Showing posts from September, 2011

Guest Review from Carl Brookins/Danger in Deer Ridge

Danger In Deer Ridge by Terry Odell e-book available at all the usual retailers. released in 2011
All right, so there’s a big fat coincidence at the beginning of the novel. These things happen in real life so why not in crime fiction? The coincidence does not, however, make things easier at the beginning for Elizabeth Parker. Even late into the novel the woman has understandable trust issues. Paranoia is always nearby.
Elizabeth is running from an abusive marriage and has taken her son deep underground. The problem is, that isn’t all she took with her when she disappeared from the relationship and from her home city.
The characters in the novel are well-written, and develop in reasonable and meaningful ways within the fabric of the story, and that includes most of the relatively minor ones. The setting, rural mountainous Colorado is both beautiful and menacing at times. Two major threads, often in conflict, wind through the novel. In order to remain free and see her son deve…

BETA by Stephen L. Brayton

About Beta: Mallory Petersen, private investigator/martial artists usually finds herself taking cases from the nuttier side of life. However, when she’s hired to find a kidnapped eight year old girl, she steps into a dark world of unspeakable crimes. The trail leads her around the capital city of Des Moines, to the Quad Cities, and back again.Bio: Stephen L. Brayton owns and operates Brayton’s Black Belt Academy in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He is a Fifth Degree. He's a Black Belt and certified instructor in The American Taekwondo Association.He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.He’s been a radio broadcaster, graphic designer, Eche…

More Photos From the Mitchell Family Reunion

A little known fact about the Mitchell Family reunion, no one with the last name of Mitchell has actually come. We do have two cousins with the Mitchell last name and they have offspring. They are always invited but have as yet to make an appearance.

My sister and me and my cousin Barbara were all Mitchells. Lots of Margie's family shows up--all four of her kids were there (only three of mine), and like me lots and lots of grands and great grands. Barbara's one son and her daughter and one grandkid made it.

Not everyone stays until the bitter end and that's when most of these photos were taken.

I promise I'll get back to interviews, writing tips, etc. starting tomorrow.


What Else Happened at the Family Reunion

We had a great 100th birthday part for my Aunt Flossie. We talked about her life in 10 year segments--put together by my cousin, Dixie and read by her, my sis and me. Dixie's son, Gary, supplied the information about historical facts in history that happened during each decade and different members of the family covered those. Of course we also had wonderful birthday cake. (This was after a lunch of pizza and salad.)

During this time family members were getting their photos taken in the adjoining room, and later the whole bunch of us went out by the pool for a group photo.

Chili I made was for supper as well as chips and a great fruit salad by cousin Dixie, and we all ate again. (Our family reunion includes a lot of eating.) After supper was the talent show. Kids sang and danced, demonstrated karate, did a cheer, and a even a boxing demo.

Then, the grown kids got up and began moving the partition into the next room which was all set up theater style. Two thrones were in front next…

Just in Time for Christmas

A bunch of us mystery writers are going on tour together from November 25th through December 8th. It's quite an eclectic group--and this time we're being joined by some new author including a few men.

Each of us will have a new author on our blog every day and we will be appearing on another's blog that same day.

This is the schedule for who will be on my blog during that time period:

November 25  Jean Henry Mead November 26  Jackie King November 27  Timothy Hallinan November 28  M. M. Gornell (Madeline) November 29  Wendy Gager November 30  Alice Duncan December 1 -John M. Daniel December 2  Pat Browning December 3  Ron Benrey December 4  Beth Anderson December 5  Anne K. Albert December 6  Earl Staggs December 7  Jinx Schwartz December 8  Mike Orenduff
And I'll be visiting the following blogs:
November 25 Mike Orenduff November 26  Jinx Schwartz November 27  Earl Staggs November 28  Anne K. Albert November 29  Beth Anderson November 30  Ron Benrey December 1  Pat Browning December 2  John …

Family Reunion

While my posts have been appearing, I've actually been enjoying the Mitchell Family Reunion. I think this is our 4th. We're also celebrating my Aunt Flossie's 100th birthday! She outlived her sister, my mom, by three years.

Two of my great-granddaughters and a niece are in charge of this event. We have lots of cousins who come, my sister and my cousin Barbara are the eldest of the clan now--not counting Margie's and my husband.

We all have lots of offspring and some of them have offspring too. Of course not everyone comes, but enough to make for a rousing crowd.

We meet in Barstow (that's in the middle of the desert on the way to Las Vegas) at a great Holiday Inn Express. We enjoy their great breakfast in the a.m. Two of my daughter's do Friday night's dinner and do my chili for Saturday night. We have all sorts of goodies to eat. This time we'll be spending some time honoring and celebrating the birthday. We always have a talent show--some good talent …

Central Coast Book Festival

Another early day. Everything went really smoothly and we were all set up by the time people began arriving.

Because it was so beautiful weather wise, lots and lots of people stopped by and talked to me about my books, and many bought one or two.

We were sitting right across from the steps to the San Luis Mission and because it was Sunday, watched everyone going to Mass--and got to hear the old mission bells as they clanged away. We could also hear some of the singing. We were also in a place where we could see and hear all the author readings.

I gave a talk at 11:30, but my knee was still bothering me and going and coming was not easy. I've decided if I attend this event again, I won't bother giving a talk. (I don't even remember signing up for it this time.)

One of the best things about any of these book festivals is talking to people. Because of my knee I didn't stand up to talk--something I usually do--but it didn't matter, many, many folks stopped by. I had lo…

A Little More About the CC Writers Conference

That was one busy weekend--and because the hotel was in one place and the conference in another--Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, once we got to the conference spot, that's where we stayed for the day/evening.

It all began finding the La Serena Hotel. It's a great place and we'd stayed there once before. That evening we met Victoria Heckman and her hubby, Dave, and Sue McGinty, and her fellow, for dinner. Thank goodness for my GPS or we'd never have found the place. Good food and great conversation.

We headed over to Cuesta College before noon the next day so I could check my books into the conference book store. Again the GPS guided us, but after we got there we wandered all over the place trying to find the location of the conference--and it's one mighty big campus. Books checked in, checked in for the conference, we ate lunch in the college cafeteria and were joined by friends from Exeter--Gloria and Mary.

The first session in the afternoon was all about Tech Toys…

CCWC Report #3 More from Mark Coker

Print books have lost ground because they are too expensive and the big publishers have archaic business practices. And they are making the problem worse by judging books on their perceived merit.

Big publishers have monopolized the business, they were the deciders, the ones at the pearly gates deciding who got in and who didn't. Bean counters run the publishing business. Unfriendly policies. Broken supply chains.

Books are precious. Books are vessels for cultural preservation. Books are endangered.

Multiple cross-currents of technology are colliding with traditional publishing.

Technology is transforming publishing: faster, smaller, cheaper.

Print books are unaffordable for the rest of the world--the global market.

Mark Coker was great--most definitely a mover and shaker and he sees what the future holds for writers.

Having been e-pubbed for years, I loved hearing all that he had to say.


Report #2 from CCWC, Your Digital Marketing Plan

Laurie McLean, an agent with Larsen Pomada Agency, had a lot to say about promotion and the promotion of e-books. She also helps people with their promotion plan.

Here are some of the tips she gave:

Decide what your goals are. Check your publishing contracts. See if you have back lists title, books that you wrote but never got published that could become ebooks.

Develop your brand. Decide what you unique brand is. Make yourself stand out. Always put your name in the labels or tags on your blog.

If your going to prepare your ebook manuscript for posting on Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble PubIt, format your book correctly for each ebook distributor. Select the best ebook sites. Create POD copies for printed books.

Be sure to have a good cover--pay for someone to do it.

Create cover and inside blurbs.

Solicit endorsements.

Post your ebooks. (Can take a long time.)

Use effective online and offline marketing to increase sales potential.

You must…

Central Coast Writers Conference Report 1

Here we are in all of our glory. I'm in the first row--2nd from the left, Mark Coker of Smashwords is the fiest one in that row. I'm going to tell you a bit of what he had to say at the conference.

First, look at how young he is--young, and I can tell you that he is very smart and articulate.

Here are some bits from Mark Coker's presentations:

Smashwords is an e-book publisher with a distribution platform.

The author must finish the book, edit it (Smashwords does not edit anyone's work--it's going to be a what you give will be what you get), prepare the cover image.

The author should liberate the text from any complex formatting and layout, designing for flowability.

Leave behind old ideas of book design.

Download and use Smashwords' Style Guide.

The cover image is important because it's the first impression to the buyer.

Should look professional and look good in thumbnail and gray scale.

It's usually best to hire someone to do the cover.

Don't be…

Rock Hole, by Reavis Z. Wortham, review by Carl Brookins

Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham ISBN: 978-1-59058-884-0 2011 release from Poisoned Pen Press. HC, 284 pages
A sensitive, suspenseful debut crime novel. Full of twists, wry and earthy humor, it epitomizes the grit, the patience and the perseverance, of middle America.
Folks who grew up in Texas, where the novel is set, or anywhere in the belt that runs from the northwest angle of Minnesota to the Padre Islands and from the middle of Pennsylvania
 to Cody, Wyoming, will recognize themselves in this novel. Their humor, their practicality, their keen natural observations, are all here to savor.
Welcome to 1964. In Center Springs, Texas, farmer and part-time constable Ned Parker is faced with a puzzling series of animal deaths. That they are brutal, atrocious unnecessary
 killings, only adds to the tension and suspense. Across the river, the black deputy, John Washington, is trying to find reasons for the same killings, while also dealing with
 the added difficulties of racism in th…

Central Coast Book Festival

We'll be up bright and early heading to San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast Book Festival. I've done this one for several years. After all that I've done the past two days, I hope my stamina is up for this. The festival is help right behind the San Luis Obispo mission, right down town. It runs from 9 to 5.

This has always been one of my favorite book festivals. I'll also be giving a talk about "Where I Get My Ideas" I think at 11:30 a.m. in the basement of the museum.

What I like about this festival is the people who come love books.

Again, I know I'll see lots of people I know. If you live in the area, or will be visiting, please stop by and say "hi."

When the day is over, hubby and I will be going back to our hotel for a much needed rest.


My Presentations at Central Coast Writing Conference

I will be giving two classes--when I last saw the schedule, one was right after the other first thing in the a.m. I function best in the morning so it's really okay.

I'm going to be presenting on "How to Write a Mystery" and "The Importance of Setting--or Where the Heck Are We?"

We are having box lunches at noon and then more presentations in the afternoon, but I can just enjoy them.

I think there's a time when people can just talk to authors, but I'm not sure when that is.

I will have my books for sale, though I must take them to the bookstore myself--that's nothing new for me. That's what happens when you with a small press.

At the end of the day, the conference is having a great party back in Morro Bay for all the staff and volunteers. Looking forward to it--though know my husband and myself--we'll probably poop out early.

It'll be fun to see how all this turns out.


First Day of Central Coast Writers Conference

The conference begins today with a presentation on Tech Toys and Tools at Noon. (This one people had to pay extra to attend.)

I'm going to head over there sometime to get my books into the conference bookstore.

From 5 to 6 is registration and buffet refreshments. The conference beings at 6, and the conference keynot speaker is Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Best Seller.

His topic: Writing: It's All About the People

Because I attend so many conferences that focus on mystery, this is going to be a bit different. I'll be posting on Facebook about the conference. If you don't already, be sure and Follow Me.


Headed to Morro Bay

As you're reading this we'll be driving over to the coast, Morro Bay to be exact. Our first destination in La Serena Hotel, which is the designated hotel for instructors who will be teaching at the Central Coast Writing Conference which begins tomorrow, September 16 at Cuesta College

We've been told that the views are of the bay--but the last time we stayed her, our view was of an upper level parking lot. Hoping for different this time.

Anyone who has followed my blog knows that we really love the central coast and head that way on many occasions. One reason is because I belong to Central Coast Sisters in Crime and I love to join them for their various promotion activities--combining business with pleasure.

Over the years, hubby and I have become good friends with members of that chapter of Sisters in Crime. This evening we'll be having dinner with two of them and their significant others.

Sue McGinty has been a friend for many years and I met her first when I came over…

On Writing a New Novel

I'm working on a new Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. No title as yet, but besides the murder, here are the things I want to do.

The RBPD is still under staffed, will that be a factor in what's going wrong in town?

Learn more about Barbara Stickland's pregnancy. Things are not going to go smoothly.

Though Felix and Wendy Zachary's baby girl, Ruby, is perfect, not all is perfect.

A new hire, a female, is paired with Gordon Butler. Does it mean he'll have a new love interests?

Vaughn Aragon is back though on limited duty.

Stacey Milligan will play an important part in an investigation apart from the murder--or is it?

Instead of talking about it, I need to get down to writing.


Killer Nashville Photos

These photos were taken by dear John Nehring.

The first in my panel on POV.

Second photo is my panel on Promotion.

Last photo is of me and some of my favorite writing friends who I seldom get to see but am able to keep in touch thanks to the Internet.

Left to right: Randy Rawls who I met for the first time in Monterey at my very first Bouchercon. And we've been at several other conferences together.

Next is me.

Dear, dear friend Radine Tree Nehring. We had such a delightful time catching up at Killer Nashville. We've met mostly at the now defunct Mayhem in the Midlands, but we also got together at other cons.

And the couple is Chester Campbell and his lovely wife. We've bumped into each other at several Bouchercons.

The best part of any convention or conference is running into old friends.


Planning an Author Event

This was another panel I attended.

Some of their ideas:

Let people know you're having an event through Facebook and E-mail.

Have food. (Never underestimate the power of food.)

Invite the press.

Blurb about yourself and the book.

Join organizations-not just writers groups.

Find the large online book clubs like Goodreads and promote yourself and event there.

I was a bit disappointed in this panel. Here are some of my ideas:

If a regular bookstore isn't interested, have your event in any of the following places:

used book store
senior citizens center
recreation center
coffee shop
local gift shop
art gallery
hotel, bed and breakfast, inn
your own home or someone else's

Find a tie-in with your book to a local place.

Serving food is good--but you could just have coffee and cookies
A cake with your book cover on the top.
You can plan to give a talk, or just visit with the folks as they come in.

Do send out e-mails and even written invitations to those you know who…

9/11 Thoughts

Today we'll all be remembering what happened on 9/11 at the Twin Towers, in the Pennsylvania countryside and the Pentagon. We'll be thinking about all the lives lost on the terrible day.

No matter how tough things may get in our own personal lives, this is a good time to consider how much worse it was for all those who lost their lives and the families and friends who mourn them and miss them.

This is a time when each one of us should tell our family and friends how much we love them because we never know when they could disappear from our lives.

I've been blessed to have a wonderful family and many dear friends and I thank God for each and everyone of them.


What a Publicist Can Do For You

This was another Killer Nashville panel that I went to mainly to see if a publicist could really do anything for me I wasn't already doing for myself.

The publicist works between the publisher and the reviewer.

Most publicists are hired by the publishing company and/or the author.

An author should expect nothing from the publisher and be surprised by whet they do.

The publicist pitches to local media.

The charge and hourly rate. They will discuss with you what you want and what you are trying to accomplish. The publicist needs to know about the book.

They will work both on the platform and the brand.

They have long term clients and new and emerging writers--and they will think about your career.

They make sure the author does the right thing.

The publicist does not need to be in the same area as the author.

Will coordinate with the author.

My comment, I'm sure they do the job, but I can't afford to hire one, so I'll continue to do what I'm doing.


Fighting in Your Books

One of the panels I attended was about fights in books. Panelists were authors Rick Reed, and Mike Black (also former police officers), Ernie Lancaster, a police sniper, and Stephen Brayton, Marshall Arts Expert.

Think of the violence you can do to hurt your oppoenent.

A person with a knife can hurt you if they get within 21 feet. Knives penetrate Kevlar vests. Kevlar won't stop arrows either.

Pick up on the person's body language. Police are trained to anticipate and react immediately.

The goal is to incapacitate your opponent.

Most policemen are killed b their own guns.

Don't pull a gun unless you're going to shoot--then shoot between the eyes.

A police officer is responsible for every one of his bullets.

Give your characters tough choices.

Do what you can right there, right now.

Dumb to use only your hands. Save your hands. Use whatever you can get into you hands to use as a weapon.

Remember where the characters are fighting--they will be hurt and their clothes wil…

Some Writing Tips from Killer Nashville

Not necessary to write your story in sequence. If a future scene comes to you, write that one then go back.

You need to keep on writing, no matter what.

Think of how the words sounds, do they have coherence and smoothness?'

Don't wait for the muse to show up, write the same time, same place everyday.

When you really get going the time will disappear.

Be thankful that you have the time to write.

Take care of each problem as it comes up--one at a time.

Spend enough time in revision so you really get the feel of the story.

Must be some tension in each chapter.

Write it first, you must do the first draft and then you go from there.

Read it aloud.

Vary the sentence structure.

Forget what your English teacher told you--people speak in fragments.

Look at how writers you like put words together.

Find a critique group to hear your words.

All good advice.


My Schedule for the Rest of the Year

Though it may change, this is what's on my calendar now:

Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17. Central Coast Writers Conference. I'm really excited about this as I'm giving two seminars--one of Setting and the other on How to Write a Mystery.

(We have lots of friends who live in the Morro Bay, Los Osos, and San Luis Obispo area so are looking forward to seeing many of them.)

Sunday, September 18, I'll have a booth at the Central Coast Book Festival in front of the Mission. I'm also giving a talk about Where My Ideas Come From at 11 ish. My focus will be on where the ideas came from for my own books.

The following weekend, September 23-25 we have our annual Mitchell Family Reunion. We're also celebrating my Aunt Flossie's 100th birthday. I'll be taking books and having a mini-book signing.

Saturday, October 8th, is the official book launch for Bears With Us at Books Off Main, on Oak Street right behind the Subway Shop on Main St. I'll be there fr…

Meet Morgen Bailey from the UK

Like I do with many folks, I met Morgen through the Internet when I learned about the great interviews she does. I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on Morgen and find out something things about her, so here goes:

Morgen, except for the fact that you do terrific interviews I know very little about you. So here goes with my battery of questions. First, tell me something about your background, including where you live.Thank you Marilyn. I live in Middle England really; Northampton. About as far away from water as you can get (3 hours) which I don’t quite understand as I love water; every picture (actually subconsciously until a friend pointed it out) in my house contains water. I’m one of two siblings, I have an older brother who’s an IT project Manager and lives in Zurich, Switzerland so I see him 2-3 times a year (birthdays, Christmas; the latter spent in my mum’s kitchen / diner with opposing laptops). My father died September 2011 so she potters while my brother and I chat …

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Today is my husband's birthday. We've been a pair for nearly 60 years.

His childhood was far different from mine: brought up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in a small town, only child raised by a grandmother and a maiden aunt and widowed aunt, mother passed away when he was 5, father visited, had lots of cousins. Left home when he was 18 and joined the Navy.

I grew up in the big city of Los Angeles, had a sister, raised by my mom and dad. Had some cousins but not nearly as many as my husband.

When I was a senior in high school, I was called by a friend and asked if I'd like to go on a blind date. Of course I would--my friends walked half way to meet me and that was the first time I saw this cute sailor. He kind of looked like Frank Sinatra with sleepy eyes like Robert Mitchum.

Stationed at the Hueneme Seabee Base, he came to visit me almost every weekend after that.

We married back in his home town that same year. The following year, in August, we had our first child--th…

Some Comments the Future of Publishing

One of the panels I attended was on the topic of what was going to happen with publishing in the future.

The moderator was definitely against e-publishing--the others had some interesting comments.

Mass-market is disappearing and being replaced by Trade Paperbacks.

E-books are definitely making a dent in the brick and mortar books stores. I though it was interesting, the manager of Barnes and Noble who manned the book store was reading on his Nook during most of the conference. He said the Nook is saving Barnes and Noble.

One woman warned about flipping prices on your e-books, that the readers may object.

Some folks are said to read the e-book and if they like it, buy the paperbook.

Overall book sales have risen.

Big publishers are unrealistic about the price of a hardcover which might be anywhere from $25 to $30.

E-books are bringing in more readers.

What publishers bring to the table is quality control.

It was mentioned that some of the e-books are drek because they haven't been…

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

My sister was born when I was five. Up to that time I'd been a spoiled only child--first grandchild for my mom's parents. Despite the fact that I was born during the depression, life seemed wonderful.

I remember nothing about my mom being pregnant, what I do remember is the tiny baby that she brought home with lots of dark hair. I was no longer quite so special.

My sister was darling. As a little girl, she reminded everyone of Margaret O'Brien--a famous child star of the time period. I told everyone at school she was a princess and a refugee from the war (World War II was going on at the time) and that she was living with us to keep her safe. I doubt anyone believed that since I was known for telling "tall tales." Everyone, but my sis--for years she thought she was adopted.

We didn't really get along all that well. For a long while we shared a room which we divided down the middle. I was neat--she wasn't. She loved to throw stuff over on my side.

Once she…

Walking a Different Beat by Kathy Bennett

Most police agencies have sections, grids, or areas where officers are assigned to work. It might be something as simple as being assigned to work ‘Beat A’, or assigned the ‘south’ beat. In the LAPD, patrol beats are broken up into Basic Car Areas. The last Basic Car area I worked was 17A67. The terminology isn’t the same – but the mission is.I’ve been seriously writing novels for about thirteen years. When I was working patrol as a Los Angeles Police Officer, I didn’t have much time to write. I worked twelve-hour shifts from six at night until six-thirty in the morning. Often I’d have court after work. If I had any free time, it was spent sleeping and not writing. I worked other assignments, but family responsibilities caring for my brother who was handicapped after a near-fatal stroke, and later, my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, left me little time to write. In fact my retirement, in part, was to give me more time to care for my mother.But over the years I’d managed t…