Showing posts from September, 2016

Eavesdropping as a Writing Research Skill By Karen McCullough

I frequently give talks and workshops on writing dialogue and among other tips for learning to do it well, I include a suggestion that you eavesdrop on various conversations to get a feel for how people really talk.
I know your mother taught you that eavesdropping was rude and even wrong—at least my mother did. But this is important writer research so go ahead and do it.  But, please, be discreet about it.
Restaurants are a great venue for eavesdropping, as are movie theaters, stores, almost any public place. Pretend to be reading or watching something else but listen to the way people talk. If you can do it discreetly, take notes and write down snatches of dialogue.
Yes, I’ve done this myself. A few things jump out at you.
A lot of conversation is pretty bland and fits into the category of social nicety. Most of that can be ignored in your writing unless there’s something unusual or compelling about it. 
Then there will be some that is completely incomprehensible. Can be useful in certa…

DESERT ICE-- In search of 1955 Las Vegas

When people found out we were taking a week long research trip to Las Vegas for our next book, Desert Ice, everyone insisted we visit the Mob Museum. So, we decided to take them up on the suggestion and made it our first stop. Even before we went to our hotel, we interviewed the curator. She was very helpful and answered some of our questions regarding of the inner workings of the 1955 mob era.
The next day, after breakfast we toured the museum, housed in the old Post Office in the old part of town, 1940-50's music is played as you ascend the broad steps. With four floors of mob history and memorabilia, they suggest you plan two hours. We found it extremely enlightening with displays showing the very beginnings of the mob in the US and how the organization grew and spread.

Great technology, presentation and staff on each floor very knowledgeable about the history of the mob, particularly in the Las Vegas area.
We were very surprised to learn how normal the families of the mobs were du…

Stickler for Accuracy by Paty Jager

There are times I wish I didn’t have this need to make sure people learn something from my fiction books. But growing up, books were how I learned about the world. People and places that I didn’t hear about in school or see that much on television. I believe all books whether they are non-fiction of fiction should take the reader to a place they’ve never been or show them a place they’ve been in a different way. 
Because of that need to teach, I always try to bring something I didn’t know about into my books so I learn about it and then add it to the story.
My Shandra Higheagle Mystery is such a series. I had to learn about finding clay and making it “pure” so it could be used in making pottery. I’ve learned different pottery techniques from magazines and online. I’ve had to research Idaho county law enforcement and the state law enforcement. And most of all, I’ve had to learn about the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state.
I made my main character in the series half Nez Pe…

And the Winners of my Blog Tour Contest are:

Drum Roll Please!

The prize is the winner's choice of any of the earlier books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series in paper, or e-book.
The winners are:
Linda Thorne Lorna Collins Terrell Byrd Sky Caitlin
All they have to do is contact me either by e-mail or message me on Facebook.
How fun is this!
Hoping to hear from the winners soon!

And this is the latest in the series, and not one of the prizes.

SKIN OF TATTOOS by Christina Hoag

Since I’ve been a journalist (a newspaper reporter, which almost sounds quaint these days!), I get a lot of ideas from news events and people I’ve covered. That’s how “Skin of Tattoos” was born. I was sent to El Salvador back in 2000 to do a magazine story on gang members deported from Los Angeles to San Salvador, which most of them really didn’t know because their families had emigrated when they were infants or small children. It was a classic “fish out of water” story. They neither belonged in El Salvador or in the United States. Some barely spoke Spanish. It’s really a strange take on the immigrant experience. 
By the way, this was before the scourge of gangs became a pandemic in the northern countries of Central America. When I was there, the gangs had formed, spurred by these deported Angelenos, but they were nowhere near as strong as they are today.
The story of these young men I interviewed resonated with me. I could relate to them because I had moved around the world as a chil…

And My Blog Tour Winds Down

On the blog tour for Seldom Traveled  I did a couple of different things.
This tour was shorter, only 20 stops, in the past I've done a full months worth.
Instead of offering to use someone's name in a book for a contest prize, I offered a choice of one of the older books in the series. Having one's name used is definitely a bigger draw--but I'm at the age where it's possible there might not be another book.
There were fewer glitches this time. Only one person didn't get the post up on the right day, but it appeared on the next day. One poor host had a virus attach her website and nothing could be done. I used that post for another blog I'm doing later in the year, with someone I didn't use for the tour.
Today's post and the last one in the tour is here:
Though I really enjoy doing the tours, it is a lot of work. Some bloggers have lots of followers, others not so many.
Do I think it wo…


Like Marilyn Meredith, my host today, I write a contemporary crime series about small town police, their families and friends.

Shares The Darkness is the seventh in my Sticks Hetrick series. Sticks is the primary character, but readers seem to like that solving the crime is most often the result of a team effort (as it is in real police work) and that I devote equal time to making other members of the team fully detailed characters.
Chief among these other characters are Hetrick's proteges Officer Flora Vastine and her boyfriend Corporal Harry Minnich and Hetrick's friend and successor as police chief, Aaron Brubaker. Marilyn's characters are usually guided by their religious convictions (and she uses those without sounding preachy). Some of my characters are religious as well, others not so much. But the major characters all have a genuine sense of morality. The crime novel is a continuation of the morality play of medieval times. Without morality (whether imposed by religio…

My Blog Tour is Winding Down but that Doesn't Mean I'm Not Promoting

The last blog for my tour will be on September 20, but I have lots more going on to promote Seldom Traveled.
I've book fairs and festivals coming up and a couple of speaking engagements--and I'm always ready for more.
I had a great time writing this book and once I started it kind of went it's own way. I had no idea there would be a forest fire that would become a most important part of the book--or an eagle that would help Tempe. But that's what's so much fun about writing.

Didn't the artist do the perfect cover for this book? I'm so pleased.
I'll report back on some of the things as I'm doing them an how they turn out.

One Big Reason I Keep Writing by Marilyn Meredith

Today I got the sweetest letter from a reader in New York.

She printed in capital letters, "I Love Your Books!" and underline her words.
She copied by hand the order form I have on my website and checked off the books she wanted, added the total and enclosed a check for the books and postage.
Now I know I need to order some books--I only have one book available that she wanted. I'm sending that one right off to her, but the other two will have to wait until I can get them ordered. That may be a problem.
I would like to order them from my publisher, but at the moment this isn't possible. I ordered from Amazon, but I don't know how long it will take to get a copy. I'll do my best, and if I can't get them, I'll refund the money for those two books.
When you receive a letter like that, you know that it's worthwhile to keep on writing.
Frankly, I was thrilled.
The books she wanted that I don't have copies of right now are:
Hoping to get…

9/11 We Must not Forget

Of course I remember--I was at home, horrified as I watched what was happening.

We must also remember all the lives that were lost--those that died in the attack, the first responders who rushed in to try to save people, many of whom died.

And we must not forget all those unsuspecting passengers who died on the airplanes--including the one that was diverted from the terrorists target and crashed into a field, and the one that crashed into the Pentagon.

So many victims to remember that day including those who were near enough to actually see what was happening, and all the families and friends of those who were taken so brutally away.

As we are remembering, we should all realize that we can make our own small part of this country better by being kind and loving to those we live with and meet every day. We can make a difference.

For those of us who pray, we should be praying for our country every single day.

Lord, I live this United States of American up to you and I ask you to protect…

The Continuing Saga of Promoting Seldom Traveled by Marilyn Meredith

For some reason, and maybe it's for the best, I haven't any guests for a few days, so thought I'd write about what I've been doing to promote Seldom Traveled.

My latest blog stops are here:
Yesterday's: http://mmgornell.wordpr/ and I wrote about Deputy Tempe Crabtree's backs story.
Today's: The topic on this one is how writing has influenced me.
Tomorrow's:  And Barbara asked me many questions about Seldom Traveled and me. 
That's not all I've been doing though-I signed on for a book fair on Saturday, September 24 from10 to 3 at the Oakhurst Community Center. Because that's quite a ways away, I also booked a room for the night before. I also agreed to speak for about 15 minutes on keep characters fresh in a series.
I checked on a book fair I'll be participating in on Thursday, September 29th from 3-8 in front of the mission in San Luis Obispo. Since it…

My Blog Tour Marches On by Marilyn Meredith

So far this is where I've been:

I started out on John Wills blog on September 3:
And next I visited:
Day 3, I stopped here:
And Day 4 is here:
And on Day 5,
If you haven't visited these blogs yet, please do. It's a lot more fun if people make comments on the blog posts.

Today--the 5th--is my husband's birthday

We've been together a long, long time. He's the cute sailor I went out with on a blind date way back when I was a senior in highschool.

We really didn't know each other well at all when we got married--but we've had 65 years to get well-acquainted. No, not all the years were easy, but we made it. 
We have a wonderful and huge family, 5 children, one gone on to Heaven, many grandkids and great grands--and one great-great with another on the way. 
Hubby spent 20 years in the Navy as a Seabee--then 15 working for Sears, then together for over 20 years we owned, operated and lived in our residential care facility. We worked together, treated those in our care as family, and it was hard work but very rewarding. 
We had some adventures too, getting to travel to many different places as we attended different Bouchercons and Left Coast Crime cons and we met lots of wonderful people that we still count as friends. We've gone on several cruises--to Mexico with various stops …

Native American or Indian?

This is the first day of my blog tour, be sure and visit

Everyone I know who has Native American blood flowing through their veins prefers to be called Indian. 
It does cause some problems though, because many people in our area are Indians from India. 
In our family we have several American Indians: my daughter-in-law is half Yacqui, which of course means her daughters and their children have some of this DNA.
Another granddaughter is about 1/4 Tule River Indian (Yokut.)
The Indians I borrow a lot from for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries are also Tule River Indians (Yokut.)
I had a very good friend who was Tolowa--and that's what she wanted to be called. Wrote about her and the Tolowa tribe in Kindred Spirits.
In my opinion, using American after whatever ethnic background we come from seems weird. We should all consider ourselves Americans and leave it at that. Most of us so-called caucasians are such a mix…

SELDOM TRAVELED Blog Tour by Marilyn Meredith

Blog Tour for Seldom Traveled

September 3 - Having Different Publishers
September 4 – Fiction Too Close to Fact
September 5 –
How Does a Mountain Setting Define Character?
September 6 – How Real Life Propelled me into Fiction
September 7 – Promotion Over the Years
September 8 --
September 9 --
September 10 – Interview
September 11 --
September 12 –
September 13 –
September 14 –
Power of Words for Story Telling
September 15 –