Showing posts from January, 2017

I Blame it All on My Dad by Marilyn Meredith

My dad bragged about me to everyone--told them that I could do anything. It wasn't true of course, but sure made me try. In later years, I know that thefaith he had in me, made me try all sorts of things that I might not have if I'd thought about it too long.

He thought I could water ski better than anyone. He made our skis--and the boat that pulled us--he was the one who could do anything--but I heard him tell people, "Marilyn can get up on those skis before I even start the boat."
Another time, after I was married and had kids, he told my nephew that I could swim better than anyone. My nephew was a teen and his family had a pool that he swam in all the time. I did swim in the ocean a lot, but not often in a pool. Dad told my nephew I could beat him in a race. Egads, I was horrified, but didn't want to let my dad down. The pool was half Olympic size. I swam like crazy never coming up for air--and won. 
This "Marilyn can do anything" thought carried me …
I'm delighted to be attending this event! Hope some of you in the area will stop by!

Building the World of The Penningtons Investigate by C.T. Collier

Launched in June 2016 with Planted, The Penningtons Investigate is a traditional mystery series focused on a troubled college in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Co-sleuths Kyle and Lyssa Pennington are a brainy young couple who love to match wits with each other and, occasionally, with murderers. Both have PhD’s and both have roles at Tompkins College, she an economics professor, he a computer security consultant.
I started in 2012 to build the world of The Penningtons Investigate—Tompkins College, Tompkins Falls, and the founding families, the Cushmans and Tompkins—as I drove along one of the Finger Lakes on a frigid blue-sky day. That’s when I had an idea for a romance series.
Wait—what’s romance got to do with mystery? Simple. I wanted a soupcon of romance in the mysteries, but I needed to learn plotting, character development, suspense, publishing, marketing—so many things!—before I could craft a whodunit that engaged, sustained involvement, and surprised the reader.  So I too…

Does a Cozy Sleuth Have to be an Amateur? Elaine L. Orr

Can a police procedural be a cozy? No. Well…maybe.
When ideas pop into my head and don’t leave after a few days, I pay attention. In fall of 2015, I heard a couple of stories about restaurants doing away with tips. My immediate thought, as a mystery writer, was “that could be worth killing for.”
The setting appeared spontaneously -- a small-town diner situated in a town similar to the central Illinois towns I drive through regularly. Within two days after the diner waltzed into my brain, I had some quirky town residents and a first chapter – and a dead guy.
Things slowed down. I had another book under contract, and I needed time to develop characters. Plus, I had not figured out who would investigate the murder. Usually I start with that!
I was also doing something very different than in my other books – chapter one would be from a narrator’s point-of-view and the rest of the book from a sleuth’s. And that sleuth? Nothing made sense except having her be the small town’s police chief.

A Neighborly Killing by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Let’s get one thing straight right away: Regan and Tom, the protagonists in my Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, are not me and my husband, Craig.
OK, I confess, originally Regan and Tom were named Nancy and Craig. Most of my characters start out with the name of someone I know, but they stopped being us the first time Nancy found a body and Craig (the real one) found me curled in a ball on the sofa in my office, shaking and crying. It was a matter of self preservation that they couldn’t be us.
An interesting thing happened once I changed Nancy and Craig’s names to Regan and Tom. The characters started behaving differently. I was so fascinated by the change in their personalities that I renamed almost all my characters. Suddenly they were willing to do things they would never have done as themselves. For example, Kaivan in “The Death Contingency,” like his real counterpart my friend Korosh, was still a clothes-horse, flirt, and a patriotic naturalized citizen, but he became a pla…

The Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns

A Devil’s Cold Dish is as much a story about being an outsider as it is about malice and revenge.  I am always fascinated by the consequences of being different – or at least being perceived as different. And there are so many ways to be different: mental and physical defects, sexual orientation, even living outside the sexual mores of the local village (I explored this in Cradle to Grave ) to mention a few.  Even now, in this modern age when we encourage tolerance and speak of inclusiveness,  being perceived as Other can cause suffering. How much worse must it have been two hundred years ago?
In A Simple Murder, my first book, Mouse (Hannah Moore) was born with cleft palate. The superstition of the times claimed that if a pregnant woman saw a hare, her child would be born with this deformity. Now the defect is easily correctible with surgery. But then, in the late 1700s?
What would happen to a girl with this defect when marriage was almost the only path open to a woman? Especially a …

Medicinal Alcohol by Sarah E. Glenn

From ancient times, alcohol’s potency has been revered and yet feared. It is the wine of Dionysus, the sacred barley-drink of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the reason John Barleycorn had to die. Even so, the classical Greeks warned against drinking unwatered wine, and the Bible advises its readers to only drink in moderation.
Alcohol’s use in medicine is equally ancient. Wine enhanced the potency of herbal medicines and extended their shelf life. The invention of distillation improved this even further. Certain essences from plants are more easily extracted by alcohol than water, and tinctures formed an important part of the pharmacopeia before modern chemistry took over. Many nostrums sold in the nineteenth century counted alcohol as a major ingredient, their effect sometime heightened with narcotics. Homemade cold remedies like hot toddies and buttered rum were popular.
During the 1830s, however, the Temperance movement swelled in the United States and public pressure to b…

And A Better Time

In the 60s, we were living in Oxnard--and despite the racial turmoil going on everywhere else, in our small part of the world, things were going fairly well.

We were definitely lower middle-class, and to be honest quite poor. Hubby was in the Seabees and poorly paid.We barely made it from month to month. We lived in a neighborhood with other poorly paid people--firemen and police officers. We were all buying our homes because in this particular tract, the down payment was only $100.
Our neighborhood was nicely racially mixed, using the terms of the time: white, black, Mexican, Filipino, and a smattering of others. Most of the schools were as racially mixed as was the PTA, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls.
My small Blue Bird group became Camp Fire Girls, and in Junior High swelled to 20 girls from all ethnic backgrounds and stayed together through high school. We had a wonderful time--we had many camp outs including back packing into the mountains, we visited Hollywood and we…

Doggedly Determined by Nancy Cole Silverman

After a year of being pet-less, my husband and I agreed it was time to adopt a new dog.  Last year, at Christmas time, we lost both our standard poodles to different cancers.  It was a devastating blow. But, we figured we had been lucky with them for as long as we had – nearly fifteen years – and we did our best to respect their memory and move forward.  However, as the holidays approached, I was determined to bring a little joy back into our lives. Something in the form of a wet nose, padded paws, and furry tail.  And, because I do believe fate interceded, we found a breeder with pups available post-holiday.


The pups were born November 5th , ten in all, and like I said, available for adoption between Christmas and New Years. However, there were problems. While the pups were fine, Ali, their mom, a three-year-old standard poodle show dog, was not.  The breeder was faced with some tough choices.  Ali couldn’t be bred again and would have to be re-homed. Did I want her? Absolutely…

Hidden Figures, the movie and memories it brought to mind

We loved "Hidden Figures". Besides a wonderful true story, it was a big reminder of the horror of segregation and how the press totally ignored these three African American women who actually made it possible for the US to go into space.
Watching it brought back memories of my feeble and totally unsuccessful attempt at pointing out how stupid segregation was back in the early 50s. Yes, I was a big ahead of everyone.
I grew up in Los Angeles CA and I never heard my folks talk bad about any race. No, I didn't grow up in an integrated neighborhood and the only neighbors of a different race were the Italians who lived across the street and had been there far longer than any of the rest of us.
When I first got married I moved to Maryland, and had my first exposure to racism. Believe me, it was a horrible shock. I won't go into all the things I heard and saw. However, I thought I could change things in a small way by doing the following:
I rode on the back of the bus. I d…

Lots of Rain in California, and the Rivers are Raging

We've had a big drought in California for too many years--and now we're getting lots of rain. The Tule River runs through Springville, my little town in the foothills. In fact the Tule flows/or rages, depending upon the time of year, behind our house. We are high enough, that we don't have to worry, but many homes are built right along the river, and for them, at times, it's scary.

There is a history of the Tule flooding and I heard many stories about it which inspired a story about flooding and mud slides which came out in 2012, Raging Water.
Raging Water Blurb:
A rash of burglaries and the murder of two women shock the mountain community of Bear Creek. Add a fast-moving thunderstorm that brings torrential rains and Tempe Crabtree, the resident deputy can forget about her days off.
Who would murder two harmless women? Did a drug addict simply want their medications or did they share a secret someone was willing to kill for?
When a massive mud slide blocks the road int…

Dishonored and Forgotten - The Birth of a Book

We became writers late in life.  I’ve authored several novels and a book of short-stories.  My wife, Carolyn, writes professional self-help books about parenting and communication skills, especially for children.  We often spend time pursuing separate writing interests, sequestered in our separate offices.   Often, collaboration involved nothing more than providing the first edit of each other's work. 
                One day we decided to take a break.  It was off to Galveston (a short twenty-minute drive) for lunch at a favorite restaurant, watching the ships plow through the channel to load and unload their cargo, including the human variety from cruise ships.  Tiring of that entertainment, we strolled Galveston's historic Strand district, browsing through novelty and antique shops. 
                In one shop, filled with posters, clothes, and items Carolyn calls antiques, but I classify as junk, we found a book of short true crime stories.  It described events that occu…

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

I haven't had a whole lot of time to read--that's what happens when there's big holidays and I'm trying to finish writing a book of my own.

When I received a copy in the mail of Everything You Want Me to Be from the publisher, Simon and Schuster, I knew it would take me a while to read it. At first I read it in spurts, but as I got near the end and knew that it wasn't going to turn out the way it was headed, I couldn't stop until I finished.
The story comes from the three main characters: Hattie, a senior in highschool; the sheriff, Del Goodman, and the new  and not so happily married English teacher, Peter.
As the book progresses we learn about Hattie's obsession toward her teacher, his feelings toward her, about her family and her school friends, including her convenient boy friend, Tommy.
The author does an excellent job of getting inside the Hattie's head and her emotions, and her ability to manipulate everyone around her
As the story progresses, t…

Happy New Year! 2017

On this day, January 1, 2017, we are continuing our New Year's Day tradition--for those in our family who love seafood, we are enjoying my special seafood gumbo. 
It begins with the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving which constitutes the beginnings of the broth with chunks of turkey.The bones are thrown out--celery and onions are added and cooked, along with a couple of cans of tomato chunks. I add a carton of chicken broth, and a big package of frozen okra. I season with a couple of shakes of Tabasco and salt. 
When it's near time to eat, I'll add shrimp and crab legs (I like the smaller ones best for this) to the boiling broth, but it doesn't really need to cook, I pull out the crab legs so people can take a couple. It's served over rice.
Easy and really good!
After we're full we play a rousing game of Estimation.
As for resolutions, I don't do them. My hope and prayer is for a good year for family and friends. And of course I would hope for my books too.