Saturday, March 28, 2015

Violent Departures Blog Tour Schedule

BLOG TOUR STOPS FOR VIOLENT DEPARTURES




What’s Happening with Gordon Butler?

            Introduction to the Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery Series

            My Writing Process

            Research

 What’s Up Next?

The Importance of Place

            Coming Up With New Ideas for an Ongoing Series

Where Do My Characters Come From?

            What About the Dialogue?

  Interview

            How I Keep Up With my Characters and What’s Happened

            After So Many Books, How Do You Get Fresh Ideas?

            When to Think About Promotion

The Good and Bad of Writing a Series

            Ghosts and Why I Write About Them

            Reading Reviews of my Books

            Stacey Milligan’s Dilemma

            The Inspiration for Violent Departures

            Who Do I Write For?

            What Makes the Rocky Bluff Mystery Series Unique?

Final Interview
           
 Blurb for Violent Departures:

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

Bio:

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

Contest:

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

Links:



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Harlan Coben's THE STRANGER, a review


I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the publisher. To be honest, I'd never read a book by Harlan Coben, though I have seen him at various mystery cons.

At any one time, I'm usually reading 3 books--often it is a bookd that I received from a publisher or publicist wanting a review. Sometimes I enjoy reading the book, with others, not so much.

Once I got started on this one, I couldn't stop. After the first few pages, I just had to know what was going to happen next.

The story centers on Adam Price, a rather ordinary man who has a happy marriage and two young sons and life is good. Or at least it was until a stranger tells Adam a secret about his wife. At first Adam doesn't believe it, then after some research he realizes the secret is true, but not the reason behind it.

When Adam's wife disappears, leaving only a cryptic message, he begins investigating with a fervor.

The reader is let in on the fact that other people have learned secrets about loved ones, some with disastrous results. Why is this happening? How did the stranger find out these secrets? What is the motive behind revealing them?

Nothing is quite what you might suspect, but what happens will keep you turning pages just as I did.

If you love a thrilling and suspenseful read, this one is for you.

Marilyn

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

INVENTING CHARACTERS by Peggy Hanson





Some days I feel almost like God, the Creator.  Or  Shiva, the Destroyer/Creator.  Well, not exactly, of course.  I can’t make plants (I am not into sci-fi) and my “creations” must be based on the reality actually created by a Higher Power:  humans, to be precise.  I have quite a lot of experience with humans.
The protagonist in my new series* is my Great Aunt Mary, an unsung Victorian feminist missionary heroine of the Balkans from 1888-1920. I have hundreds of pages of diary entries from her for all those years, so when I envisioned the Mary Matthews Missionary Sleuth series I thought how easy it would be:  take the characters and incidents she outlines in the diaries and letters, tweak the incidents just a bit (believe me, they don’t need much!), and swoosh, Aunt Mary solves the crime.  It is clear from actual records that she was a problem-solver.

But to start a series, one needs to go to the beginning:  to the wide-eyed 23-year-old leaving her protected life in upstate New York village and Mount Holyoke Seminary for Females for the exotic unknown alien world of the Ottoman Empire.  For some reason best known to my Aunt Mary, this entire trip, which must have been earthshaking to her at the time, is summarized in one paragraph in her collection of papers.  I know the dates, the name of the ship (the Bothnia), the basic route (London, the Orient Express, steamer from Constantinople to Salonika) and one of the people she traveled with.  My suspicion is that in later years she felt embarrassed by the excitement and luxury of the trip, feeling it might be unbefitting a missionary.  So she took all that interesting Well, Aunt Mary asked for it, and she’s getting it!  
I have had to research everything from the SS Bothnia  to Liverpool and Jack the Ripper, to the origin of the Orient Express and what was happening in London and Paris in fall of 1888.  (Jack the Ripper was happening in London; the Eiffel Tower was being built in Paris.)  I have had to bone up on manners and dress in Victorian times as well as the use of herbs and medicines.
To write the story in any form, I  had to make up a cast of characters:  passengers aboard the Bothnia, hotel guests in London, passengers for the Orient Express.  Clearly, there have to be overlaps.  (Since this is a mystery, there have to be a lot of overlaps and I knew that the 1880’s were an era of missionary expansion to the Ottoman Empire, so I brought aboard a few of them, some nice and some not quite so much.  Maybe it’s cheating, but I even used a couple who turn up later in the diaries.  And I twisted another to fit a historical journalist who spent a year following the highly-publicized kidnapping of Miss Ellen Stone in 1901.  Miss Stone herself is on the ship and the train—and there is a bit of clan payback in her portrayal, I must admit.
Who else would be on such journeys?  I decided on a couple of diplomats (and the parent of one), an heiress or two, a Turkish officer and his retinue, a wealthy honeymoon couple, some British nurses and Hungarian nuns, a Jewish jewel trader, Orthodox priests...
In each case, research was needed.  What empires in which cities did the heiresses descend from:  cattle, railroads? Industry?  What were Orthodox priests doing in London?  Where would Aunt Mary purchase wedding clothes for her travel companion’s intended husband after the other woman gets sick?  In which section of London would respectable young ladies stay?  What was known about Jack the Ripper in which months in fall of 1888?  Why would Aunt Mary get involved in solving a crime aboard the train?
Actually, it has been a lot of fun, both doing the research and figuring out the characters.  I am not one of those organized writers who knows how the plot is going to go.  So as I carry the story forward, using my meager resources of actual fact, I have to think of what conversations might take place, with whom.  And this usually means going back to the Bothnia so we can get to know the people.  Or to the London hotel.  Or to the setting-off of the Orient Express from London.
Weaving the fabric from the character threads we have found lying around is rewarding work.  A pattern begins to emerge.  One person becomes likable.  Another annoys everyone in earshot. This one looks suspicious, that one is a tad too charming.
Like Shiva, I sometimes have to tear down incidents and people I have built up.  Like Shiva, I have fun redesigning them!



Peggy Hanson is an author and travel blogger who loves to share her international life with her readers. Peace Corps, Voice of America, teaching of English--all these have played major roles in her life. Growing up in a series of small towns in Colorado, the daughter of a mountain-climbing Congregational minister and teacher, probably helped mold her affinity to nomadism. In her adult life, she's lived for extended periods in Turkey, Yemen, India and Indonesia.
Her first two books are mysteries in the Elizabeth Darcy series set in other countries: DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN. She is currently working on the third in that series, DEADLINE INDONESIA, and is also compiling and editing her great aunt Mary's diaries and letters and pictures from 1888-1920 when she was a missionary teacher and principal in the Balkans. The working title of the diaries is UNHOLY DEATH ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. It is a story of early feminism and a woman's bravery in the face of war.
Twitter @phanusa2

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Marketing and the Small Press Author by Rebecca Jaycox


 On January 21, 2014, I signed with Rocking Horse Publishing, which is a small press based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, I was thrilled! I had spent seven and a half years writing and rewriting The Other Inheritance. I had shopped it around for a year, receiving frustrating comments from agents like, “clearly you’re a good writer, but I’m just not in love with your book.” So once I got the email from RHP, I actually cried—on the subway, in public. I thought the hardest part was over. Boy, was I wrong.

The hardest part comes when your book is actually out there, especially when you’re with a small press that just doesn’t have the funds to pay for publicity. And that’s not a problem that only indie authors have, that’s also a problem for first-time writers that sign with big publishing houses. The lion’s share of the marketing and publicity falls on your shoulders, and you’d better learn what to do and fast.

Twitter and I became BFFs. I learned how to use Facebook to my advantage, even thought it’s not really geared to a YA audience anymore. But guess what? 60% of YA readers are adults; so don’t abandon Facebook for Snapchat just yet (although I seriously need to get on there STAT along with Instagram). Go to all your favorite review blogs, and ask if they’ll review your book and if they can’t do that, see if you can do a guest blog or interview. You need to figure out social media. For me, it’s still a learning process but an absolutely necessary tool.

Join all the social media writing groups you can (or can manage), help support your fellow writers and they will respond in kind. Network people! I had a leg up; I am the creator and curator of the YA Lit series at 92nd Street Y. I got to meet major bestsellers and their publicists and get tips, make connections, and of course, talk about my upcoming book. That’s how I ended up doing my launch at Books of Wonder in NYC. They were my official bookseller for my series, and I used that connection to have a wonderful book signing. Make friends, y’all; you’re going to need them.

The other thing you have to do, and I know people hate to hear this, is to spend money. The old adage that you have to spend money to make money is absolutely true. You can generate a lot of sales by advertising through sites like The Fussy Librarian or Free Kindle Books and Tips. I’ll be completely honest; you probably won’t earn back the money you spend in royalties. But if no one knows your book exists, no one is going to buy it. For me it’s worth spending a little dough now to build an audience that, I hope, will keep growing.

All you authors and aspiring authors, learn how to market with the free tools and not-so-free tools you have available. Don’t expect that readers will just find your book. With all the competition out there, you have to make your book noticeable. It’s frustrating and hard work, but for me, totally worth it. 

The Other Inheritance
By Rebecca Jaycox

ISBN-10: 0990829537
Rocking Horse Publishing
Trade paper, 304 pgs.
November 14, 2014, $12.15

Also available in ebook formats


She touched the frog. Just once. It leaped into the air and hopped away, disappearing under the classroom desks. It had been awaiting its fate as a science experiment, fully dead, the stench of formaldehyde permeating the room . . . 

Seventeen-year-old Reggie has been having a tougher time than usual. As if dealing with her alcoholic mother and fighting school bullies isn’t enough, dead things keep coming back to life and this biker dude shows up in her dreams, babbling about magic and a world called the Other. 

Reggie’s life is changing, and she has no idea why. Or whether she should believe Rhys, the man in her dreams, who claims she’s in danger and that someone is coming to take her to a safer reality. 

And when Asher shows up, things really get crazy. 

Rebecca Jaycox's bio:



Rebecca Jaycox grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, which borders the Mark Twain National Forest and the Courtois River about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The beautiful landscape fed her imagination, and she began writing stories at age 10 and never stopped. Always seeking adventure, Rebecca moved to France after she graduated college with a journalism degree to teach English at a French high school.

Bitten by the travel bug, she has recently visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, and finally made it to her bucket-list destination of Istanbul last summer. Rebecca now lives in New York City with her husband, Gregory. She is the curator and program director of the YA Lit Series at the 92nd Street Y—one of New York’s premier cultural centers. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. The Other Inheritance is her first novel. www.rebeccajaycox.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLJaycox           

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Inverview Subjects Who Made it into My Mysteries by Marilyn Meredith

When I first moved to Springville, I wrote personality pieces for the local newspaper--The Tule River Times. (This folksy weekly changed hands a couple of times while I worked for them.)

Sometimes, I was told who to interview, but most of the time I had to find someone interesting on my own. I liked to write about an old-timer one week and someone new to the area the next. This was a great way for me to become acquainted with a number of people. Some of them lived in most intriguing places, way up in the mountains, or off on a winding road that didn't seem to lead anywhere.

One of the most fascinating was a woman who lived in the mountains, down a mile long rutted road that had to be driven on by a car with a high undercarriage. She lived in a house her husband had built by hand, crafting the lumber from the trees on the property. Water and electricity were supplied by the nearby river. I didn't use her in a book, but I did use the location--made for a great hidden marijuana farm inside a barn. The barn came from another place I visited.

An artist I interviewed, who also lived way up in the mountains, became the model for a murder victim in a book.

A much loved teacher who taught into her 80s, not only answered all my questions for an article, she became a friend, and appeared as a principal of the school in one of my mysteries.

I used the life and stories of a retired deputy as the basis for another characters. 

My main character in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries is loosely based on a female resident deputy I once interviewed. 

I haven't based characters on everyone I wrote about--but I've used bits and pieces of looks, personalities, back-story and their surroundgs on many folks I've interviewed and come to know over the years from cowboys, various law enforcement officers, Indians on the reservation, a rich oilman, turkey farmers, many pioneers to the area, people who escaped from Southern California to try country living, even a good friend who wanted to be in one of my books and ended up in two, much to her delight.

Frankly, I'd forgotten about writing for the paper, and looking back I realize how much influence that experience had on my writing. I met so many intriguing people and drove up and down strange and sometimes scary roadways, all great fodder for my books. 

Most of the above, ended up in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. I'll tell more about the influences the people and places that influenced my Rocky Bluff P.D. series at a later time.

Marilyn 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Habits to Hang a Hook On by Frankie Y. Bailey

            Last week, I attended a presentation and discovered that without thinking I had headed to the same seat in the auditorium that I’d occupied the week before. I sat down and realized that my seatmates were the same two people I’d sat beside a week earlier. I pointed that out to them and we had a lively exchange about how we – and our students – tend to claim a seat on the first day and automatically return to it.
 We humans are creatures of habit. Whether it’s the seat we sit in, the side of the bed that we sleep on, or whether we have mayo or mustard on our sandwich, we tend to make a choice and stick with it. We are offended and annoyed when someone fails to acknowledge our choices – especially when they ignore our claims to ownership. How dare they sit in our chair?
Well-developed characters also are creatures of habit. A character’s habits may provide information about his preferences, his attitudes, and/or his belief system. A character that always chooses an aisle seat may be concerned about having room to stretch her legs or about not having to disturb other people if she needs to go to the restroom. Or, she might be claustrophobic and need to know that she isn’t “trapped” in a center seat. The writer need not immediately explain why the character always chooses an aisle seat. The reader can be left to observe and wonder about this habit. The habit becomes a hook drawing the reader along – until that moment when the character’s path is blocked. When she cannot get an aisle seat, will she sit in the center seat and try to focus her attention on something else? Will she become more and more agitated? Will she climb over people’s legs to make her escape? Maybe this is the way we first encounter this character, as she tumbles out into aisle and rushes to an airplane restroom. Not to throw up from airsickness or a hangover, but to cope with a panic attack brought on by being trapped in a center seat. An extreme reaction, but one that would lend itself to a flashback to some incident in the character’s childhood or a recent work-related trauma.
In a series, a character’s habits – how he drinks his coffee, what he packs when he travels, how he cleans his gun after firing it – provides readers of the series with a sense that they know who this character is as a person. The character may change and evolve over time, but the habits he maintains – or struggles to change – offer insight into his psyche. In a series, the author’s treatment of habits may be subtle. The reader may learn about a character’s habits in the same way he would those of a new friend – gradually, over time.
For the author, endowing a character with habits make it easier to create a character that lives and breathes on the page. Knowing what a character does and why provides the author with the insight into that character that she can convey to readers.
Habits also can be the source of conflict between characters. How often have we seen a tidy character paired with a slob? But a writer might dig deeper and have a clash of habits propel a subplot or even serve as a catalyst for a crisis in the main plotline.
Bad habits? Good habits? Either works for the author who is creating a character and the reader who is trying to understand that character. Being creatures of habit makes characters accessible. 

Albany, New York, January 2020

The morning after a blizzard that shut down the city, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow. A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak had no known enemies. His family and friends say he had been depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The minister of the megachurch, the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members, or the folksy Southern medium who irritates both men—one of these people may know why Novak was murdered.  Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, sort through lies and evasions to find the person who killed their “Cock Robin,” But McCabe is distracted by a political controversy involving her family, unanswered  questions from another high-profile case, and her own guilt when a young woman dies after McCabe fails to act. 


My review of What the Fly Saw:

Ordinarily I'm not a fan of science fiction, but though What the Fly Saw is set in the not too distant future, what happens is believable and works beautifully for this story. Because I read this while New York was experiencing a monumental snow storm, the complications caused by similar weather in this novel, made it seem even more realistic.

I've beome a fan of this series. Author Frankie Bailey has created a cast of characters who I enjoy reading about, and the plot is definitely unique, from the murder victim being a funeral director: and to add to the fun there's a medium along with a seance.  Don't misunderstand, this is not a silly cozy, but a mystery with plausible and intriguing characters. Detective Hannah McCabe is the kind of sleuth the reader can follow along and root for as McCabe sometimes stumbles while trying to solve a crime. 

There were plenty of twists and turns, and though the clues were there, I didn't guess the outcome.

A book I highly recommend.--Marilyn Meredith

Frankie Y. Bailey's Bio:


Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY).  Her areas of research are crime history, and crime and mass media/popular culture. She is the author of the Edgar-nominated Out of the Woodpile: Black Characters in Crime and Detective Fiction (Greenwood, 1991).  She is the co-editor (with Donna C. Hale) of Popular Culture, Crime, and Justice (Wadsworth, 1998).  She is the co-author (with Alice P. Green) of “Law Never Here”: A Social History of African American Responses to Issues of Crime and Justice (Praeger, 1999).  With Steven Chermak and Michelle Brown, she co-edited Media Representations of September 11 (Praeger, 2003).  She and Donna C. Hale are the co-authors of Blood on Her Hands: The Social Construction of Women, Sexuality, and Murder (Wadsworth, 2004).  She and Steven Chermak are the series editors of the five-volume set, Famous American Crimes and Trials (Praeger, 2004). They also co-edited the two-volume set Crimes of the Century (2007).

Frankie’s most recent non-fiction books are African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study (McFarland, 2008), nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards, winner of a Macavity award. She is the recipient of the George N. Dove Award (2010). With Alice P. Green, she is the author of Wicked Albany:  Lawlessness & Liquor in the Prohibition Era (The History Press, 2009) and Wicked Danville: Liquor and Lawlessness in a Southside Virginia City (The History Press, 2011).

Frankie’s mystery series features Southern criminal justice professor/crime historian Lizzie Stuart includes Deaths Favorite Child (Silver Dagger, 2000), A Dead Mans Honor (Silver Dagger, 2001), Old Murders (Silver Dagger, 2003), You Should Have Died on Monday (Silver Dagger, 2007), and Forty Acres and a Soggy Grave (2011). A short story, “Since You Went Away” appears in the mystery anthology, Shades of Black (2004), edited by Eleanor Taylor Bland.  The Red Queen Dies (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne), the first book in Frankie’s near future police procedural series set in Albany, New York, featuring police detective Hannah McCabe, will be released in September 2013. 

Frankie is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Mystery Writers of America (MWA).  She served as the 2009-2010 Executive Vice President of MWA and as the 2011-2012 President of Sisters in Crime (SinC).  Website:  www.frankieybailey.com
Twitter:  @FrankieYBailey

Sunday, March 15, 2015

ASYLUM by Jaennette de Beauvoir


A Sense of Place


When they begin thinking about their next book, many writers—especially mystery writers—start with a character. It’s important, obviously, to provide the reader with a person they can relate to, someone smart, attractive, funny, quirky—all the things that in our innermost secret places we wish we were more like.
Or, alternately, authors may begin with a plot, the sudden clear sense that an idea, even just a passing snippet of one, could be developed into an intriguing novel. A lot of writers have half-finished stories just waiting for the right time, place, and character to arrive to make them come alive.
Not me. I’ve always started with a place.
There’s a story—possibly apocryphal—about novelist Phyllis Whitney, whose romantic thrillers were situated in all sorts of exotic locales. The story goes that she would decide where she wanted to go next on vacation, and then use that place as the setting for her new novel. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it strikes me as an absolutely brilliant idea.
There’s a lot of interesting thought about how we’re connected to the spaces we inhabit, those we choose and those that are chosen for us, those we love and those we can’t wait to see the last of. I think it’s fascinating to consider those ideas. But they’re not why I write about place.
So why is it so important to me? Well, it’s partly to do with love, and it’s partly to do with context.
There are places I’ve lived, or stayed, or even just visited, that will always be with me; and so I have a natural tendency to want to share the love of that place with others, live there a little longer through writing about it.
The context issue is a little trickier to explain. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of going somewhere—entering a house, crossing a bridge, walking down a street, climbing a hill—and being suddenly and inexplicably overcome with some sort of sensation that’s related to where you are. The locale is sending you signals, sometimes wonderful, sometimes frightening, always interesting.
And the truth is that the feeling is rarely wrong: if a place starts tugging at me, even if I don’t immediately feel any attraction to it, a little work will reveal the jewels that are just waiting for a creative spirit to come alone.


 I got the feeling the first time I visited Montréal—decades ago—and it continued to reverberate over the years that I kept going back, until it was clear to me that I needed to respond. And so I started not just enjoying, but really getting to know the city, which for me always involves starting with its past. And the more I read about that past, the more mysteries unfolded, a flower slowly unfurling its petals.
Were there a recorded history of the Iroquois settlement called Hochelaga, I suspect the first mysteries would have begun there. But let’s start in the spring of 1734 when arson destroyed a hospital and 45 houses on rue Saint-Paul. Criminal proceedings were soon underway against a slave called Angélique. Did she do it? Or was her lover, Claude Thibault, responsible? He decamped before anyone could find out.
Want more? Consider how in 1901 the foundations of Montréal’s wealthiest neighborhood were rocked when Ada Maria Mills Redpath and her son Cliff were shot in Ada’s bedroom in the Redpath mansion in Montreal’s affluent Square Mile district. What really happened there?

In 1978, at the basilica of Notre-Dame (where more than one scene in ASYLUM takes place), someone set fire to a confessional, causing millions in damages. During renovations, five stained-glass windows were found behind a brick wall. Why were they walled up and forgotten? Right down the street, another Notre-Dame church also had a disappearing stained glass angel. What was up with that?

And that’s just the beginning! There were a lot of reasons to keep exploring, explorations that led me to the story of the Duplessis orphans and the forbidding mansion known as Ravenscrag.

And that’s a mystery you can solve when you read ASYLUM!

###

ASYLUM is available from St. Martin’s/Minotaur: Women are being murdered in Montréal’s summer tourist season, and everything points to random acts of a serial killer—but it’s publicity director Martine LeDuc who discovers that the deaths reflect a darker past that someone wants desperately to keep hidden.

About the author: Jeannette de Beauvoir grew up in Angers, France, but now divides her time between Cape Cod and Montréal—as well as spending as much time as she can traveling and listening to the stories told by other places. Read more about her at www.JeannetteAuthor.com.







JEANNETTE DE BEAUVOIR is an award-winning author, novelist, and poet whose work has been translated into 12 languages and has appeared in 15 countries. She explores personal and moral questions through historical fiction, mysteries, and mainstream fiction. She grew up in Angers, France, but now divides her time between Cape Cod and Montréal. Read more at www.jeannetteauthor.com