Showing posts from February, 2010

More About Blog Tours and Blogging

Yes, once again I'm headed out on another blog tour, starting tomorrow. I'm repeating my stops just in case someone didn't see them yesterday. I'm hoping for lots of comments so the people who are hosting me will be happy that they extended their invitation.

Mar 1
Mar 2
Mar 2 interview
Mar 3
Mar 4
Mar 5
Mar 8

Those are the first stops. If you're so inclined, stop and leave a comment.

These are really fun to do and of course, the idea is to get people interested in your book enough to want to buy it.

If you ever do a blog tour, remember, it's important for you to leave comments too and go back and see if anyone asked a question or made a comment you'd like to respond to.


The First Week of my Blog Tour

Despite the problems of not yet having my book in hand, my blog tour is beginning as planned.

I do hope some of you will visit the blogs I'm featured on and leave a comment. That helps me, and the blog owner to know that I'm actually working to have people visit each blog.

Here's my first week's schedule:

Mar 1
Mar 2 http://the
Mar 2 interview
Mar 3
Mar 4
Mar 5

I'll be in New Orleans at Epicon from the 3rd through the 7th, so I'll do what promoting I can with my teeny weeny computer in my hotel room. But, folks, I'm not going to spend all my time in the hotel while I'm in New Orleans.

We're arriving there on the 3rd, God willing, since we have to not only transfer planes three times, but also airlines. We're not near a big airline hub, so we always have to make at lea…

Jack Miller, Born to Law Enforcement

John Miller, more commonly known as Jack is another member who I've met through the PSWA Conference.

Marilyn: We begin the interview with what I ask nearly everyone, will you tell me about your background?

Jack: I was born into the job. My dad was a Michigan State Police trooper from 1924 until 1949. I think Law enforcement and investigations are in my blood. I have never had second thoughts about doing anything else. I enlisted in the Army to be a MP.

Then for personal reasons I enlisted in the US Air Force to be an Air policeman. I did that job for seven years then applied to be a special agent with the Office of Special Investigations. I was selected and did criminal and counter-intelligence investigations for ten years.

I retired as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1975 and went to work with the Las Vegas District Attorneys office. We ran surveillances on organized crime figure Tony Spilotro and his gang.

After two years I saw an opening with the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. It…

Why I Don't Have An Agent

I've actually had several agents over the years. The first one helped me a lot with the book I was writing at the time (which finally got published by a New York publisher submitted over the transom). I actually met him, my sis and I went to his home office several times and he'd go over a chapter or two and give me some suggestions. Frankly, I thought he had a crush on my sister because he always gave her a big hug when we arrived and left. He never sold anything for me but he did go and speak with the writer's group I belonged to at the time.

The next agent was someone who was striving to be an agent and lived nearby. Actually she taught me a lot, but she never sold anything.

I had a couple of other agents who tried, but didn't manage to sell anything--and I was turned down by a few others.

At a wonderful writers' conference I had a one-on-one with a rather successful agent who took on my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. I kept on writing them and sending them to he…

Holli Castillo, Author of Gumbo Justice

Marilyn: Holli Castillo, a member of PSWA, came to last year's conference and we got to meet her family. I love this photo of you, beautiful, but impishness sparkles in your eyes. One of the things I remember about you is your wonderful accent--and you telling all of us you didn't have one.

Tell us where you are from and something about your background.

Holli: I am from New Orleans, born and raised. I'm a Louisiana appellate public defender and a former New Orleans prosecutor, and my first novel, Gumbo Justice, was published by Oak Tree Press in June, 2009.

Marilyn: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Holli: I've always wanted to be a writer, but never seriously thought I could. As I got older I eventually lumped it in the category of impossible career choices, along with princess and George Clooney's wife. When my first child was born, I quit my job at the D.A.'s Office to stay home with her, and decided that was my opportunity to see if I had wh…

Troubles In Author Land

I expected to have copies of An Axe to Grind in my hand by this time so I could plan my two book launches. Instead, there's been a problem.

The problem lies not with the publisher but the printer. I don't know the details, but there is a problem with the cover.

I've already ordered 50 copies. My blog tour begins next month--and next month is almost here--reviewers are waiting for their copies and I don't have any to send.

Of course this is the reason I didn't set up my book launches ahead of time--sweating it out while waiting for books is no fun. Been through that before and I know better.

Of course I'm eager--and anxious maybe, but eventually the problems will be ironed out and the books will come, maybe not in time for what I want them for, but they'll be here for other events down the line. I have two biggies coming up at the end of March, a booth at Celebration of the Whales in Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, and a group author signing at a bookstore in Mo…

So Why Do I Keep on Writing?

In a couple of blogs I've confessed that I'm not a famous author nor do I make very much money. So I'm sure there are those out there who wonder why I keep at it. After all, my first book was published way back in 1981. Shouldn't success have caught up with me by now?

I have a whole slew of reasons why I keep on. First, I don't think I could quit even if I wanted to. All those characters in my head want to get out paper. I want to know what Tempe and Hutch will be up to next as well as that whole Rocky Bluff P.D. bunch.

The friends I've made over the years are priceless. Those fans who are waiting for my next book and tell me so, I love. The ones I know will show up at my next book launch and buy a book. Friends I only see once a year at conferences like Mayhem in the Midlands: Sarah Weiss and her mom, Benay, who could be her sister. Other authors who I look forward to seeing and hanging out with, like Radine Nehring and her husband, John--and way to many more to…

A Peek Into This Author's Life

I'm sure people conjure up some romantic notion of an author's life--and there are as many different stories as there are authors.

Of course some authors have become rich and famous and don't have to worry about all the mundane things of life--I'm not one of them.

Saturday, we decided to kind of take the day off. So after I answered all my emails and corrected one chapter, we headed to the post office because I had books to mail I was donating for a charity and then drove 17 miles to the nearest city. First we stopped off at the bank, then we went to Target to pick up a few needed items. We had lunch at a Japanese place--wonderful--and headed over to the movies to see Shutter Island. I'd read the book, and hubby and I both met author Dennis Lehane a few years ago at a Mayhem in the Midlands conference--he was pretty famous back then, but nothing like he is now. We liked the movie, it followed the book more than most movies manage to do.

From there we stopped at Smart …

Mistakes I've Seen Lately in Books I've Read

When reading a book someone wants me to review, I'm always sad when I see mistakes that the writer could have learned about at a good writing conference or in a writing class.

One problem I've seen recently is the overuse of exclamation points. Usually if the dialogue (and that's the only place an exclamation point should ever appear)is exclamatory enough, the point is not needed. I can't remember what author said it, but something to the effect that there should only be one exclamation point per book.

The use of too many dialogue tags like, he gasped, she chortled, he explained. Said or question is enough--and better still, have the character do something so that the action can be the dialogue tag.

Far too many pages of description, whether it be of a house, or a historical event.

Yes, I know Margaret Mitchell had all those pages about the Civil War in Gone With the Wind. I read Gone With the Wind about eight times, but after the first round, I skipped the description of…

Chatting Over Cyber Coffee with Kregg Jorgenson

Marilyn: Today I'm talking with Kregg Jorgenson over cyber coffee. Hi, Kregg.

Kregg: Ah, good cyber coffee! Any Half-n-Half?

Marilyn: What brought you to PSWA?

Kregg: I heard about PSWA from an editor for the police publication 24/Seven, Cop to Cops News who thought I might want to look into the organization to find like-minded folks. In the past I belonged to several writer’s or press associations and at times felt like a duck out of the water since I mostly wrote about law enforcement issues or concerns.

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Kregg: My law enforcement career began in the 80s when I became a U.S. Customs Inspector. Later, I was selected for the Contraband Enforcement Team (a special team assignment), and then spent five additional years as a K-9 enforcement officer, which, by the way, was the best job in the world. My dog was so smart that I let him drive! Okay, maybe not, but working with several wonderful dogs was great. Their loyalty was amazing and even when yo…


My sis sent me this photo of my husband and I way back when we were young and slim. Hubby was still in the Navy and we only had three children at the time, ended up with five.

We're standing in my parents' front yard, the home I grew up in--Los Angeles CA. The house is no longer there, replaced by the Glendale Freeway.

Our eldest daughter, Dana, is now the mother of two and grandmother of five. The next little girl, Lisa, is the mother of two and grandmother of four. The baby in my arms, Mark, died from cancer in his early forties. He had one son, and three step-children, and two grandkids.

We had two other children, Lori, who has four children and no grandkids, and the baby, Matthew, who has three children, one step-daughter, and three grandkids.

It's hard to remember being that young. I do remember working hard. Until we had our fifth child, I hung all the laundry outside. My grandfather felt sorry for me and bought me a dryer. We seldom went out to eat which meant I cooked …

Saturday's Valentine Dinner

Every year our church has had a Valentine Dinner. This year was no exception. We've done it many different ways, with the dinner being catered, one of the members doing all the cooking, the youth doing the serving, twice we've met at a local restaurant.

We have a new fellowship committee this year and the male partner used to own a restaurant and he volunteered to do all the cooking. What a meal we had! Avocado, tomato and shrimp salad served on spring greens. Stuffed pork loin, broccoli, baked potato and a roll. For dessert, a strawberry sundae.

Of course the tables were decorated with red heart candles and other Valentine goodies--including little cups with candies inside.

You didn't have to be a couple to attend and we did have a few who came solo.

The couple who had been married the longest had 63 years under their belt. We came next with our 58. And there were others all along the way down to the nearly newlyweds with five years.

Everyone shared funny stories and we playe…

An Axe to Grind E-book Pricing

I'm sure people are wondering why An Axe to Grind is priced at $1.99.

I read about an author whose priced her own books really low for the Kindle and she is selling lots.

Because An Axe to Grind is part of the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, I thought pricing the e-book low might give more readers the opportunity to get acquainted with all the police officers and their families who inhabit Rocky Bluff and they might wnat to read more about them.

Fortunately, I have a publisher who is willing to go along with all my ideas. Do I think this will work? I have no idea, but it's worth a try.

After doing my taxes and seeing how much more I spend promoting than I make selling, figured it was time to attempt something new.

The trade paperback will remain at the same already low price of $12.95. As soon as they arrive, anyone can order an autographed copy from my website.


My Struggle with Writing the Next Book

Because I'm writing two books a year, one for each series, I'm always writing one for one series and promoting the latest book in the other series. Confusing? Yes, it is at times.

Because my series are so different: Rocky Bluff P.D. is a police procedural crime novel told from many points of view and more than one crime, and the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is from Tempe's point of view and usually only one murder or major crime.

An Axe to Grind is just about to make it's debut, the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and I'll be doing two launches for it--not yet planned as I like to have the books in hand before I set dates and do publicity, but my blog tour is being worked on now and is happening during the month of March.

At the same time, I'm working on the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. This one is turning out to be a bit different as it is contrary to all the "rules" of mystery, there is not yet a murder. Oh, there's plenty of intrigue, but …

Planning for Epicon

It may be a bit early, but we're headed to Epicon on March 3rd. This time it's in New Orleans. We've never been to New Orleans and we're really looking forward to going.
That is, all except for the airline flights there and back. We are making three changes--and not just changing airplanes, but airlines as well. Doing it this way is saving us about $400. I'm sure I'll have plenty to blog about when we return.

I always plan ahead about what clothes I'm taking. Since there is a dress-up awards ceremony--and my mystery No Sanctuary is up for an award, I already bought a fancy top to wear over my long black dress and a sparkly necklace to go with it.

The second night we're there, we're going on a steamboat cruise with a New Orleans style buffet and jazz music. Sounds like fun.

I'll be teaching two classes on "How to Write a Mystery", one for the adults and the next day for young people. In this class, the audience participates in planning a my…

Movies, Movies, Movies

When I was a kid, my parents took my sister and me to the movies every Friday for a double feature. Besides previews, there was always a cartoon and the newsreels. This was long before TV news. The first movie would be an A feature with big name stars. The second was always a B movie, often a gangster movie. My folks spent the money and we stayed through everything, no matter how bad the second movie might be.

Hubby and I try to go to the movies once a week. We don't always make it, but this week we did and we saw To Paris With Love with John Travolta. It got very poor reviews, but I've learned that the critics don't often enjoy the same movies I do.

Yes, this was movie was over the top, lots of shooting, wild car chases and bad words, implied sex, no nudity. But, wow, was it exciting and actually fun. John Travolta played a great part. I doubt he did all the stunts, but who cares.

Hubby sometimes falls asleep during a movie, I guarantee it didn't happen in this one. Son…

Monti Sikes- Author and Artist

Marilyn: I met Monti at a PSWA conference and we share the same publisher so I do know a bit about her, besides being a writer, she is an accomplished artist. Why don't we begin by you telling us something about your background?

Monti: I’m a native Virginian who loves to travel. My husband and I have three grown daughters who seem to have picked up that wanderlust from us. Right now, two of them are traveling in Australia—said they planned this trip to attend the Australian Open tennis.

Marilyn: Which came first the art or the writing?

Monti: I don’t know. Both have always been there. Mother saved drawings I did when I was three years old. Each year when school started, I was treated to a new box of crayons and I could hardly wait to get them. You can imagine how much I cherished one of those bigger 24-crayon boxes! As an art teacher, even today, I am thrilled when I open up the new art supplies I order for the children. My studio at home is filled with hundreds of tubes, bottles,…

Accused of Being a Shill

I couldn't believe it when someone sent me an email and said he hoped I wasn't just a shill for Sunny Frazier. I was horrified by the accusation.

Then I thought about it a bit, maybe I am--and she is for me.

Sunny and I do a lot of events together and we promote one another on the Internet, if that's being a shill--well, I guess I am.

Right now I'm really pushing the PSWA conference and she's promoting a mystery cruise.

I'm in charge of the program which I think is dynamite--can't believe all the wonderful speakers who've agreed to come--and so of course I'm promoting it like crazy. Anyone writing a mystery with any kind of public safety person in it should come to this conference.

Sunny is the one lining up the panels for the mystery cruise and encouraging people to come.

Guess what, we're both going to be taking part in the PSWA conference and the mystery cruise. And we're promoting both. If that makes me a shi…

W. S. Gager, A Case of Infatuation

Marilyn: I met Wendy Gager at the last PSWA Conference. She's a member and also published by Oak Tree Press like I am. So glad to have the opportunity to find out more about you.

Wendy: Thanks Marilyn. I did enjoy meeting you and am so jealous that you are techno savvy with your Kindle and texting, twittering and facebooking with your phone. I only just started texting and no e-reader yet.

Marilyn: What brought you to PSWA in the first place?

Wendy: My publisher, Billie Johnson, suggested all her writers should go to the PSWA conference because it was a great way to network, gain great info and met other Oak Tree Press authors. My Publisher was not wrong about all the useful information. I joined because of the conference but have really enjoyed meeting all the people. It is a great group and so diverse and willing to help each other -- A wealth of information from police techniques to getting published.

Marilyn: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Wendy: Being an author is my…

Angels Among Us

For another blog I post on, I wrote about angels among us and some of the experiences people have told me about where an angel intervened. The photo is of my great-granddaughter, the baby in the following story.

When telling my daughter about posting about angels, she told me of another experience she recently had and I'm going to retell it here.

My daughter Lisa often travels a couple of hours to care for her granddaughter, picture here, while her daughter goes to work in the evening. Usually Lisa is worn out after playing with the baby and then getting her to go to sleep.

When her daughter arrived home in the wee hours, she made a lot of noise and woke Lisa. As it turned out she'd discovered the diamond of her engagement ring was missing. Lisa suggested places that she might look, but really didn't want to get out of bed.

Finally, knowing she'd never get any sleep unless she joined in the search, she wearily went into the living knowing full well the diamond might have b…

Sisters in Crime, Local Chapters and What They Do

For anyone who doesn't know, Sisters in Crime is an international organization of readers and writers of mysteries. It began as a means of promoting female mystery authors. Despite the name, men are allowed to join and in the San Joaquin chapter, one I belong to and attend most often, the males are called "mister sisters."

I was one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter and I love it. Over the years I've given presentations for them, sold a lot of my books to members, learned a lot from other speakers, bought a lot of books from other authors who've come, and gotten ideas for books from speakers like vice cops, coroners and the like.

In my latest book, An Axe to Grind, the main plot was inspired by grisly slides shown to us before lunch by a coroner. A sub plot came from a female vice-cop who came to speak several years back.

I've been asked by speakers from the law enforcement field to write their story, but so far haven't done that.

What I have…

Importance of Weather for Adding Suspense

No, you don't want to start your book with the weather like "It was a dark and stormy night." That become a taboo thing to do.

However, by adding weather you can create suspense.

Remember we all talk about the weather all the time. As I write this it's raining and has been raining all day. On Facebook, people have been talking about the snow and how tired of it they are and all the obstacles it creates for moving along with daily life.

I've written about a blizzard where no one can get in or out and someone disappears. That was in one of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, Intervention.

In No Sanctuary the Santa Ana winds play an important part in creating a feeling of suspense.

In my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, An Axe to Grind, fog adds suspense to what is going on in the story.

Take an example from the movies, thunder, lightning and blinding rain always complicate things for the hero--or hints at the imminent arrival of the bad guys or perhaps a monster.


An Axe to Grind On the Way

I should have copies of my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, An Axe to Grind, in a couple of weeks.

I've already got a list of reviewers waiting for a copy, and I've been writing blog posts for the virtual blog tour I'm going on in March.

Soon as the books are here, I'll plan the two launches that I'm doing in Springville where I live, and in Porterville, the nearest city.

It's always exciting to get a new book you've written and actually hold it in your hand. I wrote this book for the first time several years ago when I was between publishers. It was sitting in my computer without a title.

Titles used to come to me while I was writing the book, now I have to work a bit harder to come up with a good one. Actually the title An Axe to Grind came from the gal who edited the book for me.

Anyway, I'll be promoting An Axe to Grind any way I can from now on.


Quintin Peterson, A Man of Many Pursuits

Marilyn: Though I've met most of the people I've interviewed so far, my guest today is a PSWA member I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting. So, Quintin, first off, tell me something about yourself and your background.

Quintin: I have been a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC for more than 28 years and am currently assigned to its Public Information Office as a media liaison officer. I write news releases and media advisories and address inquiries from members of the news media regarding breaking police-related incidents, as well as coordinate the release of information when multiple District and/or federal agencies are involved. Additionally, I assist crime novelists such as James Patterson and George Pelecanos, and other creative writers. (I am an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America so they seek me out.) I am also a liaison between the department and members of the motion picture and television industries, acting as a script …

Income Tax and the Reality of Writing

Trying to get a jump on things I have to do, I opened up Turbo Tax and began working my way through all the questions. Unfortunately I don't have all the 1099s I need to finish, but I did complete Schedule C.

There's nothing like doing your taxes to learn how little you make with you books and how much you spend on promotion.

Sometimes I wonder why I keep on doing it, but I know the answer. I love it as I see a story unfolding in my mind and being transferred by my fingertips.

And believe it or not, I also enjoy the promotion. I like speaking about my books to potential readers. I enjoy the conferences and conventions that I attend. I've been able to see much of the country I'd never have seen if I hadn't gone to many mystery conventions and writing conferences.

Promoting on line is fun and I've made a lot of new friends that way, so that's a plus.

So, whether I make much money with my books are not, I'll continue writing.

Is there anything that you do that y…

Mike Orenduff, Author of the Pot Thief Series

Mike Orenduff has a wry sense of humor which definitely shows in his Pot Thief series. We share the same publisher and he is also a member of PSWA.

Marilyn: First, Mike, tell me a bit about your background.

Mike: I grew up in El Paso, a place I really loved, in part because New Mexico was at our doorstep. Growing up in the desert must have made me feel deprived of water. How else can I explain joining the Navy?

After I was discharged, I earned a BA from the University of Texas and went to graduate school at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where my love affair with the state was rekindled. They didn’t offer a doctorate in my field, so I went to Tulane for my Ph.D.

I figured I’d settle in to being a college professor, but somewhere along the way I got waylaid into administration. That eventually led me back to the Land of Enchantment for a third time when I became the president of New Mexico State University. I left there to teach at West Point, happy to be back in the …

Ever Feel Overwhelmed?

I'm almost to that place. I thought February might be a bit calmer, but so far it hasn't started out that way.

I got up early so I could get lots done. I had some computer chores that needed to be taken care of right away and that's done. Then I checked on another blog I'm on today
and immediately spotted a typo, so that had to be fixed.

Thought I'd check out my own blog and guess what? Hadn't written one. So that's what I'm doing now.

Once I'm through, I absolutely must at least begin on my income taxes.

And I really want to get to my writing as I'm write in the middle of a really crucial spot--the kind a writer loves to write. When you know exactly where you're going it's really hard to stop and do other things.

Anyway, that's what's going on with me and why I feeling a tad overwhelmed. Everything going smoothly for you?


Do You Have Favorite TV Shows?

Because I'm a "morning person" and really I suppose an "afternoon person" too, I fade after supper. What I mean is my mind kind of turns to mush and I can't do creative things like write so I often vegetate in front of the TV.

I always have favorites. I really like reality shows (not all of them) like Survivor, Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, and yes, even Donald Trump's show.

I'm not fond of comedies, most of them don't make me laugh. The one that does, and I usually just watch the reruns, is Three and a Half Men. It's not very nice, but it sure is funny.

My favorite dramas are The Closer, Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Criminal Intent and NCIS.

Anything that comes on at 10 p.m. is too late for me. Often I'll rent a whole season of a show I've missed on Netflix and catch up that way.

What about you? What do you like?


A New Month

Here we are, the month of love and president's birthday.

When I looked at the calendar, I thought it wasn't a busy month at all. I have no book events whatsoever. That may change though, if and when I get copies of my new book from Oak Tree Press, An Axe to Grind. Then I'll have to get busy and plan a couple of book launches--already know where--but from past experience, I know not to plan anything until I have books in hand. I also have requests for copies for reviews as I have a blog tour coming in March.

Income tax is something else I must tackle this month. Not thrilled about that either.

At the beginning any month I usually go grocery shopping--and I hope to do that today.

Jury duty is looming over me toward the end of the month--already put it off once, so won't be able to do that again. Usually when I get there and they find out I'm a mystery writer I get excused. We'll see if that happens again.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the start of a new month.