Showing posts from September, 2015

The Last Day of my Blog Tour


This is the last day of my blog tour and I wrote about the changes in publishing and the choices I've made.

I can't tell you who won my contest just yet, though I have a pretty good idea who it is going to be.

Thirty people made comments on various posts. Some visited nearly every blog and posted. A few only posted on one blog. I supposed it was a topic he or she was interested in.

If you've been following, you know I've had some challenges.

People forget--though, since it's possible to set up a post with the day and time that it's supposed to appear, I'm not sure why that happens.

Has the tour helped with sales? Not sure, of course, but my numbers on Amazon have gone down--but my publisher also sells all formats directly from the site. I really won't know until I receive my next royalty statement.

Doing a blog tour is a lot of work. Will I do another one? Probably because despi…

This is What I've Been Up To

This last weekend we were all in Barstow CA--and this is some of the people who came. The patriarchs are in the middle front row (not those with feet in the water), hubby in black, me in white, my cousin Barbara in red and white. It was really hot--and it felt like we were meling while the photo was taken.
We had a great time, as usual We were missing some important folks who usually come, but hopefully they'll be able to make it next year.
Of course my blog tour suffered a bit. I was using my iPad and I'm just not as well versed on it as my home computer. I did the best I could.
I loved being with family. Had so much fun catching up. We laughed a lot. My cousin and I shared stories and remembrances about when we were kids growing up in L.A. one short block from each other. We walked to grammar school which was a long way, and we walked to junior high, much longer and to high school many times. Sometimes we took the bus, transferred to the street car and then walked which was…

HEALTH AND THE WRITER by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Writing stresses the mind and the body. Whether first draft or final edits, our brain is exercised by constant choices and decisions. We must sort through thousands of words each day and make decisions about each. Which ones will stay on the page? How will this word affect the story in its past, its present and its future? Is the pacing spot on or is the pacing lacking? Are my characters acting logically, given their personalities?
The myriad of judgment calls boggles the mind.
Then there’s marketing and administrative and work and family.
Marketing (including social media and a personal website) can gobble up time and energy if we’re not careful. Today’s writer is under tremendous stress. Lack of energy, a harried feeling can tear at one’s health. Responsibilities can drain energy and leave none for the fun part—writing a novel. Good health can break down if we’re not diligent.
What to do?
Over the years, I’ve learned that the basis for good health is a positive mindset. You have …

Tidbits About Not as it Seems

Just for fun, here are some things you'll encounter while reading Not as it Seems:
Ethiopian food and I bet your mouth will water.
Descriptions of seafood dishes, guaranteed to make you want to visit the restaurants in the book.
Beautiful places to go hiking.
The Indians who lived in and around Morro Bay: the Chumash and the Salinans.
Morro Rock
Some of the places to see around Morro Bay.
Great places to go hiking.
Arroyo Grande
Los Osos
San Luis Obispo
The Mission at SLO
ARF facilities for the mentally ill
Montana de Oro
The legend of the missing hitchhiker
Indian Spirits
A character named after Linda Thorne.
Once you've read Not as it Seems, if you've never been to Morro Bay, I bet you'll want to visit.

Not As It Seems PDF (978-1-60659-447-6)
Not As It Seems Kindle (978-1-60659-447-6)…

ABOUT THE BALEFUL OWL by Virgil Alexander

In my other life I am an Arizona Historian, an avocation I’ve enjoyed from childhood. I have researched the history and explored the site of the Stoneman Grade, a military trail built into the heartland of the Apache homeland in 1870.
So when I read that the Arizona Highway Department was proposing modifying US-60 through the Pinal Mountains between Superior and Miami by separating the east and westbound lanes with the new part following the old Stoneman Grade, the seed of The Baleful Owl was planted.
The story begins with a murder at an archeological site in the proposed new US-60 corridor. As part of the impact study for the new route, excavation of a Salado Culture pueblo was begun.
As crews report for the second day of the dig, the body of an archeologist and a second wounded archeologist is found. 
As my three rural cops investigate the scene they conclude that the attacks resulted from theft of artifacts. One artifact, a beautifully crafted and unique effigy ceramic, called the Ba…

Changing the Setting for Not as it Seems

When someone writes a murder mystery series that centers around one location, and especially one that is a small town, there is always the fear that the place will have the Cabot Cove Syndrome (where Jessica Fletcher's neighbors and friends died one after another.)
Deputy Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy for the small town of Bear Creek and its outlying areas, including the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, which has given me some other places for murder victims to be found. I've also brought in out-of-towners for some of the murder victims.
Once in a while Tempe travels while working an investigation. But in the case of Not as it Seems she and her husband Hutch go on vacation. The vacation includes the wedding of their son Blair who lives in Morro Bay.
Morro Bay is one of my husband's and my favorite places to visit so it was fun to include some of the places we like to go from restaurants to beautiful places of interest. 
Because Bear Creek is fictional with merely si…

James Garcia explains his Christian Horror

Can a vampire – a creature that must drink the blood of others to live – become a Christian? And perhaps more importantly, can a Christian read and write such dark subject matter?
Hello. Thanks for taking the time to meet me. I’m James, and I read and write dark fiction. Let me first tell you that although I do enjoy this genre of fiction, I have no love at all for torture, mutilation or the darkest of the dark. Trust me when I tell you that I am more Silence of the Lambs than Saw 4. In addition, you are more likely to find me curled up on the couch, watching films like An Affair to Remember, Lawrence of Arabia and Casablanca than The Exorcist. I do own all of those films, and I do watch them periodically; however, I really am more romantic than fiend. Trust me. *winks*
Okay, what?
How in the world does a guy who watches those kinds of films write about things that go bump in the night? Well, you see it began by accident when I first stumbled upon horror novels while a teenager. It proba…


Conjuring the puzzle-mystery is a magic trick. The impossibility of a solution is merely an illusion and, when the reveal is made known—if the piece is well-written—the solution seems obvious, a perfect fit. It is up to the author, i.e., the magician, to provide the misdirection and the entertainment along the way.

This is most apparent in "locked room" mystery plots. Here, the crime seems to violate the laws of nature. For example, take one of the murders in the classic, The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr. It has just begun snowing. A man in a heavy overcoat walks out of his living quarters and into an alley. Several passersby hear a gunshot and within seconds they arrive at the entrance to the alleyway where they see the victim collapse face first.

The puzzling part is that the victim was shot from up-close as evidenced by powder burns on the back of his coat where the bullet entered. And yet, there is no perpetrator nearby and the only footprints in the snow are thos…


The tour for Not as It Seems is shorter than usual and should be easier to follow.
Sept. 15  How do Real People Figure into my Books?
Sept. 16 The Inspiration for the Book and an Excerpt

Sept. 17  The Character Who Borrowed Linda Thorne's Name
Sept 18  How I Started Writing, and More On this blog you can't leave comments.
Sept. 19 About Tempe's Indian Background
Sept. 20 The Setting
Sept. 21 Researching Ethiopia
Sept. 22 Eating Your Way Through a Mystery
Sept. 23 My Fascination with Law Enforcement
Sept. 24 The Frustrations That Get in the Way of Writing
Sept. 25 Keeping a Mystery Series…

Creating Quirky Characters by Robert and Darrin McGraw

Quirky characters add spice to a story and can also be used as a source of tension.             
In Animal Future, Darrin and I began with the premise that in the near future, an unexplained phenomenon has caused some species to become intellectually elevated to the point that they are classified “provisional humans” and can hold down human jobs. Although our book is a humorous action-thriller, there is an important sub-text that asks: if the “Elevation” actually occurred, how could two very different populations learn to get along with each other?
            We start with a chimpanzee character.  But there immediately we have a problem: chimpanzees wearing clothes are a cliché. We counter that by taking it a step farther and making our chimp, Mr. Brian, even more “clothed” than a human would be. He’s a “bespoke” (custom) gentleman’s tailor with a deep knowledge of the fashion industry. Naturally, a high-end clothier like Brian wears high-quality suits, French cuff shirt…


More than half of “history” is “story.” If you’re a writer of fiction who incorporates history into your story, you better get the parts you make up right.
No one is likely to shoot you if you have Washington crossing the Ohio instead of the Delaware. But you better believe some astute reader will inform you of your error. And, worse, they probably won’t buy another of your novels.
Knowing your facts is important. How you introduce them into the story is equally important. You don’t want a laundry list of facts. Description needs to be blended in as a bridge and not a barrier between dialogue and action.
The majority of my books have been set in places I’m familiar with and I’m also fortunate as librarian of my county historical society to have access to period newspapers, diaries and other documents related to the periods I write about. Don’t neglect research. It requires time and dedication, but can be fun—as well as distracting. Though that’s another story.
My latest novel, Someth…