Monday, April 30, 2012

Grandson's Wedding

My favorite shot, Ally's reaction when the minister said, "May I introduce Mr. and Mrs. Robert Cole.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Report on the End of the Mystery We Write Tour

Well, it's all over, these wild few days of seven other mystery authors and myself appearing on one another's blog. It's been particularly stressful for me because I've been on another blog tour at the same time--and still am.

I can't really remember how I said I would award my prize, but it's a copy of No Bells.

So I decided to just pick a name at random--someone who posted, but wasn't a member of our tour.

That person is Caroline Clemmons. I will go back and see if I can find her email address and way to contact her.

I do hope that everyone who followed along with us and commented had a good time and enjoyed the posts.

Review of Last Will by Liza Marklund

The first page opens with a woman named Kitten who is an assassin who takes out Caroline von Behring, the chair of the Karolinska Institute’s Nobel Committee. Annika Bengtzon, an investigative journalist for the Evenng Post is an eye witness to this assassination.

Last Will is the story of the Nobel prize and Alfred Nobel, the controversy over the scientists doing stem cell research and the pharmaceutical companies hoping to profit from the research. It’s also about authorities coming to the wrong conclusions and terrorism and torture.

However, the main and most fascinating story is about Annika, who doesn’t always make the wises choices. While following multi-layered stories in her job as a reporter, she comes to some dangerous conclusions. Along the way she loses her husband and nearly her own life and the lives of her children.

Complex and completing, Last Will is one of those books that truly makes you wonder what could possibly happen next.

This book was given to me by Simon and Schuster.

Reviewed by Marilyn Meredith

Saturday, April 28, 2012

And If You've Been Hanging in There

Here are the last dates for my No Bells tour:

May 1 Mike Angley :

May 2 Pat Browning

I'll go back and check all the comments so I can pick the person who left the most to send the three books off to. 

This has been fun--but mighty exhausting.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Inspiration for Bogey's Ace in the Hole by Marja McGraw

My Question for Marja was the inspiration for her latest book.

What inspired Bogey’s Ace in the Hole?

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 overzealous yellow Labrador retrievers while they try to find not only a potential killer, but the intended victim.

I’ll bet after reading the above, you might think this is a religious story. You’d be wrong. It simply includes some pushy, lovable and memorable characters who happen to be Christians.

Does anyone remember the Snoop Sisters? For those who don’t, this was a very short-lived television series starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick as an older spinster and her widowed sister who solved mysteries. If memory serves, they were mystery writers in the series. Anyway, they were always underfoot and a lot of fun.

Although I didn’t copy these ladies, they did inspire the Church Ladies in Bogey’s Ace in the Hole. Jasmine Thorpe, May Martin and Lila James are seniors who pray at the drop of a hat, and they can be very annoying, at least in Chris Cross’s opinion. However, their intentions are always good and they want nothing more than to do what’s right and to share the things that bring joy to their lives.

They’re not one-dimensional though. They’re endearing and lovable, and they want the best for everyone. Best of all, they’re funny – and they want nothing more than to “help” Chris find a potential killer. The two men who were overheard discussing this murderous plot realize that Addie, a fourth Church Lady, knows their secret. After Addie is hidden away for her safety, the Church Ladies want in on the action. After all, their friend’s life is at stake.

There are several Church Ladies in my life, and they’re fun, funny, and smart, and I’m sure at least a few of them would dearly love to solve a mystery. While the Snoop Sisters inspired the Church Ladies, the women in my life took over the characters. Jasmine, May and Lila are in their seventies, but Chris and Pamela Cross are not. So you’ve also got differences in ideas and lifestyles due to age differences.

There’s more inspiration for this story than the Church Ladies though. Chris Cross is a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. That’s why his wife’s nickname for him is the Bogey Man. Pamela Cross’s life changed dramatically when she met and married Chris. While she attends church every Sunday with their son, Mikey, Chris stays home and reads the paper and watches football. I decided Chris needed a little more exposure to his wife’s other life. Frankly, the Church Ladies kind of terrorize her, too, but she’s used to them and gets over it quickly.

Mikey does his best to avoid the Ladies, but it’s not going to happen. They ask him embarrassing questions and intrude on his seven-year-old life in a way that will make parents of children smile. By the way, Chris calls Mikey “Ace”, because as far as he’s concerned, his stepson is aces, a 1940s term meaning quality.

And then there are Sherlock and Watson, two yellow Labrador Retrievers. By the way, Watson is a female, but how could you have a Sherlock without a Watson. These screwy dogs are always in the thick of things and even interact with the Church Ladies.

So I can tell you what and who inspired Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, but in all honesty it’s a lot of things – the Snoop Sisters, the real life Church Ladies, my enjoyment of the real Bogey, my love for children, and a passion for dogs. I wanted this series to involve a not-so-ordinary family, and this book in particular includes relationships, humor and learning to enjoy each other for what and who we are.

Give it a try. If it doesn’t at least make you smile, or maybe chuckle, let me know at . In all honestly, I think you’ll enjoy the Cross family and the Church Ladies.

Marilyn, thank you so much for inviting me to talk about the characters and who I enjoy so much and what inspired their creation.


Marja’s Mystery Blog:

Marja’s Bio:

Marja McGraw is originally from Southern California, where she worked in both criminal and civil law enforcement for several years.

Relocating to Northern Nevada, she worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation.  Marja also did a stint in Oregon where she worked for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and owned her own business, a Tea Room/Antique store. After a brief stop in Wasilla, Alaska, she returned to Nevada.

Marja wrote a weekly column for a small newspaper in No. Nevada and she was the editor for the Sisters in Crime Internet Newsletter for a year and a half. She’s appeared on television in Nevada, and she’s also been a guest on various radio and Internet radio shows.

She writes the Sandi Webster Mysteries and the Bogey Man Mysteries, and says that each of her mysteries contain a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

At the end of this tour two names will be randomly selected from those who've left comments and they'll each receive a copy of Bogey's Ace in the Hole. Be sure to leave your email address.

She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, where life is good.

 (And a P.S. from me, this is one terrific book!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mary Martinez, Interview, author of Disappear.

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me on your blog today. I love visiting new places and meeting new people.

Marilyn:  Mary, please tell us what inspired you to write The Beckett’s.

Mary:  I hope I can remember that far back. I actually started writing the series in August or 2009. I’d been watching a documentary and a germ of an idea blossomed. I can’t really tell you what the film was about, it would give away an important part of the book.

As I started to write my blurb and a list of characters, Tyler’s family grew and I new early I’d be writing more than one story. The Beckett’s are a close nit family, similar to the one I’d like to think I have now. The Beckett’s raised their children with courage, integrity and a sense of honor. The parent’s taught them by leading with example. I’ve very proud of my Beckett’s.

Marilyn: What is your one of your favorite writing tips?

Mary:  I have so many. But, my favorite is from Stephen King’s On Writing, I love that book. But in it he said once you finish your manuscript to let it sit at least six or seven weeks before you pick it up to edit.  When I read that I thought he was nuts. When I started writing, I was in such a hurry to get it out there, submitting to agents and editors, I learned the hard way how wonderful this piece of advice is.

When you finish your manuscript, you’re still in love with your characters, they and you can do no wrong. You can’t slash up your baby. But once you give yourself time, start on something new even. That way you have a new set of characters—a new baby to love.

Then pick up that old book that is hopefully a faded memory and slash it. Take out all the ‘that’s’, ‘and’s’ or ‘then’s’. Or whatever you word is—everyone has one they use over and over. Go over it as if you’re on a treasure hunt looking for all the hidden blemishes.

Thank you, Marilyn for letting me play at your place today. 

Now here’s a bit about my new series:

The Beckett Series
The Beckett’s have a strong sense of family and honor. When one of their own is threatened, their bond is as strong as a badge of steel.

Trailer (Must see! Best viewed on full screen) and Series information:

Disappear (Book I of The Beckett Series)
After two years undercover as an FBI agent to infiltrate a crime organization and discover the identity of a hit man, Tyler Beckett’s cover is blown. Tyler’s new assignment is to protect the only witness who can identify the mysterious killer. If only he didn’t find her so attractive. Each day it becomes harder to keep his objective, especially since he knows the interest is mutual.

Keira Cavanaugh is the only witness to a hit ordered by a crime boss.  The safe house is compromised and the same hit man shoots Tyler. Fearing Tyler is dead, Keira plans revenge on the crime organization. She must fake her own suicide in order to survive.

When Tyler discovers what Keira plans, he realizes he must stop her before he loses her for good.

Available in eBook now at:
Print available May 2012

During the blog tour Mary will be throwing all the people’s name who comment about the content of her posts, at each stop, into a hat for a drawing. She will be giving away to two lucky winners, one copy of any of her books (winner’s choice). Winners will be announced at the wrap up at the end of the blog tour, April 28th.  

Mary’s web site:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Inspiration for a Novel by Earl Staggs


On the first night, the instructor announced, “By the end of this class, each of you will have written a short mystery story.”
Wow. When I signed up for a writing class at the community college, I thought someone was going to teach me how to write, not make me write something right away. Okay, I decided, she’s a writing professor and if she says we can do it, we can.
We had to come up with a protagonist, of course. After a lot of thought, I decided to write about a private eye with a psychic gift. I’d always been interested in psychic phenomena and loved reading about real-life psychics using their gift to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes. I named him Adam Kingston. He wouldn’t see dead people. A medium does that, not a psychic. When he touched an object related to a crime or visited a crime scene, he would receive fleeting images which might lead him in the right direction or might only confuse him. That’s how it is with real-life psychics. Sometimes they don’t understand what they see. As Adam himself explains, “It’s not an exact science.”

By the end of the class, as the instructor said, I finished my short story. I called it “The Missing Sniper.” After a few rejections, followed by lots and lots of rewrites, the story was accepted by both a print magazine and an ezine and appeared in both at the same time. Never before or since then have I known that to happen.
I received a lot of excellent feedback about the story. People seemed to like Adam Kingston and how he used his gift. That led me to the crazy idea of featuring him in a novel. That’s when I learned how little I knew about writing a book.

For the next couple years, I read a lot of books telling how to write books as I pushed ahead one chapter at a time. Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime in rewrite hell, my novel was finished. Another two years dragged by before MEMORY OF A MURDER was actually published, and I’m happy to say it received a long list of Five Star reviews.
You can read Chapter One of MEMORY OF A MURDER on my website at

The short story that inspired me to write the novel, is available now in ebook form.  “The Missing Sniper” costs $1.15 to download to any ereader at:

If you like short mysteries, you can check out SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, a collection of sixteen of my published stories at: on sale for $0.99 until the end of April.

Derringer Award winning author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned a long list of Five Star reviews. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups.  Email:  Website:

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me here today. And thanks to everyone who stopped by. Please leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing on April 29. The first name drawn will receive a signed copy of MEMORY OF A MURDER. The second name drawn will have a choice of a print or ebook copy of SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS.

(Did you notice on Earl's book cover, one eye is blue, the other brown? As the kids would say, way cool.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lou Allin and Moonscape to Paradise?

Lou Allin and her dogs

 Moonscape to Paradise?

          Canada is known for its pristine, jaw-dropping scenery, but one place has been a national joke: the moonscape around Sudbury, the Nickel Capital. At the opposite end of the country lies Paradise, aka Vancouver Island. They’re more alike than you’d think. I moved from one to the other with the same goal: to bring these places to life in fiction.
            I knew nothing about Sudbury in 1977 when I jumped at a job offer. Lumbering had started in the 1880s. Discovery of nickel brought open-pit roasting followed by sixty years of acid rain. With no trees or ground cover, soil melted off the bare land, and the rocks darkened into a black wasteland the size of Manhattan. Clear blue lakes became too acid to sustain life. Then in 1972,  the Superstack (1247 feet)  was built to scrub the air pollution. The entire community, business, students, government and private citizens began a monumental re-greening extending into the twenty-first century. Thanks to a cocktail of “rye (grass) on the rocks” and twenty million hardy pine seedlings, when I left in 2006, the core was green again. The city received an award from the Earthsummit in Rio.           
            I conveyed the chronicle, warts and all: Northern Winters are Murder, Blackflies are Murder, Bush Poodles are Murder, Murder, Eh? and Memories are Murder. My readers said, “It sounds so beautiful. I want to visit.”
            Then I moved to Vancouver Island. “Welcome to Paradise,” the realtor said. Instead of a temperate-rainforest wilderness, I found a country under siege.
            Those in the cities or on the picturesque coast don’t realize the extent of the clear-cutting. The island has been logged several times in most areas over the last hundred and fifty years, but replanting has hidden that fact. Now the timber companies have found ways to transmute scarred land to pure gold. In a shameful backroom deal, they convinced the government to let them convert cutting leases into real estate at a million an acre. They became panderers, not stewards.
            By the time islanders woke up, vast swathes of land had been sold, and subdivisions were being planned without even roads or water infrastructure. A few places were bought back at high cost, such as the picturesque Potholes area in Sooke. However, the surfing territory and hills around Jordan River may be dotted with hundreds of vacation cabins. And the Chinese appetite for raw logs and pulpwood sends armies of trucks each month speeding along the southern shore, loaded with timber barely twenty years old. Even worse, instead of being milled on the island for added value, the logs are shipped raw.
            Douglas firs and cedar are among the largest trees on the planet. Blessed by rainfall, they have found the optimal growing conditions here. Trees of girths up to thirty feet, alive before Columbus sailed, should be left for future generations who don’t want to visit a tree museum. Imported tourists could be a far more lucrative and moral way to conserve our precious resources. Trees have become our ivory and chainsaws our poachers.
            Sadly, most people never see this destruction unless they travel inland or fly over. The entire island is an expanding patchwork quilt. Very little effort is being made to replant.
            My new series, And on the Surface Die and She Felt No Pain, never forgets the devastation a few metres beyond the narrowing margins. Lead character, RMCP Corporal Holly Martin, has the sight of Washington State across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to remind her that she lives on an island. That means ferries, beaches, and finite space. The first book ended with a century typhoon. The second was framed by a forest fire.
            As century farms become condos, one giant housing development threatens, from Victoria to Port Renfrew, then north to Port Hardy and across to Port Alberni and Tofino. Where the magical island once was self-sufficient, now it’s on life support. Stop the ferries for one week, and we all would subsist on blackberries, eggs, and apples. The island used to provide 95% of its food, not today’s 5%.
            I’d say that the island has lost its vision, but it never had one. The beauty and resources were taken for granted. Groups such as The Land Conservancy and Dogwood Initiative are trying to marshal public opinion as one crisis after another arises, including oil tankers circling the island. Will this path be reversed in time or will Vancouver Island become another moonscape, paradise lost because of those who loved it to death?       
Writing Tip
            If setting is important to you, start a library of reference books or websites on the history, geography, geology, botany, and zoology of your region. Don’t forget the stars, too. Each part of the Earth sees a different sky, changing over the seasons. I also keep a plant diary, when they flower and when they offer their fruit. Mystery readers like to learn while they’re entertained. Even locals tell me, “I never knew that.” But remember to space it out to avoid “infodumps.” What you may find fascinating might bore others in large chunks. I love mushrooms, but when I read a manuscript with ten straight pages on the subject, I had to turn the page.
Born in Toronto, Lou Allin grew up in Cleveland. She received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature and spent three decades in Northern Ontario as a professor of English.
With a cottage on a frozen lake as her inspiration, she started her Belle Palmer series, featuring a realtor and her German shepherd, beginning with Northern Winters Are Murder.
Lou has moved to Canada’s Caribbean, Vancouver Island, with Friday the mini-poodle and Zodie and Zia the border collies, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Her island series stars RCMP corporal Holly Martin: And on the Surface Die, She Felt No Pain and the upcoming Twilight is Not Good for Maidens.
Lou’s standalones are A Little Learning is a Murderous Thing (set in Michigan) and Man Corn Murders (Utah). That Dog Won’t Hunt is designed to appeal to reluctant adult readers. Watch for Contingency Plan in the same series.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jean Henry Talks About her New Book, The Mystery Writers

I was inspired to produce my recently released book, The Mystery Writers, because I didn’t want the interviews to disappear into cyberspace, never to be read again. I’ve been interviewing mystery novelists since January of 2009, and I put together a collection of 75 interviews in 2010. The collection is titled Mysterious Writers, the same name as my blog site, and the book was published in ebook form by Poisoned Pen Press.  It has sold so well that I decided to produce another, in print as well as Kindle and Nook. The second book is titled The Mystery Writers.

The authors donated some very good articles about writing to accompany their interviews and some of them came from as far away as South Africa, Brazil, England, Canada and Thailand. A number of the well-known writers include Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J. A. Jance, Vicki Hinze and former Writer’s Digest fiction columnist James Scott Bell, who has published bestselling books on the craft of writing. 

The articles are not just about the art of mystery writing, but writing in general. The writers represent twelve mystery subgenres, including traditional mysteries, cozies, amateur sleuths, private eyes, police procedurals, crime, noir, historical mysteries, thrillers, humorous mysteries, suspense, and contemporary western mysteries.
Many are bestselling and award-winning novelists and their advice is invaluable for both novice as well as veteran authors. One of my favorite bits of advice comes from James Scott Bell who said: “Be ruthless in revision. Cut out anything that slows the story down. No trouble, tension or conflict is dull. At the very least, have something tense occurring inside a character.” He also said, “Don’t take rejection or criticism personally. Learn from criticism and move on. Perseverance is the golden key to a writing career.”

Because I’m also a mystery/suspense novelist, my own advice is: Never send out a manuscript before it’s ready. When you consider it finished, place it in a drawer for a month before you take it out to read as though someone else had written it. Then edit and polish your masterpiece until it shines. If you can afford a freelance editor, by all means hire one. It’s the best investment you can make in your writing career because you only get one chance to make a first impression with an editor or agent. And first impressions are usually lasting.
Critique groups are also a good source of feedback for your work. Critique partners—if they’re writer savvy—can spot holes in your plot that need filling in, or something that doesn’t quite ring true. We  novelists are often too close to our work to notice inconsistencies. Writers who are familiar with your  genre are best to partner with, so choose carefully and don’t weigh critique comments as though they were carved in stone because no one approaches the language of fiction in exactly the same way. It’s your work and you’re the final judge

Bio: Jean Henry Mead is a national award-wining photojournalist who has been published domestically as well as abroad. Her Logan and Cafferty mystery-suspense novels include A Village Shattered, Diary of Murder and Murder on the Interstate. Her Hamilton Kids’ mysteries are Mystery of Spider Mountain and Ghost of Crimson Dawn. She’s also written historical novels, history books, and edited five books of interviews. Her website:

Thank you for hosting my blog tour. I'll be giving away a print copy of The Mystery Writers as well as an ebook copy at the conclusion of the tour in a drawing from among visitors who leave comments at my blog sites.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Skeleton Box, a review

The Skeleton Box by Bryan Gruley

I loved Gruley’s previous book, The Hanging Tree, and was delighted when I received an ARC for this latest Starvation Lake Mystery.

I felt like I was visiting an old friend in a small town that I already knew a lot about. However, I had no idea what an adventure I was beginning as I started reading. Gus Carpenter, the reporter for the local newspaper, is not only curious about the series of so-called Bingo Night burglaries, but is drawn in deeply when one of these burglaries happens at his mother’s and her best friend is murdered.

One thing happens after another and as with the earlier book, a lot of what is going on is intertwined with the local youths’ ice hockey team. Layer after layer is peeled back and something that happened long ago is revealed, something that has great impact on the lives of many who are still living in or have returned to Starvation Lake.

This is one of those books that is difficult to put down once you start reading. Gruley did a great job with this one.
(An arc of this book was given to me by the publisher, Touchstone, a division of Simon and Schuster.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

MM Gornell Stops By for a Visit

M. M. Gornell Drops by for a Visit

It’s great visiting with you today, Marilyn! You’ve asked me what inspired me to write my latest book. Well, if you’ll indulge me, I’d first like to mention my initial inspiration for all my work. I’ve gone on ad nausea about this before—but it’s the truth, so I guess I’m stuck with repeating myself. Locations.

For each of my novels, my inspiration and first kernel of an idea has come from a location that has reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. Sounds a bit silly, and it’s not the whole story, but truly, so far, I’ve been inspired to start a story because a location said, “Me! Me! Write about me!” From the location, I’ve then wondered—who would have lived there, or come that way? What is their story? And in the case of my first, Uncle Si’s Secret—the compelling thought at a particular place along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail on my dog walks also kept returning—“What a perfect spot for a murder!” (Another reason why exercise is good for you)

So, given that background, there is a mini-mart at an I-15 exit I often pass, and to me, is most compelling. The gas pumps don’t work, and food and beverage offerings are minimal. However, the people there are very nice, and do wonderful tire repair—and believe me, I know about such things. One desert “surprise” is the amazing number of flat-causing “odds and ends” lurking just below the sandy and innocuous looking surface of Mojave dirt roads. That mini-mart was my inspiration for Reticence of Ravens—Hubert Champions new home and adventure. And even now, every time I pass, something about the place sings to my heart.

You’ve also asked me for my favorite writing tips. I’m always hesitant to give advice on writing, because I really believe every author is different, and every approach individual. That being said, I also think the more info and ideas an author has to chose from and try, the easier to find what works for you. So here are some things that have in the past—and continue to help me:
·         Writing classes,
·         Rewriting, rewriting, rewriting,
·         Reading in my genre, the famous and the not so famous—I learn from all mystery writers,
·         Finding out what other authors are doing, then deciding if it’s something that will help me—or maybe try—even when outside of my “comfort zone,”
·         Consider I’m continually learning to write. With each book, I should be better,
·         Take a thoughtful step back from advice that begins with phrases like, “You should…” and “You have to…,” and
·         Listening.

Thank you, Marilyn, for letting me babble on here on your blog today. As always, love visiting with you.

Bio for Madeline (M.M.) Gornell:

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell has three published mystery novels—PSWA awarding winning Uncle Si’s Secret (2008), Death of a Perfect Man (2009), and Reticence of Ravens (2010)her first Route 66 mystery. Reticence of Ravens is a 2011 Eric Hoffer Fiction finalist and Honorary Mention winner, the da Vinci Eye finalist, and a Montaigne Medalist finalist.

In 2012 Lies of Convenience—Book One of a Margot Madison-Cross Route 66 Trilogy, and Pronouncements of Ravens—a sequel to Reticence of Ravens are being released. Lies of Convenience is a tale that fictionally connects murder, truths untold, and Chicago’s Lake Michigan with California’s high desert on the opposite end of The Mother Road. Pronouncements of Ravens takes Hubert James Champion III one step forward in his quest for peace and solitude in the Mojave. But before Hugh can come to terms with himself and his desert home, new obstacles rear their ugly heads—one being a heart wrenching murder. No, there is no easy path for Hugh in the Mojave.

Madeline is also a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave in a town on internationally revered Route 66.

Contact and Buy Info from Madeline (M.M.) Gornell:
Madeline’s books are available at, Barnes &, and Smashwords, in paper and e-book formats. You can visit her online at her website, or her BLOG, or email her directly at

Book Giveaway:

M.M. will be giving away 3 copies of her latest book to commenters at the end of the tour. Once again, Buster will do the selecting.

Buy link for Reticence of Ravens:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chomp, a Review

Recently I've been on a YA reading kick, mainly because I'm in a program with Amazon where you can select two items free but you must review them. I have a hug TBR pile and reading a YA book takes less time.

What I'm finding out is YA books are great!

Chomp is by Carl Hiaasen a well known author of adult mysteries. The hero of this story is Wahoo Cray, the son of Mickey, a professional wild animal wrangler. Their Florida backyard is filled with interesting animals, ones that have been rescued and are now being cared for by Mickey and his son.

Along comes a TV show called Expedition Survival that hires Mickey to be the animal wrangler. The star is Derek Badger, an egotistical dummy who knows nothing about survival or animals despite what his doctored TV show has displayed.

Of course things go from bad to worse as Derek displays his ineptness while insisting he can only be shown working with and escaping from animals that are really wild.

A friend from school named Tuna shows up with a black-eye she received from her father. Mickey lets her hide-out with them while the filming of the ridiculous show goes on.

Events spiral from then on, Derek gets in all sorts of trouble including getting bit by a bat and disappearing. Tuna's drunk and deranged father comes looking for her with a gun. Accidents happen with the air boats, Wahoo and Tuna hide out during a lightening storm and much, much more.

Chomp is funny and exciting enough for grown-ups too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Inspiration for Frank, Incense and Muriel by Anne K. Albert

What inspired you to write Frank, Incense and Muriel?

It wasn’t so much inspiration, but rather a personal challenge to see if I could write a book similar to those I love to read - cozy mysteries and sweet romantic suspense stories that keep me guessing and make me smile.

I wanted to take readers for a ride. I wanted to introduce them to memorable characters that walked off the page. I also wanted to tie up all the lose ends, ensure that good triumphs over evil, and the villain gets his comeuppance. And because I avoid stories with violence, strong language, and graphic sex, I was determined to follow those same rules with my own creation. I’m proud to say I accomplished those goals!

Do you have a favorite writing tip?

Two, actually.

I’ve always had difficulty with the ‘write what you know’ concept until I read W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe (on which the movie Field of Dreams was based) said ‘you don’t have to commit suicide to write about it’. That resonated with me. I get it now. Imagination, not experience, allows us to write what we know.

My other writing tip flies in the face of all the how-to books that claim a writer should (and must) do this or that particular thing to succeed. But really, there is no correct way to write.

Some authors plot. Others fly by the seat of their pants and have no idea where the story is going. It took me years to realize I write to find out what happens next. I love the thrill of jotting down a sentence, and thinking, “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!”

While I can plot with the best of them, I won’t! Three incomplete manuscripts prove plotting doesn’t work for me. If I know the outcome, as well as most of the twists and turns, nothing can convince me to spend months to write that story. It would be sheer drudgery and misery!

The same goes for characters. Some writers interview their characters before they begin writing, while others interrogate them with the ferocity of a pit bull, but neither works for me. I just drop them into a situation, pluck a name out of the air, and watch them sink or swim.

Some authors write daily, others in spurts. Some dive in and refuse to come up for air until they reach ‘the end’. All that really matters is getting the story written. How it’s accomplished is up to the individual. What works, works. End of story!

Thanks so much, Marilyn. I’d like to remind readers I’m giving away an e-copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL at the conclusion of the Mystery We Write tour. Leave a comment to automatically be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced April 28 at
Bio: Anne K. Albert’s award winning stories chill the spine, warm the heart and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor. A member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and married to her high school sweetheart for more than a quarter of a century, it's a given she'd write mystery and romantic suspense. When not writing she loves to travel, visit friends and family, and of course, read using ‘Threegio’ her cherished and much beloved Kindle 3G!

Links: Website:

Blurb: FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL is set the week before Christmas when the stress of the holidays is enough to frazzle anyone’s nerves. Tensions increase when a friend begs Muriel to team up with a sexy private investigator to find a missing woman. Forced to deal with an embezzler, kidnapper, and femme fatale is bad enough, but add Muriel’s zany yet loveable family to the mix and their desire to win the coveted D-DAY (Death Defying Act of the Year) Award, and the situation can only get worse. This cozy, comedic mystery is recipient of the prestigious 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Launch for No Bells

No Bells Book Launch

The physical book launch for anyone in the Porterville area will be on Saturday, April 21, 1-4, at Books Off Main, on Oak Street, Porterville CA.

For anyone not familiar with Books Off Main, it is on the side street (Oak) right around the corner from Subway. There are two entrances, one on Oak and another in the back where the parking lot is.

I'd love for you to come and see my latest book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, which I'm now calling a cozy police procedural. You'll be able to catch-up on what all the RBPD officers are doing as well as the latest in their families. This time Officer Gordon Butler is the one in the spotlight.

Refreshments will be available.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

And a Reminder About What's Left on My No Bells Blog Tour

Being somewhat of an idiot, well, maybe that's too strong, or perhaps someone who just has to do everything, I'm actually on two blog tours this month.

My regular one, the one I've been talking abut all this time, and then a short 7 day tour which lands right in the middle of the other one. It begins April 16 and goes through the 27th. By the end of that one everyone will be tired of hearing me promote blogs--my own and the 7 people's blogs who are on this Mystery We Write tour.

So here are the rest of the dates for my tour if you've been following along.

April 14

April 15

I'll post the other dates on the other side of the Mystery We Write tour in case you're still hanging in there with me--which I hope you will be.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Report on Doing My Own Blog Tour

It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I certainly began early enough--maybe too early. Once I'd found blogs to host me, set up the calendar and found out what they wanted in the way of a post, I got right on it. I wrote and sent out all the posts along with a .jpg of the book cover, a photo of me (I sent different photos to each blog host), a blurb about the book, my bio, information about my contest and where the book could be found.

What I thought each person would do is what I always do, set up the blog when my information was received at the day and time it was to post. Not everyone does that, obviously.

I've had to remind a few.

Another problem is the commenting. My contest is to write a comment on the most blogs in order to win the three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series that come before No Bells.

Some on the comments won't post until you copy the strange letters or words in a box. There are some I've had to do two or three times to get the right ones. Not everyone has the patience. For others you have to sign in--and if you aren't someone who does those things this can be a stopping point. If a comment has to be moderated before appearing, that also seems to stop people. Sometimes finding the place to leave a comment is difficult or there is no place to comment.

At this point, I have to people who are running neck and neck to be the winner of the contest and both have had problems at different blogs.

I think there is a lesson here--if a person really wants people to comment on their blog posts, it should be as easy as possible. If someone spams, just remove it. It's not that hard.

Now to make things even more interesting, I am going to be embarking on another blog tour tomorrow. This one is different, there are seven of us blogging on seven days on seven blogs. I'll be hosting each one on my blog, but I'll also be appearing on each of their blogs.

I may be a bit bonkers by the time this is all over with.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Ready to Do Something I Enjoy

This photo was taken at Epicon in San Antonio before one of the sessions.

I was about to give a talk on blogging and blog tours, and yes, I was early as usual. Sitting in the front row is a friend, who is also an early bird, and actually shares the same birthdate, Lorna Collins.

Lorna and I met at a Epicon. I believe it was the one held in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Since that time we've become close friends.

Back to the subject of this post, something I enjoy. Being an instructor at any kind of writers' conference is fun for me. I learned so much at writers' conferences over the years and I feel like I have lots to share at this stage of my writing career.

Writers conferences are invaluable to new writers, but I never attend a writing conferences that I don't learn something new. Mainly because the whole business is changing rapidly and one way to keep up is to attend a writers conference.

Epicon is focused on electronic writing and believe me, keeping up with the changes in this part of publishing can be mind-boggling.

For this Epicon I focused on blogging and blog tours as this is a good way to have a presence on the Internet. I like doing as is probably obvious since I'm in the middle of a blog tour right now. Today you can find me visiting good friend and fellow mystery author M. M. Gornell at

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Darker Than Any Shadow    
By Tina Whittle
ISBN: 9781590585467
2011 release from Poisoned
Pen Press. HC, 291 pages

The second entry in the author’s intriguing series featuring a gun shop owner and a corporate security officer is a winner. Heavily populated with interesting characters, the turbulent love affair between the protagonist informs and leavens what could otherwise have been a run-of-the-mill mystery. Indeed, the identity of the killer, while important to the story, was, to this reader, not as compelling as the characters, and the milieu.

The setting is Atlanta, Georgia, during the run-up to a major poetry slam competition. Some of the characters have known each other from childhood and others seem to have uncertain, even mysterious backgrounds. It’s hot in Atlanta, and gun shop owner Tai Randolph is mentoring her long-time friend, rising poet, Rico. There are teams of competing poets as well as individual efforts and a surplus of egos swirling around as participants prepare.  Then murder intrudes.

The relationship developing between our principal “investigator,” amateur tho she is, Tai Randolph and her lover, Trey Seaver, is much more than casually interesting to observe. Seaver is a former cop with a high level of crisis and SWAT training, excellent skills and more than a little rigidity as regards the rules of life and the law. The almost constant battles between the lovers as they try to accommodate each other is a fascinating piece of this very entertaining novel. I recommend it strongly.
Carl Brookins, Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Doomsday Project

What will the end of days be?  

Disease? Famine? Meteor? Zombie apocalypse? Tsunami? Earthquake? A new ice age?  

I find the ‘end of days’ obsession fascinating.  Yes, it makes great fiction, especially those zombies trudging around, but in reality, the end – at least our own personal end - could be just around the corner.  Mortality is fragile and I think that’s the pull into the destruction scenarios. It’s the struggle with our own mortality.  

Now, as a fiction writer, it’s fun to explore the end of days, but it’s also a hoot to twist things on their head.  Consider this - Could the prophecy be hinting at something more subtle than human extinction?  Could it instead be the beginning of a higher evolution?  

There’s an interesting idea, instead of the destruction of the world, an enlightenment into a new age.
Let’s explore that a little deeper.  

Could it be a new age where we stop depleting the earth’s resources and look to the sun and wind for our energy? 

Is there a new invention on the horizon that will change our lives in the same manner as the automobile and airplane?  

Is there a cure for cancer on the horizon?  

What about a cure for aging, perhaps even immortality?  

The possibilities are endless and that’s what writers seek to define and expand upon, creating worlds out of thin air.  Our worlds can be anywhere in time and space and we are only limited by our imagination.   

The only thing we need to be mindful of is keeping the reader’s suspension of disbelief throughout the course of the story.  However impossible the circumstances, we must make them seem possible, even plausible and that’s an art in itself. 

So, now that I’ve explored the possibilities, I’d love to know what your favorite doomsday books (or movies) are.  

Thanks for swinging into this stop on my Blog Tour and I hope you’ll stop by Bitten By Books on the 20th for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate and if you’d like to check out Crystal Illusions, here’s the blurb as well as the buy link on Amazon. 

Crystal Illusions…
Assistant D.A. Carolyn Hastings has an uncanny knack for putting away criminals. With one of the best prosecution records in recent history, her future as Manhattan’s next District Attorney looks certain. But her sixth sense for winning cases threatens to work against her when she starts seeing a string of murders through the eyes of the killer.

With suspects piling up as fast as bodies, and the motives of those closest to her questionable, Carolyn doesn’t know who to trust. When the FBI assigns Special Agent Steve Williams to the case, Carolyn discloses her deepest fear - that the man she loves may be the one responsible for the city’s latest crime spree.

The only thing Steve knows for sure is Carolyn has an inexplicable psychic connection with the killer, and all the victims have one thing in common…a striking resemblance to Carolyn Hastings.

And he knows it’s only a matter of time before this psychopath knocks on her door.

Taylor has a strong thriller where every single character has reasonable doubt flashing like a neon sign hanging over them, and right from the beginning you are trying to guess who the killer really is. Gripping, rich and magnificent - crime whodunnits don't get any better than this!Author Poppet / Gemma Rice – Author of Quislings, Blindsided, Djinn and Dusan

Until next time,
JET (Jane E. Taylor)