Monday, February 29, 2016

Introducing Dave Cropp

I am new to the blogosphere.

I am excited about my first novel that will be coming out this summer: “Valley Heat,” published by Oaktree Press:

It is based on my many years in law enforcement with a loose analogy to Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically his journey through hell (inferno).

It’s taken me years to write.  The idea fascinated me from the start, and the challenge of fitting my cop stories into a new fiction format was important to me.  I feel that Dante’s journey resembles the constant human struggle to define right vs. wrong, good vs. bad; and the ultimate attempt to validate our perceptions by pointing to the ultimate idea of consequences.   
I do not take sides; do not support one religion over another, or even support religion over atheism.  The story transcends religious dogma.  At its core level it is about one person struggling with a soul that reaches out for as much fun a possible, and a cognition that knows better.  Initially, his soul wins the day—but at what cost.

In the sequel, my character’s soul begins to take a backseat to cognitive maturation.  Here we will see an analogy to Dante’s Purgatory; and in the third book of the trilogy we will see a redemption analogous to Paradiso.   
Many writers have inspired me over the years, including Trevanian, Tracy Chevalier, Jack London and William Somerset Maugham.

The Public Safety Writers Association: has helped me build confidence as a writer.

You can visit my website at:

I have previously published three short stories and have an Amazon profile at:

And, I am a contributing writer at Police One

Saturday, February 27, 2016

When Life Interferes with Plans by Marilyn Meredith

On the calendar this last week looked like it was nearly wide open to work on my latest w-i-p, which happens to be a Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Instead, life intervened as most of my readers knows.

Like I wrote about earlier, my husband got very ill and we had to go to the ER, spent 3 days at the hospital, and once home had a lot of adjusting to do.

The fact that he had a horrible cold, as did my daughter and I, didn't help matters any. I don't think I could have done it without daughter. She did all the driving and various other things here at home, including spending 3 nights with us.

I had two newsletters that needed finishing--fortunately both were nearly done. One just had to be sent off to the fellow who actually posts it--the other had to wait until I attended a meeting and got the latest information, but it was all done except for the last page.

For anyone who wonders why I do so much ahead of time it's because I know that emergencies tend to crop up and it's much easier on me if I've done as much as possible ahead of time.

I also received the print-ready copy of A Crushing Death to go over one last time. So I did that starting yesterday evening and finished this morning. And yes, I did find some mistakes. I hope I got them all.

Also realized I had two more blog posts to write, so that's what I'm doing now.

No, I'm not complaining, just telling it like it is.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Personal Note

The last few days have been harrowing.

On Sunday morning, hubby wasn't feeling good at all. He had the flu, but also complained of feeling dizzy. I thought I'd take him into Urgent Care after I taught my Sunday School class, but when I told him he could drive over and pick me up, he said, "I don't think I can drive."

Since it's only 5 minutes from our house to church, I knew things were far more serious than I thought. My daughter came over and we took him down to the ER. When he got out of the car, a nurse who'd stepped outside and saw him, put him in a wheelchair and took him right inside. 

They immediately put him in a cubicle and started monitoring him were shocked that his heart was only beating 30 to 40 times a minute. It wasn't long before a doc looked him over and said he was going to be admitted. The admitting doc arrived and it wasn't long before he was moved to a room in the hospital. 

Somewhere along the line, we learned that a cardiologist was called in on his case. He stopped in to see hubby, and surgery was scheduled for Monday a.m. In the meantime we let family know many arrived to see him. Our youngest daughter and hubby and grandson traveled 3 1/2 hours to see him and spent most of the late afternoon with him.

Other grands and great-grands came and went. At times we had 9 people in the room, including little kids. Times have certainly changed. 

Many, many prayers were said for him in person and on Facebook.

Surgery happened around noon on Monday-- and all went well.

They kept him over night and we brought him home on Tuesday. He was a bit worn out, but began to realize that his knees that have been horribly painful were feeling better. What a wonderful plus.

And by the way, he got wonderful care in the hospital, Sierra View in Porterville.

Every day he seems a bit better. I am so thankful.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What was the Biggest Challenge You Faced Writing SHARDS OF MURDER?

I was excited to be writing the second book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series, but also pretty alarmed at the limited timeframe for turning in the manuscript to my publisher. This would be my first experience with a production speed writing schedule.

Luckily, my engineering background served me well in breaking down the task into manageable pieces. I estimated the number of words needed for the manuscript. I then divided the word count by the number of days until it was due and, voila! The result was the number of words I needed to write each day to meet the deadline.

I struggled some days, but I usually met my writing target often enough to make me feel like a true professional writer. The exercise taught me an important lesson. Basically, for me, the lesson is that in addition to creativity, the productive author needs to embrace a writing process sprinkled with a generous helping of raw discipline.

In each of the books in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series, I choose two things to help set the mood. The first is the setting for the crime and the second is which type of glass art will be taught in the shop.

The setting is extremely important to me and I’ve been attending art festivals in downtown St. Petersburg for years and years. In order to get some behind the scenes information about the running of a large festival, I volunteered to staff the information booth. Sitting behind the table, handing out maps, pointing to the nearest restrooms and nearest vendor for water, I was able to get valuable experience for the festival atmosphere.

It was easy to choose fusing glass as the featured skill for Shards of Murder. This is by far my favorite medium when working in our small glass studio behind the house. It requires access to a small kiln, lots of fusable glass and bit of imagination to create one of a kind pieces. Writing about my favorite glass art was a breeze. How fantastic is that?

About Shards of Murder:

When a glass-making competition turns deadly, glass shop owner Savannah Webb must search for a window into a criminal's mind…

As the new proprietor of Webb's Glass Shop, Savannah has been appointed to fill her late father's shoes as a judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival, held in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With her innovative glass works, the clear winner is Megan Loyola, a student of Savannah's former mentor.

But when Megan doesn't show up to accept her $25,000 award, rumors start flying. And when Savannah discovers the woman's dead body on festival grounds, the police immediately suspect her of murder. To keep from appearing before a judge herself, Savannah sorts through the broken pieces of glass scattered around the victim for clues as to who took this killer competition too far. . .


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

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Over the years, I experienced lots of earthquakes.

When we lived in Southern California, we went through some big shakers. Ones that did lots of damage both in the town we lived in and much more in other areas. Outside of dishes sliding to the front of cabinets and having to hold on to something to keep from falling down, personally, I've never experienced any real damage.

A sound like a train coming close accompanied those earthquakes.

When the last big earthquake hit San Francisco, I was riding in a car going to a meeting. In Salinas, I thought something had gone wrong with the car. Then we noticed all the signal lights were out. We turned on the radio and heard about the devastating earthquake a bit farther North. We continued to Carmel where the hotel we were supposed to stay in had experienced damage. After hanging around for a while, we knew the meeting we'd planned to attend wasn't going to happen. We turned around and drove home.

Since we've moved to the foothills of the Sierra, we've only had two earthquakes that I remember--no damage, only minor shaking.

Yesterday, we had another one. It was reported to be 4.5 and centered in Lone Pine, a town on the other side of the mountain range.

I didn't feel anything--but I sure heard it. I thought someone had fallen against the wall, or perhaps a car had run into the side of the house. Hubby was outside and neither heard nor felt it.

Of course, many areas of California have suffered greatly from earthquakes.

Though an earthquake can cause great damage, I'll take one of those any day over a tornado or a hurricane. 

What about you? If you had a choice, what would it be? 

And yes, I've used an earthquake in one of my books:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Our Trip to Ventura

We had a great time.

The trips there and back were uneventful. I'd hoped to see some wild flowers, but we didn't see any until we got back to Springville where they are out in full bloom.

The weather was interesting while we were there--mostly unseasonably warm except for one day when the fog rolled in and cooled everything off.

Unfortunately our accommodations weren't as great as usual--no handicapped rooms were available and our assigned room only had a king-size bed. Since there were three of us, this wasn't acceptable. Ended up, we got a rollaway and daughter Lisa put the mattress on the floor--better than feeling the springs through the mattress.

Our first evening we spent at youngest daughter Lori's house where we had a great dinner. Also got to see grandson Chris and granddaughter Alyssa. Eldest daughter Dana and her hubby were with us.

After a great breakfast at the hotel, I headed upstairs to the room where the PSWA board held their meetings--Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We broke for lunch every day and the first two days, hubby spent with son-in-law at their campground at the beach, The girls joined us for lunch on Saturday, Mike and Dana for dinner on Saturday evening, and Lori, Rick and Chris on Sunday evening.

What's nice about going to Ventura, it revives my love and memories of what the coastal towns are like. This helps a lot when I'm writing my Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries. Rocky Bluff is a fictional town just up highway 101 from Ventura.

These trips always involve a lot of eating and many different restaurants. I do borrow a lot for my books from these experiences, what the restaurants look like and also the varied menus.

I've been so busy lately, it was nice to get-away and do something different.

This was in a restaurant called NEW.

On the left side of the table front to rear: Son-in-law Rick, me, Michelle, Nancy.
In the middle, our president, Marilyn O.
On the right side of the table front to rear: Hubby, Mike, Shauna, and Tim

(Those I'm not related to are the PSWA Board members. To learn more about PSWA go to:

My next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, A Crushing Death, is due out in March.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


How did you meet your boy/girlfriend? Spouse?

My mother met my dad at a roller rink. My in-laws met at work. I met my husband on a blind date. A good friend met his spouse at church. My daughter met her husband in high school. My son met his wife online.

Different times, different methods. I read that approximately one in four relationships start online. On television, we see advertising for matchmaking sites like eHarmony,, and many more. You can find sites for members of a certain religion, age, ethnicity, hobbies, etc.

Whatever the method of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, caution is always advised. How did my mother know that the young serviceman she met was a nice guy? Who vouches for a prospective date? Is the person you met on a cruise who he says he is? Scammers are everywhere.

Most of us know better than to send money to strangers. But what if the guy (or woman) you’ve grown to really like online lives across the country and wants to meet you? But . . . S/He doesn’t have money for airfare. Would you send it? Or does that raise a red flag? Would caution keep you from finding your soulmate?

In The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé, meeting a man on a cruise brings a well-to-do executive to private investigator Alex O’Hara. The exec has reason to be cautious—once burned, twice shy. After a friend sang Alex’s praises, Nora Finley hires her to investigate the man. Like most women, she’s more comfortable dealing with a woman than a male PI. Although convinced that he is her Mr. Right, she needs to be sure before he pops the question. She’s certain he is the man for her and that she’ll finally get her happy-ever-after. She just needs Alex’s stamp of approval.

Since online dating is becoming so popular, Alex decides to take her agency in that direction. No more hiding in the bushes to catch workman’s comp scammers or unfaithful spouses. It’s like doing background checks for prospective employers. Easy peasy. With word-of-mouth being the best advertising, Alex’s friend plus this new client would promote the agency for her. Alex should be flying high. Except . . . She has no receptionist, her telephones and internet are acting wonky, and her new lover disappeared three months ago. What else could go wrong?

Here’s an excerpt from The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé:

I picked up the pen before looking at Nora Finley. Even though I was in the middle of a major case, I never turned down a prospective client. At least, not right away. I’d hear her out and then decide.
“What can I do for you?”
Her expression completely changed. The high-powered exec disappeared. In its place, caution and . . . vulnerability. “Ellen VanderVeen said I could trust you.”
I smiled. Ellen and I had been friends since college. That girl had more fashion sense in her baby finger than I did in my entire body.
“Yes, I know Ellen.”
“She said you helped her investigate her fiancé.”
I nodded.
She hesitated and appeared to rethink what she was doing in a private investigator’s office. Quickly, she came to a conclusion. “I’d like you to do the same.”
“You want me to vet your fiancé?”
“He’s not my fiancé. Yet.”
She didn’t explain any further, so I asked, “Why? Do you suspect something?”
“No. Oh, goodness, no.” She pursed her lips before continuing. “My father left me a prosperous financial firm plus a sizeable inheritance. I am not saying that to brag but to explain my concerns. In my younger days, I was, uhm, taken advantage of. I need to be sure this man truly loves me—me, not my money.”
Although nobody would ever mistake me for an heiress, I understood her caution.
“I am almost forty years old,” she said. “I want to have children before I’m too old.”
Again, I understood. I’d recently passed a landmark birthday. The big Three-Oh. Rather than worry about kids, though, I devoted myself to my business. After a rocky start, I was on a pretty even keel. Plenty of work. Not enough time. But I did have plenty of time before settling down with kids. And a husband, of course. I’m kind of old-fashioned like that. I’d thought Nick might— Don’t go there.
“Ma’am, if you’d called for an appointment, I could have saved you a trip. I do not have time to devote to your case.”
A crestfallen Nora Finley stared at me, her mouth slightly open. I guess nobody ever turned her down. While hers might be interesting, I didn’t have a good feeling about this case. A client might want the lowdown on a prospective mate—as I’d discovered before—but they often resented the bearer of bad news. Of course, the client could be grateful if the news was good, like my friend Ellen.
“I will double your usual retainer.”
“It isn’t a matter of money—” Although money never hurt. “—I’m in the middle of a large case that is taking up all of my time.”
“How soon will you finish?” No longer disappointed, she looked calculating.
God save me from rich people who think everyone should drop what they’re doing to attend to them.
“Three weeks, minimum.”
“Good. I will be out of the country for the next four weeks. You may finish your present case then check into Clyde Wilson.”
Well, shit. I mean, shoot. I was trying to break my bad habit of swearing. I had misgivings about this woman. Demanding, she was going to be difficult to work with. She exuded the power that came from old money. Power that expected everyone to drop everything and do her bidding.
But then I’d had difficult clients before and managed them. I could probably wrap up the fraud investigation in a couple of weeks. I’d given myself a cushion when I’d told her three.
Were my misgivings about her enough to turn down double my retainer?
I drew the pad closer to me. “Tell me about this man. Clyde Wilson?”
That better not be a smug look on her face.

The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé (An Alex O’Hara Novel) is available at:

Author Info:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mysteries. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website:

Connect with Diane Burton online:

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert:

Thanks so much, Marilyn, for having me on your site today.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mining Gold from Life Experience by Patricia Stoltey

Marilyn, thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest today. It’s always a pleasure to see or work with you, whether we end up chatting at a table at a mystery writers’ conference (which happened to us too long ago to mention, although I can’t remember if it was in Omaha, Nebraska or Manhattan, Kansas) or just trading post appearances on our blogs.

You mentioned that you like to learn what inspired an author’s works. It’s a fun discussion to have with published writers because the variety of story triggers is amazing. For some it might be an oddball character encountered in a coffee shop. Perhaps a dream or a nightmare. Or perhaps a remarkable incident experienced as a child.

I have had three books published so far, have one in my publisher’s submission queue waiting evaluation, and four more stories in various stages from “probably permanent shelf status” to almost ready for final editing.

Each story and its characters came from a different place and time.

The most recently published, Dead Wrong (Five Star/Cengage, November 2014) is about a woman on the run who is dead wrong about her pursuers. She thinks her abusive cop husband in trying to track her down. Instead, she’s being hunted by a couple of thugs employed by the boss of a huge check theft ring because she inadvertently ended up with the thug’s laptop case containing stolen checks he’s transporting across country to his boss for laundering.

In Dead Wrong, it’s the crime that triggered my plot. Many years ago I worked for a medium-sized company in the south that became the victim of a check theft. As part of the department that issued the check, I ended up as a witness in both civil and criminal federal trials. I learned a lot about the check theft ring and how the crooks got away with that money so fast. Those little details came in very handy in telling this story.

My first published novel, The Prairie Grass Murders, is the first of two sister and brother Sylvia and Willie cozy mysteries. This one was especially fun to write because I took the characters back to the home where they grew up in central Illinois and set most of the murders on the old farm where I grew up. Using a setting that familiar certainly makes descriptions easy to write. The hidden trap, however, is the tendency to do what I call “memory dumps.” I had to remove a lot of anecdotes from the first draft because they had everything to do with my childhood and nothing to do with the plot.

In other manuscripts, I used places I’ve visited such as the little touristy, gold mining town of Oatman, Arizona and a nearby gold mine that conducted tours. In another novel, I plucked an image of a young girl from a dream I had and placed her in a situation in 1830s frontier Illinois. My current work in process is about a female serial killer, and that idea was inspired by an agent I heard speak at a conference about five years ago.

The secret is to recognize those nuggets are everywhere. We’ve only to dig through our memories and sift through our daily lives for all the inspiration we need to write that next novel.

Bio:  Patricia Stoltey lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband and their bossy pet, Katie Cat. A late bloomer who began writing after retirement from accounting type jobs in the real world, Patricia has had two amateur sleuth mysteries and one thriller published so far. Her most recent novel, Dead Wrong, was a finalist in the thriller category for the 2015 Colorado Book Awards.
For more information about Patricia and her novels, visit her website/blog ( She can also be found on Facebook 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

We're Here!

Thanks to daughter Lisa we had a great trip down here to Ventura. The weather is perfect. The Ventura pier is repaired after the huge waves tried to consume it during one of the past storms.

We spent Friday evening with family in Camarillo at daughter Lori's house and visited with her, son-in-law, and grandson Chris and a quick hello and goodbye with granddaughter Alyssa and met her boyfriend. Daughter Dana and son-in-law Mike were there too.

Yesterday morning after breakfast, I joined the other members of the PSWA board upstairs for our first meeting. Our President, Marilyn Olsen, went over the agenda of what tasks we needed to tackle. I don't want to get into it, as it will be announced to all the members soon. What I will say is we're upgrading things, and I'm positive all will be pleased.

We lunched outdoors and a classy restaurant on Main St. in Ventura. Hubby spent the day at Dana and Mike's trailer at a campground nearby. They wore out hubby because he didnt want to go to dinner with us. Our group enjoyed Mexican food at a nearby place.

Today will be another full day working on items on the agenda. 

Even though we are working, it's great to be doing it in such a beautiful place with such wonderful weather.

I'll continue this tomorrow.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Heading Over to the Coast

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love the coast--meaning the Pacific coast. My destination is Ventura.

I'm not going for pleasure, though I know I'll have a great time. Our annual PSWA board meeting begins tomorrow--and believe me, we work.

However, I'm also going to see two of my daughters (the other one will be with me as she's driving.) One  youngest daughter lives in Camarillo which is nearby and the eldest is coming to Ventura and will be camping at the beach.

I'm also going to see friends (the other board members) who I only get to see twice a year--at the PSWA conference and this board meeting.

The Rocky Bluff P.D. series is set in a fictional place above Ventura.

This first night, I'll be having dinner with family.

Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Semi-Colon or Not?

On one of my lists there's been an ongoing discussion about the use of semi-colons.

At one time I liberally sprinkled all my writing with semi-colons. Not anymore.

For one thing, I think they tend to stick-out and be far more noticeable than a comma. An if you really think a semi-colon should be there, why not just make the phrase into two sentences?

What really cured me was when I had an agent many years ago and he scolded me for using semi-colons in dialogue. What he told me was, "People don't speak with semi-colons."

When I'm writing dialogue, I hear the character's voice in my head. When he or she would pause for a breath, a comma seems to work best to convey this. Of course a period follows a complete sentence.

Frankly, unless someone sprinkles semi-colons throughout his or her writing, I seldom notice. The key really is if the writing captures my interest enough that I don't pay attention to things like the use of semi-colons.

What do you think? 

Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith

Coming soon, A Crushing Death, #12 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What I've Been Up to Lately by Marilyn Meredith

Yes, I've been busy--but I always am.

In the writing part of my life, I've been working on my blog tour for A Crushing Death. The schedule is set, the posts are all written and I've sent off most of them. Before I send each one, I carefully go over it, trying to eliminate all typos and other errors. From much experience, I know that I'll miss some that I won't see until the day they're printed.

I've also been working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I'm at an exciting part, but haven't really had much time to write. I read a chapter each week to my writing group, which means I do have to be at least on chapter ahead.

Those who are my real life or Facebook friends know there are many other things that take my time:

Number one is family--and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my family and spending time with them.

Number two is my church. I teach a Sunday School class of 3rd through 5th graders, most boys. I've had anywhere from 14 to 8 every Sunday. Some of these kids have rough home lives--I like to remind them that Jesus loves them no matter what--I do too, but sometimes neither of us likes what they do.

I'm still active with the residential care business and write a newsletter for them once a month which means I need to keep up with all the changes that come along. I answer lots of question via email and over the phone. Plus, I write program designs for people wanting to go into the residential care business.

I'm also the newsletter editor for the Public Safety Writers Association. I gather articles from the members, edit them, and get them ready for the guru who posts thems on the website. This newsletter comes out quarterly.

I love to read, go to the movies, and have dinner out. Actually, I don't mind cooking-but I get tired of doing it. I not only like to try new foods and like to try new recipes. So you can see, I don'thave my nose to the grindstone all the time.

Tell me what keeps you busy?

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Favorite Writing Conference

Over the years, I've attended many mystery and writers conferences. A couple of my favorites have disappeared.

Organizing and putting on a conference or convention is a major undertaking and depends upon willing volunteers. Sometimes, the volunteers wear out or get too old, leading to the demise of the event.

The two biggest mystery cons, Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime are going strong. I've attended many of both and they are great if you like to see many mystery writers and fans gathered together. Both are big events with lots of people. 

This year I'm only attending one conference and it's my favorite, the Public Safety Writers Association's writing conference. This one is small with only one track, and believe me everyone stays for everything.

Though the program isn't up on the website yet (will be soon), it will have a good mix of writing presentations and public safety topics, including some panels. Anyone who wants to be on a panel, just marks that on the registration form.

Something new: before the conference begins there is a writing workshop from 9 to 3. For anyone wanting some good writing tips and comments on their work in progress, this would be good to sign up for--and yes, I'm one of the facilitators.

Registration begins at 3, followed by a get-acquainted reception at 6, with snack food and a no-host bar.

Bright and early Friday at 9 a.m., the first session begins. Friday and Saturday go until 5 p.m. or so, and Sunday ends after the writing awards are handed out after lunch.

The conference is always held in the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas in July which means great hotel prices. Frankly, I never step out of the hotel until the conference is over, there is plenty to do right there, but it's easy enough to get a shuttle to go elsewhere in the evening if you're so inclined.

What I like about this conference is you really have the opportunity to get acquainted with other mystery writers and all sorts of experts in many law enforcement and other public safety fields.

And yes, you can bring books for sale.

For details and registration about the conference go to

If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

One of our great lunch times.
Me at the bookstore with two of my books

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On the release of my second Indie novel and what I've learned...

by Linda Hall

Its relatively easy to get your first book out there as an Indie author. You probably already have that one novel in a drawer which has been through the rounds of agents, editors, elevator pitches, and fifteen-minute-conference-sessions-with-experts. Despite all the good advice, you still dont have a publisher. So you decide to follow the lead of many modern authors and self-publish it. After hiring a cover designer and editor, its out there. And it wasnt so hard. Its really not rocket science. Getting that second one out there, however, and the third one, the fourth, can be more challenging.

After publishing twenty mysteries with traditional publishers in the Christian/Inspirational market I was ready for a change. I wanted to branch out and write not romance, but mainstream mystery. Everyone was down on the idea, though. My agent told me I would lose readers. Writer friends would say, “What if you lose your fan base. Do you really want to do that?”

Yes. I really wanted to do that. If I had to stay one more day in Inspirational Romance, well, Im afraid I would go screaming into the night with my can of spray paint.

When my agent couldnt sell it, my only recourse was to strike out on my own and publish it myself. Well, I digress, I did publish something else first. As a sort of experiment, I put together a bunch of short stories that Id had in drawers and notebooks and file cabinets and entitled it Strange Faces. That was a few months before I released Night Watch. I guess I wanted to see what would happen. When the sky didnt fall, I got Night Watch ready for publication.

Night Watch, the first book in my new mystery series had gone through so many edits and agent edits that I was pretty confident of the story and the solidness of the writing.

That was fall of 2014, and then it hit me. I was in this. I had to come up with a second book. Fans were already emailing me! With a bit of fear and a lot of trepidation I started on The Bitter End. But, this time I was really on my own. I had no agent to bounce ideas off of, no in-house editor to brainstorm with.

I used NaNoWriMo to get the bones down for the story. I rewrote and polished and rewrote and polished and paid for a professional editor and cover designer was able to release it this past November, just about a year after I started it. Now, Im working on a third. Maybe there will even be a fourth.

Heres what Ive learned:

1.As an Indie author, you are chief cook and bottle washer, table setter, waitress and sign painter and ad copy writer. You are everything. If there is a typo, you cant shake your head and say, “Oh, that stupid publisher of mine.” But have no fear, there are a whole lot of good people (editors, designers, formatters, publicists) out there waiting for you to hire them. 

2. Write your heart. I had all sorts of people, which included fans and readers, who wanted me to continue in Christian romantic suspense. I could not. My heart wasnt there. (Cue the spray paint.)

3. Use NaNoWriMo each November to get down the skeleton of the book. At the end of that crazy month you will be surprised at how much work is done on the book.

4. Hire professionals. I shouldnt even have to say this - but get professional editors, cover designers, formatters, proofers etc. 

5. Schedule your days as if you had a contract. Back when I was writing for publishing companies, my normal output was a book every twelve to 18 months. Im a slow and careful writer, and it does take me that long. No matter what I do, I can’t make that timeline any faster. The time it takes is the time it takes.

6. Dont let people tell you that good writers always outline. Dont let people tell you that good writers write never outline. Your book is your baby. About a hundred years ago when I was a young mother and had small babies, I remember all of the “advice” that threatened to turn me into a neurotic new mother. I finally learned to simply smile and thank  people for their unsolicited advice, and then do my own thing regarding my child. Your book is your baby. You know whats best for it. 

7. Give yourself permission not to do any of the above. Writing should be a joy not a burden.

Linda Hall
Award-winning author Linda Hall has written twenty mystery novels plus numerous short stories. She has written eighteen novels for traditional publishers like WaterBrook Press, Random House and Harlequin. In the last couple of years, however, she has decided to go it alone, and is now Indie publishing her mysteries and stories, and loves the freedom and control this brings.
Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. She grew up in New Jersey and it’s along it’s shorelines that her love of the ocean was born. during the summer they basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat
Linda has achieved the rank of Senior Navigator, the highest rank possible in the national boating safety organization. CPS. Her Senior Navigator diploma hangs proudly on her  office wall. What this means is that she knows how to use a sextant and can ‘theoretically’ find her way home by looking at the stars.
Her new mystery series, Night Watch and The Bitter End feature a female boat captain who happens upon mystery and murders on the high seas.
During the summer she and her husband basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat aptly named Mystery. and sail down from their home province of New Brunswick, Canada
She and her husband Rik have two grown children, seven grandchildren and one very spoiled cat named Captain Hook.
The Bitter End -

Twitter: @writerhall

Monday, February 1, 2016


So, as I was trying to decide what to write for this post, I took a very unscientific and short poll of the people around me.  I asked; What’s one question you’ve always wanted to ask a writer?
The results were…interesting.
You see, unlike a lot of full-time writers who work from home or coffee shops, I’m lucky enough to have a co-working space near my home.  Co-working is a relatively new concept where people who are freelancers, or who spend a lot of time telecommuting, can have access to a shared workspace outside the home without the expense of trying to rent a whole office.  I know, working from home sounds fantastic, but after awhile with no one to talk to but the cat and the fridge, it can get a little lonely.  And the laundry can start to seem more important than meeting the deadline.

On top of that, there are fewer people you can consult when it comes to questions for blog posts.

The question my co-workers agreed on was this:
Do you start at the beginning, the middle, or the end?
That one’s interesting for me, because it’s entirely different when I’m writing mysteries than all the other kinds of writing that I do. 

I’m a multi-genre author.  I have at one time and another written Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Romance and a few things that cross the boundaries between them.  I love them all, but I have to admit, mystery has a special place in my heart.  I’ve always read mysteries and loved mysteries.  I grew up on Sherlock Holmes, of course, and there was this strange story my dad gave me called The Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr that I must have read a dozen times.  I discovered Agatha Christie browsing the shelves at my grandmother’s house in the country.  I found Dorothy Sayers in college and I was recently introduced to the wonder and delight that is Josephine Tey. 

But when I’m writing mysteries, I do the one thing I don’t do when I’m reading them.  I skip straight to the end.
Okay, maybe not straight to the end, but pretty darned close.  I will sketch out a few beginning scenes to get an idea of who I’m “talking to” and where things are happening.  There will probably be some research at this time, and, if I’m writing about someplace like Portsmouth, say, where I’ve visited (and loved), but don’t live, there’ll be a lot of time with Google Street View.  Of course, there’s always going to be something new about the means, the motive or opportunity that has to be — you will forgive the expression — dug up. 
But as soon as I’ve got some names and faces, I flip through straight to the end, and I write those chapters, solidly and in detail.
Why?  I don’t do this with anything else I write. In fact, I kind of can’t.
But mysteries are different.  For every scene in a mystery, there are actually at least two scenes.  There’s the scene on the page, where all (well, most) of the characters know is going on in front of them.  Then, there are the invisible scenes, which are just as important, if not moreso.  The invisible scenes are the ones that are happening inside the characters, based on the things only they as individuals know. These scenes underpin the entire book, and drive the plot.  The only way I can write them properly is if I know where the plot is going. This means I have to have the ending solidly fixed in my head before I can write the beginning.

I suppose it makes sense, though.  I mean, what is the first, and last question in a mystery?
If I don’t know that, how can I tell you my story?
Thanks for stopping by, and here’s hoping you enjoy the latest.

Delia James writes her magical mysteries from her home near Ann Arbor, Michigan, assisted by her loving husband, Tim, her magnificent son, Alex, and her vocal cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer. 

A Familiar Tail is the first of her Witch’s Cat mysteries.  To hear more about the series and read a sample, you can go to, where you’ll be able to seen the latest news, order the latest book, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

A FAMILIAR TAIL (Witch’s Cat #1)

Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

Suddenly saddled with a witch's wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town....
Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.