Showing posts from February, 2015

A Brief View of All the Jobs I've Had

My most important job for many years and one that's continued on is being a wife, mother, grandmother and now greatgrandmother.

I began in the working world--meaning that I got paid for what I did as a babysitter at the age of 10. Yes,, 10. I took care of a girl with developmental disabilites who was the same age. Quite an experience--and I earned a whopping 50 cents. I never went back.
The next baby sitting job I was nearly 12 and took care of 5 little ones one evening. We did okay though I don't remember changing any diapers--and also don't remember what I was paid. I continued babysitting all through my teens, earned the money to buy clothes my mom throught were too expensive. (And I'm sure she was right.)
I did housework also for one of the women I babysat for--didn't like that at all.
When I was a senior in highschool, I did inventory one night at a big deparment store in downtown L.A. I also worked for a time in a hot-rod store.
After I was married and had a …

Using a Real Place for a Setting

Anyone who is familiar with my two mysery series knows that I don't use actual places for the settings, though in both cases they are similar to places that I know.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Rocky Bluff is a Southern California beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara--and no, it is not Carpenteria. Rocky Bluff has it's own geography, street names and history. In many ways it's similar to two other beach towns, Ventura and Oxnard.
The action in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series usually happens in a fictional town called Bear Creek and the surrounding area. Sometimes the story centers on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. Bear Creek is similar to the town where I live except I've moved it into the mountains another 1000 feet in order to have "better" trees and more weather.
The indian reservation has many similarities to the Tule River Indian Reservation--but it's not exactly like it. I've given Porterville the name Dennison, but kept pret…

What to Do When You're A Guest on Someone's Blog

If you have the date, be sure and put everything together as soon as possible and send it on. Sometimes I have people scheduled at their or their publicists request, and nothing arrives.
What to send:
In one attachement, a word file with the post--either a topic the host asked for or one you wanted to write about, a blurb about your latest book, a buy link, your bio and your links like webpage, blog, facebook etc.
Other attachements should have a .jpeg of your books cover or covers, and one of you, the author.
On the day the post appears, be sure and promote it.
I always promote my guest's blog on Facebook and Twitter, but since it's your post you should be promoting there and on all your groups on Facebook and listserves you belong to.
Check back on the blog from time to time and if anyone has left a comment, acknowledge it.

A RATION OF REALITY TV by Gerrie Ferris Finger

Wikipediadefines reality TV as “Television programming that documents unscripted situations and actual occurrences, and often features a previously publicly unknown cast. The genre highlights personal drama and conflict to a much greater extent than other unscripted television such as documentary shows…”
Just a minute. With that definition, I part ways with Wikipedia, a people’s encyclopedia I rely on for information in writing my novels. Reality television is about as real as Bugs Bunny. I’ve never watched a full episode of Survivor, but I’ve seen enough outtakes to detect manipulation, scripting, coaching, editing and lines said straight from a story board. I know I used to write them. A fired cast member of Storage Wars alleges in his lawsuit that producers staged entire storage lockers that were the subject of the auctions with valuable or unusual items to create drama and suspense for the show, sometimes faking scenes of bidding.
No doubt from this scribbler of fiction. Who wants to …

Writing Advice from Two Pros

I recently attended the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting where Simon Wood and Catariona McPherson were the guest speakers. Both were charming and were there to promote their latest books. However, during their talk, they dispersed some nuggests of writing advice.

Both of these authors treat writing as their full-jobs--an occupation.
Catriona has a goal of so many words a day--though admitted sometimes she doesn't quite get there.
Simon works 9 to 5 or 6 on his writing.
Both authors do a lot of research. Catriona admitted to writing about a place that was no longer existed, but she learned a lot about what it was like and used it all in her latest book.
Simon likes to go to the places at the time of day or night that he's writing about. He also likes to intereveiw people, people with the ssame kind of problems his characters have or professionals who understand the problems.
One thing he cautioned about was that every police department is different, so if you're writing…

ROLES by Charlene Wexler

My life has had me play some diverse roles that have brought me to my latest career as a writer.   Daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, mom, caregiver, grandmother, teacher, and dental office bookkeeper are some of the roles I’ve played in my life. Those roles affect my writing.
Some people think my writing is all over the map—funny, serious, murder mysteries, and a family saga. My writing varies a lot because it is affected by all of those diverse roles and experiences.
My first murder mystery, Murder on Skid Row, is predominantly set in a dental office. In Milk andOranges, my book of serious and funny essays and short stories, you’ll see just about all the roles I’ve played in my life.
Lori, my family saga, reflects all those roles too. Murder Across the Oceanis my latest murder mystery. It deals with how a modern seventy-something woman like me and my friends might handle solving a murder. Not by sipping tea like Miss Marple, good as those mysteries are.
People f…


I’ll admit:  my favorite parts of the writing process are research and editing. Writing that first draft? That’s my version of walking through water deep enough so it’s hard to keep your head above the waves.
So when I started thinking about writing a new series I first thought about what I’d like to learn  about. The bigger excuse to do research, the better!
I thought about writing an historical series. I even picked a time and place. (I won’t share more, since I still may write that series!) But my first mystery series (the Shadows Antique Print series) had a background of antique prints, so I decided to explore another area of antiques or art in my new series. I thought of many possibilities. Antiquarian books had been done. China and glass didn’t fascinate me. Some antiques were wonderful, but I didn’t think I could sustain interest in them for a whole series. I kept thinking, as I walked through antique shows and attended auctions. And then, at a show in Vermont, I saw an entire …

Planning Another Blog Tour

Fool that I am, yes, I'm working on another blog tour for my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Violent Departures.

The first step is to find people willing to host me. I've reached out to several and also asked other Oak Tree Press authors if they'd like to be one of my hosts. Some have given me ideas about the subject for the post--others have left it up to me.
One big decision I made was to keep the tour a bit shorter than the last one--this will have 20 stops, beginning April 1.
I'll have two prizes--one will be to have a character named after him or her in the next RBPD mystery and the other, to choose an earlier book in the series--either paper or for Kindle.
Next step, of course, is always to start writing the posts with the goal to make them interesting enough for people to want to read them--but to keep them fairly short. This is always more work than I realize and especially hard when I'm also trying to write a book in my other series.
So, you ask, why do y…

PEARL HARBOR BLUES by Victoria Heckman

It all began (for me) when I moved to Hawai’i to attend the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  It was love at first sight.  I felt I had come home.  Everything about Hawai’i felt natural and comfortable, like I belonged there.  I stayed for many years, my children were born there, and when I decided to write my first novel, of course, it would be set there.  Fast forward about 10 years. 
 While living there, I went to the Arizona Memorial about once a year. I couldn’t stay away.  It always touched me that I found both American and Japanese military standing side by side, not speaking, but both quietly paying their respects, lost in the past, perhaps.  They were always old, at least to me at that time, and I knew from the bits of discussion I would hear before and after the visit, they were part of that war. Another puzzle piece was that I thought I might continue in law enforcement in Hawai’i.  I was a reserve officer before moving there, so I checked out HPD, did ride-alongs and research…

MMA--A Family Affair

This may seem a strange topic for my blog, but from time-to-time I do write about other things than mysteries, writing mysteries, and hosting guests. And often, the other things have to do with family.

Recently, my eldest great grandsonBrandon had an MMA fight at the Tachi Palace in Lemoore.

His opponent had 9 previous matches and never lost.
Brandon had had 3 matches, lost one and won two.
His opponent trains in one of the most prestigious gyms in the area.
Brandon trained in the fellowship hall of the First Baptist Church in Springville. He's also the one who runs the MMA training. My son worked with him on his strength training. His brother did the wrestling. My grandson-in-law did the boxing. His dad was right there with all the training.

I might add that Brandon also is one of the youth pastors at our church.
When it came time for the fight, not only did a lot of relatives attend the fight, so did many of our church members including a lot of the youth.
The Cheering Section

Forgotten Senses: Smell by G.K. Parker

Forgotten Senses: Smell
Anyone who has ever read a writing craft book or taken a course will no doubt have heard authors encouraged to use senses in their stories. Nobody disputes that fact.

Why is it then the only senses that are used with regularity are sight and hearing? And even hearing tends to be relegated to voices, phones, traffic and other cliches. Touch is not used as much as it should be, especially in novels with erotic content. Tactile touch can make any scene more sensual, but it's often overlooked or given minimal attention.
But the sense that is overlooked the most is scent. It's one of our most powerful senses, even if nowhere near as powerful in us as in other animals, such as dogs.
How often have you caught a whiff of something and immediately had a flashback to another time and place? Pheromones, odors that are a microscopically undetectable can trigger desire and rage. Smells of all types can be powerful that way.
So why is it overlooked? I think it'…

Lessons Learned About Writing by Patricia A. Guthrie

Good morning and thank you for allowing me to be here.  I'd like to share some of the hard-earned lessons I've discovered over many painful years of writing and discarding novels. Just ask my computer. It has to store those painful memories.
After four failed attempts and two published books, "In the Arms of the Enemy" and "Waterlilies Over My Grave" I've learned many vital lessons. Probably the most important is:

Research, research, research.  
After the first of the year and my yearly New Year's Resolutions, I decided to take my own (and others') advice and put myself to the test. I cleaned out and organized my computer. I cleaned out lots of old websites and blogspot addresses, many which no longer existed, and I waded through some of my (and others') old writing articles. I thought about the value of research and how much time it would save when we wrote our novels.
So here goes: the value of researching our novels.
We know (pretty much) w…

A Series of New Thoughts by Elaine L. Orr

Starting a mystery series is kind of like picking a college. You commit to several years of your life and the relationship never really ends.
I had the idea for the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series in early 2005, and did not publish the first book until 2011. It was sort of like the six-year college plan that tuition-paying parents dread. My delay was not weekend partying, more the desire to write the first two books before putting them out. That way, I'd really know the players.
Writers who plan carefully don't need to do this. They spend substantial amounts of time developing a character's back story and role. That could be me in another lifetime, but it's not me in this one. I like to get to know some aspects of a character as I write. Never a dull moment.
After eight books and a prequel in the Jolie Gentil series, I confess to being a tad restless. That doesn't mean the Ocean Alley friends will not appear again, but it does mean I want to start a second series…

I Took on Another Job

Those of you who know me also know that I already have too much to do. This is kind of a labor of love/

I've belonged to the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime from the beginning. In fact, I attended the first get-together of like-minded women at the Red Lobster in Fresno for the founding of this chapter and I've been a member ever since.

Because Fresno is a long way from my little village of Springville, I never served as an officer or committee members. 
When the president began talking about modernizing the chapter in different ways, especially the promotion, I suggested that we have a blog. Guess what? She asked me to do it.
Because I've been blogging for such a long time I thought it would be a cinch to set it up. Not so. I ran into all sorts of problems, including getting the URL wrong. It took me forever trying to figure out how to fix it. Then I didn't like the way the format looked so back to square one.
I'm sure as time goes one I may do some more tw…

Characters Who Have Shaped Me by Kathleen Delaney

Usually writers talk about shaping characters, about how they grow and change as the story evolves. And that’s true. We live with them, sculpt them, tweak them, change them if they let us, but we don’t always think of how they affect the reader. Oh, I don’t mean in the context of the story exactly, but how the characters themselves, their attitudes, the way they live their lives, the way they treat other people, can have an effect on someone else’s life.

My brother wrote me an interesting email the other day. He has a habit of doing that, shooting off an idea that makes me stop in mid-stream and think about something that hadn’t been there before. He had just finished re-reading Anne of Green Gables and wanted to talk about it. I hadn’t read it for years, so begged off until I could find my old copy and catch up. In the meantime, he asked what character had most influenced me during our growing up years, and why.  Now, there is an interesting question.
He said that the person he was …