book Fair
October 25, 1-4, the Atascadero Library
November 7 and 8, 10-8 both days, the Porterville Art Gallery's Christmas Boutique.

If I let everyone know where I am and have my new book for sale, that's probably enough.

So that's what I've got planned at the moment. Of course I'll let everyone on Facebook and Twitter know when the new book is available.

Marilyn

And if you want to catch up, be sure to read Spirit Shapes.





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Dancing Boy by Michael Matson



What inspired The Dancing Boy?

The book grew out of the scattering of multiple seeds. I wanted to write a mystery in which locations played a significant part. To me this meant British Columbia, Canada, and Western Washington, specifically the islands of the San Juans, areas where I’ve spent a great deal of time and for which I have an enduring fondness.

In addition, I wanted to base the mystery on a social issue that would resonate with the mystery-reading public. Human trafficking is a huge world-wide problem, involving the horrifying exploitation of women, children and males forced into slave-like situations. I decided to use that as the device to propel the story. But which segment of the trafficking would I use?  That was decided by the decade-long war in Afghanistan and that country’s abominable practice of using young males for sex.

One aspect of this practice dates back to ancient Greece and perhaps even before that.  Pre-pubescent boys were trained as dancers to entertain men and were valued as sexual objects. Although the practice has been reported on and condemned by western countries, it still continues as a cultural anomaly in Afghanistan.

A final inspiration grew from a conversation I once had with an old-time Washington resident about the whiskey smuggling that took place between Canada and the US during the prohibition years.  As I said, multiple seeds.




Bio:

Michael Matson was born in Helena, Montana, and was immediately issued a 10-gallon Stetson and a pair of snakeskin boots. After formative years spent in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, California, Hawaii and Japan, Michael earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Following a brief military stint in Oklahoma, where he first encountered red, sticky mud, heavy rain and tarantulas, he returned to Seattle and worked as an advertising agency copywriter, creative director and video producer.
In 2007 he (regretfully) left Seattle for Mexico to have time to write and has since published The Diamond Tree, a fairytale for all ages;  Bareback Rider, an inspirational adventure for children; and Takeshi’s Choice, a mystery novel.  His short story “Gato” was selected for inclusion in Short Story America’s 2014 anthology.  His second mystery novel:  The Dancing Boy, was released by Dark Oak Mysteries, a division of Oak Tree Press in April  2014 and is available at Amazon.com

He lives with his wife María Guadalupe (Tai), in Morelia, the colonial capital city of Michoacán, where, despite all the bad publicity given the area by U.S. news media, he has never seen a narcotraficante. His website is: www.findmichaelmatson.com

Monday, August 25, 2014

How a Biography Became a Novel by Carolyn Niethammer



Every author knows the thrill of ripping open a box that holds copies of your new book. Holding your first book is akin to experiencing your first kiss. Recently the mail carrier brought such a box to me – it was my tenth book, but The Piano Player was my first novel. It was also the first of my books in which I had a major say on the cover.
           
This book did not start out as a novel. Thirty years ago, my husband was a young journalism professor at the University of Arizona and one of his classes was The Tombstone Epitaph. The owner of that venerable paper, founded in 1880, had given it to the journalism department to use as a lab paper. The students would drive down from Tucson and do some reporting, then put it together back on campus. The professor not only guided them, he was also the paperboy. So every other week I’d go with my husband to Tombstone to deliver the paper, and I would wander around while he tended to business. During those wandering afternoons, I ran across the historic character, Nellie Cashman and was intrigued. I found a short article about Nellie in an historical journal and I followed up on that. Soon I was hooked.


           
Nellie was an Irish immigrant who had bounced around several mining areas, including those in Canada, before she ended up running restaurants and boarding houses first in Tucson, then Tombstone. Nellie was very active in the new mining camp, helping to raise money for the Catholic Church and the miners’ league. Articles appeared about her in both the Epitaph and the Tombstone Nugget.
           
Nellie left Tombstone when it ground to a halt when the mines filled with water in 1886. She wandered around the West, starting and closing businesses, until she joined the gold rush to the Klondike in Alaska in 1898. Her journey and her businesses in Dawson City are well documented. After a few years, Dawson became too citified for her and she moved even further north to the Brooks Range. I took a trip to Alaska and Yukon Territory to follow up on research.         

But I could not account for the twelve years between when she left Tombstone and started into the Klondike. The Sisters of St. Ann, with whom she had been close and who nursed her at the end, had materials in their library, but they would not allow me access.
           
At that point, I decided to novelize my story. Since Nellie was a bit of a goodie-goodie, I added a character totally different. Well-born Mary Rose faces family reverses and goes to Tombstone to be an actress. She ends up playing the piano at the Bird Cage Theatre and must learn a completely new lifestyle as Frisco Rosie. She boards at Nellie Cashman’s Russ House, and although the two women are very different, they are both living outside the norms for women of the day and end up becoming unlikely friends. Over many rewrites, the story became Rosie’s tale, although Nellie was usually close by. Together they deal with a lover who turns out to be a murderer, imprisonment in a Mexican jail, near death falling into the icy Yukon River, and disappointment when their quest for gold is dashed.
           
The book was sold in 1983, but while I was doing the suggested tightening, the acquiring editor was fired, everybody remaining at the publishing company hated the book and they declined to publish it. Every few years I would haul out the manuscript, tinker, update it to a new computer system, then go write another of my nonfiction books. By the new millennium, the book was much better, publishing was changing, and small independent publishers were filling niches abandoned by the New York houses. Through colleagues in Women Writing the West, I learned about Oak Tree Press. It seemed to be perfect for The Piano Player. It was, and a year later, in late June that box of books finally arrived with the postman.

 (Subsequently the librarian hoarding the materials at the Sisters of St. Ann died, and Don Chaput, an academic historian, got access to the information and published an excellent biography of Nellie.)


Bio: Carolyn Niethammer grew up in the historic town of Prescott, Arizona, and now lives in Tucson. She is the author of nine nonfiction books on southwest subjects – popular ethnobotanies of western plants, biographies, a book on Native American women and a travel book on southeastern Arizona. Find her work at www.cniethammer.comThe Piano Player is available at https://tinyurl.com/madl42a/

See other award-winning works at www.cniethammer.com



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Today is My Birthday! One of Many!

I planned to ignore my birthday as much as possible--but since I didn't have a new post for my blog, thought I'd do a bit of reminiscing about my prior birthdays.

When I was a kid, mom did a great job of planning birthday parties, even with a theme of some sort. Since my childhood was a loooooong time ago, the themes were nothing like they are today, but she did a fantastic job.

When I was five, she planned a fairy birthday party, and I was the queen. I wore the long dress I'd worn for my auntie's wedding and had a crown and scepter. I know the little girl guests all got crowns too. Because I had boy cousins, we had another celebration at a nearby park that they were invited to.

Another I remember was when I was a bit older, with a Mexican theme, and we celebrated on our patio--which was later turned into a room. I suspect that might have been when I was 9 or 10.

One teen party, with many best friends from school, we traveled to Chinatown on the streetcar.

I'm not good with surprises and when I turned 60, hubby and my sis planned a surprise at her house. I argued against going there because I had planned to do something else. My writer friends attended and it turned out to be a great party.

Last year when I turned 80 we traveled to Camarillo and had a fun low-key weekend celebration with all three of our girls, Dana, Lisa, and Lori. We cruised Ventura harbor, had some fantastic meals out and at Lori's, just a really fun time. I loved it.


Notice it's a chocolate cake.

Daughter-in-law made me a chocolate cake yesterday and it was perfect.

Many wished me Happy Birthday on Facebook--makes one feel special. Also it's fun to see all those I share this birthday with, among them, good friend, Lorna Collins, and the great mystery writer, Gary Phillips.

So another one down--and before I leave, I must say I've had a most blessed life.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Astral Gift, Revisited



The Astral Gift is the first mystery I wrote and was published. 

It has had an interesting publishing history. The first time it was published, different cover, it came out in mass market paperback from a company that turned out to be crooked. (I've had lots of experience with publishers who weren't on the up-and-up. This one printed 50 books which I managed to sell right away--and that was the end. The publisher disappeared.

Next came an e-publisher, near the beginning of the e-pub era. We had some problems and I got my rights back. Oak Tree Press picked it up, but it has just been sitting there so I decided it was time to tell people about it again.

The idea developed because I met a young woman who had suffered childhood sexual abuse--from there I imagined what ways she might have escaped mentally from the abuse--and ideas tumbled in. 

Astral projection plays a big part in the story--and no, I've never experienced such a phenomena, nor do I want to, and you'll see why if your read the book. However, for those who said I described it like I had experienced it, I did a lot of research via books. (This was written before you could find anything on the Internet.) What I have done that is in the book is worked in a day care center much like the one Elaine works in and lived in a beach town. 

Yes, there is a murder in the book and a romance. 

When this book first came out I was truly proud of it. I'd like others to read and enjoy it.

Blurb: A victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Elaine Brinsfield can't bear the thought of being touched by a man. The coping mechanism of astral projection she used as a child returns unbidden, accompanied by the threatening appearance of ghostly evil spectral beings. The gift-or curse-of astral projection enables Elaine to solve a vicious murder, but skeptical cops make her the number one suspect.

Review:

The touch of supernatural adds a new dimension to this mystery. If you have ever experienced that "almost asleep" period where your body jerks and you wake up, this is what some people claim is the prelude to "out of body" travel. A subject that Art Bell could spend three hours on! Even the murder takes a back seat to Elaine's OBE as the finely crafted description puts you right alongside the main character during her journeys. If you like a little goosebump served with your mystery, this is the book for you. --Sandra Tooley

http://www.amazon.com/Astral-Gift-Marilyn-Meredith-ebook/dp/B001TUYVJG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407938391&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Astral+Gift+by+Marilyn+Meredith

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And It All Hit At Once

Truly, it's not as bad as it sounds, but it seems the old saying, "When it rains, it pours" is all too true.

I've been working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and it's been coming along great. Words, plot ideas, characters just tumbling out. 

The edits for River Spirits, my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery arrived yesterday. Something like that I need to work on in the morning when my brain is fresh--but I also had a paid project that I needed to finish. That had to come first.

This a.m. hubby had to be at the surgical center in town by 8:15. Because he was going for eye surgery, I had to take him. I brought along my iPad. If I was going to be sitting, I planned to get some work done--and I did. I figured out what topics to write about on my blog tour for River Spirits and actually wrote four of them.

Because all I'd eaten was a piece of toast, didn't seem fair to eat much since hubby couldn't eat or drink, as three plus hours went by, I began to get really hungry. 

Finally, the came and got me to go in the recovery room. The surgery was a success. Hubby dressed and we were sent over to the surgeon's office to get more instructions. Of course I was the driver--and I'm starving. Once that was over we headed for Denny's. Something about hubby only eating soup made it seem like the logical spot and it was close.

He ate a huge bowl of soup, I had a cup of soup and we shared a big chicken salad sandwich. On the way home we picked up some prescriptions for him.

Arrived home and Great-grandson, Julius was there with his Grandpa--my son. Julius is three, talks up a storm and had many questions to ask. Seemed fascinated by the wrinkles in my upper arm. Why did they look like that? Because I'm old. The answer satisfied him, but the questions continued.

Daughter-in-law, cooked dinner, God bless her.

We ate, son fed the animals, and I'm done. No, I'm not done with what needs to be done, I'm just done for the day. Too pooped to do any intelligent work.

Just to add a fun picture, here I am with the latest addition to our family, Priscilla Rose, and when the photo was taken she was 2 days old.