Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Louisa and the Crystal Gazer by Anna McClean

Interview of Anna McClean 

Please tell me about your background.

            First, thanks so much for hosting me!
            I was a small town kid who spent an awful lot of time daydreaming and reading…and never outgrew that need to live many, many lives.  As a young adult, I studied literature and traveled in Europe, filling my eyes and my imagination, and as soon as I settled down again – first in Boston, then in the Finger Lakes area of New York State – I started to write.  I’ve worked as a waitress, apartment rental agent, hotel maid, bookkeeper,  journalist, and college professor…in that order.  But always, always, I was writing.

What inspired this particular book?

            Louisa May Alcott herself.  Her character, Jo from Little Women, was my role model when I was young.  I was delighted to realize that Jo, for Louisa, too, represented a combination of real and fantasy life.  Louisa, like Jo, was devoted to her family but also fiercely independent.  And she wrote secretly, stories her father may not have approved of, but stories that readers of her day loved.  Louisa May Alcott had a secret life, and I thought it would be fascinating to elaborate on that, to make her an amateur sleuth really involved in things other ladies could not be involved in.

As a child did you know you wanted to be a writer one day?

            Absolutely.  Except for brief spells of wanting to be a ballerina, nun, and kept woman – again in that order – I never considered anything else.  Of course, the whole point of being a kept woman was that it would give me plenty of time to write.  Thankfully, I found another way to manage my career.

Who are your favorite authors?

            As a kid, I devoured every word written by Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. They kind of set the standard for me and set me on the path of wanting to write historical fiction.  I still read historical but cast a wider net, including Jean Rhys, Jeanette Winterson, Sybille Bedford and many others.  Essentially, when I open a book, or begin reading a new author, my plea is this:  tell me a story!  That’s why mysteries are especially fascinating.  They are about story and character and conflict.  And mystery, of course.

What was your path to publication with this book?

            Initially, I was contacted by a representative of the Louisa May Alcott estate who had read some of my historical fiction written as Jeanne Mackin. He asked if I thought Louisa would make a good detective.  I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I wrote up a proposal and that was accepted, and then I write the first novel, Louisa and the Country Bachelor, soon followed by a second, Louisa and the Country Gazer.  Now the third, Louisa and the Crystal Gazer has just been re-released by NAL and I’m beginning to think about the fourth novel.

What are your plans for promotion?
            I love blogging and reaching people that way but I’ll also be doing readings, as invited, and I’ll be at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop's 17th Annual Festival of Mystery  on Monday April 30, in Oakmont Pennsylvania.

This is a great event and I encourage anyone who can to come. There’ll be lots of authors, lots of fabulous books.
Where is your favorite place to write?

            At my desk.  Actually, it’s the only place I can really write.  I’d love to be able to take a nice fountain pen and write longhand on yellow legal pads under a weeping willow…but it’s not like that for me. I’m a leftie so everything happens at the keyboard. And I have to be surrounded by shelves and shelves of reference books or I feel lost.

And what do you like to do when you’re not writing?

            Ah. The truth.  I study middle eastern dance. Yep. Belly-dancing.  The music is fabulous, and it’s a lot of fun.  And I read, like crazy.  Hundreds of books a year.  I’m also a pretty good cook and love snowy winter afternoons with a few recipes in process at the same time.

What are you working on now?

            Another mystery, set a few years after Louisa and the Crystal Gazer, when she’s older and has a little more life experience.  She’s not a girl in this one but a woman who has a few regrets, a few very private memories…and she’s just about to become one of the most famous women of her generation.

What would you like my readers to know about you?

            I’d love to hear their comments about the mystery!  I can be emailed at, or contacted through

Thank you so much for visiting me today.

            Thank you!

Anna is giving away a prize gift basket to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Everyone be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better you chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Anna McClean (Jeanne Mackin) is the author of several novels:  The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press).   She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including  American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications)  and co-editor of  The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton),  and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines.  She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C.  She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe.  She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie,  in upstate New York.

Excerpt From Louisa and The Crystal Gazer

            “I miss Father,”  Sylvia signed one morning as we took our walk along the harbor.  It was a misty cold day, and the harbor waves were tipped with frosty white.
            “Unfortunately, your father passed away when you were a child,” I answered gently. “You barely knew that long-enduring man, so how do you now claim to miss him?”…
            “My point exactly,” my companion responded…“I feel the need for a masculine presence in my life, and would like to converse with my father.  I will, with the assistance of Mrs. Agatha Percy. Please come with me to one of her sittings!”
            I groaned and jammed my hands deeper into my pocket, despite the stares of several passersby; a lady did not put her hands in her pockets. She did if they were cold, I thought.  Ship rigging creaked in the wind and bells chimed the start of a new watch, and I pondered Sylvia’s statement.
            Mrs. Agatha D. Percy was the newest fad in Boston, one of the recently risen members of that questionable group of individuals known as ‘spiritists,’ or mediums…
            “I can think of better ways to spend time and money than sitting in the dark and watching parlor tricks.  I would much rather, for instance, attend one of Signor Massimo’s musical evening.” The signor, a famous pianist, was touring the United States from his home in Rome and had decided to winter in Boston. He was giving a series of performances – performances I could not afford, since the tickets were as much as three dollars apiece, even when they were available.
            “Mother tried to get tickets and could not. She was furious,” Sylvia said. I could understand; women with Mrs. Shattuck’s family name and wealth were not accustomed to hearing no.
            “Look, there is ice in the harbor,” I said, putting my hand over my eyes to shield them from the glare.
            “I will have your answer,” Sylvia persisted.
            I  introduced several new topics of conversation, hoping to distract Sylvia from her mission – Jenny Lind, the Wild West, a newly published travel book about France that was flying off the shelves – but each topic she cleverly rejoined and detoured back to Mrs. Percy…
             “Don’t you see?” Sylvia sighed in exasperation, pulling at my hand to prevent me from taking another step. “The spirits themselves wish you to visit her.  They put those very suggestions in your mind!”
            “Then they should put a plot or two in my mind,” I said, remembering the still-blank sheet of paper before which I had sat that morning at my desk.  Being between stories was an unpleasant state for me, when no plot or story threaded the random thoughts of every imagination.
            “I am unconvinced that ‘fun’ is the correct word to describe an hour of sitting in the dark, pretending to speak with the dead,” I said.
            “Spirits,” corrected Sylvia.  “The dead don’t like to be called dead. Such a harsh word.”
            Neither of us was yet aware of exactly how harsh that séance would become.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Few Dead Men

A Few Dead Men – a Chick Dick Mystery launches on March 1st!

Life has dealt part-time mystery novelist Darcy MacDonald a lousy hand. The men she knows are either missing, dead, drunk or demented. Lying next to the corpse of her boyfriend, the head of Bloodhound Investigations, definitely qualifies as lousy since he’s the man who also issues her paychecks. The doctor says her boss had a massive heart attack during an orgasm, and it wasn’t Darcy’s fault. But she can’t help feeling guilty, since his orgasms were her responsibility. Or so she believed, until his grieving widow shows up, along with a mysterious, punk rocker chick who weeps inconsolably at the funeral and claims he was murdered. 

People often ask what inspires an author to write a book. In the case of A Few Dead Men - a Chick Dick Mystery, inspiration was easy. 

I used my youngest daughter's disastrous dating history. 

The 'dead men' in the novel are composites of every boyfriend and/or bad date she's ever had. Believe me, there was lots of material to choose from. There's the commitment-phobe, the deadbeat who lives in his mother's basement, the married man who forgets to mention his non-single status and the guy who whips out a calculator at dinner so he can figure out how to split the bill, including tax and tip, even though he issued the dinner invitation. 

I could have mentioned her first dates with the guy who got so hammered he fell out of his chair, or the guy who boasted that he had a big 'package', but hey, I didn't have room for all those characters. I didn't want to go over 100,000 words.

I also had a little help from He's Just Not That Into You, the best-selling book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (much better than the movie of the same name, in my opinion). Some of the scenarios in there were jaw-dropping. Apparently men will do just about anything to avoid telling a girl the truth about their feelings and what they want out of a relationship. 

It makes a person wonder who's raising these men. And who's raising these women to put up with these men?
These are some of the central questions in A Few Dead Men, along with a mystery (of course) since I'm all about mysteries. 

A Few Dead Men - a Chick Dick Mystery is available March 1st at the following online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
(Purchase links to follow)

Author Bio
Nancy Lauzon worked nine years on a hospital ward as a cardiac nurse before the night shifts turned her into a zombie. She got a day job in health promotion and began to write health-related articles for magazines and newsletters.

Life threw out a few curve balls, and to relieve the stress, she began to write fiction part-time. Five years later she sold two different manuscripts to two separate small-press publishers, using a pseudonym. She retired from nursing in 2003 and began to write full-time.

She is now the author of four Chick Dick Mystery novels, inspired by her early love of Nancy Drew Mysteries.

Nancy lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Visit her website

Coming soon to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters/Indigo.

Join the Chick Dick Mystery Group on Facebook  

Follow her on Twitter!/@chickdicks

Friend her on Goodreads

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Review of No Substitute for Murder by Carolyn J. Rose

The heroine, Barbara Reed, is working as a substitute teacher to pay the rent and put food on the table. Being a substitute ranks as one of the most unpopular jobs there is, but for Barbara it is the beginning of a spiraling tail of woe.

When she discovers the history teacher murdered in his classroom, she’s assigned to take over his class. She can’t help but do a bit of snooping on her own and when she discovers another body, she becomes the prime suspect.

The mystery is full of fascinating and quirky characters from the not quite normal teaching staff, to her ex-husband and his girlfriend, her obnoxious sister, colorful neighbors, a couple of homeless men, and the most important one in her life, her tiny dog, Cheese Puff.

I’m a fan of Carolyn J. Rose and I always know when I read her books there will be some unexpected twists—and No Substitute for Murder is no exception.

If you love mysteries that are a shade different, you’ll love No Substitute for Murder.

Carolyn sent me a copy of the book and I loved it!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fighting the Urge to Withdraw as I Age

No Substitute for Murder by Carolyn J. Rose

Carolyn with Bubba and Max

By Carolyn J. Rose

Almost every day my husband and I walk our dogs—the intrepid Bubba and the not-so-daring Max—in a loop around our neighborhood. Along the way we pass the home of a man in his late 80s. His wife died several years ago and he lives alone in a house filled with things much as she left them. He no longer drives, but he has family just down the road, close neighbors who look in on him, and lunch deliveries every weekday.

But he’s lonely.

On warm days he plants a chair in his driveway and waves over anyone who passes for a brief conversation—always about the past. Some days we stop. On others, we acknowledge his wave and call out an excuse—have to get to the store, the library, home to do the wash.

Once I brought him a brochure for the local senior center and asked if he’d like me to drive him on the days I go to the nearby rec center to swim.

“I wouldn’t know anyone there,” he said.

“You might. You won’t know until you go,” I answered. “But even if you don’t, people are friendly. You’ll be talking with someone in no time.”

“Maybe sometime.” He shook his head as he spoke, body language that told me “sometime” meant “never.”

Walking home, I thought about my future. Would I withdraw into a fortress of loneliness? Already I’ve found myself opting to stay home and skip events that are distant, unfamiliar, held after dark on rainy evenings, too crowded, too much trouble. And I’ve seen older family members pull like turtles into the shells they’ve created. When we talk, I hear undertones of sadness, loss, and regret.

And I hear pain as well. That’s a huge factor. When you hurt, it’s harder to get up in the morning and easier to crawl into that comfy chair earlier each evening.

But if I give in to pain and trepidation, my world will shrink, my days will become replicas of each other, and new experiences won’t happen unless someone comes to my door.

That worries me because writing feeds on experience. Of course, I can mine the past, but my aging brain provides fewer rich veins of recollection every year. Eventually I’ll be extracting only fragments of memory.

So I have to get moving and get out. And I have to keep doing that—and a lot of other things—as long as I can.

Being a Virgo, I wrote that admonition on an index card and posted it above my desk. And, in true Virgo form, I added a list of how I would accomplish my goal:

  • Make new friends. Try for 3 a year. Settle for 1.
  • Make new acquaintances. Talk to others at the gym or grocery store.
  • Try new things. (Rule out anything too risky like skydiving, skateboarding, or eating raw fish.)
  • Connect with old friends.
  • Plan a trip to a place I’ve never been.
  • Go back to a favorite familiar spot.
  • Commit random acts of generosity and joy.
  • Do something alone—eat a meal or go to a movie.
  • Learn something new and review something old—reading history can take care of both at once.
  • Read something I ordinarily wouldn’t pick up.
  • Stay in touch with pop culture—even if only in a limited way. Watch one of the hot TV shows geared for a younger demographic, listen to a radio station that sets my teeth on edge, have a conversation with a teen or young adult
  • Write outside my comfort zone and try to expand that zone as I do. (For me, this usually means writing about human relationships and love on a deeper level. As a mystery writer, I’m more comfortable killing characters off than having them kiss.)

If you have ideas about how to fight the urge to withdraw, please leave a comment. There’s plenty of room on my list for more. And your name will go into the drawing for a copy of No Substitute for Murder.

Bio: Carolyn J. Rose is the author of a number of novels, including recent indie titles A Place of Forgetting, An Uncertain Refuge, and No Substitute for Murder. A mainstream mystery, Hemlock Lake, was released by Five Star in 2010, and two Oregon-coast mysteries (The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion) penned with her husband, Mike Nettleton, came out through Krill Press in 2009 and 2010. In addition, she has six novels available through SynergEbooks. She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

Web page: 

Link to latest book :
No Substitute for Murder

Blurb about No Substitute for Murder:

Divorced from a philandering con man and downsized from her job as a talk radio show producer, Barbara Reed is desperate for money. She's got a mortgage, a college loan, an aging car, and a ten-pound dog named Cheese Puff.

With her unemployment checks running out, she signs on as a high school substitute teacher and learns what stress is all about. When she finds history teacher Henry Stoddard strangled with his own outdated tie, her stress level soars into the red zone. Then she's assigned to cover his classes.

Stoddard was a bully and a blackmailer. The list of suspects is a long one, and police put Barb at the top. When she discovers a second body, the noose of circumstantial evidence tightens.

With help from the showgirl widow of a reputed mobster, a trash-scavenging derelict, and members of the Cheese Puff Care and Comfort Committee, Barb struggles to keep a grip on her job, her sanity, and her freedom.

Notice:  This mystery contains no vampires, werewolves, zombies, or space aliens. It was not tested on laboratory animals. It makes no claims to political correctness. Characters may not be fully clothed at all times.

(Carolyn will be giving away a copy of her book to someone who makes a comment.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not Having Enough Time to Write

Lately I've been frustrated by not having enough time to write. I've blogged about distractions that take me away from my writing--but a lot has to do with promotion I have to do for my new book coming.

A funny thing happened at my writers' critique group. I was reading the next completed Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel which at the moment has no name (remember the next one in that series, No Bells, is due out sometime in March. When critiquing time came, one of our new members pointed out that I had in one spot I had given Stacey a different name--Tempe. I didn't notice and neither did the old-timers of the group.

Tempe is the heroine of the Tempe Crabtree mystery series--and she and Stacey are not alike except for being female law enforcement officers and strong women.

I do know why it happened though, I go back and forth from writing a new book in one series and promoting the book that is out or soon to be out in the other series--and I usually have another manuscript in draft form that I'm reading to the critique group.

For the book I'm creating at the moment, a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, though I don't know everything that's going to happen, I've got a good start--two chapters nearly completed, and lots of ideas about where the book is going. This one I have a title for--came from a quote from an Indian Chief.

Pesky things like doctor appointments and the fact that I'm gearing up for promotion for No Bells, a library talk that I'll be giving tonight (actually yesterday for those who are reading this) and since it's faraway, I'll be gone most of the afternoon and evening.

And then there's the mundane things like paying bills, doing the laundry, and once in awhile a paying job that always has priority.

Because I dearly love Tempe I will get back to here soon. Right now she's investigating the discovery of a body in a very haunted house and I need to get her out of there.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Amazon: A Writer's Friend or Foe?

This is Guest Post by Ella Davidson of

Coupons is a savings and deals website that strives to provide consumers with the most authoritative couponing news on the Internet.

The sweeping technological developments of the past two decades have drastically altered the world of media. Information travels more quickly and in more ways than ever before. One area in particular that has seen major changes, especially in the last few years, is the process of publishing and publicizing books. The advent of the eBook has provided a method by which aspiring writers can take control of their work, and the commercial giant has in turn taken advantage of this new medium. But is Amazon’s model of eBook publishing and distribution ultimately harmful or beneficial to independent writers? Strong arguments flare from both sides:

Amazon is great for writers!

·         On the most basic level, Amazon’s services seem like a godsend to anyone interested in distributing their personal written work, especially compared to traditional publishing companies. The site allows authors to keep up to 70% in royalties on each eBook sold, provided the books are priced between $2.99 and $9.99 each—in the older business model for print books, authors usually receive a comparatively measly 15%.

·         Amazon allows writers to bypass the selective editing process and deal directly with customers. This can be especially great for independent niche writers whose work has already been turned down by third-party publishers; it allows an author to maintain creative control over the content of his work throughout the process and ensures that the final product represents the culmination of his own personal vision.

·         The electronic publishing business is unquestionably booming: from 2008 to 2010 eBook sales expanded from %0.6 to %6.4 of total book sales.  For a writer, the vigor of this rising industry is hard to ignore—and with Amazon still controlling the majority of the eBook market, its establishment as the go-to site for the eager self-publisher is well-deserved.

Amazon is evil!

·         To some, however, Amazon’s near-monopoly on eBook sales (nearly 80% of the market) represents a serious threat to independent writers and other publishing companies. Even if their current practices appear almost completely favorable to the independent writer, the site’s utter control of the market means that in the future they could potentially alter the model to their own ends, unhindered by competing distributors.

·         The set price range that returns the highest royalties to the author, $2.99-$9.99 per eBook, is actually a serious limiting factor. Many of the biggest success stories come from writers who sell a huge volume of copies at a much lower price, say $0.99 each. At this level the writer only receives 35% of the revenue, which is still a solid value, but it also means that these particular successes serve to garner huge profits for the already-giant company itself.

·         The lack of a real quality control filter on material means that the eBook market could easily become flooded with bad writing. For every writer who produces and electronically publishes a real gem of a novel, short story, or collection, there might be several writers pumping out—to put it bluntly—unreadable drivel. In these circumstances it is all too easy for a truly brilliant voice to be lost in the cacophony.

Amazon recently announced a new funding program—KDP Select—that allows writers to receive a fee when their books are borrowed from the Kindle Lending Library. This new model is intriguing but potentially problematic: in order to get paid, authors must hand over exclusive rights to their work to Amazon for at least a 90-day period. And the amount they receive is based on the division of a fund between all writers participating in the program, so those whose works are more successful may not end up with a proportional financial return. So while Amazon currently provides mechanisms of distribution that can be unquestionably beneficial to some independent e-publishers, future developments like these may continue to complicate the issue by gradually shifting control from the writer to the company. Only time will tell.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Setting Up Promotion for No Bells

Anytime you have a new book coming out, you must get busy figuring out promotion.

Because I was going to do my own blog tour, awhile back I contacted different bloggers I know and asked if they'd be willing to host me on my tour for No Bells. As I received affirmative replies I lined up the dates. I also figured out a contest to hold on the tour. I asked each tour host what they'd like me to write about--and then I did it. Of course I had a standard blurb and bio to add to each post.

I borrowed an idea from Pat Browning to use different photos of me for each blog, in most of them I'm at some kind of promotion event.

I've ordered business cards with the cover on one side and information about the book on the other. I plan to hand them out at the two conferences that are coming up soon: Epicon in San Antonio and Left Coast Crime in Sacramento. I'll have other books for sale at these events, but I want people to know about the new book coming.

Some of the events I've got lined up are a library talk at the Kingsburg Library on April 19 at 6:30 p.m. and another at Gillis Library on Satruday, May 12th at 3 p.m.

That's it for now, I'll be adding more events as time moves on.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming Soon!

The birth of No Bells is nearing.

I love the cover.

I've gone over the PDF file twice now and found those pesky errors that the gremlins stick in.

Though I have to confess that some of the errors were mine.

Because some of them were consistency errors despite what I thought was good note taking for my timeline, before I sent another book off to my publisher, I'm going to get another reader to go over it. For some reason my critique group didn't catch these kind of errors. And I really shouldn't expect them to since they only hear one chapter at a time.

All I can do now is hope that I caught them all.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, February 20, 2012

And This is What Distracted Me Yesterday

What I did today that Got in the Way of My Writing

First off, I sent off blog post with photos the cover of my new book No Bells to the rest of the people who are hosting my blog tour. (I'd done part of them yesterday.)

Hubby brought in the mail and I had a bunch of bills to pay.

I had scheduled an author for a coming blog and the publicist sent me all the material so I got that set up. In case  your curious, check it out on Feb. 29.

Because I have a standing date to provide a post for the Stiletto Gang on the first and third Tuesday, I took the time to write that and looked for photos to go with it. I also do a post for Make Mine Mystery the same Tuesdays and I wrote one for MMM too.

And I must confess, I peeked at Facebook too.

Now I'm too tired to write and still have a couple of things I ought to do--and of course there's income tax looming over me.

Oh well, another day is coming.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal/Review



In this fast-paced mystery set in Hawaii, we follow police officer Lei Texeira as she and her partner stumble upon a grisly find—two murdered teenagers. Lei knew one of the girls and is determined to find her killer though her help is not wanted by the lead detective on the case, Stevens.

As the multi-layered story unfolds, Lei’s past history becomes apparent, casing a psychological shadow which colors everything she does from dealing with a disturbing stalker to the unwanted attention of a neighbor. More murder victims turn up, and Lei becomes the target of a serial killer.

Blood Orchids is one of those books that once you start you won’t be able to put it down. Author Toby Neal, a native of Hawaii, adds plenty of island atmosphere to this fast moving tale of murder and suspense and a healthy sprinkling of romance.

Marilyn Meredith

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Distractions from Writing

All authors have things/events that distract them from writing.

I'm going to tell about some of mine.

Life. Yep, you all know what this is, things that happen that take you away from writing. The not so good ones are getting sick, going to doctor appointments, having to take care of the chores of life such as doing your taxes, housework, laundry and cooking. Because I like to eat good food, I really enjoy cooking--most of the time.

Family. Because family is more important than writing, I love seeing my family which as most of you know is very large. I usually don't babysit because I think I've gotten too old, especially to take care of the little ones. However, I do babysit in emergencies. Recently I had a great-granddaughter come here after school because mom had to work. She's a delight and I enjoyed having her around.

Telephone Calls. I usually don't get many and I don't make many because I don't really like to talk on the phone. Once in awhile I get one from someone who has a paying job for me to do. Even then, I'll get an email address and take care of the details through emails. Saves me time, and the person has in writing what I need from them.

Doing the Job. When I'm paid to do a job, I tend to that right away. My writing incomes is slow to come in and I have to pay for my traveling somehow.

Having fun with hubby. At least once a week, hubby and I love to head down the hill and eat lunch out and go to a movie. I've always loved movies and I'm so glad he likes to go too.

Doing promotion away from home. This could be a one day event like speaking at a nearby library or it could be going to a mystery or writing conference or convention. I know some authors write while they are at these events--not me, I love visiting with authors and readers. While I'm away from home, I'll be busy socializing.

Ah ha, a biggiie is writing blogs like this one. (And of course there's Facebook and email.)

I'm sure you can think of more. What's one of your distractions from writing?


Friday, February 17, 2012

New Death and Others by James Hutchings

I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in creative writing and media, but I didn't do anything with it after graduating. Years later I created a fantasy city called Teleleli or Telelee as a background for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Once I finished I realised there wasn't any demand for it. My ex suggested I use it as a setting for stories instead, and that's how I got started.

Some ideas just pop into my head, without me knowing where the idea comes from. Other ideas come from experiences in my life. For example a while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story 'Lost, Feral or Stray'.

I've written a lot about cats, based on having been a cat owner. But I'm a lot more cynical about them than some cat-lovers. One reviewer said he couldn't work out whether I loved cats or hated them.

Of course other fiction is a big inspiration. In some cases it's obvious. I've done poems directly based on stories by HP Lovecraft and other writers for example. In other cases it's more subtle: for example the city of Teleleli or Telelee is partly based on Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, partly on Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork, and partly on Port Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy series.

My biggest influences are probably JRR Tolkien and Jack Vance for the elaborate dialogue. Robert E Howard for the general atmosphere. Terry Pratchett for the humour. and Lord Dunsany for the use of Fame, Time and so on as characters.


Bio: James Hutchings lives in Melbourne, Australia. He fights crime as Poetic Justice, but his day job is acting. You might know him by his stage-name 'Brad Pitt.' He specializes in short fantasy fiction. His work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, fiction365 and Enchanted Conversation among other markets. His ebook collection 'The New Death and others' is now available from Amazon, Smashword and Barnes & Noble. He blogs daily at


Death gets a roommate...

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...

44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?


my blog:

The New Death and others:



Barnes & Noble:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Editing and Finding Consistency Errors

Received the first galley proof for No Bells.

Oh, my goodness. Something I learned immediately is I do have a problem keeping track of characters' vehicles. This is not a new problem. I believe it relates to a flaw I have when it comes to cars in real life. The kind of car people drive has never been important to me. If I go somewhere with someone, I need to stick with that person because if they park in a filled parking lot I won't be able to remember what their car looked like. I am most observant when it comes to everything else, just not cars.

In my first Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Tempe's official vehicle is a Blazer sometimes and at others a Bronco.

When I was writing No Bells I carefully wrote down what kind of vehicle each person drove after I mentioned it. (I usually ask my husband for kinds of cars, for instance, "What would be a good kind of sports car for a rich young kid to drive?" "What would be a classy older car for someone to drive?")

Once I got the names of the cars I wrote them down along with other things about each character. Obviously I didn't check enough--probably when I got engrossed in the story. This time I got the type of car right but not the color. Sometimes a BMW was black and once it was gray. A Toyota mini van changed from dark to light green. (My eagle-eyed publisher caught all of these.)

I did find other inconsistencies with days and times people worked. Grrrrr! I have a phobia about this and always do a timeline and yet I messed up in a couple of place.

Frankly, I'd like to go back to blaming gremlins, though to be honest it's all stuff I missed despite going over the manuscript carefully before sending it on to my publisher.

That's my big writing confession for the day. I hope I caught everything this time.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dead Witness, by Joylene Butler


cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca

The ebook version of Dead Witness is available at MuseItUp Bookstore and 
The paperback version of Broken but not Dead is available at and

Joylene Nowell Butler, Metis, began writing in 1984 after the death of her father. Her first novel Dead Witness, published in 2008 is distributed across Canada by Sandhill Books. Her second novel BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD was published 2011 by Theytus Books, the oldest Aboriginal publisher in Canada. In November 2011, MuseItUp Published released the ebook version of DEAD WITNESS. Her current WIPs include a political thriller, a children's book, a suspense thriller, and the sequel to Broken But Not Dead. Joylene, her husband,and three stray cats in Cluculz Lake in central BC. 


Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well-intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Here I am with my Valentine of 60 years. Yep, we did it, even though everyone said it wouldn't last.

No wonder, when we married we really didn't know much about one another. We came from opposite sides of the country and different kinds of families. He grew up in a tiny town in Maryland, I grew up in Los Angeles. He was raised by a grandma and two aunties and had no siblings. I had a mom and dad and younger sister. And I could go on and on about our differences.

No, it wasn't easy. We had many problems along the way--but we never gave up.

After a few years and five children, we began to realize besides being man and wife we'd become best friends.

We not only have five kids, but we also have 18 grandkids and 12 great grands.

I hope that each and everyone of them will find that someone who will go through life as a best friend.

Eldest daughter Dana and her hubby and best friend, Mike.

Grandson Gregg and his girl, Kaitlyn.

Youngest daughter Lori and her hubby and best friend, Rick.

Granddaughter Genie with hubby and best friend, Mark and their two great kids.

First grandson Patrick and his wife and best friend, Lucy.

Here's a grandson with his Crystal and their son, Julius. One of the many that I'm praying will have a great life together.

Going through photos to put on here made me know that I certainly need to take more photos.

Happy Valentine's Day friends and family.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Time is Drawing Near for No Bells arrival

What is No Bells you ask?

Those of you who follow my blog can probably guess that's the title of a new book. It's the next one in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. I am particular anxious for this one to come out because one of the major characters in this mystery is Officer Gordon Butler. This series I write under the name F. M. Meredith.

Though Gordon is merely a patrol officer and one who manages to get into a lot of difficulties, he's managed to acquire quite a fan following. I'm eager to hear what his fans will think about this next big episode in his life.

And a fun element in this story is the fact that the romantic lead is named after a friend of mine. She was the winner of a contest to have a character in my next book named after her. She wasn't the one who entered the contest, her daughter (also a friend) did it for her. It was quite a task. The person who won commented on the most blog on one of my blog tours. The daughter diligently made a comment on every single blog post, frequently reminding me she was doing it for her mother. I don't even know if mom knows about it--but she will soon when she reads the book.

I should have a cover to share soon.

If you've never read one of the Rocky Bluff mysteries, it really doesn't matter, I've written each as a stand alone though the major characters appear in each novel.

Some of the early books in the series are only available in electronic form, but most of the rest can be found as trade paperback or on Kindle or Nook.  These are the titles:

Final Respects, Bad Tidings, Fringe Benefits, Smell of Death, No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost.

I do hope you'll try one or more of them.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Death by Rheumatoid Arthritis by Carla Jones

Laurel, MD—May 14, 2010—By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Three categories of AORC account for almost 80% of deaths: 22% of them are attributed to rheumatoid arthritis. Echelon Press, LLC announced today that Allentown author Carla Jones's eBook "Death by Rheumatoid Arthritis" will be available for sale June 1, 2010. With very personal ties to this disease, Ms. Jones will be donating her royalties to The Arthritis Foundation.

For twelve years Jones worked in the Pharmacy industry with another four years in Mental Health. Ms. Jones spent part of this time nursing her mother, who ultimately died from complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis. After her mother's death, she spent four years researching Death by Rheumatoid Arthritis.

"I hope this eBook will send a message to those afflicted with this incurable disease, to their caregivers and to the general public, warning them of the potential deadly complications associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis," says Jones. "This disease is greatly underestimated in its power to devastate."

Echelon Press hopes this eBook will offer useful information and comfort to others who face this affliction or who deal with the disease in their loved ones. "Every disease is horrible, but so many people don't realize that this can kill, and does."

Author Carla Jones is a fresh voice at Echelon Press. Her non-fiction eBook, Death by Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronicles her mother’s medical and personal experience, fighting the disease. After many years living with RA, her mother manifested many unusual physical symptoms. One specialist was able to correctly diagnose her with spinal cord syndrome, due to her eroded cervical spine. When the diagnosis was revealed, corrective surgery was not a survivable option.  Carla Jones attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and Pinebrook Jr. College previously located in Coopersburg, PA.  Jones's stories have appeared in The Morning Call, Lehigh Valley Women’s Magazine and a variety other publications.  She has been writing professionally for 17 years.

For review copies, requests for interviews, and author events, please contact Carla Jones at Other places to find out more information on the author:, Wordpress@cvj237, Twitter@cjonesauthor and Facebook@Carla Jones - writer. Death by Rheumatoid Arthritis can be purchased online through Amazon, Amazon UK , Barnes & Noble’s, OmniLit and Smashwords.

Amazon  -

Omnilit -   

 Barnes and Nobles -

And a P.S. from Carla:

 Net royalties from my book will be donated to the Arthritis Foundation and I am a advisory board member of Kelly Young's (a.k.a. RA Warrior) organization - Rheumatoid Patient Foundation.  It's quite an honor and privilege to serve this wonderful organization and I would encourage others to check it out.  I am also volunteer as a Media Specialist for Operation Christmas Child.  This is the largest Christmas project in the world by sending gift filled shoe-boxes to impoverished children.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg

Many reviewers have compared The Preacher  to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I didn't think they were anything alike except for the fact that they are both set in Scandanavian countries. I loved the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and I felt the same about The Preacher but I saw little similarities.

The Preacher is set in a Swedish fishing village and most of the actions takes place there and nearby.

Though the plot was dark, the main characters were wonderful, normal acting people. Patrik Hedstrom, the detective, is not an alcoholic or drug addict, and he loves his pregnant wife Erica. When he's faced with a most complicated case he sets about solving it in the old-fashioned way--going from place to place and talking to many people. Yes, he feels some guilt for leaving Erica alone so much, but he's compelled to find the answers to a most unusual case.

Besides the strange family who are tangled up somehow with newly discovered but old skeletons and missing girls from the past and present, Patrik must also deal with the pressing problems Erica faces when unwanted company arrives on their doorstep. The author has done a great job creating believable characters and giving us a peek into a part of Sweden. Terrific story with a tangled plot and most surprising ending.

Book Blurb:
Police detective Patrik Hedström and his girlfriend, writer Erica Falck, are anticipating the arrival of their first child when grim news comes: a boy playing on a perilous outcropping has stumbled across a woman’s bloody corpse, a discovery that leads investigators to uncover two skeletons buried beneath her—campers who disappeared decades ago. Superintendent Mellberg gives Patrik the gruesome case, and topping his list of suspects is a local family of criminals and religious fanatics—what dark secrets are they hiding? But no one expects the next blow, when a young girl goes missing. . . .

Camilla Läckberg worked as an economist in Stockholm until a course in creative writing triggered a drastic career change.  Her novels have all been top bestsellers in Sweden and have sold worldwide in thirty-five countries.  She lives with her husband and children in a quaint suburb of Stockholm.  Visit her website at

(Simon and Schuster sent me an ARC of The Preacher--I am not paid to do reviews.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Marja McGraw's Journey to Publication

Marja McGraw
Everyone takes a different path to publishing, and mine was rather bumpy, but it could have been a lot worse.

When I first started writing I lived in a small town in rural Nevada. I didn’t know any other authors, and I had no idea about finding information on the Internet. I was truly a babe in the woods. I sent out a few manuscripts to publishers and most of them didn’t even bother to reply. I have to admit, the book I was sending out was pretty bad. I kept it for many years because it had sentimental value, no matter how amateurish it was. Somewhere along the way it disappeared.

Anyway, a family member sent me a newspaper article about self-publishing. It sounded wonderful. I submitted a different book, and they just loved it. Oh, yes, they accepted it and told me I was every bit as good a writer as Sir Conan Doyle. I was going to be the new Agatha Christie, too. Looking back, I have to laugh at how gullible I was. I fell for it and submitted another book. And I waited for people to start buying my books. It was a long wait.

I have to admit that when I received the first batch of books, I was so excited I cried. I held that book in my hand like it was a new baby, and to me, it was. I’m excited every time a new book comes out, but that first time was different and special.

Okay, so I learned that it’s pretty difficult to market and promote a self-published book, especially when you have no idea how to market or promote.

So I moved on and submitted my third book to a traditional publisher. They asked for an “exclusive”. A year and a half and one rejection later, I learned that I would never again give anyone an exclusive look at my other stories. By the way, during that year and a half I kept writing. No grass was going to grow under these little tootsies. When I did find a publisher, I’d be ready with multiple books. And I was having fun creating the stories.

The next stop in the journey was an agent. Yippee!! I’d found someone who would make sure the right publishers saw my work. I never quite figured this woman out. She did nothing for me, except suggest I talk to someone she knew who would charge about $1,000 and tell me what I could do to make my writing better. The interesting thing was that this agent made comments about the book that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Go figure. We had a year-long relationship before I said I’d had enough.

I cultivated a few friendships via groups on the Internet, including Sisters in Crime. Dorothy Bodoin, H. Susan Shaw and I became great friends. And Dorothy suggested I look into epublishing. Huh? I’d heard the term, but had no idea what it was. Dorothy was being published by Wings ePress and she seemed happy, so I looked into the idea of ebooks. I submitted a manuscript to Wings and not only did they accept it, but it was only a matter of a few months before the book was published. I was thrilled with them, and five books later, I’m still happy.

Ah, but then I started a second series. What to do with it? I began researching, having learned a lot over the past several years, and decided I’d prefer to go with a small publisher. Oak Tree Press crossed my line of vision and I was hooked. I asked a few people I knew, and who’d had experience with them, what they thought. Everything seemed good, so I submitted a query letter. They were interested, and they were going to be at a conference in Las Vegas, which is only an hour and a half from where I live. Would I come to the conference and meet them? Absolutely.

What a week that was. My husband and I lost a very dear friend to a horrendous accident. By the time I met Billie Johnson and Sunny Frazier at the conference, I wasn’t even sure what I was doing. Fortunately for me, they knew exactly what they were doing and offered me a contract right on the spot, at the conference. Talk about a week of extreme ups and downs. Whew! Don’t want to have anything like that happen again.

So here I am, writing two series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, and I have two publishers whom I’m delighted with, finally. It’s been a long journey, but it’s also been a fruitful trip.

For those of you writers who are just starting out, persist. Don’t give up, and use your common sense when dealing with anyone. I don’t care if it’s a publisher or an agent, use your head. Don’t waste time. Learn from others and maybe you can bypass a few of our mistakes.

Marilyn, thank you so much for allowing me to share today. It seemed like a shorter journey until I began writing about it.

Bogey’s Ace in the Hole – Release date February, 2012 from Oak Tree Press

Marja’s Mystery Blog:

Bogey's Ace in the Hole Blurb:

The only people who might strike terror in Chris and Pamela Cross’s hearts are the Church Ladies, who want them to find a missing friend. When the friend turns up on her own, Chris finds a new kind of terror—a Murder for Hire plot the woman has overheard.

Ride along in Chris’s 1950 vintage Chevy with the Church Ladies, his wife Pamela, their son Mikey, and two wild and crazy yellow Labrador retrievers while they try to find not only a potential killer, but the intended victim.

Marja’s Bio

Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law for 15 years, state transportation for another 17 years, and most recently for a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

McGraw also wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada, and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include Bogey Nights, the first in the Bogey Man Mysteries, and it’s soon to be joined by Bogey’s Ace in the Hole. A Well-Kept Family Secret, Bubba’s Ghost, Prudy’s Back!, The Bogey Man and Old Murders Never Die are all part of the Sandi Webster series.

She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.