Saturday, July 31, 2010

Developing Characters

Recently I received a wonderful review from New York Journal of Books for Lingering Spirit and at the end, the reviewer wrote "Meredith is a master of characterization. She fully rounds out the facets of her protagonists' personalities and richly develops the details of the supporting case. She does not hit any false notes with her dialogue and builds strong relationships among her characters...."

Great to read about one's work, of course, but thought maybe I should write a blog about developing characters that might help aspiring authors.

When I'm thinking up a characters, I visualize the person in my mind. Once I've got all the physical characteristics set, then I choose the name that I think fits that character. Always be sure when picking names not to use names in the story you're writing that have the same first letter, sound alike, rhyme or all have the same number of syllables. I collect interesting names and always save play and graduation programs for names. If you want foreign names, do a Google search for names that will fit your character.

To keep track of things like physical and personality characteristics, and cars your characters drive, either do it on the computer or use 3 X 5 cards like I do.

Because I see the story unfolding in my head as I'm writing, I also hear the dialogue. This helps to make it sound realistic. Remember, most people don't always speak in complete sentences or like English college professors, unless they happen to be one.

One trick I use, and this helps with POV too, is to get inside the character whose POV you are writing from. See out through this person's eyes, notice what he or she would notice, including colors, sights, sounds, and smells. Hear the words they are saying, are they true to that person?

Make sure the dialogue is important to the story, that it's moving the plot along or revealing character. Never have one person tell someone something that the other person already knows just to impart information. Put that in the narrative in a logical manner.

Most of all, think of all the characters who inhabit your story as real people. Would they really do what you're having them do? Are the stakes high enough for him or her to risk their life or reputation? How are the feeling while something is happening? Put the emotion in, that will help the reader to relate to the main character.

I do hope this will be helpful.


Friday, July 30, 2010

John Bray, New PSWA Member

Marilyn: This is an introduction to one of the Public Safety Writers Association's newer member, John Bray. John, tell us a bit about yourself.

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.

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: When did you start 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.

Marilyn: I believe you mentioned a novel, will you tell my readers something about it?

John: 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 dealt with in the Advocate’s Office.

Marilyn: And 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: When were you first published?

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: Thanks, John, that was interesting. Do let me know when the book comes out and we'll do some promo for it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Booksigning at Willow Bridge Bookstore

Last Saturday, hubby and I headed to Oakhurst which is about a three hour drive from out house. We have to drive down from the foothills, get out on the 99 freeway (always exciting, especially when a big truck decides to tailgate you going over 70 miles an hour), through Fresno and up 41 into the mountains on a good but winding road.

Oakhurst is really a thriving city and has everything anyone could want--unlike Springville where we live--including a movie theater, all sorts of restaurants, medical care, two big grocery stores with shopping centers, and best of all, a book store. (I might add that Oakhurst is the gateway to Yosemite National Park which brings in many tourists.)

Willow Bridge Bookstore is now in its second location, on Hwy 49 in the Von's Shopping Center. It's everything you hope for in a small, independent bookstore, starting with a pleasant owner who loves having book events.

When we first arrived in Oakhurst, we met good friend and fellow author, Sunny, and her husband Bob, for lunch in a great sandwich shop on the highway, called Grinders. (They also grind their own coffee.)

At the bookstore itself, I was delighted to welcome Virgina Pilegard of children book fame, a friend from Facebook who is now a real live friend, a new acquaintance named Diane, and one of my first cousins' granddaughter, Heidi, who I also follow on Facebook. She came a long way to see me.

What I talked about at first was how and why the book Lingering Spirit came about. From there I answered lots of questions about writing in general, mystery writing specifically, and all the promotion that needs to be done.

Though it was a small group, books were bought which I gladly autographed.

I must say, I had a great time. I'll be returning to the bookstore next month to speak to writers about working with small presses.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Introducing, Author Augustus "Gus" Cileone

Today I'm interviewing author Augustus "Gus" Cileone.

Marilyn: Gus, please tell me and my readers about your background.

Gus: I was born in Philadelphia and attended public schools there. I received undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Temple University. I later studied at Saint Joseph’s University and acquired teaching certificates in elementary and secondary education. I am widowed and have one daughter. I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and am now retired. I now live in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia.

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

Gus: I was the odd student who actually enjoyed writing essays about literature in high school and college. My teachers would single out my writing, and I started to write some bad poetry and short stories during my college years. I continued to write as an adult, and have won literary prizes in fiction competitions and playwriting, having been recently cited for honorable mention in the Stage Play Script category of the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Marilyn: I felt the same way about writing in school--however I've never won any literary prizes. Congratulations on the honorable mention in the Writers Digest Competition for Script Writing. I don't think people realize how many people enter those WD writing competitions. To win an honorable mention is indeed an honor.

Now tell us about your novel.

Gus: A Lesson in Murder is my first novel. Since my wife taught at Quaker schools and my daughter attended them, I thought it would be ironic to connect a series of murders to a pacifist Quaker school. Since my background was in literature, I decided to include literary allusions in the story.

The book begins with the murder of a wealthy alumnus of Eastern Friends School in Philadelphia. Details at the scene prompt Lt. Frank DiSalvo to introduce himself at a faculty meeting. There he meets Maxwell Hunter, an English teacher who likes to lecture about the mysteries of literature. At first, DiSalvo brushes off Hunter’s offer of help, but when the second EFS-connected murder is discovered, he changes his mind. With his sharp eye for detail, and uncanny ability to assemble the pieces of the puzzle, Hunter identifies the literary modus operandi … but can he predict when and where the next murder will take place?

Marilyn: Where can we find your book?

Gus: The book can be purchased online at, Barnes and, and My webpage is at

Marilyn: And what's next on your writing agenda?

Gus: I have completed a second novel about growing up as an Italian American Catholic in South Philadelphia during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I am currently working on another murder mystery.

Marilyn: Both sound interesting. Come back at a later date and tell us about them. Thank you for visiting today, Gus.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The E-book Revolution

Seems everyone is discussing e-books and e-readers lately.

I've heard arguments that e-books are definitely here to stay and well eventually wipe out paper books. Frankly, though I believe e-books and readers are here to stay, I doubt regular books will disappear.

On the other side, believe it or not, there are many who think the e-book and readers are only a fad and will disappear much like the 8 track tape and wants happening with VCR videos. I definitely think these folks are wrong.

For one thing, e-books have been around for 10 years--though not a lot of people knew about them, except people like me who were published in e-books. The Rocket E-Reader came along about that time too--and it was great way to read e-books. Unfortunately, Sony bought them out and then didn't come out with another e-reader until a couple of years ago. By that time Amazon had started selling the Kindle.

Frankly, e-books are shaking up the publishing industry. I'm not going into all the interesting things that have been happening, but believe me, the New York publishers are not thrilled nor have they quite figured out what's going on or how to go about the e-publishing business.

One agent has started putting clients' books on Kindle who didn't have e-book rights in their contract--and has been banned by the big publishing houses. Interesting.

So, if you don't think things are changing in the publishing world, you aren't paying attention.

I have no idea how all this is going to shake out. What I do know is life is all about changes, and right now the publishing world is being turned upside down. Since nearly all my books are available in e-book form, I find this fascinating.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Elaine Cantrell and A New Leaf

Today, my guest is Elaine Cantrell, a fellow Oak Tree Press author, whose written the book, New Leaf.

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Elaine: I'm a Southern girl, born and raised in South Carolina. I hold a Master's Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and am a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators. I'm also a member of Romance Writer's of America and EPIC authors. At present I teach high school social studies. When I'm not writing I enjoy books, flowers, vintage Christmas ornaments, and playing with my grandchildren.

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

Elaine: I guess when I was maybe four years old. I dictated a story about Woody Woodpecker to my father who laughed hysterically the entire time he was writing it. He wrote that story in pencil on notebook paper and kept it his entire life. After his death my stepmother found it in his papers and gave it to me.

Elaine: What inspired A New Leaf?

Marilyn: My son was my inspiration for this story. He came home one day and told me he'd written a book. I read it and was amazed by his talent. He told me that he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself so he decided he might as well write them down. Amazing!

Since I had always done the same thing I decided to give it a shot. I wrote the book and on the spur of the moment sent it to the Timeless Love Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press. To my great and utter surprise, the publisher called me one evening and told me I'd won and that she wanted to publish A New Leaf.

Marilyn: Tell us a bit about A New Leaf.

Elaine: Here's a blub that gives you a good idea what the story's about.

Betsy McLaughlin’s future seems bright. Her father is the richest man in Covington, and she’s engaged to the son of a wealthy, socially prominent family.

But then Kyle Alexander enters the picture. Kyle is newly-paroled after serving time for armed robbery. He’s free now, and he can’t keep his eyes off his boss’s beautiful daughter.

Can prison really change a man for the better? Betsy’s about to find out.

Marilyn: Sounds interesting. Where can we purchase A New Leaf?

Elaine: You can get the book at, the publisher's web site at, or at any bookstore. The ISBN is 1892343-36-3

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

Elaine: Yes, I'd love for them to visit me at my web site and my blog. Those addresses are and I'm also on Facebook and would love to be friends.

Marilyn: Thank you so much for being my guest today, Elaine.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dreams and the Movie Inception

Hubby and I went to see Inception the other day. Our eldest daughter had emailed us that it was a good movie but to be sure and pay attention in the beginning or we wouldn't understand the end.

There was a lot going on, but at times it seemed slow. Hubby fell asleep several times. I tried to nod off but forced myself to stay awake. The pace picked up and became action packed--hubby stayed awake through all that. It's definitely a movie of many layers--maybe too many. Though, I will say this, it's the kind of movie you think about afterwards. That says a lot for this movie, because often times I can't even remember what a movie was about.

I couldn't begin to give a synopsis of the movie except that it was about tampering with people's dreams.

I've always had an active dream life. Sometimes I can remember what I dream about, but sometimes not. The most vivid dreams are those I have just before I wake up in the morning--and they usually involve trying to find a bathroom.

What I do remember about a lot of my dreams is I usually am not living in the house I live in now. I can only remember dreaming about this home once, and it was far different than it is now--and I was involved somehow with a militia group. (I was writing about one at the time.)

I've dreamed about the house I grew up in many, many times--but I'm not a child--I'm myself, living in the house, sometimes with my husband sometimes not.

But when it comes to where I'm living, I most often dream about the house we lived in during the 20 plus years we were in Oxnard. We remodeled that house several times. First we added on a screened patio. Then we tore it down and built a 20 X 20 family room, and then later added on another screened-in patio. When I dream, it's always the house with the first screened-in patio.

Oxnard itself is nothing like it really was at that time. In dreams I often get lost because the houses are are all huge but in disrepair and I can never seem to get to where I want to go.

I've had lots of other weird dreams, but that's what I remember most.

Frankly, I don't want anyone messing around with my dreams like they do in Inception.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

General Hospital, the soap opera

I've admitted that my husband and I both watch General Hospital every afternoon that we're home. It's kind of our rest period--and I say that because we both tend to fall asleep.

But while we're not sleeping we're often laughing or saying something like, "Oh, sure that would happen."

For instance, they had a scene once, where the very sexy Samantha went into the police station, flirted with an officer at the front desk and stole a gun that was evidence in an important case. Never happen.

A couple of days ago, Carly, the mother of three children--whom she seldom spends anytime with, in fact the youngest boy seems to have disappeared and no one has noticed--spoke about her son Michael's ankle monitor. I had no idea he had one--and if he had he'd be back in jail, because this young man goes everywhere, including on a boat ride with his step-father, mother and kids.

When people are in jail everyone gets to go in and see them and spend private time with them--amazing.

The main character, who I think is great--is a gangster, everyone knows he's a gangster, and he gets away with murder--all the time. Everyone falls in love with him, including a federal prosecuter--at least she's headed that way. We know that she really would like to have a baby, and Sonny, the gangster, would certainly be the one to give one to her since he's fathered half the kids in town.

When it comes to babies, often the mom's aren't quite sure who the father might be because of having more than one affair at a time. If DNA is taken to prove who the baby belongs to, someone is likely to tamper with the results--which of course results in more complications.

The hospital scenes are also amusing. When someone is in ICU even strangers manage to go visit. I'd hate to be in General Hospital, there is absolutely no privacy for patients no matter how sick they are--and I'm not talking about hospital staff--I'm talking about all the ordinary (well not so ordinary since they are often gangsters of one sort or another) people who pop in and out of supposedly ill and dying patients' rooms. One thing though, even when you're dying your makeup and hair will be perfect.

Despite all this, the soap is fun to watch. They come up with the most convoluted plots, sometimes just to give a star a long vacation--Luke Spencer disappears for months at a time.

Anyway, I'll probably keep on watching just to see what the writers are going to think up next--or how they'll get the characters out of the complicated messes they are in.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Author Adrienne Jones and her book, The Hoax

Bio: Adrienne Jones is author of the books Brine, Gypsies Stole my Tequila, The Hoax, and editor of the collection Grimm and Grimmer. She lives in Rhode Island and writes full time. Her website:

About The Hoax:
Bored accountant, Joey Duvaine, needed a career change. World domination seemed like a fun gig. Allowing himself to become a puppet in his genius friend’s religious con, Joey plays his part in a fraudulent miracle devised by a private special effects team. As the media and the public are divided on whether he’s a modern prophet or a clever scam artist, an FBI agent becomes interested in Joey’s financial transactions, possible terrorist motives, and the overnight popularity of his new cult.

But the agent’s investigation leads him down a path he’s unprepared for, as Joey’s benefactors have barbarous motives beyond the smokescreen of the hoax, and for them, humanity is merely a disguise.

Marilyn: Adrienne, tell me about your back ground.

Adrienne: I have a degree in mass media, which I more or less abandoned after a few years working in film/video production. I did some fun, crazy projects, but the majority of the money came from things like filming open heart surgery for medical students—not exactly flexing my creative muscles. So I quit and did a lot of freelance scripting and some journalistic stuff after that, and it was nice to be writing, but was far from riveting; writing television ads about a sale on fresh produce or anti-shoplifting messages.

So I flirted with professional writing on the side for years but it took me a while to hunker down and actually do my own thing, not someone else’s.

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

Adrienne: This is probably a cliché answer, but since childhood. I won a writing contest when I was in first grade, age six, and I remember the fuss and the way people responded, like it was this strange thing. I was no genius, but they acted like I was a talking dog or something. I found it fascinating because it was praise for something that came easy to me—which most things didn’t; I was mediocre at math and science. So I felt like I was being congratulated for eating candy, and I sort of got addicted to seeing people’s reaction to what I’d written, and if they didn’t react the way I wanted, I’d step it up or make it weirder.

I entered more contests and won more prizes, so I thought, okay, astronaut is out—I guess I’m a writer! Took me a couple decades to actually take it seriously…but the seeds were in there somewhere, just had to clear out a little life dung to get to them. So now I run with a whole pack of talking dogs, and being a writer isn’t so unique anymore, but that feeling comes back when the work really affects someone, and they take the time to contact you or write a review.

Marilyn: What gave you the idea for this book?

Adrienne: I knew a man who pulled sleazy cons, like completely fabricating his resume and getting a job as a CEO with a company he knew nothing about, or using a rented wheelchair to cut line at Disney Land. But the ultimate was declaring himself a minister and his home a church to try and get tax breaks (when he wasn’t visiting strip clubs). But it was this idea of a fake minister that intrigued me, and I started thinking…there are plenty of false prophets and cults and various churches out there, but what would it take for something like that to go global now?

I started reading up on cult leaders and mass hypnosis and incidents where blind faith led to murder and historical insanity. The conclusion I came to was that although humanity has proven at times to blindly follow anything, nothing in the information age could fool people on such a grand scale as to infect the entire world, especially with all the conflict and diversity in beliefs. So I asked, how COULD that happen, then? So I went beyond the known world, and that’s when the book shifted from mystery to paranormal mystery. Then it just went nuts.

Marilyn: What kind of things are you doing to promote it?

Adrienne: I’m doing a lot of Internet promotion right now, but I’ll be doing some festival appearances in the fall (I keep better in the cold weather) and have been lining up some press coverage for the book, which I’ve had some luck with since presenting my book as potentially scandalous—go figure. I also have a new spanking promo video for The Hoax, as I’m finally resigned to the truth that we live in a visual world—and people have responded well to that. It was a great way to condense the book’s plot and the emotion behind it, whereas summarizing a full length novel in words on a page can be grueling and often ineffective.

The promo video can be viewed via my website;

Marilyn: Where can my readers find a copy of your book?

THE HOAX is available now at Mundania Press.

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

Adrienne: I want to entertain you. I want my novel to make you feel something, even if it makes you feel like tarring and feathering me and dragging me through town square behind a donkey. But I hope it doesn’t. Enjoy!

Marilyn: Not only does the book sound fascinating, you do too. Thanks for visiting me today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's Gotten Into the Birds?

Remember that scary Alfred Hitchcock movie about the Birds? If you're too young, in a small town, the birds went nuts and attacked everyone. They managed to find their way into houses where people were hiding, pecked and pecked until they killed everyone.

Saturday, while I waited for someone to show up at my book signing, I was sitting where I could see out the glass top of the door and across the street. What once was a lovely restaurant, ultra posh, used to be on the top floor of the building.

Being able to go to this wonderful place was an experience. The food was always delicious, cloth tablecloths and napkins were on every table along with fresh flowers. When you were there you were sure to see some of the "social elite" of the community. On Friday and Saturday nights a piano player at an old grand piano entertained with all the romantic tunes from the 40s and 50s. We ate there on only on special occasions because it was a bit on the pricey side. Our writers' group met there for several Christmas dinners.

What happened to cause the restaurants decline and closure, because it was long before the recession? It may have been the new rules for access for handicapped, as the only way to get into the restaurant was up a steep set of stairs.

I've often been sad when driving or walking past, because old memories of good times surface and knowing that they will never be repeated in that particular place.

I noticed a hole torn in a screen of one of the second floor windows. A pigeon flew inside, and the another. While I watched others came and went. This has obviously been going on a long while as none of the birds had any difficulty flying right into the rather small hole. I could see birds flying around inside. Horrifying to think what a mess must be in that once elegant place.

Sunday morning when I went to church I learned that the smell everyone had been complaining about in the fellowship hall came from the attic which was filled with dead birds. Birds must've found a way to get in up there, but no way to get out. Though they've sent the preacher's grandson (teenager) up there to get the dead birds, and he's brought out a bunch, there are still more up there. And at last report, no one's found where they managed to get in.

So folks, is this a warning? Are the birds getting ready for another attack like in the movie? I don't really think so, but it is an intriguing coincidence, isn't it?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Sense of Place and the Impact on Writer and Protagonist

A Sense of Place and the Impact on Writer and Protagonist
Guest blog by Carolyn J. Rose

From the moment I opened a book by Zane Grey at the age of ten, I wanted to escape from the Catskill Mountains, to go west, to live beneath a huge expanse of sky. I dreamed of being away, of setting myself loose from the hold of family and place, of floating like a milkweed seed to some new place with a future only I would determine. I gave that same desire to Dan Stone, the protagonist of Hemlock Lake, knowing it would lead to conflict.

Like me, he headed west when high school was finished. Like me, after a few years his visits home were infrequent. Like me, he found that he could leave the place, but that the place never left him. A break with the past is seldom clean, wounds inflicted then can fester for a lifetime, love given or withheld can change the course of a life.

My memories of the hollows and ridges, the creeks and rills, are like stones in those centuries-old walls piled up when fields were cleared. Like those stones tumbled by frost, smoothed by passing years, worn by lichens, each of my memories is still distinct. In writing Hemlock Lake, my aim was to give readers a sense of time passing in the Catskill Mountains—of spring giving way to summer, summer being eclipsed by fall. I hoped to share not only a sense of physical/geographic place, but a sense of small-town social place as well.

Because of their size and population, cities offer a sense of anonymity that small towns don’t. There are far fewer fish in the small-town bowl, and they are far more visible. In a small town, although there are few who openly “spy” on other, there are also few secrets.

I’ve also found that among many long-time residents of small towns there is an ironclad sense of heritage—you are who you are because of what members of your family accomplished or failed at, and the way in which they interacted with others through the years. Were they calm and capable, angry and obstructive, helpful and full of good humor, picky and passionate? Because of that past, there are expectations and observations. There is a sense of knowing and predictability. There are roles and responsibilities. You can accept them or reject them, but there’s a price either way.

Dan Stone found all of that confining, another reason to leave his home at Hemlock Lake. And that creates conflict when, to solve a mystery, he returns to the community where he grew up. He finds that it is as if he renounced his citizenship and forfeited his passport when he left. He discovers that by attempting to forge an identity of his own, he created the impression that he was better than those who chose to stay. Stranded in a social no-man’s land, his job becomes more challenging.
As summer sizzles on and crimes escalate, Dan wonders if he can break through perceptions and misperceptions and carve out a niche for himself. And he also wonders, as many of us might, whether he should just walk away—and stay away.
Had I grown up in Atlanta or Omaha or Los Angeles, I might still have written a mystery that dealt with love, loss, belonging, and betrayal. Or, maybe not.

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She has published a number of mysteries and lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband, radio air personality Mike Phillips, and a motley collection of pets. Surf to for more information.

* * *
My Review of Hemlock Lake: Just finished reading an ARC of Carolyn J. Rose's Hemlock Lake and it was great. I've been really busy, with little time to read, but once I got into this one, I had to keep right on going.

Set in a small Catskill Mountain community, Hemlock Lake is feeling the pains of the development of luxury homes. The neighbors are up in arms but someone takes the protest a bit further with arson and attempted murder. The hero is Sergeant Dan Stone who lost his wife in the lake at their family home as well as his brother, who committed suicide immediately afterward.

There are plenty of twists and turns as Dan battles his demons while trying to discover who is really behind all the destruction.

Wonderful read with many surprises.

Thanks for being my guest today, Carolyn. And everyone, her book Hemlock Lake is available today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Evaluating Book Promotion

That seems like all I've been doing this month.

Doing a blog tour like I am, I'm spending a lot of time promoting the blogs I'm on each day. First thing in the morning, I go online and check the blog myself. I didn't do that at first, and sometimes the blogs haven't been posted yet. No sense in promoting it, if your particular blog has made it yet.

Once I know the blog is up I let all my social networks know often using but with extra reminders to my Facebook friends.

I always like to leave a thank you to the blog host as a comment. Through the day, I drop back to see if anyone has commented or asked a question I should answer. With this particular tour because of the contest I'm running, I am keeping track of everyone who comments and how many blogs they comment on.

Because I'm also doing in person events, as each one comes up I need to promote those too--on face book and anywhere I that I know people are who live near the area of the event.

When those events draw near, I have to decide what I need to take depending upon the event. Sometimes only copies of Lingering Spirit need to be packed. Other times I take copies of my other books if the venue is going to be large with a lot of people

I'm doing bookstore events and a book festival this month.

When I'm doing an in-person event it's easy to see how well my promotion paid off.

Not as easy to evaluate a blog tour, but the one I'm on for Lingering Spirit has resulted in low numbers on Amazon (that's a good thing) and for one day the book was in the top 100 best sellers. I've never had that happen before. So, I'd say this book tour has indeed been worth my time and effort.

What kind of book promotion has worked best for you?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lauren Carr Interview

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

Lauren: I have come to believe that writers are born writers. It is who we are. A writer can’t stop writing anymore than a singer can be made to stop signing in the shower. It’s too bad they haven’t made laptops waterproof so that we can write in the shower.

I remember as a child reading The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore and realized that I was rewriting the book in my mind while I was reading it. After I had finished, I set the book down and sat back and totally reworked the plot and characters in my mind. I had so much fun that it became a common thing for me to do after reading a book, watching a television show, or seeing a movie. By the time I was ten years old, I was carrying a notepad around and writing up stories on my own.

When I was twelve years old, I sent off one of my stories to a teen magazine that was holding a short story writing contest. My story was about a kidnapping mystery. A love story won. While my friends were reading books about endless undying love, I was reading and writing about murder and mayhem.

I got my first “professional” writing job my senior year in high school. (Youngsters, stop reading here.) A friend was taking creative writing while I was taking advanced composition. She had an assignment to write a short story and didn’t have a clue of where to start. By the day her story was due, she had nothing. I wrote the story (a comedy about her dog having fleas) for her in long hand in exchange for her buying my lunch. She got an “A”; I got a burger, fries, and coke; and my career was launched.

Marilyn: What gave you the idea for It’s Murder, My Son?

Lauren: I actually got the idea for the mystery from an old episode of Unsolved Mysteries about a woman who was found dead after years of claiming that she was being stalked. After reporting hundreds of incidents to the police, the investigators concluded that she was imagining it all because the victim wasn’t being totally truthful to them. She was holding something back. Even family members said she admitted that she was not telling everyone everything. What secret can be so important that she couldn’t divulge it even when she was being terrorized to death?

When I first came up with the mystery for It’s Murder, My Son, I was working on the Joshua Thornton mysteries, which I have every intention of returning to, BTW. However, the mystery was not a good fit for this single father of five living in a small town in West Virginia. It seemed to be more of a fit for a detective who was more physical and adventurous than Joshua, who is more cerebral. I realized I needed a detective not a lawyer. So I created Mac Faraday, a homicide detective that inherits a fortune and moves into high society in this first installment of the Mac Faraday mysteries, It’s Murder, My Son:

Soon after she moves to her new lakefront home in Spencer, Maryland, multi-millionaire Katrina Singleton learns that life in an exclusive community is not all good. For some unknown reason, a strange man calling himself “Pay Back” begins stalking her. When Katrina is found strangled all evidence points to her terrorist, who is nowhere to be found. Three months later the file on her murder is still open when Mac Faraday, sole heir to his unknown birth mother’s home and fortune, moves into the estate next door.

Marilyn: Where can my blog readers find your book?

Lauren: It’s Murder, My Son is currently available online at Amazon in both print and Kindle. It will soon be available in the libraries and bookstores. It will also be released soon in audio and MP3 download by Books-In-Motion. The Joshua Thornton Mysteries are also available in print, Kindle, audio and MP3 download at bookstores, libraries, or any online bookstore, including Amazon.

If your readers go to my website (http://laurencarr/ they can order autographed copies of any of my books.

They can also visit me at my blog: entitled: Lauren’s World of Mystery Writing.

Lauren Carr's Bio:

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was named a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award 2005. Her second full-length book, A Reunion to Die For was released in June 2007. It’s Murder, My Son, is the first installment for her new series, The Mac Faraday Mysteries. It’s Murder, My Son is set in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where she and her family often vacation. She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made speaking appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She is also an active member of Sisters in Crime. She lives with her husband and son on a mountaintop in West Virginia. Visit Lauren at her blog:, or her website:

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Lauren, I learned a lot about you that I didn't know before.

I hope you'll come back and visit me again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This Week's Blog Stops and Book Signing

As you can see, there are a lot of blog stops this week. Hope you can find time to visit them all and leave a comment.

July 19
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 21
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 23

Now my successful launch for Lingering Spirit.

It was a much too hot day--anyone with good sense stayed home with their a.c. However, thanks to a nice article in the paper Friday morning and an announcement on the radio (I had no idea that was going to happen), and all my Facebook appeals, and some invitations I sent out, we had a really nice group of people who arrived--mostly right at the same time.

However, some good friends braved the scorching sun and turned up. The bookstore provided cookies and much needed cold drinks.

Three of my biggest fans came--one is a lovely lady from church, another has been buying my books from the beginning and is a fellow Sister in Crime member, and the other has come to every book launch I've had even before she moved to Springville. She brought two friends along with her.

Another church and Facebook friend, who lives along ways away, came and I was delighted to see her. She'd promised on Facebook and lived up to her promise. Another church and Facebook friend came with two of her daughter and a grandson.

And most exciting, was getting to see my deceased eldest son's widow. She came because of the piece in the newspaper and an announcement she heard on the radio. Mark has been gone a long while--and we haven't seen our daughter-in-law for too many years.

So, it was a great day all the way around. We had some good visits and sold books.

But I forgot to take any pictures, darn. And I even had my iPhone out on the table so I wouldn't forget.


That little bookstore was pretty crowded for awhile.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Launch for Lingering Spirit

The first place Lingering Spirit will be available is Books Off Main on Oak Street in Porterville this Saturday, the 17th, from 1 to 4. Today.

I've done everything I know to do to promote the event. I took a book to the editor of our local newspaper and sent information. There was a nice article in there on Friday. I've sent letters and emails to local folks who might be interested. And of course, I've done a lot of promoting on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks that I'm on.

I've got my books packed up ready to go.

I do hope I won't be sitting there alone with the bookseller and my husband.

I'll let you know how it goes on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll try to remember to take some photos. I'm not the best at that.

Besides my blog tour, which I'm on at the present time, I have events lined up for the six Saturday this month and next.

And if you're not going to be near any of the spots I'm going to be visiting and you'd still like an autographed book, visit my website:


Friday, July 16, 2010

I Love My Writers' Group

A bit of history first: When I moved to Springville I looked in the paper to see if they had any kind of writing group. Almost immediately I found an announcement about a group in Porterville. Of course I joined them. First they met in authors' homes in the day time which meant most of the writers were people who didn't work and teachers off for the summer.

As time moved on, so did the group, meeting at night and in a public building. From there it was back to people's homes, then a senior center, and finally a small group who really were intent on writing began meeting.

Over the years (about 30 for me, though the group began even earlier)many have dropped out and new folks have joined. Some were not serious about writing and were merely looking for a social time. Others couldn't take being critiqued. And there were always those who never got around to writing anything new. And once in awhile, someone who wrote wonderfully well, sent their work off and after a couple of rejections quit writing all together. (Never could understand that. I was rejected nearly 30 times before my first book found a home and many rejections for other books after that, but I never gave up.)

Now our group consists of five people. I'm the most published though others have been published too.

Our leader, and the woman who started the group way back in the beginning, is a retired English teacher--and believe me, I've learned a lot from her. She is also an excellent editor. She's published a non-fiction book on ways to help your child with their school work--excellent book, and a memoir of her early childhood. She's now working on a sequel that brings back memories of my own. She's also published poetry.

Our one and only man has a great and varied background. A rancher, former teacher, broadcaster, volunteer fireman, and much, much more, has added a great deal to our group. He helps a lot with things that I don't know enough about. He's writing several things: a YA story, a children's book, and historical and funny articles for the newspaper.

Our youngest member is currently a grade school teacher and writing a wonderful fantasy for children. She has the ability to transport me back to when I was a kid and loved reading these kind of stories. She has published other children's books and writes a column for the local newspaper.

Probably the best writer among us, far more literary than I'll ever be, is also writing a memoir about a difficult time in her life. This woman's work is poignant, beautiful, heart-rending, and achingly beautiful. She's been a great asset to the group.

How we operate.

Everyone brings 5 copies of a chapter or whatever it is they are working on. The author of the piece reads it and the others makes notes on their copies. Then we go around and give our critique one by one--no interrupting. (That's the rule, but sometimes we forget--but not often.)

This is not a group where writers are brutally criticized nor unduly flattered. We're a working group. Lapses are pointed out, overuse of words and phrases. Inconsistencies are found. Suggestions are made. Questions are asked.

I consider what I learn from the group my first edit.

I take home the chapter they've written on and the next day I rework the chapter. It's interesting to see what else they've marked that they didn't mention during the group. One person catches things none of the rest noticed. I love it.

I realize not all writers' groups are the same and this one has evolved over time and probably will again, but right now, this critique group is invaluable to me.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Interview with Author Mark R. Conte

Marilyn: Tell me something about yourself.

Mark: I am a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. I have been published in 47 publications, including Yankee, Crazy Horse, Potomac Review, Apalachee Quarterly, and Poetry International under two different names.

I have a poetry book, Walking on Water, Cross Cultural, 1986 and a novella, Delilah, Oak Tree Press, Kindle, 2009. I also have three other novels, In the Arms of Strangers, Gaius, Five Days to Eternity and Of Flesh and Stone.

I won Honorable Mention in the PEN awards for short fiction and first prize for poetry from Barbwire Theatre.

I was appointed Master Poet by the Florida Arts Council in 1976, and was director of the FSU Poet Series. I am a member of the Authors Guild and Academy of American Poets.

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

Mark: When I was eight years old, old Italian women would come over to my house at 8 PM every Saturday and I would tell them a new story every week.

Marilyn: Tell us something about your latest book.

Mark: Delilah is a story of an Italian family where the tradition is to buy a live lamb on the morning of Good Friday, fatten it up all day Friday and Saturday, then slaughter it and have it for Easter dinner. However, this Easter, the three Italian children and the Irish girl next door devise a plan to save the lamb, Delilah.

Marilyn: What inspired the idea for this story?

Mark: This was actually my family tradition.

Marilyn: Where can my readers find this book?

Mark: Kindle, Oak Tree Press

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

Mark: I have a new novel I am sending out to publishers, A Rage in Heaven. It is a mainstream/historical and the last third of the book details the fight for women's rights when women had no rights and what happened to one of their leaders.

Marilyn: Thank you, Mark. It was nice to learn something about you and your books.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More About My Contest on My Blog Tour

Evidently I didn't say what I meant--a failing I have from time to time--about the contest going along with my blog tour. I know my blog tour director sent to all the blogs exactly what I sent to her, so the fault is mine.

So--I'm going to explain it the way I meant to in the first place.

I'm visiting many different blogs during this tour, every weekday. When the blog goes live, I always hope people will read it and leave a comment so that I know what people thought. I always go back to check and if someone asks a question, I'll answer it while I'm there.

This time on my tour, I'm holding a contest for someone to have their name used for a character in my 2012 Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel--the one I'm writing now.

The winner will be the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs. Just leaving a comment on a blog will not mean your name will be in the book--only the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.

I hope that makes it clearer. I've already had a lot of different people leave comments on the blogs on my tour and I don't want to have so many characters that the book doesn't make sense.

Again, it's the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs who will win.

And yes, you can go back and catch up. I'll check all the blogs--I am keeping track of the people who are commenting.

Here is this week's blogs if you want to catch up, but really it's only second week, so there's a chance for anyone who wants to take the time to comment.

July 12
July 13
July 14
July 15
July 16

This has been fun, and of course the whole idea is to get people interested in my latest book, Lingering Spirit. So far there are two dynamite reviews up on Amazon, I'm hoping for more.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview with Author Marja McGraw

Marja and I have known each other for awhile, first through the Internet, then met at a mystery con and I did a book signing at a library in her hometown. Here I learn more about her and you will to.

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Marja: I have a background in both civil and criminal law, and in state transportation. I’ve worked for a city building department and owned my own store (Antique Store/Tea Room), and there were a few little jobs in between.

I was a divorced parent who raised a child alone and learned a lot of hard lessons over the years. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to try to keep a sense of humor through all things -- that will help keep you sane during the worst of times. Well, that and hormone pills (if you’re a woman). Consequently, my stories are generally lighter with a little humor.

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

Marja: Writing and sharing ideas has always been a part of my life, but books weren’t a part of that until a friend suggested I try my hand at it. She said that when we lived in different states she found herself waiting by the mailbox for my letters because they made her laugh, and cry, and simply put, they entertained her. I was surprised, but then realized how much putting thoughts on paper meant to me. If I could entertain her, could I do the same for others? It was worth a try. Five books later, it’s become a reality.

Marilyn: What inspired your latest book?

Marja: Actually, the Bogey Man was a one-time character in The Bogey Man – A Sandi Webster Mystery. The readers liked him so much that I decided to write a spinoff series featuring Chris Cross, alias the Bogey Man. Chris is a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart, and Mr. Bogart inspired me. A man who looks like the real Bogey, who becomes so engrossed in his look-alike that he wants to be a P.I.? Why not? Although the story takes place today, the 1940s take a prominent part in the story.

Marilyn: Give us a brief summary of the book.

Marja: Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery - Chris and Pamela Cross lose their 1940s-themed restaurant when a fire destroys the building. Deciding to change course, slightly, they buy a 1920s vintage brick house to convert into the new restaurant, Bogey Nights. Before work can begin on the remodeling, their two Labrador Retrievers discover a body buried in the cellar. The remains have rested there since 1942. The family of the victim asks Chris to try to solve the old murder. In the process, another body is discovered on the property. They try not to step on the toes of Janet Murphy, a homicide detective, who becomes a good friend, and it becomes a real challenge.

After discovering that the home was used as a boarding house in the 1940s, Chris and Pamela quickly have a substantial list of suspects. The fact that the suspects are “of an age” won’t slow this story for a moment.

Marilyn:Where can we purchase it?

Marja: This book will be issued sometime in August by Oak Tree Press. At that time it will be available through your favorite bookstore, on, and through other online booksellers. The Sandi Webster series is available on, at Wings ePress and at the GoDaddy Marketplace, Books Section.

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

Marja: If I can bring a smile to a reader’s face, or even better, if I can make them laugh, then I’ve done my job. My logo is “a little humor, a little romance, A Little Murder!”, and that’s what I try to bring to the reader. Please visit my website at Hope to see you there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good Advice from Author, Kit Sloane

THE ERROR-FREE MANUSCRIPT, or how to TRY to make your manuscript as
perfect as possible in an imperfect world

So here I am, just finished with proofing the EIGHTH in my mystery
series. I emphasize the 8th because by now you’d think I’d have this
error-free, writing process figured out. Well, I don’t!

I found 52-errors! These ranged from the sublime (a horrible gaffe in
the plot that was fixed by changing ONE word!) to the ridiculous (an
extra space here or there, the usual extra “the” in a sentence, silly

Now I am not a fast writer. It takes me a good year to finish a
75,000 word story. One reason for this is that we live on a working
horse ranch and there are lots of chores to do on a daily basis. I
fit in my writing when I can. And I self-edit as I go, reviewing and
rewriting whatever I wrote the day/week/month before. So this
manuscript, as all seven others, was gone over and over and over by
me before being printed out for the 2nd or 3rd time. (I find it a
good editing tool to print it out and read it myself on real paper,
NOT on the computer. My red pencil is very busy as I do this). At the
point I finally finish a draft, it goes to my various readers, all
who spot this or that that needs fixing. I carefully fix the ms each
time, go over it again, and finally send it off to my publisher.

I’ve been with three publishers and each one handles the proofing
procedure slightly differently. My first depended on me exclusively
to proof it. (Not a good idea...) My second employed a “professional”
proofer who drove us all batty since she was an editor wannabe and
would mark up the pages with her ideas. Now, with Oak Tree Press,
it’s a collaborative ordeal with us trying to make the new story a
“clean” copy, e.g., as perfect as we can make it.

What makes “perfection” so elusive? Well, I read an article published
in the UK that stated that scientists have shown that writers tend to
fill in the “right word” when reading! Really, our brains know what
the word SHOULD be, and we see that one, not the incorrect one that
we’re reading. That’s why I use my readers. But they, too, don’t
always see the same errors, whether these are plot, punctuation, or
spelling. We all see details differently. That’s why I use several
different pairs of eyes.

Spell checker is also not your best friend. It’s too easy to press
“skip” when you mean to press “replace,” and its vocabulary is not
always up to your own, etc.

The bottom line is to make the ms as “clean” as possible and then
force yourself to read every golden word and fix the one’s that
aren’t so very golden. Labor intensive? You bet. And I KNOW there are
still little glitches lurking somewhere in those 250 pages. I like to
think I am leaving space for the evil spirits to depart, as our
Native American friends so nicely rationalize!

We do our very best, if we’re smart and conscientious, and hope that
our best will be good enough to make us proud and our readers happy!

--Kit Sloane

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eclipse and What Writers Can Learn From It

Hubby reluctantly trotted along with me to see Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight series. He didn't fall asleep, though I don't think it was his favorite movie.

I enjoyed it, like I did the first one--a pure fantasy, but it had all the elements that we need to put in any book we write.

One of the things both movies did super well was the setting and the atmosphere. Who wouldn't expect vampires and super wolves to live in a place where rain drips from the trees in the forest and mystical mist floats all around.

And what great characters. No wonder the female populations is swooning over Jacob with his muscular torso and unrequited love for Bella, the heroine. And Bella, a sweet girl who looks like a normal girl-next-door type--certainly not a diva with her scrubbed fresh face look and a wardrobe that seems to consist mostly of hoodies and blue jeans. And of course, there's Edward. Despite his pallor that suggests he might be suffering from a deadly disease, he has a strong profile, the most penetrating gaze, and a love and devotion for Bella that transcends the fact that he's a vampire. The sexual tension is thick as molasses. Of course this triangle is what holds the plot together.

Never fear, there is plenty of action too when the bad vampires--yes, there are bad ones as opposed to the good vampires--attack and the wolves must join with their enemies.

Of course I've over-simplified, but this saga contains everything that makes a compelling story.

And yes, I enjoyed it and will definitely go see the next one.

Marilyn, who loves movies.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Advice to New Writers

I've written these things before, but I keep getting asked the same question, so here goes again.

1. Read the kind of books you want to write.

2. Learn the writing craft by:
a. Reading books on how to write
b. Go to writers conferences
c. Join a critique group

3. Be willing to take criticism.

4. Write the whole book. The first book you write may not be one you will sell.

5. Once the book is done, start at the beginning and edit--you may find yourself rewriting, and that's okay.

6. When you think you are all done, have someone read it who knows about writing and the genre you are writing in. (Not your mom or your husband or best friend, unless they are an expert in writing.)

7. Listen to what they have to say.

8. When you think your book is ready to send out, find an agent or publisher who publishes the kind of book that you've written, follow their guidelines for submitting. (If you don't, you might as well forget it, you'll get a rejection right off.)

9. Once you've sent off your queries, start writing the next book.

10. If you really want to be a writer, don't give up.


Friday, July 9, 2010

On With Blog Tour

It's not too late to visit this week's blogs:

July 6
July 7
July 8

July 8 Paperback Writer
July 9

Remember the one who visits and leaves a comment on the most blogs gets to have a character named after them in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel I'm writing now. It'll be out in the early part of 2012.

Blog Tours are fun but also a lot of work--for the author and the blog host. When you are hosting someone, it's always great if a lot of comments are left.

Thank you for participating with me on this blog tour.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Juggling Writing, Promotion and Life

This juggling business seems to get harder and harder.

Though I know exactly how the book I'm writing know is going to go, I can't seem to find big enough blocks of time to really get much written--it's been two or three pages at a time.

What's interfering? This month, the blog tour I'm on is one biggie. Because when you're jumping from blog to blog, if you want your tour to be successful, you need to visit each blog the day you're there, add a comment, check comments to see if anyone has asked a question your should answer, and because I'm running a contest on how many people comment on every blog, I need to keep track of names.

Also, I have some physical events that I need to publicize to at least try, if not ensure, that people will come.

Next will be the physical launch for Lingering Spirit on Saturday, July 17 from 1-4 at Books Off Main (the store is on Oak Street, right off of Main St.)in Porterville CA. I've put it on Facebook and will be sending out invitations and I've let my mailing list know.

The following weekend, I'll be at Willow Bridge Bookstore in the Von's shopping center on 49 in Oakhurst, July 24th at 2 p.m.. I love that bookstore. I plan to tell what inspired my writing a romance with spiritual overtones. Again, I've been promoting already and will keep on doing so.

And the last weekend of the month, we're traveling to Roseville (outskirts of Sacramento) for a multi-author event at the Maidu Library, 1550 Maidu Dr., in Roseville from 10 to 5. I don't know a whole lot about this event yet except that I'm invited. I'll be promoting more as I receive some details. August is just about the same with nearly every weekend an event away from home.

Every day I think I'm going to have some quality time to write, but something always seems to come up.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Me and My Booth and New Banner

Hubby and I celebrated the Fourth of July at Channel Islands Harbor, sitting in my booth and selling my books. Having this kind of booth means putting up a tent, bringing a table, chairs, and of course, my books.

We were fortunate this year, because daughter Lori and her hubby Rick, not only helped up put up our tent but take it down as well--and they sat and kept up company all afternoon long.

An wonderful addition to my booth was a new banner that my publisher, Oak Tree Press, contributed to the cause. It really made people pause and take a second look.

We like to do events in Ventura County because we have two grown daughters who still live in the area and it gives us a chance to spend some time with them and their families.

Don't forget to follow my virtual blog tour and leave a comment on as many as you can. Who knows, you might end up finding yourself in the book I'm writing now.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Contest for Those Commenting on my Blog Tour Stops

Yep, I'm having a contest for my blog tour which begins today.

I'll name a character in my 2012 Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel that I'm working on now after the person or persons who comment on the most blogs on my blog tour.

Here's the schedule for the tour. If you're interested in being a character in my book, you might want to make a copy of the schedule so you can make your visits.

July 6
July 7
July 8
July 8 Paperback Writer
July 9
July 12 Writing Daze
July 13
July 14
July 15
July 16
July 19
July 19
July 20 If Books Could Talk
July 21
July 21
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 23
July 26 A Room without Books is Empty
July 26
July 26
July 27
July 27
July 28
July 29
July 29
July 30

I think this could be a lot of fun.

Looking forward to reading your comments.


Monday, July 5, 2010

My Blog Tour Begins Tomorrow

On July 6 and 7th I'll be visiting

Though I can't remember exactly what I did for these two blogs, I can assure that each one is different.

I do hope that you will visit and leave a comment or a question. I'll be visiting from time to time, so if you leave a question, I promise I will answer it.

And so my blog tour is off and running, I do hope you all will visit some of the my stops along the way.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

When we celebrate the Fourth of July we should remember how fortunate we are to live in the U.S.A.

So many lives have been sacrificed over the years to keep our nation free. My husband served three tours in Vietnam so I feel like I did a bit of sacrificing myself--and there are lots of families still sacrificing.

No matter what your politics might be, today is one day you should forget about whether you are on the left or the right and just be proud that you are American.

Happy Fourth of July to you all!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Memorial Service

Sunday evening our church held a memorial service for the two women who died within hours of each other. The eldest of the two had no family. The other woman's family said they had no plans to have a memorial.

Our pastor, my son-in-law, God bless him, decided our church should give both these women a memorial service. He let everyone know that he'd been in contact with and found out some information about the women. Church members were asked to bring cookies.

The church began to fill before six p.m. People who lived in the senior apartment complex and knew the older woman arrived, along with some other friends.

All of the relatives of the younger women, most none of us knew anything about, also came, plus many of our church family.

My daughter, the pastor's wife, led several songs throughout the service, Amazing Grace, Fly Away and other appropriate songs.

Pastor gave a talk about the first woman then asked if anyone else wanted to tell something about her. A woman and her adult son both gave some memories as well as a man who lived in the senior center.

More people spoke after the pastor told about the second woman. It was interesting, that everyone who gave a memory of this woman was from our church. They told about how helpful she always was working with the kids at church on Wednesday night, how she always took home left-over food after a potluck to those she knew were in need, how she stayed in the hospital with the first woman when she was hospitalized and much more.

I told about how she was one of my biggest fans and always turned up for any book signing that I had in our town.

I think that her family learned more about her than they ever knew. Our church helped her when she was in need and we had no idea that she had so many family members living close by.

I know that our church family was happy that we had this memorial for both of these women.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Strange Deaths in our Little Town

Recently two women, best friends, died within hours of each other in our little foothill town.

One came to our church regularly. She was somewhat handicapped and had to have someone come and get here and take her home, but she participated in everything.

The elder of the two lived in a senior facility that once had been a TB hospital. The younger woman lived in a duplex.

The Sunday morning they died, the deputy sheriff who was called to the first one's home by a neighbor, called the church to see if we had any next of kin information. The pastor told him to get in touch with her friend. The deputy couldn't get the friend on the phone so went to her apartment and found she'd died about 12 to 16 hours earlier. The first one had only been dead a few hours.

Unfortunately, no autopsies were done on these women. The older woman probably died of natural causes as she had cancer and spent a lot of time in the hospital. The younger woman, only 46, had lots of ailments, but none life threatening as far as anyone knew.

Though we'll never know the truth, you can be sure I'll put this into one of my mysteries.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Packing Up for Our Visit to Oxnard

Actually, we're going to Camarillo first where we'll be staying with our youngest daughter, her husband and our youngest granddaughter. We don't get to see them much so are looking forward to the visit. Daughter's hubby usually barbecues salmon for us and he does a wonderful job of it. My mouth is watering already in anticipation. We ought to go there more often, they have a bedroom with it's own bath downstairs and the family's bedrooms are upstairs, so it's really private.

On Sunday we'll be leaving at 8 a.m. in the morning to go to Channel Islands Harbor to locate the spot in the parking lot for our booth.This time it's on the far side of the Farmer's Market. We'll need to pack our tent, table, two chairs and all my books. We're also taking a new banner my publisher had made for me advertising An Axe to Grind. It's really big so it should be plenty noticeable.

This will be a long day because we're expected to stay until 8 p.m. which is just before the fireworks display. They we'll head back to daughter's.

Our plan is to leave after breakfast the next morning. We always have so much to catch up on when we come home.

We lived and raised our family in Oxnard (where Channel Islands Harbor is located) for nearly twenty years so it's fun to go back even though many of the landmarks have changed drastically.

I'll let you know how it goes on this blog.