Showing posts from June, 2011

I Got What I Wished For and Some History

Years ago when I was writing like crazy, but couldn't find a publisher I had a wish that I'd find publishers for both my series and be committed to writing two books a year.

I was really cranking them out. First I got started on my Rocky Bluff P.D. series and wrote one after another. First an e-publisher before there were any e-readers and no one wanted to read a whole book on line accepted Final Respects. Nothing came of that at all. Second publisher came along a bit later when a few e-readers were on the market, but I did better with the trade paperbacks selling them on my own. Problems arose with royalties and I severed the ties. I found another e-publisher who printed trade paperbacks too. She as great, the books looked great and I was happy. After two books she decided to go out of the business. In a few months I'd signed a contract with Oak Tree Press--and I'm happy.

In the meantime I was writing other books including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. The f…

So You Want to be a Guest Blogger

I love having guests on my blogs as some of you may have noticed,

I'm quite happy to interview them if they like or they can do what they want--write a post on a subject of their choice, tell about what inspired their books, give writing tips, talk about themselves, just about anything except for politics or anything x-rated. I do prefer that they keep their language clean, but other than that, I'm pretty much open to whatever they think will interest my readers and perhaps sell their books.

A guest blogger has certain obligations though I've never spelled them out, but for the blogger's own sake they ought to follow these obligations.

On the day the blog comes out the guest should visit the blog and leave a comment. In the meantime he or she should be letting people know about the guest blog through all the usual means--the social networks they are on and of course any lists that they participate on that allows a little BSP. Otherwise, what's the point? Through ou…

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Beth Anderson's Inspiration for Writing RAVEN TALKS BACK


Almost immediately after I retired early from my 23-year position in accounting and finance, I happened to receive an unexpected invitation to work on a six-week contract with a company in Valdez, Alaska, which is at the end of the Alaska Pipeline. I would be doing some of the same work I had done over a period of years while taking care of my former company's fixedsset system. I thought, what a wonderful opportunity to see Alaska, not to mention the salary they offered, which was more three times what I had been making here.

Off I went on this great adventure, thinking maybe, just maybe,I might also find something I wanted to write about, but not really counting on it because I knew I'd be working five, six days a week in an office there. Not much time left over for finding inspiration for a seventh novel. Not in a small town like that, surely, with only a little over 4,500 inhabitants.

On my first day there before I started working, I stood in the back yard watching fog…

Another Writing Tip

When writing from close third person, the narrative is coming from that person's POV.

This means that everything in the narrative is what that person sees, hears, smells, perceives, touches and experiences making it unnecessary to put in he or she thought, essentially the narrative is all coming from that person.

Of course when you do this it is important to really write what is going on all around this person and how they feel about what is happening.

When I'm teaching a class I always say the best way to do this is to get inside the person and look out through their eyes. Experience everything as he or she would making sure to use all five senses.


My Writing Tip for the Day

Find the most descriptive verbs you can--verbs that describe the action.

When you do this you don't need adverbs.

One of the best examples is for the word look. What is the character really doing? squint, study, check, stare, examine, view, etc.

Another is walk. Saying a character walked somewhere really doesn't give much of a word picture, did he amble, strut, jog, stroll?

Get the idea? If you don't have a good thesaurus (the one in your word processing program probably doesn't have the variety you'll get in a thesaurus) get one, either in book form or on the web.

Using the most descriptive verbs can make your writing pop.


Taking a Day Off

Ever so often hubby and I decide just to take the day off--and this is one of those days.

Of course, I'll manage to get a lot done before we do go.

When we go to town, 17 miles away, we always do more than one thing. Today it'll be pick up some supplies from Office Max, and head to the Sheltered Workshop where I need 10 copies of something printed, and we have to go to the bank.

We plan to have lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant where we haven't been since before our vacation. After that we'll head to the movies and we're doing hubby's choice today, CARS. Oh, I know I'll enjoy it too.


Dennis Collins talks about The First Domino

People often ask me where my ideas come from.I honestly don’t know the answer to that question most of the time.But with my most recent book, The First Domino the answer is both clear and confusing. A recent search into my heritage revealed much more than I had ever known about an uncle who went missing in action during the Second World War.Long lost letters that were found by one of my cousins described details of my uncle’s fate. A first Lieutenant in the 14th Armored Division, he was hit by a mortar round while fighting house to house in a small town in northern France.A medic was able to reach him but was driven back by heavy enemy fire.When our troops regained control of the neighborhood, my uncle’s body was gone and has never been found. He was initially “Missing in action” and many years later declared “Killed in action.”He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. I’m sure that there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar stories about many of our lost heroes.I wanted…

Frustrating Cell Phones

I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone and though there were tons of features on the iPhone that I liked, I hated the keyboard.

And first, I have to say when I got it I couldn't even figure out how to turn it on much less how to make it work. I had to go to my Internet provider to get my email set up, then I had to find someone else with an iPhone to figure out how to turn it on and how to type on the keyboard. Finally, I got the hang of it, but then it wouldn't do something the Blackberry did, it wouldn't take email message off my big computer.

I hung in with the iPhone but it began acting wonky. It wouldn't show that it was charged even after I'd let it charge all night. I took it to the store where I bought it (AT&T) and they fiddled with it finally saying I'd have to take it back to Apple. The nearest Apple store is nearly two hours away.

I made the decision to go back to Blackberry--and I'd had my iPhone long enough that I had an AT& T upgra…

Sneak Peek of My New Cover

Bears With Us is the next up in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. I am absolutely thrilled with this cover.

Yes, the book is about bears, a bear invasion in and around the  little town of Bear Creek in the Southern Sierra. (Central Valley, California.)

Of course it's about a lot more than that, but until the time of release gets closer (August 16th the publisher says) that all I'll say for now.


Mystery We Write Blog Tour: A Conversation with Anne K. Albert

A conversation with Anne K. Albert:
It’s a pleasure to visit with you today, Marilyn. When we first chatted, you asked what inspired me to write FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, first book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. The short answer is snakes. The long answer, well, the long answer will take at least the rest of the week, but I’ll try to keep it short!
When my husband retired, we downsized and moved out of the city to a quiet condo complex near a lake, aimed specifically at seniors. The first year was wonderful. Then, the neighbor from hell moved in next door – literally. Only our shared living room and upstairs bedroom walls separated him from us.
In his early 30s, with shaved head, tattoos, two massive guard dogs and a surly attitude, we soon realized he was involved in the drug trade. As bad as that was, he delighted in telling everyone about his assortment of 40 large snakes and a few hundred rats (the snake’s food). It is truly amazing how one unscrupulous individual can turn a comm…

What's Up Next For Me

After a great afternoon at the Willow Bridge Bookstore in Oakhurst talking about a Writer's Platform, now I'm planning for what comes next.

July 2, I'll be heading to Fresno for the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting. Members who are authors will have the opportunity to tell about their books. Of course I'm going to be there.

From the 13th through the 18th, I'll be in Las Vegas for the Public Safety Writers Association's conference. This is one of my favorites. (While I'm there, I'll also spend some time with my sister.)

August  6th we'll be heading to Tehachapi for a book fair. Looking forward to it because I'll also get to spend some time with fellow author and friend, M. M. Gornell.

August 20th, we're going to Nipomo for a book and craft fair at the Nipomo Library--and we're staying at the historic Santa Maria Inn.

On the 25th we'll be fling to Nashville TN to attend the Killer Nashville mystery conference. Looking forward to se…

Youngest Granddaughter's Graduation

In the photo: Grandson Robert, Graduate, Granddaughter Alyssa, and Granddaugther Erica, three of my youngest daughter's kids--there are three more.

I didn't get to go to this graduation, but as many grands and great-grands that I have, it's a wonder that I get to as many as I do.

Around Alyssa's neck is a money leis--made by her mom, something she does for all the graduates.

June is half over and I'm pretty sure the graduations for my family are done.

I pray that each and everyone of these young people will realize their dreams.


And This is All About Our Vacation

We had a wonderful vacation, taking off from Oxnard with daughter and son-in-law in their motor home, driving 12 hours to Sedona, AZ. We made our home away from home at a gorgeous campground, the last picture is of the pond by our campsite.

Daughter Dana, hubby and me are in the photos along with the wonderful scenery of Sedona. Our first full day there, we stayed in camp and enjoyed ourselves. Second day we went into town and shopped until it was time for me to give a talk at the library along with good friend Willma Gore who I haven't seen for years. After our talk, we took her out to dinner at a great Chinese place near her home.

 I was worn out that night. Next day we went on a Pink Jeep tour of the back country. That was really fun and we got to see a lot we wouldn't have any other way. In the afternoon, we visited the Chapel of the Cross, really spectacular and the view is amazing.

On Thursday night we went to a cowboy dinner and show in Cottonwood. It was so much better…

High School Graduation for Great-Grandson

Brandon is the first of my great-grandchildren. Everyone in the family is really proud of him. He plans to be a preacher of some sort--thinking about being a youth minister. He's preached several times at our church and he's a natural. Preaches the word and has the gift of making people laugh.

Recently, he brought the Power Team to the town of Porterville--the smallest city they've ever performed in. He made all the arrangements, including getting schools to pay the cash needed to have members of the team perform at an assembly. He was given permission to take a week off of school to drive the team around to their various performances. It was a huge amount of work and quite and undertaking for a senior in high school.

After the graduation, he, his girlfriend and all of the family went to a pizza place and had a great time.

It'll be fun to see where he goes from here.

Proud great-grandma.

Interview with K Dawn Byrd author of Mistaken Identity

Eden Morgan makes a list of six goals to accomplish in order to have the best summer ever. Getting a boyfriend, which is perhaps the most important goal, becomes complicated when she and her best friend, Lexi, fall for the same guy. Since Lexi is popular, gorgeous, and always gets her guy, Eden thinks she doesn't have a chance.

Channing Johnson is everything Eden's ever dreamed of and she can't believe he just moved in next door. When he starts showing interest in her, she's overjoyed...until she sees him out on a date with Lexi. He says Lexi talked him into it to repay her for tutoring him. Lexi says they're in love.

Eden doesn't know who to believe and is forced to choose between her best friend and the guy of her dreams. Nothing is as it seems and no matter who she chooses, someone will get hurt.


After dinner, Mom suggested that we go swimming while the adults had coffee. Channing hurried home to change into swimming trunks and, when he…

What I've Been Up To

Some of you probably figured out already that I've been gone on vacation and that's why I was doing all the advertising about my books. I'll soon be back in front of my own computer and let you know all the exciting things we've been up to and I hope with photos too.

I've been having issues with my iPhone which is what I use to take photos. No problem with the picture taking, takes the best photos I've ever taken, but when I started my vacation, I couldn't send any messages or photos. Grrrr! I'm hoping I will have resolved my problem by the time this comes out.

Because I've chosen to have new content on my blog everyday, sometimes you'll just have to realize I really didn't have anything all that interesting to say.


Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Vivian Zabel talks about her book Stolen

At times, research for a novel comes through personal experience, as happened with Stolen. I did do some extra research to add a section at the back of the story itself, but all the rest came from personal experience.
Over 14 years ago, two of my grandchildren were taken by their father. We had no contact with  them, didn't know where they were, didn't know if they were alive or not. The pain nearly destroyed us, me. We loved them so much, and they were such major parts of our lives, my husband and I felt as if a chunk of our hearts had been ripped out. I can only imagine the agony their mother, our daughter, felt. Something had to be done with that severe pain and despair. I turned to my therapy - writing. Stolen was born.

Every year for 12 years, around the time they were last seen by anyone in the family, I blogged a letter to them, giving my contact information. A friend asked if he could spread my latest blog, November 2007, through the blogs of his friends around the worl…

Lingering Spirit Book Video

Image to see the video of Lingering Spirit which truly has the "spirit" of the book.

And you can find the book on Amazon in both Kindle and trade paperback.

This book is very close to my heart and I think you'd like, just be sure and have tissues handy. And if you didn't know already, this one has its roots in something tragic that happened in our family.


Dispel the Mist


When you watch this video you are taken right inside the rock shelter to see the actual pictograph of the Hairy Man. You are able to see how one boulder is sitting on top of another to create this rock cave where the pictographs can be found.

Never visit this rock shelter at night because there are too many spirits roaming around. In Dispel the Mist, Deputy Tempe Carbtree experiences the spirits.

Here's the link to buy the book:

And  here's the book trailer for An Axe to Grind:

This one really gives the feel of the story.

And to purchase it:



M.E. Kemp says:

 I write a mystery series with two nosy Puritans as detectives.  I figured Puritans were supposed to be nosy, to keep an eye on the UnGodly Acts of their neighbors, and a good detective has to be nosy,
so....  Hetty Henry is a Boston widow with money and connections to both high and low society.  Increase "Creasy" Cotton is a young Puritan minister trained to ferret out the guilty secrets of the human soul. 
(He is also part of the humanist movement coming to the fore in the period of the 1690's, so he's more sympathetic to sinners.)  In my third book of the series time-wise I was up to 1692 and I could not
ignore the major event of that year, the Salem Witch Trials.  Somehow that incident in our history has become so fascinating that a surfeit of books have been written about it, all spouting different causes. 

I'd like to point out that this was basically one incident in our history where 20 people died, and that in Europe at the same time a…

Book Trailer for Invisible Path

If you go to this page, you can click on the video for Invisible Path.

I really enjoy all these book videos. I hope you do too.

A big part of the plot is about a young man who has just graduated from a rehab program on the reservation being falsely accused of murder. There is a rehab program like this one on the reservation near our home. There has never been a murder near there that I know of. It's another one of those "What if?" moments.

And as for the paramilitary group, I used to see Jeeps and trucks that looked like they belonged to the Army heading up the highway to the mountains--hubby said they weren't official and probably belonged to some idiots (his word) that were playing pretend military. In this book, they are up to no good.


Book Trailer for Angel Lost

If you haven't seen this one yet, take a peek. It very much gives the flavor of Angel Lost.

 To order the book:

This is another one I really enjoyed writing. When you write about the same characters, it's really fun to figure out what is happening with their private lives as well as the challenges of their job on the Rocky Bluff P.D. In the one, the appearance of the angel in the furniture store window had it's beginning when Jesus' face appeared in a carpet store window in Porterville and brought hundred of people night after night. I drove by and saw all the crowds and thought, "What if?


Dialogue Tags

When I first began writing, everyone searched for the perfect dialogue tag--the very one that seemed to go best with the sentence such as:
 replied, answered, queried, proclaimed, shouted, whispered, groaned, and so on.

Today the experts all say use said or asked, that people just skip over those words and that's enough.

Better still, use an action for the dialogue tag. The action can move the story along or even be a descrition.

"Get your butt in here this very instant." Mother emphasized each word with a bang of her wooden spoon against the counter top.

She filled my cup without asking. "I know you have time enough to drink another cup of coffee and tell me what happened in front of your house last night."

Tom ran his finger through what was left of his graying hair. "When are you going to tell me the truth about what happened last night?"

See how many he said and she said you can get rid of in your writing by using an action or description for a di…

Mystery We Write Blog Tour, Jennifer DiCamillo Visits Today

Hi, Marilyn and friends.

You asked me if I had to do any research to make my books more realistic, and I do. I have a collection of mysteries coming out titled MENTALLY UNSTABLE and there is a big variety of things I had to look up. 

One is about a murderer who kills according to the “Seven Deadly Sins” in the Bible. The story isn’t religious, but I had to look up the seven sins. Amazing what you think you remember until you have to make an accurate list. I challenge your readers to see if they can name those without popping the good book.

Another thing I had to look up was the word DESPICADO. It means “It satisfies.” Who knew? It features in another hard-boiled mystery in the anthology and almost became the title of the collection. But my publisher thought MENTALLY UNSTABLE, which is the name of another story, a cozy mystery tale, was a better choice. For that one, I had to go read Arsenic and Old Lace again. All I could remember about it was the play my sister starred in dur…

What it Takes to be An Author

Time set aside to write. Yes, you have to write and do it regularly if you really want to be an author. A plan for promotion. Believe it or not, even if you’ve just begun a book it’s not too early to get your name out there. Name recognition is important. Not only that, when you get to the stage where you start to query, agents and publishers want to know what your marketing plan is.A support group of some kind—family, friends, and best of all, a writer’s group.Being able to take criticism. When you read your work to your critique group it doesn’t do a bit of good if all you hear is praise. I’d be disappointed if my critique group didn’t have some criticism or suggestions for my writing. Otherwise, it’s a waste of my time to go.Building on the criticism. Maybe you don’t agree with the suggestion, but you need to take a look at what you wrote because there was some problem for that suggestion to be mentioned.Rew…

The Importance of Setting

Though I've written about the importance of setting before, I just finished reading books for a contest and the ones that really stood out were those where the author had done such a great job of describing the setting that you really felt you were following along with the characters as they went here and there. It didn't matter whether the place was real or fictional, the sights, sounds, and smells of each location really added to the plot and the enjoyment of the book.

One of the artists of telling what the places in his books are like is James Lee Burke. What is so interesting about his ability is that he is almost poetic with his place descriptions while the main story is always gritty and often violent.

A lesser known author, though she won't be much longer, is Holli Castillo who writes about New Orleans. While reading her also quite gritty mysteries, you will feel like  you've made a visit to the real New Orleans, not just the places where the tourists go.


William S. Shepard, Author of Vintage Murder

Marilyn: So, William, you’re writing a diplomatic mystery series, what gave you the idea for this? ANSWER: I was a career diplomat. One evening when on duty for the Secretary of State, it occurred to me that there was no diplomat-sleuth in the literature. That was odd, when a diplomat sees so many secrets - intelligence and diplomatic reports, and crime reports and FBI assessment. The material was all there, and when I retired, I decided to put it together. In the process, I invented the "diplomatic mystery" genre, stories set largely in American Embassies overseas.
Marilyn: Do you share some of the hero’s characteristics?
ANSWER: I share Robbie Cutler's cultural curiosity and like him, I am at home everywhere. Also, like him, I tend to understand logic better than people.
Marilyn: What about the settings? Are these places where you’ve been?
ANSWER: Vintage Murder is set in Bordeaux, where I was Consul General. The second in the series, Murder On The Danube, is se…