Thursday, June 30, 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 first four books were published by a small press and I became good friends with the publisher. Then it happened, she died of a stroke. Horrifying and terribly sad. I'd met the publisher at Mundania and approached him at a e-book conference, I sent him my next Tempe and received a contract and have been with them ever since.

Now with two publishers, each of them expect a new book out of me every year. Fortunately, Oak Tree publishes my Rocky Bluff P.D. at the beginning of the new year and Mundania publishes the latest Tempe book at the end of summer.

Am I happy with this arrangement. Sure. Is it a lot of work? Positively. If I didn't have to spend time on promotion it would be easy, but at least half my time is spent arranging for and making appearances and doing online promotion.

My wish came true.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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 out the day, the guest should return to the post because if he or she has done a good job of promoting, others should have left a comment. The guest should respond to these comments.

As the host, I am going to plug the guest post but not with the fervor that the guest ought to be doing it. I will remind people about the post at times during the day. Sometimes I'll even comment on someone's comment though that's really the responsibility of the guest.

If you want to be a guest on my blog, all you have to do is ask--email me at


Monday, June 27, 2011

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 roll down the Chugach Mountains that surround Valdez on three sides. The fourth side is Prince William Sound. That in itself was a
stunning sight, with glaciers in the backdrop, because I had always thought fog rises, not falls. However, it was falling there, great, puffy gray clouds of it, rolling down the mountainside and then on over Prince William
Sound, where it dissapeared over the water. I was completely enchanted.

I know you're going to think I'm going all dramatic on you, but the truth is, while I was watching that fog, I suddenly heard a voice inside my head speaking low, but still loud enough that I could hear her saying, "The
spirits of my ancestors live in that fog. I know they are there." That voice was Raven's, and I knew right then that I was going to tell her story. I couldn't not tell it, although I had no idea what all would come of that
soft message.

I was actually there from July to September, and as I had suspected, I was working long hours, very mentally tiring work because I was catching up work in a system that hadn't been done in almost two years AND nobody there knew how to work with it, which was why I was asked to come. I went happily, because I had a car to pay off and I knew I'd be able to do it in full when I got home. So in addition to catching the work up, I had to teach myself a very, to me, archaic computer system. I decided right then and there, while
I was learning at the same time I was working with it, that I would also write a book of instructions on how to use it for whomever took over after I left, which I did.

But I still had time occasionally to watch the otters play in the Sound, and look around the town, take one boat trip out on the Sound where I saw my first icebergs, and eventually take a two-day trip to Denali National Park. I still had time to observe that nice little town and some of its inhabitants, and from time to time, talk with a very sweet Athabascan woman who lived in town, which was not common. I say I observed some inhabitants because I never, except for one time, saw more than a few locals together at any one time.

In addition to the fog, then, and being so surprised that in the summertime Valdez is full of flowers and real beauty visible everywhere, I was also getting the feeling that there was a lot of mystery there,
although I had no idea what it was. It was just a feeling I had, that there were undercurrents, but what were they?

I think that's when the mystery writer inside of me really began to kick in. But too soon it was time to leave, and regretfully, I did. But the haunting ambiance of Valdez and that fog stayed with me. Then my real work began, because I hadn't really brought much home with me except what was forever roiling around in my mind. The fog. The people. The mystery. What really caused what I was feeling there that hasn't left me to this day. What was the mystery? I didn't know, so I made up my own.

It all comes out in my book, Raven Talks Back. I hope if you read it you'll let me know what you think of it because it truly was the book of my heart, which is still there, watching the fog roll down the mountainsides of the timeless, beautiful Chugach Mountains.

Beth Anderson is a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb. She has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University and many libraries and writers' conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are at .

Coming: May 2011 from Krill Publishing: RAVEN TALKS BACK,book #1 in the Raven Morressey series

Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthychildren, and it's finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez, Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her backyard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resembletattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.

Raven's eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words hesuddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.

Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.

Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control.

Face book
Coming: May 2011 from Krill Publishing: RAVEN TALKS BACK,
book #1 in the Raven Morressey series
Raven Talks Back Kindle page.
ISBN#: 9780982144398

Thank you for visiting me today, Beth, and what an interesting story both behind the inspiration and the book that came from it.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

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.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

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.


Friday, June 24, 2011

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.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

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 to include a tribute to these boys in a book. But how?  I write mysteries.   I decided that I would develop a back-story that would fill that need.
The first thing I needed was a hero so I decided to use my protagonist’s father.  I wanted his background to be clouded in mystery so deep that even his son didn’t know the story.  I also wanted him to be buried in such an isolated place that no one had ever visited his grave.
Then came the challenge of building a plot and a powerful enough tale to support the back-story. The main saga had to be strong enough to stand on its own and hold the reader’s interest. It required dynamic characters and plenty of action.
The result is a book that I’m very proud of. It has a little of everything; action, suspense, discovery, love, redemption, joy, sadness, and a satisfying ending.

The First Domino available on Kindle and Nook

Dennis Collin's Bio:
My professional life was spent in automotive engineering where I enjoyed a rewarding forty year career.  I’ve always had a taste for adventure and risk taking spending my idle hours flying airplanes, skydiving, scuba diving, motorcycle racing, and over thirty years of professional automotive powered hydroplane racing.
My first publishing credit came as a complete surprise when an article that I wrote for a powerboat racing club newsletter found its way onto the desk of the president of The American Power Boat Association and he submitted it to Propeller Magazine. My first novel The Unreal McCoy was self published and surprisingly successful. I was able to follow up with Turn Left at September published by Behler Publications, a small mainstream publisher in California. Both titles have been converted to electronic format and are now available through Amazon’s Kindle. The next book The First Domino is now also available on Kindle as well as Nook. My Short story, Calvin was a finalist in a contest sponsored by Futures Magazine.  I am a co-founder of the Huron Area Writer’s Group in Huron County Michigan and I write a bi-monthly column and review mysteries for
Book description: 
Joe Pellerito thought he could murder his way into the mob. The son of a high powered Mafia lawyer and negotiator, he assumed that he’d be welcomed into the Family. When Joe’s father died of cancer he waited anxiously for the invitation to join the ranks. But the call never came. Feeling shunned, Joe devised a plan to show his dedication and fearlessness.  From a list of Detroit cops who have been problems for the syndicate Joe chose three candidates and pulled off a string of three brutal murders in less than two hours on a bright spring morning.
The philosophy of the mob has moved into the new millennium and has all but abandoned confrontations with law enforcement. Joe’s actions threaten to undo the progress that took two decades to build.  The problem of Joe Pellerito must be addressed.
With a price on his head, Joe is forced to flee and tries to hide in Italy where he attempts to gain a whole new identity.
The diligence of Detroit Police detectives Otis Springfield and Albert McCoy helps them sniff out Joe’s trail but the mob has its resources as well and soon the race is on to see who can get their hands on Joe first.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

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 upgrade coming.

Now I've got the Blackberry and it's been working fine (though I still haven't figured how to do everything on it, but now my emails are coming in funny. The digests have missing words, so I'll be heading back to the AT& T store. Sure hope there's someone there smart enough to fix it.

I should finish by saying that I hardly ever use my Blackberry or even the iPhone as a phone--I use it for email and Facebook and taking photos.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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.


Monday, June 20, 2011

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 community upside down.

After several months of utter and complete turmoil, including the ever present patrol of police cars, I was an emotional wreck. A friend took me aside and suggested I write. Write?! I was so unhappy, how could I write? My friend said, “Write something funny.”

The result was Frank, Incense and Muriel. A cozy mystery with comedic elements, and not a single snake or rat in sight!

I’m so proud of this book. For so very many reasons, and on so many levels, as you might imagine. Released in e-book format November 2010, the print version arrives July 2011. Oh, and that horrid neighbour? He finally sold his unit, but not before my husband and I had moved out of the complex.

Story Blurb for FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL: It’s the week before Christmas when the stress of the holiday season is enough to frazzle anyone's nerves, but when a friend asks for their help Frank and Muriel drop everything to find a missing woman. They cross paths with an embezzler, femme fatale, kidnapper, and of course, Muriel's eccentric, but loveable family. They mean well, but their antics and desire to win the coveted D-DAY (Death Defying Act of the Year) Award might just make them all crazy.

Night Owl Reviews gave FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL 5 stars and a Reviewer Top Pick Award. “Ms. Albert has a way of telling a story that pulls you in from the very first sentence and holds your attention to the very last line. Her voice is melodic and her writing style is refreshing. This author knows how to entertain her readers and keeps them wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. If you’re looking for a story with a little bit of humor, a whole lot of suspense and plenty of insanity, then you’ve found the perfect story.” ~ Diana Coyle, Reviewer

or from my publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Thank you so much, Marilyn, for hosting me on this stop of the Murder We Write Blog Tour. I’d like to invite readers to visit my website or my main blog

If they drop by my Muriel Reeves Mysteries blog and leave a comment mentioning this interview, I’ll enter their name in a draw to win a pdf copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the tour, sometime during the week of August 22, 2011.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

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 seeing some old friends.

In September I'm on the staff at the Central Coast Writers Conference in SLO beginning the 16th, and that Sunday, the 18th, I'll have a booth at the Central Coast Book Festival.

The last weekend of the month, we're having our annual family reunion and celebrating my auntie's 100h birthday.

October 15th and 16th is the Apple Festival in Springville and yes, this year I will have a booth.

Phew, made me tired just writing it all.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

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.


Friday, June 17, 2011

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 than I expected, food and entertainment. Absolutely wonderfully talented singers and guitar players--made me wonder why they were there instead of on some big stage somewhere.

On Friday, we did a driving tour and went to one of the state parks. That was fun too, and of course there was a gift shop for us to peruse.

Saturday I gave at talk in the afternoon at the Well Red Coyote Book Store and it was great to see Kris Neri again, the owner of the store. We did a couple of signings together when she still lived in the L.A. area.

My son-in-law makes a great promoter, he went around telling people I was a famous author. Paid off though, someone he talked to came to our camp and bought a book.

We did a lot of other things too, and even had visitors a couple of nights, son-in-law Mike's nephew Scott and his girlfriend shared dinner with us. They live in nearby Prescott.

Saturday evening we packed up and early Sunday morning we took off for Oxnard. On Monday we had lunch with youngest daughter Lori, her husband, and granddaughter, Alyssa, who just graduated from high school. She is the last of our grandchildren to finish high school. Of course she plans to go to college and in the meantime is working in a running shoe store.

This is one of Alyssa's graduation photos.

After lunch, Lori joined us to go see the movie Super Eight which we enjoyed.

Early Tuesday we packed up our stuff and headed back to Springville where it is finally summer.

And that's how we spent our summer vacation.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

High School Graduation for Great-Grandson

Brandon, really cool before graduation.
Granite Hill High School Graduation

The graduate, his grandma, Lisa, grandpa, Henry, Aunt Merenda and niece.
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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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 returned, I was waiting in the pool. Still a little self-conscious about the few extra pounds I carried, I'd rushed at breakneck speed to get in before he came back. Not to mention that I was embarrassed at the old-fashioned one-piece I wore.

"Want to play some water volleyball?" I called as he sauntered across the patio.

"Sounds like fun."

Channing climbed down the stairs into the pool. His chest was broad and tanned, his body pure muscle. He belonged on a magazine cover.

The breeze was warm, carrying the delicious smell of lilac from the bushes between our houses. I breathed in the scent as Channing swam under the water toward the deep end, his body just a shadow under the surface. Dusk had fallen, and the pool lights were on.

He surfaced, and I hit the ball. Channing sent a quick return, which I missed by inches. "Hey!" I yelled. "That's not fair. I didn't see it coming."

Channing laughed. "Maybe you should keep your eye on the ball." There was a teasing tone in his voice.

Stephie would have been right out there in the middle of it if she hadn't gone to bed with a headache. I should go check on her soon. She was prone to the ones Mom called migraines, and sometimes they made her throw up.

We played until I was tired, and then we swam a while. I did some laps, glad that I'd lost at least some of the weight I'd put on during the winter. I was so lost in my thoughts that I hadn't realized I'd swam too close to Channing until I surfaced and found myself almost in his arms. He reached out to steady me, and I stepped forward, attempting to regain my balance.

A shiver tripped over my skin even though the night was warm. My eyes locked with his, and I found myself lost in the mossy depths. He hadn't released me, and his hands were warm on my arms.

We stood there, speechless, drinking in each other in with an odd kind of understanding, an odd feeling that all was well in the world and we were meant to be together. His touch and his gaze were so mesmerizing that I couldn't have looked away if my life depended on it.

"Channing, you ready to go?" called his mother from somewhere across the patio.

The spell was broken. I backed away, hoping our parents hadn't seen the magic that had passed between us. I wasn't sure what my parents would think about my dating a senior if Channing asked me out.

"Good night," I said, turning and diving under the water, my heart beating wildly as what passed between us seemed like a dream, a beautiful, surreal dream.

I surfaced on the other end and watched Channing retreat from the pool. He turned and waved and, just like that, the guy of my dreams, walked right out of my life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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.


Monday, June 13, 2011

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 world. Of course I agreed.

Early 2008, I received an email, “I think you're my grandmother.”

Finally, the novel is out and a sequel will be possible. The “research” for the sequel is completed. Hopefully in less than the ten years required for Stolen, Betrayal will be released.

Every time I read, proofread, revised the manuscript, the experience had to be lived through again and again. I cannot read the final novel.


Vivian Zabel always has had a vivid imagination and, when a child, used it to tell her siblings and friends stories. As soon as she could write, she began to put those stories on paper. She wrote her first poetry when she was eight, and still writes it. Poetry was and is her therapy.  When a “friend” laughed at her announcement that she would write a book someday, Vivian didn’t share her goal any more, but she didn’t stop planning on writing that book.
As she reared her children and was a stay-at-home-mother, with spells of working in the business world, Vivian wrote short stories, poetry, and articles, which were published.  Vivian taught English and writing for 27 years and retired in 2001. Every year she taught, she attended writing classes, workshops, and clinics, not only to learn how better to teach her students, but also to hone her own writing skills. Finally in 2001 she was able to write full time and write longer works, after she retired from teaching.
At present, Vivian has six books to her credit, two co-authored. Her latest books are Prairie Dog Cowboy (written under the name V. Gilbert Zabel), Midnight Hours (written under the name Vivian Gilbert Zabel), and Stolen, released in November 2010.
Her interests besides writing include her family (husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren), reading, helping other people publish their books (through 4RV Publishing), and traveling.

 As an editor for over thirty-five years, an English and writing teacher for nearly thirty years; an author with poetry, articles, short stories, and novels published over a span of forty-two years (with more than her share of rejections along the way)  and the head of a small publishing company for over three years, Vivian Zabel experienced both sides of the submission experience.  Since submissions for 4RV go to acquisition editors anonymously (only fair way to do the job), one of her submissions was rejected a couple of months ago.
Her publishing company 4RV Publishing produced the Oklahoma Book Award winner in fiction for 2010: Confessions of a Former Rock Queen by Kirk Bjornsgaard.  Other books have received regional awards in their categories. 4RV has released children’s books, middle grade and young adult books, novels, and nonfiction books.
Vivian has also received emails from rejected writers thanking her for sharing evaluation comments that help and some swearing at her for being so blind she can’t tell wonderful writing when she reads it.
Since submissions for 4RV go to acquisition editors anonymously (only fair way to do the job), one of her submissions was rejected a couple of months ago.


Vivian’s website:
4RV Publishing

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lingering Spirit Book Video 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.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

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:

Friday, June 10, 2011

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 and well into the 18th c. thousands were being burned as witches.  (We
didn't burn witches, we hung them and pressed one man to death with boulders.)

Here are some of the causes that have been proposed as per my research into that year for my book, DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE.

(1.) Ergot - that is, rye grain spoiled by a disease that may cause hallucinations and physical reactions like contortions and jerking of the body.  The obvious answer to that is that if the grain was spoiled
everyone would have eaten the bread and had the  same illnesses.  However, only a group of girls accused others of witchcraft at first, and they continued to be the main accusers.

(2.) the French and Indian Wars -  it is claimed that the survivors came to Salem from the Indian attacks on Maine residents, and while one of the accusing girls did come from Maine, and certainly those wars
must have unsettled colonial society, the trials would have taken place even if there was peace on the border.

(3.) the Clergy - poor minister Cotton Mather has been accused of starting the whole witch craze, but the fact of the matter is that certain persons who disliked him made the accusation.  At this time Cotton Mather was 26 years old and left in charge of the largest congregation in the colonies while his esteemed father Increase Mather was on a mission of diplomacy in London.  The witch trial judges were all colleagues of his beloved father and he hesitated to criticize them, although he did write a letter advising them not to employ the
testimony of ghosts.   The clergy did play a part through Salem minister Samuel Parrish, the father of one of the girls, who first claimed witchcraft was responsible for the accusing girls physical symptoms of being choked, pinched and jerking around.

(4.) Village vs. Town - property disputes between adults in the town of Salem and the Village of Salem may have brought in the animosity of a few adults, but that came later.  The main accusers were a group of
girls who did not own property.

(5.) Mass hysteria - there have been occasions of mass hysteria but this doesn't seem to be one of them.  Not everyone in town believed  the witchcraft charges, and the accusing girls were well aware of what they were doing.

(6.) Real witchcraft was going on.  Poppets (dolls) were found in some of the accused women's houses (might be used like voodoo dolls.)  Any child could have left a doll in a house and forgotten about it.  The first witch to hang, Bridget Bishop, was accused of such a thing.  Bridget was also a sexy woman, responsible, said the men, for their night dreams.
(7.) Girls without husbands.  I can go with this one: the so-called "afflicted children" were primarily adolescent girls in their late teens and early twenties, all unwed.  Had they husbands and children they'd have been too busy to accuse old women of being witches.

(8.) Adolescent girls playing a deadly prank.   The girls themselves admitted that "they must have their sport."  Pretty deadly sport, since 20 people died as a result.  Some of the girls tried to recant their
testimony but then they themselves were accused by the other girls so they quickly rejoined the group,

    It should be noted that when the hysteria died down -  mostly by the return to Boston of Increase Mather and his petition "Cases of Conscience" signed by all the Boston  ministers -- amends were made as far as possible.  A Day of Humiliation was declared; financial compensation was granted to the victim's families;  witchcraft judge Samuel Sewall stood up and made a public confession that he was wrong, another judge got drunk and quit the jury; chief judge William Stoughton never admitted he made any mistakes.

    It was an aberration in our society that never happened again, as contrasted to Europe,  but it continues to fascinate us today,

Bio:  M. E.  Kemp grew up in New England with long links, the first family baby being born in Salem in 1666.  Her family were part of the original settlement of Oxford, MA in 1713.  Her grandmother filled her
with tales of family lore from the Gold Rush to the Civil War, so a love of American history was natural.  She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with husband Jack H. Rothstein and two kitties, Boris and Natasha. 

Her books include DEATH OF A DUTCH UNCLE set in Dutch Albany, DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE, set in Salem, and DEATH OF DANCING MASTER, set in Boston.

Her work in progress is DEATH OF A CAPE COD CAVALIER.  Her short stories have appeared in many anthologies and are also historical mysteries.  Check out her website at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

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.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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?


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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 dialogue tag.


Monday, June 6, 2011

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 during High School. Unfortunately, that was a night I was sorely distracted by the bleachers. I was nine months pregnant and well, you can guess that bleachers aren’t the most comfortable place to sit while trying to store details.

In another story, I had to learn what type of handgun a character would be likely to use. Sometimes I put the info into the story, sometimes I end up leaving it out, but I always learn what weapon would be appropriate. In another story, I needed a lock pick. I needed to know how they looked, and worked. The most interesting thing about that journey to the locksmith was to learn that in hotels and buildings where key cards are used…if someone pulls the fire alarms, it automatically unlocks all bedroom doors. 

So, grab your stuff, folks, when you run, or relock your door manually before you skedaddle. The idea is to make rooms more easily accessed/searchable for firefighters. Unfortunately, it can make it easier for people to steal from you, especially if they know the fire alarm was set deliberately.
Locks are reset automatically at the front desk if it is determined that the fire was just a false alarm. Interesting, huh?

In another mystery, I had to check back to dates in the Civil War.
I have other mysteries that your readers might be interested in. DEADKNOTS is a paranormal mystery anthology written with CJ Winters. That has some fun stories in it. For example, I could have named one of my stories GOPHERS GONE WILD.  There’s a problem in Baxter County. Gophers escaped from the High School Science Department. Murders are happening all over the county, and ghosts are being seen at the Baxter County Cemetery.

And I also have FOUR DEAD soon to be released. Two detectives have been following a serial killer for four months. They have four dead bodies and are a week away from the next killing. By now, they have realized that the female detective fits the serial killer’s taste, and her apartment lays right smack in the middle of the other four murders. Was she the main target all along? Who would want Beth dead? Beth’s desperate to find love before she dies. It’s a romantic suspense title from While that publisher often publishes very graphic works, readers should know before going to look for Four Dead, it is not an erotic work.

And last, I’d like to mention my first novel which is still available. For those looking for a mystery of epic proportions, The Price of Peace might suit them very well. It’s sword slashing, tongue lashing romantic suspense that starts with murder and ends with five clans coming together in one demesne for a final confrontation. When you finish with that, you will have won the war!
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Marilyn. And thanks to your readers for checking out what I’ve been writing.

~Jennifer DiCamillo

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What it Takes to be An Author

  1. Time set aside to write. Yes, you have to write and do it regularly if you really want to be an author.
  2.  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.
  3. A support group of some kind—family, friends, and best of all, a writer’s group.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Rewrite. Once you’re done, go over the whole book and edit and rewrite.
  7. During the process be on the lookout for agents or publishers who might be interested in what you’ve written.
  8. Follow the agent’s for publisher’s guidelines when you submit.
  9. Once the query process has begun, start a new book.
  10. Never ever giving up. If you give up, then your dream is over. Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep learning.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

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.

Whether you are writing about a real place or one that you've made up, be sure that you are showing the readers what it's like, where in the country (or out of it) the story is taking place, what the neighborhoods are like, describe the houses in those neighborhoods,what kind of people live there, what the weather is like, what kind of smells permeate a place, what people eat, etc.

If you're going to write about a place that you're visiting or researching, take photos, jot notes about things you don't want to forget, things that will add layers to your story.


Friday, June 3, 2011

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 set in  Budapest, where I served as Political Officer. (I even went back for research on the book, with the help of the Hungarian Embasy in Washington and the American Embassy in Budapest.) The third book, Murder In Dordognre, is set in the scenic French southwest, part of my consular district in Bordeaux. And the latest, The Saladin Affair, is set in six European capitals, five of which I know well, and on Air Force Two. I arranged trips for the Secretary of State on Air Force Two in one of my Washington assignments.

Marilyn: What made you decide to go the Kindle route?

ANSWER: The last bookstore in our little Maryland town folded. I asked why, and was told that they lacked customers - "Everyone is using kindles!" So I decided to go where the customers are!

Marilyn: How are you promoting this book?

ANSWER: Through blogs, contacting previous readers, and through Kindle sponsorships. Outreach is a key - I am very grateful anytime someone I don't even know recommends my book, or puts a blog notice on their blog or facebook. Every recommendation is a tremendous help.

Marilyn: Now for a few personal questions—not too personal. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

ANSWER; My family has storytellers - one of my Uncles in New Hampshire was legendary for his skill at weaving believable tales around the campfire, making it up as he went along. The writing and polishing, for me, came an indispensable second to storytelling, weaving a believable spell for the reader.

Marilyn: Is there any particular author or book that has influenced you ?

ANSWER: Dickens for the unbelievable fecundity of his plots - Balzac and Dostoievsky for their handling of primal emotions.   

 Marilyn: Do you have any writing rituals?

ANSWER; Morning works best for me. I try to accomplish writing a chapter each week. My cat helps enormously if he goes to sleep and doesn't walk over the computer!

Marilyn: What do you do for fun.

ANSWER; If you can call it that, I am a Boston Red Sox fan. I greatly enjoy music. This weekend, for example, we have enjoyed two concerts and a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera. We live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and crabbing is great fun, and enjoying the catch with chilled bottles of wine!
Marilyn: Thanks, William, that was a fun interview.
Vintage Murder

            Vintage Murder is set in Paris and Bordeaux, France. It takes you behind the scenes of high stakes diplomacy, and into the shadow world of ETA terrorism. The author, William Shepard, is a former career diplomat who served as Consul General in Bordeaux. He has created a new genre in thrillers, the “diplomatic mystery,” stories set in American Embassies abroad. Vintage Murder is the first in the series of four “diplomatic mysteries” which have appeared to date.

            In Vintage Murder, American diplomat Robbie Cutler witnesses the murder of America’s leading wine critic at a vintage dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington. Returning to the Consulate in Bordeaux, he is threatened by the Basque ETA, “the last active terrorist network in Western Europe.” A love story ensues, set against the scenic glories of France, as the lovely Sophie Marceau, a journalist, helps Cutler discover that the Washington murder is linked with terrorist threats against Bordeaux’s famous vineyards. They explore the wine regions of Bordeaux, attend a reception at storied Château Margaux, and visit Lourdes, Montségur, and the prehistoric Caves at Lascaux,.

            Robbie Cutler and Sylvie Marceau must stop the ETA killers, and the stakes are raised with the visit of a prominent United States Senator of Basque origin. He and Robbie Cutler are both targeted for assassination, in a thrilling conclusion that takes place in the storied wine city of St. Emilion. And you will be present at a special dinner reception at the American Embassy in Paris, as you match wits with Robbie – and the ETA.


            “Bill Shepard’s first thriller combines diplomacy, terrorism and high stakes politics. He knows the Basque country thoroughly. A great read!” – Paul Laxalt, former United States Senator.

            “Bill Shepard and I served as diplomats in France, he as Consul General in Bordeaux, and his knowledge of that region – the intrigues, the relationships, the people - is encyclopedic. He has adroitly used this knowledge to weave a fascinating story. If you like Bordeaux wine, read Vintage Murder. – Evan Galbraith, former United States Ambassador to France

            “London has Sherlock Holmes and now Washington has its first diplomatic sleuth, Robbie Cutler. Learn about embassy life from an expert, as you enjoy Bill Shepard’s diplomatic mystery.” – F.A. “Tex” Harris, former President, American Foreign Service Association

William S. Shepard

            Prize winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty.

            Shepard first lived abroad in France on a Fulbright grant after graduating from college. His first diplomatic assignment, in Singapore, was cut short with a direct transfer to the Embassy in Saigon, where he served as aide to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge. Next, while serving in the State Department’s Executive Secretariat, he handled international crises and arranged trips for two Secretaries of State.

            His assignment to the American Embassy in Budapest as Political Officer was a long cherished dream. While there he came to know personally Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty. Shepard negotiated the U.S.-Hungarian Consular Convention, the first treaty with then communist Hungary in over thirty years. He was made an Honorary Hungarian Freedom Fighter for this negotiation.

            Following assignments in Washington where he was in charge of relations with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Baltic States, Singapore and Malaysia, he served at the American Embassy in Athens, monitoring internal politics. His next tour in Washington was capped by a Congressional Fellowship, and his assignment to the staff of Senator Robert Dole as Foreign Affairs Adviser. Shepard wrote a Senate Resolution on Strategic Arms Control which Senator Dole sponsored, and an OpEd for the New York Times on the proposal. His next and final diplomatic assignment was Consul General, Bordeaux.

            His books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. He evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler, his main character, is just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders. The most recent of the series, The Saladin Affair, has Cutler transferred to work for the Secretary of State. Like the author, Cutler arranges trips on Air Force Two – now enlivened by serial Al Qaeda attempts to assassinate the Secretary of State.

Vintage Murder may be found on Amazon at