Sunday, February 28, 2010

More About Blog Tours and Blogging

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, February 27, 2010

The First Week of my Blog Tour

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

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

Here's my first week's schedule:

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

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

We're arriving there on the 3rd, God willing, since we have to not only transfer planes three times, but also airlines. We're not near a big airline hub, so we always have to make at least one transfer. Going on different airlines is saving us about $400, hope it will be worth it.

Thursday, the 4th is a free day so we plan to wander around New Orleans and eat some of their famous food and hopefully hear some great music. That evening, there's a get-aquainted party at the hotel. Friday the conference begins and I'm giving my interactive "How to Write a Mystery" presentation. There are a lot of intriguing talks going on that I plan to hear. That evening, hubby and I and some of the other attendees are going on a river boat cruise. We're assured of good food and music there.

Saturday, I'm giving the same presentation to a group of young writers. That evening is the awards banquet. Think Academy awards for e-book authors. No Sanctuary is a finalist in the mystery/thriller category. I'm also going to be a presenter.

Anyway, while I'm gone, please, please visit some of the blogs on my tour. I'll be checking to see who left comments.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Jack Miller, Born to Law Enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

After two years I saw an opening with the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. It too was a sworn law enforcement position. I enforced the gaming laws on casino owners, employees and players, investigating complaints and arresting cheaters. I became the Boards expert witness and testified at many trials of casino cheaters. After eleven years of that, I retired. I started my own business, casino security consulting, and it was feast or famine so I retired for a third time.

Marilyn: At what point did you start writing?

Jack: It was during the early part of 1991 when my wife took ill. She was being treated for depression, probably because of me. The medication she was taking made her very sedate. I felt I needed to be home to take care of her. She would sit in an easy chair and stare at the TV, mostly soap operas. I watched as well.

When I saw characters who never went to school yet had jobs like corporation President or CEO, and every year each show had a marriage billed as the wedding to end all weddings, and that every female actress married and divorced every male actor in the show at least twice, I decided that I needed to do something to keep my grey matter from becoming mush.

During my time in the Air Force, I had been involved with some sensitive investigations. Naturally my wife and kids, three of them, would ask what I did and I could not tell them then. I decided I would write memoirs. At page 150 I realized that almost half of the memoir was about one counter-espionage case I ran.

I hit delete a lot and restarted. After three years of writing, deleting, changing, adding and editing, I thought I'd produced the next best seller in the United States and just knew I was going to be in the same category as Dale Brown and John Grisham.

I sent the manuscript off to a publisher and received my first of several rejection letters. Dejectedly, I was watching TV one morning feeling sorry for myself and on one of the morning shows, a man was talking about his company named First Books and how it would publish unknown authors. I sent my book off to them and was told how much it would cost me to get it published. I was not prepared for that, but if I didn’t do it I was going to deprive the world of that next best seller. About two grand later, I had in my hands my paper child and the new responsibilities of marketing and advertising. Something a cop’s life did not prepare me for.

Marilyn: And that bring me right into my next question, what kind of promotion works best for you?

Jack: I have tried all the usual things, the book signings, the appearances and have sold books. Not very many, not what I thought I would. I was certain they would stand in line just to talk to me and give me money for a signed book.

Yes, I was disappointed many times. I was on speaker panels telling others what not to do or at least what to look out for so they would not make the same mistakes I did. And, I sold some books.

Then I figured out what was wrong. There was no advertising for the events. I will not do a book signing at any location now unless the location tells me what type of advertising they will do, how often and where. I have placed my books in several gift shops giving them 40% of the cover price. I guess that is pretty much standard.

My best marketing gimmick is this. I prepared power point shows on espionage, cheating, and how the mob stole from Las Vegas casinos. I do presentations to small organizations which are hungry for speakers. I just learned something about that too. I tell the president of the group that I will only speak if the president announces that signed books are available and he buys one.

Marilyn: Tell me something about your other books.

Jack: I have a total of five. One, All Crooks Welcome, tells the story of the first long term undercover police sting. It happened in Las Vegas and I was part of it. When the dust settled we convicted 105 thieves and prostitutes. Doesn’t sound like much but it was 100% of those we charged. That one is traditionally published.

Cold War Warrior is my first, which I pulled from First Books and republished it as a self-published book. It is the story of an airman approached by the Soviets to be a spy and does so after he notifies OSI and is approved to be an asset for us. We controlled what he gave the Soviets.

The next is titled Cold War Defector and is a sequel to Warrior. In this self published book, the Soviet case officer is caught. He is convinced to be a spy in place. He is instrumental in identifying a man who wants to commit treason against the US.

My third book, Master Cheat was self-published but contained many typographic errors. So many it was an embarrassment to me. I pulled it and had it re-edited and it is at the printers. I am considering taking the proof to a traditional publisher. It is not a documentary but it is not fiction either. It reveals how casino cheats organize, target, and cheat all casino games. I use characters whi are really composites of actual cheats. Some of the scams detailed are current methods.

The last book is The Medal. It is about a soldier who is in competition with life for a specific medal. One most soldiers receive, the Good Conduct Medal. However, it seems that every time he could be qualified something happens.

My books can be purchased through my web site, When ordered each book is individually signed and shipping is flat rate. Buy one or ten, shipping is $5.

Marilyn: How did you find out about PSWA?

Jack" I belong to several writing groups. One is Wednesday Warrior Writers. We meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month. We are not a writing group but rather a group of friends with two common interests. We are all former military or former law enforcement or involved in some way with enforcing regulations and we write. One of the members happens to be Keith Bettinger, author of Fighting Crime with Some Day and Lenny. Another is Dennis Griffin, author of several novels and three documentaries one of which is titled The Battle for Las Vegas. It is the story of Tony Spilotro. Both of these authors are not only friends but also members of PSWA. Thus, I became a member as well.

Marilyn: What is next for you?

Jack: My next project is about three quarters of the way through the writing phase, the easy part. While in the Air Force, I was assigned to be in charge of security at two radar sites. One was in Canada and one in Arizona. Each site had about 150 airmen and officers assigned. Radar sites were usually located on some mountain top away from civilization. Many were isolated, meaning the airman could not bring their families. Many were classified as remote tours, meaning if you brought your family you might have to live on the economy because housing was not available on station. If you were alone the tour would last 13 months. If you brought your family the tour might be three years. Naturally, most airmen could not afford to live in towns located 30 or more miles from the duty place so they were unaccompanied for those long 13 months. There was a lot of drinking that went on because every site had a club. Very few became alcoholics because they involved themselves with other things, sports and card games being common. The other pastime they had was playing jokes on each other. I am trying to document some of the shenanigans they did to keep from becoming alcoholics or going stir crazy, yet still doing their jobs, keeping us safe. If it hadn’t been for them, we easily could have gone from the Cold /war we were in, to a shooting war, one which probably only a few may have lived through.

Marilyn: Is there anything you would like to share with my blog readers.

Jack: Just a word of advice to any aspiring author. Once you finish your manuscript, edit it. Then have a friend edit it. Make those changes you agree with and edit it yourself again. Then send it out to a professional editor and when they get done make those changes and edit your editor. Trust no one 100%. When you put your name on your work, have every reason to be proud.

Marilyn: I agree the editing process is very important. Thank you, Jack, for telling us so much about yourself and your work.

Remember, you can meet Jack at the next PSWA conference:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I Don't Have An Agent

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

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

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

At a wonderful writers' conference I had a one-on-one with a rather successful agent who took on my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. I kept on writing them and sending them to her thinking she was actively submitting them to publishing houses. Finally, after far too long a time, I asked to see my rejection slips. She sent me three after four years and four books. That was the end of my dependence on agents.

While all this was going on, I'd sold a book to a publishing company who went out of business after printing only 50 copies of my book--which I sold at one book signing. I met a small publisher at a writer's group who was interested in republishing that book--and she did. I approached her about my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and she contracted all four books I'd written by then. She put them out as mass market paperback. We became good friends, and sadly, she died of a stroke.

While at a another writers' conference I approached a publisher (Mundania Press) who I admired and inquired if he might be interested in picking up the next of that series. Since that time he's published four more of those mysteries as e-books and trade paperbacks.

My Rocky Bluff P.D. series has had four publishers. An e-publisher back before there was anyway to really read an e-book, one I won't mention, a great publisher who decided to go out of business after publishing two books in the series and now Oak Tree Press. I met this publisher at the Public Safety Writers Conference and we became friends before I asked if she'd be interested in continuing the series. She published No Sanctuary and An Axe to Grind will be out soon as a trade paperback.

One of the big reasons I never continued on my quest for an agent is because I kept on writing and at the same time I was getting older--and older, and I really wanted to see my books published before I died. Okay, that sounds morbid, but when you're a great-grandmother there's a reality to the statement.

And that's a shortened version of what began in the mid 1970s.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holli Castillo, Author of Gumbo Justice

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

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

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

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

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

Marilyn: Tell us about your first book.

Holli: Gumbo Justice is a mystery featuring New Orleans assistant district attorney Ryan Murphy. She's a tenacious prosecutor with a smart mouth and a self-destructive streak, trying to climb the ranks of the D.A.'s Office while fighting demons from her past. When the D.A. sends his senior prosecutors to crime scenes, she begins to see a disturbing pattern- the murder victims are previous defendants she prosecuted. At first she isn't too bothered about drug dealers and murderers getting street justice, but then the killer turns his attention to her, threatening her job, her friends, and eventually her life. With a family of cops and a relationship with a detective-- or two-- she should be safe. But the killer is someone Ryan knows and never suspects, and she'll have to figure out his identity and defeat him on her own if she wants to survive.

Marilyn: How did you find your publisher?

Holli: From a query. I had queried the big houses and received mostly form rejections. So I worked some more on the manuscript, and decided to research a little more carefully the agents and publishers who handled work like mine. I read books published by the agents and publishers I was considering, and based upon that, found a few agents and publishers I thought my book would fit in with. I queried only a few of these the next go round, and received a response from an agent. I was waiting to hear back from her when Katrina struck and put the novel on the back burner for a while. Then the agent contacted me and said she had decided not to take new clients, so I started following up with the queries I had already sent out, and Billie Johnson from Oak Tree responded she wanted to read the manuscript.

Marilyn: Is there another in the works? If so, tell us what we have to look forward to.

Holli: Gumbo Justice is the first in the Crescent City Mystery Series. I am currently working on the second, Jambalaya Justice, and have started the third and fourth, as well as outlined the fifth. Jambalaya Justice answers some of the questions left open by Gumbo Justice, and presents new challenges and a new mystery for Ryan. It should be out this summer.

Marilyn: Where can we get your book?

Holli: Signed copies are available at my website,, and unsigned copies are available at and

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

Holli: I will be at the PSWA conference in Las Vegas in June, and want to let everyone know whether they're a published author trying to hone the craft or an unpublished writer trying to break into the field, this is an informative and entertaining conference that covers a wide variety of topics. This conference is also an excellent way to make contacts.

Marilyn: Thank you for this interview, Holli, and also the plug for the PSWA conference. Anyone interested, check it out at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Troubles In Author Land

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

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

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

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

Of course I'm eager--and anxious maybe, but eventually the problems will be ironed out and the books will come, maybe not in time for what I want them for, but they'll be here for other events down the line. I have two biggies coming up at the end of March, a booth at Celebration of the Whales in Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, and a group author signing at a bookstore in Morro Bay. Hopefully the books will arrive by then, because since the Axe to Grind and others in the series are set in a beach community, I always have people interested in buying them.

So that's my latest dilemma.


Monday, February 22, 2010

So Why Do I Keep on Writing?

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

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

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

My good friend Gay Kinman who was my roommate at an Epcion when I didn't have a clue who she really was, only what I knew from email. Since that time we've been to Tampa together and traveled to New York for the Edgars and the Malice Domestic. We're going to room together once again at Bouchercon in San Francisco this fall.

Hubby and I have traveled to so many American cities we'd have never gone to if it hadn't been for Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon and Epicon. In a week we're headed to New Orleans for Epicon.

Alone, I've been to Alaska twice--met an Alaskan native and her sis, Katina and Amber, the first time, and stayed with Katina the second and had a wonderful time exploring Wasila AK, seeing the Anchorage museum and meeting Katina and Amber's mom and dad.

We've stayed in fancy hotels and funny rundown ones. We've visited and stayed with author friends and been shown great hospitality, Lorna and Larry were wonderful to us and how we loved their great backyard waterfall.

Being the program chairperson for the Public Safety Writers Association's conference is a lot of work, but it's given me and hubby the opportunity to meet great writers, interesting experts in all sorts of fields, and a bunch of great cops who are willing to share their knowledge, and we've gained a lot of friends through this group too.

What I've gained in friendships is worth far more than money I might make off of my books.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Peek Into This Author's Life

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

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

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

From there we stopped at Smart and Final to pick up some grocery items.

Before we went home we stopped at the p.o. again to pick up our mail. Of course the mail brought things I had to take care of, but also a 1099 I'd been waiting for to finish my income tax.

We put our purchases away and had a quick supper of pancakes. (As anyone knows who reads my Facebook status reports, usually I cook dinner for hubby and me, son, daughter-in-law, sometimes granddaughter, and the grandson who lives with us. Over the years, we've had three grandsons who've lived with us as kids and adults.

After I cleaned up the kitchen, I decided to tackle some more paperwork, then I finished the income tax.

By now it was nearly 8 o'clock and I fade fast.

When this appears on Sunday, I'll be teaching my Sunday School class, attending church, and afterward probably going to eat at the Mexican place in town and we'll probably take whatever relatives showed up at church along with us.

I've got a paid job to start working on and I'll probably begin that in the afternoon.

After 6, I have to call the court house to see if I must report in for jury duty on Monday. Most likely I will.

And that's a brief glimpse into the life of an author who did very little writing today.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I know Margaret Mitchell had all those pages about the Civil War in Gone With the Wind. I read Gone With the Wind about eight times, but after the first round, I skipped the description of the War. Readers are interested in what happens to the characters. If they are involved in a war or an historical happening, let the reader see what is going on through the eyes of the point-of-view character.

Those are just a couple of things I've noticed. The books I read were good, but would have been far better with the help of an editor.

Believe me, I make plenty of mistakes. Every chapter I write is heard and seen by my critique group. After I think the book is done, I make sure it is seen by someone who knows how to edit.

Still mistakes make it through, but not as many as would if I didn't have those other eyes checking for me.

If you are new to writing, take the time to read some good books on writing or attend a writers' conference or two.

I can't tell you how many writers' conferences I've been to over the years and even now, I learn at least one new thing at each one I attend.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Chatting Over Cyber Coffee with Kregg Jorgenson

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

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

Marilyn: What brought you to PSWA?

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

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Kregg: My law enforcement career began in the 80s when I became a U.S. Customs Inspector. Later, I was selected for the Contraband Enforcement Team (a special team assignment), and then spent five additional years as a K-9 enforcement officer, which, by the way, was the best job in the world. My dog was so smart that I let him drive! Okay, maybe not, but working with several wonderful dogs was great. Their loyalty was amazing and even when you’re having a bad day the dog brightens things up considerably. After that I went into various aspects of the service when we became Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security. With 30 years of government service I’m looking at retiring soon since Starbucks doesn’t offer tall lattes with Geritol.

Marilyn: I know there's more because I read your bio when I asked you to be a speaker for the PSWA conference.

Kregg: In the 90s I was invited by the Chief Law Enforcement Instructor of the Tactical Tracking Operations School to work part time as an Associate Instructor. Over the years I have helped train various police agencies, Tribal tracking teams, SWAT and even a Royal Canadian Mounted Police tracking team. I think I learn something new each time out and enjoy the interaction with other agencies and groups.

Marilyn: I know we don't have time for everything, but sounds like you've had some wild adventures. Would you share a bit about that?

Kregg: As for adventuring, well, way back in the Stone Age (1968) I joined the army right out of high school. Then, in 1969 I served in combat Vietnam with the 1st CAV Division as a LRRP/Ranger and later as a Point man with a Recon Platoon. LRRP meant Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol- five man teams working behind the lines. I was shot through both thighs, received a concussion, some minor shrapnel wounds, and contracted malaria. I discovered that adventuring at times comes with a price. Fortunately for me though l served with some good people who helped me survive the war in spite of myself. Some of the best moments then came from rescue and recovery operations for downed helicopter crews and several wounded LRRP/Rangers that were missing in action after their team was ambushed.

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

Kregg:So when did I begin writing? Let’s see, I began writing in high school where I served on the school’s newspaper staff. I got hooked when the staff photographer and I managed to sneak backstage during a Beach Boys concert and we interviewed several members of the rock group as well as several members of the Buffalo Springfield. We got the story. Then we tried it again the following week at a Jimi Hendrix concert and promptly got tossed out.

Marilyn: And then?

Kregg: After Vietnam I studied writing in college (fiction, non-fiction, journalism) and then re-enlisted in the army in the mid 70s where I spent four years as an Army Journalist in Germany. I had seven years in the Army- three in the Infantry and the last four as a journalist, figuring that paper cuts didn’t hurt as much as bullet wounds. It was during that time I discovered that rejections slips don’t hurt all that much either. I was sending out short stories and poetry, getting regularly rejected while occasionally getting published in literary magazines, newspapers, or other publications, which only fed this writing addiction.

In the 80s I began freelancing to a variety of magazines. With the old adage of ‘write what you know’ I sent articles to Soldier of Fortune magazine and that led to my first book on the Vietnam War for Random House. Eventually there were five books.

Marilyn: Wow! That's really impressive. Tell us more about the magazine writing.

Kregg: Because I had been involved with the martial arts since I was 16 I began writing for national martial arts publications. That led to Contributing Editor positions with Tae Kwon Do Times magazine and Inside Kung Fu magazine. Those titles, by the way, were more honorary than function but probably made it easier to get my foot in the door with the editor when it came to placing more articles. The military writing led to becoming a Senior Editor with Behind the Lines magazine- journal for U.S. Military Special Operations, again, this was still a freelance position. From this I discovered that few magazines can afford full time staff writers and rely heavily on freelance contributions. The best part is that you can still keep your day job that pays the bills!

Before I got into law enforcement I spent three years as a professional writer working for a production company selling scripts to Kenworth Trucks, Boeing, Olympia Beer, Bardahl Oil, Nordstroms, and other companies. During this time I learned more about the business side to writing and what it took to make a living at it. Writing, as most writers will agree, is work and the pay isn’t always the best when you have to do foolish things like, say…eat on a regular basis.

Marilyn: Anything else you want to tell me and my readers about your writing career?

Kregg: Somewhere in between all of this I wrote jokes for disk jockeys, travel articles for various publications, sold cartoons to The Army Times, and turned out two small books of fiction. I discovered that it was okay to try out different markets and had some fun in the process. Most, by the way, paid horribly…again, a great reason to keep your day job but it was fun to see what doors could be opened and what avenues there were to take.

Marilyn: What do you do for fun?

Kregg: What’s fun? I dunno, I think I like doing research. The opening scene for a novel I’m working on takes place at Plum Run at Gettysburg and I recently had an opportunity to walk the battlefield to get a better feel for the actual ground. Written material only gives you so much while boots on the ground offers another perspective.

Marilyn: Anything else you'd like to share?

Kregg: Writing also offers up some interesting opportunities as well. Awhile back, I helped do some research for mystery writer, Robert Crais for his book, The Last Detective. Bob’s a great guy, a talented writer, and it was impressive to see how someone of his caliber works. He has a great sense of humor and that shines through along with his remarkable talent.

Marilyn: Love Crais' books--he's not bad to look at either. Met him years ago at a mystery writing conference--at the beginning of his career.

Kregg: While I have been lucky enough to have sold five books to Random House I’ve also published a few small press novels and have a few more in the works. I didn’t have an agent and went through the ‘slush pile’ route with the Vietnam books while with the small press or POD route I got a chance to learn more about the publishing and marketing process. Over the years I’ve come to learn that most of us can write anything if we’re willing to put the time and effort into it and learn how to target our manuscripts towards the right audience. The Internet has been a great boon for writers because it offers new avenues and markets in publishing.

Marilyn: Kregg is going to tell us how to target our manuscripts towards the right audience at the PSWA conference.

Kregg: I’ve also discovered that critics and nay-sayers are a dime a dozen so keep writing and don’t lose sight of the brass ring. Will you find a lucrative market and get rich in the process? Who knows? It’s a crap shoot and the odds are seldom in our favor. But if you’re pleased with what you write then that may the real prize anyway.

Besides, if you wanted to get rich wouldn’t you have taken up plumbing instead?

Marilyn: You're right about that. This was great, Kregg. Thanks for sharing so much with me and my readers today.

Kregg: Thanks for the interview and I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas! Bring several editions of your favorite magazine to the seminar and let’s dissect them!

Marilyn: So folks, if you're wanting to get published in a magazine be sure to sign up for the PSWA conference

Thursday, February 18, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

When hubby was overseas, I bought all the groceries for the whole month during one grocery visit--sometimes I had five carts full of food. It was the only way to make sure we ate that month.

Between pregnancies, I worked as a telephone operator.

When our youngest was five, I began college and also worked as a teacher in a pre-school for developmentally disabled children. For ten years, I also had a Camp Fire Group. I took those girls everywhere, camping, back packing, to L.A. to live TV shows, to San Diego, and for our grand finale, a bus trip to the Grand Canyon.

All during the time I also wrote--PTA newsletters, plays for my Camp Fire Girls to perform, and finally, two historical family sagas based on my family genealogy.

Nothing was published until after we moved to another place--and that's a whole other set of memories.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saturday's Valentine Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone shared funny stories and we played a couple of games. It was a very enjoyable evening. A good way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

On the actual day, hubby gave me a card that pretty much said it all. He's great at picking out cards with just the right sentiment.

I hope everyone else's Valentine's Day was as pleasurable.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Axe to Grind E-book Pricing

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, February 15, 2010

My Struggle with Writing the Next Book

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

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

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

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

The working title is Bear With Us because the town of Bear Creek is having major difficulties with bears.

And that's enough to say about that. Time to get back to my writing--and believe me, I've put it off long enough, doing all sorts of other chores from laundry to house cleaning.

Any other of you writers out there have trouble actually sitting down and getting with it?


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Planning for Epicon

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

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

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

I'll be teaching two classes on "How to Write a Mystery", one for the adults and the next day for young people. In this class, the audience participates in planning a mystery. This is as much fun for me as it is for everyone else.

There are several classes being offered that I'm interested in, but wonder if being so close to the French Quarter will tempt me to miss some of them.

My publisher is coming as well as many good friends that I don't see that often, so I'm truly eager for Epicon--despite the strange way we have to travel


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movies, Movies, Movies

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

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

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

Hubby sometimes falls asleep during a movie, I guarantee it didn't happen in this one. Son and daughter-in-law saw it with us and son sat on the edge of his seat through most of it.

Oh, I still read the movie reviews but I make up my own mind about whether or not I'll like the movie. Frankly, I'd rather be entertained than see something that's trying to shove some message down my throat like so many of the movies that seem to come out of Hollywood these days.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good "feel-good" movie too, like Blind Side, that one was terrific.

My taste in movies isn't the same as most of the critics'--but that's okay with me.

What kind of movies do you like best?


Friday, February 12, 2010

Monti Sikes- Author and Artist

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

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

Marilyn: Which came first the art or the writing?

Monti: I don’t know. Both have always been there. Mother saved drawings I did when I was three years old. Each year when school started, I was treated to a new box of crayons and I could hardly wait to get them. You can imagine how much I cherished one of those bigger 24-crayon boxes! As an art teacher, even today, I am thrilled when I open up the new art supplies I order for the children. My studio at home is filled with hundreds of tubes, bottles, and sticks of pastels, watercolors, acrylic paints and much more. I often have five or six paintings on canvas underway at one time. As a child, I loved to write poetry. Edgar Allen Poe was a favorite author, and I wrote his type of short story when I was in high school. Over the years, several freelance writing jobs have literally fallen into my lap. Once years ago, when our children were small, I wrote a letter to the editor of our small town newspaper. To my surprise, the state editor of a major city newspaper saw my letter and contacted me, inviting me to write as a stringer for him. For many years after that, my articles appeared as the lead stories on the state pages of that newspaper, and I got to take the photographs as well. What a different process articles and photographs were then! I had to call into to the newspaper and dictate my stories (for breaking news). I sent the undeveloped film by special delivery mail to the newspaper.

Marilyn: How do you manage to balance them both?

Monti: It’s hard. When I have a special project, like a book, to finish, that takes priority. When I was writing freelance, those interviews and stories had to be completed and filed on a deadline. When I have an art show or special exhibition coming up, then getting paintings completed takes precedence.

Marilyn: Tell us about your books and include where they can be purchased.

Monti: My publisher, Oak Tree, created a special series for my books, “Passenger to Paradise,” because all of them feature an exotic destination. Night Watch is the latest book and is due out soon. It’s set in Trinidad and the Grenadines and is based on some adventures I actually had when visiting that island a few years ago. Hearts Across Forever is my first book and is a reincarnation story. Secrets by the Sea is a ghost story set on the island of Antigua. Eagle Rising is a love story with a bit of paranormal thrown in. The three earlier books are available as Kindle books on Amazon. They are also available as paperbacks on Amazon, or you can order directly from the Oak Tree Web site.

Dangerous Hearts, a gothic novella from the “Shadowed Hearts” series, is due out in late spring from Red Rose Publishing. The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA is part of the setting for this book. I am working on the idea of creating a story for each of the 20 hotels featured in my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember.

Marilyn: When you aren't writing or painting what do you like to do for fun?

Monti: I love to play tennis! Right now, I’m playing in a league in Williamsburg once a week and am also playing with a group once a week. Since fitness is so important to me, I take three step aerobics classes each week. My mother used to call me a baseball fanatic because I adored the St. Louis Cardinals and followed every move they made. I’m still a Cardinals fan. We are heading down to Jupiter, Florida soon for their spring training camp. During the baseball season we watch all their games on satellite television. Even when we are traveling, the first place I have to locate in a town is a sports bar.

Marilyn: You are also good at promoting, would you share some of your promotion tips?

Monti: Promoting is probably more important than writing when it comes to the book business. But it takes so much time. The Internet has changed everything! A few years ago, I collaborated with four other writers to write Published! Now $ell It!, a book on marketing and promotion focusing on traditional methods of getting attention for books. Newsletters, radio shows, press releases, etc. from that book are still essential, but now we have even more with all the social networking on the Internet. Penny C. Sansevieri has written a marvelous book, Red Hot Internet Publicity, that I would recommend to anyone getting ready to promote a book. It’s an understandable guide to internet promotion that writers will want to keep next to their computers.

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

Monti: I am working on a new project—a book about hotel ghosts. I would love to have people share with me any ghostly experiences they’ve had. They can contact me at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Accused of Being a Shill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess what, we're both going to be taking part in the PSWA conference and the mystery cruise. And we're promoting both. If that makes me a shill--well, so be it. I've been called worse in my time.

And that's the latest surprising event in my life--and I'm living with it.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

W. S. Gager, A Case of Infatuation

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

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

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

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

Marilyn: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Wendy: Being an author is my third career. All my careers involved some type of writing but producing books is where my heart is. My first career was after I studied journalism then worked in various newspapers for a dozen or so years which is where a lot of the background information for my Mitch Malone character comes from.

Then I was married and had children and turned my writing into public relations projects and speech writing that I could do around my children's schedules. I have always loved to write it just took several years to get the nerve to finish a novel from the dozen I had started over the years, which brings me to my third career that I love. It doesn't seem like work when I'm working on a book. (Okay, maybe those final edits are a bit of work:) )

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

Wendy: I think I have always been a writer. I was first recognized for those skills when I was named the editor of the eighth grade class newspaper and wrote an editorial about capital punishment. I have always made my living by writing but it has mostly been in nonfiction. About four years ago, I couldn't ignore the crazy characters in my brain that wanted out so I turned to fiction and am loving it. I have found my love.

Marilyn: Tell me about your book (s) and the process of getting it (them) published.

Wendy: My first book, A Case of Infatuation, came out last June. It was published through Oak Tree Press after I won the 2008 Dark Oak Contest sponsored by the publisher. It wasn't the normal, query and wait strategy. I entered to get some feedback because I didn't know what else to do to the book and main character, Mitch Malone. Turns out it didn't need much.

Marilyn: What kind of things have you done to promote it--and what seems to work best for you?

Wendy:I do the best when I am out talking to people. I was handicapped when the book first came out because I only had a dial up connection to the internet and it would take hours to simply log into Facebook.

This fall, the world wide web finally got to rural West Michigan and I had internet available at an affordable price. Now I am trying to catch up to all things internet. I started a blog on New Year's Eve at and am enjoying talking about writing. Check it out.

Marilyn: Where can we purchase your book?

Wendy: My books are very available from electronically on the Kindle to ordering the pages on websites such as amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Oak Tree. They also are in some Barnes and Noble bookstores and can be ordered there as well. I also carry a box around in my trunk so if you see me at the grocery store, I'd be happy to autograph one for you!

Marilyn: What's in the works now?

Wendy:I just finished the final edits for my second book in the Mitch Malone Mystery series. It was the editing project that never ended but am really happy with it now. It needed a lot of work and I ended up totally rewriting most of it. I am just waiting for a cop friend to make sure my technical details are accurate and off it goes to the publisher. I think it is slated for a June release.

Marilyn: Thank you so much for allowing me to ask you all these questions.

Wendy:Thank you Marilyn for all you do for the conference. You book the greatest speakers. I am still hoping things in my life will settle down and I can make the conference!

Marilyn: For anyone else who'd like to join us at the conference, for details, go to

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Angels Among Us

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

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

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

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

Finally, knowing she'd never get any sleep unless she joined in the search, she wearily went into the living knowing full well the diamond might have been lost in her daughter's car or even at work, which would mean it was probably gone forever.

She walked out into the living room, her daughter turned on the overhead light and immediately, Lisa saw something sparkle on the floor.

She walked over to the place, leaned down and there was the diamond. She picked it up, handed it to her daughter and said, "Good night, I'm going back to sleep."

Since her daughter previously had gone over the entire floor searching for the diamond, this was some kind of miracle--or as Lisa put it, and angel helped her find it.

Do you have any angel stories?


Monday, February 8, 2010

Sisters in Crime, Local Chapters and What They Do

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

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

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

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

What I have done is made a lot of friends in the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime. Unfortunately, I don't get to go as often as I'd like.

I also belong to the L.A. chapter of Sisters in Crime and have only been to one meeting, but I love their newsletter and their online list. I've also taken advantage of signing at the L.A. Time Book Festival in their booth.

Another chapter that I send my dues to is the Central Coast Chapter. They are situated over in the San Luis Obispo area and I do a lot of events with them. I have become close friends with many of the members. They have a joint author signing coming up on March 28th at the Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay from 1-3 and I'll be there.

I'm also a member of the Internet chapter of Sisters in Crime. They have a website and a list that members can participate on.

Can you guess that I really like Sisters in Crime? If you are a mystery lover--writer or readers--find a chapter near you and visit. You won't be sorry.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Importance of Weather for Adding Suspense

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

However, by adding weather you can create suspense.

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

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

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

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

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

When writing a scene, think about how weather might heighten the suspense.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Axe to Grind On the Way

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, February 5, 2010

Quintin Peterson, A Man of Many Pursuits

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

Quintin: I have been a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC for more than 28 years and am currently assigned to its Public Information Office as a media liaison officer. I write news releases and media advisories and address inquiries from members of the news media regarding breaking police-related incidents, as well as coordinate the release of information when multiple District and/or federal agencies are involved. Additionally, I assist crime novelists such as James Patterson and George Pelecanos, and other creative writers. (I am an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America so they seek me out.) I am also a liaison between the department and members of the motion picture and television industries, acting as a script consultant and technical advisor. Acting in this capacity, I've assisted writers, costumers, and prop masters for The X-Files, The District, Bones, Lie to Me, Jericho, The Wire and Season 6 of 24, as well as a number of major motion pictures, including No Way Out, Suspect, Timecop, The Pelican Brief, In the Line of Fire, Absolute Power, Kiss the Girls, Along Came a Spider, Deep Impact, The Jackal, Minority Report, Murder at 1600, True Lies, Dave, Dick, The Distinguished Gentleman, Enemy of the State, National Treasure, X-Men III, The Visiting (formerly Invasion), Breach, National Treasure II, and Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard.

Marilyn: How did you first hear about PSWA?

Quintin: By surfing the Net. I was looking for police writers’ organizations to join.

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

Quintin: When I was very young. I got my first copyright when I was 13. A science fiction story. Don’t ask me the title or what it was about. I can’t recall.

Marilyn: Tell me about that first book and what prompted you to write it.

Quintin: My novel SIN, an acronym for Special Investigations Network, took me a couple of years to write. I wanted to write a crime story bolder, more realistic, and grittier than any other. It took me two years to write it when I wasn’t working all those different shifts for the police department. I completed it in 1998.

Marilyn: What was the road to publication for that book?

Quintin: After two agents and no success, I self-published SIN in 2000 via 1st Books Library, which is now AuthorHouse. I published the sequel, The Wages of SIN, in 2002, also via AuthorHouse…and my book of poetry Nativity, too.

Marilyn: I'm interested in the fact that you are also a screenwriter and a short story writer. Tell me more.

Quintin: I started out as a playwright, so screenwriting was a natural transition…and it helps with fiction writing as well, especially short stories. That kind of writing helps you visualize your stories and tell them succinctly. My short story "Cold as Ice", which is featured in DC Noir, edited by George Pelecanos, easily can be turned into a screenplay or a teleplay.

Marilyn: Like me, you've entered the world of electronic publishing too. What do you think about it?

Quintin; It’s great. It helps you reach a broader audience. Readers who have enjoyed my Amazon Shorts seek out my other products. If you’re not familiar with Amazon Shorts, they are short stories delivered electronically for 49 cents per download, exclusively from

Marilyn: Any promotion tips you'd like to share?

Quintin: Free publicity is the best. Local radio and TV stations and newspapers such as the Washington Post and the DC Examiner tend to feature me, you know, the DC cop who writes crime fiction. And there are police publications, like The Simulcast, which is published by the DC Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, and our in-house publication, The Dispatch. And this blog! Yes, there is nothing better than free publicity that reaches your target audience. Just give it a little thought and make some moves.

Marilyn: Your background is really impressive. I'd like to know what you do for fun.

Quintin: You mean other than police work? I enjoy playing chess. I like hiking. I’m a movie buff with an impressive collection of DVD’s who owns a big screen TV and a primo home theater system. I'm also a Jazz enthusiast. And I enjoy reading crime fiction as much as I enjoy writing it.

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

Quintin: I have to plug the new crime fiction anthology I’m a part of, which features several members of PSWA: Bad Cop, No Donut: Tales of Police Behaving Badly. It’s edited by John L. French and features Michael A. Black, Michael Berish, Austin S. Camacho, and James Grady, to name but a few. David Black, writer for CSI Miami and Law & Order, calls it, "A ride-around with some of the best cops and cop writing in the business!"

Bad Cop is due out this April and will be in bookstores everywhere. Pick up a copy. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
Thanks for having me, Marilyn. It's been a pleasure.

Marilyn: Thank you, Quintin. All I can say is Wow!

Quintin Peterson
Author Noir

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Income Tax and the Reality of Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything that you do that you wonder at times why you're doing it?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mike Orenduff, Author of the Pot Thief Series

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

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

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

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

I figured I’d settle in to being a college professor, but somewhere along the way I got waylaid into administration. That eventually led me back to the Land of Enchantment for a third time when I became the president of New Mexico State University. I left there to teach at West Point, happy to be back in the classroom doing something worthwhile. College presidents are basically professional lairs. But it turned out to be a lot harder to stay out of administration than it had been to get into it.

I succumbed to an offer to serve as President of Bermuda College. How could I refuse? I had gone there first in 1963 aboard the USS Forrest Sherman, then many years later with my wife, Lai, to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary. I’m not allowed to say what year that was, but it was well after 1963.

Marilyn: When did you first become interested in writing?

Mike" I can’t remember not being interested in writing. But my first serious attempt to write a book was while serving as president of NMSU. The job was making be batty and writing was an excellent escape. I wrote a murder mystery, secured a big-name New York agent, and have a collection of rejection letters from all the major publishers. I tried it again after I left Bermuda, and that led to the Pot Thief Series.

Marilyn: I loved your first Pot Thief book, waiting to buy the next one at the PSWA conference. What gave you the idea for this series?

Mike: The book I wrote at NMSU was more of a noir, so I decided to make the next one a cozy. I’ve always liked New Mexico pottery, and I love Lawrence Block’s burglar series. So instead of a burglar – sort of hard to justify breaking into people’s houses – I created a character who digs up old pottery, still illegal, but not quite so odious as burglary.

Marilyn: Give us a brief description of both books and where they can be purchased.

Mike" The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras starts with a mysterious stranger trying to tempt Hubie into stealing an ancient piece from a museum. Hubie digs up pots, he doesn’t break into buildings, but he hates museums, so he figures he’ll take a look around. While in the museum, he realizes this is not a job for him, and he returns home to find a Federal agent who accuses him of stealing the pot. One thing leads to another as they always do in murder mysteries, and the agent is killed, Hubie becomes the prime suspect, and he has to solve the murder to clear himself, a task he is assisted in by his sidekick Susannah and the ancient mystic and mathematician Pythagoras.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy finds Hubie trying to recover sacred pots stolen from the San Roque Pueblo. Unfortunately, he suspects they are cadged in an apartment in a high-security building in downtown Albuquerque, the residence in fact of the retired head of the University of New Mexico Anthropology Department who expelled Hubie from the program for digging up and selling old pots. The department head is murdered, and you can guess the rest.

Both books are available from the publisher, Oak Tree Press and online at Amazon (both paper and kindle), Barnes & Noble and a number of other online retailers. You can even bid on used ones on EBay! The books are also stocked in a number of bookstores in New Mexico and adjacent states. Of course any good bookstore can order a copy

Marilyn: Since your book has come out, have you had some interesting or unusual experiences you'd like to share?

Mike" All writers have stories about things that happen at book signings. I happened to arrive for a signing in Gallup, NM just a few days after the raid in Blanding, Utah where federal marshals arrested about a dozen people for illegal possession and trading of native artifacts. Someone looked at my book and asked me if it was about the events in Blanding. “Yes,” I said with a straight face, “print-on-demand technology is incredibly fast.”

Marilyn: See what I mean about his sense of humor? What's coming next?

Mike" The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein will be out later this year.

Marilyn: Will you share some of your promotion ideas?

Mik: Any promotion ideas I have I got from you, Marilyn, and other writers who are always willing to share

Marilyn: Aw c'mon, Mike, I never did a book tour on my way to a PSWA conference. Yes, folks, that's exactly what he did. Anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?

Mike: If they read your blog, they probably read your books, so I won’t preach to the choir. I’d like to tell them to support their local bookseller and keep the publishing industry alive. I know it’s convenient and saves trees to have electronic books, and ordering paper books is easy online, but do we really want to be a society where one or two mega corporations control what books we have available?

Marilyn: How true. Thank you, Mike. Looking forward to the next book.

If you are interested in attending the PSWA conference where Mike, along with his wife Lai, will be talking about book covers, good and bad, got to

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ever Feel Overwhelmed?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, February 1, 2010

Do You Have Favorite TV Shows?

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

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

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

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

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

What about you? What do you like?


A New Month

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

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

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

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

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

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