Sunday, July 31, 2011

Subtext Through Dialogue and Action from PSWA Conference

The delightful Holli Castillo presented an interesting segment on sub-text. I'm going to give a few of her points here.

Sometimes dialogue may mean something different than the words.

May display some relationship issues when there is a romantic subplot, perhaps some strife going on.

In a thriller, you might introduce the bad guy early, but find out more about him later.

Plant clues and seeds as you go along.

Instead of a character answering a question, could ask one, or change the subject.

Use subtext to cut down on some of the dialogue. Could be displayed through body language.

When you set things up, be sure they pay off.

A character may say something that seems innocent, but when more information is given, the meaning of the message is changed.

Men don't always pick up on social clues.

Holli suggested taking a screen writing class so you can see your book as a movie.

Use the same character traits all the way through the book. If you know your character well, using the traits will become organic.

She suggested watching the original Die Hard movie as it sets up all the motivation for the characters right from the beginning.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Plus and a Minus About Doing Book Reviews

Lately I've done a lot of book reviews--and I haven't purchased any books.

I was given a wonderful book by one of the men at the PSWA Conference, an ARC of a thriller that won't be available until November. I read it and wrote a review to appear when it does comes out.
At the conference I purchased member Robert O'Hanneson's Possum Belly Queen. I had two reasons for doing it, one was the title, the other is the book was published by Oak Tree Press, one of my publishers. I'm only about 1/2 way through but it's a good--but definitely not a cozy.

Lately Simon and Schuster has been sending me mysteries--really good ones by big names even one of my favorites--but they are coming so fast I can't keep up with them.

I also belong to Amazon Vine's review program. I was invited and decided to do it. You get to choose from more than books, 2 items at a time, and you must review them. I always choose food because you can eat some and write a review and it doesn't take much time. A lot of the books don't tickle my fancy, but some do and I've chosen, read and reviewed. I picked a DVD once and I thought it was going to be like the movie Traffic which I loved and that's how it was described--but ick, it was more like watching a porno flick with no relation to Traffic that I could see. It's the only think I haven't given a good rating too. I got a lot of flack back from that review--I think from the producer.

I like to pick kids' books too because they don't take long to read and they are fun. Plus I have lots of kids in my family to pass them on to.

All this reading makes it hard to write though, so I try to limit my reading to meal times and bed time. Once in awhile though a book grabs me and I have to keep on reading.

This is my excuse as to why I haven't done more planning for my next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.


Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Do it All/Time Management

If you think I'm going to give you some wonderful secret about how to manage your time, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. What I am going to do is tell you how I do it.

When I was younger, I did far more than I can manage now. I've learned that my mind works much better in the morning then it does in the later afternoon or evening though so I center my biggest jobs and those that require more intelligence soon after I'm up.

I've always been a person who showers and dresses right after I get up--which is usually around 4:30 or 5. I'd certainly like to sleep longer, but it doesn't happen. I started the getting right up and dressed soon after I had kids. With children, you never know what the day may bring, who'll you have to take or pick up from school, or take to the emergency room. Already being dressed helps in these situations.

When I had my care home, my ladies left for work around 6:15 a.m. Licensing liked to make unannounced visits around 8 a.m. I always liked to be dressed if someone like that came to call.

Another reason for dressing right away is once I get immersed in work, I forget what time it is.

I always begin the day with a list. I jot down all the things I want to accomplish, and I try not to be unrealistic.

Oh, right now I guess I better tell you that I no longer do the major part of my housework--I'm fortunate that my daughter-in-law does it, but if she wasn't around to help, I'd pay someone else. I still do our laundry though that chore is nothing like it used to be.

If I'm working on a book, I start writing first. I like to get as many pages down as possible and I when I start winding down, I stop in the middle of a scene so I know exactly where to begin the next time.

To be honest, I'm probably going to look at my email before I really get going on a big project. Often there are things that arrive that I will have to take care of and I'll put them down on my list. Could be things like an interview for someone's blog--or someone who is sending me information that will become a guest post on my blog.

I'll probably post on Facebook what I've got planned for the day. It seems if I tell the world what I'm going to do, I'm more apt to do it. I also like to use to let everyone know when I have a new blog post up--that only takes a minute or two.

Once I've finished my writing for the morning, I'll check email again, then I'll start tackling everything else that's on my list.

I just keep plugging away until I'm done. After lunch, I'll do a few more things, then I take time out to watch General Hospital which really means I stretch out on the couch and take a nap.

After that I may start dinner, or do a few more odd jobs until I must start dinner.

After dinner I no longer do any work. Hubby and I often watch a DVD movie--and it won't be too long after that until I head for bed where I'll probably read and have TV on in the background, By 9 I'll be asleep or nearly there.

This doesn't happen every single day. I don't do any work on Sunday. I teach Sunday School when I'm home and go to church. After church, we usually eat out somewhere--and the rest of the day is spent relaxing. (Yes, I do respond to emails and check Facebook.)

One day during the week, I'll probably go grocery shopping and run a few errands, but I can get a lot done before 9 a.m. when I usually leave the house.

Sometimes hubby and I take off in the a.m. and head to an early movie and lunch somewhere. We love to go to the movies. We might squeeze in some errands while we're at it.

I have other jobs I do, I write a monthly newsletter for a residential care organization and I gather information for that during the month. I also have my own newsletter that I send out once a month. I try to add interesting information to that off and on during the month.

And of course, we take off for different promotion trips--which are sometimes like mini-vacations.

What I don't do is belong to any clubs except for Sisters in Crime and I don't get too many of their meetings. I seldom yak on the phone during the day time. I don't have any drop-in company except relatives. I don't do any sports or go to the casino--except once in a blue moon to the buffet. When I do socialize, it's really special.

And that's how I do it all.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Announcing Great Grandbaby #12

Julius Matthew Meredith was born on 7/19/2011 at 8 pounds 4 ½ oz.

His father is my grandson, Nick Meredith. Nick lived with us from the time he was 11 until he was 20. We enjoyed having him. This is his second child, he also has a daughter named Kay’Lee who is 8.

I think he named his son after a character in a football movie, Remember the Titans. When he was around 15 and 16 and even older he watched that movie over and over. While in high school he was a quarterback and played other positions too for the Porterville team.

This makes the 12 great-grandchild for hubby and me.

Our oldest great graduated from high school this year.

A proud great-grandma


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sometimes I Get Overwhelmed

My goal is to write or have a new post on my blog every single day. I thought I'd done one for today, but obviously I didn't.

I make lists every single day about what I need to get done. Actually, I have a small tablet by my computer and it's an ongoing list, I cross of what I've done and add what needs to be done. Most of it is writing stuff.

At the moment I got write 2 blogs. I need to do one for the Stiletto Gang and another for Make Mine Mystery. Both are blogs that I appear on twice a month.

I need to write a letter to Barnes and Noble in Las Vegas as they owe me for four books that were purchased while I was speaking to the Sisters in Crime group that met there on Mother's Day.

I've already written a short article about the PSWA conference for my chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Then there is the not so small chore of toting up receipts of what I made selling books and other writing related items and what I spent going here and there to sell books. It's a lot easier to do this at the end of each month instead of waiting until the year is over to have totals for income tax. That's on my list, but won't happen until this weekend.

I also need to decide which books I'm going to take to the Tehacapi Book Festival the first weekend in August. This is a new one for me so not exactly sure how that will go. The time is shorter than most because it doesn't begin until 11.

There are a lot of things I need to do online to promote my books and I may get around to one or two before the day is over.
Tonight is my writer's critique group but I'm ready for that.

So, my advice to self is calm down and take one chore at a time.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bringing Fictional Characters to Life

One of the presentations at the PSWA conference was on characterization and given by author Michael A. Black. Here are some of the notes I took:

Who are your characters? Do you have a picture of each one? (Some cut pics out of magazines for their characters.) It's important to have a good description and you need to know what each one is like.

Give the physical characteristics early on, before the reader has a chance to form his own mental picture that might be totally different from yours.

You should have a back story for each character--a character sketch. Things like: Name, where he grew up, what was his home like, who were his family members, who is still living and he interacts with, what kind of work does he do? Hobbies? Etc.

Always a good idea to keep a list of characters' names so you don't repeat.

Maintain a character bible including minor characters.

Important to know the motivations of each character: greed, anger, jealousy, revenge, pride, to cover another crime, etc.

And he emphasized the following:

Show, don't tell

And choose the POV character from whom the story will come.

Mike did a wonderful job!

The whole PSWA conference was fantastic. If you've never gone you're missing out. Next year it will be from July 12-15 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

If you haven't already, be sure and take a look at my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, Angel Lost, which I dedicated to Keith Bettinger, one of the members of PSWA. It's available on Kindle and a trade paperback from Amazon and can be ordered from any independent bookstore.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Meet Mary Martinez, author of Classic Murder

Marilyn: Thanks for visiting today. I absolutely love your photo. Looks like you love life.I hope you’re enjoying the Mystery We Write Blog tour. Can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

Mary: I grew up in a small town in Utah on a forty-acre farm. We had Black Angus, chickens, dogs and peacocks. Yes, I said peacocks. And I have a bunch of their feathers in my office. I’ve lived here my entire life, and I love it.

I am married to my best friend and together we have six kids. We have both been married once before, so we have the Brady bunch, three boys and three girls. And now we have seven grandchildren. They are the best. We have such fun with them. We have Papa and Nana nights where everyone comes for dinner and play.

My husband and I love to travel, and one of our favorites, is Italy. I gather a lot of fodder for my books by travel and friends.

Marilyn: Mary, please tell us about your newest release.

Mary: Thanks for having me. I am having fun on the blog tour. It has been a lot of work, but well worth it. My newest release is Classic Murder: Mr. Romance. It’s the story about Adam and Katie. Here is a blurb:

Adam enjoys a lifestyle most men only dream of. Then one day he wakes up to find the morning headlines blaring, "Another victim falls prey to Mr. Romance. Who is next?" He suddenly realizes his way of life is not only frivolous, but deadly.

Dubbed Mr. Romance by New York society for his romantic adventures, Adam Fernando Russo loves women. But lately he realizes how lonely it is coming home to an empty house. Can he settle for only one woman? After he makes a list of qualities worthy enough to merit giving up his desirable existence, suddenly recipients of his coveted attention mysteriously fall prey to a murderer. The murders seem unrelated with one exception--all the victims have recently returned from a fabulous weekend rendezvous with Mr. Romance.

Adam’s assistant, Katie Sinclair, knows Adam is innocent with airtight alibis. The police are at a loss so Adam and Katie work together to discover the link between the murders. As luck would have it, their plan to prove the murderer is copying classic Cary Grant movies goes astray just as Adam realizes his perfect woman has been by his side all along.

Marilyn: What inspired you to write your book and if you had to do any research and if so what, and if you ran into any problems writing it.

Mary: First, Adam and Katie wanted me to use them in a story. For this story, the characters came first. Their personalities and names, but I had no idea what to do with them. Then one evening while watching a Cary Grant movie, I had a germ of an idea. And that was the start. The research for this book was a blast. I watched all of Cary Grant’s movies. I had a note pad and wrote a blurb on all of them. Then I picked the ones that I could use for classic murders.

The hardest part was finding movies I could use and make it believable for the story. I hope I accomplished that.

Marilyn, thank you for having me on your blog today. 

Marilyn: I loved learning about you and your book, thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Balancing Your Time

Authors complain a lot about how much time must be spent on promotion and how that takes away from their writing time.

In this day and age with so may writers self-pubbing and their books appearing on Kindle and Nook and other e-readers, if a writer doesn't promote he or she will not even be noticed.

So what's the answer? It's a dilemma I face every day. When you write two series a year, as I do, you have to spend at least half of your writing time producing a book.

As any writers knows, writing the book isn't just sitting down and cranking out the chapters. A lot of thought and research must happen first. In my case, I start developing characters and what I think will happen to them.

Once I'm actually writing, often I have to stop and do more research. When the first draft is done, taking about three months, I read it chapter by chapter to my critique group and then fix the things they've suggested and other things I've found along the way. When that's done, I go over it again myself. I either have an editor look at then or an early reader who I know will find mistakes and discrepancies.

While all this is going on, I'm promoting whichever of my books happens to be out at the time. If I'm doing a blog tour it means checking each blog several times a day to see if I need to make a comment or answer a question.

I'm also on lists which often have good promotion tips that I take advantage of and of course I post on Facebook and Twitter.

Often I'm gone from home going to a writers or mystery conference which curtails a lot of what I'd be doing if I were home. I attend book and craft fairs too as a means to sell my books and get acquainted with readers.

On top of all that, I do have a life. I have a husband who I like to spend time with, we're movie buffs and try to go two to three times a month and we watch Netflix movies too. I have a big family and like to visit with them too. I'm the chief cook in this house, fortunately I enjoy cooking--but I only do the evening meal--everyone can forage for themselves for the others. And of course that means I do grocery shop too.

So, how do I manage all this. I make lists of what has to be done. I try to keep the list to something I can accomplish in a day. I have another list for those projects that are long-lasting.
I've always been someone who likes to accomplish things, so once I'm done with something I am happy to cross it off the list.

When I was younger I could do far more than what I do now. My brain doesn't function as well in the afternoon as it does in the morning, so I try to do most of my actual writing then. Other chores can wait.

I know this isn't going to work for everyone, but this is what works for me.


Friday, July 22, 2011

What are the Most Important Things in Your Writing Space and Why?

Carolyn J. Rose said:

A few days ago I took a look around my office and was amazed by the amount of stuff packed into that 10x12 space. I’d be at it for days if I had to pack up and move to a less high-maintenance home—something we consider when we’re overwhelmed by encroaching foliage, stampeding dust bunnies, and windows with enough smears to make a CSI technician rethink his career.

“Don’t worry,” the optimist side of my brain said, “A move is years away. Housing prices are still in the toilet and you’re a long way from downsizing.”


That means not only moving, but also minimizing

And that’s a word that can strike terror into the heart of even someone with the habit of going through closets each spring and finding new homes for clothing, books, cooking utensils, and Christmas gifts from Aunt Belinda that can only be described as “unique.”

But, terrifying as the thought of winnowing, packing, lifting, lugging, and unpacking may be, someday we’ll bite the bullet and move into smaller digs.

So I decided to prepare myself by taking a hard look at my office and deciding what is absolutely essential.

The desk, chair, computer, and printer obviously will have to stay. And, no way can I sacrifice the stapler, hole punch, tape dispenser, reference books, telephone, file cabinets, or bookshelves.

It would be impossible to part with the address book, that vase full of pens and pencils, the basket loaded with index cards and pads of sticky notes, or the rolling shelves that hold reams of paper. And of course I’ll need the mouse pad, wrist rest, paper clips, manila file folders, padded and plain envelopes, stamps, pencil sharpener, calendar, and highlighter pens.

Finally, there are the boxes of books, stands, postcards, display signs, and business cards that go with me to events at bookstores. And there are the handouts I tote to workshops at libraries and other venues.

That seems like enough to fill a half-ton pickup, but I haven’t skimmed the surface of what’s truly important, I haven’t listed the top ten writing-space items I couldn’t function without.

Here they are in order of importance:

10) The stack of index card with the titles of TBR books that grows ever taller as I read reviews and comments on my favorite blogs chat groups.

9) A window to gaze out of and watch birds, squirrels, and neighbors. (Hmmm. Is that why they put up that enormous fence?)

8) Artwork, photos, and knickknacks to stimulate memories of milestone events, places I’ve visited, and friends I’ve made or reconnected with.

7) The bulletin boards on which I post cartoons related to writing, inspirational slogans (Sit down, shut up, and write), and politically incorrect bumper stickers I don’t dare put on my car for fear I’ll be run off the road.

6) The television I insist is there in the name of research (you never know when you’ll need to watch an episode of Lock N’ Load) and as a motivational tool (when my plotting needs CPR and my writing has all the sparkle of that planet formerly known as Pluto, a B movie is just the ticket to make me feel better).

5) The CD player that provides the backbeat that keeps my fingers moving to the Rolling Stones, The Travelin’ Wilburys, The Doors, Bob Seger, and host of others.

4) The nail file I use to take care of chips and breaks and to pry food particles from between the keys.

3) The ceramic tile I set cups of hot coffee or soup on.

2) A box of tissues to take care of sniffles, sneezes, and spills.

1) A strategically placed mirror to remind me that I’m not getting any younger and I’d better stop wasting time and get back to that work in progress.

What’s on the top-ten list for your office? Stop by and share in the comment space below.

Carolyn's Bio:

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of four published mysteries and a suspense novel, and the co-author of four other mysteries and a fantasy. Surf to for more information.

By Carolyn J. Rose

An Uncertain Refuge

Hemlock Lake

Consulted to Death

Driven to Death

Dated to Death

Co-authored with Mike Nettleton

Sometimes a Great Commotion

The Big Grabowski

The Hard Karma Shuffle

The Crushed Velvet Miasma

The Hermit of Humbug Mountain


Want to win a copy of Uncertain Refuge? All you have to do is leave a comment. We'll have a drawing early Friday morning and let you know who the lucky winner is!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keith Bettinger, End Of Watch

Keith Bettinger's book, End of Watch, doesn't take long to read, but it's a real tribute to police officers everywhere. I've been a friend of the Bettingers for several years and I hope you enjoy this interview I did with him.

Marilyn: Hi, Keith, we had such a great time at the PSWA conference. You always do such a super job taking care of all the hotel arrangements and any problems that might pop up. What I want to know now, what do you do when you aren’t working on the conference?

Keith: I try and keep busy. I spend quite a bit of time on my next book which I am writing with a murder victim’s son. I work around the house trying to keep the Nevada dust out of it. I also take care of my three dogs as well as my son’s. I like to participate in adult education courses at the College of Southern Nevada.

Marilyn: Tell us a bit about your background. When did you first decide you wanted to be a police officer?

Keith: I was in high school in the late 1960s. Viet Nam was going on at the time and I was deciding what I was going to do upon graduation – go to college or enlist. I decided I would try college for 1 semester. While there I found out how much I finally enjoyed education. While in college I took police exams and I was hired by the Garden City NY Police Department as a police cadet. When I turned 21 I became a police officer. From there I tested for the Suffolk County NY Police Department and did the rest of my career there.

Marilyn: Because I know your wonderful wife, Lynn, how about telling me how the two of you met.

Keith: We met on a blind date. A friend to each of us told me he had a nice girl for me to go out with. I took her number and waited 5 months to call her. I then checked with him to see if she was still available to go out. He said yes, call her. I did, she sounded less than thrilled to hear from me, but said she would go with out with me. The first date was a disaster. We went to the movies and no seats were available. The second date was for dinner, and it was the day all the little Catholic kids were making their Holy Communions. After waiting hours for dinner we finally ate. I told her let’s try one more date. If it doesn’t work out, we’re not meant to date. That was over 38 years ago.

Marilyn: (My hubby and I met on a blind date too.) What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?

Keith: Two of our sons had moved here. I fell in love with the desert on my second trip out here. The cost of living is so much lower than living on Long Island, we would be able to live comfortably and enjoy life. It is also healthier to live out here with little humidity and no snow to shovel. I tell people I tied a snow shovel to the front fender of my car and drive until someone in Las Vegas asked me “What’s that on your car?” I knew I wanted to live here free of snow.

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

Keith: I was told by family I should be writer when I was still single and helping my younger sister with her homework. I never seriously thought of going into it because back then computers and word processors were nonexistent. My first experience with writing came when Massad Ayoob, the renowned firearms instructor helped with a term paper on dreams related to post shooting trauma. I sent him a copy when it was done back in 1983, and he took it to the publisher of Police Marksman Magazine and suddenly I became a published author.

Marilyn: What was the inspiration for your new book?

Keith: For many years I was a counselor/peer support person at the annual Police Week activities in Washington, DC. The stories of loss were heart wrenching and I wanted to write about law enforcement survivors. The photo on the cover was taken by me at the east wall of the National Law Enforcement Memorial, and part of the story is based on that photo.

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

Keith: Just that you and Hap are two of the nicest people I have ever met, I really enjoy your books and I was honored that you dedicated your last Rocky Bluff book to me, Angel Lost. What an honor that was.

Marilyn: Thank you, Keith, for the interview. (It was dedicated to you because you helped me so much with one of the characters.)


(The book is available from Keith for $10, plus $3 shipping 1st class mail, or $5 priority mail. You can email him at: for details.)

A small town, law enforcement dynasty is in the making. A well respected deputy dies in the line of duty and leaves behind a wife and son. The son wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a deputy too. Can he compete with his father’s memory? Will his fellow officers ever let the son be himself or must he rise to a higher standard than the other deputies live by? End of Watch takes the reader through not only the difficulties of being in law enforcement, but also the tragedy of a line of duty death and the healing that is needed to grow through the loss of a loved one.

Keith's Bio:

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County, NY Police Officer. Keith graduated the State University of New York at Farmingdale with an Associate’s Degree in Police Science. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from New York Institute of Technology in Behavioral Sciences. He also received a Master of Human Relations from New York Institute of Technology. After retiring, Keith taught criminal justice classes at his alma mater, New York Institute of Technology. Keith also taught at Suffolk County Police Academy, founded the Suffolk County Police Department’s Peer Counseling program for police officers involved in shootings. He formerly volunteered as a counselor with the national organization Concerns of Police Survivors as well as lectured on the topic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has written many articles, contributed to numerous anthologies of short stories and is the author of “Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny”. He now enjoys retirement in Las Vegas, NV with his wife Lynn.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rowena Through the Wall - Inspired by Anxiety!

 By Melodie Campbell

Sometimes, a girl just needs a good adventure.

I was sitting at my desk at work having a meltdown one day - okay, not a total meltdown, but a pretty significant panic attack, as anyone totally overwhelmed by work, kids, and parental caregiving will occasionally do.  I looked up from my desk and thought – if I could walk through that wall over there into another world, I would do it right now.  That night, Rowena got her start.

Simple choice really:  I could run away from home, or I could create a lovely world of my own where all the characters had ripping adventures.  That’s why I write – to provide readers with a fun escape for a few hours.

Rowena is a college instructor who falls through her classroom wall into an alternate world that resembles ancient Britain.  But it’s not our ancient Britain…the history differs somewhat and that makes all the difference.  When you deal in alternate world fantasy, you can make the adventure more fantastic.  You can include magic; you can ‘size up’ the men, and ramp up the passion. 

The research came naturally because I have a tie to Britain; my late cousin Tony Glegg-Hill was a Viscount, complete with castle.  I already knew why fortresses were built like they are, with crenellations and rounded turrets.  But I did need to do some research into Satanic weddings…now that was an interesting experience!

As far as Rowena is concerned, she’s off on an adventure that Midwest Book Review called hot and hilarious!  I had to strip off a few inhibitions when I wrote this, because even though it is fantasy, I wanted it to be rational.  By my reasoning, if a good-looking gal were plummeted into an ancient world, some guy (or ten) would probably try to claim her.  And what would happen then?  Rowena is spunky; she figures out what she has to do to survive.  And it ain’t spinning yarn by the river…

Rowena is a sexy adventure novel for women.  Men have their James Bond, after all.  My hope is that some people will have as much fun reading this as I did writing it.

Short bio:

Melodie has been a bank manager, marketing director, college instructor, comedy writer, and possibly the worst runway model ever.  She has over 200 publications, including 100 humor columns, 30 short stories, and one novel; most of her publications are blatantly comic, which explains why she was opening speaker for the 1999 Canadian Humor Conference.  She is also the General Manager for Crime Writers of Canada.  And that’s no joke.

Rowena Through the Wall is published by Imajin Books and is available through Amazon, Kobo, and other stores.

Check out Melodie’s blog at
Writing samples can be found at
* * *
Thanks for visiting me today, Melodie. Your books sounds delightful!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: The Inconvenient Corpse by Jackie King

The Inconvenient Corpse is a great title and I asked Jackie to tell us what inspired her to write this book, and here she is, Jacking King.

Good Morning Marilyn, I’m delighted to spend a day with you and your and Readers. Thanks so much for inviting me into your world of musings. Nothing more exciting to me than to be privy to what a writer is thinking.

You asked me what inspired me to write my book. What a fun question! My writer’s mind (and perhaps yours too) is a bit like the kitchen sink…everything drains through it (or flows, if that’s more pleasant to your sensibilities). Unusual thoughts and ideas and stories flash through my imagination. This has been true as far back as I can remember. My earliest memory (I must have been about three) was lying in bed imagining myself to be a princess who lived an adventurous life. Sometimes I had beautiful blond hair and sometimes I had beautiful black hair; never red, my natural color. (God forbid we women should like anything about ourselves, even as a toddler.)

It was in this manner that the opening scene for THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE came to me. I was resting in my room at a Bed and Breakfast in Northern California, not far from San Francisco. (Lounging in bed, actually.) I had spent the morning wandering through the Victorian neighborhood and traipsing down to the ocean, stopping at a charming shopping center to indulge in yummy pastry and strong coffee. (You’ll recognize my character Grace Cassidy doing these same things in my book, only she’ll be trying to solve a murder.)

My body rested and my mind filled with questions. What if I had found a dead body lying on my bed? I wondered, and what if he were a naked male? And what if his clothes couldn’t be found? Oh, I’ll make it worse! What if I were stranded in this strange town with no friends, no money, and no job skills? Could I survive using my own determination, brains, and moxie?

These were the questions that started me plotting THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE. I felt impelled to write the novel to learn the answers. Later, I added a teenaged son, my own experience as a woman who unexpectedly finds herself single again, and a rescued cat to make Grace’s life even more complicated. And, because I love a touch of romance, I added a jaded police sergeant who was about Grace’s age.

THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE began with the following sentence, then I built the whole book around these words:

“Grace Cassidy stared at the stranger’s body. He was about sixty, pot-bellied, naked, and very dead. She knew he was dead because his skin was the color of concrete. Worst of all, he was lying smack dab in the middle of her bed.”
The title came from a conversation between Grace and one of her new best friends, Pansy Postelwaite. The sentence had to do with another friend, the eccentric Theodora Westmacott, a 60ish English teacher.
“Don’t be silly. Theodora wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Pansy paused, frowned, and then reconsidered her words. “Well, she wouldn’t kill anyone in a fit of anger, anyway. She would calmly think it through and then execute them in some painless and tidy sort of way.”
Tidy? A tidy murder? Grace shivered. Huxley’s death had indeed been tidy. Inconvenient but very neat.

I fell in love with my protagonist Grace, her son, her friends and her cat. They had become my close friends. Thus I had to develop the idea into a series. I’m almost finished with the second Grace Cassidy mystery SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.
The story begins where the last book ended and in the same setting. My subsequent books in the series will be moving from one town to another, as Grace’s developing vocation, a professional Inn-Sitter, requires. Grace also begins to grow and change from a helpless socialite into a strong woman.
The third book will be set in Oklahoma, her home state, where she will deal with her divorce and other legal problems.

What Marcia Preston says about The Inconvenient Corpse:

“A naked corpse in her bed is only the first surprise for our heroine in Jackie King’s charming bed-and-breakfast mystery. Cozy readers will be happy guests among these lively characters.”
--Marcia Preston, winner of the 2004 Mary Higgins Clark Award

The story in a nutshell:
…No credit cards, no cash, no resources, no job skills. Fleeced and abandoned by her husband, Grace Cassidy learns she is the prime suspect in a bizarre murder.

More about Jackie:

Jackie loves books, words, and writing tall tales. She especially enjoys murdering the people she dislikes on paper. King is a full time writer who also teaches writing at Tulsa Community College. Her latest novel, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a traditional mystery. King has also written five novellas as co-author of the Foxy Hens Series. Warm Love on Cold Streets is her latest novella and is included in the anthology THE FOXY HENS MEET A ROMANTIC ADVENTURER. Her only nonfiction book is DEVOTED TO COOKING. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa Night Writers. She can be found at her website: 

Her blog: Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness:

Jackie would also love to have readers ‘friend’ her on Facebook where she’s listed as Jacqueline King
Thank you so much, Jackie for visiting with me today. You and your book are delightful.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday at PSWA

Another frun and productive day!

We learned what people are doing to promote their books and about all the big changes in publishing from authors and publishers. We also heard what turns off editors and publishers in
manuscript submissions.

Holli Castillo explained about adding subtext to dialogue to layer your story.

We had deputy coroner who showed us slides of a crime scene and had us analyze it. And he passed around an old skull with bullet holes in it and again made us figure out what had happened.

At the end of the day too experts (because they lived it) told us about working undercover, Great stuff and if either one needs a career change, acting would be a good choice.

In coming days I'll share more details. Right now it's 5:24 a.m.andI'm working with the lights off so I don't disturb those who are still asleep.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday at PSWA

What a great day! Guru Tim Dees entertained us before we started with a Power Point disp;ay of cop cartoons. He also prepared great intros for the speakers on the screen. It added a lot. Thanks, Tim!

We began with evryone introducing themselves and giving an elevator pitch if they have a book or wer writing one. What a great array of folks...cope.FBI. OCS, CIA. retirees of different services, lawyers, forensics, probation, Red Cross. firefighters,and more.

First panel had various experts telling us how moviea and TV get it wrong.

I don't have the program in front of me so may forget someone so will only mention a few.

Ellen Kirschberg. uthor and polive psychiatrist was terrific. I'll share more in future blogs.

Christopher Scott Wyatt, college professor, ghostwriter and much much more explained about screenwriting for TV and movies,

Mike Black, retired cop and a mystery author gave great pointers about creating believable characters,

We had a heart rendering panel on firefighying with clips and slides,

Another good panel was on writing for trade magazines online and paper.

My mind is not remembering the rest but I took notes and will share more when I get home.

Sat next to my publisher and enjoyed conversations with her.

Went to dinner with Barbara Hodges, Wendy Gager. Christopher Wyatt and hubby. Fun.

Looking foreard to today.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Despite nightmare all went well!

Why is it so hard to find the entrance to the hotel part of the Orleans Hotel? We had trouble last year too. From then on it was easy.

We registered and got our room key. Interesting, we don't have a number on our room. Found it by process of elimination.

Went to the convention center and the registration table was right there. Hubby and I put out name tags and people started coming. So much fun seeing everyone.

Good food and conversation at the party tho hubby and I faded fast.

Loking forward to tomorrow.


Registration for PSWA

After lunch at my sister's, hubby and I will head to the Orleans Hotel and get registered.

At 3 p.m. we'll head up to the conference area and get the registration table set up with name tags etc.

For me this is one of the most exciting parts of the conference. I get to greet everyone as they arrive, meet people I only know by name, and see old friends. Some will hang around for awhile, others will leave and come back for the cocktail party and goodies. That's when a lot of catching up and getting acquainted will happen.

By this time though, I'll be fading fast. I hope to take some pictures that I can share later.

And for those of you who wonder about letting everyone know I'm not at home, we're leaving behind my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and her husband and a whole bunch of dogs.


When I get back to the room I plan to blog a bit about what actually happened.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On the Road Again

The plan is early rising and getting on the road.

We usually drive as far as Bakersfield and make a rest stop at McDonald's and get a tall cup of our favorite vanilla flavored iced coffee to carry us up over the Tehachapi mountains and then out onto the desert for the long, long drive to Las Vegas.

There is always traffic on that road, but not so much during the week--and we always avoid weekend travel.

Lunch is usually in Barstow if we can make it that far before having to stop. We have a favorite Chinese restaurant there.

We'll land in Vegas in mid afternoon if all goes as planned--and descend upon my good sisters and brother-in-law. It's always great to catch-up with them. She used to live only 8 minutes away and I miss having her so close--though email and Facebook help.

This is the best place to stay in Las Vegas.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Packing for PSWA Conference

The Public Safety Writers Association's Conference is right up there with my favorite things to do.
As program chair of course I do have a lot of responsibility and things I have to take that will keep the conference running smoothly.

For the conference I'm taking the list of registered attendees, my copy (plus a few more) of the program, name tags for everyone, time cards to remind people when their speaking or panel time is up. I've also tucked in a book for the raffle. We aren't charging anything for the raffle, it's just going to be a fun thing to add to the conference.

I'm also taking some copies of my own books (two titles) to have for sale at the book table.

And of course you always need clothes. We'll be at my sister's the day before and day after which calls for different clothes than what I'll wear at the conference itself. No, I don't get "dressed up" but I like to have clothes that will look good in photos and not the same outfits I wore previous years because I'm bound to be in one or two that appear on the website.

No matter what, I am anxious to go and see all my friends from previous years and meet the new people who are coming.

Want to know more about PSWA? Go to


Monday, July 11, 2011


by Sharon Ervin

My private pilot’s license was brand new when a friend crashed in a forest in southeastern Oklahoma. Searchers on foot and horseback tracked the weak signal from the plane’s transponder to locate her. Critically injured, she died leaving a husband and three young daughters.

Weeks later, a commercial pilot crashed a small plane, again into heavy woods. The transponder’s signal was weak, then gone. The search lasted days before the wreckage was located and the bodies of the pilot and our congressman’s two teenaged children recovered.

Those incidents prompted much grief long before they stimulated book ideas.

I wondered if tiny devices similar to those airplane transponders might be in our future.
AFTERMATH, my eighth published novel, began there.

Of course, such devices are now available in dog collars, children’s jewelry, and even implanted. Our heroine’s interest preceded that technology.

In AFTERMATH, Anna Fulenweider, a gutsy newspaper reporter, was investigating the development of an ingenious family of personal tracking devices when she vanished. Design engineer Joe Marsh, five hundred miles way, had done telephone interviews with Ann and had even sent her a prototype of his device. When he learned she was missing, Joe activated a satellite tracer on the prototype in her purse, enabling local law enforcement to precipitate her rescue. The book begins six weeks after Anna is recovered, cowed and dispirited by her ordeal, and refusing to talk about it with anyone.

The local plane crashes rocked our community and me, personally. Eventually, however, their significance produced many scenes and plots and characters.

In a writers’ workshop one time, the lecturer suggested we write our worst nightmares.

One amazing writer in our local critique group complained that her ideas had dried up. The next meeting, I brought a couple of news articles, one entitled
Wife for a Weekend. That was the one we selected as a group assignment. Poets, novelists, essayists, romance writers would all write something on the topic for our next meeting, in two weeks.

The “dry member” wrote an excellent, macabre short story of a bride who endured her first weekend of marriage on a cruise ship, then took action. The author is a lovely lady who normally writes light, entertaining commentaries like Erma Bombeck. When she finished reading her assigned piece, we were stunned to silence. It was sweet Mary Shelley creating Frankenstein all over again.

True to the assigned theme, another writer penned a whimsical poem, another did a confession, another a story of a military wife allowed only one weekend of marriage before deployment, etc.

That week I wrote the first three chapters of WEEKEND WIFE, my fourth published novel.

I do not believe in writer’s block or being “dry.” Writers have a responsibility to bolster one another. We all know little methods to get another off high center. Sharing is good.


Sooner born, Sharon Ervin has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Once a newspaper reporter, she now works in her husband and son’s law office half-days, gleaning material for her nine published novels. She is married to McAlester, Oklahoma attorney Bill Ervin and has four grown children.

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