Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I Write Mysteries

My first published novels were historical family sagas based on my own family’s genealogy. I wrote about both sides of my family and once I’d finished, I wondered what I should write next. The answer came easily, what I loved to read most—mysteries.

We lived in a neighborhood filled with policemen and I became interested in them, their jobs and their families. The wives became coffee buddies and we all partied together as couples. My police officer son-in-law took me on my first ride-along and told me stories about his shift and the strange people and crimes he encountered. I began writing the Rocky Bluff P.D. series set in a Southern California beach community, similar to the one I was living in at the time. In those books, my goal has always been to show how the job affects the family and what’s going on in the family affects the job. That series is now on its third publisher and the latest is Angel Lost.

We moved to the foothills of the Southern Sierra in Central California and I went on two more ride-alongs, one with a brand new officer and the third with a young woman, a single mother, and the only female in that department. From the hours of three a.m. until six, she didn’t have a single call. As we rode around the quiet streets, she poured her heart out to me about her problems. I knew then I had to write about a similar character. That idea was reinforced when I interviewed our female resident deputy for our local newspaper and she told me some of her problems because of being the only woman working in a male dominated profession. Since that time I’ve met other females in law enforcement who’ve told me similar stories.

When I met a Native American woman who grew up on a nearby reservation, the idea came to to me to write about a Native American deputy sheriff who was a single mom. I knew I could incorporate many of the ideas I’d been collecting and Deputy Tempe Crabtree came to life, on the pages I wrote and in my imagination.

Writing about an Indian living off the reservation but being sent on site to question people and work with the detectives in solving cases, meant I had to do more research into the reservation itself and the legends that surround it. Though I’ve certainly borrowed a lot from our local Indians and the reservation, I’ve fictionalized both.

For Dispel the Mist I was fortunate to be able to see the pictographs of the Hairy Man located on a rock shelter on the reservation. I knew Tempe would have to have an encounter with this legendary character who is a relative of Big Foot.

Dispel the Mist is the ninth in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. The more I write the more I know that two of the main reasons for writing mysteries is the “bad guy” always gets it in the end—something that doesn’t always happen in real life. The second reason is I though I have little control over my actual life and the world I live in, in my mysteries, I do have a semblance of control. Though I must confess, sometimes my characters rebel and take off in a surprising direction I hadn’t expected.

The latest in this series is (#11) is Bears With Us.

Marilyn Meredith

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tips for Writing a Mystery and a Series

Tips for Writing a Mystery

First, you need to decide exactly what type mystery you are planning to write. Hopefully you’ve read enough crime novels (seems to be the preferred name for the genre these days) to know what kind of novel you are going to write. To name a few: the private eye novel, amateur detective, usually someone with an interesting or unusual profession, can be hard-boiled or a cozy, the police procedural, romantic suspense, woman in jeopardy (think Mary Higgins Clark), historical mysteries–can be a combination of any of the above, thriller, when an innocent becomes involved, either by accident or coincidence, in dangerous events beyond his or her control (think Alfred Hitchcock movies), suspense, when the protagonist is in a constant and increasing state of danger.

Mysteries of earlier times were more interested in the hero solving the crime, now are as interested in the emotional impact of the crime of the hero and his or her private life. You have to create a credible protagonist to help the reader suspend disbelief. Though you must know the back story of your characters, you don’t necessarily have to tell it all. Bits and pieces should come out–maybe internally. Don’t lump it all together in one place. Don’t forget the villains–they should have history and issues also.

Here’s a check list of what you need to know about the book you’re going to write:

The Crime
Scene of the Crime
Suspects and Motives
Where everyone was at the time of the murder; alibis.
Conflict that led to the crime
Conflict that follows the crime and leads to the solution.
Climax, the emotional high point of the novel.
Solution or resolution

Remember it’s not necessary to only write about what you know, but what you don’t know, you need to find out about.

Use your imagination, create unusual characters and interesting settings, either real or ones you’ve made up.

Begin with a bang. Some authors say to start with a murder on the first page. Not really necessary, as long as you engage the reader immediately.

Once you’ve finished, print the manuscript out and go over it carefully. Make sure you tied up the loose ends and things progress in a logical manner. After that, have someone else edited it for you, someone who knows how to edit–preferably someone who reads and understands the mystery genre.

And yes, you can do something different as long as it works. My latest book, No Sanctuary, is a police procedural, but there are several crimes in the book that must be solved. In this particular series, I wanted to show how the job affects the family and family life affects the job.

No Sanctuary is authored by F. M. Meredith, a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith, available at and

On Writing the Mystery Series

When writing a mystery series it’s necessary to keep track of a lot:

The ongoing characters, simple things like how they look, but also the more complicated ones, like what has affected them in the past to change them? How much are they going to age between each book?

The setting.

If it’s a real setting, you’ll need to keep checking for changes.

If it’s a fictional setting, that you stay true to what you’ve written in previous books.

For each new book, you should write it as though it is the only book. You want a new reader to not be put off because it’s part of a series and they don’t know enough about the characters or what’s going on to give the book a chance.

You’ll also need to describe the characters and the settings in a fresh  way, so that people who read the series don’t notice you’ve written the same thing you wrote in the last book.

You can keep track in a variety of ways:

On your computer

3X5 cards for each character and important things about the setting

A notebook with all the information.

Believe me, it’s too hard to remember without writing it down.

The good thing about writing a series is you already have a cast of characters that you really know.

Marilyn Meredith, author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series: Bears With Us, Mundania Press
and as
F.M. Meredith, author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: Angel Lost, Oak Tree Press, and coming soon, No Bells.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Guest Review from Carl Brookins/Murder in the 11th house

Murder in the 11th house 
by Mitchell Scott Lewis
ISBN: 978-59058-950-2
a 2011 release from
Poisoned Pen Press

A team of intrepid and intelligent agents in league with an astrologer take on difficult cases of potential injustice. The feeling one gets from this debut novel about the Starlight Detective Agency is one of a small team of right-minded individuals with varied skills united around common goals. When government doesn’t get it right, the agency will. And they’re not above bending the law for all the right reasons. How that affects the lawyer/daughter on the team remains to be seen. The agency does work with police in New York City whenever possible, and because of his wealth and reputation, that seems to be often, but David Lowell, Astrologer non parallel, is not above spending his considerable money and influence to right apparent wrongs.

Angry bartender Johnny Colbert has a loud confrontation with a judge in a small New York Courtroom. It’s a civil case but the judge is soon dead in spectacular fashion and the bartender has no alibi. Enter Lowell’s daughter, defense attorney, Melinda, who prevails on her father to attempt to solve the mystery of who killed the judge and why, thus, presumably, exonerating Ms Colbert. 

The why of the murder proves far more fascinating that the astrological explanations. There are many explanations, and in some detail. They tend to slow the pace of the story considerably.
But it doesn’t matter whether you believe in astrology or not, the writing is generally smooth and the story develops logically. All of the characters stay in character, even if it’s a bit of a stretch for the young idealistic attorney to countenance what she knows is marginally illegal activity on behalf of her client. Several of the characters, Sarah and the client in particular, are interesting and well-drawn. all in all a nice traditionally-styled crime novel for a pleasant reading afternoon.

Carl Brookins, Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blonde Demoliton by Chris Redding

My latest book soon to be out is Blonde Demoltion.

Here’s the blurb:

You just can't hide from the past...

Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where nothing ever happens. Just the kind of life she has always wanted. No one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security.

Former partner and lover, Trey McCrane, comes back into Mallory's life. He believes they made a great team once, and that they can do so again. Besides, they don't have much choice. Paul Stanley, a twisted killer and their old nemesis, is back.

Framed for a bombing and drawn together by necessity, Mallory and Trey go on the run and must learn to trust each other again―if they hope to survive. But Mallory has been hiding another secret, one that could destroy their relationship. And time is running out.

I think of all the books I’ve written this has the most interesting back story.

It’s actually two back stories come together.

  1. Robert Crais wrote a book titled Demolition Angel. I loved that title so much that I didn’t even read the back cover copy before I bought it. So I thought about what book I would write with that title. I called it Blonde Demolition instead.
  2. My husband has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 30 years. For about 20 of those years his fire company ran a fair to raise money. At the fair, the guys who ran the beer tent were known as the beer gods. I was one of the few females actually allowed to pour beer. They would often bug me about when I would write a book about them. This is what inspired me to begin Blonde Demolition where I did, in the beer tent of a firemen’s fair.
I think it’s a good story (or two).

Thanks for letting me share it with you.

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing she works part time for her local hospital.

Find her on the web:

 (Note from Marilyn--Love the cover, and Chris, you're so young!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review of Bears With Us by Elizabeth A. White

“You aren’t going to be satisfied until you’ve uncovered whatever it is they are hiding, are you?” – Pastor “Hutch” Hutchinson

Hutch knows his wife, Deputy Tempe Crabtree, all too well because she absolutely will not stop until she finds out everything she needs to know to keep the people of Bear Creek safe. And this is a good thing for readers of author Marilyn Meredith’s charming series, as Tempe makes her return for an action-packed eleventh outing in the series’ newest entry, Bears With Us.

Located in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada, the small community of Bear Creek finds itself dealing with a handful of its namesake, as hungry bears preparing for hibernation begin showing up in apple orchards, garbage bins and, startlingly, snout-deep in a carton of Rocky Road ice cream in one unfortunate family’s kitchen. Unable by law to shoot the bears unless they present an immediate threat to life, Tempe finds herself coming up with creative ways to run the hungry critters off.

Even if bears were the only thing Tempe had to deal with she’d still have her hands full, but Meredith has provided Tempe with a plate overflowing with situations all requiring her immediate attention: the decline of a former town pillar into dementia, necessitating tracking her down repeatedly when she keeps wandering off; an amazingly self-important and obnoxious mother who expects Tempe to intervene and keep the “wrong sort” of boy away from her teenage daughter, and who threatens to make formal complaints of misconduct against her if she doesn’t; the suicide of a teenager and his family’s strangely cold reaction to it… yes, Tempe more than has her hands full.

Author Marilyn Meredith does a wonderful job with the Tempe Crabtree series, mixing aspects of the mystery, police procedural, and cozy genres together in a very satisfying blend. Cozy-like in that there is little “onscreen” violence and no profanity, Bears With Us still manages to maintain a healthy edge of tension and menace as Tempe delves into the circumstances surrounding the teenager’s suicide and his family’s subsequent defensive and secretive behavior. The discovery of a shallow grave in the woods on the outskirts of town adds to the plot, as Tempe first has to discover who it is, then how they got there.

As in previous entries in the series, Meredith uses the somewhat unusual combination of Tempe’s position as a police officer and her husband’s as a pastor to both create tension as well as to explore the differing approaches that can be taken to solving the same problem. Tempe’s Native American heritage also plays a role, adding a nice, and educational, layer to the story.
Readers familiar with the series will find this to be one of the more enjoyable and involved outings for Tempe yet. But it’s not necessary to read the series in order, so if you’re just finding out about the series why don’t you Bear With Us and visit Bear Creek? You’ll be glad you did.

Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Learning New Stuff

To be perfectly honest, I don't really like to learn how to do new things. In this day and age, you are constantly challenged to learn something new.

If you get a phone, you have to figure out how it works. I have a Blackberry right now because my iPhone quit working right and I loved the Blackberry I had before that one. To tell you the truth, I'm not thrilled. Sometimes it works right and sometimes it doesn't--probably because I don't really know how to use it. Want to know something ironic? I don't really know how to use the phone all that well. I use it mostly to read my emails and Facebook when I'm away from home. I also love the GPS feature. We have a Magellan and I like them both--yes, we usually have them both going at once when we're on a trip.

When it comes to promoting books, there's always some new gimmick to learn. I love blogging, but it took me a while to figure out how the whole thing worked. I probably could do more with blogger, but I really don't want to find out anything new. (Besides, I know stuff some of my writing friends haven't figure out yet. And on the flip side, some of writing friends know a lot more than I do.)

I haven't mastered Good Reads at all. I know I should, but I hardly have time to do everything I need to do as it is.

One thing that is a plus, I suppose, is all this stuff keep my mind functioning. I'd just like a little more time left for the actual writing.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Blogging Tips

Blogs are fun. Sometimes they are frustrating. They can be a great promotion tool.

I try to have new content everyday on this blog, not always an easy task. I cover a lot of topics: writing, promotion, what's going on in my life, an occasional guest, and some book reviews.

I'm also a regular on three other blogs:Make Mine Mystery and where I appear the first and third Tuesday of every month. I'm make an occasional appearance during each month at

One of my publishers has a blog too http://otpblog/ where I occasionally post--probably far more than any of the other authors because I'm a firm believer that a blog shouldn't become static.

And that brings me to why I'm posting. If you're guesting on a blog you ought to show up there at least once. If you've done a lot of promoting, then check and see if anyone has commented that you ought to respond to.

Though I did include links in this post, usually I recommend that the links be at the end of the post so the reader will finish reading the post before leaving to visit the link.

Posts don't need to be extremely long, but they also shouldn't be merely a sentence or two.

Don't just use a post to mention your book, give some interesting information about it, something tantalizing that might compel a person to want to buy it. Then be sure to say where it can be purchased.

Just a little more advice about blogging. I surely don't know it all, but this is some of what I've learned while blogging and visiting other's blogs.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Our 60th Wedding Anniversary

Yep, we did it, 60 years together. Remarkable. No one thought it would last--most of all my mother.

The odds were definitely against us. We came from different worlds. Hubby grew up in a dinky Southern town, raised by a grandmother and two maiden aunts. (Well one was really a widow 2 times over, but neither marriage had lasted long.) He left home at 18 and went into the Navy.

I grew up in Los Angeles in a way more modern world. Both of us came from Christian households, but our churches were anything alike.

Hubby had no role models as to what married life was like.

We spent a lot of time apart because of being stationed in different places. I stayed home with the kids.

At times it was scary because of the three tours he did in Vietnam during the war.  Too often it was lonely. There never was much money. Sometimes we didn't get along.

Whenever he was gone, I got very independent--because I had too.

When he'd been in the service for 20 years, I put my foot down. It was time for him to stay home and be a husband and father. He did just that and was pretty darn good at it.

We lived on the coast for a long, long time. Then it got to crowded for hubby and we moved to the foothills of the Sierra and took on the business of running and living in a licensed care home. We both loved the job and the women we cared for.

Illness and the loss of a grown son let us know it was time to retire from that job. We needed to relinquish some of our responsibilities.

We love each other more than we ever did, growing old has its ups and downs, we still don't agree on everything, but we have lots of fun together.

Happy Anniversary to us!

And while I'm at here are the places I'll be on this last week of my blog tour:

Monday, October 24th
Book reviewed at Ohio Girl Talks
Tuesday, October 25th
Book reviewed at One Day at a Time
Wednesday, October 26th
Book reviewed at Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
Thursday, October 27th
Book spotlighted at The Writer’s Life
Friday, October 28th
Book reviewed at Joel Andre ~ Literary Pursuits

Do stop by and leave a comment or two.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Survivors by James Wesley, Rawles

SURVIVORS by James Wesley, Rawles

If I had to describe this book in one word I’d call it prophetic. With what is happening in our country right now economically this book is right on target—and yes, it’s a thriller, but it’s also downright scary.

We’ve been taught that history repeats itself, the author proves it through the quotes he uses at the beginning of each chapter. Many characters are introduced and followed as they attempt to survive a world that is turned upside down. Each person has his or her own strengths which contribute to survival: faith in God; ability to fix and create from what’s around; knowing what to gather and store; how to use and care for firearms; how to plant and grow food; how to organize others and much, more. 

One thing I found refreshing is the Christian element running throughout. Many of the main characters relied on their faith and that's what kept the going.

My only criticism is the book seemed to end abruptly and I’m guessing there is a sequel that will answer some of the questions left unanswered.

Survivors is well-written and a definite page turner.

As a P.S., I'm nearly through with a study on Revelation which made this novel even more realistic.

Marilyn Meredith

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Planning for the End of This Year and Next

Received an email today from the local Art Council inviting me to have a booth at their annual Art and Craft Fair on December 9 and 10. This goes on all day both days and all I have to do is bring my table, chair, and my books. I've done this for the past few years and it's always been pretty good except the day it poured all day. It's fun too. I get to see people I only see about once a year.

I'm participating in a panel at the Sanger Library on Thursday, November 10 at 7 p.m.

And on Saturday, November 12, I'm headed over to the San Luis Obispo Library to Celebrate Sisters in Crime's 25th Birthday Celebration with the Central Coast Sisters in Crime from 11 to 3.

In January, I'll be on a panel at the Fig Garden Library in Frenso at 7 p.m.

February, the Gillis Library in Fresno.

And in March, hubby and I are headed to San Antonio for Epicon.

At the end of March, I'll be going to Left Coast Crime in Sacramento.

Fine with me, I love doing these things.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Writing Struggles

I'm working on a new Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. In this one there is a murder right off the bat. My last two books didn't follow that rule and I don't think they suffered a bit.

In this one I have several topics, designer drugs, Post-partum depression, knowing the baby you're carrying has Down Syndrome and more. Because I use multiple POVs, I have to be careful to weave everything in that I need to make the whole story make sense.

I'm having difficulty making myself write--not sure why except that I've had a lot going on, not the least of these my ongoing blog tour which has taken a lot of time. There isn't a blog today, so I don't have to do any promoting of it.

I keep thinking of other things I need to do, like putting the laundry in the dryer, writing this blog, but I'm promising myself. I will get back to the book as soon as I finish both.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

On the Choptank Shores: The Backstory

When I was a child, back in the late 1950s and 1960s, my family took wonderful trips out East to visit the relatives. One of my favorite places to visit was my Aunt Flossie and Uncle Otto’s peach orchard, set on the beautiful shores of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

My siblings and I would spend hours swimming in the salty water (the Choptank flows from the Chesapeake Bay, and is thus a salt-water river), trying to avoid the jelly fish; jumping in the sand pit at the edge of my uncle’s property (something we weren’t supposed to do, as my uncle feared the sand pit would collapse and swallow one of us kids whole); and raiding my aunt’s incredible garden. We gobbled down handfuls of boysenberries, grapes, and yellow pear tomatoes. To this day, I don’t see how we could eat so much from her garden and yet never seem to make a dent in what was growing.

These were my favorite aunt and uncle. I wanted to be just like Aunt Flossie, who could grow such wonderful produce on land that was nearly pure sand. I wanted to have a basement pantry lined with jars and jars of brightly colored home-canned peaches and boysenberry sauce and green beans. I wanted the simple life she lived decades before it became fashionable to pretend to live simply.

My uncle was a wonderful, loving man, who never had any problem getting down on the floor and rough-housing with us kids. This wouldn’t be unusual, except my uncle was quite old at the time: My aunt was fifteen years older than my mother; Uncle Otto was twenty years older than my aunt. He was well into his seventies when I was a little kid.

My aunt and uncle are long gone now, of course. But I was left with a precious gift from them: during their courtship, they had sent love letters to one another, and my mother gave the box of letters to me one day.

As I sat and read them, I thought to myself, I have to turn their love story into a book. So, I sat down and started writing a book with the intention of doing exactly that.

But as most fiction writers know, our characters often decide the story we want to tell is not the story they want to tell, and that’s exactly what happened to me. On the Choptank Shores took on a life of its own. Oh, my aunt and uncle’s personalities remained the same. Otto was twenty years older than Grace (as I called her, in honor of a different aunt of mine, a sister to Florence and my mom, who had died very young). Windy Hill, the peach orchard in my book, was indeed the name of their orchard. But the similarities stop there.

In On the Choptank Shores, the tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father, Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity. Otto Singer charms Grace with his gentle courtship and devotion to his brother, Henry. But after their marriage, Otto is unable to share with Grace the terrible secret he has kept more than twenty years. Otto believes he is responsible for a tragic accident that claimed the life of a young woman and left Henry severely brain damaged.

Luther’s insane ravings and increasingly violent behavior force Grace to question and reassess the patriarchal religious beliefs of her childhood. Then tragedy strikes just when Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family.

Nothing like that ever happened in my family. But my aunt loved to read books, and often spoke or writing one herself someday. Perhaps, in On the Choptank Shores, my characters were telling me that this was the story Aunt Flossie wanted to tell. I like to think she was watching over me, proud of me, as I wrote it.

On the Choptank Shores was originally published under the title, Redeeming Grace. But people got the idea it was a Christian book, or a religious book of some sort, and it isn’t. While the book definitely closely examines how biblical text, taken out of context, has been used throughout history to justify subjugation of women, that is not the main idea behind the story. The book is a story of love, The love between a young wife (Grace) and her decidedly middle-aged husband (Otto), and the love of a big sister for her abused baby sister (Miriam). It is the story of the love for an aging, grief-stricken father (Luther) who is spiraling into a dark world of insanity, and the love of a kind and benevolent God whom Grace knows must exist, despite the crazed ravings of her father, who paints a picture of a vengeful, angry God as he spouts biblical verse to defend his abuse of both Grace and little Miriam. It is a story of the land on which they live, and the power of Mother Nature. Most of all, it is a story of love conquering all.

So, my publisher decided to change tactics: give the book a fresh, new title and cover, and market it aggressively as romantic suspense, for that is exactly the right description. As soon as we did that, the book began to sell, and sell well!

My advice to writers? Take time to learn and polish your craft. Writing is an art form, just as painting, dancing, or playing the cello are art forms. Picasso didn’t paint The Guitarist the first time he picked up a paintbrush. Martha Graham took dance lessons; Yo-yo Ma took cello lessons, before they were considered masters of their genre. People tend to forget writers need to do the same thing. Study books on the craft of writing. I have written a good one, but there are a lot of other good ones out there, too. Read everything you can get your hands on. And write, write, write! If this is something you are truly meant to do, you will succeed.

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel can be found all over the Internet, most notably at the following links:

Website and Blogs:       
Facebook Fan Page:      
Twitter                                                @SmokyZeidel
Amazon Author Page:   
Goodreads Author Page:
Smashwords Author Page:
All Romance Author Page:

Smoky’s Bio:

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, On the Choptank Shores (formerly titled Redeeming Grace) and The Cabin; a recently-released collection of stories,Short Story Collection Vol. 1; and two nonfiction books on writing which have recently been combined into one book, Smoky's Writers Workshop Combo Set. She is the author of Observations of an Earth Mage, an enchanting collection of prose, poetry, and photographs celebrating the beauty and splendor of the natural world. All her books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.
Smoky lives her life honoring Mother Earth through her writing, visual art, and spiritual practice. She lives in California with her husband Scott (a college music professor and classical guitarist), her daughter (a college student and actress), and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. When she isn't writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains and deserts, splashing in tidepools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.
But perhaps the best way to know Smoky is through her own words:
My friends say I’m the salmon who swims downstream, not up. When the invitation says “black tie,” I’m more likely to show up in tie-dye. If there’s a tree, I’ll climb it. A rock, I’ll scramble up  it. A creek, I’ll splash in it. I love my tattoos; I paint my toenails fire engine red. When our neighborhood coyotes howl, I tend to howl back. I once called a rattlesnake we saw “precious” and named a  tomato horned worm “Spike.”  My husband calls me eccentric. I prefer the term free-spirited.  Or whimsical. Who wants to live a life exactly like everyone else? Not me!
 Thank you so much for visiting today, Smoky, I loved reading about you and your books.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Report on My Blog Tour

I have been so busy trying to keep up with my blog tour and everything else. This has been a particularly busy time for me.

To really be successful on a blog tour you must promote where you are visiting every day--and go back and check on the blog each day and acknowledge what people have had to say.

The rest of the blogs for this week include reviews of Bears With Us. That's always a bit scary, but so far the reviews have been really good.

This is where I'll be the rest of the week. Why don't you stop by and leave a comment?

Wednesday, October 19th
Book reviewed at Wakela’s World
Thursday, October 20th
Book reviewed at MysteriesEtc.
Friday, October 21st
Guest blogging at Let’s Talk about Virtual Book Tours

Good Information on How to Protect Your Home

Crime Never Takes A Vacation – One Expert Shares Secrets That Intruders Don’t Want You To Know
Nashville, TN, October 13, 2011 – Our lagging economy has spurned a dramatic increase in burglaries and home invasions across the country, with agencies reporting an increase in 2010 after falling for a number of years. What is especially troubling is that these crimes have increased in the suburbs and small towns – places where it rarely happened before. 
 “The numbers reflect what we have been hearing from listeners all over the country. The bad economy has caused an increase in crime and it is happening everywhere”, says home security expert, Alan Young. Over the past three months, Young has conducted nearly 100 radio interviews, giving listeners tips on how not to become victims of a growing burglary and home invasion epidemic. Young is CEO of Armor Concepts LLC and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, The Today Show, and The Discovery Channel, as well as numerous local news segments.
Young’s common sense approach to home security, which focuses on economical ways to keep from becoming a victim, has suddenly made him a very popular guest for radio show hosts. “It was really interesting to hear his common sense approach to security. I know that it made me think, especially the part about alarm systems… “ said Georgianne Kiricoples, host of the “Breaking Through” radio show.
According to Young, there are three keys to making sure that your home is secure. The first is simple, “Use some common sense. Don’t post vacation plans on Facebook and don’t post vacation photos while still on vacation. Many burglaries are committed by someone you know or by someone connected to someone you know. Letting the world know that you’re not home is an easy way to become a target.”    
The second key is to make your home a less attractive target than your neighbor’s home. Sounds crazy, but according to Young, “If you and your neighbor are being chased by a dog, you don’t need to be faster than the dog, just your neighbor. Make your home a less attractive target and thieves will go somewhere else – unless you have something that they really want.”  Steps to making your home less attractive to burglars include cutting shrubs and properly lighting the inside and outside of your home.
The third key is to secure the exterior of your home. “Most people think about home alarm systems as home security. An alarm simply tells you that someone is inside your house and police response times are often greater than 20 minutes. A home alarm is the equivalent of having OnStar in your car. Would you not buckle your seat belt because OnStar will call the police after you have an accident? Alarms are a good addition to your home’s security but 85% of all break-ins are through a door. Secure your doors and you greatly increase your likelihood of success against a burglar.”
For door security, Young recommends EZ Armor, a $69.00 kit that reinforces the jamb, locks and hinges on an exterior entry door. The kit can be installed in about 30 minutes by a do-it-yourselfer and is guaranteed to help prevent kick-ins. EZ Armor can be purchased at Lowe’s, many ACE Hardware stores and online at  He also recommends upgrading your deadbolt to an ANSI certified Grade 1 lock. There are several models, including one from Schlage, which can be purchased for under $30.00 at many hardware stores.
“Security does not need to cost a lot, it just needs to work. Anyone that tells you otherwise is taking you for a ride. With a little common sense and a little effort you can effectively secure your home,” concluded Young. Many other home security tips, along with recommendations for what to do after a burglary, can be found at
Young was featured on Nashville news last year when a couple in Murfreesboro, TN were victims of burglary and then avoided a repeat offense by taking Young’s advice. After being robbed, the couple installed EZ Armor as kick-in prevention on their door. When the same burglar came back weeks later and tried to kick in the same door, he made so much noise that the neighbors called the police and he was apprehended.
Alan S. Young is CEO of Armor Concepts LLC.  Mr. Young and Armor Concepts have been featured on The CBS Early Show, The Today Show, The Discovery Channel show “It Takes a Thief” and numerous local news segments.  Armor Concepts’ Door Jamb Armor, EZ Armor and FIX-A-JAMB products are sold nationally through Lowe’s, ACE Hardware, Do-It-Best and on their web site at

Monday, October 17, 2011

2nd Day at the Apple Festival

Today was easy to set up because we left the tent, table and chairs. All we had to do was unload the car and set up. Sent hubby off to the Lion's pancake breakfast while I put up the books.

By the first hour I'd sold 4 books. Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn't quite so good. Oh, I sold quite a few books, but not 4 in an hour again. There were long period of time when no one came near my booth.

Will Lloyd, a Porterville video guy who I've known for a long time, came by and asked me to read a bit out of Bear With Us. I read one exciting paragraph. (Readings are not one of my favorite things to do.) He shot me so close you'll be able to counts all my wrinkles and flaws of which there are plenty. Who could pass up such a chance?

As with all events like this we saw many people we haven't seen for a long, long time. The only problem with this is sometimes the names come back easily and sometimes not. And again, we met lots of interesting folks.

I do think the economy may have a lot to do with the lack of sales. All the vendors complained that it was much slower than last year. I'll have to decide whether I want to do it again or not.

The one person who was kept really busy was the young woman doing portraits. She charged $25 per person and though it went in spurts, she was kept pretty busy.

And I think food sales must've been good because everyone walked around eating and drinking--plus the picnic tables set up near the food booths were always full.

My son-in-law and daughter came at closing time and helped us break down, but they had to hurry off. We stopped and ate dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Nuevo Mexicali 3.

And that's my report from the Springville Apple Festival.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

First Day at the Apple Festival

1/2 of my booth, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree books

We left the house at 7 a.m. Even though we had the tent set up, it's crazy in town with all the cars and trucks and people trying to fix their booths. The rule is, all vehicles must be off the premises by 8. (Of course there are many who don't know how to follow rules.) We had the car unloaded in about 15 minutes. Hap had the car tucked away quite nicely soon after. Parking is difficult as there is no parking on the street at all. People coming to the Festival can park in the rodeo grounds and the Eagle Mountain Casino provides shuttles into town and back out again.

People started meandering around town close to 9. Where we were didn't got a whole lot of traffic for a long time, but my advertising on Facebook about where I was located paid off, and people came looking for me.

At first it was cold and my feet froze--but it didn't stay that way long.

Surprisingly, I sold 3 copies of my book Two Ways West, which costs $20. The biggest seller was my latest book, Bears With Us. I also gave lots of cards out to people who asked if the book was available on Nook or Kindle--of course it is.

When I had one person looking at books, others showed up right away. Then there were lots of slow periods.

We did get an apple pie--the Springville Community Club makes hundreds and hundred of pies for sale every year. (That's what we had for dinner--apple pie.)

We saw lots of people we haven't seen for a long, long time. That part is always fun.

We were both sure tired at the end of the day, but it was a productive one. Not quite as good as the last time I went--being on the sidewalk right where people passed was a much better venue. No one can be on the sidewalk anymore (Cal-Trans enforcement.)

Will tell you about the second day tomorrow.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

White Girl Bleed a Lot by Colin Flaherty, reviewed by Dan Auld

"Don’t Call Them Flash Mobs”

White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Race Riots to America.

A book review by Dan Auld

When Colin Flaherty set out to write a book about an explosion of racial violence in this country over the last two years, he was often met with two reactions: Denial. Or explanations.

“Often at the same time,” Flaherty said. “The same people who denied it in one breathe, explained it in another. Strange. That’s why I wrote the  book. There are hundreds of cases of racial crime and violence in more than 50 cities in the last two years, and no one is talking about it.”

Groups of black people are roaming the streets of America -- assaulting, intimidating, stalking, threatening, vandalizing, stealing, shooting, stabbing, even raping and killing.”

Local media and public officials are often silent. Crime is color blind, says a Milwaukee police chief. Race is not important and if you notice, you are a racist,  a Chicago newspaper editor says

A police chief said he knew what was responsible for a tsumami of violence: Sarah Palin.

And don’t call them flash mobs. “That is just another way to deny and marginalize what is happening,” he writes.

The cases are too frequent too ignore.  And it is not just Philadelphia and Chicago and New York. That’s what makes it strange: it is also happening in some very unlikely places.

In Iowa, more than 100 black people roamed the grounds of the Iowa State Fair beating and stealing. A police report said some of the black people had declared it was “Beat Whitey Night.”

In Wisconsin, a group of almost 100 black people looted a convenience store, then beat up a group of white teenagers. One of the black people stood over a victim and said “White Girl Bleed a Lot.”

The list goes on: Indianapolis. Denver. Rochester. Boston. Miami. Houston. Atlantic City. Rehoboth Beach. Dover, Delaware. Charlotte. San Francisco. And on and on and on.

Flaherty is not in the explanation business. Nor does he want to be. “That is for another book, someone else’s book,” he said. “The purpose of this book is to settle once and for all whether there has been a tsunami of racial violence in this country. And there has been. And to deny it, as many have, is to recreate the punch line of the old joke: Who are you going to believe, the people who say it is not happening, or the lying videos on YouTube.”

“America is the most race-conscious country in the world,” he wrote. “And we see that every day in every newspaper with stories about black unions, black caucuses, black teachers, black students, black neighborhoods, and on and on. Everything except black violence. That is taboo. But until we recognize it, we can never do anything about it.”

Flaherty makes a persuasive case that without YouTube and talk radio and citizen journalists with cameras, it would have been impossible to make the case.

Baltimore is a good example. In April of 2011, more than 100 black people raged through the Inner Harbor area, with vandalism and violence in their wake, including one stabbing.

News accounts from the Baltimore Sun do not specify the race of the people doing the rioting.

But curiously, the paper quoted the head of the local NACCP saying just because the rioters were black, that doesn’t mean the riot was racial.

That is how strange and powerful this is: People are denying charges before the charges are made.

The book features chapter on racial violence against gays, women and Asians that is especially troubling. 

This is a challenging book. An interesting and powerful and ultimately persuasive book by a great American writer not afraid to look at one of the most thought about but unspoken features of American life.

Authors Bio:

Colin Flaherty is an award winning reporter whose work and by-line has appeared in more than 1000 news outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and just about everywhere in between. He is the author of White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Race Riots to America. (

He is also the author of Redwood to Deadwood: A 53-year old dude hitchhikes around America. Again. ( He is a former ghost writer for the first black chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. His story on a black man unjustly convicted of assaulting his white girlfriend was the subject of a stories in the national media, including a one hour special on Court TV.