Showing posts from June, 2015

Being Nice Goes a Long Way

That title seems rather simple--but recently I witnessed someone that I like attack another person that I like via the Internet. I'm not going into detail because the less said about the actual incident the better.

Unfortunately, the whole thing blew up with others in on it, and possibly more consequences to come--though I certainly hope not.

In our lifetime we run into people we don't care for, but it's best to keep our opinions to ourselves. We aren't going to like everyone who crosses our paths.

Years ago, I thought that everyone should like me, and if they didn't I could work harder and change his or her opinion. Wrong. The truth is there are folks that you are going to rub the wrong way no matter what you do to change their opinion.

My philosophy about this, is be kind no matter what. It isn't going to hurt you, and not being kind will. You ask how? Because others will see how you act and judge you. As the old saying goes, "Don't shoot yourself in…

Writing About Older Women by Jean Henry Mead

When I wrote my first mystery novel, after five nonfiction books and a Wyoming historical novel, I agonized over my protagonist. How old should she be and what should she be like? Then a phone call from an old friend, who likes to reminisce about our single days, helped me decide. The two of us had a lot of fun together and she could always make me laugh. I reasoned that now that we were no longer young, why not write a book about two senior women who reluctantly decide to solve the murders of their friends and club members.
Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty were born on my computer screen and came to life in the Valley Retirement Village in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where I lived for more than a dozen years and met my friend Marge. I call my two amateur sleuths seniors but they’re actually baby boomers in their early sixties. Feisty and adventurous, they claim to be able to compete with younger sleuths, with the exception of roller blading and scaling tall buildings.
In their fi…

Truth is More Twisted Than Fiction by Velda Brotherton

Believe me, I can attest to that. Spending nine years working as a feature writer and city editor for a rural weekly newspaper has shown me some pretty twisted things. Stuff, if you put it in fiction, folks would snicker and say it was too twisted to happen.  All those stories and marvelous characters I met during that time are filed away. Frankly I never thought I’d use them. Writing Western Historical romances didn’t call for most of these modern day happenings here in our Ozarks.
But then one day, it occurred to me that I wanted to write something else as well. Since I like reading mysteries, the sexy, dark, and gritty kind, I navigated in that direction. Why not write about a reporter working for a rural weekly newspaper? Inspired, wasn’t I? And as for the sexy part, we needed a tall, dark and handsome hero. One with secrets and special talents. So Jesse West, my reporter and Dallas Starr, my Cherokee ex-narc who visits with those killed violently were born.
As for stories, I never …

Writing a Cozy Mystery by Joyce Ann Brown

What, no detailed violence or bloodshed in my mystery—in this day of Mission Impossible XIV (or whatever number they’re up to) and CSI morgues in living color? And what about including a hint of romance rather than steamy, explicit sex scenes? Would anyone read it? Shades of Gray was made into a movie, for heaven’s sake.
I started writing my first mystery at a workshop. It was love at first write. Mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres. Agatha Christie, Lilian Jackson Braun, Nancy Pickard, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Diane Mott Davidson, Carl Hiaasen, Tony Hillerman, and on and on. That there are sub-genres within the mystery genre didn’t give me pause. Until—people started telling me I needed to include sex scenes and gory details of the murders in my stories to appeal to today’s readers. I struggled to include some gratuitous sex and violence in my otherwise strategy and clue-driven first mystery. It sounded unnecessary and even distracting. It was then I dug deeper in…


I'm delighted to welcome my friend, Thonie Hevron, to my blog today. I met Thonie at last year's PSWA conference.

Marilyn suggested I write about how I got published. It’s a great idea and may offer the unpublished writer some hope to be published!
I’ve been writing for years—since I could hold a pencil. About fifteen years ago, I got serious and decided to write a novel. It took several years but I completed Probable Cause which became By Force or Feareventually. 
Getting serious included joining a professional writing association-Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA but in those days it was known as Police Writers Association). One of the perks of membership is a free manuscript evaluation by a professional editor. I sent Probably Cause in and was encouraged to submit it as an unpublished manuscript in the PSWA annual writing contest. I tied for third place in the unpublished fiction novel category. Woohoo! This made me an award winning author!
During this time, I continu…

Karen Rose Smith shares a recipe for Blueberry Bread

I came from an Italian heritage of sitting around the table—talking, laughing and arguing—and making each meal at my grandmother's house an event. Dessert was always a meal extender whether it was cannoli for Christmas, fried dough balls dipped in honey for Easter or Sunday dinner chocolate cake. Dessert gave us extra time to sit at the table and enjoy each other's company. My mother followed the tradition. She was a third grade teacher. Often she would bake layer cake or sponge cake in the morning before we caught the school bus! We'd either use it that night or freeze it for dinner with company on the weekend. Just as she served a salad and crunchy bread every night for dinner, she would serve dessert.
I've followed my mother's and grandmother's traditions because I like to cook. When my son was small, we baked and sold fruit breads at craft fairs. I entered cooking contests. He helped me make at least a dozen different kinds of cookies for Christmas to give…

Keeping a Series Alive by Carola Dunn

When I first proposed the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series to my agent, I'd chosen my period (1920s), my setting (England), and my protagonist (Daisy). I had decided Daisy would be of an aristocratic family, so she could question a duke about why he was in the library at the stroke of midnight, but impoverished, so she had to work for a living. And I made her a journalist to give her an excuse for finding bodies all over the country, thus avoiding St. Mary's Mead/Cabot Cove syndrome.

In Heirs of the Body (just out in paperback), for instance, she's staying at her family's estate in Worcestershire.
Beyond that, all I knew was that I didn't want to have to think up titles. I had already written over 20 Regencies and I was tired of coming up with good, eye-catching, memorable titles. I decided my series would be Death in January, Death in February, Death in March, etc. Each plot would be related to the month. Thus the first would have a body in a frozen lake.
Well, St. …


Networking is a word that holds profound importance for anyone marketing anything. From the insurance salesperson vying for your dollar to the author boosting sales, networking is essential. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as a noun meaning “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
For an author this means building a network of authors, other publishing professionals, readers, fans and people who still haven’t discovered that you even exist. In today’s lexicon, networking also relates to building a platform.
Building a platform
Most writers already do many of the things necessary to build platforms. We just may not have lumped them together in a box with that label. Here are some activities that build a platform while networking:
The web
Personal websites: There are various ways to build a network on the web. Set up your author page, and if poss…

Jesse Damon Interview

Jesse, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Why do you think you were chosen for the main character in a crime series?
Hadn't thought about it. Maybe 'cause you don't hear from people who live on the edge of society like I do. You know, kind of give us a voice. And Mr. Ramirez, my parole officer, told me he thought it would be a good idea if I came. Your PO says he thinks something's a good idea, if you’re smart, you do it.
Tell us a little about yourself.

Ain't much to tell. I picked up a murder conviction when I was sixteen. What you might call a defining moment in my life. So I was locked up for almost twenty years. Now I'm just trying t o make it on parole. Not be one of those recidivism statistics. You know, all those people  who get caught up in the revolving door of prison/parole/back to prison. But y'know, they don't make it easy.
Did you kill somebody?
Not directly. I mean, I wasn’t the triggerman. My older brothers got me to stand lookout w…

#0 in a Mystery Series

Counting on our fingers, we all start “one, two, three.” Right? So what’s up with a mystery series, like the Seamus McCree Novels, that starts with zero?
Perhaps I should have been as smart as George Lucas, who labeled his first Star Wars movie “Episode 4.” But I was not. When I first decided to write a series about a financial crimes investigator, I thought long and hard about his name and finally decided on Seamus McCree. His first name is a double play with words:
Seamus is the Gaelic equivalent of my first name, James. Since this character was in a sense standing in for me on the fictional page, a variation of my name had a certain irony that I appreciated. Even better was that Seamus is a homonym for Shamus: Yiddish for a detective. Mystery readers would appreciate that inside joke.
After choosing a first name, I decided on the last name McCree so when anyone Googled the name, they would likely come up with my character. And with an Irish name like that, I gave him South Boston as a…