Showing posts from July, 2014

Reading Books Outside Our Preferred Genre

by Elaine Faber
We all have specific genre we prefer to read, whether it be romance, western, sci-fi, cozy mystery or thriller. As authors, our novels are likely written in our own preferred reading genre. But, we also have author-buddies whose novels are written in another genre, completely contrary to our specific interest. It is customary to attend our author-buddy’s book launch and purchase their book as a means of showing out support. Our few dollars also help finance their next book. We’ve come to expect them to reciprocate and support our efforts, come to our book launch, even knowing our titles may not be their preferred reading genre.
So we’ve bought our friend’s book, lugged it home and placed it on a shelf where it draws dust and fly-specks over the next few months.
So here’s the question. Was it enough to support our author-buddy and buy her book? Do we actually have to read it now, too?
I think we do.
Sooner or later, our dear author-buddy, whom we wouldn’t hurt for the world…

Speaking Anxiety by Gerrie Ferris Finger

I make these plans months in advance — or my publicist the wonderful Patti Nunn does — to speak at conferences or festivals like the upcoming Decatur Book Festival in the suburb of Atlanta on August 30-31. The festival — the largest in the Southeast — is sponsored in part by The Atlanta Journal Constitution. I’ve lived and worked in Atlanta for over thirty years, twenty of which I spent as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So I’m looking forward to giving a twenty minute speech, right? Well, I’ll be happy when I step off the podium, hoping that I have conquered the foremost of my fears.
Fear of speaking in public
Fear of what people think of me and my presentation
Fear of losing control
Fear of looking foolish
Internet speech experts are good sources of advice, unless you’re a blithering case and then youneed a shrink. I’m not there yet.
For my next big presentation,  I’m going to take my cues from the Mayo Clinic:
Preparation is everything:
I write my speeches and condense in…

Working Narcotics Undercover- David Cropp

One of the most dramatic presentations at the PSWA conference was David Cropp giving an in-depth insider's view of what it's like to work undercover in the war on drugs. Cropp is a 32 year veteran of the Sacramento Police Department, holding many positions. He retired in 2008 as a detective sergeant.

He correlates the high crime rate to heroin addiction.

To be undercover, the person needs to build his character as a bad guy. He has to be flexible in order to be safe.

He needs to understand the client and have a Plan BE, knowing when to call it off.

He needs to appreciate different perspectives without accepting them.

Everyone needs food and shelter. Maladaptive environments create maladaptive behaviors.

If you're undercover, must have a cognitive filter.

When undercover, you must always be looking for rip-offs and weapons without looking like you are.

Listen to how the other person communicates.

You must understand the person you are dealing with.

Must have the smarts to …

Mystery and Intrigue Book Signing

In case the printing is too small, the event is this Saturday, July 26 from 1 to 4 at the Clovis Book Barn on Clovis Ave., Clovis CA. (You did get that it's Clovis, right? I'm smiling, of course.)
Featuring several highly acclaimed local authors who specialize in tales of mystery and intrigue – including Tim Desmond, Marilyn Meredith, Garner Scott Odell, and Gary Wayne Walker – we’ll have an afternoon of discussion, reading, book signing, mingling and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public, so stop by, beat the heat, and enjoy the festivities! Clovis Book Barn, 640 Clovis Ave., Clovis CA.
Meet the Authors!
“The Doc” by Timothy Desmond
Retired high school science teacher Tim Desmond is an artist and author in Fresno. He has been writing since the 1970s and his first novel, For Thou Art With Me, published 2006, is a World War II love and war story. He was raised in Madera and on a rural California grain ranch. His scholarship to attend California College of Arts and…

PSWA Panel on Weapons for Writers

Unfortunately, I didn't get a photograph of this panel. The participants were:

John Schembra, Rich Wickliffe, Dave Freeland, Mark Bouton and Ron Corbin. Mike Black moderated.

Mike began the panel by pointing out that Americans have a fascination for guns.

When one of the retired officers was in the LAPD, everyone carried a .38 special.
Detectives changed to Glocks.

These are the weapons that were described:  Smith and Wesson Semi-Automatic with 10 to 18 rounds.

Smith and Weston 357 Magnum

Shot Gun

45 Caliber pistols

FBI carried Glocks

Glocks are light and often carried by female officers

Officer learn to count the round.

Problems with movie and TV depictions:

A 2 oz. bullet doesn't fly through the walls.

Chambering rounds when there should have already been one in the chamber.

Poor weapon handling.

It only takes 2 seconds to empty an AR 15.

On the show 24, cellphones always has bars and a charged battery.

Guns still kick. There's a heavy drag on the first round.

Tailor the…

Explanation of the Many Investigative Organizations of the Department of Defense

Mike Angley, a retired UAF Colonel and career Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (the USAF version of NCIS of TV and Mark Harmon fame). He is the author of the Child Finder trilogy.
He gave a great presentation on all the various investigative organizations within the Department of Defense--what they do and what they don't do. 
They respond to all felonies, murders, rape, etc. under their jurisidiction and do some counter intelligence.
Their are special operatives such as Navy Seals, Green Berets, and civilian special agents who can arrest both military and civilians.
They have concealed carry authority.
NCIS is all civilian.
None of them have a mortuary or crime lab. The Army runs the crime lab for all services.
(This means there is no Abbie or Duckie.)
They all do have forensic agents.
They all work together much better than they used to.
Of course there was a lot more--but if you want to know things like this, you should…

Using Dialogue

This was one of the panels at the PSWA conference.

Moderator: Mike Black
Participants: Frank Hickey, Thonie Hevron, Ilene Schneider, Janet Greger, Barbara Hodges
Set the tone in dialogue
Eavesdrop to see how people talk
Try to put as much of the story into dialogue as possible.Give your characters tics and tells.

Use a light touch with dialects
Read the dialogue out loud
Must move the plot forward or reveal character
Leave out the mundane things we say.
(They talked about setting too, but I didn't take any notes on it. Have no idea why, possibly because someone was talking to me about something.)
P.S. There also was a panel on point-of-view which I've discussed several times on this blog.
Another topic was working with an editor and here's a few tips from that one:
Everyone needs an editor. 
Belong to a critique group and use a content editor.
An editor can make you a better writer.

Tips for Writing Your Novel

After earning degrees in sociology and law, Mark Bouton joined the FBI and nabbed killer, kidnappers, and bank robbers across America for 30 years. Now he writes mystery and suspense novels and is willing to share his expertise with fellow members of PSWA,

Here are a few of his tips about writing your novel.

Characters: Need to know more than the physical description, also important are their upbringing, needs and goals, education, habits, gestures, ticks, personality, how they dress, posture, and their moral character.

Begin you novel with conflict. Show tensions, action, disbelief, wonder, fear. Remember a plot may be man against nature, man against evil, and/or man against himself.

Grab the reader with fascinating sentence, idea, question, situation. Make the reader wonder what will happen next.

Dialogue is an excellent way to show character--and remember, the dialogue may include lies.

Scenes are the building blocks of the novel--followed by the sequel or reaction to the scene.


Sunday a.m. Wrap-up of the PSWA Conference

As usual, the day began with the Jeoprady contest.

The first panel was about Interrogation and Interview.

What's the difference? During an interview, the person being interviewed can leave, during an interrogation, the person can not.

Pete Klismet moderated and the panelists were George Cramer, John Schembra, Joe Haggerty, Frank Hickey and Dave Cropp. What a great bunch with vast experiene and knowledge which they are willing to share.

The last panel was about writing a series.  Marilyn Olsen asked some great questions as the moderator, and the panelist were Sharon Moore, Barbara Hodges, Ilene Schneider, Virgil Alexander and me. I thought we did a good job of answering the questions.

We had the final round of jeoprady followed by the last of the book sales--lots of books were purchased, by the way.

Next was our awards luncheon (and believe me, all the meals were great). Michelle Perin handed out the awards to the thrilled winners who were in attendance. The others will receive the…

Saturday at the PSWA Conference

We began with CSI Jeoprady--so fun.
Next came writing articles in today's competitive market--geared toward trade magazines (mainly those on the Net.) Participants were Doug Wyllie, Tim Dees, Kathy Ryan, Dave Freeland, Michelle Perin and Rayne E. Golay.
Weapons for Writers was about all different kinds of weapons law enforcement used in the past, and preferred weapons of today. One fun segement was when the panelists discussed mistake TV, movie and writers make. Participants were: John Schembra, Rich Wickliffe, Dave Freeland, Mark Bouton and Ron Corbin. Mike Black was the moderator and had a lot to offer too.
Dave Cropp gave an outstanding presentation on Working Narcotics Undercover.
We learned about the Medical Side of Wounds and Forensics. Thonie Hevron did a great job moderating the panel of experts: Gloria Casale, Steve Scarborough, Janet Greger, Sam Bradley, and Rayne E. Golay. This covered lots of topics from poisons to gun shot wounds.
The last panel of the day was about f…

Friday at PSWA

Anyone who follows me on Facebook has seen photos of the various events. 
Though I am no longer the program chair, I could hardly wait to get up to the conference center. After visiting with Madeline Gornell while waiting for our breakfast, and then having Joe Haggerty and Ilene Schneider join us for breakfast, the day started great. (I had crab cakes Benedict and they were wonderful.)
We are slightly down in numbers due to illnesses and other unexpected events, but it hasn't mattered--those who are here are learning lots and having a great time.
AJ Farrar is looking great and doing is job as Master of Ceremonies. Our Queen, Marilyn Olson, is wearing a couple of crowns as she's also representing Oak Tree Press. 
All through out the conference we'll be having rounds of CSI Jeopardy, with the first round beginning the day. Contestants are:  Pete Klisment, Joe Haggerty, ThonieHevron, Diane Krantz. And so far, it has been a hoot!
We've had panels tackling Point of View, Wo…

Yesterday at PSWA

We were on the road by 5:15 a.m. Made our first stop at McDonald's in Bakersfield. Love the drive to Tehachapi, saw a long, long train just coming off the loop. That is so fascinating. I also love to see all the railroad tunnels through the mountains. Years ago passenger trains from L.A. came through those tunnels. As a little girl I used to go to Bakersfield that way, by myself, with a note hanging around my neck telling the conductor where I should get off. My grandparents lived in Bakersfield and grandpa worked for the railroad.
Nothing like digressing. We actually had quite a pleasant though long, long drive through the desert. Getting to the Orleans Hotel was a cinch. First people we saw were Nancy and A.J. Farrar. Then on our way to the conference center, Michelle Perin and her beau.
Like I said yesterday, waiting for people to come and greeting them is much like a family reunion. Met some new folks too--and have a bit of trouble remembering names. The food at the reception …

Heading for my Favorite Writing Conference

My computer is in the shop as I'm writing this. A program I downloaded purported to be helpful and make my computer faster, turned out to be a virus. It really loused up my computer.

I do have Moby which backs-up my computer everyday. However, it seems that the programs themselves are corrupted. 
Because I'm a writer, of course I'm hoping all those manuscript files are safe. But I also have other things that I hope can be resurrected. 
Since I know you don't want to hear all my woes, you ask, how are you writing this post?
I'm using my trusty iPad. It does come in handy for several things.
On a happier note, today hubby and I are traveling across the desert to Las Vegas. No, we will not be gambling or seeing the sights, we're headed for the Orleans Hotel and the PSWA Conference.  
This year's conference will be a bit different because after being the program chair for many years, I turned the task over to Mike A. Black. This means I don't have to be in …

Report on Offering Angel Lost E-book Free

For two days during Angel Lost being offered as free for Kindle, it was the #1 free book and the #1 police procedural.

At the last report from the publisher, 53,000 copies were downloaded.

The reason anyone offers free copies is to get more readers. And when someone has a series like I do, the hope is that those who read the free book and like it will buy other books in the series. That seems to be happening.

Last report from my publisher:

Besides the freebies, 20 copies of Angel Lost were sold at full price.
An Axe to Grind, 17 copies.
Bad Tidings, 24 copies
Dangerous Impulses, 14 copies
Fringe Benefits, 15 copies
No Sanctuary, 28 copies
No Bells, 13 copies
Smell of Death, 10 copies,
Murder in the Worst Degree, 10 copies
And the first book in the series, Final Respects, 86 copies

Another plus is that Angel Lost is getting more reviews, though there is a downside to this.

One of the reviews gave away some plot points.

One said that it was a Christian book--well, I didn't plan it …


By Diane Gilbert Madsen
Launching a new book under normal circumstances is a challenge. I’d already launched two.  My first, “A Cadger’s Curse,” about Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland, was launched at an MWA Raven Award winning Chicago based bookstore, Centuries & Sleuths.  The second, “Hunting for Hemingway,” about --- you guessed it -- was launched at the Hemingway Museum in Oak Park under the auspices of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park.
My third book in the DD McGil Literati Mystery Series, “The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper,” has a new publisher -- MX Publishing.  This innovative publisher is based in London, whereas me and my office - known as The Bat Cave - are based in Southwest Florida.  I also have a fan base in the Chicago area, my hometown. My challenge was how to work out the logistics of the When, Where and How among all these sites for the book launch.
Luckily, communications between me and Steve Emecz, the Managing Director of MX P…

The Sea Grape Tree, a Review

First off, this book was sent to me by the publisher as an Advanced Uncorrected Proof, and it's not the kind of book I would have chosen for myself.
Mostly, as your probably know, I mainly read mysteries. My time is limited, so I stick to what I know I'll enjoy.
However, when I have a book arrives in the mail, I'm compelled to read it--or at least begin reading to see if I'll like it. 
The Sea Grape Tree is not a mystery, though there is some mystery in it, plus an exciting kidnapping and rescue. I won't tell you any more about that because it might spoil the plot.
The book is not a romance, though there are a couple of romantic threads that are important to the story.
As the cover says, The Sea Grape Tree is a novel--but so much more.
Set in Largos Bay, Jamaica the entire story is rich with depictions of the sumptuous beauty contrasted by the poverty of and the struggle to make a living of most of the inhabitants of this particular part of the island.
The story ce…

An Interview with Author Sue McGinty

Is there a momentous event, or theme, that drives this series?
Absolutely. Bella is both haunted and driven by the murder of her sister on Bella’s doorstep in Detroit years ago. Like many family tragedies, Bea’s murder destroyed her family. It led to the premature death of her father and Bella’s estrangement from her mother.
As “Murder in Mariposa Bay” opens, Bella’s terminally ill mother has moved in with Bella and Mike. She and Bella strive to repair their strained relationship. It’s tough going because of deeply embedded old wounds. The themes that propel the series forward are Bella’s need for reconciliation and her passion for justice.
I know your covers have become a family affair. Is there a story behind this one?
You bet. My granddaughter, Katherine McGinty Loughman, posed for the cover of “Murder in Los Lobos” when she was an undergrad at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. 
Son Patrick and daughter-in-law Diane did the honors for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach.” Granddaughter Julie, schedu…