Saturday, October 31, 2015

Do You Like to be Scared?

I used to love horror movies--but when they became full of slash and gore, I didn't enjoy them anymore.

I still like to read scary books--and I've written quite a few myself.

I think the scariest is one I labeled psychological horror: Wishing Makes it So.

It's about a really bad little girl. 

The hair color of the girl on the cover isn't right--but the face works.

I drew on some real life happenings for the story--some I"ll never reveal in a public forum.

Some of the mean things the child does came from grandkids that I asked, "Tell me some mean things other kids did to you."

Over the years as a residential service provider I've had lots of dealings with the regional center--and had fun including snippets about them. In real life they do a lot of good--but like any other such organization, they make a mistake now and then.

So, if you want to be scared right away, check out the book on Kindle.

Oh, and for a further incentive, this book received first place in horror from USA Books.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Planning for a Thanksgiving Surprise by Marilyn Meredith

Lingering Spirit won an Epic E-book award winner in 2012 in the Supernatural Romance Category.

Published by Oak Tree Press, the publisher says it's her favorite book and has read it numerous times.

Book blurb: After, Steve, her police officer husband is killed in the line of duty, Nicole Ainsworth struggles with the changes forced on her life. Her efforts to focus on her daughter an cope with her grief are kept off-balance by Steve’s ghostly visitations who seems to be trying to communicate with her. Eventually, Nicole finds that Steve isn’t the only one watching over her, and discovers a second chance for love.

Review Snippets:

“…Meredith is a master of characterization. She fully rounds out the facets of her protagonists’ personalities and richly develops the details of the supporting cast. She does not hit any false notes with her dialogue and builds strong relationships among her characters. She realistically describes what a young widow would go through following the tragic death of her husband.
Overall, uncovering why this spirit lingers is an incredibly moving experience.”

--New York Journal of Books--Reviewer Nicole Langan owns the independent publishing house, Tribute Books

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book!
“…Lingering Spirit is well worth buying and spending time with. It'll give you a lot to think about after the story is finished. I loved it, as you can tell. It's the perfect summer OR winter read. Great book, one of my favorite reads this year.” --Beth Anderson, author and book reviewer.

“I rate this book 5 Stars out of 5 Stars!
I LOVED this book I could not put it down! I am telling you all Marilyn is a FANTASTIC writer and anyone who does not read this book is missing out on a fabulous read…” – Vanessa -Ohio Girl Talks

“,,,I polished this book off in two days and you won't want to stop reading it once you pick it up.
Lingering Spirit is the type of book that romance lovers dream of finding.” –Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

Watch Lingering Spirit book trailer for a preview.

If you prefer a paper book, autographed copies of the book are available from the author’s website
and the book can be ordered from any bookstore. 

The Thanksgiving surprise is that you can get this book from Amazon between November 23-27 for only 99 cents!

Of course you'll be hearing more about it as the time draws nearer.

Lingering Spirit by Marilyn Meredith

Oak Tree Press

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WHERE DO i GET MY IDEAS? by Cheryl Hollon

Where do I get my ideas?

This is the single most popular question for authors and for me is the most difficult to answer. There are two difficulties with this question. First, it feels very personal and second, I’m afraid the source might disappear if I talk about it. Unreasonable, perhaps, but there it is.

Frankly, I'm not sure where they start. I absolutely know when they arrive. My keyboard recognizes the speed and ease of the words that flow onto the page. My ideas for stories cannot be separated from my life as a girl, a woman, a wife, a mother, an engineer and an author. As far as I can tell, everything that has contributed to make me who I am is swirled into a massive reservoir of waiting ideas.

Almost anything will spark the origin for a story. A song – a chat with a friend – a walk in our neighborhood – a great meal – a new vacation spot – a conversation overheard – a perfect location to hide a body. The real difficulty is not coming up with ideas. The trouble is to choose one of those darlings that has the promise to be the beginning of a compelling story.

My biggest challenge is an unreasonable fear that talking about them destroys their arrival and chases them away into the black hole of writer’s block. Consequently, I never talk about a work-in-progress until I have a completed rough draft. At that point, the story is set and I’m not afraid it will evaporate.

Is this really my answer? Yes, this feels right. The short version – my ideas come from my life. To keep the ideas flowing, I must live fully and observe. How fantastic is that?

About Pane and Suffering:

To solve her father's murder and save the family-owned glass shop, Savannah Webb must shatter a killer's carefully constructed fa├žade. . .

After Savannah's father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she drops everything to return home to St. Petersburg, Florida, to settle his affairs--including the fate of the beloved, family-owned glass shop. Savannah intends to hand over ownership to her father's trusted assistant and fellow glass expert, Hugh Trevor, but soon discovers the master craftsman also dead of an apparent heart attack.

As if the coincidence of the two deaths wasn't suspicious enough, Savannah discovers a note her father left for her in his shop, warning her that she is in danger. With the local police unconvinced, it's up to Savannah to piece together the encoded clues left behind by her father. And when her father's apprentice is accused of the murders, Savannah is more desperate than ever to crack the case before the killer seizes a window of opportunity to cut her out of the picture. . .

Meet the author:

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.
 You can visit Cheryl and her books at

Cheryl  Hollon

Buy links:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

More on the Great Valley Bookfest

Me and Bonnie Hearn Hill

This was the second year I attended the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca. What a great event!
I'm not sure how many authors and other vendors participated, but there were a lot of us.

Bonnie Hearn Hill is a friend and fellow author. Years ago, she wrote a review for the Fresno Bee for my first published book.

The night before, the organizer of this event treated the authors and volunteers to a get-together at her home. Lisa and I shared a table with Manteca's Chief of Police and his wife, a retired police officer and his wife--she turned out to be an avid reader who loves series--and yes, she came to the bookfest and bought two of my books. One from each of my series.

Many, many people turned out to peruse what we all had to offer.
 Remarkable too, since it was a very hot day!

I also gave a talk (to not many people) about writing a series and keeping it going. A married couple attended and also came by and each bought a book. The only other woman there, also stopped by for a book. 

It was a good day and my daughter Lisa made it possible for me to do it.


Friday, October 23, 2015


There's an old saying about the best writers are avid readers, and I believe that to be true. It was none more true than the days I spent at Bouchercon 2015. Bouchercon is the world's largest mystery writer and reader convention on the planet. Probably Mars, too, but that hasn't been proven. Yet.

This was my first Bouchercon. To say it was a little overwhelming is an understatement. Yes, I went as a writer. I have three published books, two with decent sized publishers and my last book, Wink of an Eye, with one of the big guns, so I had attained “author status.” 

Wink of an Eye won the 2013 St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writer's of America Best 1st P.I. Novel competition, and this year was a finalist for the Shamus Award.  As a finalist and nominee, I was invited to the Shamus Awards Banquet and rubbed elbows with the likes of Steve Hamilton, Brad Parks, Bill Crider and Lawrence Block. I forgot I was a writer. I forgot my work was even nominated in a category some of these greats had also been nominated in in previous years. I went from being a writer to a fan-girl at the first sighting.

The first day of the convention, a friend came running up to me and said she had seen Wink of an Eye in the book room. So, well, you know...I had to go see for myself. And sure enough there it was, front and center, and on top of that—right smack beside Margaret Maron's! I took pictures. Not necessarily because my book was in the book store, but because it was beside Margaret Maron's! Another fan-girl moment.

So on that Saturday, the next to the last day of the convention/conference, I strolled through the book store again to gaze lovingly at all the titles from my old and new favorite authors, a lot who I am blessed beyond reason to actually call friends now, and was struck by something odd. The book store table where Wink of an Eye was placed beside Ms. Maron's no longer had Wink of an Eye displayed. I scoured the table, right to left, left to right, underneath the drape, top to bottom and it was nowhere to be found. Panicked, my heart sank. I just knew it hadn't sold a single copy so they boxed it back up to send back to the publisher. Finally, the young lady working the table for the book store asked if she could help me. Without telling her my name or that I was the world's most insecure author, I told her I was looking for Wink of an Eye.

“Oh, we sold out of that yesterday,” she said.

I smiled.


Lynn Chandler Willis was the first woman in a decade to win the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best 1st P.I. Novel competition with her novel, Wink of an Eye. Published in 2014 by Minotaur, it has since been a Shamus Award finalist, a SIBA Book of the Year nominee, and a Readers Choice Award finalist. She is also the author of The Rising, a Grace Award winner for Excellence in faith-based fiction, and Unholy Covenant, a best-selling true crime about a North Carolina murder. She lives in North Carolina where she spends her days babysitting 8 of her 9 grandchildren while simultaneously plotting interesting ways to kill people. There could be a connection.

My website link with all links to my social media platforms: 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My Thoughts on the Big Mystery Cons

While I'm writing this, Bouchercon is going on in Raleigh, North Carolina and I've been following all the photos and comments as they've appeared on Facebook.

I've also been reading some blog posts and comments from some who think that these big mystery cons are a waste of time and money for mid-list authors. Here's my take on the matter.

My first Bouchercon was in Monterey CA and I had a great time. I didn't sell any books, because I didn't have any, however I was on a panel--my first. I had friends who were there and made lots of new ones.

Hubby and I attended many more Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes all over the United States and had fun. I got to meet many favorite authors and lots of fans. Did it do anything for my mystery writing career? Probably not a whole lot. I never sold many books, after all some of the most famous mystery writer are always in attendance. Going with the thought of selling lots of books will probably end up in disappointment. Go for the fun of it, and you'll have a good time.

The last Bouchercon I attended was in San Francisco. I was able to take the train which cut down on the cost. The best thing about that trip was running into people I hadn't seen for a long time--authors and fans. 

My last LCC was in Monterey. That one I drove to with a good friend, spent lots of time with other good friends, authors and fans. And yes, it was worth every penny.

And that brings me to cost--these events are expensive. If you have to fly, air travel has really gone up. The hotels the events are held in are expensive--and yes, you can find a cheaper one to stay in but that means a lot of walking back and forth. You will have to buy most of your meals. And it all adds up.

Smaller cons are usually more fun because there aren't as many people and you do have a chance to shine a bit more if you're an author and even sell more books. One of my favorites is no longer going on and that was Mayhem in the Midwest. Hubby and I became friends with one of my favorite authors, William Kent Krueger, who has won all kinds of prizes for his wonderful mysteries. We were in on a conversation with Dennis Lehane who has gone on to have some of his mysteries made into movies. But best of all, we made many friends with readers and other midlist authors.

There are smaller cons like these all over the country.

The only such event I went to this year was the Public Safety Writers Associations annual conference. This one has a mix of mystery writers and people in many public safety fields, active and retired (police, fire, FBI, etc.) who write both fiction and non-fiction. It's small, always around 50 people with one track. You will make friends. You may even sell a few books if you have them.

Best of all, it's held in Las Vegas so the hotel is inexpensive, plus if you have to fly you can probably find an inexpensive flight.

And remember, this is just my opinion. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

White Space is Good/A Few Writing Tips

Believe me, I don't know it all and my typos etc. slip by me and my editors in my published books. And yes, when someone points them out, I cringe.

I read a lot of books, books by friends and books by bestselling authors (a few of my friends are best selling authors--more are not) and I find typos and errors in all of them. 

One tip that helps readers, I'm going to share.

When a paragraph is long and fills up the whole page without any indents, it can be off-putting.

One way to remedy this is to always start a new paragraph when someone new does or says something. 

Another tip is to keep a person's dialogue short. Unless someone is giving a speech, others will interrupt. 

Remember dialogue should always do one of two things: move the story along or reveal a phase of the person's character. 

Rather than use any dialogue tag (and if you do, said or asked is preferred) have the character who is speaking do something, or describe something about them, the action or description can then serve as the dialogue tag.

Here's to better writing for all of us and better entertainment for our readers.

My latest.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Two More Book Fairs

This has been a busy time for in-person events. Last weekend it was the Big Valley Bookfest in Manteca CA.

This is always a great event. Only problem was it was very, very hot--though fortunately we were in the shade the majority of the time. I enjoyed this event.

This is my publisher's booth (Oak Tree Press) at the Taste of the Arts in Visalia yesterday. Again, it was very hot. In the photo is my display and of course, the publisher, Billie Johnson. I always have a good time with her, though my sales weren't wonderful.  And we had some excitement when a big wind blew through and picked up the tent like a parachute and started to carry it off. That's when we decided it was probably time to pack it up.

Next up is the Holiday Boutique November 6 and 7 at the Porterville Art Gallery.

Ah, the exiting life of an author. 


Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Love Affair with Mystery Writing by Nancy Boyarsky

About twelve years ago I finished my third attempt at a novel. The Swap: A Mystery was good. I sent it to an agent who called me the day she received it and told me it was wonderful. Unfortunately—and what I didn’t know at the time—she had a very short attention span when it came to representing her clients. Three publishers’ rejections later, she handed the book back to me and told me I should hire an outside editor to help me rewrite it.

Rewriting didn’t help. Even then, the publishers’ appetite for new novelists was shrinking, and while I got some nibbles—editors who were interested until it was rejected by their editorial boards—I couldn’t sell that book. Rejection letters don’t hurt my feelings. I’m used to them. But it was too daunting to begin a new book, knowing I’d eventually have to face the misery of marketing it. As far as I was concerned, my writing career was over. I put the book in storage on my computer and took up oil painting.

Two years ago, I decided to reread The Swap. I figured that, after all this time, I could be objective and see what was wrong with it. But the funny thing was that I still liked it. I updated it (a lot had changed in twelve years) and got it published on Amazon

I never intended to write a series of mysteries about a single character. I’d gone to several events to hear Sue Grafton speak. I may have been wrong, but I thought she sounded weary of her character Kinsey Millhone and the idea of carrying her through the entire alphabet of titles.

But after my first novel, The Swap: A Mystery was published, and reviews indicated people were actually reading it and enjoying it, I began to wonder what would happen to my heroine next. The Swap ended with a lot of unresolved issues. Would Nicole’s love affair with the handsome inspector from Scotland Yard continue? Could a long-distance (London to L.A.) romance survive? What would her life be like when she was finally home in Los Angeles, divorced and single again?
One day, I sat down and wrote out some ideas for another mystery featuring Nicole: Who the victim would be. His relationship with Nicole. She’d need a compelling reason get involved in solving the murder herself. What would that be? And a more interesting question: what about her love life?
Who would the killer be? His or her motive? What about witnesses? Where would the police stand on this case, and what failure on their part would force Nicole to step in? She’d have to be in danger to keep the reader turning pages.
My ideas filled about two-and-a-half pages, single spaced. Then I started writing. I didn’t have a detailed road map, and yet the deeper I got into the story, the easier it seemed to flow.
By about page 70, I could hardly bear to be away from writing. I was thinking about my plot all of the time. Sometimes I’d have an epiphany—struck by a twist or complication that would deepen the mystery or make the story more suspenseful. I’d go back and put it in, then rewrite any sections this new development affected.
I had experts to consult: A close friend is a private investigator, so I turned to her with those questions. My brother-in-law is a criminal defense attorney, so he had answers in that department. My husband is a journalist with intimate knowledge of how the tabloids work, so he was a wealth of ideas for these parts of the book.
My sister and a close friend were editors and agreed to be my proofreaders. They caught some major glitches, like calling a character by a different names in different parts of the book. Or repeating a scene that had appeared earlier in the book. The funniest was when I had Nicole tie up a character who was sitting in a chair. I had her fasten his hands behind the chair with plastic wrist restraints and tie his ankles together. One of my proofreaders pointed out that all the bound character would have to do is stand up. He’d have to hop, but he certainly wouldn’t be stuck in the chair. I decided to lock him in a closet instead.
I was having so much fun researching and writing that any spare time I had—even a few minutes—would be spent working on my story.
It was like being in love. Everything else—meals, painting (which I was determined not to give up), sleep, exercise, and, yes—even promoting my newly published book, The Swap—were interruptions to what was going on in my head.
At one point, I thought I was finished. I wrote the concluding chapter, then did a word count. I had only 40,000 words. The average mystery is 75,000 words. But this didn’t set me back for long. I realized something else had to happen, knew right away what it was, and went to work on it. When that was written, I had my 75,000 words.
Then came my favorite job—rewriting and polishing what I had written. From start to finish, The Bequest took five-and-a-half months. The Swap had taken at least three years.
Several people have asked me how many hours a week I spend writing or if I have a daily writing schedule. I have no idea how many hours I spent on The Bequest. As for my writing schedule, it was any time I wasn’t doing something else.
It’s impossible to describe how much fun I had writing The Bequest. Now I’m starting my third and—I think—final book about Nicole. By the end, I hope to have her happily settled in life. In any subsequent book, another character will have to step up to fight the good fight. I just hope that these next adventures will be as enjoyable for me as The Bequest.

Nancy Boyarsky was born in Oakland, California, attended the city’s public schools, and went on to graduate from the local institution of higher learning, UC Berkeley. She supported herself working in the campus library. In addition to the pleasure of working around books, the job had an added benefit of allowing student clerks to disappear into the stacks and read when work was slow. She was married at 19 between her sophomore and junior years of college. She majored in English literature.

Her first job was as an associate editor for a small, long-vanished publishing house in San Francisco. After her two daughters were born, she began writing freelance articles for a local paper, as well as teaming up with her husband, Bill Boyarsky, on magazine articles and nonfiction books.

They lived in Sacramento for ten years, then moved to Los Angeles when Bill joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times. Once their girls were in their teens, Nancy returned to full-time work, first as associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine and later as communications director for political affairs for ARCO. She quit ARCO when the first of her two granddaughters was born. Her primary hobby is painting portraits and images from old family photos dating from the early 1900s. She loves reading fiction, the theater, films, and travel, especially to the UK, where the theater and books are a national passion.

From Marilyn Meredith:

And here's my review of The Bequest:

I can honestly say that I loved the latest book about Nicole Lewis. I enjoyed the first novel, The Swap, and it’s hard to believe, but in this one the pace is even faster. From the beginning, it is difficult for Nicole to know who to trust. One after another, those she had faith in either disappoint or betray.
Reinhardt, her rescuer and lover, from the previous book seems to have dropped out of sight.  The private investigator, Robert Blair, who works for the same firm as Nicole, has also disappeared. Because she often worked with him, she goes to his home In an effort to find him. He’s been murdered.  When the police find intimate photographs of her along with some of her personal belongings there, she becomes the primary suspect.

Nicole soon discovers Blair had many secrets, some that seem to incriminate her.  While trying to find the true murderer and clear her own name, she becomes a target. Following Nicole sift through the evidence and put together clues while trying to protect herself is an exciting adventure for the reader.

One thing I really like about Nicole as a heroine, though she does have some help along the way, she is the one who saves herself through her own wits, bravery and intelligence.  A satisfying tale about a strong woman.  Definitely 5 Stars!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Richard Paolinelli's Journey

Sometimes the journey follows a different path than originally planned but that only makes arriving at the destination all the more sweeter.

That pretty much sums up how I feel today. For the first time I can same I am a traditionally published novelist with the release of my mystery-thriller, Reservations

I have self-published two books and two novelettes over the past two years, and I was the lead story writer for a graphic novel series, but somehow the feeling this morning was so much different when I was able to go to Amazon’s website and see Reservations there for the first time.

Of course, I had thought it was going to happen a very long time ago. Back in 1985 when I was hired as the story writer for Seadragon, a graphic novel series by Elite Comics, I was sure my fiction writing career was well and truly underway with nothing but an abundance of blue skies and green dollar bills ahead.

But life had other ideas and I suddenly found myself married with two kids and a career as a sportswriter going full steam ahead instead. The dream of being a novelist was on hold and it would take nearly three decades before it would finally come true.

The process of getting my first traditionally published book on the shelves was a long one, filled with many peaks and valleys – and an abundance of rejection letters from agents and publishers as well – and there were many times when I was sorely tempted to give up trying.

But – and this is my best advice to others wanting to write a book and get it published – I set aside the setbacks and pushed ahead despite all of the negatives and it was the best thing I could have ever done.

Thanks to my agent, Jeanie Loiacono, and Billie Johnson at Oak Tree Press, I have finally arrived at my destination after a very long and eventful journey that I would not have missed for all of the riches in the world.

And now that I have arrived I find – much to my surprise – that I haven’t really reached my destination at all. Instead this was just the first checkpoint along the way and where it will eventually lead is a place I can’t wait to see or even begin to imagine.


Reservations, a mystery/thriller, is set near Gallup, New Mexico where the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations are adjacent. Three tribal leaders have been murdered —murdered in a fashion that suggests the deeds were carried out by the COYOTE, a legendary evil trickster feared by many Native Americans. The tribal president contacts his old friend in the FBI for assistance in solving the crimes and preventing more murders.

The FBI selects its star agent, Jack Del Rio, and dispatches him to New Mexico. Del Rio finds a situation tangled in political intrigue, and must work through those issues on his way to solving the mystery. Assisting him in his quest is Officer Lucy Chee. A romantic interest develops between the two. Del Rio identifies the murderer, but not without further bloodshed and loss.


Richard Paolinelli is an author and award-winning sportswriter and editor. His first fiction credit, as the lead story writer on the 1986 graphic novel series, Seadragon, preceded a 25-year newspaper career. After retiring, Richard returned to fiction writing with two short stories, Legacy of Death and The Invited, as well as a science fiction novel, Maelstrom. In 2015 he published From The Fields: A History of Prep Football in Turlock, California and had his novel Reservations published by Oak Tree Press.

When not writing, he and his wife are usually spoiling their grandchild.

Richard’s website:
Richard on Twitter: @rdpaolinelli

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Strange and true: What Anthropology, Detective Fiction and Fantasy Have in Common

by M. Blackwell

"What is the meaning of it? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose, or our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity's great problem, for which reason so far has no answer." Thus the Great Detective himself posed the quest for truth, and for the meaning behind the truth. This search, the red thread of murder, is what connects the seemingly disparate worlds of anthropology, detective fiction and fantasy. Or perhaps this belief is only an outcome of my own idiosyncratic biography, seeing connections in my imagination where none exist in fact? 

A brief explanation is in order here: as an anthropologist studying political violence, and addicted to detective stories, I've just self-published my first fantasy novel.  Seawind is on the the surface a lighthearted mock-Gothic, with grim underlying themes of greed, violence and justice. It is set in the 'real' world - the haunting, serene beauty of Cape Cod in the winter - but retribution comes through the intervention of mythic beings. And M. Blackwell is a pen-name, my effort at keeping apart the worlds that are joined in ways cannot be easily fathomed, though the unconscious tells us it must be so.

It is was my fascination with detective novels and fantasy as a way of making sense of the chaos of good and evil, with which we are all inevitably confronted in our lives, that led me to write the story. I wonder if the search for meaning informs our fondness for the grim, brooding world of wrongdoing, from high crimes and misdemeanors to the cozy chills of malice domestic? It is easier to take on board, as it were, the crimes of the powerful or the powerless, of love and hate, at one remove, in the world of fiction. But as readers and writers, we are in fact seeking understanding of the world around us.

Coincidentally (or not) Marilyn Meredith's fictional detective, Deputy Tempe Crabtree, deals with spirits helpful or hostile in the course of her work, as she unravels the mysteries of sudden death. Eventually, acknowledging her native heritage, she calls upon the spirits of the dead to discover the truth. Is this a literary device or acknowledgement of truths about the world we live in, truths banished by the cold science of reason? Fugitive truths, but as essential to our understanding as they are to the final deliverance of justice? 

Conan Doyle himself, suffering the double bereavement of the deaths of his wife and son, came to have a strong belief in spiritualism and the world of magic. He was derided in his time by the rationalists, who thought that tragedy had unhinged his mind. But grief can open windows of perception, and his powerful and compassionate intellect may have found the truths that most people spend their lifetimes simultaneously searching for and denying. 

Is there at the bottom of our love of detective stories a search for truth, order and justice, when these are largely missing in the real world? And for the meaning of all of these? What, for instance, is justice? Or vengeance? Or fate? The quest continues.....

by M. Blackwell

...a haunted Cape Cod inn, the Wild Hunt, an out-of-work anthropologist, a magical cat and some very bad winter weather…

Samantha Black finds work as the kitchen help at a struggling Cape Cod inn after losing her job teaching anthropology. At the Inn, she and her cat Sebastian find friends – Beth the innkeeper, Phil the cook and handyman, and the dog Daisy. A Halloween storm brings a tormented spirit pursued by the Wild Hunt to the quiet, remote location, which turns out to be a crossroads of power. As winter approaches, the Hunt and the evil spirit they pursue bring storms and destruction to the small towns of the outer Cape. Samantha and her friends must summon the Hunt to persuade it to complete its work and leave. Sebastian helps the Hunt to capture the evil spirit and restore the moral and natural balance.

The authors

Mary Blackwell is a pseudonym. But she really
– is an anthropologist
– has been unemployed
– has lived on Cape Cod
– worked as the kitchen help
Sebastian is a real cat.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Central Coast Author and Book Fair

This awesome event was held on the hottest day of summer in Pismo. My table was inside, where it was still too warm, but some poor souls were in the parking lot--a few with umbrellas, but some not. However, there was a great turn out of authors and many different kinds of books.

Though sales weren't what I hoped they'd be, I had an absolutely fantastic time.

It was wonderful to see my Central Coast Sisters in Crime friends.

I also chatted with another Oak Tree Press author, and got to meet the new editor of the Oak Tree Press blog. 

One fun thing was meeting one of my Facebook friends who is an author also. 

Daughter Lisa helped me a lot, talking about my books and handing out cards.

I was also on a panel called Strong Characters that was held on the rooftop of the nearby hotel--it was really hot there despite umbrellas overhead. Best part was sharing the space with author Mara Purl.

She's a lovely and most talented young woman. We exchanged books, looking forward to reading it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirschman

These are hard times to be a cop. There are days when it seems like the actions of a few have tainted the entire law enforcement profession.  When I began writing the Right Wrong Thing I was simply trying to write a good story about what happens when a cop shoots an innocent person. I never anticipated the headline-making shootings of unarmed citizens or the groundswell of protest that would follow.

Some of you know that I'm a police psychologist as well as a writer. I switched from non-fiction to writing mysteries in 2013 when I foolishly thought it would be easier to make things up. I use fiction to explore contemporary issues in law enforcement such as police suicide, post-traumatic stress and, in my current work-in-progress, the strain investigating internet crimes against children has on the investigator.

My protagonist is psychologist, Dr. Dot Meyerhoff. Dot was my mother's name and Meyerhoff was my maternal grandmother's surname. Neither lived to read my mysteries. It makes me happy to honor them in this way.

My books are inspired by clients, all of whom I've deeply disguised to protect their identities. I've lost count of how many officers I've counseled after a shooting. (For that matter, I've also lost track of how many officers' funerals I've attended.) Many are temporarily experiencing physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. For them, time slows down or speeds up. Hands or weapons appear larger than life. Gunshots don't sound the way they do on the firing range. Memory degrades. So does patience.  Isolation increases. It's hard to sleep, to stop thinking about the shooting or to engage in normal family activities. These are all involuntary reactions generated by a storm of stress hormones and neuro-chemicals activated by the human response to threats against survival. Normal or not, post-traumatic stress can make an officer feel as though she's going crazy.

The client who inspired this book struggled to come to terms with having killed a person even though the shooting was deemed lawful and justified. Like Randy Spelling, the fictional officer who mistakenly shoots and kills an unarmed pregnant teenager in The Right Wrong Thing, my client had nightmares and suffered from extreme guilt and remorse. Unlike Randy, she found a good therapist (apologies for tooting my own horn) to help her recover.

I am very grateful to so many officers who have allowed me to fictionalize their stories and helped me get the details right. It is my hope that my books are not only good reads but are informative and shed some light on the too often unacknowledged emotional risks of being a cop or being married to one.
Readers ask me what they can do to support their police. I have a simple suggestion. Next time you see a cop – smile. They face so much negativity in their daily lives, a simple smile, or saying something like "thanks for being on the job" or "be safe" can make their day. Try it. Let me know how it works for you. And thanks Jungle Reds for letting me haul my soapbox over to your wonderful blog.

Book Blurb: 

Officer Randy Spelling had always wanted to be a police officer, to follow in the footsteps of her brothers and her father. Not long after joining the force, she mistakenly shoots and kills Lakeisha Gibbs, a pregnant teenager. The community is outraged; Lakeisha’s family is vocal and vicious in their attacks against Spelling. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and filled with remorse, Randy is desperate to apologize to the girl’s family. Everyone, including the police chief, warns her against this, but the young police officer will not be dissuaded. Her attempt is catastrophic. Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, police psychologist, plunges herself into the investigation despite orders from the police chief to back off. Not only does the psychologist’s refusal to obey orders jeopardize her career, but her life as well, as she enlists unlikely allies and unconventional undercover work to expose the tangled net of Officer Spelling’s disastrous course. 


Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in independent practice. She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Society for the Study of Police and Criminal Psychology, the American Psychological Association, and the International Association of Women in Law Enforcement. She is the recipient of the California Psychological Association's 2014 award for distinguished contribution to psychology as well as the American Psychological Association's 2010 award for outstanding contribution to the practice of police and public safety psychology.

Ellen is the author of the award-winning I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Fire Fighter: What the Family Needs to Know, and lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know. The Right Wrong Thing is her second mystery. Her debut novel, Burying Ben  is about police suicide told from the perspective of the psychologist. 

Ellen and her husband live in Redwood City, California.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Final Report on My Blog Tour for Not as it Seems

I probably should have titled this blog post, "And the Winner is..."

Amy Bennett.

Amy managed to comment on the most blogs. This wasn't easy because some of the posts didn't show up until later in the day. One blog wouldn't accept comments. I didn't know that ahead of time.

I've notified her. Two others came in at a close second.

33 people in all left comments on various posts.

Will I do another? Probably, but I might change some things.

I'll never ask who'd like to host me on Facebook again. 

It's important that a blog accepts comments if the contest on the tour is about counting who comments the most.

The blogger needs to know that the post can be set up for a certain date and time and how to do it.

Perhaps I'll search for bloggers who have a lot of followers.

However, I do have some favorite blogs I enjoy visiting--and I'll probably continue doing that.

I do know that people who didn't comment visited and read my posts because they left comments on Facebook.

Did it help sales?

Yes, the numbers on Amazon got lower which only happens when people buy books.

And slowly but surely I'm getting reviews.

Reviews are important to writers.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Arms and Related Business in Taiwan

by Brent Ayscough

The Taiwanese are a lovely lot of people.  They have a military defense, but they are fully aware that if the Mainland Chinese ever decide to take the country, the only thing they can do is to try to hold them off a short while until the US and others come to their rescue.   Would the US do that?   You might ask yourself, would our president actually declare war on Mainland China, or would he just talk tough with his “sanctions” idea.

Dealing with the military in Taiwan over defense items is in part the subject of my story The Visitor.   The arms merchant Baron Von Limbach has his office there.  He sells to the Taiwan military, and to others. 

Money is very much the lingua franca. Deals for military equipment, aircraft, boats, and military related items are done with bribes of one kind or another.

Apart from the bribes, the method of the dealings is also interesting.  In the negotiations for something military, the parties, that is, the government or the military officers, meet with the supplier in a room.  A secretary brings in a fresh container of tea as they empty, and it is sipped throughout.  The negotiations may go on for a few days over something big.  The language skills are important, so someone like the fictional Baron Von Limbach, even though he speaks Mandarin, would probably not be the head negotiator as the language is too important. The parties go back and forth, with very slight movement in their positions.   

Of interest is that, when a deal is finally made, they do not quite bargaining.  They may continue to request some movement on the other side.

In my story, The Visitor, there are transactions that are based on actual events over such dealings.  

As an example, the Taiwan government decided some years ago that it wanted some helicopters to police the Taiwan Strait, that is, the narrow waterway between Taiwan and Mainland.  A contender was the smaller, inexpensive Robinson helicopter made at Torrance, California.   Mr. Robinson was very afraid of product liability. 

I put together  a proposal for an arms merchant in Taiwan for the Taiwan military that would have not allowed product liability suits from Taiwanese military pilots against the US company.  The helicopters would have installed on them French made Forward Looking Infrared Radar, or FLIR. 

But, Chinese are not known for flying skills, to put it mildly. That goes for driving cars as well. So, to impress Mr. Robinson, I set up a proposal to have their pilots come to Torrance, California, to be trained in an intensive course with interpreters.  It was assumed, at least by me, that a very large number of the helicopters would be crashed when being flown in Taiwan.  The deal almost went through, except that a dispute arose regarding commissions to be paid with the French.

Brent Ayscough or Ace, as he is known to friends, retired from the practice of law and lives in a house overlooking the sea in Southern California. He has always loved machines, from airplanes to motorcycles, structural design, and other interests. He has enjoyed the acquaintance of diverse and interesting people, and is widely traveled. Bits and pieces of characters he has known, places he has been, seasoned with the spice of his imagination, help him create unusual stories and characters. Extensive collaboration with experts and sources, hopefully, make his stories credible and interesting.

The Visitor by Brent Ayscough, Black Opal Books, Tradepaper/ebook

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's Puzzling by Lala Corriere

Imagine you have a colossal jigsaw puzzle. Now imagine you don’t know how many pieces it contains, but somewhere between 75,000 and 90,000. A best guess. It’s not labeled on the box.
That’s what I have in front of me. A new manuscript. Pieces of rough outlines, scores of sticky notes and hundreds of untamed ideas. They'll need to be moved around and sorted, because I always start with the flat-edged pieces that I know will make up the border.
            For me, the border represents the foundation of my manuscript. It encases my growing cast of characters to include the protagonist, the nefarious, along with a slate of voices important to the story. Settings become clear. At the very least, a vague plot is formed. Whether I write as a plotter or a panster, I have to start somewhere.
Some of the pieces don't fit quite right. I try to jam them into place to make them work. Some of the pieces go in smoothly and I can begin to see the storyboard that is my book.
I’m missing some puzzling pieces. I can’t tell you how many times my writing enters my dreams. I try to scribble illegible notes down in the dark. I wake up, and some of my thoughts are plain stupid. Others, I can’t quite remember when I knew they would be perfect.
Another piece, I painfully toss out. That piece would be the perfect scene that did not move my story forward.
A big part of the puzzle is that we fiction authors are liars. We make things up. It’s remembering all those lies that gets tricky. I love this part! Tying up all the loose ends by remembering where the pieces went. Every puzzling piece must be integral to the whole picture.
This is the best analogy I have for you on writing a novel. For those of you who are new to writing, or just curious, less than one percent of the population that sits down to write their great American novel actually completes it. This remains true, even in today’s saturated digital book market.
And yet the process is a bit like that of an explorer. You can celebrate knowing that you have the vision. This is your decision to write your book. You can rejoice in knowing that you are overcoming all of your obstacles. Your words are unfolding faster than you can type them. You will then dance the victory dance when you see all of those words fill the blank pages. And then, and only then, you realize The End, when your journey is documented. A finished novel.

Today I wish you many celebrations along your journey as a writer, reader, and amazing puzzler!

"Success is falling nine times and getting up ten."
                                                   ~Jon Bon Jovi


Just when romance author Chyna Blaze gives up her haunting past, she has a new problem. Her peers are being knocked-off. The detective insists she’s high on the list.
Her publicist arranges the date with a well-known literary giant. Chyna finds the idea annoying, but harmless.

Orson Locke quit writing, but not his vices. He likes his sugar straight out of cans of white icing, chased by bourbon, and Poe. He likes his temptations well-sated.

Bio: Lala Corriere

Since early childhood, Lala has been passionate about all the arts. She is a painter and a former stage performer. Early work careers blended high-end real estate sales and serving as president of an interior design firm.

Her fifth grade teacher, Miss Macy, was the to suggest she consider a career in writing. That extension of the arts, the written word, turned into a full time passion in 2001.

Career Highlights:

  • Endorsement and long-term mentorship by the late Sidney Sheldon
  • USA Today articles and review.
  • Published in regional magazines, newspapers, writer’s guides and journals.
  • Award winning poetry.
  • Endorsements from Andrew Neiderman [Devil’s Advocate], J Carson Black, KT Bryan, CJ West, Paris Afton Bonds, and many others remarkable authors.
Titles Include:

  • Widow’s Row
  • CoverBoys & Curses
  • Evil Cries
  • Kiss and Kill.
  • Bye Bye Bones, coming 2015

Readers and reviewers applaud her hallmark original plots, her in-depth character portrayals, rich scene settings, and authentic dialogue, all delivered with a fresh new voice. Oh, and her TWISTS! With her recent visit to Italy and riding the trains, her sixth book, Tracks, is taking shape.
Lala is a desert rat. She nestles there with her husband of over 25 years along with Finnegan & Phoebe— Teacup Yorkies.

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