Friday, October 30, 2009

Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt, Clue #4




Buffy St. James was … Milla thought a moment. The girlfriend of G. Winston Howard was … unexpected. Not a model. Not a socialite. She was a middle-aged librarian at one of the city libraries. Her high cheekbones, copper hued skin, and dark hair more than hinted at her Native American heritage. Her beaded leather costume proudly claimed it. It also proclaimed she spent a lot of time around a smoker. Her clothes reeked of cigar smoke.

"Miss St. James, how long have you known Mr. Howard?"

Buffy St. James smiled. "Two years. He's on our Friends of the Library board. The board raised funds for our new building. Winston was very involved in overseeing the construction. He's a detail person; we have that in common. We've been dating about half that time."

"What did you think of his assistant, Carla Jordan?"

Milla watched the librarian as she fingered an expensive-looking silver cuff bracelet, while considering her answer.

"The old adage that you can't judge a book by its cover was never truer than with Carla. She was bright and sunny on the outside but inside…" Buffy St. James took a breath. "Let's just say, if you were smart, you never turned your back on Carla. It's ironic; she was the one who knew just where to stick the knife. Most of the people at the Halloween Ball had ample cause to want Carla gone. I know I did."

"Why's that? Milla didn't believe the librarian was about to confess to the murder, but perhaps she could help her narrow down the suspects.

"She collected information and sold it."

"Sold it? Sold it to whom?"

Buffy St. James sighed. "To anyone who might be hurt if the information became public."

"Did she have something on you?"

The librarian sighed. "Yes, she knew about my brother's stint in jail for bad checks. But since I'd already told Winston about it, Carla moved on – I'm sure she was tormenting some other poor soul."

Milla flipped open her notebooks and started writing. Little Miss Sunflower was a blackmailer.


Next Clue Location - http://www.americacomesalive.com/blog/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Invitation to Hallopalooza



Your Invitation to Hallopalooza
October 30 - November 1, 2009

Do you have plans for Halloween? How
about an on-line mystery Scavenger Hunt
with free prizes?

On Oct. 30, 2009 at 8 AM, the 1st Annual
Stiletto Gang Hallopalooza begins. Or at
least we hope it's going to be an annual
event. Everything depends on you, our
readers!

What is Hallopalooza? It's an on-line
mystery scavenger hunt. Twenty-three
of the best, most interesting, coolest blogs
on the net have agreed to participate. There will be lots of great prizes! Lots of fun! Lots of clues!

Yes, clues. The Stiletto Gang has written a short story - did I mention it's a murder mystery - just for the event?

How do you play?

Let's start with when you play - the Scavenger Hunt starts at 8 AM Eastern on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. It ends at 5 PM Eastern on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. Winners will be announced at noon eastern on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

What are you hunting? A killer! Okay, really you'll be hunting clues to the killer's identity and motive. You will move from blog to blog reading the mystery and gathering clues. Each blog will give you a link to the next blog in the Scavenger Hunt line-up.

You will start at The Stiletto Gang, then move to the next blog. There are 23 blogs in the chain. The winner is not the one who finishes first, just the one who finishes by the deadline with the correct answer. So you can come and go as you please during the three days of the event. Go Trick or Treating! Toilet paper a house! Party with goblins and witches! Then come back and celebrate with us.

What are the prizes? The Stiletto Gang is offering a grand prize of a $50 U.S. gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice - on-line or bricks & mortar. If you're not in the U.S., we'll send you an Amazon gift certificate and let you figure out how to use it.

If more than one person qualifies for the Grand Prize, then all winners will be put into a drawing for the $50 gift certificate. Runners-up will win an autographed book from a Stiletto Gang author, including Evelyn David's new book, Murder Takes the Cake. We will award up to a maximum of ten books. If there are more winners than books, we'll have a drawing among the Runners-up for the books.

And, here's the special part - you can win prizes on the individual blogs during the hunt too! The participating blogs will have contests/drawings for great stuff! Autographed books, promo items, and other "I won! I won!" things to make all your friends envious.

There is no charge to play or win. You don't have to buy anything. You just have to participate, solve the mystery, and tell us about it using the comment feature on The Stiletto Gang blog site or by sending an email to the Stiletto Gang at stilettogang@gmail.com

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Being Ahead on Things

My husband and I are the opposite on this. I always get ready for anything way ahead of time. He always waits until the last minute.

I want to be ready because there's no telling what might pop up at the last minute that might delay progress on whatever it might be.

If we're going on a trip, I start deciding what I'm going to wear while I'm gone and begin the packing. Hubby takes twice as much as I do because he has no idea what he'll want to wear.

When I'm writing a book, I'm working on one a year ahead of time while the publisher has the book already for the next year's publication. Since I write two series, that means I have to write two books a year--and I can't wait until the last minute like some authors do. Working under that kind of a deadline would be torture for me.

When I'm going to do an appearance somewhere, at least a week ahead of time, I've decided what books I'm going to take. If I'm giving a talk, I've got the handouts printed and in a folder long before that. Anything to do with that trip, directions, hotel reservations, airline tickets are all gathered together so I don't forget anything.

I live by my calendar. I check it the night before to make sure I'm not forgetting anything, and I check again in the a.m.

Whatever I'm going to wear the next day, whether I'm leaving the house or not, is hanging on the back of the bathroom door for me to jump into after my shower in the a.m.

Despite all this, I still have nightmares about forgetting something important and have been known to get up out of bed in the middle of the night to check my calendar. I suppose this is some type of phobia--but it's better than some others.

Anyway, that's the way I am.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Reminder, Halloween etc.

Be sure to take a look at http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com and check out the neat Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt. It begins on Friday and runs through the whole weekend. Follow the clues (from blog to blog) and figure out the mystery. Prizes galore. That's the reminder.

On the same blog today, I'm talking about Halloween past and present.

Okay, now for this blog. I'm at the beginning of a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. If I could get some time I'd be much further along than I am. I have an Indian legend to begin it, I have a semblance of an idea about who is going to die--who is going to do it--and some of the other stuff. Until I actually get to writing, though, I won't know much more. I've gathered lots of material which may or may not go into the book.

I need to get cracking though, because I'm almost done reading my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery to them. I like to be ahead on these things. Frankly, I like to be ahead on everything. That's probably the subject for another post.

That's it for today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog Tours

This is the last week of my blog tour for Dispel the Mist.

I truly enjoy answering the different interview questions and attempting to come up with something new that might pique someone's interest enough to buy a copy of Dispel the Mist.

I've visited on some wonderful blogs--some that belong to friends--people I've actually met along the way, some who are people I only know by their name, and others who willingly agreed to host me on their blog but I hadn't heard of before.

My blog was set up for me by Pump Up Your Promotions and most directly by the wonderful Cheryl Malandrinos. And no, I don't really know Cheryl, though we've worked together before and I feel like she is a friend.

While on a blog tour you can't just sit back and do nothing. It's important that you visit each blog when you're there and leave a comment, at the very least that you appreciate the hospitality of the host. And even more important, you need to let people know where you are each day. Face Book, Twitter, My Space, any place where you have a presence you should tell people. Any list you are on should also be notified of where you are touring.

Most people aren't going to bother checking out the blog, but some will--and those wouldn't do it if you didn't promote the blog. If a blog stays up more than one day, a second reminder doesn't hurt either.

Don't forget to reciprocate and leave comments on other people's blog tours.

Remember, one of the things you learned in Promo 101 is getting your name out there and this is one of the ways to do just that.

I appreciate everyone who has let me visit this past month and talk about Dispel the Mist, my heroine Deputy Tempe Crabtree, and of course, the Hairy Man.

Marilyn

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How we Spent our Anniversary

We celebrated on Friday--went to eat at our favorite Thai restaurant and on to the movies. Came home and watched another movie on DVD, though hubby slept through most of it.

But yesterday, the actual day, we decided to clean house. Our grandson is usually the one who does it, but he has other priorities right now to do with the mobile home he lives in.

I always clean our bedroom, bathroom and my office--but we have a lot of house--too much really for too old folks. And if you are a writer, like I am, you need time to write.

But yesterday, I washed rugs, wiped down the kitchen, dusted the living room, dining room, and cleaned the guest bathroom. We have three other bedrooms and a bath that we don't do anything with unless company comes, or someone comes to live with us which happens on a regular basis.

It's good to see that we both still have the stamina to do all this--maybe we should do it more often, it is really good exercise. Maybe we'll have too if grandson doesn't get his own place taken care of anytime soon.

That's my report for the day--we'll be resting all day today--Sunday, after we do Sunday School and church.

Marilyn
http://ficitonforyou.com

Saturday, October 24, 2009

58 Years and Still Together



Couldn't find a picture of hubby and me by ourselves so this one with our eldest daughter and hubby will have to do.

Yes, 58 years ago today that cute sailor and I were married in the Methodist preacher's home in Cambridge MD.

Everyone said it wouldn't last. We met on a blind date. He came to visit nearly every weekend though I think my dad's shop, our speed boat, and my mom's cooking may have been part of the draw. No matter, on one of the few real dates we went on, to the movies at the Alex Theater in Glendale, the cute sailor proposed.

Was I in love? Thought so at the time, but now I know I was infatuated with the idea that this most handsome sailor--he looked like a young Frank Sinatra with a lock of black hair that hung down on his forehead--actually wanted me. He also could play honky tonk on the piano. He couldn't dance, but after we were married for awhile, I taught him.

First few years were rough. Navy pay was lousy. We had a baby the year after we were married. Lived in crappy apartments. Moved around a lot, back and forth across the U.S. We were separated far too much as hubby was stationed in places like Spain, Cuba, Newfoundland, Bermuda--and no, I didn't get to go.

Finally, he was stationed at the Seabee base in Port Hueneme and we were able to buy a tract home for $100 down. Then the Vietnam War came along and hubby did three tours over there. By that time we had five kids. Also a tough time period. I worked off and on for the phone company to help pay the bills and put food on the table. After hubby retired, life was a bit easier. I taught for ten years in a school for child development and hubby worked for Sears. I managed to go to college and get an AA in Child Development.

We added onto the house a couple of times, a family room and a covered patio. Most of the kids grew up in that house. We had a lot of good memories there. The boys were Cub Scouts and the girls, Camp Fire Girls. I was active in the PTA. We camped a lot and had lot and lots of parties.

And I began writing.

By the time four were grown and on their own and we only had our sixteen year old son with us, we moved to the foothills of the Sierra where we live now. Together, hubby and I ran a licensed residential facility in our home for 23 years. We worked together well as a team.

Our children surprised us with a party at a restaurant for our 25th wedding anniversary. And for our 50th we went on a cruise with family and friends.

We weathered all the troubles and never gave up. I'm so glad we did. We have some wonderful memories, great adult children, eighteen grandkids, and eleven great-grands.

Yes, it was well worth it. Love is much more than what I thought it was back when we were eighteen and twenty-one.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hallapalooza Prizes



You'll definitely want to join the Stiletto Gang's Scavenger Hunt when you look over this list of prizes:

Jungle Red http://www.jungleredwriters.com/
Signed copies of Jungle Red Authors' books for the best comments on Jungle Red Blog

Marilyn's Musings http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
An autographed book by Marilyn Meredith..

Meanderings & Muses http://meanderingsandmuses.blogspot.com/
Kaye Barley will give away a copy of IN THEIR BLOOD by Sharon Potts. People who leave a comment at her blog during Hallopalooza will be eligible for the drawing for the book.

America Comes Alive http://www.americacomesalive.com/blog/
Kate Kelly will give away a $20 gift certificate as a prize (from a drawing of those who sign up for her newsletter). The runner up will get a copy of Election Day by Kate Kelly.

Type M for Murder http://typem4murder.blogspot.com/
At Type M for Murder we will have FIVE prizes for visitors to the blog. All readers have to do is drop by and leave a comment sometime between October 30 and November 1st to be eligible. Prizes are: An ARC of Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany, a copy of A Case of You, by Rick Blechta, an ARC of Pleasing the Dead, by Debby Atkinson, a Jack Austin novel from John Corrigan and an Alifair Tucker novel from Donis Casey. Five prizes for five winners! Note: if readers are uncomfortable leaving their e-mail addresses for us on the comment page, they can send an email privately to Vicki Delany Vicki@vickidelany.com letting us know that they put something on the comment page.

Boomer Chick http://www.overthehillchick.blogspot.com/


Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips http://sarahlynn.blogspot.com/
"Welcome to Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips! I'm a member of the St. Louis chapter of Sisters in Crime. Leave a comment on this post to be entered into a drawing to win a recent book from one of our members! In your comment, be sure to mention whether you prefer noir, craft cozies, or paranormal romance. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on The Stiletto Gang's Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt!"

Ellen Byerrum http://ellenbyerrum.livejournal.com/
Ellen Byerrum will give away to one winner signed copies of Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover, which were filmed for Lifetime Movie Network this summer. People who leave a comment at her blog during Hallopalooza will be eligible for the drawing for the book.

Nancy Cohen http://mysterygal.bravejournal.com/
Nancy J. Cohen will give away a free signed copy of the latest title in her Bad Hair Day series. To enter the contest, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter. This contest is open to new subscribers only.

Write It Anyway http://writeitanyway.blogspot.com/
Rachel Brady will enter those who comment at her blog or sign up to follow it into a drawing to win an autographed copy of Final Approach."

The Blog Cabin http://www.timothyhallinan.com/blog/
Timothy Hallinan will give away a signed set of the three books (thus far) in his Bangkok series


Lipstick Chronicles http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/
Elaine Viets will give away one copy of Killer Cuts. Harley Jane Kozak will give away a copy of her new book, "A Date You Can't Refuse." Everyone who comments at TLC will be eligible to win.


Chasing Heroes http://chasingheroes.com/
Chasing Heroes authors will give away a copy of a Lola Cruz Mystery and a Chasing Heroes gift bag with assorted goodies.


The Killer Coffee Club http://killercoffeeclub.weebly.com/




Lesa's Book Critiques http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/
Lesa will give away a copy of Linda Wisdom's Hex in High Heels, and Sharon Fiffer's Scary Stuff. In order to enter, people have to make a comment on Lesa's Book Critiques blog, on the Hallopalooza page during Hallopalooza.


Erica Ridley http://www.ericaridley.com/blog/
Erica Ridley will give away a winners' choice mass market paperback (shipped directly to you via Amazon). 2 winners! Eligibility: Guess whodunnit at http://www.2wicked2kiss.com
for a chance to win. For a vision of the future, generate a do-it-yourself horoscope also at http://www.2wicked2kiss.com and post it to Erica's blog for another chance to win. Unlimited entries.

Fang Place http://fangplace.blogspot.com/
Anyone who leaves their email address as a comment on my blog will be entered in a drawing to win one of my new vampire YA humor books, FANG FACE, signed by both the cover artist and me.

Morgan Mandel http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
Morgan Mandel will give away "the winner's choice" of either a Killer Career cap or XL tee shirt




Mysterious Musings http://www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com/
At Mysterious Musings, in honor of the spooky Halloween Scavenger Hunt, readers can win a book with a very spooky cover--THE DARK BACKWARD, by Julia Buckley. The cover art was created by acclaimed artist Kevin R. Brown, and of the content, Crimespree Magazine's Jon Jordan wrote "I loved every minute of reading this book!" Readers can get into a drawing for the book simply by leaving a comment on that day's blog.


Mystery Fanfare http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/
Janet Rudolph will have a drawing for a year's subscription to the Mystery Readers Journal. See her blog for more details.

Poe's Deadly Daughters http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/
Sandra Parshall will donate a mug from the Crime and Punishment Museum (a place which she recently featured on the Poe's Deadly Daughter's blog) and Lonnie Cruse will throw in a hardback, signed copy of 57 Heaven. Sharon Wildwind will give away "Missing, Presumed Wed," 4th in the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen series. Readers of the blog can win the prize by leaving a comment about their favorite Halloween tale.

WOOF http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com/
In addition to great giveaways during the Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt, "WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty" is giving away 3 downloads of, "Ghost Light." See WOOFers Club Blog for details! (http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com)

The Book Resort http://thebookresort.blogspot.com/
The Book Resort is celebrating the spooktacular Halloween Blog Scavenger Hunt, Hallopalooza, by giving away a signed copy of Fed Up by Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant. In order to enter, readers of the blog can win Fed Up by following & leaving a comment about their favorite Halloween candy on the giveaway post during Hallopalooza.

The Stiletto Gang –
For those that complete the hunt and solve the mystery (must leave a comment or send email with name of killer and motive by Sunday, Nov. 1, 5:00 PM Eastern deadline) - one $50 gift certificate to winner's choice of book store. If there are more than one player with the correct answer, there will be a drawing for the gift certificate among all those giving correct answers. Autographed copies of Stiletto Gang authors' novels will be given away for runners-up. (Up to 10 books total via a drawing of all those with correct answers).

Additional Prizes - Dr. Norman German, winner of the Deep South Writers' Contest, will donate a copy of A Savage Wisdom (Thunder Rain Publishing), www.asavagewisdom.com
historical fiction, ebook (2009) & paperback, 263 pgs. (2008), edited by a MacArthur Genius Fellow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This and That


This is the newest addtion to our ever-growing family, Jaslyn. (She is named after her father, Jason.) A real cutie, she smile all the time. Her grandma is my middle daughter, Lisa, which, of course makes her another great-grandchild.

Today I had a haircut and while I was there the hairdresser told me that her friend really liked my book, Dispel the Mist, but her friend's husband loved it. While he was reading it he kept telling his wife, "Listen to this," and he'd read a paragraph or too. Thrilling words for the author.

I've actually started the book in the series that comes after the one that's expected in September. I don't have a title yet but I do have most of the characters in my head along with some ideas about where I'm going. Sometimes it works best when I just start writing and that's what I'm doing this time.

Once I get the words down, the story will begin to flow. Though titles used to come easily to me, nowadays I seem to have to work a lot harder to find the right one for the story.

I do need to get busy though, so I'll have a chapter to read each Wednesday night to my critique group. I'm nearly finished with the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel I've been reading to them. Of course I'll then have to go over it again--but that's something I can do in the evening. I like to write in the mornings, my best time.

Limiting my time on Facebook will help. Because of the blog tour I'm on, I need to promote each blog and Facebook is a great place to do it.

So that's my thoughts for the day.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Report on the Apple Festival

The crowds were huge, especially on Saturday, and people were buying.

I always advertise in the program that they hand out and fortunately, this year, my ad landed at the front and on the right hand side. Some people came to my booth, paper in hand, looking for me. Of course there were others who merely stopped because they were curious.

The only way to sell books at these affairs is to smile and speak to everyone who passes. Those who read will stop and take a look. At that point I begin telling them about each book. I have a one sentence blurb or "elevator pitch" for each one.

I brought 20 of my own titles with me and also a friend's book. You never know what might interest someone. Some covers attract people--but not the same covers. I had only two copies left of one book and only one of another. I put them on the table with a sign saying these were the last. They were snapped up immediately.

I did very well both days though the majority of the sales came in the morning and early afternoon. Later people were tired and hot and seemed to just be plodding along.

About ten people signed up for my monthly online newsletter--many others took cards.

Doing these events is exhausting, but well worth it.

Unfortunately I can't attend next year because Bouchercon is the same weekend. I skipped this big mystery event this year for a couple of reasons--but mainly because it landed the same time as the Apple Festival. In 2010 it will be in San Francisco--just too convenient for me to miss again. No, I won't sell a bunch of books, too many big name mystery authors attend, however, I may meet some readers who will become fans. And I have lots of friends in this community I'd like to see again.

However, I've been promised my spot back for the following year. God willing, I'll be at the Apple Festival in 2011.

Marilyn

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prizes for Hallopalooza

Check out these prizes--be sure and enter this great Scavenger Hunt!

Hallopalooza Prizes

Jungle Red http://www.jungleredwriters.com/
Signed copies of Jungle Red Authors' books for the best comments on Jungle Red Blog

Marilyn's Musings http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
An autographed book by Marilyn Meredith.

Meanderings & Muses http://meanderingsandmuses.blogspot.com/
Kaye Barley will give away a copy of IN THEIR BLOOD by Sharon Potts. People who leave a comment at her blog during Hallopalooza will be eligible for the drawing for the book.

America Comes Alive http://www.americacomesalive.com/blog/
Kate Kelly will give away a $10 gift cert as a prize (from a drawing of those who sign up for her newsletter). The runner up will get a copy of Election Day by Kate Kelly.

Type M for Murder http://typem4murder.blogspot.com/


Boomer Chick http://www.overthehillchick.blogspot.com/


Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips http://sarahlynn.blogspot.com/
"Welcome to Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips! I'm a member of the St. Louis chapter of Sisters in Crime. Leave a comment on this post to be entered into a drawing to win a recent book from one of our members! In your comment, be sure to mention whether you prefer noir, craft cozies, or paranormal romance. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on The Stiletto Gang's Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt!"

Ellen Byerrum http://ellenbyerrum.livejournal.com/


Nancy Cohen http://mysterygal.bravejournal.com/
Nancy J. Cohen will give away a free signed copy of the latest title in her Bad Hair Day series. To enter the contest, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter. This contest is open to new subscribers only.

Write It Anyway http://writeitanyway.blogspot.com/
Rachel Brady will enter those who comment at her blog or sign up to follow it into a drawing to win an autographed copy of Final Approach."

The Blog Cabin http://www.timothyhallinan.com/blog/
Timothy Hallinan will give away a signed set of the three books (thus far) in his Bangkok series
Lipstick Chronicles http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/


The Lady Killers http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/


The Killer Coffee Club http://killercoffeeclub.weebly.com/



Lesa's Book Critiques http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/
Lesa will give away a copy of Linda Wisdom's Hex in High Heels, and Sharon Fiffer's Scary Stuff. In order to enter, people have to make a comment on Lesa's Book Critiques blog, on the Hallopalooza page during Hallopalooza.

Erica Ridley http://www.ericaridley.com/blog/
Erica Ridley will give away a winners' choice mass market paperback (shipped directly to you via Amazon). 2 winners! Eligibility: Guess whodunnit at http://www.2wicked2kiss.com
for a chance to win. For a vision of the future, generate a do-it-yourself horoscope also at http://www.2wicked2kiss.com and post it to Erica's blog for another chance to win. Unlimited entries.

Fang Place http://fangplace.blogspot.com/

Morgan Mandel http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
Morgan Mandel will give away "the winner's choice" of either a Killer Career cap or XL tee shirt

Mysterious Musings http://www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com/
At Mysterious Musings, in honor of the spooky Halloween Scavenger Hunt, readers can win a book with a very spooky cover--THE DARK BACKWARD, by Julia Buckley. The cover art was created by acclaimed artist Kevin R. Brown, and of the content, Crimespree Magazine's Jon Jordan wrote "I loved every minute of reading this book!" Readers can get into a drawing for the book simply by leaving a comment on that day's blog.

Mystery Fanfare http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/

Poe's Deadly Daughters http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/
Sandra Parshall will donate a mug from the Crime and Punishment Museum (a place which she recently featured on the Poe's Deadly Daughter's blog) and Lonnie Cruse will throw in a hardback, signed copy of 57 Heaven. Sharon Wildwind will give away "Missing, Presumed Wed," 4th in the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen series.

Readers of the blog can win the prize by leaving a comment about their favorite Halloween tale.

WOOF http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com/
In addition to great giveaways during the Hallopalooza Scavenger Hunt, "WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty" is giving away 3 downloads of, "Ghost Light." See WOOFers Club Blog for details! (http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com)

The Book Resort http://thebookresort.blogspot.com/

The Stiletto Gang –
For those that complete the hunt and solve the mystery (must leave a comment or send email with name of killer and motive by Sunday, Nov. 1, 5:00 PM Eastern deadline) - one $50 gift certificate to winner's choice of book store. If there are more than one player with the correct answer, there will be a drawing for the gift certificate among all those giving correct answers. Autographed copies of Stiletto Gang authors' novels will be given away for runners-up. (Up to 10 books total via a drawing of all those with correct answers).

Additional Prizes - Dr. Norman German, winner of the Deep South Writers' Contest, will donate a copy of A Savage Wisdom (Thunder Rain Publishing), www.asavagewisdom.com
historical fiction, ebook (2009) & paperback, 263 pgs. (2008), edited by a MacArthur Genius Fellow.

More to be added! Watch http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com for more information.

Marilyn

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Information About Hallopalooza

I'm a part of the Stiletto Gang and we're having a great on-line scavenger hunt beginning Friday, October 30.

What is Hallopalooza? It's an on-line mystery scavenger hunt. Twenty-three of the best, most interesting, coolest blogs on the net have agreed to participate. There will be lots of great prizes! Lots of fun! Lot's of clues!

Yes, clues. The Stiletto Gang has written a short story – did I mention it's a murder mystery - just for the event.

How do you play? Thanks for asking.

Let's start with when you play – the Scavenger Hunt starts at 8 AM Eastern on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. It ends at 5 PM Eastern on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. Winners will be announced at noon eastern on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

What are you hunting? A killer! Okay, really you'll be hunting clues to the killer's identity and motive. You will move from blog to blog reading the mystery and gathering clues. Each blog will give you a link to the next blog in the Scavenger Hunt line-up. You will start here, at The Stiletto Gang, then move to the next blog. There are 23 blogs in the chain. The winner is not the one who finishes first, just the one who finishes by the deadline with the correct answer. So you can come and go as you please during the three days of the event. Go Trick or Treating! Toliet paper a house! Party with goblins and witches! Then come back and celebrate with us.

What are the prizes? The Stiletto Gang is offering a grand prize of a $50 U.S. gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice – on-line or bricks & mortar. If you're not in the U.S., we'll send you an Amazon gift certificate and let you figure out how to use it.

If more than one person qualifies for the Grand Prize, then all winners will be put into a drawing for the $50 gift certificate. Runners-up will win an autographed book from a Stiletto Gang author. We will award up to a maximum of ten books. If there are more winners than books, we'll have a drawing among the Runners-up for the books.

And, here's the special part – you can win prizes on the individual blogs during the hunt too! The participating blogs will have contests/drawings for great stuff! Autographed books, promo items, and other "I won! I won!" things to make all your friends envious.

There is no charge to play or win. You don't have to buy anything. You just have to participate, solve the mystery, and tell us about it using the comment feature here on The Stiletto Gang blog site or by sending an email via the contact link to the right.

Watch for more details as Halloween draws near. If you want to map out your route ahead of time – check out the following blogs, in addition to The Stiletto Gang (that's us):

1. Jungle Red http://www.jungleredwriters.com/
2. Marilyn's Musings http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
3. Meanderings & Muses http://meanderingsandmuses.blogspot.com/
4. America Comes Alive http://www.americacomesalive.com/blog/
5. Type M for Murder http://typem4murder.blogspot.com/
6. Boomer Chick http://www.overthehillchick.blogspot.com/
7. Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips http://sarahlynn.blogspot.com/
8. Ellen Byerrum http://ellenbyerrum.livejournal.com/
9. Nancy Cohen http://mysterygal.bravejournal.com/
10. Write It Anyway http://writeitanyway.blogspot.com/
11. The Blog Cabin http://www.timothyhallinan.com/blog/
12. Lipstick Chronicles http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/
13. The Lady Killers http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/
14. The Killer Coffee Club http://killercoffeeclub.weebly.com/
15. Lesa"s Book Critiques http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/
16. Erica Ridley http://www.ericaridley.com/blog/
17. Fang Place http://fangplace.blogspot.com/
18. Morgan Mandel http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
19. Mysterious Musings http://www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com/
20. Mystery Fanfare http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/
21. Poe's Deadly Daughters http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/
22. WOOF http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com/
23. The Book Resort http://thebookresort.blogspot.com/

Gather your sleuthing clothes – Hallopalooza is coming!

You might want to make a copy of all these blog sites as you'll have to go from one to the other in order to solve the crime.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Festivals and Craft Fairs



This is a photo of friend and fellow mystery author, Madeline Gornell, and myself at the Central Coast Author and Book Festival in San Luis Obispo a couple of weekends ago.

You can't tell by the photo how cold we were. The wind howled through the festival blowing over displays and even taking off with a couple of the umbrellas. The crowd was fair but I'm sure would have been far better if it hadn't been so blustery and chilly. Sales were okay--but I'm sure would've been far better if the weather had cooperated.

Like with all these outdoor activities, you never know what will happen. Fortunately, besides the festival we had a great time with friends the night before, ate a lot of wonderful food, and stayed in a delightful Inn.

I've done a lot of these kinds of events--hot weather ones are usually good, but I don't do well when it's too hot. This weekend is the Springville Apple Festival, right in my backyard, and it'll probably be both cold and warm--that's usual for this time of year. Huge crowds always come, but that doesn't mean they are book buyers. Most are there to eat apple food, buy pies, look at and maybe buy crafts, enjoy the free entertainment and visit with friends. However, I've always done better at this festival than any other and I do have a new book out, Dispel the Mist, which has had lots of publicity in our area.

So, here's hoping for two good days and some people who like to read and still have some money in their pockets.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hallapalooza Coming Soon


Hallopalooza coming at the end of this month

As a member of the Stiletto Gang I'll be participating in a fun scavenger hunt at the end of the month. You'll get a chance to win some great prizes at the various blog stops.

The Scavenger Hunt will begin 8 am ET, Friday, October 30.

It will end 5 pm ET, Sunday, November 1.
Winners will be announced at noon ET on Monday, November 2 at the Stiletto Gang blog site, at
http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/

The Stiletto Gang is writing a mini-mystery, with a different clue to solve the mystery found on the home page of each of the participating blogs. The mystery will begin and end at The Stiletto Gang, but in order to solve the mystery, the reader will have to visit every one of the 24 participating blogs.


Each blog will provide a clue which will be posted. The reader will move from blog to blog, collecting the clues which will help solve the mystery.

In addition to the mystery clue, each blog will post the name of the next blog the reader should visit in order to find the next clue.

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate that the winner can use for books from any online or bricks and mortar bookstore (winner’s choice of bookstore). If multiple readers solve the mystery, we will have a drawing to select the grand prize winner. Runners Up will receive a book from one of the authors of The Stiletto Gang. If there are more than 10 Runners Up, then there will be a drawing among the Runners Up for the books – maximum number of books to be awarded by The Stiletto Gang is ten (10).

More later about this fun event.
Stay tuned to learn how you can win some great prizes at stops along the way.

Marilyn

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reminiscing Again, My Teen Years

When people ask I always tell them my growing up years were very much like the old TV show, "Happy Days". When I was teen, the boys wore their hair slicked back into duck tails, Levi's low on their hips, white shirts tucked in, and leather jackets much like Fonz.

We had sock hops and slumber parties that were sometimes raided by boys (or at least attempted raids).

I hung out a lot, especially during the summer with my boy cousins. One was four years older than me, the other two years older. The eldest had a car. I loved my boy cousins even though they loved to scare me when I was younger.

They were quite adventurous. I went abalone fishing with them at the Palos Verdes cliffs. There were no houses there. Climbing down the cliff was scary, but I followed my cousins. I didn't dive for abalone like they did, but I swam in the surf. I doubt they followed any laws about abalone fishing. All I know is when we got home my aunt would fix the abolone and it was wonderful.

A whole bunch of us would go to the beach in the afternoon to swim and build bonfires on the beach when it got dark. Probably the main reason I was asked along is because I provided more girls--my friends.

Sometimes we'd drive up into the mountains at night and park in a turnout, turn on the radio, leave the headlights on and dance. In fact, I learned how to dance with my cousins. We'd practice jitterbugging and got really good at it. Sometimes I took the cousin that was still in high school (but at a different one than mine) to dances
and we'd have a great time.

The oldest cousin joined the Army became a paratrooper in Germany and brought home a bride. The other one joined the Navy and wrote me great letters about his adventures in Japan and the Philippines. I met my husband-to-be on a blind date when I was a senior.

I think the reason my boy cousins came to mind is the eldest one, now 80, came to our recent family reunion.

Though I've been trying to concentrate on plot ideas for my next Tempe mystery, I don't have any control what pops into my mind at night.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fun or Not so Much Fun of Writing Two Series

Some of you may know that I write two series: the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series.

I'm right in the midst of promoting Dispel the Mist the latest in the Tempe Crabtree series. I'm giving in person talks, selling at book and craft fairs, presenting at writers conferences. All this month I'm doing a blog tour which means each week day I'm visiting one or more blogs for interviews and various other presentations. I hope some of you have visited one or more of the blogs.

While all this is going on, I'm finishing up another Rocky Bluff P.D. novel. No, not the one that will be coming out the beginning of next year. I just saw the cover for the new book, Axe to Grind, and it's terrific. My publisher, Oak Tree Press just asked me to come up with a 300 character blurb. That is really difficult to get the essence of the story into such a short blurb.

These series are very different. The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series always centers around Native American issues or legends and some might call them cozies and told mainly from the POV of Tempe.

The Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series is from the POV of several members of the Rocky Bluff P.D. and their family members. The crimes are usually more brutal and the focus is on what happens on the job affects the police officers' families and vice versa. Though the language is mild, the stories are usually darker.

Because it is a small department, they don't have all the wonderful equipment of a large city police force, so much of their investigation is done through footwork and old-fashioned investigation techniques. And as I tell my police officer friends, it's my police department and I can do it anyway I want.

Does it get confusing? Yes, at times. I have to focus on the story I'm writing or promoting at the time because they come from two different places.

While all this is going on, it is now time for me to start on the next Tempe Crabtree mystery. I have some ideas, but nothing concrete as yet. It's time I got busy.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Review for Dispel the Mist

Across the North American continent, most Native American reservations were steeped in poverty until legalized gambling became a growing industry. Marilyn Meredith’s newest book in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, Dispel the Mist, unfolds in the backdrop of the reservation trying to expand its gambling enterprise with hotel and resort facilities. Lila Quintera, the first female county supervisor, is murdered. There is plenty of intrigue, but is her death the result of her opposition to expansion or to her support of a new facility for mental challenged women or just the tragic outcome of human immorality? Tempe explores all these possibilities with a new authority.

Tempe is asked to work as a detective on the case and for the first time, she is officially involved without having to also work patrol. She gains added dimension formally interviewing witnesses and potential suspects. While Tempe reaches a new level of respect in her job, she also has reached a level of real comfort with her husband, Hutch Hutchison, the pastor of one of the local churches. There is less tension between her Native American beliefs and his Christian ethics. As with any good marriage, they are growing – together.

Marilyn has gone deeper into the exploration of people’s behavior covering the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. Her description of the struggle to establish a home for the mentally challenged is particularly strong, and her depiction of a mentally challenged young woman, Suzy, is poignant and very real.

Dispel the Mist has an exciting and gripping conclusion that brings Native American myth alive with unexpected deus ex machina. Like all good mythology, it has real history and truth at its core. This is a great way to spend a few hours. While the book stands on its own, I recommend that you read the entire series. --Benay Weiss

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'm Going to Enjoy This Coming Week

Why? Because I spent last week sick and most of it in bed.

After a doctor appointment on Monday I plan to do a little shopping. Not much, because I don't really like to shop, but there are a few things I need.

I had planned to go to Bouchercon, even paid the registration fee, but after being so sick I know it's really a good thing I decided not to go. The reason I changed my mind is because the Springville Apple Festival is this coming weekend. Two days of selling books or trying to anyway to the 30,000 people who attend this event.

Yes, I'll miss the fun of Bouchercon and seeing lots of people I know and probably making new friends, but for this year, I'll be staying home.

What I will be doing this week is deciding which books to take to the Apple Festival and packing them up. We've done this so many times now, we know we have to take our tent, a table, two chairs, and the books, cash box, and guest log. We can put the tent up on Friday which will save time on Saturday. We have to be set up and our car moved by 8 a.m. We can leave the tent Saturday night, but we pack everything else up and bring it back on Sunday a.m. early. It's a lot of work, but usually well worth the trouble.

Sometime this week I also hope to do more planning of the plot for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. When I'm sick, I just don't have what it takes to do that.

Oh, and I'll also be promoting my next stops on my blog tour.

So, I am really looking forward to this week.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Lost Week

Though I have posted about my blog tour on Facebook and Twitter and other places, mostly what I've done this week is sleep. I didn't get up until 8 a.m. this morning. My usual rising time is 6 a.m. or earlier.

Though I hate wasting time, I don't think it was really wasted because I'm finally starting to feel much better. Oh, I'm still blowing my nose, but my ears and throat don't hurt anymore.

Last time I was sick like this was Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I wasn't the cook. We were at my youngest daughter's house and I spent most of my time there in bed. I know we went shopping the morning after but it was all kind of a blur.

My husband has been wonderful, catering to me. One day I made a huge pot of soup and we ate that for three days. He also went out and bought dinner a couple of nights, tasted like cardboard to me.

Now it's time to really perk up and get well. Next weekend is the Springville Apple Festival, which is two days outdoors. And I need to get busy writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree book.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Friday, October 9, 2009

Under the Weather

I do not like to be sick! I don't suppose anyone does, but this is my blog and my opportunity to complain.

Hubby has had a cold for about two weeks and I was so proud that I hadn't caught it from him yet.

Sunday, I froze at the Central Coast Author and Book Fest--the wind blew and the air was chilly. After dinner, I was still chilly and went to bed to warm up. I felt fine the next day for our trip home. When I woke Tuesday a.m. I knew I was in trouble. By afternoon I knew that no way could I got to my writing group on Wednesday. Boo hoo! I let them know because we always print out copies of the chapter we plan to read.

Despite being sick yesterday, I did our laundry, changed bed linens, dusted and cleaned our bedroom and bath. I made wonderful chicken soup for dinner--son and daughter-in-law came over to eat it too (they've been sick with something else) and fortunately I think there's enough for dinner tonight.

Staying in bed isn't something I can do. Sick or not, I have to be in front of my computer. What I can't do is write anything new. I need to be working on my next Tempe--but I'll have to satisfy myself with promotion Dispel the Mist and the blog tour I'm on now.

I'm writing this on Thursday, but it'll appear tomorrow--hope I feel better by then.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some Writing Tips

I've spent several days reading and writing reviews for books.

Unfortunately there are only a few gems among them. A couple good enough I was sad to see that the author had chosen to publish with iUniverse or Publish America. Don't get me wrong, I have friends who have been published by similar type publishers because they got tired of rejections.

Because so many books that are published by these type of publishers haven't been edited bookstores won't order them nor will libraries. Even if the book was edited, it is almost impossible for the author to be asked to participate in a panel at a writing conference.

I just finished reading two romances that fell into this category. The plots of the stories were okay, but it was obvious the author hadn't taken any writing classes or learned some of the basics. Nearly every sentence in the dialogue throughout the book ended with an exclamation point. As most of us know, most of the time, if we've written the dialogue well enough, the exclamation point is unnecessary.

The use of better dialogue tags also help. If the author can use an action for a dialogue tag it can eliminate a lot of the saids.

I don't know about you, but I'd like to know something about what the character looks like--but it doesn't need to be a laundry list. There many clever ways to let the reader in on the character's description.

Betty Webb gave all of us a great tip at the PSWA Writer's Conference, to get rid of as many of the word "was" as possible. Now I do a word search for was and try to change the sentence around, or write it a different way so it is no longer passive.

Probably most of us know to use the most descriptive verbs possible to describe the action, and to get rid of as many adverbs as possible. Unfortunately, in some of the books I've been reviewing it's obvious the author hasn't learned these things as yet.

Point-of-view and head-hopping is often a problem in books written by those who have not taken the time to learn how to write before writing their book. POV is probably one of the most difficult concept to learn. Sure you can have more than one POV, in my Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime novels, I tell the story from any POVs, but only one per scene. When I change POV, there is a space break.

My head hurts from reading these books that could have all been better by some judicious editing.

My writing critique group is my first editor for any book that I write. After they're done with it, I go over the book again. In some cases I hire an editor to go over it again to look for inconsistencies and other errors. Fortunately, both of my publishers have good editors for that final check. Even then, sometimes mistakes slip through, but it won't be any of the things I just mentioned.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Radine Trees Nehring's Review of Dispel the Mist

Radine wrote probably the most thoughtful review of Dispel the Mist I'll ever receive. Here it is:

How much of each writer can be found in his or her works of fiction?
Where is the author in what she created?

I can easily picture a perhaps younger Sara Paretsky playing the part of V. I. Warshawski in a movie or stage play.
Same with Sue Grafton and Kinsey Milhone
Randy Rawls as Ace Edwards? Definitely...and hundreds more examples like these in fiction.
The novels aren't autobiographical, but the authors are so THERE they could even step into a stage role as the book's protagonist, physically as well as in life motive and inspiration! (At least I see them that way.)

On the other hand, what about books like Betty Webb's Lena Jones series? No. Betty is not Lena. Or...could she really be there, somewhere inside Lena...?

And, what about Marilyn Meredith and Tempe Crabtree? Another no. No comparison. But....

In the latest Tempe Crabtree mystery, DISPEL THE MIST, Deputy Sheriff Tempe is drawn into troubles based largely in the Bear Creek Reservation where a half of her own roots lie. As this series has progressed, Tempe has learned more and more about the legends and life coming from the American Indian part of her heritage, and, in this novel, she steps more fully into those legends and into an understanding of Native American spirituality.

Another "half-breed," Lilia Quintera, the first female to be elected a Tulare County Supervisor dies, and outwardly the death appears to be the result of a heart attack. Quintera has supported the licensing of a group home for developmentally disabled adults that is strongly opposed by the only outwardly obvious bad guy in the novel. (Quintera's own Down Syndrome niece, Suzy, is to be a resident of the home, and Suzy was a witness to her aunt's death.) Besides that, the supervisor still hasn't said how she will vote on the issue of whether or not to allow construction of a large hotel and restaurant near the new reservation casino. To complicate matters still more, Quintera's marriage and her relationship with her younger sister are both deeply troubled, and she's stepped on some powerful feet in her work as supervisor. It's a recipe for murder, but there is no evidence of murder, and won't be unless a tox screen comes back showing poison in her system. However, in the mind of an old nemesis of Tempe's, Detective Morrison, it probably was murder. He has, in the past, belittled Deputy Crabtree's work as a law officer. (It's the old "Tempe can go get us coffee," thing.) This time, however, Morrison displays grudging respect for Tempe's abilities as a detective with connections to the reservation. He asks her boss that she be transferred to work with him on learning who had motives to kill Lilia Quintera.

Tempe, supported this time by her pastor husband, Hutch, begins to work her way through complicated relationships that create a mist around Lilia Quintera's life in the Bear River area. In the past Hutch has been deeply troubled by what he has seen as a conflict between his Christian faith and the American Indian spirituality Tempe has been learning more about. But now both she and Hutch do not discount growing evidence of something behind what an overly materialistic culture can accept, no matter what the source. Hutch might call a manifestation evidence of the presence of angels, while Tempe thinks of the same things as evidence of beneficent spirits, but in the end the result is the same, and they have come to understand each other.

The relationships in this novel, whether between Hutch and Tempe and her Native American mentors, or between Supervisor Quintera and all the people she dealt with, form a fascinating plot. As Tempe works her way through the mist, talking to people, probing, I read faster and faster, wanting to see--as of course she does--who could be a source of the darkness and evil she is uncovering, and if she will survive a deadly attempt on her life that takes place at the mystic Painted Rock, deep in the reservation.

At night. In a heavy thunderstorm. WHAT has the power to help her? The Hairy Man?

Absolutely fascinating. Enlightening. Entertaining. Treat yourself and read it.

Now back to "How can Marilyn Meredith be Tempe?" Well, they're both women. Both caring, loving, intelligent, with inquiring minds. Yes. And, for a time Marilyn and her husband Hap operated a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I know that the thoughts, actions, and conversation of Suzy's are accurately written, and knowing this added much to the story, as well as to my own understanding of people with Down Syndrome. Not only that, the wealth of Marilyn's other life experiences add reality, believability, excitement, and warmth.

So, is Marilyn Meredith in this novel and in Tempe? You betcha!


Radine Trees Nehring
http://www.RadinesBooks.com
Blog for readers and writers: http://radine.wordpress.com
The "To Die For" mystery series...touring the Ozarks, one crime at a time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Interview with Wendy Burt Thomas


GUIDE TO QUERY LETTERS                                   Wendy Burt Thomas


 Today  I"m pleased to have Wendy Burt-Thomas visiting with me. She is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her third book, "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters" hit stores in January 2009. To learn more about Wendy or her three books, visit www.GuideToQueryLetters.com. If you have a writing-related question, you can also post it on http://AskWendy.wordpress.com.
1. Q: Can you tell us about your book?
The book was a great fit for me because I'd been teaching "Breaking Into Freelance Writing" for about eight years. In the workshop, I covered a lot of what is in this book: writing query letters to get articles in magazines, to land an agent, or to get a book deal with a publisher. Since I'm a full-time freelance magazine writer and editor with two previous books, this was incredibly fun to write because it didn't require tons of research. I was lucky enough to receive lots of great sample query letters from writers and authors that I use as "good" examples in the book. I wrote all the "bad" examples myself because I didn't dare ask for contributions that I knew I'd be ripping apart!
In addition to the ins and outs of what makes a good query, the book covers things like why (or why not) to get an agent, where to find one and how to choose one; writing a synopsis or proposal; selling different rights to your work; other forms of correspondence; and what editors and agents look for in new writers.
It was really important to me that the book not be a dry, boring reference book, but rather an entertaining read (while still being chock full of information). I was thrilled that Writer's Digest let me keep all the humor.
2. Q: Why are query letters so important?
Breaking into the publishing world is hard enough right now. Unless you have a serious "in" of some kind, you really need a great query letter to impress an agent or acquisitions editor. Essentially, your query letter is your first impression. If they like your idea (and voice and writing style and background), they'll either request a proposal, sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. If they don't like your query letter, you've got to pitch it to another agency/publisher. Unlike a manuscript, which can be edited or reworked if an editor thinks it has promise, you only get one shot with your query. Make it count!
I see a lot of authors who spend months (or years) finishing their book, only to rush through the process of crafting a good, solid query letter. What a waste! If agents/editors turn you down based on a bad query letter, you've blown your chance of getting them to read your manuscript. It could be the next bestseller, but they'll never see it. My advice is to put as much effort into your query as you did your book. If it's not fabulous, don't send it until it is.
3. Q: You're also a magazine editor. What is your biggest gripe regarding queries?
Queries that show that the writer obviously hasn't read our publication. I'll admit that I did this when I was a new writer too – submitted blindly to any publication whose name sounded even remotely related to my topic. One of the examples I use was when I submitted a parenting article to a magazine for senior citizens. Oops! A well-written query pitching an article that's not a match for the magazine isn't going to get you any further than a poorly written query.
4. Q: There's an entire chapter in the book about agents. Do you think all new writers should get agents?
Probably 99% of new writers should get an agent. There are lots of reasons, but my top three are: 1) Many of the larger publishing houses won't even look at unagented submissions now; 2) Agents can negotiate better rights and more money on your behalf; 3) Agents know the industry trends, changes and staff better than you ever could. 
5. Q: You've been a mentor, coach or editor for many writers. What do you think is the most common reason that good writers don't get published?
Poor marketing skills. I see so many writers that are either too afraid, too uniformed, or frankly, too lazy, to market their work. They think their job is done when the write "the end" but writing is only half of the process. I've always told people who took my class that there are tons of great writers in the world who will never get published. I'd rather be a good writer who eats lobster than a great writer who eats hot dogs. I make a living as a writer because I spend as much time marketing as I do writing.
6. Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions that writers have about getting a book deal?
That they'll be rich overnight, that they don't need to promote their book once it's published, that publishing houses will send them on world book tours, that people will recognize them at the airport. Still, you can make great money as an author if you're prepared to put in the effort. If it wasn't possible, there wouldn't be so many full-time writers.
7. Q: What must-read books do you recommend to new writers?
Christina Katz (author of "Writer Mama") has a new book out called "Get Known Before the Book Deal" - which is fabulous. Also, Stephen King's "On Writing" and David Morrell's "Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing." Anything by Anne Lamott or my Dad, Steve Burt.
8. Q: What's the biggest lesson you've learned as a full-time writer?
Seize every opportunity - especially when you first start writing. I remember telling someone about a really high-paying writing gig I got and he said, "Wow. You have the best luck!" I thought, "Luck has nothing to do with it! I've worked hard to get where I am." Later that week I read this great quote: "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." It's absolutely true. And writing queries is only about luck in this sense. If you're prepared with a good query and/or manuscript, when the opportunity comes along you'll be successful.
9. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Writing the "bad" query letters. I've read – and written! – so many horrible ones over the years that it was a little too easy to craft them. But misery loves company and we ALL love to read really bad query letters, right?
10. Q: What do you want readers to learn from your book?
I want them to understand that while writing a good query letter is important, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. You can break it down into parts, learn from any first-round rejections, and read other good queries to help understand what works. I also want them to remember that writing is fun. Sometimes new writers get so caught up in the procedures that they lose their original voice in a query. Don't bury your style under formalities and to-the-letter formatting.
 Thank you so much, Wendy, for being here today. Your book Guide to Query Letters ought to be in every writer's library since query letters always are such a problem to write.
Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Yeah, There Were Bad Things Too

My friend, Madeline Gornell, said she mainly remembered the bad things from her childhood. So to let you know nothing is every perfect, there were some bad things in my childhood too.

Before you start thinking bad thoughts, I was never molested nor did my parents beat me. Those were the days when parents were allowed to spank their children and I did get whacked with a yard stick by my mom a few times (deserved) and switched with a twig I had to pick out myself once or twice by my dad (also deserved).

I grew up during the second World War and though there were blackouts, air raid drills and what were thought to be real air raids, and shortages and food stamps, I was an optimistic kid and managed to have a good time no matter what was going on.

Yes, I had fights with my girl friends, but they never lasted long.

Once an old man scared me with a gun when I was trick-or-treating by myself (not allowed, but I wanted to gather all the goodies possible since this sweets were one of the things rationed)--it turned out to be his idea of a joke.

My sister disappeared when she was about five. My parents called the police. Everyone in the neighborhood joined in the search. We found her long before the police showed up. Back in that day a missing kid was not a priority.

Someone tried to get into a house while I was babysitting. They'd left me a gun (not smart to do with a 12 year old) and I yelled that I had the gun and whoever it was left. I'd called my dad too, but he arrived long after the intruder was gone.

My boy cousins got me to climb a tree then ran off and left me and I had no idea how to get down. Same boy cousins tied me up to an outdoor incinerator, set a fire and played like they were burning me at the stake. And another time, there'd been a murder in their neighborhood, man chopped someone up with an ax in a basement just like theirs. They asked me if I wanted to go in their basement and see what it was like. I did--then they chased me around with an ax--their idea of teasing. I think they liked to hear me scream.

I saw a dead body in front of a bar while riding the streetcar. I did a lot of walking and riding around by myself. Another time, a man exposed himself to me on the streetcar. I told the conductor on him, but he immediately got off. Once a fellow touched my breast while I was on the streetcar and I clobbered him with the big book I was reading. He got off at the next stop too.

That's about all the bad stuff I can remember. I truly had a blessed childhood.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Days Memories

While at our family reunion, my sis and cousin, who lived a block away, were reminiscing about our childhoods. Thinking back, we had it really good, growing up in an atmosphere much like Happy Days.

No, we didn't grown up in the Midwest--we lived in Los Angeles. Our neighborhood was interesting--the houses were small, mostly two bedroom and one bath, but none looked alike. Behind our house was a big hill. Stairs led to the top, 121 to be exact. Yes, we counted them. No houses were up there, it was just hills and a water reservoir. Now, in that same location is the Glendale Freeway. But when we were kids it was a good place to go hiking--though we weren't supposed to go alone because hobos camped up there.

When the weeds dried out, we'd slide down the hills on cardboard. Once in awhile, there'd be a fire--and the fire engines parked in the big circle in front of our house.

When my cousin and I turned ten, our mothers let us go downtown by ourselves on the streetcar to shop as long as we stayed on one block, starting with the Broadway Department Store. For one dollar we could buy a back full of goodies at Woolworth's Five and Dime.

We walked to grammar school with our friends. The school looked like Mt.Vernon. In later years it was damaged in an earthquake. I grew up during World War II. Our school had a Victory Garden--really big one. Every class took it's turn in the Victory Garden and we all got to take home some of the bounty.

We had all sorts of celebrations including a May Pole the first day of May. We made May baskets, filled them with flowers and left them on the neighbors' porches. Halloween, we had costume parades at school and a festival in the evening.

We rode our bikes everywhere, skated on the sidewalks, took piano lessons from Mrs. Klofenstein. Played hide 'n seek in the dark while our parents were at the weekly Block Warden meetings learning First Aid and other important things in case the war came to our shores.

We put on plays with the neighborhood kids as the actors, decorated our bicycles and wagons for the Fourth of July and held our own parades, went to the movies every Friday night--double feature, plus cartoon, previews and newsreels.

In Junior High, a much farther walk, we learned how to dance in P.E. so we actually could dance by the time we got to high school. We rode the bus, the streetcar and walked six blocks. In the fall the girls wore sweaters and skirts to school no matter how warm it was, and in spring cotton skirts and blouses, no matter how cool. Many of us made our own clothes. We always wore bobby socks with white Joyce's. Girls never wore pants to school--though we certainly did on the weekends. Boys wore Levis and white shirts, many wore their hair slicked back in ducktails.

I belonged to Job's Daughters. Looking back, it was also kind of a finishing school. We learned how to properly set a table and which utensil to use for what. Attended formal dances with the Jobbies. Went to slumber parties, belonged to clubs, had sock hops at lunch time.

After church every Sunday, we had a big dinner. Then we either went to visit grandparents in South Pasadena, or to my aunt and uncle and three boys in Highland Park. Sometimes my aunt and uncle who lived down the street went there too. We often had homemade ice cream.

Our church had an active youth group and we had lots of parties, some at my house. I went to church camp in the mountains and made lots of new friends.

We could more or less go anywhere we wanted as long as we were home at 5 p.m. to have dinner with the family.

Our high school graduation was held outdoors at the Occidental College amphitheater.
All the girls wore white formals, the boys nice suits.

Yes, looking back, our childhood was like Happy Days.

Marilyn
http://fictionforou.com

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Next Up on the Promo Agenda

We'll be heading back to the Central Coast on Saturday. This time to participate in the Central Coast Authors and Book Fest next to the San Luis Obispo Mission. I'll have a table with my books. Hopefully there will be many book lovers out and about.

I volunteered to be on a panel. I've given talks and been on panels previous years at this event. I was chosen to be on a panel about the publishing process from start to finish, unfortunately I recently discovered that the venue for the panel was in a library several blocks from the book festival and it was a 45 minute long panel from 11 to 11:45. The thought of having to be coherent after walking uphill in time to get to the panel had me thinking. Before, all the things I'd done were in buildings or outdoors right on the same grounds--easy to get to and I wasn't away from my table for too long a time.

Because I paid to have a table at this event, I began thinking about being away from my books for at least 10 or 15 minutes to reach the place for the panel--and they'd probably want us to be there 15 minutes ahead of time, add that onto the 45 minutes of the panel, talking to people afterwards, and another 10 or 15 minutes getting back to my table would mean I'd be gone for over an hour during prime bookselling time.

After spending money for the spot, for the gasoline to get over there, two nights in a hotel, food it just didn't make good sense to do this no matter the goodwill. So, I've sent in my regrets. I'll be manning my table, but I won't be going off to be on the panel. Sometimes you have to make a decision as to what is best for you--and I did.

Anyone who might be in the San Luis Obispo area, do come by and see me. I'll have copies of my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist, with me.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com