Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Trip to and From Morro Bay

We always go to Morro Bay or any event on the coast the day before because it's about a 3 1/2 hour drive. Could be shorter, but we have to make a couple of stops--has something to do with age.

This time, hubby took me out to breakfast in Porterville. Then we headed to McDonald's and picked up a large cup of our favorite flavored iced-coffee, me vanilla, hubby caramel.

We take the short cut which means we drive past Corcoran Prison (formidable) and then turn on a farm road until we get to Utica Ave., which is also a two-lane farm road with nothing much to see except flat farmlands until we reach Highway 5. We get on it for a short 2 miles to 41. (We often make a stop there before traveling on.) Then we go west on 41 to where it connects with the next highway that leads to the Paso Robles and Highway 101. The wildflowers were spectacular--bright orange poppies, blue lupine, wild mustard and the hills were green. We didn't stop, so my photo was taken through the car window--hence the cracked pavement in the front. I'm not much of a photographer and the colors are nowhere near as vivid as they actually were.

But coming and going the scenery was spectacular.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More About Sunday's Booksigning

When I first got up to talk, I took a photo of the audience, then I asked who knew how to use the camera on an iPhone and a lady in the front row raised her hand. I gave her my iPhone and asked her to take a photo.

I only brought three books to sell because there were six authors speaking who also had books to sell. I brought Dispel the Mist, No Sanctuary and An Axe to Grind.

I told a little bit about my writing background and something about the two series. Because I thought it such a great review, I read the first couple of paragraphs that Mason Canyon wrote about An Axe go Grind. Afterwards, I answered questions.

When all the questions had been answered, I stepped outside to the table where my books were on display and several folks came and picked one up and asked for a personalization. (I'd already signed them all.)

Then the next person gave their presentation.

This was an extremely well-run author event--I give my congratulations to Sue, Karen and Victoria and the other members of the Central Coast Sisters in Crime. I'm a member too and I go to many of the events they hold over in the Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo area. (Hubby and I love it there.)

I sold 16 books which is wonderful for a two hour event with five other authors.

Tomorrow, I'll tell more about our trip there and back.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Signing at Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay

Victoria Heckman is the author in the Hawaiian dress, the other author with her in the other photo is Karen Kavanaugh, and Sue McGinty is the other author. The other photo is of the gorgeous patio garden.

The book signing Sunday at the Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay was a huge success. The little chapel in the patio garden behind the store was packed with people during the entire event.

Part of the success was due to the bookstore staff who did a marvelous job of promoting: great newspaper coverage and posters in the store. The store itself is wonderful. Tiny, but packed with books, both new and used. Down a flight of stairs in back and you step into the most gorgeous garden.

We had our books on display in the garden. Inside the chapel that they use for weddings and all sorts of events, the bookstore had already set up tables for coffee and tea which they provided, plus two bottles of wine. We six authors and other members of the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime brought finger food and desserts.

Each author had a time to speak and immediately afterward the audience was encouraged to go outside to look (and buy) the author's books on display in the garden. Then everyone was called back in for the next speaker. So folks ate and drank all through the event--and they bought books.

I sold 16 books which is terrific for a three hour event with 6 other authors.

More about this tomorrow with a few more pictures.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Axe to Grind Review Snippets

So far all the reviews for An Axe to Grind have been fantastic.

Probably the most heartwarming comments came from a friend who bought my book, then put on Facebook that very same day that she'd already finished reading it and loved it.

One of the best beginning of a review was this:

“I loved this book from the first few pages! Nothing like a good decapitation to get the vibes and imagination rolling!..." Jen's Book Talk.

Or how about this one:

"Who ever thought reading about a decapitated corpse couldn’t be funny hasn’t read, An Axe To Grind, by F.M. Meredith..." She went on to say However, author F.M. Meredith has found a way to write a gripping murder mystery while including enough light-hearted moments..." Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress.

This four star review from Cafe of Dreams ended this way, "Author F.M. Meredith has a delightful and wonderful writing style and voice that will instantly click with readers male or female. Her writing is in-depth and really speaks of police procedure research, making her story even more authentic and enjoyable. While reading, I found myself utterly hooked and unable to place the book aside, without yearning to return. The flow of the story is smooth, believable and just plain excellent."

And what author wouldn't be thrilled by this from Rundpenne, "...However, An Axe To Grind is far more than a mystery, it is a story about the families of the Rocky Bluff Police Department and how their work affects their personal lives and how their personal lives affect their work. Meredith has created an absolutely delightful cast of characters for her novel. From levelheaded to quirky and from demure to downright scary, Meredith takes the reader to Rocky Bluff and makes the reader feel as though the characters are quite real."

5 Stars from The Book Connection from Cheryl Malandrinos, "...With her masterful storytelling, Meredith includes many twists and turns to keep you guessing who the real culprit is. But what I like best about all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books is that the pace doesn’t slow down. Every new clue leads to something else, and before you know it, you’re at the end of the book and eager to read more.

I impatiently await the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F.M. Meredith!"

Needless to say, I've been thrilled with these reviews.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Off to Morro Bay Again

We love going to the coast, which anyone who reads my blogs has probably figured out.

This time we're going because I belong to the Central Coast Sisters in Crime and they are having a joint author signing at the Coalesce Book Store on Main Street in Morro Bay, Sunday, March 28th from 1-3.

We decided to go today and we're booked a room in another hotel we've never stayed in--sure to be an adventure like so many before.

Of course we plan to have a great seafood meal this evening and enjoy gazing out the window at the bay.

The signing itself sounds fun. I think each of us (authors) will have the opportunity to speak about and/or read a bit from our book. I'll be bringing An Axe to Grind and two other books.

So far, this will be my only signing in a bookstore. I've been to this bookstore before and it's charming. Each author is bringing some kind of finger food, so there'll be refreshments to entice people in.

When I get home, I'll report how it all went.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Robert Knightly, PSWA member, first book out

Marilyn: Robert Knightly charmed many of us with his understated humor when he came and spoke to us at PSWA about short story writing and many other subjects a few years ago. I've asked him a few pertinent questions so others can learn more about him. Robert, tell us something about your writing.

Robert: First realized my calling while a sophmore in college, so took creative writing course and did college journalism. After the Army, as copyboy on the former New York Journal-American, an afternoon daily, soon to become defunct. Next up, business journalism-- Asst. Editor of 'Maintenance Supplies Magazine', then Editor (briefly) of 'Contract Cleaning Magazine', till I was exposed as uninterested-- then a financial PR firm, even more briefly. Lastly, Writer of catalogue descriptions of electrical fixtures (the final straw).

Fleeing my writing career, I became a cop in the NYPD, and eventually and unavoidably, a reporter on SPRING 3100, the Department Magazine, and speech writer for the Police Commissioner). All of which, of course, led me to writing fiction while a Patrol Sergeant in Greenwich Village where the artsy air seeped into my bones.

Marilyn: I know that you you are well-known for your short stories.

Robert: First short story, 'One More For the Road', in an anthology of original crime stories, 'Brooklyn Noir," in 2004. In 2006, 'Take the Man's Pay' in 'Manhattan Noir' which was later included in 'Best American Mystery Stories 2007'. In 2008, Editor of 'Queens Noir', which, naturally, included my story, 'First Calvary'. In 2009, 'Getting To Know MadDog' in 'Brooklyn Noir 3: Nothing But the Truth'.

Marilyn: I recently read you first novel and liked it very much. Tell my readers about it.

Robert: My first novel, 'Bodies In Winter,' a police procedural, grew out of my first published short story. The idea grabbed and stayed with me and demanded more room: A brutal, violent cop is told he killed a prisoner in an alcoholic blackout; he doesn't remember. Convicted and sentenced to State Prison, years later a memory surfaces that convinces him he's innocent. What happens when he's released, looking to even the score? I knew such a cop in real life: the spark for the story and novel. (See his story in 'Getting to Know MadDog'.)

Marilyn: What's next?

Robert: The sequel is done. 'The Cold Room', with the same detective team, Harry Corbin and Adele Bentibi, pursuing a murderous Checheyn white-slaver through the Boroughs of the City. I'm looking for an agent and U.S. publisher (where the money is)...Although I'm just a short story writer masquerading as a novelist, till the novelty wears thin.

Thanks a bunch, Marilyn! I love the PSWA and its people. Hope to get to a Convention soon as I can

Marilyn: Thank you, Robert, we'd love to see again.

Remember folks, sign up for the PSWA Conference before March 31st for the lower rate and if you want to be on a panel.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Be Sure to Add the Senses to Your Writing

Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling are the five senses. Do you use each of them when you are writing.

When describing what your character sees, don't forget to add colors and shapes.

What does your character hear when walking somewhere?

When you character touches something, how does it feel?

When your character eats, how does the food taste? Is there anything else your character tastes that should be described?

Last but not least are the smells. When I first started writing mysteries, my cop son-in-law bemoaned the fact that you couldn't smell anything in a book or a movie and that every crime scene, especially a murder, had many smells. That prompted my Rocky Bluff P.D. novel, Smell of Death. Unfortunately, that book can only be read as an electronic book and right now is only available on the Kindle.

In my latest book, An Axe to Grind, their are many scents, from the salty ocean spray to the disgusting odors emanating from an abandoned warehouse.

Adding all the five senses to your book will make it far richer and certainly give the reader a greater ability to experience what you characters are experiencing.

To increase your ability to do this, pay attention to everything that is around you, take the take to touch things, to try and describe what everything feels like, note the differences in colors, the sounds that surround you when you step outside, when you walk down the street, what your character would hear in the places he or she is inhabiting. Take a deep breath when you enter a home. What do you smell? Every house smells different. When you're outside, what do you smell.

Enrich your writing with what the five senses.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dancing with the Stars

Yes, I am an avid fan of Dancing with the Stars. My daughter-in-law usually comes and watches with me. For a long time she was the only one--hubby didn't think he was interested. Now he's become a fan too.

Hubby is better than the rest of us at catching mistakes: mis-steps, being out of synch with a partner or the music.

Monday night, though, we were joined by my forty-plus year old son and my 22 years old grandson. What was the attraction you might ask, if you didn't know who was one of the competing stars.

Pamela Anderson was the big attraction, and she didn't come on until last so the two men stayed through the whole thing.

She looked pretty good and even her dancing was good, so I suspect we'll enjoy the company of these two until Pamela doesn't get enough votes to continue.

I've watched since the beginning--and loved that one of General Hospital's stars was the winner that first time around.

As I've said before, by the time 8 o'clock rolls around I'm not good for much except mindless entertainment.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Celebration of the Whales

We've been gone all weekend. We went to Oxnard primarily to attend the Celebration of the Whales at Channel Islands Harbor--but we spent a lot of time with our two daughters and their families who have homes in Ventura County.

Of course attending the Celebration of the Whales was part of my promotion for An Axe to Grind which is the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. That series was born because of the Oxnard P.D. though the setting has been fictionalized and moved up the coast a few miles so Rocky Bluff P.D. could be a smaller beach community, more like the one Oxnard once was.

For those people who took the time to stop and talk to me about my books, many were intrigued by the fact the Rocky Bluff P.D. series was inspired by the Oxnard P.D. and the beach area of Oxnard.

Oxnard is an intriguing place with it's wealthy community down by the harbor and all along the beach front and the much poorer areas inland. Though quite ethnically mixed, a large part of the populations is Hispanic. Oxnard is also an agricultural community which grows all sorts of fruits and vegetables and also flowers--but the area is famous for it's huge and wonderfully delicious strawberries.

We did well at the Celebration of the Whales. On one side of me some ladies sold women's clothing and on the other side, a man sold make-up made of minerals. The only other author, several booths away, was selling children's books.

Hubby and I took turns standing at the front side of the booth handing out my business cards--which of course, have my website and a picture of my book on the front. And yes, I did sell books and folks signed up for my monthly newsletter.

We had a great time at the Celebration of the Whales and visiting our family. Next up is another trip to Morro Bay and the Coalesce Bookstore on Main, Sunday, March 28 from 1-3.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Let's Talk About Writer's Conferences and Mystery Conventions

Yes, there is a big difference between a writer's conference and a mystery convention.
Though many mystery writers attend mystery conventions, they are primarily focused on the mystery reader/fan. The speakers might be a famous mystery writer or an expert in forensics. Panels will be about all sorts of topics and the panelists and moderators are usually authors with similar books. Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Mayhem in the Midlands, Malice Domestic are all mystery conventions.

Writer's Conferences are a geared toward writers and primarily set up to teach writers about writing and promotion. Recently I attended Epicon, which is the Epic organization conference for electronically published writers and their publishers. The programs offered were about writing and promotion. Publishers took appointments with authors. Unfortunately, the con was held in New Orleans in a hotel about 1/2 block from the French Quarter, so the offered classes weren't well attended because people chose to go sight-seeing.

I serve on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association as the Program Chair for the annual conference. The majority of PSWA's members are in the public safety fields or write about same--both fiction and none-fiction, and include many mystery writers as well.

The conference offers speakers who talk about all sort of topics that will interest authors from forensics to the craft of writing, including how to sell to magazines. There are panels too, so that any author who'd like to be on one can participate in a panel. (To be on a panel, the person must be registered by March 31.)

This year we have four small press publishers and one agent. They will take one-on-one appointments with those who sign up.

Because PSWA always holds a writing contest, the highlight for many is the luncheon on Sunday when the awards are presented in several categories.

If you'd like to know more about the PSWA conference, go to


Friday, March 19, 2010

The Real Miami Vice, Meet Michael Berish

Marilyn: What brought you to PSWA?

MIke: I don't remember exactly how I found out about PSWA. I believe I found it on-line, checked it out (it was an organization that was related to my field of writing) and joined in about 2005.

Marilyn: Tell us something about your background.

Mike: I was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York; received an A.A. degree in Criminal Justice; graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology; and later earned my Master of Arts degree in Communications from Miami's Barry University, where I took courses in Production, Directing, Screenplay Writing, etc.

I worked as a patrolman, detective, and supervisor with the City of Miami Police Department for twenty-two years; thirteen of which were spent as an undercover detective in the REAL Miami Vice where he worked everything from Narcotics & Vice, Prostitution, Gambling and Pornography, to Dignitary Protection of President Jose Napoleon Duarte (of El Salvador) and Pope John Paul II.

Marilyn: When did you become interested in writing?

Mike: I started writing screenplays in the late 1980's while taking a screenwriting course for my Master's Degree at Barry Universaity in Miami, Fl.. I've written 2 screenplay, 2 plays and numerous short stores that have been published in numerous magazines.

I won First Prize in Short Story Fiction for "Just Back from the Constellation Orion Nebula" and Third Prize for Short Story Non-Fiction for "A Quart of Milk and a Loaf of Bread" in the 2006 P.S.W.A.’s (Public Safety Writers Association) Annual Writing Competition.

My short story entitled, "Paris on a Sunday" won Third Place in the Best Unpublished Short Story Category for the "D.I.Y. CONVENTION" in Los Angeles, CA in 2008.

My short story entitled: "Everyone Comes to Vic’s" was first published in Cynic Magazine in June 2006 (Volume 8, Issue 6). It was republished in the January 2007 issue as one of Cynic Magazine’s Best Stories of 2006 (only 15 of 143 features were selected that year for Best Stories).

My first book was entitled Reflections from the Pit, which was awarded BEST FICTION NOVEL (Second Place) published in 2008 by the Public Safety Writers Association. This was the review of the book:

Judge’s comments on book: “This is an intriguing book with many fascinating stories that certainly reveal a side of police work that’s seldom written about or shown on television. The author has a unique voice with a spark of humor that keeps the reader turning the pages. The characters were three-dimensional and intriguing to read about—police and criminals. All the dialogue was crisp and realistic. For anyone wanting to know the nitty-gritty and often dark side of police work, this is the book to read…”

Here is another review of Reflectons from the Pit.

"That fellow (Berish) has a real talent for writing a story. That's excellent work."
E. Howard Hunt
(American author of sixty-three novels, C.I.A. spy, and coordinator of Watergate.
President Richard M. Nixon once referred to him as "a prolific book writer.")

Marilyn: Where can we find your books?

Mike: Reflections from the Pit can be purchased from iUniverse, Inc, my website at: , or on-line from Barnes & Noble,, etc.

I have another book coming out in April of 2010 to all major bookstores: BAD COP, NO DONUT. This is a crime fiction anthology—edited by John L. French—which consists of numerous stories, by various crime authors from around the country, about bad cops and their behavior. It has received some nice reviews so far.

Here are a few reviews of the book:

"Bad Cop, No Donut includes some of the most riveting stories I have read to date. It's a top-notch crime fiction anthology."
Donald Bain, author of the "Murder, She Wrote" series.

"A ride-around with some of the best cops and best cop writing in the business!"
David Black, author of The Extinction Event and writer for CSI Miami and Law & Order.

"This collection is written by a squad of fine writers--some of whom are current or retired real-life cops. Gritty, hard-hitting, authentic, and edgy--and guaranteed to keep you turning the pages."
Raymond Benson, author of the James Bond anthologies "The Union Trilogy" and "Choice of Weapons."

"Nobody writes about these guys. These are the cops we keep locked in the deepest, darkest precinct basements. Now they're out. And the reader is in for a rare treat in these wild, wonderful, and all too real, stories. It's about time."
Lt. Ed Dee, NYPD (ret.), author of The Con Man's Daughter.

Bad Cop, No Donut is a fast paced journey through the darker side of law enforcement. Not only are the stories written by seasoned cops, but they are road-tested writers, as well. It is a page-turner in the classic sense - you really will be asking yourself 'what could possibly go sideways next? With this anthology you will make the trip in law enforcement from bad to worse, with an occasional side trip to redemption - well, almost.”
Lt. Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), author of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style.

Marilyn: What's next for you?

Mike: I am currently working on a book entitled, "When Kings Go Forth." It is a historical fiction that follows the lives of several generations of Hungarians from the Revolution of 1848 in Hungary to America; from the Civil War battle that was fought at Glorieta Pass—near Pecos, New Mexico in 1862—to the outlaws, bounty hunters and the hardships endured in the wild West town of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the 1870's; from Jack “Legs” Diamond and the bootleggers, cops and gangsters of New York City in the 1920's to Poughkeepsie, New York in the 1950’s where another generation of Hungarians grew up, then one migrated to Miami, Fl. to become an undercover detective in Miami Vice; and finally from St. Augustine, Fl. to modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Marilyn: Thank you so much for giving me and my blog readers all this information.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Point of View On Point of View

Over the years I've judged many writing contests, read countless self-published and small press books, and too often have found the author didn't understand the proper use of point-of-view. Frankly, I had a hard time with it at first, not really know what people were talking about when it came to books.

The first thing an author has to decide is whose story is it? Are you going to tell the story in first person, using the I character, or third person, she or he.

First person is by far the easiest and with less chance of getting into POV problems. The author is telling the story as if he or she is the heroine or hero.

In third person, there is more than one way to go. You can write in third person, sticking with that one person throughout the book. This means that you'll only write what the person sees, thinks, hears, smells, does.

If you want to use more than one point-of-view, stick to one POV per scene. Decide which character has the most at stake in the scene, and tell that part of the story through him or her.

As the author, put yourself inside the character and look out through his or her eyes. You can only tell what that character is seeing, feeling, experiencing, smelling, touching, doing and thinking. You can not tell what anyone else is thinking or feeling--only what the POV character can see or surmise.

If you want to tell the story through another character's POV, put in a space break or start a new chapter. Do NOT jump from one person's head into another in a scene. I see that far too often in new writer's and self-pubbed author's work.

Editors and publishers notice when authors don't handle POV correctly and will reject manuscripts because of that. In writing contests, it can be the deciding factor for whether a manuscript is a winner or not.

When writing in first or close third person, the narrative is coming from the POV character so it isn't necessary to say I thought or he thought or he saw.

For instance: Up ahead, a giant tree had fallen and blocked the road, rather than, I saw a giant tree had fallen and blocked the road. The reader knows this is all what is happening to the main character. With third person, the same thing, the story is coming from the POV character, it is what he or she is experiencing.

When moving to another character's POV stay true to that character. He or she should sound different, think differently than the previous character. Be sure you only tell what that character would know.

In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, I write nearly the whole book from Tempe's POV. In Dispel the Mist, the first chapter is in another person's POV, someone who is important to the rest of the story. What I wanted to convey about this person was best told from his POV.

My Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series is much different. There are an ensemble of characters in each one of those books. I use multiple point of view to tell the stories. However, there is a space break when I change to another person's POV. It is immediately obvious who the POV character is. Because there are several plot threads going on at once, using several POV characters works best for this series.

I hope this is helpful to anyone struggling with POV in their writing. Of course people break the rules and manage to write wonderful books. However, it is important to understand the rules first before you break them.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today I'd Like You to Meet Author, Jennie Spallone

Jennie Spallone's Bio:

Suspense author Jennie Spallone wrote over one-hundred profiles and feature stories for local and national publications, as well as two special education texts, before putting pen to her first suspense novel. Deadly Choices won Third Place for Mystery Fiction at the Police Writers Conference (Name changed to Public Safety Writers) in Las Vegas, 2006.

Jennie, an active member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, speaks at local bookstores and libraries, in addition to Mystery Conferences throughout the Country, including Scene of the Crime, Bouchercon, Printer's Row, Sleuthfest, Malice Domestic, Magna Cum Murder, Midwest Literary Fest, Love is Murder, Public Safety Writers of America, and the University of Wisconsin Writer's Institute. She can be contacted for bookings or just to share comments at .,

My Interview with Jennie:

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

Jennie: I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since high school when I wrote an Advice column for my school paper. I loved to solve problems, even back then. I was always interested in people's opinions, as well as the stories of their lives.

The first of my writing to ever get published began at Senn High School and worked its way up through the DePaulia at my alma mater, De Paul University. After graduating with a degree in Elementary Education, I went on to receive my Master's Degree in special Education, the one school whose newspaper I did not work for! Upon graduation, I worked for thirteen years as a freelance journalist for local and national newspapers and magazines partially including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Daily Herald, Chicago Parent Magazine, and Consumer's Digest Magazine. At that pace, I managed to write/see published over one-hundred of my feature stories and perspective pieces

Marilyn: Tell me about your book.

Jennie: Deadly Choices currently remains my own published suspense novel, with three additional novels to still find a home with a publisher. Deadly Choices, which won Third Place for Mystery Fiction at the Public Safety Writers' Conference in Las Vegas, 2006, is the story of a female paramedic on chicago's West Side who kidnaps the baby she's just delivered and gives it to her best friend, a Born Again Christian, to raise as her own. Friendship, turst, betrayal! I got compared to Dean Koontz on that one. What an honor!

Marilyn: How much does your heroine resemble you in your book?

Jennie: Although I recognize myself as the protaganist in subsequent books, I personally identify neither with the paramedic nor the detective in my first novel. It took me months to figure out how a nice Catholic girl could possibly kidnap a baby from a dead homeless woman. Once I figured it out, the manuscript was rescued from the bottom of my file cabinet and quickly found a home with Treble Heart Books. It only took two weeks for me to reduce my twenty-six point of view characters down to three so that the book could get published. Hey, I was motivated!

Marilyn: Where do your ideas come from?

Jennie: I get my ideas for my novels by reading the newspaper or scouring the Internet. I'm very much interested in social action topics that affect the individual and her/his relationship with society. Thus, I first discover my plot, then develop characters around that plot. I tend to write by the seat of my pants as opposed to outlining my novel. Although my way is like trial by fire because it's so painful to just "be in the moment", I can't sit still long enough to write a whole outline, then go back and fill in the pieces. Also, by allowing myself to be open to the universe, I offer my characters the option of scaling rocky terrain rather than skipping down a paved route. I don't try to be a controlling parent to my characters, just a friendly facilitator.

Marilyn: What kind of promotion works best for you?

Jennie: Promotion-wise, I am mix of old school -- hand-selling my book to everybody from the fellow/sister realtors I work with on a daily basis to the fans I meet at Mystery Author conferences, bookstores, and libraries, throughout the country. I am getting into Internet promotion and do have Facebook and Blogspot pages, as well as a website.

Marilyn: Where can we find your book to purchase?

Jennie: Fans can purchase Deadly Choices from Amazon, B&,, and My blog, by the way, is at

Marilyn: Anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?

Jennie: I'm looking for reviewers, as well as for interns who'd like to work on my website and expand me throughout the Internet. I can be reached at

Thank you, Marilyn, for interviewing me today. You have been a wonderful friend and mentor!



Marilyn: And thank you, Jennie, for visiting my blog today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Visit with Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

(The photo with the two books together and the tea cup is from Joleen, Inkeeper of "Quite the Stir" B & B in Gettysburg, PA)

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

Elizabeth: Once upon a time, in another life, I was a school librarian who moonlighted as a publicity writer. In addition to my librarian job and writing publicity I was a columnist, writing about the lesser-known aspects of California history and American history, mostly the 1800s and early 1900s. The columns were for two different publications, both of which are now defunct. I had fun doing that, being able to research and write about the quirky aspects of history. I also loved writing publicity for major corporations. Alas, that market went really soft, what with the major recession that California has been in for nearly the last decade. The magazines closed their doors and I switched to writing fiction in a genre I’ve loved my entire life: Cozy Mystery.

I grew up in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, mostly the Riverside and San Bernardino area. I still live here, but high in the San Bernardino Mountains, where there is a true four-season climate. Often, people are surprised when I remark about snow levels. For instance as I write this, we have a four-foot base of snow and a storm coming later tonight that is expected to bring another foot of the fluffy stuff. Along with the four seasons, we have an alpine forest complete with the usual critters one would expect to share the mountain with. Bears, cougar, black-tail deer, mountain sheep and coyote are my neighbors. And I do mean neighbors…we once had a large black bear sleeping on our front porch. Last summer three cougars were prowling the neighborhood. Sometimes, taking a walk on the wild side is simply a matter of hiking through the forest at the end of my street!

I have a family legacy, of sorts, in Southern California. About sixty miles west of my home, in Southeastern Los Angeles County there are two streets named for my great-grandparents: James Eagan and Elizabeth Corley. My father and grandfather owned a farm in what once was a rural area, and is now the city of Whittier, and when they sold the land in the 1940s, the powers that be at that time asked them to name two streets that would run through the property.

Marilyn: When did you first start writing?

Elizabeth: I remember writing and composing stories when I was in fourth or fifth grade. In sixth grade, the county school district had a contest, for which I entered and won, at my grade level. A local PBS radio station asked that kids write a radio play and the winning play for each grade section would be produced, live at the school the student attended. My play won and it was produced at my school. I loved it, having won of course, but more so, getting an inside peek of the radio production process. It was extremely exciting and I do believe that was when the writing bug bit me.

Professionally, my first paid article was not until 1995. And anyone who knew me was not the least surprised to discover I was writing short non-fiction, narrative style stories about the aforementioned quirky aspects of history for the wildly popular FEDCO Store Reporter. Well, that was just the beginning… from there I went into writing publicity for major corporations (I have college upper course work in Communications) and additional magazine articles and columns. The pay was exceptionally good, until about ten years ago when the recession hit.

I decided to use my expertise in history and write a cozy paranormal mystery series. The second publisher I queried offered me a contract. I should point out to anyone who thinks this is easy…getting published, being offered a contract, well it is not easy. Honestly, one of the best things I ever did for my career was to take a course in Communications with a focus on writing publicity. The Library Science course work was a real help, too. Knowing how to conduct research using primary resources and reference materials is critical to having a credible foundation of facts in my plots and is essential in preparing a book proposal to query a publisher.

Marilyn: You write about something I've been interested in all my life and have included in some of my books, the paranormal. What got you interested in the paranormal?

Elizabeth: Okay… my classic answer to this question is: Blood Memory. I talk about this in the many radio interviews I do and the one aspect I strive to get across is that: While the concept of blood memory is very Celtic (this is my ancestry) and intrinsic to the Celtic cultures, it is by no means unique to the Celtic cultures. We, the Celts do seem more open in regard to talking about it, and from a very early age it is simply part of the fabric of our lives. Anyway… my involvement in the paranormal, which by the way, I still refer to as the supernatural, is part of who I am, at least when it comes to spirit visitations, or more commonly, ghosts. So, since the term paranormal can describe myriad different topics, I should clarify that what I am referring to is in regard to ghosts and intuitive intelligence… that gift that many people have, but have ignored, or not paid much attention to.

But, to try and explain what blood memory is: Celtic culture honors the inherited gifts/attributes passed from one generation to the next and on down the genealogical dot-to-dot lineage. Of course, gifts/attributes are often physical, such as a grandfather’s gray eyes and a mom’s auburn hair… we are all familiar with family physical likeness. Then too, there are intrinsic gifts/attributes that a person inherits such as a talent for music or playing musical instruments, dance, sports or a love of cooking, a green thumb, or in my case, a knack for writing.

And, we have the gifts/attributes of the spirit… passed down through intuitive intelligence. A person might identify a gift of the spirit in a person’s sense of humor or maybe a person’s uncanny ability to establish an immediate friendly rapport with animals. Often a gift of spirit has no physical activity associated with it (whereas cooking, playing a piano, and hitting a home run have a physical element of movement) and the gift is not visible until a natural occurrence brings it out or highlights the need.

In my novels, the lead character is a young woman named Shannon, who discovers she has the gift of intuitive intelligence, in her case, she discovers she can talk to the past. Ghosts make her aware of their needs to solve a mystery, most often, mysteries from long ago, what we now refer to as cold-case files.

Having ghosts, or in particular one very important ghost who is Shannon’s guide, was a given when I began writing the series. Honestly, I never thought twice about it. In some ways it mirrors my own experiences of listening to my blood memory and paying homage to the intangible gifts passed along to me. Once, a sibling asked me why I was so driven. My answer: I write to quiet the voices of my ancestors, I write so they know I am listening.

Even more critical to the concept of blood memory is to understand and appreciate that in the life of here and now, the people we are in the flesh, well, we have many passions, the strongest of which is the ability to love beyond the fear of death. I wholehearted believe that as I love those near and dear to me in this life of here and now, that when I die, my love will continue. Love does not die; instead, love surpasses the life of the physical body to be a guiding spirit.

Marilyn: Since you write about ghosts, have you had any ghostly encounters?

Elizabeth: Yes…that is the easy answer. I rarely talk about the ghostly encounters. Let’s just say that my paranormal experiences have been positive. I pay heed to my inner voice. For instance, in the radio guest spots I do, because so many of them are with paranormal investigators, I often advise on research techniques for discovering/identifying a ghost, based on my genealogical expertise of having documented ancestors to the 1600s (I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution “D.A.R.” and conducted all the research, myself, in order to qualify). And I have been invited to go out on paranormal investigation cases. But I won’t. This is difficult to explain; I feel very strongly that if I were to participate in an investigation I could unwittingly put myself into a precarious and potentially negative situation. I am content to stay in the background and help in the research.

Marilyn: Tell me more about your series.

Elizabeth: My novel series is in the genre of cozy mystery with the paranormal element of having ghosts whom are characters critical to the plots. My ghosts are never mere novelties and often they have historic aspects to their identity and purpose in the story.

Shannon Delaney is the lead character. She’s a writer who moves from Chicago to San Diego after a fire burns her home to the ground. The move to California is the result of a job offer to write the publicity brochure for a Victorian mansion that is being turned into a Bed and Breakfast Inn. The move, in and of itself is symbolic of the portal Shannon cross over allowing her to discover her intuitive intelligence to speak to the past. At first (in book 1) she is hesitant and filled with feelings of trepidation about accepting her blood memory. With each consecutive book in the series, Shannon becomes more accepting and adept in her ability to sniff out and solve cold case files with the aid of her spirit guide, the very handsome and young Victorian-era magician, who is also a ghost. There are reoccurring characters that include a grandfatherly figure that is a retired police detective, his handsome grandson who is a restoration architect, and is Shannon’s age. And the modern-day descendant of the Victorian magician ghost, who also is a magician and has identical good looks to his ancestor.

Yet another aspect of the series that is extremely important to me, though not many people give it a second thought, is that the cultures represented echo historical and present day cultures of this region of California. Shannon, like me, has an Irish and Southern USA family background. The magicians are of Scottish and American cultures and the retired police detective and his grandson are California Hispanic. Because the entire series is set in locations throughout Southern California it is essential to me that the characters, their ancestry and background be authentic to California history and culture.

Marilyn: Describe the latest book and what sparked the idea for it.

Elizabeth: Book 3: A Ghost Meets an Angel was inspired by a vacation to Mississippi. I take my annual vacation each Halloween. One year I was in Vicksburg, Mississippi and on Halloween night moseyed on down to Natchez for a ghost tour. The tour made a stop and the Natchez Cemetery where a larger than life grave statue of a young girl caught my imagination. The statue is called the Turning Angel and the story behind it, which I will not go into, was one that I knew I had to incorporate into the background of a mystery for Shannon to solve. The same likeness of a turning angel statue is in a graveyard in County Cork, Ireland and I recognized this quirk in circumstances right away because my ancestry goes back to County Cork. Having happened into this connection, I felt a plot highlighting the Turning Angel was begging to be created.

For sometime now I had wanted to use the mountain town of Julian (in the eastern San Diego County) for a book’s location and I needed a Southern connection because Southerners founded Julian after the War Between the States. The Turning Angel in Natchez and the Turning Angel known to me to be in County Cork, was the ‘sign’ I was open to seeing. My County Cork ancestors are Southerners out of the colonial state of North Carolina, and pioneering into Tennessee and northeastern Mississippi. By the way, the book cover for book 3 is a photo of the Turning Angel from the Natchez Cemetery, taken on the night of the ghost tour.

And for those who might wonder. I do not go on vacation looking for plots to my next novel. In fact, my annual Halloween vacation comes at the end of having written one novel and is the time before I get down to the grind and discipline of writing the next. I had another plot in mind that was to be book 3, but after seeing the Turning Angel, I put that plot on the back burner.

Marilyn: Where can we find you books?

Elizabeth: Every place that books are sold, including the monster sellers such as Amazon and Fictionwise. I have a few retail links on my web site:
for convenience, or just take the necessary info (Title, Author, ISBN) that’s on the web site and a reader can give it to their favorite bookseller to order a book. My books are available in paperback and all digital e-book formats. I have retail links for e-books and paperback on my web site.

By the way, book 3: A Ghost Meets an Angel recently came out in e-book and will follow in paperback in a little while. Good reason for a reader to check my web site now and then!

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?

Elizabeth: If you are sincerely interested in the paranormal, especially ghosts, try tuning in to one of my upcoming guest appearances on Web radio. Doing so is free because it is through Internet. I always take questions and you’ll get of the moment honest live answers. Many of the radio spots feature my expertise in genealogical research and you don’t have to be interested in ghost hunting to make use of the free Online sources I give out during a radio appearance. After all, you might be curious about one of the most popular topics I am asked to explain: Are Your Ancestors Your Ghosts? If you can’t listen in to a live radio show, try going to the radio show’s web site (often there is a link on my web site under Author’s Appearances) and you can listen to the archived radio program of my appearance on the Web, remember, it is free.

Oh… please read one or all of the free chapter excerpts of my novels, they are on my web site. Hopefully, you will like the excerpts enough to buy a book! Each book is a stand-alone mystery novel in and of itself, you need not read them as a series. And along with media reviews of my books, I publish reader’s reviews. So, if you read my book(s) and care to write a review, take a look-see on my web site then e-mail me (via my web site) with your review, I’ll post it!

I’ve just begun writing book 4 in my Shannon Delaney cozy paranormal mystery series.

I also would like to shout out a big THANK YOU to readers and to let you know I sincerely appreciate your support.

And Marilyn, a big THANK YOU to you, too, for being a Web hostess of incredible insight and hospitality.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Marilyn: Thank you so much for your indepth answers to all my questions. I finished reading A Ghost of a Chance by Elizabeth and thoroughly enjoyed it. She has a way of telling a story that also gives you insight into the actual settings. Reminded me of a modern Victoria Holt tale.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gearing Up for My Next In-Person Jaunt

Next we're off to Oxnard CA. We lived in Oxnard for over twenty years and have two grown daughters who still live there, so going to Oxnard for an event is like going home--well, sort of. It does give us the chance to visit with our Oxnard family members, daughters, sons-in-law, and our youngest granddaughter (not so young, she's 16 already.)

The occasion is the Celebration of the Whales on Sunday. March 21st from 10 to 5 at the Channel Islands Harbor. All sorts of interesting things are sold at this event, crafts, jewelry and a lots of fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the area.

For this one we must take our tent, display tables, chairs and lots of books. I always have to decide which books will sell best at these events. Since some of my books are set in beach communities, the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I'll be taking those of course, and everyone seems to be interested in Native American mysteries, so I'll take my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series too.

And there's always the necessity of figuring out what clothes to take. While we at the harbor, it's necessary to have layers. Though it might be warm, the wind comes of the ocean and sometimes that can make it chilly no matter how much the sun is shining. (And to think when I lived here years ago, I took the kids and hit the beach nearly everyday.)


Sunday, March 14, 2010

High Desert Chapter of California Writers Club Visit

The fact that it's daylight savings time hasn't helped as far as how tired I feel. We arrived back home from Apple Valley around 5 last night and I was in bed by 7, still had to fight to get up this morning.

We left home around 9:30 on Friday, stopped at the post office, and then headed down to the Porterville Recorder's office. There I had my photo taken with An Axe to Grind and left a copy of the book with the editor, Claudia Elliott.

Next stop was the Book Store Around the Corner From Main and arranged for a book launch for An Axe to Grind.

From there, we stopped and got a McDonald's iced coffee, vanilla flavored for me, and then I programmed our Magellan for the hotel in Victorville. When I looked for a hotel or motel in Apple Valley I couldn't find any listed so I made a reservation for the Ambassador Motel--not really expecting much as it was pretty inexpensive.

This is the time of year to drive. On the way up the mountain to Tehachapi we saw lots of wildflowers including poppies, in Tehachapi patches of snow remained. Down the other side to the Mojave desert the view was gorgeous.

We arrived in Victorville to find the hotel was quite popular with an AlAnon and Alcholics Anonymous Convention in full swing. Our room was on the top floor and it had been newly redecorated and was quite nice. Because it was Friday night, traffic was horrendous so we opted to walk to Del Taco for our dinner. I had shrimp tacos which were actually quite delicious. Back to the hotel and TV.

The next a.m., we at the free breakfast offered by the hotel, packed up and headed over to Apple Valley, following Mrs. Magellan's instructions.

The last time we were in Apple Valley was over 50 years ago--believe me it has definitely changed. It's a new and thriving community in gorgeous natural surroundings.

The library is new and we found it easily. I gave copies of Deadly Omen away to everyone who came. I believe about 50 people attended as I had few copies left.

I spoke about e-publishing and on-line promotion and everyone seemed attentive and lots of great questions were asked. After the meeting, I sold some of my other books.
We were invited by the group to go to lunch as their guest and many of the group met in a little place called Maxwell's with wonderful food.

From there we headed home and Mrs. Magellan took us a different and fast way then we'd come.

It's always good to get back home.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

First Review for An Axe to Grind

An Axe to Grind, review from the Book Connection

Doug Milligan, Stacey Wilbur, Abel Navarro, Gordon Butler, Frank Marshall, and more familiar names are back in An Axe To Grind, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series by F.M. Meredith.

Doug Milligan and his partner, Frank Marshall are investigating the murder of a stalker. There are several suspects, which include the father and brother of the girl who was being stalked. Meanwhile, Stacey Wilbur, now a Vice-Officer, is working a case involving a soccer coach who might be a pedophile.

With their busy work schedules, Doug and Stacey's romance is pushed to the back burner, and even though Stacey and her mother, Clara, continue with wedding plans, a lot hinges on whether Gordon Butler can find himself an apartment so he can move out of Doug's house.

When Doug sets out on his own to corner the murderer, Stacey is in a race against time to find him before it's too late.

Right from the start, like Meredith does with all the books in this series, the reader is instantly drawn into the world of the Rocky Bluff P.D. Gordon Butler, who is usually the butt of many jokes around the station, is flagged down by a paperboy who has just discovered one of his customers looking more than a bit worse for wear. Butler is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in this series because you just can't help but feel sorry for everything that he manages to step into.

Doug and Stacey's romance, which began in the previous installment of this series, No Sanctuary, continues with great difficulty in this one. One thing I've always said about the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is that Meredith does an excellent job of blending the personal and professional lives of the people working in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Whether it is Doug and Stacey, Abel Navarro and his wife Maria, Ryan Strickland, the Department's public relations officer, and his wife Barbara, or any other member of this fictional police force, the author has created characters that you easily care about, just like they were your next door neighbors.

With her masterful storytelling, Meredith includes many twists and turns to keep you guessing who the real culprit is. But what I like best about all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books is that the pace doesn't slow down. Every new clue leads to something else, and before you know it, you're at the end of the book and eager to read more.

I impatiently await the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F.M. Meredith!

Title: An Axe to Grind
Author: F.M. Meredith
Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (Oak Tree Books)
ISBN-10: 1892343789
ISBN-13: 978-1892343789
SRP: $12.95

Available in a Kindle edition for only $1.99!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Introducing New PSWA Member, John Bray

Marilyn: John Bray is one of our newer members and was brave enough to volunteer for an interview. I think this is a great way for us to get to know something about you.

John: I joined PSWA sometime last fall. I have been lurking, as it were, reading all the e-mails and occasionally taking advantage of some of the suggestions and insights.

Marilyn: Tell us something about yourself.

John: I was sworn into the New York City Police Department in May of 1959 and was assigned to a Queens precinct after the Academy.

After about two years, I wangled a transfer to a new unit called the Tactical Patrol Force. We worked in all the high crime areas in the City, both in uniform and civilian clothes.

When I graduated from John Jay College and got admitted to law school, I transferred back to a quiet command in Queens. I got promoted to sergeant in 1966 and was sent to the Manhattan precinct that covers Chinatown and Little Italy.

That was an adventure. The sergeants’ “club” arranged for my (ahem) transfer to a Queens precinct for reasons we won’t discuss here. After I graduated from law school and passed the bar I was assigned to a new unit then called the Criminal Justice Liaison Division, where I was promoted to lieutenant and put in charge of the court liaison unit. From there I was recruited into the Department Advocate’s Office which prosecuted internal disciplinary transgressions in the Department Trial Room.

After 17 years I took a vested interest retirement (17/40ths, instead of the full 20/40ths) and left to practice criminal defense and family court law.

Marilyn: How did you find out about PSWA?

John: I found an e-mail on the yahoo/crimewriters site which suggested the PSWA, so I joined after reading the materials on the website.

Marilyn: I've been positing to crimewriters about PSWA for a long time, glad you saw the posting and decided to investigate and join PSWA. When did you begin writing?

John: After I retired from the practice of law in New York, we moved to Williamsburg, VA. So many people who have heard my stories suggested I write them down. I first intended to just leave them to posterity but found a correspondence course in short story writing and began to believe I might have some little ability to reduce my anecdotes to readable story form.

My first novel, THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY MADIGAN, is awaiting publication by BeWrite Books of Lancashire, England. It is still on their “coming soon” queue. It is a story about a teen-age orphan who enlists in the Union Army in 1862 and is wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg. During his convalescence and while on guard duty he disrupts an assassination attempt on a member of the cabinet in Washington and is co-opted by the National Detective Service to uncover the ring responsible. It then becomes a law enforcement/counterespionage story. A visit to the Fredericksburg Memorial Battle Site and National Cemetery was the inspiration for the novel. My second full manuscript, THE BAITED TRAP, is under consideration by another small publisher. It is a more contemporary police procedural set in the 1970’s and is based on real characters and events I had dealt with in the Advocate’s Office.

Marilyn: What do you do for fun?

John: My idea of fun might be a little different. I attend classes at William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Association, A Program for Lifelong Learning. I belong to the Chesapeake Bay Writers Club. (In February I will probably be elected to the presidency, since I’m running unopposed.)

The Emerson Society, a group of retired men meet once month for dinner and a member reads an original essay about a topic he chooses. I belong to a writing critique group, run an open mic program at Barnes and Noble once a month and every once in a while we get to visit some of our 29 grandchildren. We read and watch rented movies at home. And, oh, I write every once in a while, now agonizing over my third manuscript, which is also based on a wild story about the theft of 100 kilos of heroin by narcotics detectives from the Police Property Clerk’s Office (true event).

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like to share with me and my blog readers?

John: My first published short story appeared in the first edition of an e-zine, (yes. India.) That was “The Sergeant’s Club”, an adventure about the inner workings of some of my colleagues in a precinct. A fantasy story, “The Dragon’s Redemption”, appeared in; published a story about a stalker entitled “The Voyeur” for which they paid the handsome sum of $20. “Scalped”, an on-line publication accepted another story but it’s not for mixed company and written under a pen name. I have submitted a police short story to the Christopher Newport University writing contest and a science fiction story to a themed contest run by Sci-Fi e-zine. I have some other stories written and asked Keith Bettinger to send me his listing of possible publications

Marilyn: Thank you so much for telling us about yourself.

To learn more about PSWA, go to the website:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Golden Quill Award

Though I didn't win the Epic E-book award for No Sanctuary, I came home to learn that I did get the Golden Quill Award from American Authors Association for Dispel the Mist. Not too shabby.

Actually, I'm thrilled. I would've entered Dispel the Mist in the Epic e-book contest, but they'd changed the dates the books had to be published, and mine didn't fall in the right time period. I don't think it would've mattered though, Mike's book, The Pot Thief is a fantastic and unusual mystery and deserved the win.

The American Authors Association has been good to me, my mysteries have won other years. I do a lot of reviewing for them and have been able to read many good books because of it.

Thank you, American Authors Association, for this award.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Epicon Part III

For me, the highlight of Saturday was planning a mystery with the two New Voices young people. What great imaginations! They came up with a plot and characters that would make a great YA mystery.

For me, one of the best parts of Epicon is getting to see and visit with friends you've made at previous Epicons--and meeting people in person you know through email--two of those are Melanie Atkins and Kim McDougall a.k.a. Kim Chatel.

Of course we all looked forward to the awards banquet. The food was excellent and Dan Reitz was hilarious, as usual. All that laughing had to be good for us.

We sat with my Oak Tree publisher, Billie Johnson, Lai and Mike Orenduff, and Linda and her sister, and two lovely women whose last names I can't remember. Mike, Linda and I were all up for the mystery/thriller award.

As you can see by the photo, Mike won but I'm trying very hard to take the award away from him--all in fun, of course.

We told people goodbye that evening as we had to be up at 4 to catch our plane at 7.
When we got to the airport and printed out our boarding passes we got in the wrong security line at first. It dawned on me there might be another so I checked and sure enough, we had to walk a long way to the right one, and of course the line was monstrously long.

Security is a real pain these days, off with the shoes, jackets, baggie with your liquids, computer out of it's case, everything on the roller to go through the X-ray machine, then put everything back on and together. Figure out which gate you need to go to--always the farthest one away--race to get there because you only have about 10 minutes.

We flew from NOLO to Atlanta, Georgia where we changed planes. Again, only a few minutes to race to the next gate which was far away. On that plane, finally, and we bought food because we were starving. We bought two different snack boxes--which are wrapped so tight I couldn't possibly get into them. Thanks goodness for a strong husband.

That was one long and rather bumpy flight. Low clouds when we reached Phoenix and the pilot circled for a long time before setting down. We had to find out where to catch the airport bus because now it was time to change airlines. After being given wrong directions twice, we finally set out on the two block trek to the bus--of course hauling our heavy carry-ons with us. We were dropped off in front of the USAirways terminal, again through security, up the elevator (I hate escalators and don't do well when I'm carrying stuff) and then to figure out which gate we needed to go to. I had an instinct where it would be (husband wasn't so sure), headed off that way and finally found one of those boards that tell about departures. I was right, but of course we still had a long way to walk and about 10 minutes before take-off. We made it.

The flight to Bakersfield is short, but it was also a bit bumpy. Lulled hubby to sleep. Were we ever glad to put feet down on California soil, find our car and head home.

Never again. Oh, don't get me wrong, we'll fly another day, just not go somewhere we have to change planes and airlines. I don't mind changing a couple of times, but this was a hard trip.

Back to Epicon--had a great time and kudos to the organizers. I know how hard that is to do from my work being program chair for the PSWA conference.

That's it for Epicon.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Epicon, Part 2, Friday

Hubby went off to breakfast with another attendees husband and I joined the group for the goodies offered by Epic.

First on the agenda was a business meeting. I then gave a presentation on How to Write a Mystery and the group came up with a fascinating bunch of characters and a great plot.

From there I sat in on presentation on Income Taxes and the Writer.

Lunch, like all the meals, was great followed by a speaker.

More presentations in the afternoon--though none were well attended.

That evening, along with quite a few folks from the conference headed off on foot to the harbor where we boarded a steam boat. The photos are from the dinner cruise.

My publisher, Dan Reitz and his daughter, Publisher, Marci Baun and her daughter, two huge freighters we passed, and Kim McDougall who I've known on line for a long time, but met her for the first time at this conference. She's well-known for Blazing Trailers website and making book trailers.

Hubby and I loved the cruise and sat out on deck after we ate dinner.

We walked back home--another couple and us--and the rest were worried I wouldn't know the way. No problem.

We could hardly wait to get into bed.

Around 4 a.m. someone across from us started hollering and pounding on the door. "Hey, Rainey, wake up. Where'd you park my car, Dude?" and on and on.

When we left to go to breakfast in the morning, I spied a Do Not Disturb sign on his door and really wanted to go pound on it and shout--but I resisted. Part 3 soon.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Hightlights of Epicon 2010 Part 1

Our first day in New Orleans we went sightseeing. Wow! What a place. We sort of ate our way through the French Quarter.

We had someone point us in the right direction to go to the French Quarter first thing in the morning and had breakfast in a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe someone recommended to us. Great breakfast. Along with eggs and bacon I had grits. (When in the South do as the Southerners do, I always say.)

Walking down the narrow streets (we started off on Chartres St. more commonly called Charter) and believe me, it looks just like it does in the movies. Balconies with wrought iron railings, old, old buildings, lots of interesting and some weird shops, restaurants, etc. We wandered along until we heard live music and headed over to an outdoor cafe with a jazz band. Along the way we saw a living statue--we also saw her get down off her perch and wander off. We ate crayfish niblets in the cafe and drank coffee and enjoyed the music.

In Jackson Square we saw a bit of everything: artists painting, a tarot card reader, a bunch of drunks and drug addicts, lots of tourists, a great statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback, more jazz musicians.

We peeked in the iron gates of the Old Ursline Convent and Catholic school. We went inside the St. Louis Cathedral, beautiful, sat down and enjoyed the gorgeous stained glass and took time out to pray. The church was rebuilt in 1851 after being destroyed by a hurricane.

We toured the New Orleans Museum and the wonderful display about the Mardi Gras.
The costuming is absolutely fantastic.

The Court House is gorgeous. The contrast of the different old brick and wood buildings and the huge marble and more expensive homes and public buildings is intriguing.

We had lunch in a corner restaurant with a fountain in the courtyard (bathrooms were outside off the courtyard) and I ate an oyster PoBoy.

That evening was the get-acquainted cocktail party in the hotel where we ran into a lot of old friends from Epic, met some new ones, and chatted with Michael Orenduff and his wife Lai. He was one of my competitors for the best mystery/thriller e-book award--and he won. That happened later, but I wasn't surprised.

Exhausted, hubby and I went to bed. Not easy to sleep in hotels in New Orleans. The restaurants and bars never close--they are open 24/7, which means people come and go at all hours and they are not the least bit quiet.

More next time.


March's In-Person Events

Besides my blog tour which is in full swing right now, I have a calendar full of in-person events.

On March 9th, I'll be on the radio with Leslie Kohler at 10 a.m. PST, Blog Talk Radio.

My Apple Valley visit with the High Desert California Writers Club is 10 a.m. Saturday, March 13 at the Apple Valley Library.

On Sunday, March 21 I'll have a booth at the Celebration of the Whales from 10 to 5 at Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard.

On Sunday, March 28th, I'll be signing books along with other Central Coast Sisters in Crime at the Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay from 1 to 3. (Goodies will also be available.)

If you can come to any of these events, be sure and tell me you read about it on my blog.

So you can see I'm going to be busy the rest of this month--but that's what happens when you have a new book out. Yep, I should have my copies of An Axe to Grind by the time I go to all these events.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Too Much on My Plate, But I Love It

While you're reading this, I hope I'm in an airplane on my way home from New Orleans, tired but happy.

The other day I received and email from the president of a the High Desert chapter of the California Writers Club confirming my appearance at their club this month, March 13th at the Apple Valley Library. My heart sank. I didn't remember anything about it--maybe vaguely, but nothing concrete. I quickly checked my calendar, knowing that March is filled with personal appearances, something every weekend but one.

I looked, and thankfully, March 13 didn't have anything written on it, so I was able to email the president back and let her know I'd be there. Apple Valley is a long way from Springville--about a three hour plus drive. I knew we couldn't do it all in one day. Since the meeting is at 10, I decided we should spend the night before in a hotel. Guess what, there is no hotel in Apple Valley which Expedia quickly pointed out. The nearest hotels are in Victorville, only a few miles away. None are four star, mostly 2 star. I picked one that had favorable reviews from fellow travelers. It was cheap--so it will have its disadvantages. But if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that hubby and I have stayed in some pretty funky hotels.

That taken care of, I emailed the president again to find out what the group would like me to talk about. E-publishing and Promoting is what they want to hear. Great--I know plenty about both that I'll be glad to share.

Now, back to why I didn't have it down on my calendar. I live by my calendar, so it is a mystery. The only thing I can think of is that I approached her a long time ago about speaking for them and gave a free date, but when she affirmed the email went into my spam and I didn't notice it. Well, I'd rather think that then I'm going senile.

Doesn't matter, but this is going to be one busy month--but I love in-person events and meeting new people interested in writing.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Signing at Epicon, New Orleans

Anyone living in New Orleans, at 2:15 today, I'll be signing books in the bookstore at the Epicon conference at the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street. This will be the first time I didn't have to haul books in my luggage as Barnes and Nobel is taking care of the signing and ordered the books ahead of time. (At least I'm hoping that's what happened.)

No matter how it turns out though, I'm excited about visiting New Orleans for my first and probably only time.

Tonight is the big awards ceremony where everyone gets dressed up, attends a sumptuous banquet, and finds out how is going to win the awards for best in e-books. My book, No Sanctuary is a finalist in the mystery/suspense category. Though I certainly think my book deserves an award, it is up against three other books who also are wonderful and deserve an award.

No matter, I've gone to lots of these award ceremonies and they are lots of fun. My publisher, Dan Reitz, is the master of ceremonies, and he's a hoot. We'll all laught a lot and enjoy the evening.

Unfortunately, hubby and I must be up bright and early to head back to the airport. We'll have to say our goodbyes at the award ceremony.


Friday, March 5, 2010

John Schembra, Long time Member of PSWA

Marilyn: John Schembra is one of the first friends I made in the PSWA. I don't remember the exact place we did meet. But since that time he's attended several PSWA conferences and we've participated in the same book fairs.

John: Actually, I think we met at the Jack London Writer's Conference in Santa Clara. I happened to sit next to you during a seminar and we started talking. I hadn't been published yet and you gave me some very good advice both on writing and getting published. You told me about electronic publishing and about the PSWA. It interested me, especially since it's members were all part of the law enforcement community. I thought it would be interesting to attend the conference and meet the members. I was not disappointed! I attended the conference that year at the Reno Peppermill and found it to be very worthwhile and a whole lot of fun!

Marilyn: Tell my blog readers a bit about yourself.

John: About me- I grew up in Oakland and San Leandro, California. I was drafted into the army in 1969 and ended up becoming a Military Policeman. I spent a year with the 557th MP Co. at Long Binh, Vietnam, (1970) where I had several "adventures" that provided the basis for my first book, M.P. When I returned home and completed my military service, I joined the Pleasant Hill ( CA. ) Police Department, retiring as a Sergeant after 30 years service. I have been married to my best friend, Charlene for 38 years and we have two wonderful children, Allie, 33, and Scott, 29. Char and I live in Concord, CA., which is about 25 miles across the bay from San Francisco.

Marilyn: When did you start writing?

John: I started writing trade articles for law enforcement periodicals a couple of years before attempting a novel and enjoyed it very much. I also am an avid reader and have always admired authors that could write great stories.

I decided to write a book at the urging of several fellow officers at the police department. Another Sergeant, who also was a Vietnam Veteran, and I would talk about our experiences, swapping tales, and they would listen to our stories. They told me I should write them down, that it would make a good book. So, one day, I grabbed a tablet and a pencil and started writing them down. That eventually coalesced into a book. I decided to write it as a work of fiction, based in part upon my personal experiences, as my purpose was show the readers not so much what I personally went through, but what were the duties and mission of the Military Police in Vietnam. I wanted to provide a complete picture, and, in real life, no one person would go through what I made my protagonist experience!

Once I completed the book, I started looking for a publisher. I contacted several, but most weren't interested. I learned more about electronic publishing through the PSWA and EPIC, and using their resources, researched numerous e-pub companies. I liked what I read and heard about Writers Exchange E-Publishing, and decided to give them a try. I sent my manuscript to them and it was accepted, and M.P. was electronically published in 2002. I was officially a published novelist! A year or so later, M.P. became available in print through Writers Exchange, using Booksurge as the print on demand resource.

Marilyn: Hubby and I both read M.P. and enjoyed it. What came next?

John: My second book is called Retribution and is mystery that takes place in San Francisco. The protagonist, Vincent Torelli, is the same character from M.P., just 25 years later. He now is a homicide inspector with SFPD and is investigating a series of vigilante killings. The killer is targeting the worst criminals who have in one way or another, not been prosecuted due to some sort of technicality or lack of evidence. I like to think it has several twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged in the story! Retribution is also published by Writers Exchange and is available both electronically and in print, through my website, the Writers Exchange website, , and at

Marilyn: What kind of promotion works best for you?

John: I like to use both the internet and personal contacts to promote my books. I really enjoy attending book fairs, library events, and other special events to talk about my books and writing in general. I like meeting people and signing books. I found word of mouth works best in getting the information about me and my books out there, though, especially when it's a happy reader who posts comments on Facebook or through e-mail and my web page guest book. Another valuable resource are the numerous writer's conferences, though I limit my attendence to two or three a year (PWSA, EPIC, and the Military Writer's Society of America.) I send bookmarks and business cards to several of them each year.

Marilyn: What's up next for you?

John: Well, I just completed my third novel and and sent it off to the publisher- Writers Exchange again. It is the third novel of Vincent Torelli and again takes place in San Francisco. In this one, tentatively titled Diplomatic Immunity, he is searching for a sniper who is killing foreign consuls in the City.

I am currently working on my fourth novel. This is also a mystery but takes place in a small town in the central valley of California. The two main characters are a professor at the local community college and a female campus police officer who help each other in solving a couple of murders that happen on the campus and in the town. I hope to have that done in the next few months, and then begin on another book. I guess I'll continue writing as long as I can. Might even eventually catch up to you, Marilyn!

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?

John: I would just like to say that if they want to be associated with a great writer's association, join the PSWA! The conference is exceptional. The seminars are wonderful, very informative and pertinent, and the members a great bunch of professional writers. It is the best conference, and what makes it better is it is loads of fun. Thanks so much to you, Marilyn, for all your hard work on behalf of the PSWA and the conference!

Marilyn: Thank you, John, and we'll miss you at the conference this year. And for anyone who would like to attend, visit the website for all the information:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In New Orleans and Visiting Kaye Boone's Blog All at the Same Time

If all has gone as planned, I'm in New Orleans and spent the day sightseeing. When I get back I'll have photos and give a report. I've been looking forward to this trip so much I've even dreamed about eating crayfish.(As long as I don't think of them as the crawdads my kids used to catch, I'm okay.)

Today, I'm also on Kaye Boone's Blog, Meanderings and Muses. I don't know Kaye, but I feel like I do. She came from the same hometown and my husband, Cambridge MD. Hap left when he was 18 to join the Navy--and he's quite a bit older than Kaye, so they never crossed paths.

I've read most of Kaye's blogs so know quite about her even though we've never met in person. If you visit her blog, please let her know I sent you.