Sunday, May 21, 2017


Yesterday I attended a writer's meeting about writing memoirs. Many people I know have done this or in the midst of doing so. Frankly, it's never interested me. There are some things in my life I don't care to share with anyone. I've never much liked tell all tales from others.

Those things I think are interesting enough to share with others, I'm quite happy to do here on my blog. When doing that, I can concentrate on one subject or memory. Sometime I think might be interesting to someone else.

My childhood for the most part was wonderful. I had two parents who loved me and my sister and though I grew up at the end of the depression and through the second World War, we lacked for nothing important. Our lives were like many others at that time. Much of our life focused around school and church events. 

We went to the movies most Friday nights--maybe because my dad worked for the movie industry, but maybe just because he liked movies. We saw whatever was playing, newsreels, coming attractions, two features, and a cartoon. Some of what we watched was inappropriate for impressionable kids--but dad paid for the tickets and he wasn't going to waste the money by walking out.

We also spent some Sunday afternoons at my maternal grandparents house in South Pasadena and some with our cousins in Highland Park. 

We went somewhere on vacation every summer--during the war years dad saved his gasoline coupons by riding his bike to and from work. We camped out, in Yosemite and when we were older at Bass Lake. 

I belonged to Job's Daughter's where I learned many social graces--like how to set a table with all the many spoons, forks and knives.

High school was great--yes, there were different social groups, but I had a wonderful bunch of friends to hang out with--some that I'd gone to grammar school with and some girls we met at the high school.

Meeting my husband when I was a senior--the cute sailor I met on a blind date--changed the direction of my life. More about that next time.


Friday, May 19, 2017

My Last Guest Post on my Blog Tour is Posted!

Though I didn't intend for it to be so long, my blog tour for Unresolved , the latest in the Rocky Bluff P. D. mystery series is posted for all to see.

 This has been a long journey, and for the most part, quite satisfying. The best part is reading the comments left by people on the various posts. And of course, those who have read the book saying they enjoyed it. 

Did it help sales? Some, probably not a whole lot, I won't know for sure until I get my first royalty check. 

Putting together a blog tour is arduous--finding the people willing to host you, writing something different for each post, sending them off, checking each day to see if the post has appeared (sometimes they don't), through the day looking to see if someone has commented and leaving a reply.

I'm sure some of you may wonder why I do it, since it is so much work. I have several answers. I love writing, and thinking up new topics and writing them is fun for me. I don't do book tours, in fact never have done much of that because all the nearby bookstores have disappeared. In fact, I'm more inclined to give library talks--because the people who come are there to hear you. 

The main reason I do blog tours because it's a way to let a lot of people know about my latest book.

If you haven't had a chance yet, go take a look at it on Amazon, Unresolved, by F. M. Meredith. And if you've already read it, and liked it, please leave a review.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Learning to Cook All Over Again, by Judy Alter

I used to be a good cook, praised for my skills in the kitchen, my willingness to tackle complicated recipes like Coquilles St. Jacques, and my ability to serve large dinner parties and even larger cocktail parties. Today I am cooking from a wheelchair in a postage-stamp kitchen with standard-height counters and no stove or oven. My stove is one of those new-fangled hot plates that operate by magnetism—it heats hot and fast, often too much of both.

I burn food, I scorch the pans, I singe myself. I have spilled, dropped, and splashed. When I chop celery or onions, the floor is littered with bits of green, bits even the dogs won’t eat. The most used tool in my kitchen is not a spatula or a measuring cup but the grabber I can use to retrieve things from the floor or high up kitchen shelves.

What happened? Two things: severe hip pain prevented me from walking and then the doctor advised against even trying to walk; complicated hip surgery and a long recovery followed. For six weeks I could put no more than one-quarter my weight on my left foot, and even today I am strongly advised against bending at the hip. I can stand for a while, with the chair close behind, to stir or chop or wash dishes but that’s it. I didn’t cook for probably six months, and I guess the memory—or skills—grow rusty.

I also moved from my 1800-square foot house to a 600-square foot cottage. Talk about downsizing! People ask what I miss and I reply, “My kitchen utensils.” I thought I took what I needed, but not so. I was in pain, not thinking clearly, and my children cleaned out the kitchen for me, taking what they wanted of what I left behind. For weeks recently I didn’t have a metal spatula, only a rubber-coated one, and any cook knows you can’t get under something and get a good crust with a coated spatula. I missed slotted spoons, tongs, ladles, good knives, and a host of other things. For my birthday this year, I plan to register at Target.

There’s an upside to all this. I put some old bad habits behind me and began to do some things a better way. I’ve found for instance that my unmeasured proportions are off—my dishes based on a roux carry too much of a hint of flour, and my recent hot potato salad didn’t have enough vinegar—I tried to increase the recipe by guess. Usually I follow recipes more carefully.

I’ve had success with such out-of-the-ordinary dishes as a mushroom ragout and failed miserably with everyday things like grilled cheese sandwiches. But every time I cook I get a little better. I’m proud that I recently engineered a dinner for six.

I used to wish I were a chef but by the time I reached this decision my back, knees and feet were too old for the rigorous hours on your feet. Barring a career calling for a toque, I thought I’d like to be a food writer. I did publish three food books: Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, Texas is Chili Country, and the slim Extraordinary Teas Chef, and as this blog and my own Judy’s Stew demonstrate, I still like to write about food and cooking.

Now my goal is to get my cooking skills back up to their original level. I recognize that I may never again cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family of sixteen or host a cocktail party for sixty, but those Coquille St. Jacques? I’d like to serve them to you someday.

Judy Alter's Bio:

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her home town, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.
Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Skype: juju1938
Buy link for Murder at Peacock Mansion:
Buy link for The Gilded Cage

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our Home and Refuge

We've always taken in folks who needed a home--even if we didn't really have room for them.

In our first home, while raising five children, over the years we had several guests who remained for different periods of time:

For two days and nights, an infant whose mother was in the Navy dispensary and the dad was distraught. He didn't know me at all, but I offered to take the baby and he took me up on it with only my address as any kind of guarantee.

A young couple we met while camping, came back to our house and stayed until the husband found a job. 

One of my teen daughters' friends who didn't like her step-father. Not sure how long she was with us, but a few months.

When we moved, to the home we're in now, we brought along son's girlfriend who was in a bad situation. 

Our new home was also a licensed care facility, where we cared for four and later six developmentally disabled women.

We raised a grandson there, had two others for different periods of time, and a granddaughter who stayed with us during the school week.

A son while he was suffering from cancer during the times his wife had to work.

There was another small house on the property.

Many different folks have lived there at different times when they needed a place to stay.

My mother and father.

My middle daughter and her husband.

A granddaughter and her husband and three kids.

My son and his wife who are there now. 

We retired from the care business so ended up with more rooms for people to stay.

Five missionaries for two weeks while they built a church on the Indian reservation. (That was a fun time.) 

In the big house, we raised two grandsons, and had a granddaughter who stayed with us more than she stayed with her folks. 

A grown great granddaughter who needed some privacy. 

A great grandson and his new wife until they were able to afford a place of their own. 

And now the granddaughter who stayed with us often while she was in school, is with us again along with her husband and two little girls. They are buying our house and we'll stay here with them.

We can proudly say our home has been that for many people. 


Sunday, May 14, 2017

That Certain Spark, by Karen McCullough

I recently finished reading a book for a contest that got me thinking about what makes a book enjoyable. The book in question was well-written, had an interesting central idea, a decent basic plot, and a group of potentially interesting characters. All the ingredients that should make for a good read.

It wasn’t. In fact, it was a slog to keep going through it. When I tried to figure out why, I came up with one word: shallow. The dialogue was smooth but a little stilted. It advanced the plot but offered very little insight into the characters speaking. The descriptions were reasonable but rather uninteresting. The writing was good and kept the story going but didn’t delve into anything other than surface descriptions of a large group of characters and a rather complex macguffin.

It was missing the magic ingredient that turns a competent story, with decent plot and good characters, into an interesting one. Something that’s hard to put your finger on, but you know it when it’s there. Or not there. Texture. Depth. Resonance.

Of course, knowing that doesn’t tell you how to fix it. I like to think it’s all about the detail. As texture of fabric and depth come from varying heights of the yarns, texture in a story comes from varying levels of detail. You don’t describe everything in the story in depth as that would not only grow tiresome quickly it would make all your stories much, much longer than they need to be. But some pieces of the story don’t demand the same amount of attention as others. 

Deciding what details to use is part of the art of storytelling. It’s finding that right thing to include that helps the reader see more than just the one thing.

In the opening scene of my recent romantic suspense release, Hunter’s Quest, my heroine is driving in the North Carolina mountains. I describe dark woods that come up to the edge of the winding road, wildflowers blooming along the edge and the aroma of honeysuckle wafting through the air. I could have added the chirping of birds, the tangled undergrowth, small animals running across the pavement, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel like those details were needed and I didn’t want to overload the paragraph with description.

I hope I set the scene well enough so that when the crack of a rifle shot shatters the peace and a man runs out in front of her car, the contrasts will shock the reader into awareness and draw them into wanting to know more about what’s going on.

Blurb for Hunter’s Quest: Kristie Sandford's vacation is interrupted when a man jumps out in front of her car. She avoids hitting him, but when she stops to see if he's hurt, he demands she help him escape from the people chasing him. Kristie has an odd "gift" - she occasionally gets warning messages, and she gets one saying he needs her help or he'll die. Jason Hunter is an NC SBI (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation) agent working on his own time searching for a friend, an investigative reporter who disappeared while tracking down rumors of corruption in the bureaucracy of a small mountain town. Jason is grateful to Kristie for rescuing him, but dubious when she insists she has to continue helping him. Kristie is attracted to Jason, but the edge of danger she senses in him reminds her too much of the abusive family she escaped as soon as she could.

Still, the message said he'd die if she didn't help him, and the messages have been right before.


Karen McCullough is the author of more than a dozen published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, seven grandchildren (soon to be eight) and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

Author’s links:

Saturday, May 13, 2017



A couple of weekends ago, I was on a panel at Malice Domestic, the mystery conference. Our moderator asked me and the other panelists about setting. How and why did we choose the places where we set our books? I said briefly that I had set my books in places that I know well – a fictional version of my hometown, Danville, Virginia, and a near-future version of Albany, New York, where I live and work. But it is more complicated than knowing these places well. The places I have set my books and short stories have been reshaped by my imagination.
            In fact, the first book in my Lizzie Stuart series was set in London and Cornwall, England. Both I and my sleuth had been on vacation there. In the second book, Lizzie moved from her hometown in Kentucky to “Gallagher, Virginia”. She works at a fictional university and is now director of the fictional Institute for the Study of Southern Crime and Culture. She has left Gallagher several times in the five books in the series – going to Chicago, Wilmington, North Carolina and New Orleans in one book, and to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in another. In the next book, whenever I have a chance to finish it, she will be back in Gallagher after spending a few days in Santa Fe.
            What is important about place in both the Lizzie Stuart novels and the novels featuring Police Detective Hannah McCabe is that my two protagonists have been shaped by the places where they grew up. Wherever she is in the world, Lizzie is a Southerner (as I am). Hannah McCabe is a New Yorker – upstate New York, not New York City, and that is an important distinction. Even though Lizzie is a graduate of the real-life School of Criminal Justice in Albany (the place where I now teach), she has no roots here. Even though McCabe may have cousins in the South, she would be out of place there.
            In the Lizzie Stuart books, I began with Danville, the place where I grew up, wrote about in my dissertation, and in a local history about the Prohibition-era. I drew on Danville’s history and geography, and created “Gallagher”. Even though I have lived in Albany for almost three decades and done research on the city, I have needed to bring the Hannah McCabe novels to life in a world that I can never enter. In both series, setting is crucial to the stories I am telling. The geography, the pace of life, how the places are perceived by outsiders is what I try to capture in my books. Customs, culture, and ways of seeing the world shape the events.
            I admire those authors who can write about a real place so truthfully that you can feel and smell and taste that place. That is want to do. But real places must be distilled and re-imagined as fictional worlds in which the events of stories happen. The longer I write, the more comfortable I am in my fictional worlds that overlap, draw from, and exist alongside the real world. The real world feeds my imagination, but doesn’t constrain it. I am telling stories that exist in the recent past or the near future. I am never in the here and now.
            One of the pleasures of writing fiction – in contrast to my academic research and writing – is that I can make things up. But I love doing research. Therefore, I always begin with a set of facts and then twist them. The Red Queen Dies began with the story of the day that Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth were both in Albany and the stories behind Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. What the Fly Saw began with a famous blizzard, celebrations of life, megachurches, 19th century spiritualism, and virtual reality.  
            Recently, I wrote another short story set in an upstate village in 1948 featuring a new protagonist. Before writing this story, I had to learn what a “village” is as defined by New York State. This is not a concept that I grew up with in Virginia. I also spent some time in villages – visiting them with a friend who had grown up in New York and could help me to understand what they might have been like in the 1940s. At the same time, I needed to spend some time doing research on the historical era of post-World War II America. I needed to do all this so that the story I was telling would have the sense of place that I strive to achieve. Readers will let me know if I got it right.

Brief bio and links:

Criminologist Frankie Bailey has five books and two published short stories in a mystery series featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart. The Red Queen Dies, the first book in a near-future police procedural series featuring Detective Hannah McCabe, came out in September, 2013.  The second book in the series, What the Fly Saw came out in March 2015. Frankie is a former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Website URL:
Twitter:  @FrankieYBailey
Amazon: What the Fly Saw

 My Notes: Years ago, at the one and only Edgars Award dinner I ever attended, I sat next to Frankie Bailey. We had a nice conversation, bt I didn't really find out all this interesting information about her then. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sweet and Sour, A Mother-Daughter Relationship--D.J. Adamson

As the protagonist, readers easily know Lillian Dove’s wants, dislikes, struggles, urges, and misadventures in the Lillian Dove Mystery series. But Dahlia—Lillian rarely refers to her as mother—is only known through Lillian’s eyes. Yet, Dahlia’s actions and reactions are just as complex as her daughter’s. It’s why I thought interviewing Dahlia Dove might be eye-opening.

Q:        Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Dahlia. I understand this is the first time you have agreed to speak to someone about your relationship with Lillian.

A:        Nothing much else to do today but sit and count the flies on the window. Got me jailed here at Oaks Manor. But, I plan to break out and be on my own, soon.

Q:        I understand you had several strokes and had to come here to live. It’s why Lillian moved to Frytown, wasn’t it? To take care of you?

A:        I can die just as well here as well as in my condo. (looks away) Didn’t ask her to come.

Q:        Yes, well, many who have read Admit to Mayhem and Suppose feel you come across abusive to your daughter. How do you see your relationship?

A:        Abuse’s me? (nods sharply) You can say that again. Like I said, she keeps me imprisoned, but I’m breaking out. I’ve got it all planned.
(sucks on her bottom lip, looking out the window) 
That girl came into the world wailing, thinking life’s unfair. Well, take it from me, Lillian June Dove, (now she leans slightly out of her wheelchair and stares directly across the room as if Lillian were with us), life isn’t fair. No matter what you want, you’re going to get something different. (stares over at me) If you could have picked your life, would you picked the one you got?

Q:        Well, I…um…I understand your husband had problems, and Lillian has struggled with alcohol most of her life. But, I bet you’re very happy about her recovery.

A:        Is she saying stuff about her Dad? Let me tell you, missy, Elvin Dove did the best he could with what he’d been given. You can’t ask for more than that from any human being. If he could pick, do you think he’d ask for the same life?
(she puffs air out from between her smacked lips.) I did the best I could, working two jobs, raising three kids. What do you do for a living?

Q:        (Apologetically) I’m sure you were a good mother.

A:        Does Lillian say that?
Q:        (Nervously) Well, I….

A:        (puffs air again between her lips, leans bent over in half, close.)  I tried to keep bad things from happening to that girl. Don’t think I didn’t. No matter what I did,  she was bound and determined to ruin her life. Doesn’t listen any better today.
(leans back, a bit puffed up like an old hen sitting on her nest) I warned her to stay away from Edgar Pike, don’t think I didn’t.  The girl’s lucky she didn’t get herself killed. (shrugs) What do you do with a girl who lives in her mother’s condo, won’t get out, and a then you find out a guy winds up dead in the kitchen? My kitchen!
(gives me a few seconds to think about the question, then, she squints one eye and stares at me with the other, nodding.) Didn’t think you’d have a good answer. Let me tell you, it ain’t been easy.

Q:        Do you see a time when you and Lillian will be close?

A:        Who says we ain’t close?

Q:        Well…ah…there are difficulties between the two of you.

A:        What’s your name?

Q:        D. J. Adamson. I am the author of the series.

A:        Author? (smacks her lips as if she doesn’t approve of the profession) Mothers and daughters don’t always see eye-to-eye. Do you get along with your mother?

Q:        Actually, she is a lot like you, except…

A:        See there. Told you. (begins to wheel away out of the room)

Q:        (hurrying to hold her) I have just one or two more questions.

A:        (turns) Well, hurry up. I’m wasting heartbeats sitting here.

Q:        (waiting two beats, so the question has effect) Do you love your daughter, Dahlia?

A:        (appears shocked at the question, head rises on her neck, eyes widen, she begins wheeling her chair back over to me, slowly, purposefully, and I begin worrying what to do if she should attack)
 Love her?  (she is now inches away from me, so close, our knees almost touch.)
What a hell of a question to ask me. She’s my daughter.

Without another word, Dahlia Dove whirled her wheelchair around and left the lobby where we held our conversation. I will say this, she is a formidable woman. Like Lillian described her, of German heritage, she comes across like a woman who when she came home from working two jobs could hold a kid under each arm, fold the laundry and still kick Lillian in the butt.

Brusque, snappy, but there is also something tender and affecting about Dahlia. Like her daughter, she is a survivor.

I am more curious now than I was before whether she will eventually find a way to get out of Oaks Manor and how she and her relationship with Lillian will progress.


D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series,  and OutrĂ©, a science fiction-suspense YA which has won three Indie awards.  She is the editor of Le Coeur de l’Artiste, a newsletter which reviews books, and blog, L’Artiste with offers authors speaking on craft, marketing, and the creative mind . 

D.J. teaches writing and literature at Glendale College. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime, a member of the Southern California Mystery Writers, California Writers Club and Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society. 

Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon. To find her, her blog L’Artiste, or newsletter go to Make friends with her on Facebook or Goodreads.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Author Fair by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

For seven years I worked in the world online book promotion marketing the work of authors in a variety of genres. When my first book, Little Shepherd, was released in 2010, I immediately set up a three-month virtual book tour to promote it. That worked out great, as the book hit the Amazon bestseller’s list in large print children’s books more than once during that time. When A Christmas Kindness and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving followed in 2012 and 2016, again I relied on the World Wide Web and my fellow bloggers to promote them.

One thing I didn’t really focus on, however, was local venues. I have had an interview or two in our local paper, but other than that no serious effort has been dedicated to scheduling in-person events…even though I always told my authors that online promotion should be only one part of their marketing plan.

Reading about Marilyn’s many in-person author events inspired me to give it a try, and when our local librarian reached out to tell me about their annual author fair, I signed up. What a great time I had! Not only did I get a chance to support some of the members of my writing group who have been published, I sold a few books, met a bunch of new people, and discovered these events weren’t half as scary as I thought they were.

Thanks for inspiring me to reach outside my comfort zone, Marilyn. I’ll certainly be looking for more chances to share my work with people in my own backyard when Amos Faces His Bully comes out later this year.


Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children's author, and editor. A 2005 graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group, she has written dozens of articles on time management and organization and edited manuscripts in a variety of genres. Cheryl is the author of Little Shepherd (2010), A Christmas Kindness (2012), and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving (2016). A blogger and book reviewer, she is a lifelong resident of Western Massachusetts. She and her husband have two teenage daughters and a son who is married. 

Social Media Links:

Note from Marilyn:

Though I've not met Cheryl in person, I feel like I know here and consider her a friend. We've been friends on the Internet and Facebook for quite a long time, and she helped promote many of my books.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why I Write Historical Mysteries by Rose Johnson

A common question people ask. Why? I’m a scientist working in a high tech field. Many folks wonder why I’m not writing techno-thrillers. Easy answer. I would get bogged down in the technical details. So, instead, I write historical mysteries. I have my reasons. They include:

1) I'm fascinated with the period of 1900 to 1920. The world changed in so many different ways. The automobile, airplane, gramophone, electrification, Bolshevik revolution, suffragettes, natural disasters (Galveston hurricane, San Francisco earthquake), man made disasters (Titanic and others), WW1 and the use of trench and chemical warfare, mass fires (Great Atlanta fire, Shirtwaist factory fire), and influenza pandemic. They can all become compelling backdrops or even plot points for a mystery.

2) My story will never become dated because there already is a date associated with it. Contemporary mysteries written in the 1990s, focused on the latest technology as part of the plot become outdated as technology moves on. Hacking in the 2000’s and hacking today where even our microwave ovens can spy on us, can make a story boring if the soon-to-be-outdated technology is pivotal to the plot.

3) I can explore contemporary issues and crimes by placing them in a historical setting. How would my characters of that time respond? This is the part I like. How does someone from 1917 deal with an event as catastrophic as 9/11? Child abductions (Polly Klaas, Elizabeth Smart). Cult leaders (Jim Jones, David Koresch, Charles Manson). The possibilities are endless and the conclusions may be different than today. Or not. I write my characters. They dictate the plot.

My recently published historical mystery, “Enemy Fire”, takes place in 1917 Atlanta. The climax involves the Great Atlanta Fire. It was catastrophic and destroyed 300 acres of the city. In 1917, many Americans were concerned about entering WW1. Fear was rampant about German spies that may be in the US. Suspicion of Germans, in general, abounded. German names on hotels and streets changed. Statues of famous Germans who helped the US in past wars removed because they were German. People of German ancestry or were immigrants pressured to take loyalty oaths. The dachshund became the most unpopular dog in America. I made fear of German spies the driver in my story.

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' I’m sure you heard that quote. Are we repeating the past? The Confederate flag and any symbols of the Confederacy are seeing the same animosity after the horrific African-American church killings in Charleston. At least there wasn’t a dog mascot for the Confederacy or it may become the least popular breed today. So, even though my story may be historical, some elements of human nature never change.

Writing historical mysteries allows me the freedom to create a story that pulls personalities, situations, and events from any time. I deposit the mix into the early 20th century, stir in an event of the time, and weave a story that I want my readers to consider page-turning. All of this without having to rely on an I-phone, Google, Facebook, Twitter, DNA analysis, instant fingerprint databases, Alexa and Echo, my spying microwave and whatever else high tech is out there to solve a mystery

Rose Johnson

Friday, May 5, 2017

When a Minor Character Takes Over a Book by Jacqueline Diamond

Feisty, eccentric old ladies have always intrigued me. It’s long been my goal to become one, although I’m in no hurry to get there.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise—but it did—when a 96-year-old lady nearly ran away with my latest mystery, The Case of the Surly Surrogate.

Every character in my Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries leaps off the page for me. Primarily, though, I live through my hero, Dr. Eric Darcy, a young physician who cares deeply about his patients and assists his private investigator sister-in-law in solving murders that affect them.

In the new mystery, the father of a baby about to be born via surrogate is murdered. Eric’s patients include not only the surrogate and the widow (the intended mother of the baby), but also the widow’s great-grandmother.

Lenore Bryerly, diagnosed with mild dementia, has a tantalizing habit of dropping hints to Eric about her family’s troubled history, hints that point in a different direction than police are pursuing. She’s outspoken and determined, but is she a credible witness?

Members of my critique group let me know they couldn’t wait to read more about her. One of my beta readers, who’s in her twenties, emailed me: “I. Love. Lenore. She is easily my favorite character and I kinda want to read this whole story from her perspective now. Plus, I just love badass old ladies.”

Here lay a dilemma: as tension builds in a mystery, it’s valuable to have a second murder. But while Lenore might seem to be the obvious target, I just couldn’t kill her off.

Instead, I worked in another character who took the fall instead. And Lenore became an integral part of the fast-paced, dangerous climax.

One of the joys of writing a series is being able to revisit beloved characters, and there’s always a chance she’ll pop up again. I hope she’ll live long and prosper!

The Case of the Surly Surrogate
Amazon link
Kindle Unlimited (yes)

Author Bio:

USA Today bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond is known for her mysteries, romantic comedies, medical romances and Regency romances—102 titles as of 2017. A former Associated Press reporter, Jackie received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. She currently writes the Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries, beginning with The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet, and is reissuing her classic romantic comedies, including The Bride Wore Gym Shoes and Million-Dollar Mommy.

Book blurb:

After Dr. Eric Darcy discovers the body of a patient’s husband, he lands in the midst of a murder investigation. Was the photographer killed because he was cheating on his wife, or was he using his photos in a blackmail plot? And how did he antagonize the surrogate mother about to give birth to his baby? The puzzle pieces snap together in a fast-paced climax that could cost Eric his life. USA Today bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond interweaves a medical setting with memorable characters in the second Safe Harbor Medical mystery. 

Website link & newsletter signup:
Twitter name: @jacquediamond

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Appearing at Book Festivals

Lorie Ham and I shared a table at the Clovis Book Festival sponsored by the Clovis Book Barn and Friends of the Library (Fresno.)

Though it wasn't the best of book selling days--there were some problems that will probably be addressed if those who organized this decide to do a repeat performance. One of the librarians I spoke to said she hoped it would happen twice a year. That might be a bit much, it was a lot of work for those who organized the event.)

Lorie represented Kings River Life, her online magazine that supports mystery author and many other projects and events. Of course I represented myself.

We were supposed to be there at 9, so Lisa (my daughter, driver, helper) and I left at 7:15 a.m. The event was supposed to last until 8 p.m. But because of the low traffic, most folks started leaving around 3. We stayed a couple hours longer.

One of the big things to do is stand when someone comes by and engage them in conversation--unfortunately not many folks even walked through. However, I spoke with those who did and handed out my cards. 

I also met and gave my card to several of the librarians who were looking for authors to do events at their branch libraries. That's something I love doing.

No matter whether I sell a lot of books or not, I like doing these types of events too. 

Because I'm getting older and not nearly as agile or have the staying power, I don't do the big book events like the L.A. Times Book Festival (which is wonderful), or the Tucson Book Festival which I always though I might do one day. Fortunately, there are these smaller ones for me to participate in.

Another big plus was getting to see folks I hadn't seen for a long time--friends and authors.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Just Me Again

The post that was supposed to be here today, didn't arrive, so I'm going to fill the space.

Anyone who follows me on Facebook and reads this blog regularly, know I'm on a blog tour at the moment. For the most part it's gone fairly smoothly. One person didn't remember getting my information, so the post appeared a day late, but we are all forgetful at times.

I've been working on a new Tempe Crabtree mystery while doing promotion for Unresolved. The two series are very different except for the fact they are both about law enforcement and solving crimes--and of course, family relationships.

With the new mystery I've had three different people who I was sure committed the murder--but all of a sudden I've realized it's someone else completely. I may have to go back and do a bit of rewriting of the beginning to make it work, but I do think this is the way it's going to go.

We're getting ready to leave on a trip tomorrow to visit my eldest daughter and her family--two married grandkids and five grandkids in all. We don't get to see them often, so I'm really looking forward to ie.

I don't worry about writing about leaving home, because we're leaving behind our son and daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson-in-law and kids, and so many dogs I don't know how to count them. 

Because I will still be on the blog tour, I'm taking my iPad along so I can let people know what blog I'm visiting each day and make appropriate comments. I plan to take plenty of photos too.

I don't have any photos yet of me with my hair that I'm no longer dying, hair of many colors.

We've been watching some episodes of Blue Bloods we missed since we no longer have regular TV, but only Roku--certainly more to watch than we can keep up with. We subscribe to Netflix, Acorn, Amazon, and CBS. 

Anyway, that's what's been keeping me occupied lately, besides the usual chores.

I'm glad it's May, though it's starting out to be too warm already.

Oh, and of course, and most exciting, we've welcomed a new great-great grandchild into the fold, Asher. 


Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac, a review

I loved this book. From the beginning words I was hooked. This is the story of a missing woman and so much more. The main character, Virginia Knightly, is a TV news producer, as such she begins an investigation into the missing woman’s disappearance. Set in Washington, there’s a hint of both political and perhaps even police involvement in a major cover-up. What’s so great about this book, is how realistic it is.

Just when I thought I had the plot figured out, it took a surprising turn and making everything look totally different. The unexpected curves that often lead to a dead end bring Virginia closer and closer to danger, and a totally unexpected ending.

Virginia is one of those women who is so immersed in her job, she has no time for the love she yearns for even when it’s right there for the plucking.

The Cutaway has some fascinating peeks into how many are involved and what it takes to put the latest and most intriguing news on the air every single night.

Though dubbed a thriller on the cover, to me it has all the elements of a clever mystery with just the right amount of misleading clues to leave the reader wondering right up to the shocking end.
I’m hoping for a sequel.

(Simon and Schuster sent me this book.)

Marilyn Meredith

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Public Appearances

Whenever a new book comes out, unless an author has a great publicist, she/he will be scrambling for places to make appearances to talk about the book, writing, or anything that might compel a reader to want to buy the book.

Actually, most of us are looking for places to appear and sell our books whether we have a new one out or not. 

I've been fortunate to already have made a few appearances. Though for some of them I didn't have the new book yet, I did have cards to hand out with the cover and all the information.

I did a joint presentation for my local Sisters in crime group, I've talked to a great group at the Hanford Library, and had a table at a craft show at our church. 

My blog tour began on April 22 nd.

In May, I'm doing a radio interview at 6:35 in the morning. Yes, I am. I'll let you know how that goes.

On June 24th at 11, I'll be over at the Paso Robles Library talking about Best Sellers again.

I have five Fresno Library visits at  11 a.m, I'll be at the Gillis Library, June 17,  the Fowler Library on July 22, the Selma Library, July 29, the Kingsburg Library August 8, and the Caruthers Library August 12. 

I'm sure more opportunities will present themselves. 

This was one of the first, speaking with Cora Ramos at the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime April meeting.