Thursday, February 28, 2013

The End of February and What's Coming in March

Can you believe that this is the last day of February?  Last month was busy as most months are. Some of it wasn't easy but there were many highlights. Best, of course, was getting to see my son in the brain trauma center and seeing that he is finally getting the treatment that he needs. It's been a long haul since he was injured the Sunday a.m. before Christmas. It took an angel (nurse) from the insurance company to turn things around.

My latest book came out, Dangerous Impulses, and I got to see it for the first time at the San Gabriel Valley Lit Fest.
Also visited my family down in the Wildomar area--way southern California--and was able to see the new home of my eldest daughter and her hubby--spent time with their kids and grandkids. Fun stuff!

I've spent some time planning promotion for Dangerous Impulses, worked on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery--but not enough on the next Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I have to keep writing in order to have two books a year.

Looking forward to March--if all goes well and life doesn't interfere too much, I have a blog tour for Dangerous Impulses beginning tomorrow when I'll be visiting two blogs.

I'm also going to be flying off to Vancouver WA--well actually flying to Portland OR and getting a shuttle to the hotel where Epicon is being held this year. I am going to be presenting there on blogging and blog tours. On Saturday, I'll be at the Epic E-Festival, so anyone in the area who'd like to see me that's Saturday, March 16.

Most exciting of all, the last week in March, my granddaughter, her husband and their baby I haven't seen yet will be visiting. I am so looking forward to that. My granddaughter lived with me or next door to me for many years before moving all the way to North Carolina.

What are you going to be doing in March? Anything exciting? I hope you'll follow along with me on my blog tour.

F. M. aka Marilyn

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WRITING THE NOVEL by Dianne Harman

   One of the things I’m constantly asked from people who have read my novel, Blue Coyote Motel, is how did I get the idea for the book?

   After writing Blue Coyote and my soon to be released book, Tea Party Teddy, I’m convinced there is no formula. Coyote happened in a strange way. I had always wanted to write a novel, but like so many people, I didn’t think I had the credentials for it. I hadn’t attended numerous fiction workshops or seminars; I hadn’t spent weeks at writing retreats, etc. My husband gave me Stephen King’s book, On Writing, which freed me from all the things which had held me back. King kind of says, like the Nike logo, “Just Do It!” But what to write?

   We were at a wedding in October in the old section of Palm Springs, California, at a boutique hotel which had recently been renovated. It was 106 outside and the air-conditioner was silently wonderful. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel good’ drug in the air-conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?”

 He looked at me and said, “There’s your book.” I started writing on my iPad about ten minutes later. The first character was a salesman whose life was not going well. He stopped at a motel in the desert near Blythe. He felt much better the next morning after his time in an air-conditioned room. And so it went.

   From there the characters seemed to be everywhere. At dinner a priest sat at the table next to us wearing the biggest gold cross I’ve ever seen. He became a character. The following night at the wedding dinner I was seated next to a couple from Brazil who owned gold mines. They became characters. Within a couple of days the rest of the characters appeared. The book took on a life of its own. I’m not sure whether I wrote it or chronicled it. If I had sketched it out in detail ahead of time, it never would have evolved the way it did. The characters seemed to tell me how it should go. It was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had.

   While I was finishing Coyote up, I attended three receptions in Sacramento where my husband was a Senator. At all three of them I kept running into a new legislator who was the most conservative anti-illegal immigrant person I’d ever met. The more I kept thinking about him, I knew there was a story there and so I began to write Tea Party Teddy, the story of a fanatic who eventually loses everything. It’s a tell-all California political novel with an overlying love story. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

   Now I’m convinced there’s a story everywhere. If you’ve ever wanted to write, “Just Do It.” 


You'll never look at motel air conditioning the same way after you read Blue Coyote Motel.

Blue Coyote Motel is a suspense filled thriller about six travelers who stop and spend the night at a remote California desert motel. Each of them leaves the following morning "feeling good," but unaware that they have inadvertently become addicted to a gaseous drug piped into their rooms. '

Jeffrey, the owner of the motel, is a scientist who was recently fired by a prestigious Southern California drug manufacturer for giving an anti-aging hormone he discovered to his beautiful Latina wife. Spinning slowly into the depths of insanity, he decides to test the effectiveness of another of his drug discoveries on unsuspecting motel guests. He calls the drug Freedom because it frees people from depression, anger, stress, grief, and aggression. Jeffrey has grandiose plans to make Freedom available throughout the world in order to bring about peace and harmony, but instead it causes grief and chaos in the lives of the motel guests. The cast of characters includes a defrocked priest, a Native American pediatrician, a wealthy widow, a Brazilian couple who owns gold mines and a salesman intent on finding himself.

Blue Coyote Motel presents an engaging look at the human frailties present in all of us.


Dianne Harman draws her stories and characters from a diverse business and personal background. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, leaving that industry and opening two yoga centers where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors. Dianne has traveled extensively throughout the world, most recently dividing her time between Huntington Beach, California and Sacramento, California, where her husband is a Senator. A gourmet cook, she has entertained Governors, Congressmen and numerous other political figures in her homes. An avid reader, Dianne brings the richness of her life experiences to her novel, Blue Coyote Motel.
Her second novel, Tea Party Teddy, a tell-all California political novel, will be out in early 2013.

Twitter @DianneDHarman

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Murder at the Blue Plate Cafe, Judy Alter

Many thanks to Marilyn for giving me a chance to talk about my new series, Blue Plate Mysteries.
I love being an author, but the truth is that in another life I would be a chef and a restaurant owner—or should I say in my next life, I “will” be. I love to cook, and I’ve always longed to run a small restaurant that serves the kind of food I like—sandwiches with innovative fillings, soups, salads, sort of tea room food with a twist. But I know that owning a restaurant easily leads to disaster and potential financial ruin, so for several years I scratched that itch by helping out once a week at The Star Café, located in Fort Worth’s Stockyards National Historic District and owned by good friends Don and Betty Boles. It’s no tea room. Specialties of the house are steak, chicken-fried steak, and really good hamburgers. The clientele are mostly but not all from the cowboy side of Fort Worth’s culture, including many whom plan to go dancing later in the night and others who come to have supper before the latest show at Billy Bob’s, that extravaganza of a club/dance hall/bar where the best country/western singers perform, including Willie Nelson.
At The Star, I ran the cash register, seated and visited with guests, rolled endless quantities of silverware. Sometimes I served salads and even occasional meals, though I never could arm carry—stack a row of plates on my arm to take to a table. With me, it was strictly one dish in one hand and another in the other. The kitchen was so small it surprised me, but it had several work stations and, depending on the night, seemed to work well. My oldest son, who worked in restaurants since he was fifteen, worked there briefly while finishing up college as a nontraditional (older) student and declared it an efficient work space. In short, I got to see both the fun of restaurant life and its perils. And I learned about kitchens and menus and charming customers and difficult ones.
All that poured into my newest mystery series, The Blue Plate Mysteries. The first book,
Murder at the Blue Plate Café, launched the week of February 11 as an e-book with print copies due soon. The Blue Plate Café series is not based on The Star but on a restaurant in a small East Texas town where my family and I ate frequently while visiting close friends who had a ranch nearby. The Shed in Edom serves much the same kind of food as The Star. I remembered the interior of the café perfectly and tried to recreate it in words. But for the kitchen scenes I was seeing in my mind the kitchen at The Star and the camaraderie in it. Murder at the Blue Plate Café was fun to write because I had all that background in my head. I hope it shows in the book.
            But please don’t mistake the happenings in Wheeler, a fictional town, for those in Edom or its neighbor, Ben Wheeler. I’m sure those two towns have never had murders and scandals such as those in Wheeler.

Murder at the Blue Plate Café Blurb:
When twin sisters Kate and Donna inherit their grandmother’s restaurant, the Blue Plate Cafe, in Wheeler, Texas, there’s immediate conflict. Donna wants to sell and use her money to establish a B&B; Kate wants to keep the cafe. Thirty-two-year-old Kate leaves a Dallas career as a paralegal and a married lover to move back to Wheeler and run the café, while Donna plans her B&B and complicates her life by having an affair with her sole investor.
Kate soon learns that Wheeler is not the idyllic small town she thought it was fourteen years ago. The mayor, a woman, is power-mad and listens to no one, and the chief of the police department, newly come from Dallas, doesn’t understand small-town ways. Worst of all, blunt, outspoken Donna is not well liked by some town folk.
The mayor of Wheeler becomes seriously ill after eating food from the café, delivered by Donna’s husband, and the death of another patron makes Kate even more suspicious of her grandmother’s sudden death.  When Donna’s investor is shot, all fingers point to Donna and she is arrested. Kate must defend her sister and solve the murders to keep her business open, but even Kate begins to wonder about the sister she has a love-hate relationship with. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s guidance is really off the wall.

Judy Alter’s Bio:

          An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of three books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. With Murder at the Blue Plate Café, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.
Before turning her attention to mystery, Judy wrote fiction and nonfiction, mostly about women of the American West, for adults and young-adult readers. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Public Library.


 (From Marilyn, this book sounds delightful. Thanks for visiting Judy and telling us all about it.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oak Tree Authors at the San Gabriel Valley Litfest

Last weekend was so full I'm still recovering.

On Sunday, we (miiddle daughter who did all the driving) left Wildomar and headed for West Covina and the San Gabriel Vally Litfest. As usual, it took awhile to figure out exactly where we ought to be, upstairs in City Hall in an open space that turned out to be very windy and cold. And at times too noisy to talk thanks to musicians playing and singing close by. That wasn't good because in order to get people interested in your books you need to be able to talk to them and they have to hear you.

A group of OTP authors
Introducing myself to a delightful woman.

We continue to chat.

I jumped from one table to another--this one I shared with Larry and Lorna Collins, me and daughter, Lisa.

Oak Tree Press authors
 Sunny Frazier, Aquisitions Editor for OTP, Marja McGraw, Me, John Brantingham the brains behind the SGV Litfest, Marta Chausee, Lorna Collins, Morgan St. James.

As you may notice, I now am wearing a shawl, the wind was really cold sailing through that open space.

I understand that on Friday and Saturday far more people came by--that was not the case on Sunday.
We had our readings in the evening and they were not well-attended, perhaps Sunday evening isn't the best time for this kind of event.

In any case, I was tickled to see everyone and have the opportunity to visit with them a bit. Sold one book and traded books with two authors.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Most Clever Birthday Party

This past weekend one of the exciting things I did was to attend great-grandaughter Peyton's 11th birthday party.  My granddaughter, Peyton's mom, did a super job planning at putting it on.

Birthday cupcakes, Peyton, her dad, grandpa and mom

The girls in two teams went on a scavenger hunt and here they are checking to see who got the most items. (It was a tie.)

She was delighted with her gifts as you can see.

It was an outdoor movie, they had heaters around and everyone got a blanket. So much fun. There was a table with popcorn and all sorts of candy and everyone could help themselves.

And the movie begins.

The movie was "Here Comes the Boom." Great movie. I'd seen it in the theater, but this was more fun, the girls all cheered in the appropriate places.

Earlier in the day we went to Garrett's basketball game. I smiled through the whole game. 2nd grader boys are a kick! One kid skipped instead of running from one end of the court to the other. I didn't see any future basketball stars though they sure all tried hard. I'd like to see how they play in 3rd grade.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bad News for a Ghost by Jim Guigli

What Jim has to say about Bad News for a Ghost:
My novelette, Bad news for a Ghost, started out as a short story, and quickly grew to almost eighteen thousand words.  It is now available, with a bonus story, Bart’s First Arrest, on Amazon for ninety-nine cents.
It is, as I label it, a Bart Lasiter mystery.  The main character, private detective Bart Lasiter, began life in my Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Grand Prize winning sentence:
Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said, You've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.
You see, I love classic detective noir.  I decided that my BLFC sentence should parody the great private eye stories.  Those stories often begin when a beautiful and wealthy woman enters the impoverished detective’s office and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.  The woman could be innocent, or she could be guilty, but we all know that the detective will be challenged by her feminine promise, and that she will not be telling him the whole truth.
From that sentence, I imagined Bart, a private detective who — no surprise — loved burritos and women, and has a crummy office with one small window.  He is always on the edge of poverty — that’s the only kind of detective who would pray for clients who were mysterious women instead of deep-pocketed corporations.  Though Bart loves detective movies, especially Bogart’s The Maltese Falcon, he hasn’t absorbed his movies’ cautions regarding women. 
After decades of working in Berkeley, California, I decided that Bart Lasiter had worked as a patrol officer for the city of Berkeley for twelve years before moving north to Sacramento to open his own private detective agency, Lasiter Investigations.  While Bart loves his historic Old Sacramento neighborhood, and he’s okay at investigation, he’s never been very good at finances, or women.  Bart and his adopted cat, Agamemnon, would be homeless if his live-in office were owned by anyone other than his former Berkeley PD training officer and friend, Fred Clifford, now retired and living on the Sacramento River.   

Bart is an imperfect human being who carries baggage from his teenage, summer-of-love hippie mother.  She named him after Black Bart, the Wells Fargo bandit, and then dragged him through the sixties and seventies from one People’s Commune to another.  He became a survivor and developed a vision of law and order.

As Bad News for a Ghost opens, Bart is barely managing to stay afloat in the PI business after seven years.  Bart’s savior is a beautiful Sacramento TV reporter, Marti Planker.  She offers him a small amount of money — not enough to square his debts, but it’s his only offer.  She wants him to help her catch a ghost.   


Bart is very skeptical, and the money isn’t much — but she might be offering additional considerations.  And publicity.  Though being burned by beautiful women before has made him more cautious, he can’t resist a woman who is both beautiful and counting on him.  Bart takes the case and goes deep, exploring Sacramento’s hidden Gold Rush history, while he exposes himself to unknown forces, possibly not from this life.

Giveaway: The first ten people who post a comment will receive a copy of Jim Guigli’s novelette!

About Jim Guigli:
Jim Guigli began writing in his sixties after retirement, entering the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in 2005.  See more bio at

His first published fiction longer than one sentence is now available exclusively on Kindle.
I want to thank Marilyn for this opportunity to visit today.

Jim Guigli

 P.S. Remember, the first ten people who comment will receive a free Kindle copy of Bad News for a Ghost.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith