Showing posts from May, 2015

What's Going in in My Life--Writing and Personal

I never, ever complain about being bored. Life is too hectic for boredome to set in, I'll be wornout long before that happens.

In my writing life, I'm still promoting my latest, Violent Departrues.  I recenlty offered a few Kindle copies free in exhange for honest reviews, and I've had some. Of course the hope is that the reader will like the book well enough to read some of the other books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

I also participated in a neighborhood book boutique in someone's lovely yard. The day was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold. Many people came to see what was going on, others to seek out particular writers. I met and talked to many interesting people including one long time fan who has every book I've ever written. 

I recently finished writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which is now titled Not As It Seems. Once my critique group has heard the last chapter, I'll go over it again, and send it off to my publisher. Something…


My name is Kathy Stevens.  I am a retired teacher with a passion for herbs.  Twenty-four years ago I planted my first backyard herb garden.  Small specimens of lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme were nestled in a raised bed not far from my kitchen window.
Watching those herbs grow and prosper, I wondered... what shall I do with them?  To answer this question I read books, journals, took classes, and joined an herb society.  Lots of useful information.  I learned dozens of ways to use herbs in the kitchen and throughout my home.  They scent my linen closet and infuse the water in both my teacup and bathtub.  I sprinkle them on popcorn and in salads and they flavor both honey and butter.  Sometimes I tuck a little bundle of them inside my pillowcase to sleep peacefully until morning.
Today I continue to grow herbs and learn all that I can about them.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I planted a school herb garden with students.  Now in retirement, I continue to visit and care for …

Interviews Spark Novel Ideas by J. L. Greger

Have you noticed characters in some novels are boring? Be honest. Do a couple of your characters need more pizzazz?
Try interviewing others to get fresher characters. As a fiction writer, you aren’t held to the same standards as a journalist doing an exposé. However, good interviews take effort. Maybe, these suggestions will be helpful.
1. Explain what you want to achieve to the interviewee at the start of the conversation. Most people are open about past experiences, if you guarantee you won’t use their names. As a fiction writer, you can also assure them that you’ll change the facts enough so no one can identify them.
2. Determine your goals before the interview. Do you want to obtain specific information? On what? Are you trying to get a “mood?” I found little details help me catch the “mood” when I write. Accordingly, detailed descriptions of a favorite toy, a city park, or a grandmother’s parlor are helpful.
3. Be organized and control the flow of the interview. Plan your questions …

Am I Over Scheduling?

Or should the question really be, can I keep up the pace?

Maybe when I write it out, you won't think what I've got planned amounts to much, but the question is, will this old lady be able to do it all?
The first of June we're spending five days in Wildomar visiting our eldest daughter, two grandkids and their families. Though it sounds like a mini-vacation, when we're with family, it gets pretty busy--and fun.
On June  16th, I have a radio interview--that one's easy, I'll be doing it from home.
On June 20th at 10 a.m., I'm speaking to the Tulare-Kings Authors at the Tulare County Main Library in Visalia. Topic: How to Create and Sustain a Mystery Series. I've done this one before, so expect no problems--as long as I can get to the library, got lost the last ime I went there.
From July 15-20, we're headed to Las Vegas to the PSWA Conference (conference is from the 16th- 19th) but we'll also spend one afternoon and evening with my sister and famil…


by Steve Daniels

In 2006, after 26 years in the criminal justice system, I retired from my position of high-risk parole agent with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.  As virtually every offender on my caseload had at least one homicide on their record, my interest in this category of crime was deep-seated and hard to cut loose.
In approximately 2009, I approached a local publisher with an idea to write a book about some of my more egregious, eerie and high profile cases, of which there were many. The publisher offered that she would be interested, but wanted me to tackle her project of interest first. This began the journey that lead to my first book: HARRY: A Study of Teenage Mass Murderers. There was actually a hook to writing Harry as my father was the lead investigator on the case way back in 1963. Briefly, Harry Hebard, a 17 year old high school student murdered his family of five on a cold February day. This could very well be the first documented progeny mass killing in mo…

Am Crowing about a Dead Bird... by JoAnne Lucas

(In way of introductions, JoAnne Lucas is a friend and a fellow Sister in Crime in both the San Joaquin and Central Coast chapters.)    . . . and I’m cackling with glee. My 2013 entry, “An Object Lesson,” will be published in Darkhouse Books’ new anthology, DESTINATION: MYSTERY, coming out this summer.      “Object Lesson” has had an interesting journey. In 2013 Bird Boss Mary Redmond decreed the theme to be Water Rights and Wrongs. Water had to figure into the tale and of course it had to be set in the San Joaquin Valley. I wrote out a story that’d been buzzing in my brain a while, a tale interspersed with lines from the Preposition Poem I had to learn in 8th grade. Going back to junior high memories, I finally offed my old nemesis, but I had to move the story here to a nearby lake. Voila! Bass Lake. The entry didn’t win but it took honors in a new category made up just for my story – The Bricolage Award for construction or creation from a diverse range of available things. Really s…

Last of Ways to Please an Author

Use your connections.We’re all six degrees of separation from someone famous. (Or, in my case, infamous.) Maybe one of them can help your favorite author!  Who do you know who might want to help your favorite author?
Ask your local library to invite the author for a reading.  We authors LOVE to talk about our work with readers.  Readers are, after all, what make our work come alive!  And why should library patrons miss out?  If your favorite author lives in your region, as your library to invite them in for a book discussion. You’ll get to hang out with them in person and introduce other library patrons to their work!
Ask your favorite store (book, grocery or drugstore) add a dedicated ‘local author shelf to their books and magazines section.It will highlight the many fabulous local authors, including your favorite, if they’re from your area.
Tell your Facebook groups what you’re reading!  Reading-related Facebook groups often ask what you’re reading at that moment.  Post a comment with …

And Even More Ways to Please and Author

Remember I got all these ideas from Tracy Weber.
Say hi to them at a conference!There are fan conferences worldwide at which authors and their fans can gather, learn from each other, and basically have a good time.  If you attend a panel with your favorite author or see them schmoozing at the bar, go up and say hi!  Trust me, it’s not an intrusion.  Nothing is better than knowing someone appreciates your work. (I love meeting readers at conferences and conventions.)
Add them to your circles on Google Plus!  I have to admit, I’m not a Google Plus user, but many authors are, and it’s a “circle” of friends that may not already know about their next favorite author! Share news about your author to your circles, and invite your favorite author to join you. Any way you can connect is nothing but goodness!
 Follow them on Twitter.  I’m not the world’s best Tweeter, but many authors think Twitter is a great way to build and connect with a following.  Show them some love by becoming one of their …

Bright Morning Star by Tom Coffey

I was pleased when my latest book, BRIGHT MORNING STAR, was accepted for publication by Oak Tree Press, but I didn't have the feeling of overwhelming joy that I did in 1998, when Pocket Books, then a division of Simon and Schuster, agreed to publish my first novel, THE SERPENT CLUB. I imagine it's the same feeling that comes over parents when they have their fourth or fifth child -- they're happy, of course, but the level of excitement just isn't the same. (For the record, I have one kid.)
While I understood that the nature of publishing has shifted radically in the last 17 years, I hadn't experienced that shift in a real way. My first three books were printed by traditional publishers, who have their time-honored ways of doing things or, more frequently, not doing things. Oak Tree is an independent -- a scrappy outfit based in California that does not have much of a budget but that does have, God bless it, much more of a willingness to say "yes" to writ…

Spring Book Boutique

We did a similar event, same location, last year and it was a great success. Not only did people from the neighborhood visit  and peruse and buy our books--we had many come from much longer distances.
People stayed around to visit with the authors--it was great fun.
Refreshments will be served. And there will also be several door prizes.
Do stop by and see what's going on.

The Adventure of Offering a Free Book for Kindle

Offering a free book on Kindle was truly an adventure that began as a misadventure.

For the first five days of May, my publisher (at my request) offered Final Respects--the first book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, free on Kindle.
 The misadventure part:
First I thought it would be good if Final Respects was free period, not for a limited time. There was a place that would advertise it for free if it was always free. My publisher and her assistant tried to make it that way, but Amazon nixed it.
So, I told my publisher put it up free for 5 days, May 1-5 and I merrily went about setting up the promotion on every free and some paid sites I could find.
While I was busy doing that, the Kindle version disappeared from Amazon.
Well not at first, but in order to have the 5 free days, it had to be taken off then reinstated. When this happened, it got a new AISN--which meant the information I'd sent off to all the promo sites was now wrong.
And do you think I kept a list of all thes…

More Ways to Please an Author

Friend them on Facebook.  Not every author makes their personal pages open to the reading public, but many do.  I have a personal page.  And I love it when readers “friend” me!  My Facebook personal page shares more about my daily life and allow me to get to know my readers as well.  So…look for your favorite author on Facebook.  If they have a personal presence, consider sending them a friend request.  You can friend me at
Ask your local library to carry their books.Library systems vary greatly in budgets and ability to act on patron requests, but you never know until you try! Sometimes all it takes is a single request for a book to get placed in the ordering system.  And even if your library can’t carry THIS book, you’ll have put your favorite author on their radar screen for the next time they order.  Just think, you may be introducing  your favorite author to dozens of readers by requesting a single book!
Recommend their book to your book club…

Another Five Ways to Help an Author

Here are 5 more suggestion from Tracy Weber

Point out their books at your local bookstore.  Maybe your local bookstore carries their books, maybe it doesn’t. But booksellers aren’t always familiar with all of the books they carry.  Lord knows, they certainly can’t read them all! The next time you’re at a book store, talk up your favorite author with one of the employees.  Point out the cover.  Tell them what you love.  You might just provide the information that helps that employee connect a future customer with your favorite author’s work!

Tweet your heart out!  I have to confess—I’m a Twidiot.  I send out a Tweet every now and again, and I can retweet with the best of them, but I still need to learn more about this tool to use it effectively.  Particularly if your favorite author is a YA author, Twitter is crucial to their success.  So, Tweet about them!  Tweet links to their “buy” sites, links to their author pages, or anything else you think your followers would like.
Talk about them…

The Dark Side by M. E. May

Purged is the fourth novel in the Circle City Mystery Series and the darkest of the group. As in book two, Inconspicuous, I feature a serial killer as my antagonist. Why, you may ask, is a sweet grandmother of four writing about such horrendous crimes? Unfortunately, they happen in real life much too often, and because not only do those who commit these crimes fascinate me, they fascinate many people.
I grew up in the 1960’s with college protests against the Viet Nam War, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. With more widespread news coverage in the 1960’s and 1970’s came the stories of the murders by the Manson followers; Charles Whitman’s psychotic break which led him to a tower at Texas University where he shot forty-three people; and Richard Speck’s notorious murders of the nursing students in Chicago. All of these crimes and more repulsed me, but also sparked my interest in psychology of humans.
Often, the study of psychopaths, socio…


by  Jan Christensen
Some writers don’t seem to have any trouble carving out time most days to write. But my impression is that most of us do have some difficulty with that aspect of “the business.”
When you dissect it, the writing process is not as straightforward as it would seem. Yes, at some point we have to sit down and “open a vein,” letting the words come to us either agonizingly slowly, in a huge gush, or somewhere in between.
But there’s some things to be done before that even happens. Number one is to find the best time of day to write, and number two is to figure out if you’re a plotter or a pantster. And then, you do have to sit down in the chair (or stand at the desk if you’re into that way of writing now) and open that vein.
Finding the right time for you every day can be tricky. I’ve met some writers who thought they couldn’t write in the morning (“I’m not a morning person!”), until they had no other choice but to get up before everyone else and write for an hour or…