Showing posts from December, 2014

A BOOK BY ANY OTHER NAME by Sally Carpenter

Hi, Marilyn, thanks for hosting me again. In a recent post, Marilyn discussed how she chose the titles for her many books. Today I’d like to explain how I created my titles as well.
I’m with a small press so I have considerable freedom in picking my book titles and arranging the cover art. Authors with the large New York presses have no input into their titles or covers. I know of one author who had her title changed by the publisher. However, this new title was the same name of another mystery book of a different ilk!

My cozy mysteries comprise the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series. I found this title often confuses people. Many think “teen idol” means the books are for young adults. No, the books are written for adults. My protagonist is a 38-year-old former teen idol. He’s too old for a YA hero and teens wouldn’t care about a book that is set in 1993 and has flashbacks to the 1970s.
But what else would I call my series? “Sandy Fairfax, Recovering Alcoholic” or “Sandy Fairfax, Washed-…

Wolf in Winter by John Connolly, a review

Wolf in Winter by John Connolly is called a A Charlie Parker Thriller by the publisher,

Charlie Parker refers to the name of the detective who is on the search for missing young woman.  Yes, it is a thriller, but it certainly has the elements of a horror novel too.
As Parker follows the trail for the missing woman he comes to the odd town of Prosperous. The residents of the town are obviously hiding big secrets. The author lets the reader into some of these secrets though not all of them are revealed by the end of the book.
The story brings in characters from other Parker books--but I didn't feel I was missing anything by not having read the earlier ones in the series.
There are many who meet their end as the story plays out, some who deserve it and some who don't.
Parker himself is confronted with danger multiple times, and many things are not resolved by the end. 
This is definitely one of those books that you have to keep on reading to the last page. Connolly is a master at…

Christmas Letter by Marilyn Meredith

In the past I always wrote a Christmas letter to include with my Christmas cards.

With the advent of Facebook, those who are my friends pretty much know everything I've been doing--probably even more than they ever wanted to know. 
Probably the two most exciting things that happened this past year is the birth of two new grandbabies, Priscilla to granddaughter Jessica and her husband Jerry, and Madelyn (Maddy) to grandson Robert and his wife Alli.
I think that brings the total of great-grands to 15.
And of course I had two new books make their appearance this year.
This is the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery from Oak Tree Press that came out in March.
And the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery from Mundania Press, out at the end of September.
As for traveling, I've cut down a lot.
In March I went to Left Coast Crime in Monterey, traveling and rooming with my good friend Madeline Gornell. We had a great time and I got to see lots of old friends--most notably Bobbye and Howar…

Where is Rocky Bluff, California? by F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith

Rocky Bluff is not a real town, but rather a place straight out of my imagination.

Despite being a made-up place, I can see it in my mind as if it were real.
Located on the coast in Southern California, it is between Santa Barbara and Ventura, but closer to Ventura, still in Ventura county.

This is a shot from the 101 highway of some houses in Carpenteria--which is a real town fairly near to the location of Rocky Bluff, a town that is divided by the 101 like Rocky Bluff is too.
Carpenteria may have been similar to Rocky Bluff in days gone by, but now it is a much larger town.
The geography of Rocky Bluff is similar to Carpenteria in that it is situated near the ocean, with a wonderful beach for residents and visitors to enjoy. That's more or less where the resemblance ends.
My fictional town is butted on the north side by a bluff that rises upward--a place where the rich have built larger homes--and from where the town gets it's name. 
The main street, Valley Boulevard, divide…

Slivers of Glass by Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger

Summary Summer 1955: The body of a woman thought to be killed three years earlier is found behind a theater in Hollywood.  Movie stuntman Skylar Drake, a former LAPD detective, is dragged into the investigation. He can make no sense of the crime until he discovers a dirty underworld and unearths deep-seated… greed.  
The hunt takes Drake to places he’d never expect.  He’s anxious to close this case and get back to his business in L.A., but he’s constantly haunted by the memory of his wife and young daughter, killed in a mysterious house fire.
With more than enough dirty cops, politicians and crime bosses to go around, Drake can trust no one including Martin Card, the cop assigned to work with him.  Buy link: website: website:
There were a dozen other things I could’ve been doing besides standing in line at the drug store listening to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” piped in overhead.  Though, it was a treat to watch the cashi…


The easy answer is wherever it works best for the plot. In much detective fiction, the murder, or discovery of the body takes place at the beginning or very early on. But a lot of good stories take a while to develop, even when the motivation for the detective is the act itself.
If the story is focused on the characters more than on the action, or, is a balanced presentation, then a murder may not take place until well into the book. Nothing wrong with this, assuming the writer has mastered all the other tools of the trade. A bunch of people standing around endlessly trading bon mots or quips or cutting insults becomes exceedingly tedious, even if, as veteran readers of crime fiction, we know it’s all leading to murder, or worse.
On the other hand (isn’t there always?) a small clutch of really unusual interesting characters can carry a reader a long way into the story. Add other unusual or unsettling circumstances, such as weather or location and it’s poss…

Busy, Busy, Busy by Marilyn Meredith

Yes I am, but not so much with Christmas doings.

My house is as decorated as it's going to be. My Christmas checks are written--yes, that's what I do. If you had four adult kids, 18 grands, and 15 great-grands, you might resort to giving money too. Actually I give to the families these days, then they can do what they want with the cash.
I'm farming out the cookie baking to my granddaughter and daughter-in-law.
I've ordered the Honeybaked ham for Christmas Eve.
Tonight hubby and I are headed to my writer's group annual Christmas dinner. This will be the only Christmas party I'll attend. Missed the church's party last weekend because I was ill.
So what am I busy with?
It seems something comes up every day I have to tend too.
What caused the most work is the branch of the bank we've used for many, many years is closing. The nearest branch will be much too far away. So we've changed banks. It took two hours to open two accounts at the new bank. Now we&…

Another Christmas Memory

I was around 9 or 10 and oh, did I ever want a two-wheel bicycle.

The problem was, and I'd had this pointed out to me many times, no bicycles could be purchased because of the war. (WWII). The metal was needed for the war effort and bicycles were not being made.
What a surprise on Christmas morning when I came out to discover a shiny new, blue girl's bicycle standing up by the tree.
How could this possibly have happened when it was impossible to buy a new bicycle anywhere?
I didn't count on my dad's expertise at being able to make anything. Yes, that's exactly what happened, he built my bicycle from scratch. I have no idea how he managed to get all the parts, some of the bike was made of pipe (he was a plumber) but he did. Not only did he build my bicycle but he built another for my cousin Barbara who lived a block away.
Learning how to ride the bicycle took me forever. (My cousin was much quicker at it much to my humiliation since she was 11 months younger.)
My po…

Christmas Traditions Over the Years

When I was growing up, we had several traditions.
One was attending the Christmas program at our church. The program often was the children performing some version of Christ's birth.
Though most Christian churches today don't have anything to do with Santa Claus, back then, after the Christmas program ended, Santa Claus handed out small stockings with candy in them to every child.
My father worked for Paramount Studio which always had a wonderful Christmas program for the children of the employees, followed by expensive gifts for every child there. I remember some of the events being held way out in the country (now right in the middle of Studio City), and others at a theater in Los Angeles.
I don't remember doing anything special on Christmas Eve, but I do know we were anxious to get to bed then couldn't sleep. Along about 4 a.m. we begged to get up and go into the living room and see what awaited us. 
We always had to wait for our parents to dress and allow us to be…

Fatal Attraction by Jennie Spallone

My most recent mystery FATAL REACTION shines a light on my former career as a special education teacher and tutor of students with emotional and learning disabilities. Spoil Alert: No one I taught wound up killing their father! They might have hurt and maimed -- just kidding!
In this book, I examine how a catastrophic family event causes a nurtured child to morph into a school bully. Yes, I worked with school bullies in real life. Their trust in adults has been destroyed. Their hearts are crusted with despair. And so they lash out for attention. Whether positive or negative, attention reflects that they are "visible" in the eyes of others.
These kids "act out" because they lack a responsive, responsible adult to guide them through their daily lives. Responsive because we all need love and gentle direction to steer us down the path. Responsible because limits must be set to inform the child what behavior will be tolerated and what behavior is off-limits. As a teacher…

And the Winner Is (Are)---

Or course I'm talking about the winner of my recent blog tour for River Spirits, the latest mystery in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.

As the tour continued, I had an good idea who really wanted to win the prize and be a character in my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

When I'd responded to the last one to comment on the very last blog of my tour, it was very clear who would have a character using her name:: Linda Thorne.

She left a comment on at least 20 blog posts--sometimes two.

Congratulations, Linda.

There were others who commented on many of the blog posts, but the close follow-up was Nancy Li Petri. I'll give her the opportunity to choose one of the earlier books in the series as a reward for her efforts.

Over 80 people left comments on posts. Some commented on several, just one or two.

I recognized about 60% of the names, others were new to me.

Doing a blog tour is a lot of work--but it's also fun or I wouldn't bother.


The First Christmas I Remember by Marilyn Meredith

It was at my Great Grandmother, Minnie Smith's house in Bakersfield.

A widow, she supported her self by renting out rooms boarding house style. As I remember, her big, living room dining room was in the middle of  her house with all the bedrooms and kitchen leading off all around. (This could be totally wrong since I have no one to check with, but that's how I remember it.)

I also remember a Christmas tree off in one corner.

Since I was really young, I have no idea where my parents and I slept, but my guess is probably in one of the bedrooms that wasn't rented out.

I'm sure my grandparents were there too.

Sometime in the night I heard bells and I knew that was Santa Claus coming. The next morning I told everyone I'd heard Santa on the roof.

I remember nothing about presents or anything else much, except for a vague picture of a long table with a Christmas feast and many people enjoying it.

My Great Grandmother died when I was 12.

I know a lot about her younger yea…

Art Lessons Granny Taught Me by Joan Hall Hovey

This essay, in large part was my first published story.  It was published more than 30 years ago in Home Life Magazine.  This updated version was published in Mystery Readers Journal.  I hope you enjoy it. 
The illustration is by Padgett. ***                 She was 71 and lived alone in the cluttered attic of an old, two-story frame building with her easel, her paints, her brushes and sometimes, me. Her name was Lillian May (Watts) Hall.  
                When neighbors spoke of my grandmother, they said, “A nice woman.” Then frowning and in whispers, the added, “but kinda funny.”  And in the early fifties, to the people who lived in our small, unsophisticated town, there was indeed something ‘kinda funny’ about an old lady who sat alone in her attic room and painted pictures.  At first glance, she was not unlike a million other grandmothers of her time - the same iron-gray hair drawn back in a bun, wire-rimmed glasses, a dark, high-buttoned dress with long sleeves and detachable lace …

The Historic Driskill Hotel by Kathleen Kaska

Welcome to day eight of Kathleen Kaska’s blog tour “Travels to Austin: A Trip Back in Time.” She’s celebrating the upcoming release of her fourth Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill (Austin, Texas) by writing about famous, infamous, and legendary locales in Texas’ state capital whose promo campaign is “Keep Austin Weird.” At the end of the tour, she’ll give away a signed copy of the book. To be eligible, leave a comment here and on each of the precious seven blogs. The links are below.             Today’s blog features the Driskill Hotel.             Murder at the Driskill showcases the glorious Driskill Hotel in the heart of downtown Austin. Protagonist Sydney Lockhart and her detective boyfriend, Ralph Dixon, often meet at the hotel’s bar after a long day of investigating. During one of these casual evenings, a future gubernatorial candidate is murdered in one of the hotel’s suites.             It was easy to describe the hotel scenes because the Driskill’s ba…