Showing posts from March, 2015

My Writing Habits by Kay Kendall

By now I’ve been writing fiction long enough that I’ve learned to trust my own inclinations. I used to believe I had to do everything the way the experts suggested. Over time I’ve learned that on some points the experts differ.
For example, while most advise that a first draft should be ripped through quickly, without editing as you go, I cannot do that. I just can’t. I always felt guilty about that, since I was doing things WRONG. Finally one day, lo and behold, I began to learn about other authors who are like me. At least one bestselling author and I share a pattern—beginning our writing day by editing what we write the day before. What a relief.
Here are some other habits I have learned to trust as well:
Just because you’re writing your own book, that doesn’t mean you can stop reading other ones. In fact, I’ve read more, not less, since I began to write fiction. I submerged myself in the mystery/suspense genre for almost two years before I startedDesolation RowAn Austin Starr Myste…

Violent Departures Blog Tour Schedule


April 1 What’s Happening with Gordon Butler?
April 2             Introduction to the Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery Series
April 3             My Writing Process
April 4
April 5 What’s Up Next?
April 6 The Importance of Place
April 7             Coming Up With New Ideas for an Ongoing Series
April 8 Where Do My Characters Come From?
April 9             What About the Dialogue?
April 10   Interview
April 11             How I Keep Up With my Characters and What’s Happened
April 12

Harlan Coben's THE STRANGER, a review

I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the publisher. To be honest, I'd never read a book by Harlan Coben, though I have seen him at various mystery cons.
At any one time, I'm usually reading 3 books--often it is a bookd that I received from a publisher or publicist wanting a review. Sometimes I enjoy reading the book, with others, not so much.
Once I got started on this one, I couldn't stop. After the first few pages, I just had to know what was going to happen next.
The story centers on Adam Price, a rather ordinary man who has a happy marriage and two young sons and life is good. Or at least it was until a stranger tells Adam a secret about his wife. At first Adam doesn't believe it, then after some research he realizes the secret is true, but not the reason behind it.
When Adam's wife disappears, leaving only a cryptic message, he begins investigating with a fervor.
The reader is let in on the fact that other people have learned secrets about lo…


Some days I feel almost like God, the Creator.  Or  Shiva, the Destroyer/Creator.  Well, not exactly, of course.I can’t make plants (I am not into sci-fi) and my “creations” must be based on the reality actually created by a Higher Power:humans, to be precise.I have quite a lot of experience with humans. The protagonist in my new series* is my Great Aunt Mary, an unsung Victorian feminist missionary heroine of the Balkans from 1888-1920. I have hundreds of pages of diary entries from her for all those years, so when I envisioned the Mary Matthews Missionary Sleuth series I thought how easy it would be:  take the characters and incidents she outlines in the diaries and letters, tweak the incidents just a bit (believe me, they don’t need much!), and swoosh, Aunt Mary solves the crime.  It is clear from actual records that she was a problem-solver.
But to start a series, one needs to go to the beginning:  to the wide-eyed 23-year-old leaving her protected life in upstate New York village a…

Marketing and the Small Press Author by Rebecca Jaycox

On January 21, 2014, I signed with Rocking Horse Publishing, which is a small press based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, I was thrilled! I had spent seven and a half years writing and rewriting The Other Inheritance. I had shopped it around for a year, receiving frustrating comments from agents like, “clearly you’re a good writer, but I’m just not in love with your book.” So once I got the email from RHP, I actually cried—on the subway, in public. I thought the hardest part was over. Boy, was I wrong.
The hardest part comes when your book is actually out there, especially when you’re with a small press that just doesn’t have the funds to pay for publicity. And that’s not a problem that only indie authors have, that’s also a problem for first-time writers that sign with big publishing houses. The lion’s share of the marketing and publicity falls on your shoulders, and you’d better learn what to do and fast.
Twitter and I became BFFs. I learned how to use Facebook to my advantage,…

Inverview Subjects Who Made it into My Mysteries by Marilyn Meredith

When I first moved to Springville, I wrote personality pieces for the local newspaper--The Tule River Times. (This folksy weekly changed hands a couple of times while I worked for them.)

Sometimes, I was told who to interview, but most of the time I had to find someone interesting on my own. I liked to write about an old-timer one week and someone new to the area the next. This was a great way for me to become acquainted with a number of people. Some of them lived in most intriguing places, way up in the mountains, or off on a winding road that didn't seem to lead anywhere.
One of the most fascinating was a woman who lived in the mountains, down a mile long rutted road that had to be driven on by a car with a high undercarriage. She lived in a house her husband had built by hand, crafting the lumber from the trees on the property. Water and electricity were supplied by the nearby river. I didn't use her in a book, but I did use the location--made for a great hidden marijuana f…

Habits to Hang a Hook On by Frankie Y. Bailey

Last week, I attended a presentation and discovered that without thinking I had headed to the same seat in the auditorium that I’d occupied the week before. I sat down and realized that my seatmates were the same two people I’d sat beside a week earlier. I pointed that out to them and we had a lively exchange about how we – and our students – tend to claim a seat on the first day and automatically return to it.  We humans are creatures of habit. Whether it’s the seat we sit in, the side of the bed that we sleep on, or whether we have mayo or mustard on our sandwich, we tend to make a choice and stick with it. We are offended and annoyed when someone fails to acknowledge our choices – especially when they ignore our claims to ownership. How dare they sit in our chair? Well-developed characters also are creatures of habit. A character’s habits may provide information about his preferences, his attitudes, and/or his belief system. A character that always chooses an aisle sea…

ASYLUM by Jaennette de Beauvoir

A Sense of Place

When they begin thinking about their next book, many writers—especially mystery writers—start with a character. It’s important, obviously, to provide the reader with a person they can relate to, someone smart, attractive, funny, quirky—all the things that in our innermost secret places we wish we were more like. Or, alternately, authors may begin with a plot, the sudden clear sense that an idea, even just a passing snippet of one, could be developed into an intriguing novel. A lot of writers have half-finished stories just waiting for the right time, place, and character to arrive to make them come alive. Not me. I’ve always started with a place. There’s a story—possibly apocryphal—about novelist Phyllis Whitney, whose romantic thrillers were situated in all sorts of exotic locales. The story goes that she would decide where she wanted to go next on vacation, and then use that place as the setting for her new novel. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it strikes me as …

The Maltese Falcon: Mysteries Then and Now

Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m. Sunny Frazier, Cora Ramos and I will be at the Book Barn at 640 Clovis Ave., in Clovis CA. All three of us are members of the San Joaquin Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
We're going to be discussing The Maltese Falcon, the mystery and the movie, and how mysteries have changed since then. It should be a lively discussion--and of course, we're open to comments and questions from the audience.
Sunny Frazier is the author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. 

Cora Ramos is the author of  Dance the Dream Awake.

Marilyn Meredith also known as F. M. Meredith, is the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

The authors will have copies of their books on sale.
This should be a lively discussion, do come and add to it.