Friday, July 21, 2017


 I’m sitting in a coffee shop trying to figure out what to write about this month. All around me are people sipping java or tea, munching bagels, meeting friends, talking on phones—and it hits me.

I am looking in at the goldfish bowl.

For example, already today I eavesdropped on three friends who meet every two months to discuss a book, like a mini book club. While I couldn’t see the title of the one they are reading, it seemed to be full of witticisms, observations, and helpful insights. For example, one was about Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. He married 1,000 women, which were his downfall. So if a man doesn’t marry 1,000 women, he’ll already be smarter than the wisest man who ever lived.

Later there was a table of older women gathering tables from near and far, even settling for round tables, to get enough seating for their group of about 20 women. Along comes one woman with a little girl, maybe about 4 or so. And I got to wondering if this older woman was the grandmother—or the mother. And plot ideas sprang forth immediately.

A few days ago, at a table nearby, sat a Middle Eastern man and two women. Sometimes they spoke in English, sometimes in another language that sounded Arabic. Sometimes they mixed their sentences together, using English words in the middle of a sentence with this other language. For example, I heard the word ‘embassy’ and ‘must be careful’ in the midst of other words I couldn’t understand. Got me thinking about a suspense plot. Not just because they were from the Middle East, but because of the words themselves.

Every Monday when I am here, there is a woman sitting nearby who is a counselor of some kind. I’ve heard her talking to a client on the phone about an issue the client was going through. Not details, but I saw this counselor’s demeanor change from the way she looked when she was typing on her laptop—doing right-brain work—to the way her face softened and her posture relaxed as she talked to her client—left-brain work. She’d make a good character where I could show both sides of her at work.

Right now there is a couple sitting next to me who are speaking Chinese, perhaps. I don’t understand a word they are saying, but they’ve been very animated at times, voices raised, hand gestures, smiles. Are they planning a business move? To buy a house? Get a cat? Have another child in contravention of China’s one-child law? What if one of the couple wants to return to China, but the other doesn’t? Will that impact their decision?

Sitting in a coffee shop may sound like a waste of time. Usually I come here just to get away from the laundry or to meet fellow writers. But perhaps I need this unique stimulation to get the old grey cells, as Hercule Poirot would say, working.

Do you write in a setting other than your home or office? If so, where? How often? And why?

Author Bio:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets released the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Some Thoughts on Library Presentations by Marilyn Meredith

Our presentation in the Saroyan Gallery, I was pondering a question asked by an attendee.

This year I've done more library presentations than ever before. Have another coming up on July 22 at the Fowler Library, 306 So. 7th St.,  11 a.m., July 22.

I'm never quite sure what I'll tell whoever shows up--a lot depends upon who they are--strictly readers or those who want to write a book.

Usually though I begin telling a bit about myself--always being a writer and story teller (translate as a liar when I was a kid though it didn't feel like lying, just telling a great story.)

I might give some background on how long it took me to get published--I was a grandmother--and some of the things that have happened to me along the way.

My last presentation at the main library downtown Fresno had an interesting array of attendees: a husband and wife who both love mysteries, a woman who writes, a man who wants to write, and several homeless folks. (It was a hot day and the library offers a cool place to rest.)

Among the homeless were two rather disruptive folks, one young, very dirty man who enjoyed walking in front of me and the other speaker while we were talking, and a woman who decided to create a ruckus with the security officer.

My partner at the event, Lorie Lewis Ham, and I ignored all distractions and carried on.

We both shared some writing tips to the want-to-be-writers.

Oh, my daughter-in-law who drove us, granddaughter and her two little girls were also in the audience. The little ones behaved far better than the two I mentioned earlier.

We did sell some books too--always a nice surprise. And I had fun with the family members who came along with me.


Here I'm talking about my books.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bronx Justice by Bob Martin

Since Bronx Justice was published, I’ve been asked many times how I made the transition from cop to writer. 

The book is based on a case I worked as a captain with the Bronx Homicide Squad in 1990. We had a group of white, wanna-be-wise guys, dubbed “The Cowboys” by our detectives, team up with a black drug gang, "The Crew." Rival drug dealers would be targeted. 

The Cowboys, impersonating plainclothes police officers, would “arrest,” read, kidnap the dealers. Ransom demands were made. If paid, the victim was cut loose. If not paid, a bullet in the head and another body dumped on a Bronx street.

The year 1990 saw a record 2,605 homicides in New York City, with the Bronx alone recording over 600 murders. This was the height of the “Crack Wars.” With some outstanding work by a team of dedicated detectives, the case was solved and all the perps were convicted in federal court. Years later, as I continued to share this story, people kept telling me, “That would make a great book.” I agreed, and after sixteen years of starts and stops I finally wrote the story

My writing journey began with a story I did about legendary Queens Homicide Lieutenant, Dan Kelly. He had been doing homicide work in Queens for over thirty years when I became his boss in 1989. I was pursuing my college degree at the time and taking a course called, NYPD History. I entered the squad one night as Dan was discussing a homicide he had worked in October, 1963. As I listened, I thought, "JFK was President, I was a high school freshman, Dan was working homicides!" 

I interviewed Dan for a term paper. My teacher, an ex cop thought the piece was good enough to get published, and in 1991 it appeared in The Badge magazine. I have had numerous articles published in various newspapers and magazines. 

In 1999 my “The Joint Terrorist Task Force-A Concept That Works,” appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Most are personality pieces, law enforcement, terrorism or sports stories. My first writing paycheck came from a story I did for New York Newsday, “A Team and a Family,” published in 2008. Sticking to the concept of “write what you know,” it was a story about the NYPD football team. I was a charter member, played for a dozen years and founded the team’s alumni association, so I was on very familiar ground. 

Most recently I’ve had three law enforcement related Op-Eds published in the New York Post. I am currently working on my next writing project, a series of NYPD short stories, tentatively titled “NYPD-Tales From The Street." 

Bob Martin:

Served with the NYPD for 32 years in a wide variety of commands that included the fabled Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the Street Crime Unit, Mounted Unit, the 72nd, 69th, 6th Precincts, Queens and Bronx Detectives, and finally as the CO of the Special Investigations Division. Martin was a charter member and played for a dozen years with the NYPD’s Finest Football Team. 

He served for twelve years on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) “ Committee on Terrorism” and traveled extensively, in this country and abroad, speaking on the subject. He retired as a Deputy Inspector in 2000 and began writing. His stories have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Bronx Justice, based on an actual case, is his first novel. He plans to continue his writing career.

 “There are no crime stories quite as good as a New York crime story. With Bronx Justice, Bob Martin adds another good read to that list.”
    Bill Bratton,former NYPD Police Commissioner

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Signing Up for Things by Mar Preston

Of course I know what Amazon is. It’s where I sell all my mysteries and how to write a mystery EBooks.

But Amazon Advantage?  What’s that? It’s the vendor’s side of Amazon. When I got repeated emails from Amazon Advantage to do something about my orders I wondered what now. I’m not selling anything. 

After they’d been hounding me for about a week I waded into Amazon Advantage to straighten it out.

Don’t these kinds of problems just overwhelm you sometimes? I’m condensing about nine phone calls here. Stay with me. Yes, I did self-publish with createspace, an Amazon entity, but they have no relationship with Amazon Advantage and they had no phone number to communicate with them.  

Really? I’m told to call Amazon Advantage. The run around appeared before me.

However, I had one bit of leverage. An unhappy review with createspace. At 6 a.m. this morning a nice fellow from South Africa called to say these orders represented a good thing. They wanted to stock more of my book Rip-Off. It was 3 pm in South Africa. All’s well it seems.

I just now received a notice from Amazon saying my order is on its way.  What order? I shouldn’t have clicked on it without noting it wasn’t an official Amazon address. Now what’s going to happen?
I read these surveys about time spent in traffic or waiting in the lines at DMV. There’s a NYC company that hires people to wait in line.

Don’t you wonder if there’s not good money in setting up a company to make phone calls to deal with things you never signed up for? Who’s with me on this? Maybe it’s my million dollar idea.
If you find yourself on hold sometime and looking for a good read, maybe you’d like to check out Rip-Off set in Santa Monica and featuring a good-hearted SMPD homicide detective.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Room For Doubt, First Chapter--Nancy Silverman


“Excuse me, miss? Are you a model?”

     I was in the cereal aisle at the grocery store with a box of bran
flakes in my hand when I heard the voice behind me. It had been years
since I’d done any modeling, and I wasn’t feeling particularly
glamorous. My hair was in a ponytail, and I was wearing a pair of
sweatpants and a ratty old KCHC t-shirt with a cartoon of a dead
chicken on my chest. The words Radio Road Kill blasted beneath it.
Not exactly the type of thing one wears to make a good first

     “Not in years.” I laughed and turned expecting to find a friendly
face. Grocery stores these days topped bars for places to meet men.
Despite the fact the line was an obvious come on, I was, unfortunately,
once again in the market.

     Instead, the voice belonged to a nice-looking, well-built gym-rat
with a neatly cropped beard. He was about half my age, and worse yet,
he wasn’t talking to me. Not at all. He had cornered a young girl
directly behind me; a twenty-something darling dressed in a skin-tight
running outfit that looked like it had been painted onto her body.

     I smiled apologetically and turned to read the label on the cereal
box. Not that they noticed. Lately, I felt as though I’d become the
invisible woman.

     My name is Carol Childs, I’m a single mom, and I work as a
reporter for a talk radio station in Los Angeles. I was one of those
faceless voices on the airwaves people heard every day. Perhaps that,
and the fact I’d recently turned forty, explained why I was beginning to
feel I blended into the background like wallpaper paste. Few of my
listeners could identify me, and in LA, women over forty simply
weren’t on anyone’s radar. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched,
while I listened to their exchange.

     Gym-rat, with muscled arms like watermelons bulging from
beneath his t-shirt, pressed a business card into Running-girl’s hand.
“You ever want to get into the club, just call.”

     Gym-rat was making a big impression. Running-girl glanced at
the card, hugged it to her chest like she had just won the lottery, then
kissed Gym-rat on the cheek as she tucked the card into her sports bra.

     At that point, I tossed the cereal box into my cart and started up
the aisle. I didn’t give it another thought.

     Until the next day.

My bedroom was still dark when the phone rang. With my head barely
off the pillow, I squinted at the digital clock next to my bed: 5:55 a.m.
Dammit, Tyler, it’s not even five o’clock. New record. I fumbled for the
bedside phone—a requirement the station demanded of all its
reporters—and knocked it to the floor before grabbing the handle.
Nobody else, not even a phone solicitor, would dare to call before

     “Please, Tyler, tell me this isn’t becoming a habit with you.”

     “Sorry, Carol. I need you.”

     On the other end of the line was my boss, Tyler Hunt, a twentyone-
year-old whiz-kid who referred to me as the world’s oldest cub

    “No,” I begged. “Absolutely not. Please, Tyler, not today.”

      Tomorrow was my son’s birthday, and Tyler had promised me the
day off to prepare. On Saturday, Charlie, my youngest, would officially
be sixteen, and I had planned a big surprise party to celebrate. My
daughter, Cate, was coming up from San Diego State. My best friend,
Sheri, her son, Clint, and fourteen members of Charlie’s football team
would all be here. Plus, my ex, Robert, planned stop by with the wife
and Charlie’s new step-brother. No way was I about to get caught up in
anything that would distract me.

     “I need you to take this, Carol. There’s a body up on the
Hollywood Sign.”

     I sat up in bed and pushed the hair out of my face. He had to be
kidding. The Hollywood Sign? Recently a prankster had climbed to the
top of the sign and with tarps and tape lettered it to read Hollyweed. A
pro-cannabis statement for sure.

     “Tyler, if there’s a body on the Hollywood Sign, it’s got to be a
publicity stunt. Something one of the studios is doing for a movie

     “It’s not a stunt, Carol. The police are reporting a man’s naked
body hanging from the sign. It’s for real. I need you up there. Now.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A TOAST TO MY MOM--Nancy Silverman

I'll never forget the day my mother played hooky.

It was back in the late sixties when my mom was teaching seventh grade, and she and one of the art teachers decided to ditch school for the day. In their defense they had each asked for the day off and been denied, so taking matters into their own hands–as my mother so frequently did–they called in sick. I suppose by now the statute of limitations, if there even were such a thing, has long since passed and it's safe for me to tell the story. So at the risk of exposing my mother’s transgression, here goes.

Mom and Cozy, who had hair like Albert Einstein and wore all kinds of wild colored kaftans, had a third close friend, Katy, who was in the hospital. It those days, they called themselves the Three Musketeers, being some of the first women of their generation to go back to school as young mothers, graduate college and find full-time positions as teachers. Unfortunately, the prognosis for Katy wasn’t good.  Timing was of the essence.  She had a few good days left, had refused all medications and told her doctors to leave her alone.  Hence mom and Cozy to the rescue.

Which meant smuggling into the hospital a pitcher of margaritas with guacamole and chips for a final toast to their legacy. Mom refers to her ditch-day as her mental health day. Something she had to do to get her mind around that final goodbye.

I had forgotten this story and a lot of others until earlier this summer when mom was invited back to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers’ College at Arizona State University where she had graduated in 1963 with honors.  In recognition of the college’s fiftieth anniversary, a handful of their top grads were asked to come back and go through commencement exercises.  What an honor. 

As I sat in the audience and watched my mom on stage a lot of memories, things I’d thought I’d forgotten, came back to me.  My mother was a great teacher, a fabulous friend, and an even better mom.  She didn’t believe teaching kids to memorize catch phrases and dates. She taught them to look for creative solutions to everyday problems based on what they had learned in class. At a time when nearly half the country had never been on an airplane, she issued mock travel vouchers to her class. Each student received a ticket to an exotic location along with an assignment to do a report on the how-tos of travel. How to get there. When to leave. How much it would cost.  What to see and why.  What a great way to learn history and geography, she made it personal.

More than an education, my mom taught her students to believe in themselves.  Her mantra was, “I can, and I will.”  Which may account for why some of her students, many of whom have gone on to achieve success in the fields of medicine, law and even Broadway, still stop by the retirement center where she lives with my dad today.  In my opinion, that’s the sign of a really gifted teacher, one that has not only taught students well but imparted a belief in themselves to be all they can be.

It’s that can-do and will-do spirit that has carried me through the writing of The Carol Childs Mysteries.  It’s also Carol Childs’ manta.  Carol’s an investigative reporter for a Los Angeles talk radio station. She’s a strong, take no prisoners type of now-gal, who in my latest book, Room For Doubt, uncovers a murder by a group of vigilantes, causing Carol to question her own moral compass.

How about you?  What teacher, relative or mantra have motivated you and your writings?


Print ISBN-13: 9781635112351

ePub ISBN-13: 9781635112368

Kindle ISBN-13: 9781635112375

Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781635112382


Series:  A Carol Childs Mystery

Series Number: 4

Edition: First

Pages: 242

Author: Silverman, Nancy Cole

Publisher: Henery Press

Price: $15.95 trade paperback
             $31.95 hardcover
             $4.99 digital ebook

Publication Date: July 18, 2017

BISAC Audience: TRA (General/Trade)

BISAC Subject:
FIC022040 (mystery: women sleuths)
FIC022100 (mystery: amateur sleuths)
FIC030000 (fiction: suspense)


When radio reporter Carol Childs is called to a crime scene in the Hollywood Hills at five thirty in the morning, she’s convinced it must be a publicity stunt to promote a new movie. That is, until she sees the body hanging from the center of the Hollywood sign. The police are quick to rule it a suicide, but something doesn’t add up for Carol. Particularly after a mysterious caller named Mustang Sally confesses to the murder on the air and threatens to kill again.

With the help of an incorrigible PI, her best friend, and a kooky psychic, Carol is drawn into the world of contract killers and women scorned. As she races to find the real killer, she finds herself faced with a decision that will challenge everything she thought she knew.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations, suspense, noir.

Books in the Carol Childs Mystery Series:


Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all…

Author Bio:  

Nancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in news and talk radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. But it wasn’t until after she retired that she was able to write fiction full-time. Much of what Silverman writes about is pulled from events that were reported on from inside some of Los Angeles’ busiest newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bruce, and standard poodle, Ali.

(I"m always happy to host Nancy, and this is a wonderful post.)


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why I Wrote THE FIFTH REFLECTION by Ellen Kirshman

The Dot Meyerhoff mysteries are inspired by clients I've treated in my 30 years as a police psychologist. I want my readers to learn something so new that the next time they see a cop, they’ll look at him differently. 

The first book, Burying Ben, was about police suicide. Most people don’t know that cops are nearly twice as likely to kill themselves as they are to be killed in the line of duty. The second, The Right Wrong Thing, is about a female cop who kills an unarmed pregnant teenager, mistaking her cell phone for a gun. Badly treated by her male colleagues, she is repulsed when she becomes their hero.

My newest book, The Fifth Reflection, was inspired by the wife of an officer who was assigned to an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. The spillover from his job was damaging his family and contaminating everyone and everything he touched.

The Fifth Reflection is not a book about pedophiles or pornography. It's about the people who investigate pedophiles. I did a lot of research, but I was fortunately never exposed to the sounds and images my character Officer Manny Ochoa confronts—on the job and off. I enrolled in Shift Wellness training for ICAC investigators, did several interviews and read a lot.  I learned that one of the toughest jobs in law enforcement gets the least support. Take Manny's computer. It's a terrible irony that, in Silicon Valley where I live and where my books are set, pedophiles have faster computers and better software than Manny's police-issued clunker.


Police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff is pulled into the vortex of a terrible crime involving an eccentric photographer whose images of nude children make her a prime suspect in the disappearance of her own daughter. The principal investigator in the case is a young officer whose dedication to work and obsession with finding the missing child is tearing his own family apart. Trapped between her allegiance to the investigator, her complicated connections to the photographer, and her unstable relationship with the police chief, Dot must find a way to help everyone involved. As Dot’s psychological expertise and determination contribute to solving the mystery, her involvement with the missing child’s extended, dysfunctional family brings her face-to-face with painful psychological issues of her own. The Fifth Reflection delivers a chilling, up-close look at the psychological strain of investigating Internet crimes against children, the complexities of being married to a cop, and the deadliness of jealousy.


Ellen Kirschman, PhD. is an award winning public safety psychologist and author of I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Firefighter: What the Family Needs to Know, lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know and three mysteries, Burying Ben, The Right Wrong Thing and the forthcoming The Fifth Reflection, (July 2017) all told from the perspective of police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She blogs with Psychology Today and The Lady Killers. Questions about police psychology? Drop by her website,