Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Heat Does Not Make a Cool Mystery





A month of on and off temperatures in the nineties and my writing feels like meatloaf reheated for the third time.  It was good the first time, was leftovers the second, and is just garbage on the third go around.  Can I make heat work to my advantage as a writer?

I believe strong settings make the best in murder mysteries.  Like Agatha Christie I like the small country village where a body or two rattles the peace of the place and shakes some long-held secrets out of family trees.  Even when I travel to my Florida residence for the winter, I go to a rural setting.  I journey south for the reasons most do—to get away from the frigid weather here in upstate New York.  I’ve spent enough winters in this place to know I could write about them without experiencing them again.  It’s not as if I need a more recent reminder of how one’s nose hairs freeze together or the difficulty of getting out of the drive when the snowplow shoves all that frozen muck in front of a newly shoveled driveway.

It gets hot in Florida, but we have a thing called air conditioning.  As much as I admire the ingenuity of Yankees, some folks here in the north act as if AC is something only southerners need.  I’ve even seen people driving around here with their windows down when the temperature is ninety or more.  The recent heat waves in the north are a bit unusual, resulting in a run on air conditioners in the local “Big Box” stores which always seem to stock just enough air conditioners to satisfy customers buying early, say in April or May, but not enough for those of us who want one NOW!  Because it’s hot NOW!

Actually, we have two air conditioners which we are not using in this heat.  My husband says it’s not hot enough, but then he was the guy who drove all the way through Texas in three digit temperatures with the windows down in the a car.  He said he was trying to acclimatize himself to the heat, but I don’t think the poor dog understood this.  He also rode his motorcycle out west through Phoenix when the mercury reached 126 degrees.  Head in a helmet at that temperature spells stew to me. 

So here’s my question.  I’ve used natural disasters big and small—a drought, a hurricane, thunderstorms, wind storms, floods, blizzards, and other bad weather—to underscore setting in my work.  Does extreme heat constitute this kind of a disaster?  And if so, how can it be used effectively?  It’s not like the excitement of a tornado bearing down on the area and a murderer searching for another victim in the storm.  Or the killer has tied the protagonist to a pipe in the basement and floodwaters are rising around her.  Or we could go with the tension of two lovers trying to outrun the waters of a tsunami.  How about someone whose AC doesn’t work and the killer stalks them, but they’re too wiped out by the heat to fight back.  That’s as bad as that thrice-served meatloaf.  Here’s the best I can do when heat and setting come together:


The heroine lay on the path where she had tripped over the body of Reginald Beeftin. 

“Oh,” she said to her detective friend, “Someone’s killed poor Reggie.”

“Not so.  He’s simply prostrate from the heat.  No one’s got the energy to bump off people in this weather.”

Our heroine got up, slowly, very slowly, careful not to exert herself too quickly, or her mascara would run.  She kicked Reggie’s body.

“Nope.  He’s dead.”

“Who could have done such a thing?” the detective asked.

“Someone who’s found the secret to keeping cool and can move quickly.”

She spotted a guy wearing sneakers and leaning against a nearby oak tree, a frozen Margarita in his hand. 

She slowly, very slowly walked over to him (by now you can guess why) and said, “Why’d you kill Reggie?”

“Because he tried to steal my drink.”

She nodded.  “Justifiable homicide.”

The detective put away his handcuffs.


You get my point.  Heat is not exciting.  It can make you downright irritable, but it’s not the stuff of which mysteries are made.  Not in my book, anyway.  Okay, fine.  You try, but first you have to wrap your head in a heating pad for an hour or so to get into the mood.

Note: Above was written when the thermometer on our back porch read 93 degrees.  Be sure to duplicate that temperature when you try your story and let me know how it goes.


Short Blurb for Poisoned Pairings

Murder again stalks the breweries of the Butternut Valley and with it, something potentially more explosive—hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a gas exploration technique that could destroy the air, water, and serenity of the region and pit neighbor against neighbor; and this time Hera must pursue the killer alone as well as find some way to bring an end to the fracking controversy before it tears apart her once peaceful community.


About the Author:


Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her writing muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.  She is author of several short stories and of two mystery series, both featuring country gals with attitude: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley and this rural Florida series, Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Killed and Chilled.  For something more heavenly, try her mystery Angel Sleuth.  She invites readers to visit her on her blog and website.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lottie's Legacy by Gloria Getman




 As Marilyn knows, the seeds of Lottie’s Legacy sprouted when I was attending her class/critique sessions at her home in Springville some years back. If it hadn’t been for Marilyn’s encouragement the idea might have dried on the vine. I stumbled around in the weeds for a long time. 

The book would have progressed faster if I hadn’t been distracted by life. During a gap of close to seven years, I worked on the manuscript by fits and starts. Yes, that’s a cliché, but it’s true. I put my house and orange orchard up for sale, sold it, moved twice in one year and built a new house. At times, I gave up on  Lottie's Legacy altogether.

It wasn’t until July 7, 2007 that Lottie got a new lease on life. Pat Smiley was the speaker at Sisters in Crime in Fresno. She told of her trail to the publication of her first book. It took eight years. She was in Elizabeth George's critique group in Southern California. She said that of the five people in that group, she was the only one to finish a book (and subsequently published).

I thought, ‘By golly, I’m going to finish Lottie’s Legacy even if it never gets published.’ I hauled the entire manuscript out of my file cabinet, spread it out on the dining room table and took a scissors to it. I had 22 chapters that needed pruning. I spent an hour cutting and pasting. It was hard to toss out scenes that I liked but didn’t fit. 

I got involved with Visalia Writers and the polishing began. Changes were made, then when I thought it was ready, I sent out e-queries. But while I’d been busy working over the manuscript, the economy fell off a cliff. My e-rejections came back so fast it was breathtaking. 

I’d used CreateSpace to publish Leaves from the Valley Oak, an anthology of work from the Visalia-Exeter Writers’ critique groups. The product turned out to be beautiful, and we were all very pleased. I kept hearing and reading about e-publishing and self-publishing. I decided I wasn’t going to wait for the economy to recover. With the help of my good friend, Sylvia Ross, I developed the cover and self-published the book in June this year. It’s now available at www.amazon.com  and www.amazon.com/kindle, at the Book Garden in Exeter and from the author.

About Lottie’s Legacy:

Deena Powers’ life has come apart at the seams. Her father has been killed in an auto accident, and her aunt is under suspicion for a murder. Convinced her aunt is innocent, Deena intends to prove it. And who better to ferret out the truth? After all, Deena’s a private investigator.

When she arrives in Four Creeks in California’s San Joaquin Valley where her aunt lives, she’s in for a number of surprises, the first being that her former high school sweetheart, Avis “Buzz” Walker, is the officer investigating the crime. Past feelings stir and sparks fly when Deena starts asking questions and sticking her nose into his investigation.

Although a burglary of her office in Southern California is an unwanted distraction, Deena continues doing what she does best, and soon learns that the eccentric dead woman was about as popular around town as a summer dust storm.

Deena is sure she knows who the killer is, but proof is elusive and she is forced to enlist the help of Buzz Walker in order to delve into the dead woman’s colorful past. The trail leads back fifty years where a secret is uncovered, one that involves her aunt. When seemingly unrelated events converge, Deena is brought face-to-face with a ruthless killer.



About Gloria:
Gloria Getman was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Ojai, California, graduated from Nordhoff  High, and Ventura College. Marriage and children followed. Later, when the family moved to Exeter, CA, she went on to graduate from CSU, Bakersfield with a BSN in nursing. After 25 years as an RN, she retired and began writing.

Her nostalgic piece “Hair to Hate” was published in Yesterday’s Magazette and Reminisce Extra. Her poetry has appeared in South Valley Arts, the Sun-Gazette, and the SGS Newsletter. She won third place in the Central Valley Writers Workshop competition in 2007 and third place in the 2010 Lillian Dean First Page Competition for a novel at the Central Coast Writer’s Conference. Three of her short stories are in the Visalia-Exeter Writers’ anthology, Leaves from the Valley Oak.  She’s a member of both Central Coast and San Joaquin Sisters in Crime, plus SLO NightWriters.

Her first novel, Lottie’s Legacy, a cozy mystery, is available at www.amazon.com and www.amazon.com/kindle.

 (And a P.S. from me. I loved this story from the first time I heard it. I'm so glad it's finally a reality!)

Marilyn




Saturday, July 28, 2012

Two Free Writing Workshops in Clovis, CA



  TWO FREE WORKSHOPS
with Christopher Allan Poe, Bonnie Hearn Hill and Hazel Dixon Cooper
JOIN THE PUBLICATION CONNECTION
Saturday, August 4th, 10a.m.; 2p.m.

Book Barn, 650 Clovis Ave., Clovis CA
Call 449.297.9052 to register
Seating is limited.  


Friday, July 27, 2012

PSWA Other Panels and More Photos

Crooks are Stupid was another really fun panel with Michael Angley as the moderator. Bob Haig, Pete Klismet, Mark Bouton, Jack Miller and Mike Black has us all in stitches. I laughed too hard to take notes.

I was on Cozying Up to Your Favorite Cop, so didn't take notes. Mysti Berry moderated and the other panelists were Honora Finkelstein, Susan Smily, Madeline Gornell and Morgan St. James. We shared how we write about the law enforcement characters in our books.

Putting Science in Fiction was fascinating with Susan Smily moderating. Janet Gregor, Bob Doerr, Sue Vondrak and Steve Scarborough shared their expertise and how they put what they knew into their fiction.

Honora moderated the panel on Self-Editing as Mike Black, Barbara Hodges, Madeline Gornell and I told about all the things we look for when self-editing.

The last panel was on Writing Short Stories. Mysti Berry moderated, and the panelists were Kathy Cottrell, John Wills, Barbara Hodges, Mike Black, Joe Haggerty and Morgan St. James. One main point that came out was the story should be believable and entertaining.

Here are more photos:

Science in Fiction Panel
Registration, me and Nancy Farrar

Marilyn Olsen, other wise know as The Queen (PSWA President)
Michelle Perin handing out the prizes for writing--John Wills receiving one of his many.

 That's all folks! It was a great conference and I loved every minute of it. Wonderful people and I learned a lot.

Marilyn

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PSWA/The History of Money Laundering

John Madinger did a great job telling us about money laundering which is recorded in the Bible. Pirates laundered money. Money can be laundered for anything that has value.

Money is part of a transaction system.

Bartering used to be the way of obtaining what you needed. Cash has replaced bartering.

When money is stolen it's difficult to transport.

Laundered money never gets clean, it only appears that way.

Crooks try to move their money into legal businesses--often recording studios.

He shared some stores of money launderers.


John is also an author and his unpublished fiction manuscript won first prize at the PSWA conference. I'll tell you more when it does get published..

Marilyn


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Criminal Profiling

Pete Klismet, former FBI, was our keynote speaker for the PSWA Conference.

His first statement, "We live in a violent country."

Offender profiling is considered the "Third Wave' of investigative science.

Criminal Profiling is:

Applying Research
Years of Experience
Specific Training
Common Sense
Identifying Behavioral Clues
The Reason Why a Person Committed a Particular Crime

Criminal Profiling is not:

Psychic Insight
Mystic Knowledge
Visions
Crystal Ball Thinking
Magic

Steps in a Typical Homicide Investigation:

Who, What, When, Where, How, Why = Who

Some Behavioral Clues:

Overkill (Personal or Anger Issues, Specific to person or general anger.)
Covering up body (Guilt)
Leaving body to be found (wants body to be found and have a good Christian burial)
Covering person's face before killing them
 Postmortem Mutilation
Messy Crime Scene (Out of Control, Not Planned, Younger person)

He offered many steps the profiler takes as he figures out who the person might be, including links between victims, and why the offender chose the victims.

This was a fascinating presentation.

This is a shot of the PSWA registration table.

Marilyn

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PSWA One Author's Story to Self Publication

Kathy Bennett, retired from LAPD, told her story about self-publishing. She's the author of two books, A Dozen Deadly Roses and A Deadly Blessing.

She credits the time she belonged to RWA as her real training ground for learning how to write.

The golden rules for self-publishing are:

1. A good story
2. Professional Editor, which can cost from $5000 to $1000 dollars
3. Professional Book Cover, she paid $450
4. Electronic Formatter

She said, "You have one chance to make a good impression."

Kathy Bennett

Monday, July 23, 2012

PSWA/FBI/Fact and Fiction

John Wills and Herm Groman, both retired FBI, sometimes partners and good friends.

Much of this talk was explaining the multitude of acronyms used by the FBI and believe it or not, it was funny..

There are many different parts of the FBI, with Section Chiefs, and Unit Chiefs. There's a Directorate of Intelligence and a National Security ?Board.

The DEA is more para-military.

The FBI has no jurisdiction in foreign countries.

They do have hostage rescue teams and body guard at times.

There are FLT Teams who do quick response to foreign incidents.

If you ever get the opportunity to hear these two, you won't be sorry.

More shots of the audience.

This was a great conference and we learned lots.

Marilyn

Sunday, July 22, 2012

PSWA/Fight Scenes in Writing

We had a terrific panel on writing fight scenes. John Schembra moderated and the panelists were Michael Black, Bob Doer and Mark Bouton.

One big things they all agreed on was when shooting even when 5 to 7 yards apart, they don't always hit each other.

In physical altercations, the places to hit are the eyes, nose, trachea, groin, side of knee, top of foot.

When writing about weapons, you need to know the correct phrases in martial arts, different handguns and know what they do, how many bullets the gun holds. Remember, there is no safety catch on a revolver.

They all agreed that when someone is shot they don't fly backwards like you see on TV and movies--they drop to ghe ground.

Adrenalin can give you incredible strength.

Taser doesn't make you unconscious.

Don't use too much force for the situation.

No particular round can do a certain things.

Handguns can't stop a care or blow out a tire. The tire will leak air but still be driveable.

One shot of the fascinated audience.

And another.

Marilyn

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tales from the Darkside and Getting the Most out of Word


Next up was John Bray and Tales from the Darkside.

This topic was all about the police departments' disciplinary system. He told many interesting tales about bad things the police did and how they were caught.



Tim Dees had a terrific power point presentation about using Word.

He explained how to make a table of contents.

He introduced us to Scrivener for long form works and much, much more.


You really needed to be there for this.

And this is a photo of my hubby, Hap, with Nancy Farrar. They took care of book sales all through the conference--and believe me, they were super busy.

Marilyn

Friday, July 20, 2012

They Ain't All Named Bundy, Dahmer or Gacey

No, this wasn't about serial killer, but about another most horrible kind of serial criminals, molesters.

Kathy Cotrell, a forensic nurse and now the publisher at Wild Rose Press gave this quite unsettling but timely presentation given what just unfolded about Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.

Her first statement was how she tried to incorporate what's going on in the world today without grossing us out.

She mentioned a gynecologist that was also a sexual predator.

She talked about Frank Shorter who ran to school to avoid his father's beatings. He couldn't tell anyone because his father was an important man in the town and no one would believe Frank.

Another big thing she pointed out is that a sexual offender grooms his victims. When some try to tell no one believes them. Or they don't report because they feel they will be blamed.

In one Jewish community, when a victim did tell what a rabbi had done to him, the whole family was banished.

In western New York, two twenty-year old sisters were arrested for using 14 year-olds for prostitutes.

An invisible war is going on. She mentioned assaults and rapes in the military. A volunteer in a hospital who raped patients. Massage therapists who put up with important clients who are groupers because of the big tips. Abuse of power by a police chief and cover-ups that followed. More and more teachers are being found out as molesters.


Kathy did a great job with a tough subject.

Marilyn

Thursday, July 19, 2012

COP TALK

Billie Johnson and me concentrating. I took lots of notes. In the background you can see
Lynn Bettinger, Hap and Nancy busy selling books.


I couldn't find a photo of the panel on Cop Talk so I thought I'd show you what many of us
 were busy doing during the conference. But here are my notes:

Tim Dees headed up this panel and the main point was that authors should get the jargon and 
slang that law enforcement use--with the warning that these words are not the same across the 
country.

Mike Black, who worked in Chicago as a police officer, said never call an offender a perp. 
He would be a suspect or perhaps "a-- h---."

John Bray (retired cop) used these phrases: "being in the coop" meant sleeping on the job, 
"shoefly" being someone from Internal Affairs..

Pete Klismet (FBI)  said that FBI has more than their share of acronyms and gave a long list.

Kathy Bennett (20 years with LAPD)  said in L.A. the black and white was called a shop car.
FFBI, eyeballing someone, RMP, Radio Motor Parol; SIV Special Investigation Unit, Puzzle 
Palace, 
FBI Headquarters, SAC Special Agent in Charge and she had many more. 

They all talked about the Blue Flamer--someone who moved up through the ranks quickly 
without spending much time on patrol.

Other things that I don't really know who to attribute them to were:

Truly Evil Man (might be the captain)

I think Tim Dees (was with the Reno PD) talked about making up names for people such as: 
Dancing with Truth, Believes His Own Publicity, Has His Felony Shoes On, Mr. T. Starter 
Kit, In the Pocket (on call).

This was a fun panel and the lesson learned here is to find out the jargon used by the law 
enforcement in the area you are writing about.

Marilyn  

(Tim Dees took all the photos I'm displaying in this series about the PSWA Conference.) 

And another P.S., I don't take shorthand. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PSWA's Crime Scene

Poor soul came to unexpected end at our conference.

All during the conference this poor soul lay dead in the corner. All of the curious stopped by and checked things out--including the hotel maids who weren't exactly sure what the heck was going on. One even asked if we weren't going to take him away.

PSWA Members, Mike Black (retired police officer and very much active mystery author) and Steve Scarborough, retired CSI, prepared the scene and told us about crime scene investigation, which has little relationship to what we see on TV.

The process begins when the crime is reported. First officers on the scene make sure the person's dead. Any suspects still on the scene are arrested and the safety of others ensured. The crime scene is secured and protected. Witnesses are located and identified.

Supervisor and coroner are called. 

First responders have a crucial role, the initial observation upon arrival.

Some tips: Never underestimate the strength of stupid people in large crowds.

Protect the scene and make it was big as possible. It is necessary to keep everyone out, including fellow officers.

The CSI people do not wear all the wonderful clothes seen on TV-they aren't paid that well. They also don't have the super computers that are depicted on TV.  Real CSI do not follow the evidence into the lab.

Evidence is collected in systematic and proper fashion making every effort not to cross contaminate. Need to change gloves and booties from one area to the next.

Three components of the investigation.
 1. Physical Evidence.
 2. Interviewing Witnesses
 3. Interrogation of Suspects

Direct or testimonial evidence.
Circumstantial evidence
Physical or real evidence.

Scene Recognition.
Initial assessment and documentation
Photos/ Diagrams
Evidence Collection (Paper bags not plastic.)

Various types of evidence:
Fingerprints, Weapons, Information, Arrests

This was a great on-going presentation--and no we didn't find out who did it, but we made some great guesses.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PSWA Conference in Retrospect

Over the next few days I'll be giving a few tidbits about what we all heard at the Public Safety Writers Association's conference.

Our first presentation was by Editor (and president of PSWA), Marilyn Olsen and Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press about publishing and your options.

Both agreed that you should provide as many details as possible about what you'll do to sell your book.

You should match your goals to your expectations.

With the big publishing houses, there is top down distribution that won't happen with a small press.

Big presses will submit books for review in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal--and the review will happen. Small presses must work to get reviews.

The author must be tremendously involed in the marketing.

If you're self-pubbed, you do all the work. Those who do it successfully must be admired  Self-published books must look like they were done by a publishing company.

Billie Johnson told about all the the things that must be on the back of the book like bar codes and ISBN numbers, etc.

There was much, much more, wish you could have been there.

And one big plus, Oak Tree Press sent two copies of Final Respect and Bad Tidings to the conference. These are the very first books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

In Final Respects you'll learn a lot about Doug Milligan and Ryan Strickland. The cover is a bit different looking in that it looks like it's nighttime rather than day time. Bad Tidings no longer has the wrong logo at the top of the page. To see the corrected covers, go to Amazon.

I'll write more about these books later on.

Tomorrow, I'll report on Cop Talk, a most interesting panel.

Marilyn

Monday, July 16, 2012

PSWA Over for this Year

The day ended with a spectacular thunderstorm complete with lightning and hail. by this time we were at my sister's in the northern part of Vegas.

PSWA conference was spectacular! All the speakers did a great job and imparted knowledge and entertained.

Of course there were a few glitches, but I doubt if anyone noticed.

Yesterday, we had two more panels and the crime scene was explained.

After a spectacular lunch (they all were) the writing contest awards were given.

When everyone left, the board read the evaluations--and suggestions will be taken in to consideration.

I have a to-do list a mile long.

Marilyn

More when I'm back home.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Absolutely Amazing 2nd Day of PSWA Con.

Such a great day!

We learned about money laundering, science in fiction, how cozy writers and other genre fiction authors use public safety officers in their fiction.

We learned about crime scenes and also misconceptions about profiling. We heard all about self-publishing on Kindle and Nook.

There was more and when I ge home I'll post in far more detail. Right now my notes are still in ths conference room.

Tomorrow we'll be finding out about the crime scene.

Have loved visiting with everyone.

I can't believe it's nearly over.

Marilyn

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yesterday at PSWA

What an excitig day!

My first job was getting everything ready for the book sales. Books had to be unpacked and set up. Fortunately, people arrived to help.

The day was filled with fascinating presentations: serial rapists and not just those who have been in the news; how to write a fight scene with a panel of those who have done it; what you didn't know about the FBI; when cops go bad; and much,much more.

WE'VE GOT A DEAD GUY LYING IN THE CORNER!

Yep, and he's surrounded by clues and crime scene tape. We'll learn more about him today.

PSWA is a neat conference. If you want to meet some terrific people in all sorts of public safety fields who are also writers or interested in writing, you should consider joining and coming to the conference next year.

http://www.policewriter.com/

More tomorrow.

Marilyn

Friday, July 13, 2012

First Report from PSWA

Registration for the conference went well. People began arriving right away, Mike Black, Shauna Washington, Nancy Farrar, and hubby worked hard as did Keith Bettinger who hauled all needed supplies and books to the conference center;

First blip. congerence programs didn"t get inyo thr packets. Made copies right away.

So many good friends are here as well as new folks.

Had a chance to talk to everyone.

It all begins at 9 a.m today.

And I forgot yo take pictures. Others did though.

Marilyn

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Registration Day for PSWA

If all goes as planned, we'll head over to the Orleans Hotel after lunch today. We'll register, head for our room and get settled.

A few minutes before 3 we'll head up to the conference room lobby with the registration list and hopefully find a table set up with several chairs behind it. Those I know will be there right away are Keith Bettinger, the site coordinator, Marilyn Olsen, PSWA's president, and probably Mike Black who has been my back-up in case of an emergency.

This part is one of the most fun. Those who are there helping with registration get to see everyone first. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people. We have a great and interesting bunch coming this year.

Along about 6 p.m., the evening get-together will begin. More people will trickle in and there'll be lots of chit chatting. I'll report more after it is over--and hopefully I'll remember to take some photos.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Taking Off for Las Vegas


It is no easy task to head off for a trip as far as Las Vegas. Because we want to spend as much time as possible with my sis and her hubby, who now live in Vegas, we want to leave early. You have no idea how hard that is--not for me, but for my husband. He takes far longer to get dressed than I ever have in my whole life.

Then there are the cats and the dog to feed. We always have someone come in to do this while we're gone and though hubby has elaborate instructions on how this should be done, I doubt anyone does more than feed and water them twice a day.

We have two inside cats--but many more outside feral cats. Where they all come from, I'm not sure. We've attempted catching and getting some neutered, but as soon as this is accomplished, they disappear.

But, as they say, I digress. We leave muscular son and his many dogs home to hold down the fort. He and they do a fine job.

Our pattern is to drive as far as Bakersfield for our first stop and to pick up two iced vanilla coffees. We might even have breakfast there. We enjoy the drive over the Tehachapi mountains, not so much the long, long drive through the desert. We might stop for lunch in Barstow, or the outskirts, depending upon how well we're doing.

And then it's the long, long drive into Vegas. Fortunately, we can now take that wonderful loop that takes us away from the strip and up to the base of the mountains (traffic is scary but not nearly as bad as it is on the strip). Once we can see Lone Mountain, we know we're nearing my sister's house.

Oh, and how wonderful it is to see my sis and hubby. The last time was in September at our Mitchell Family reunion. I suspect we'll also have a visit from my niece, Dee, and her two kids.

You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to this. My sis was a neighbor for a long time and we saw one another a lot. I miss having her so close.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012



Getting ready for the Public Safety Writers Association's conference. This one takes a bit more planning than other conferences mainly because I'm the program chairperson. As such the biggest part of my work is done though.

What I'm taking with me:

Clothes for the two days at my sister's house and the four days at the conference. (For me that always includes what jewelry I'm going to wear as well as the shoes.)

The prizes I'm contributing to the raffle table.

My copy of the program and the list of registered attendees.

Some "Ask Me About my Book" pins leftover from another conference for anyone who wants one.

A notebook to take notes during the conference.

Copies of my latest books and stands to set them on.

Business cards to hand out.

My little computer which I will use when I'm not at the conference.

My Kindle if I have any time to read.

My cell phone.

All the cords to the above so I can keep them charged.

The notebook where I am keeping track of timelines, characters, and what happens next for my next book that I'm writing.

That might be it.

One of the big pluses of this conference--and there are many--is I get to spend two days and nights with my sister who lives in Las Vegas.




Monday, July 9, 2012

My Two Encounters With Perry Mason

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason.


Most of you probably remember Perry Mason the TV Show, but I remember Perry Mason, the radio program. Once when I was a teen, my mom and I went to see the live broadcast of the Perry Mason show. I don't remember too much about it, not even Raymond Burr. I do remember getting autographs from other stars when they went to their cars in the parking lot behind the studio.

As a married woman, we lived in Oxnard. When I learned Earl Stanley Gardner, the author of all those Perry Mason books, not only lived in and practiced law in Ventura, but some of his books were set in Oxnard, I started reading as many of the books as I cold find in the library.

Perry Mason, the TV show came on, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you I was hooked. I watched every episode faithfully.  The evening I went into labor with our third child was also the night for the latest Perry Mason episode. It was a particularly exciting episode with an intriguing puzzle--and my labor pains were coming about 3 minutes apart.

My husband started pacing the floor. "Come on, Marilyn, you don't want to have the baby on our couch."

Frankly, I didn't care. I wasn't leaving until the end of the show. I had to know how Perry Mason was going to point out the killer.

Before the music ended, hubby had me on my feet and we were out the door. Fortunately the hospital was only about three miles from our house. We arrived in plenty of time and our first boy  made his entrance into the world without difficulty.

Of course I can remember the births of all our kids--but this one was a bit different than the rest, thanks to Perry Mason.

Marilyn

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review of Blind Goddess


Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

Anne Holt is a Norwegian author of crime fiction. I’d never read her before despite the fact that her first book, 1222, was an Edgar Award nominee.


The story begins with the discovery of mutilated body in Oslo, the capital of Norway, by Karen Borg, a lawyer, as she was out jogging. Hanne Wilhelmsen, a detective inspector and her partner deduce that this murder and that of a less than reputable lawyer are probably connected.

Drugs seem to be the main motivation, but maybe not in the startling way the plot unfolds. Far more people become involved who seem to have pieces of what is a most complicated puzzle. Everyone who knows something, including the top players in the government seem to be hiding something. The closer the investigators get to finding out the truth, the more dangerous it becomes for all those involved.

For those who love a mystery with many surprises along the way, plenty of action, and insights into the characters’ private lives and motives, Blind Goddess is most satisfying.

Marilyn 

(Simon and Schuster sent me this book with no expectations as to whether or not I'd write a review.)