Showing posts from January, 2016

A Short Break in Guest Posts

Hasn't this been great? An opportunity to meet so many authors and read about their great books? What's that great saying: "So Many Books, So Little Time", it truly fits in this situation.

While all this has been going on, I've been working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and gearing up for the launch of my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, A Crushing Death, which will appear in March--not sure exactly when.

I can't believe it's #12 in this series. I'd found a great photo for the cover, but didn't know where I got it, so we had to go for another--but this one fits. There is a condemned pier in the story, and this pretty much gives the impression of having seen better days.
And yes, I've been planning another blog tour--more about that later.
I've also been slowly, but surely getting some in-person events lined up.
The first one will be in March--fingers crossed that I'll actually have books by then--when I'll head over to the…

Keeping a Series Alive, by Amy Bennett

It's hard to believe that just three years ago, the Black Horse Campground mystery series was just getting its start with the first book, “End of the Road”. Corrie Black, Rick Sutton, and J.D. Wilder were about to make their debut into the world and no one knew where their adventures would take them in future books.
Four books later, I'm still trying to figure out where they'll be next!
In “End of the Road”, a newcomer to Bonney County arrives in time to be suspected of murdering a long-time guest at the Black Horse Campground. Not only does J.D. help solve the mystery, he finds himself being accepted as a member of the Black Horse—and Bonney County—by Corrie and Rick and other lifelong residents. Over the course of three books, J.D., and my readers, have come to know and love life in Bonney and enjoy a relationship with its most interesting residents.
In the fourth book, “At the Crossroad”, due out soon, J.D. is firmly established as a resident of Bonney and his fierce s…


I recently heard a presidential candidate make a statement in a debate that has stayed with me. In justifying his qualifications for the office, he said, "I know what I don't know."
To most ears, that would sound like an oxymoron, but the implication was that, as the leader of the free world, he would do his due diligence before deciding on any course of action. He was willing to admit that he had a lot to learn. In other words, he knew what he didn't know, and he was willing to admit it—and to seek out the best sources to round out his knowledge base.
I soon began thinking about applying his comment to writing. From personal experience, I know about rodeos, horses, llamas, hospitals, and libraries.  That was a good start when I began to plan Checked Out, the second book in my Aimee Machado series. As I started filling pages, I sometimes found myself needing to know something that was not a part of my personal knowledge base. When that happened, I knew what I didn&#…


Writing a fictionalized account of a true story presents some unique challenges. I realized this after I decided to write a historical novel based on an experience my father had while stationed in Rennes, France with the 127th General Hospital in 1944. He met a little French girl named Jacqueline who took a liking to him. She began following him to and from the military hospital where he worked, and a lovely friendship blossomed. My dad knew very little French, and Jacqueline knew even less English, but they managed to communicate using the few words and phrases they were able to teach other peppered with lots of exaggerated gestures.  
When the 127th was transferred to Nancy, Jacqueline appeared at the hospital. Sleet was falling, and she was shivering with cold. She carried a loaf of bread and a small book about St. Bernadette of Lourdes; farewell gifts for my dad. Knowing how little she had, my father was profoundly touched by her kindness.  Wrapping her in his woolen overcoat, he…

Birds of a Feather by Gloria Getman

Gloria Getman is a good friend, and one of my first writing students, years ago. We both belong to the San Joaquin and Central Coast chapters of Sisters in Crime. We've often shared a table at a book event.

Petite fours, lemon drops, tea, and a deadly stabbing normally don't go together, especially at a colonial high tea.
Deena Powers is back in Four Creeks to attend the annual event put on by her aunt’s chapter of the Women of Colonial Heritage. But when her aunt’s closest friend is murdered, Deena finds herself drawn to investigate a tangled web of misappropriated chapter funds, adultery and long-held secrets and she soon discovers that sins of the past are never left behind, no matter how carefully the trail is covered up. 
Helping Lieutenant Avis “Buzz” Walker acquire vital evidence leads to rekindled feelings, but when a killer steps in, it might just be too late.
Birds of a Feather is the second book in the Deena Powers series. People who read the first book, Lottie’s L…

Checking In by Marilyn Meredith

I've been so busy with guests I haven't had a free space to post on my own blog.
I gave a talk in December to the newly formed Bakersfield chapter of Sisters in Crime. Met some wonderful women and sold a lot of books.
We had a fun Christmas Eve with relatives including three great grandkids. There's nothing like seeing little ones open presents.
We don't do anything special New Year's Eve, but New Year's Day we have relatives over for my special Seafood Gumbo and for those who don't like seafood--Chicken Posole. After stuffing ourselves, we played a rollicking game of Estimation. Always fun.
I've been working on a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and putting together a blog tour for my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, A Crushing Death, due out in March. The blog tour will begin in mid-April.
After not being able to attend too many meetings of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime, I was able to start the New Year out right by going to their first m…


I find it almost endlessly fascinating; the discussions we readers and authors have about various aspects of the characters that people our stories and how they come and go—or don’t go. Can a male write an effective female character and vice versa? Are your characters based on real people? Do they recognize themselves? How do you come up with the evil that infects some of your characters? How much do you obsess over finding just the right names for your characters?
Is there a formula, do you think, that moves agents/editors to be more or less receptive to certain names? Do you even think about the characteristics of names. Are they clues? Is any of this the least bit important?
There are a number of on-line sites that offer interesting information about names. Do writers actually use such sources to help them decide on character names and does it really help? The history of model names in the automotive world is an enlightening thread to follow, as is the sound of the name and the numbe…

Our Search for Plots and Settings by Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton

The High Country Mystery Series: Our Search for Plots and Settings
Inspiration can strike unexpectedly, sparked by some account in a museum or news article or by stories related to us by local people.  As authors of the High Country Mystery Series, we are always on the lookout for new plots and settings for our books set in the fictional town of Durmont, Wyoming.  This series features Jeff McQuede, a modern-day sheriff with old time values derived from his Old West namesake. We have explored Wyoming in depth in our search for plot ideas. We have found it strange how some perfectly good events or plot ideas never develop while others almost instantly take hold.
The second book in the series, Whispers of the Stones, was inspired by tales and newspaper clippings about a tiny mummy discovered in the 1930s by miners working in the Shirley Basin.  The little man, sitting cross-legged in a cave, became an object of curiosity and scientific speculation until his disappearance in the 1950s.  Lat…

Avoid the January Writing Blahs by J.L. Greger

I like to curl up in January and forget my writing. Big mistake! Do you lose energy during the cold days of winter? Maybe these tips will encourage you to make progress on your writing projects in January.
1)Write every day. My definition of writing includes: researching topics, composing text, editing, and publicizing the work. The advantage of writing a bit every day is I’m forced to think about my plot, characters, and style frequently.
2) Organize your writing.I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but I keep a running list of characters (with short profiles) and a timeline. These tools make it easier for me to quickly pick up my writing every day.
3) Edit. I know a few authors claim they only need to edit their work once; I'm not that good. I find the editing task less daunting if I break the process into three steps and do each after I complete a chapter or two. (Of course, I still have to edit again after I complete the first draft.)
These questions should be considered during …

Books for the Times by Bob Doerr

With all the horrific actions carried out by ISIS and its sympathizers in the past few months, it's easy to see why many of us believe the world is becoming a more dangerous place.   The violent, random assaults on our nation’s police in retribution for a few bad cops, while despicable itself, has added fuel to the ISIS propaganda that is already being used worldwide via social networks to target new recruits. With no end of violence in sight, the conflict between more security and our privacy is sure to reach a new apex in the next year or so.
Most of us believe that another major terrorist attack on US soil is inevitable.  Only the timing is in question, and hopefully our intelligence and law enforcement communities can keep our enemies at bay for as long as possible.
It is in this hostile environment and reflecting back to 9/11, that I came up with Clint Smith, the main character in my book The Attack.  My publisher released The Attack in 2014, and in the first months of 2016, t…

Two Secrets to Writing Success in 2016 By Patricia Skalka

Writer, know thyself. With apologies to Socrates, I would say that sounds like good advice with which to start the New Year. So, as the world turns to the opening weeks of 2016 and I finish up the third book in my Dave Cubiak Door County mystery series, may I humbly offer two suggestions for success in the coming months.             The first is very much in line with knowing thyself as a writer. I interpret this adage as knowing what works for you. Many successful writers start with an idea and little else. They jump in with both feet, work hard and months later have the first draft of a book-length manuscript to show for their efforts. That’s a fantastic approach but one that doesn’t work for me. Every time I’ve tried being a “pantser” (one who writes by the seat of her pants), I’ve ended up stuck in dead ends or getting lost in a knotted maze of plot lines that refuse to come untangled.. And I use up precious writing time fussing over that peskynow whatquestion. Through trial and err…