Thursday, February 28, 2013

Girl Scout Cookies and Ducks who Refuse to Die

by Maria Geraci

With a title like that I'm sure you're going WHAT? Currently, I'm in full writer mode frantically typing away on a manuscript that was supposed to be due to my agent a few weeks ago. Granted, that deadline was one of my own making, but still. I hate getting behind on my writing but this winter has seen the death of my computer along with numerous other set backs including a lot of extra time spent on the day job (labor and delivery nurse) that just can't be helped.

But the good news is that I am now on a roll. With the help of a genius husband who it seems can fix anything computer related (love my nerdy engineer!), the help of an old story, and a few boxes of Tagalongs I'm back in the proverbial saddle again.

Hemingway had his liquor. Me, I have my Girl Scout cookies. It seems there is nothing like a good old fashioned peanut butter and chocolate sugar high to keep my butt firmly planted in the chair in front of my desk. Of course, soon, my butt might not fit in said chair, but that's another story. Inspiration is not something to be taken lightly. No matter where it comes from.

Speaking of which, my current wip has taken a little inspiration from a real life duck tale I blogged about a few years ago.

A duck (later nicknamed Perky) who had been shot by a hunter and presumed dead was found alive by the hunter's wife in their refrigerator. The duck had been in the fridge for 2 days when the wife heard something strange, opened the fridge, and found the duck staring at her (I think I would have lost my Girl Scout cookies at this point). She took the duck to an emergency vet where the duck had surgery and was later adopted by the local wildlife sanctuary, giving Perky a happily ever after.

For some reason, I've always been intrigued by this story. Maybe it's the sheer improbability of it all. Or the quirkiness of it. I'm not sure. All I will say is that whenever I think my story is dead in the water, something miraculously brings it back to life. Sort of like Perky. It just doesn't want to die.

The point of all being is that when Inspiration comes, in no matter what form, jump on it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whodunit? Me!

by Bethany Maines

On my recent trip to Iceland we were watching the BBC channel in the hotel room before going to bed (the entertainment value of the Icelandic Shopping Network could only last so long) and I caught a fun segment about the British Library which is showing an exhibit called Murder in theLibrary: An A-Z of Crime Fiction. The exhibit looks at the development of the whodunit genre and features the “10 Commandments” of Monsignor Ronald Knox. 

If you haven’t looked up the good Monsignor’s rules they basically consist of some guidelines to prevent the author from pulling solutions to a problem out of thin air and keep a story based in reality.  The rules hold up pretty well even over 80 years after being written – except for that one about the Chinamen.  I’m not really sure what that rule was attempting to accomplish, but we’ll hope that it wasn’t as racist as it sounds. 

Anyway, once I returned home I did a quick google on the exhibit and found an interesting article that covered the rules and posed the question: Is the Whodunit dead? Has the reading public moved on to thrillers, true crime and procedurals?  Is the Whodunit now a pass√© relic of an older time?

Well, I have to say that if I took a survey of the authors on this blog that the answer would be a definitive, “No!” The Whodunit is alive and well on the Stilletto Blog – whether it’s Joelle Charbonneau’s roller skating heroine cleaning up a small town mysteries or Maggie Barbieri’s college professor solving murders with the help of a handsome NYPD homicide detective – our gang write crimes that get solved.

It’s my personal theory that books, like music, no longer have one mainstream genre that is overwhelmingly popular. The world has more readers than ever and that allows readers to pick the specific genre that appeals to them.  The Whodunit may no longer be THE thing to read, but I don’t think it’s being read any less.  In fact – I’m about to start reading a new one today.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

THE TESTING - Giveaway!

by: Joelle Charbonneau

As I am frantically typing the final chapters to GRADUATION DAY (book 3 of The Testing Trilogy), I have found that my ability to multitask has become severely impacted.  Getting to THE END tends to give me tunnel vision. Nothing exists but completing the story.  Then the fun of editing will begin. I look forward to that part a great deal and can't wait to dig in. 

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, I will have reached the final moments of this trilogy.  This has been an unusual project for me since I will finish writing and revising the third book long before the first book comes out on June 4th.  Hopefully, readers will embrace Cia and that I have done justice to her story.  She is a heroine I have loved watching grow and change.

To celebrate my (almost) completion of the final book, I am going to give away an ARC of THE TESTING.

It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await. 


THE TESTING is a bit different from my adult mysteries.  No camels or angry standard poodles.  No singing and dancing or roller skating.  But I'm hoping you'll still like it.  Please leave a comment below to enter (US and CANADA only - sorry!).  I'll choose the winning commenter on Friday.  Also please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.   

Okay - back to racing to THE END!   






Monday, February 25, 2013

What to read next?

By Dru Ann L Love

I spent 48 hours in their world, standing next to the protagonist as they gather clue, while trying to nab a killer. The threats don’t deter us from our chosen path of being an amateur sleuth. Victory is ours when justice is achieved. But when it’s all done, I feel elated yet sad because I have to leave this world that I felt comfortable in. But then the evitable happens. What do I read next?

Unless I’m reading the books that I need to read for my monthly post over at the Cozy Chicks or books directly from authors and/or publishers, this is what I do most of the time.

I open up my Excel file and see what books I have on my list which will includes this month’s release and any leftover books from the previous month. Usually I’ll have anywhere between 20 to 30 books on my list. When I can’t make a decision, I go to Amazon and read the synopsis of the books and I’ll have an idea or two of which book I plan to read next. Sometimes I’ll even look at how many pages are in a book, anything to help me narrow down my choices. If I had all the time in the world to read all the books in a given month, I would but after 30 days, a new set of books are released.

But after all is said and done, it will come down to if my favorite author has a book out, or if I’m hearing buzz about a book that I already own or I the old standby of “eenie, meenie, miney, moe.”

How do you pick out the next book you plan to read?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why I Write About Cops and Cops' Families

With #9 in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series coming out, it's probably time for me to once again explain why I have the audacity to write about police officers and their families since I've never been in law enforcement nor did I grow up in a law enforcement family.

What I do have is many relatives and friends who were or are police officers.

My uncle was in the LAPD, a motorcycle cop for a long while, then a detective. When I was growing up, a neighbor was a police officer and I babysat his children.

Our first house was in a neighborhood filled with policemen and their families. We partied with them, I had coffee on a regular basis with their wives, and our kids played together.

My youngest daughter married a policeman. He loved to tell me about his adventures and he took me on my first ride-along. My granddaughter married a deputy. A grandson is a police officer in Aspen.

Several  years ago I joined the Public Safety Writers Association. Most of the members are in some form of law enforcement and I've become friends with many of them.

I liked to read police procedurals, though most of the policemen I read about didn't have much resemblance to the police officers that I knew. I decided I'd like to write mysteries about police officers and their families, showing the kind of men and women that I knew. I wanted to show how what happened on the job affected the families and what happened with the families affected the job.

Like all writers, I'm an observer and a listener. I've used what I've seen and what I've heard in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series along with a generous dose of imagination.

In my latest, Dangerous Impulses,
an attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife Wendy is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news about her pregnancy, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.






Buy link: http://tinyurl.com/byxomtk

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Eyes Have It

There's an old English proverb, sometimes attributed to Shakespeare or Milton, that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Rhonda, the Southern half of Evelyn David, has struggled for the last two weeks with a corneal ulcer. It doesn't sound so terrible, except it is. It's meant that her vision has been compromised, her eyes are so light-sensitive that she can barely walk out into daylight, she has been afflicted with, as she describes it, "knife in the eyeball" sensation, constant eye dryness, doctor visits three times a week, a medication schedule that has required awaking every four hours – and the attendant stomach problems from taking all the various medications – not to mention, as anyone with an ongoing illness quickly discovers, doctor and pharmacy bills rising faster than the Mississippi.

For someone who loves to read, that's a pleasure that's been eliminated. Watching television makes her nauseous. And writing – she can barely look at a computer screen for more than 10 minutes without feeling like her eye is cramping, so work on our latest mystery has been seriously compromised.

Thankfully, she will be fine. Though disappointed with the pace of recovery, the doctor has assured Rhonda that he sees progress and is convinced that she will make a full recovery in the next week or so. But of course, it's led to much thought and discussion about the blessing of sight and the joys of the written word.

And in the midst of this ordeal, we were both reminded of a quotation from Helen Keller: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” She's right, of course. We so often take for granted the beauty of the world around us, the people in our lives. Both halves of Evelyn David have certainly learned a lesson.

Back soon with more adventures in murder and mayhem.

 
Marian and Rhonda

 

 

A Reason to Give Thanks includes: Giving Thanks in Lottawatah, Bah, Humbug in Lottawatah, Moonlighting at the Mall, The Fortune Teller's Face, A Reason to Give Thanks, Sneak Peek – Murder Off the Books, Sneak Peek – I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries
A Reason to Give Thanks
Kindle
Nook
Smashwords



 
Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
 

 






Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Romances
Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Other House

The Other House
By Laura Bradford

Do you ever imagine your other house?

You know, the one high atop a mountain overlooking a babbling brook? Or the one on the nineteenth floor of a building on Manhattan's upper west side? Or maybe the one that has the French doors off the writing room that open to the beach and the sparkling blue ocean beyond?

I do from time to time.

I picture the mountain house, I suspect, when I'm in need of a little isolation (think the middle part of a book when the writing tends to become more difficult).

I picture the upper west side apartment when I'm craving the ability to get places without having to drive. I picture this gorgeous (and always neat) getaway when I want to see some shows, visit a museum, walk in the park, and eat in a variety of different places...all in one day.

And I picture the beach house when I need sun and a slightly lazier pace.

I have no grandiose ideas of ever really owning any of the above, but that doesn't stop me from imagining.

I imagine the furnishings in each. I imagine the neatness of each (mostly because I'm a neat freak living with teenagers) and being able to employ my "no shoes in the house" rule to my heart's content. And I imagine what a day-in-the-life might be like with such a geographical change.

It's always a nice escape, a nice diversion for my brain. It may even serve as a goal for the future when I've sold a million books and the kids are all grown, anyway (in that case, I'm torn between the beach and the city). But when all is said and done, I'd rather be right where I am, sloppiness and all.

How about you? Do you have a dream house you visit from time to time? How detailed is it?

~Laura

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Free Iceland!


Or... Rather, Free & Iceland
by Bethany Maines

Helloooooo from Iceland! I am away on vacation - travelling in the viking founded, former Denmarkian colony, mostly known as Bjork's homeland.

I've learned some fascinating things about Iceland in my scant two days here. For one thing, they don't have family names here; they use one of their parent's names plus the ending dottir or son. So I would be Bethany Raymondsdottir. I have yet to discover how they pick which parent's name to use, but personally, I'm hoping that bribery is involved. (Hear that mom? I'm open to gifts.) The second thing I've learned is that Iceland is passionate about their language and have been pushing to maintain it, keep it, and share it since the 1600's. They've done so well, that even modern Icelanders can read the ancient saga's that were written down starting in the 1200's.

So far the weather has been crystal clear and cold, which has been fantastic for the amount of walking we've been doing. We've walked a great stretch of Reykjavik and our feet our sending up signals that perhaps we should consider using the bus! But we are really hoping that the weather holds through until at least tomorrow since we're off to try and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight.

Perhaps it's the vacation talking or perhaps it's Valentine's day approaching, but I'm in the best of moods, so all of you will get the benefit. February 13 - 15, The Dragon Incident will be free. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors! And enjoy this tale of Quetzelcoatl, a Bellingham WA strip club, and a soccer game for the ages!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Living vicariously through my characters

Hello, Stiletto Gang, and thanks to my buddy, Joelle Charbonneau, for inviting me to chat with you today. I hate to get off to a bad start, but frankly, I have a bone to pick with all of you who wear stilettos—and now I see you’ve formed a gang?!!!

 You see, I’m an unwillingly reformed shoe-aholic. I didn’t even get to go through the twelve-step program. Pretty high-heeled shoes to me were an addiction. I’d buy so many pairs I’d hide them in the trunk of my car. That worked until my husband came in, arms full, and said, where do you want these?

He knew. He always knew… Let’s call him my enabler.
 

Nothing could cure me. Well, until, I developed the gasp—bunion—and putting on pretty stilettos felt like I was wearing nails on the sides of my feet. Over the years, the heels got lower and lower, while the bunion got wider and wider. Just had surgery to correct it, and I’ve been off weight-bearing, going on six weeks. Slowly, I’m making my way back up to tennis shoes.

I should despise stilettos, right? Wrong. Seriously, it’s my addiction. One of the women in my local chapter wears such beautiful pumps. Sparkly and shimmering those shoes of hers make me want to rush out and buy some to add to the boring, sensible ones in my closet. Alas, anything over two-inches would sit gathering dust.

Don’t feel too sorry for me (I’ve already cornered that market). I now live vicariously through my characters. In DEADLY RECALL, my recently released Romantic Suspense from Bell Bridge Books, Eden Moran my protagonist wears the man-killer shoes I cannot. But…like a sponsor in A.A., I felt it only fair to warn my readers that heels aren’t all that:

Excerpt of Deadly Recall and my public service warning . . . 

Traveling at a fast clip in four-inch stilettos when you’re calm was foolhardy. Walking in them when you’re angry bordered on suicidal. Her thoughts must have transferred to her feet. Eden stumbled. And wouldn’t you know it the good detective had hung around to witness. He reached out to steady her as Father Slater stepped out of the bridal room.

And . . .

Well, that was that, Eden thought, as she pulled into her covered parking space next to the commercial building that housed her loft. Using the Honda’s trunk for support, she tugged off her heels. It might take a day or two to regain her spirits, but she’d damned well relieve her aching feet now.

End of Public Service Announcement 

I may not be able to wear beautiful, sexy shoes anymore. But my heroines do. And another thing, for anyone who has ever met me, I’ve been blessed―or cursed―with Irish skin. I’m so fair that after one outing on a lake when I sunburned so badly I required medical care, the doctor said to me, “Will you face it. You’re never going to be a Copper Tone baby.”

Dumb doctor. What does he know? All right. I didn’t go to medical school and he did, I get it. Like my shoes, I’ve given up spending long hours in the sun. Or if I do, I wear hats, or I take an umbrella. I still find ways to satisfy my cravings. I give my characters the traits and abilities I’ve been forced to give up. And although I make them suffer in other ways, darned if they aren’t able to tan. Don’t worry, I do have a rather strong conscience – no matter how beautiful their skin tone, they always wear sunscreen.

So what about you? Is something off limits to you that you’ve found a way to live vicariously through? Isn’t reading the best escape ever? I’d love to hear about your escapes, and to one commenter, I’ll give away either a paperback or a digital copy of my new release, DEADLY RECALL. Thanks for having me, Joelle!  

A terrifying memory is locked deep inside her. A killer wants to keep it that way. Nine-year-old Eden Moran thought she was saying good-bye to her mentor that fateful day in St. Patrick’s. She had no idea she’d witness the nun’s demise, or that her child’s mind would compensate. Now seventeen years later, Albuquerque cops have unearthed human remains, and the evidence points to Eden as being the key to solving Sister Beatrice’s murder. When a hellbent cop applies pressure, Eden stands firm. She doesn’t remember the woman. Unfortunately for Eden, Sister Beatrice’s killer will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.  

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist who previously worked for a weekly business newspaper and a parenting magazine. Her debut novel The Past Came Hunting became an Amazon bestseller, reaching as high as #6 on the paid overall list and finaling in 2012 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence, RWA’s® Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best, and the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Deadly Recall, brought to you by Bell Bridge Books, is her second published novel. Learn more about Donnell at www.donnellannbell.com

Monday, February 11, 2013

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

By Evelyn David
 

Well Timothy Leary of LSD fame advised us to do all three, but hubby and I only managed the last – we totally dropped out of our fast-paced, over-packed, multi-scheduled lives for one week. We took a cruise.

A few days after Christmas, my better half and I started talking about needing to get away, to recharge our batteries which had been running on empty. It's been an incredibly busy time, both personally and professionally – but heck, when isn't it? Still, I was surprised when he suggested we go to a travel agent and see what our options were.

Now here's the rub. Hubby makes an albino look like an ad for Coppertone. Red-haired and fair, he is very susceptible to sun poisoning. Don't ask about our 25th wedding anniversary trip – let's just say, fever and swollen legs the size of elephants put a damper on the celebrations – and yes, he was wearing sunscreen at the time!

So it seemed foolish to go to some island with the expectation that we would lie in the sun for a week.

"What about a cruise," father of my four children asked.

"Who is this guy," I answered. "A cruise? What would you do?"

"Sleep, eat, read," he assured me. "Wander around islands when we dock."

Now came the hard part. Nope, it wasn't choosing which cruise because his work schedule dictated the only week we could go and so the choice was made for us. No, the real issue was me getting on a plane in order to get to the ship. See, if you don't go out of Florida or Puerto Rico, you'll spend two days getting to warm weather. Leave from points South and you start off in shorts and sleeveless tops.

Those of you who know me understand that I loathe flying (notice that suggests that I don't like it, as opposed to being terrified the entire time and personally holding up the plane through my grip on the arm rests). But I looked at hubby, who really did look tired – and I acted as though me flying was no big deal (which neither he nor any of my kids believed – so much for my acting ability).

When did I know that this cruise idea was a winner? The moment my feet crossed the gangplank. There were a host of people offering me champagne, chocolate, and an unending buffet. Seriously, did they know I was coming or what? The stateroom with a small balcony was perfectly appointed with a queen-sized bed, large closet, a private bath the size of the one I have at home – and two stewards to clean and bring us fresh towels, room service, and chocolate on our pillows each night. And no, we didn't have the most expensive room on the ship – not by a longshot.

The food was delicious and way too plentiful. My husband quickly slipped into the "I paid for it, I'm eating it – and by the way, are you finishing yours, if not, I will" culture. If he went more than two hours without a snack, he claimed he was getting peckish. The ship had a two-story library – we each read three books over the 7-day cruise. There was a casino (I won $6.20 playing the penny slots). Husband won a bracelet by taking a free raffle ticket, stuck into his hand while on his way to yet another snack. He gave me the jewelry and headed off to the buffet. I passed on the opportunity to learn the steps to Gangnam Style, which I confess, I regret.

We wandered around the islands, saw a butterfly farm where I learned that Eric Carle has been lying to me all these years. Seems that the very hungry caterpillar did not build a cocoon, instead he built a chrysalis (moths, not butterflies, construct cocoons). But in my relaxed cruise state, I accepted that Eric Carle was exercising artistic license.

While I checked my email a couple of times a day, hubby turned off his phone when we walked up the gangplank – and didn't turn it back on for seven days. He was the most relaxed I've ever seen him and we've been married forever. Among his forays on the ship was to a presentation on future cruises.

But we're back now – amidst freezing temps and snowy days; no more stewards, waiters, or fruity cocktails with little paper umbrellas. But most of all, our batteries have been recharged. We don't want to drop out – except for maybe once a year.

Ship Ahoy!

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David   

 

 

A Reason to Give Thanks includes: Giving Thanks in Lottawatah, Bah, Humbug in Lottawatah, Moonlighting at the Mall, The Fortune Teller's Face, A Reason to Give Thanks, Sneak Peek – Murder Off the Books, Sneak Peek – I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries
A Reason to Give Thanks
Kindle
Nook
Smashwords



 
Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
 

 






Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Romances
Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords