Thursday, January 30, 2014

The week of the big snow

by Maria Geraci

Please. Humor me a moment. I live in north Florida. It's not like we really got any snow here in Tallahassee. I know that. But again, I live in Florida. Repeat that at any moment while reading this post and it will maybe make sense to you.

I used to work with the loveliest lady named Jean. Jean was a great storyteller. She talked about her husband, her grandkids, her life in general. Every so often, Jean would begin a story with, "The year of the big snow..."

I knew the year she was talking about. It was 1989. I didn't live here in Tallahassee at the time, but that year was infamous in these parts.

In response, I would smile and say, "Jean, you mean, the year of THE snow. Not the big snow. Big implies there are years when there's a little snow."

Jean would smile patiently at me and continue her story anyway.

Fast forward a couple of decades.

I grew up in central Florida, where there is zip chance of snow. I lived here in Tallahassee as a student, and returned with my family in 1996. No snow here since then. Don't get me wrong. I've seen snow. I've skied (sort of) and I've lived in Dallas and in north Alabama where occasionally, we did get some real snow. But no one here in north Florida is waiting with baited breath for the white stuff to come down.

Until this week.

You'd have thought the apocalypse was on its way. Stores have been on alert. Schools have closed down. Roads are closed. People are huddled in their homes. Waiting for the worst. And then it happened. This is my rooftop.

Yes, I know. Some people might call this ice. Some people might call it nothing.  I call it snow.

Remember: Everything is relative. Or, snow is in the eye of the beholder!

Monday, January 27, 2014

January and Award Shows

I love the month of January because I'm an award show addict and broadcast are four shows I have watched since forever. I may not follow everything, but I just like seeing the outfits being worn and what the award shows are focused on. So far I've watched

People's Choice Awards:
  • What it honors: The People's Choice Awards were founded in 1975 to give fans an opportunity to express their opinions about pop culture. It's the only major awards show decided by the public and honors film, television and music. 
  • Who votes: Anyone! Fans can vote online for 58 categories.

Golden Globe Awards:
  • What it honors: First held in 1947, the Golden Globe Awards honor achievements in film and television, dividing the nominees into two categories: comedy/musical and drama. The awards include 25 categories, 14 in film and 11 in television. 
  • Who votes: Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, around 90 journalists all based in Southern California who cover the entertainment industry for outlets around the world.

Screen Actors Guild Awards 
  • What it honors: The annual awards, now in their 20th year, honor acting work in five film categories and eight television categories. The most important award goes to an ensemble cast in both TV and film in order to highlight the collaborative art of acting. 
  • Who votes: Only members of acting guild SAG-AFTRA may vote, so all winners are decided by their peers. The guild includes around 100,000 actors.

Grammy Awards
  • What it honors: Presented by the Recording Academy, the Grammys celebrate achievement in the recording arts. The awards are now in their 56th year and have become the most coveted honor for musicians of all genres. 
  • Who votes: Members of the Recording Academy can cast their votes in 82 categories and are meant to determine winners based on artistic and technical merit, not sales numbers.

There are other award shows, some not aired that occurs that will lead up to the grand-daddy of all award shows:

Academy Awards 
  • What it honors: Also known as the Oscars, the first Academy Awards were held in 1929 in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and have been televised since 1953. The awards honor achievements in film and are generally considered the most important awards in Hollywood. 
  • Who votes: More than 600 members of the academy, all film artists and professionals, vote in 24 categories.

I had mentioned on my Facebook page that there should be an award show for Books so our favorite authors could walk the red carpet.

So, if you were nominated for an award, what would you wear to the Literary Awards?

Friday, January 24, 2014

21 Anyone?


21 ANYONE? by Debra H. Goldstein

This week, one of my friends threw a birthday party for her son who turned 21.  On my way home from the party, I thought about the relevance of the number twenty-one.  For my friend’s son, it meant reaching the age of majority.  He probably should be glad that the 21st Amendment was passed or instead of being legal, he’d be dealing with Prohibition.  Some associate it with the century we are living in, others think of a 21 gun salute or the 2012 movie 21 Jump Street with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.

On a personal note, 21 is an age I will never see again.  21 was the age that for the only time in her life, my daughter was older than her twin brother who was born two minutes before her.  How?  She was in Australia and he was in Arizona.  The time difference let her celebrate before him.

There also was a difference in how they celebrated.   My daughter had just begun six months of studying abroad.  She was delighted to have her birthday remembered by new suitemates and friends making birthday signs and taking her out for a very special dinner and drinks.  My son’s fraternity decided they couldn’t let their social chairman’s birthday slip by without a good dress-up party so they threw a Hugh Hefner night. My son was Hugh in a red smoking jacket and the guests came as party-boys and bunnies.  Pictures I have seen from their respective celebrations reflect both of my children having a memorable twenty-first birthday.

Writers are as different as my children.  Writing habits and styles vary, but when the words flow and a satisfactory end product is produced, the celebration is the same.  It is marked with the feeling of being on top of the world, being able to jump higher than anyone else, knowing that years of studying and learning the tools of the craft have resulted in reaching an age of majority and mentally hearing a 21 gun salute.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When Procrastination Pays A Visit

When Procrastination Pays A Visit
By Laura Bradford

I have a lot of work to do at this particular time and I know this.

know this.

Yet, despite that inarguable fact, there's something inside me that's moving at a snail's pace and jumping at every chance I can find to procrastinate.

Wait. There's snow on the ground?  I must shovel.

The fire is dying down?  I must add logs...and tend it.

Haven't checked my email inbox in the past thirty minutes?  I must do

And so it goes, on and on and on.

It's not the book I'm writing, because it's a fun plot.

It's not that I'm stuck on what comes next, because I'm not.

I'm just finding it hard to concentrate on anything and it's driving me nuts. Nuts, I tell you.

But waiting it out isn't working. Neither is the "I'll be better today" I keep telling myself every morning only to give in to the pull of procrastination inside about ten minutes of rising.

It's time to banish this personal houseguest of mine once and for all. Or, at least, until the current book is written and in the hands of my publisher (though, after that's done, I have other projects I want/need to get to, as well).

Which means, the daily to-do list is back on the case, taunting me with that insatiable desire I have to see a check next to every item before I can go to bed at night.

So how about you? What's your trick for keeping procrastination out of your home?


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

If you read my post from a few weeks ago you’ll know that I was anxiously awaiting the ARC of my next book.  It was so close to perfect.  So close, but not actually perfect.  The inside looks great, but there was a tiny little printing error on the cover and the top of the letters that made up title were chopped off!  Sigh. But what’s bad for me could be good for you!  Leave a comment here or on Facebook for a chance to win this slightly not right advance copy of Tales From the City of Destiny.  I will select one commenter at random and announce it on the Stiletto Gang Facebook page tomorrow!

In other, non-book related news, the Seahawks won their game and are headed for the Super Bowl. Now maybe you don’t care, but I live in Tacoma, which is 45 minutes from Seattle and EVERYONE cares.  Although apparently, in the rest of the country, they only care that Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman was, to put it in the vernacular, kind of a dick to another player and then shot his mouth off on national TV.  I’m not sure where you come down on the unsportsman like conduct issue, but I come down on the side of not giving a crap. Sure, I disapprove. His behavior violated the prime directive of proper societal behavior, also known as the Golden Rule, also known as “Don’t be a dick.”  But considering that there are people out there suffering from actual problems, whether or not Richard Sherman’s behavior is a sign of the coming apocalypse (hint: it isn’t) does not occupy a great deal of my brain space. But you know the part of my brain it does occupy?  The part that thinks, “That’s an interesting character. An hour after losing his temper he’s joking and charming in a custom cut suit and a bow tie (because bow ties are cool).  Where can I use that?  I’m not sure I’m comfortable writing someone like that.  Maybe that’s why I should write someone like that.” 

Which is how I came to the conclusion that I should write someone like Richard Sherman – brash, excitable, charming, angry, and talented. Because half of writing is about challenging my skills. Not just the mechanics of how to construct a more elegant sentence, but how to build realistic characters that aren’t like me. Staying in the safe zone with my characters and my emotions means that my books will become flat and repetitive. If I’m not looking to understand other types of people – Richard Sherman or anyone else that’s different from me – then how can my writing grow?

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Now I've Got This Up on the Right Date Now

Actually, I thought I'd written a post for my turn on the blog, but if I did, it disappeared. So I wrote one and put it up on the wrong date--so now I'm doing it again, just realize that I wrote it a week ago.

I spent Thursday through Sunday in Ventura CA--and though that's a wonderful place to visit, I was there for the Public Safety Writers Association's Board Meeting. We only meet once a year, though stay in touch via email. For many years I've been the program chair for their annual conference in July, but I've turned the job over to someone younger and certainly as capable or more so than me.

While there, of course, I was too busy to get any work done--and now that I'm home, I've got a long, long list of things I must accomplish--and one is working on my latest book.

I'm also planning a blog tour for my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. While in Ventura, I took some photos of places that could be in my fictional town of Rocky Bluff.

Ventura is a wonderful place right on the Pacific Ocean. It has the most fabulous restaurants--many within walking distance of the hotel where are board meeting was held. The town is also famous because Erle Stanley Gardner had first law office here. And it's the home of the San Buena Ventura Mission. Years ago, I was a day care center teacher in Ventura and was in charge of the school age kids during the summer. We walked all over the old downtown. It has changed a lot since that time.

The beach

Ventura Keys--where the rich people live.

And now it's time for me to hunker down and get some work done!


Monday, January 20, 2014

New Years Resolutions - Or Not -Part II

Hi Gang,

It's been twenty days since the New Year started.  Have you kept to your goals? Are they flexible enough to adjust when things go south? Or when your load gets heavier?

Last post, I talked about my health goals. I lose weight VERY slowly. So who knows where I am today. But even if I've fallen, I will get back up because I know I can lose weight with this same program. Eat more fruits and veggies, cut back on calories, and work out more.

Another set of goals I made was around taking more time for myself. I'm the queen of busy. If I can fit in one more blog, or one more chore, that's one less that I have to do tomorrow. One more lap. Just a little faster. The problem is I can burn out easily if I forget to fill the well.

Around the holiday's, I took some time off and spent it reading, watching movies, and spending time with my family.  During that respite, I decided one day a week I'd take time off for me. No word count, no editing pages, just re-creation time.

We'll see how that works.

I'm hoping to carve out more time for baking, quilting, crochet, and, yes, of course, reading. During my vacation I read Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Loved this character study in the life of an alcoholic. Well, an alcoholic with an ability to talk to spirits, and other cool psychic tools. Great book.

What would you do with a free day once a week? What's stopping you?


Friday, January 17, 2014

All Systems Go!

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day each year, I sit down with my journal and look back over the ending year at what went well and what didn’t. Then I decide what I want more and less of in the coming year and plan ways to make those goals happen. The year seldom goes the way I’ve envisioned, of course, because of all the unexpected things that will come up, but at least I have a plan. It’s easier to adjust an existing plan than to keep coming up with one from scratch all year long. This is a tradition I’ve come to rely on at each year’s end.

Only, at the end of 2013, I was laid flat with pneumonia—and on top of that, I couldn’t read or write because the illness or one of the meds I took for it made my eyes and head hurt so. Consequently, the year ended and 2014 came in without my usual stock-taking and goal-setting. I’m only getting to it now in mid-January as I dig out from under the piled-up correspondence and backlog of work that had to be put off while I was sick.

I’m not sure that mid-January isn’t a better time to do the yearly inventory and plan anyway. It seems to me that I’m taking a more realistic look at things than I usually do in the optimistic, holiday glow. One of the main things I’ve fixated on is the need to revamp the systems in my life. You know, those sets of habits and schedules that keep daily life functioning and keep us on track with our deadlines, obligations, and ambitions.

I hadn’t really revamped mine after I began publishing novels. I adjusted to cover the demands of the publisher to promote my books and the need to travel more on book tour—as a poet, those had not been a necessity. I adjusted to meet the frequent deadlines, another thing that had not been a part of my life as a poet. No one cares when your next book of poetry is done. You write your first and try to get it published for years. Then you write the next, and even if one or more publishers are waiting for it, they aren’t expecting it at any time in the near future. I had deadlines with the grant cycles, of course—poets live off grants much more than off book sales, which are usually miniscule—but my life in the past few years had essentially been transformed into something wild and alien to the life I lived before my first novel won a national novel competition. And every year, I tried to make it work better without making fundamental changes to the way I was doing things in my daily life—because that’s hard and takes much time and thought. That basically meant adding more and more work expectations and watching everything else in my life fall away.

While ill, I had time to really think about all of this, albeit in a dazed, doped-up, miserable way. And I came to the conclusion that it’s not working well for me. Oh, the novel-writing/publishing part is going well because that’s where all of my energy and time have been focused, but most of the things I did to provide stress relief, enrich my family and home, and basically create a happy, healthy life had fallen by the boards from lack of time.

This is not the first time I’ve come to this kind of discovery. I’m a quadruple Scorpio, and my base tendency is to go into something with all my energy and focus. I’m usually left picking up pieces and making major adjustments later. Passion is the great theme of my life, and balance is the great lesson I have to learn—again and again in new ways.

In 2014, my aim is to focus more on balance in my life. I intend to keep the energy and forward progress in my career as a mystery writer, but I want to restructure the basic systems of my life to make it possible for me to include more non-work time with my husband and family—Ben’s seen plenty of me only because he’s spent all his vacation time with me on tour—more important health activities—exercise has been one of the important things to fall by the wayside and I must find a way to eat healthier when on tour—and more relaxation and de-stressing activities. (Microsoft Word’s autocorrect kept trying to change “de-stressing” to “distressing.” What is it trying to tell me?)

That means I have to look at the habits, schedule, and priorities of my life in a different way and change them to keep what’s working well and change what isn’t. It also means that all year I’ll be making adjustments as I see that this or that part of the system isn’t working as well as I thought it would. That’s the way such transformation happens. I’ve been through this kind of thing before.

This is not a New Year’s resolution. I’m looking at systems rather than specific goals—for example, how to set up a system to eat healthy and exercise while traveling rather than a goal of losing so many pounds. I’m looking at how to make it easier to do the things I want to do this year for a healthier, more balanced life.

Now that we’re in the middle of the first month of the new year, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions, goals, or plans? Are you on track? Have you decided to revamp them? to pitch them? And is anyone else out there always having to relearn this “balance” lesson?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fashions of the Times

By Kay Kendall

I adore fashion. I can’t help it. It’s genetic. Both my grandmothers and my mother enjoyed clothes, jewelry, and dressing up. At the age of ten I had a weekly hair appointment at a salon. Shopping trips to the big city of Wichita from my hometown of 12,000 were a monthly highlight. In early years Mother and I even donned gloves for the 25-mile trip. When my Texas grandmother took me to the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas, I almost swooned.

Now, flash forward to the eighties. Shoulder pads made the scene. Love at first sight! They helped balance my proportions, counteracting my hips. My mother, however, was appalled. “My dresses had big shoulders in the forties, and I'm not excited about things I wore before.” I didn’t understand. How could she be so stuffy?

With this new millennium, boho chic arrived. But it’s all sixties fashion to me. Retro hippie would be an even better name. The first time I saw nouveau bell-bottom trousers in an issue of Vogue ca. 2003, I groaned. Oh, surely that will never catch on again, I mused to myself, throwing the magazine aside in disgust. Then came the beads, the peasant blouses, and all the other hippie accouterments. The only thing not seen in redux-land is a version of my old macrame purse.

 Soon celebrities in the under thirty-five age group staked out hippie chic as their own look. Try an online search of images for entertainers Nicole Richie or Sienna Miller, and fashion stylist and designer Rachel Zoe. Every image of them is heavily influenced by the sixties. Nicole even wears macrame occasionally.

At first, like my mother twenty-five years ago, I spurned the return of styles I’d worn before. But boho chic gained strength and crept into more and more clothes. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Stairway Press of Seattle published my debut mystery set in the sixties. Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery features a young bride from Texas who gets swept along by the tides of history during that turbulent time.

The choice of cover was tricky. The design had to evoke the Vietnam War era without turning off potential readers. Real photos from the period are too grungy, but countless current pictures are for sale of young female models dressed like hippies. We chose one of those photos, and the result has drawn raves. "Isn't she, er, fetching?" a bestselling male author gulped as he stared at my book cover, almost drooling.

To set the mood at my book signings, I often wear blouses and boot-cut pants (not bell-bottoms) like those I wore back then and throw on some beads and ethnic-y earrings to complete the effect. Luckily for me, there's no dearth of such clothes and jewelry to choose from.

How about you? Are there styles that have returned (from the dead, as it were) that delight you? That you are happy to wear again? Or are there other styles that have as yet to resurface and you wish they’d hurry and return?

Personally, I think how one dresses is a great form of self-expression. I love playing with style. Sure, it’s vain, I guess, but it is still fun!

Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s during Hitler's rise to power--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

 by Marjorie Brody

I love challenges and like to--well, not exactly like to, in fact, sometime I kick and scream--thrust myself into uncomfortable situations in order to overcome reluctant behavior. “Reluctant behavior” is so much nicer than the quaking-in-my-stilettos word, “fear”, don’t you think? 
Blogging presents one of those challenges. Just thinking about writing a blog triggers not a casual thanks-but-I'll-pass reaction, but a firm, dig-in-my-heels, not me-no way, resistance. I’ve avoided blogging for years. Why? Because of a psychologically unpleasant association created decades ago. Blogging to me means writing non-fiction and just that word, non-non-non-fic-fic-fiction, sends creepy little critters crawling through my veins. Non-fiction reminds me too much of the drudgery I encountered while completing my dissertation. Note: I didn’t say the association was rational. 
As a result of this odious connection, blogging=non-fiction=psychic, emotional, and physical agony, my creative process locks herself in a room, buries her head under the blanket and refuses to come out and play. 

To the rescue comes the Stiletto Gang, a phenomenal group of writers, who offers me the opportunity to vanquish that twisted thought association--to tear it apart, to slaughter it with dagger or poisoned pen, to stomp upon its mangled shreds, to . . . hmm, maybe I can embrace blogging the way I embrace fiction--with passion, excitement, and an indescribable joy. 
Anyway, I’m sure going to give it my all. So while this may be a short blog, I’ve taken those first wobbly steps and surprisingly, I’m eager to come back the second Tuesday of next month and interact with you. Maybe you'll let me know if you've had situations you've been reluctant to undertake, and if so, how you've handled them. I look forward to sharing my passion for writing with you--whether it be plays or poetry or short stories or novels. Or maybe even, yes, just perhaps, I'll soon be able to add . . . blogging. 
Aladdin's Restaurant in Old Jaffa
overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
For now, I’m going to catch up on jet lag--I spent the last two weeks of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 in Israel--talk about stepping out of my comfort zone! I did manage to catch a connection home before the blizzard grounded all planes out of  New York, but that's a story for some other time. Thirty-three hours after I left the hotel in Tel Aviv, I arrived home. Bet Aladdin's carpet traveled faster.  


Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, delves into the secrets that emerge following a sexual assault at a high school dance and features a remarkable teen who risks everything to expose the truth. TWISTED is available in print and ebooks. Marjorie invites you to visit her at               

Monday, January 13, 2014

Permission Granted

By Evelyn David

One of the things I'm finally realizing, and sadly it's taken me way too long to reach this conclusion, is that I need to stop apologizing for being me. I certainly have given that lecture more times than I can count as my kids were growing up. Encouraging them to be independent; "own" their accomplishments; have their own opinions; acknowledge their fears – and never apologize for their emotions. But I can talk the talk better than I can walk the walk. I've spent way too much time hiding or putting on a brave face or making fun of myself for my own preferences and fears.

Now one can say, fake it until you make it. And that's certainly true in many situations. But in this particular case, I'm talking about experiences in life that are optional. Or in my case, I'm talking about fear of flying. I hate it. The only way I get on an airplane and not make a total fool of myself is by taking drugs.

And I do that. Several times a year, I have to fly. If the distance is at all drive-able, I always opt for car over plane. No need to tell me that the risk of an accident in a car is so much higher than air travel. I know all the stats and they are meaningless in the face of fear. But in order to see my sons, one of whom lives in Seattle, the other soon to live in Paris – I've got to fly.

But here's the part that I'm finally realizing. I don't have to like it. I don't have to get over it. Sure, it might be nice if I did, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  I finally came to terms with: "This is who I am. I have other stellar qualities I hope, but if I have this particular fear, stop trying to tease me about it, talk me out of it, or point out how silly it is." Most fears aren't logical. If they were, we'd all be bungee-jumping off Mt. Rainier.

Do you have a fear which others think silly? What, if anything, have you done about it?

By the way, did I mention that I am scared to death of snakes? There I said it!

Marian, the scaredy-cat half of Evelyn David

Evelyn David's Mysteries 
Audible    iTunes

Audible    iTunes

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
Lottawatah Fireworks - 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)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

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

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


Friday, January 10, 2014

Listening to the Sound of Words and the Voice of Characters

Listening to the Sound of Words and the Voice of Characters
by Debra H. Goldstein

I like to talk to myself.  Not quietly in my mind, but out loud. My children cringe and fear the worst when they hear me. Joel ignores my occasional mutterings grateful they aren’t honey do directives.  I have no idea what someone watching a security camera filming an elevator or hallway thinks - especially when the words relate to murder or another heinous crime.  The fact is that as a writer, I need to hear the sound of words.

Testing dialogue or narrative works best for me if I can listen to the words.  Giving them vocal life allows me to feel the pace of a scene and the true voice of each character.  Often I realize that what is blocking the flow of the piece is that in trying to push the story, I overwrote it with words the characters never would have chosen to utter when expressing themselves.  The story only works when I respond to the awkwardness of my crafted sentences.

Many writers don’t have to talk aloud.  Instead, they hear voices in their heads. One of my first guest bloggers on my personal blog, “It’s Not Always a Mystery,” Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, described the phenomenon of “Those Voices in My Head” in February 2012. ( )  Lois explained that the voices belong to her characters. Her voices are not content to sit back and let her write their stories.  Instead, they argue plot lines, characterization, voice, and pace with her.  They often refuse to let the story proceed until she accedes to their demands. Time has taught her that the way the voices in her head want a book to be written is always correct.  Her newest book, Decoupage can be Deadly, is a perfect example of  combining polished writing skills with listening to the voices in her head to produce a delightful final product.

Linda Rodriguez, author of Every Last Secret, Every Broken Trust and Every Hidden Fear, has a similar involvement with her characters.  She recently blogged about how they speak to her and insist on having lives of their own, but she implied that what the characters say are extensions of her subconscious experiences and reading that she had failed to consciously pull together.  The impact of these subliminal messages barging into her consciousness is what works to makes half-Cherokee Marquitta "Skeet" Bannion and the other characters in Linda's books so real. ( - December 6, 2013) The result is that when one reads any of the books that feature “Skeet” Bannion, one immediately feels a kinship with "Skeet," her family, friends and enemies. 
A third group of writers don’t talk out loud or hear voices.  Their story stumbling blocks are resolved while sleeping.  The loose ends of their stories come together in action sequences during their dreams.

Whether words are spoken aloud, voices are heard, or acted out during rem sleep, it is immaterial how subconscious story truth is reached.  The key is for a writer to recognize and accept the message. No matter how skilled a writer is, continually trying to push a round-pegged story into a square hole never produces a quality work product.  Being open to the sound of words and the thoughts characters speak can make the difference between writing that ends up in the drawer versus a book or story that is successful.  As a writer, what method do you use to find the true path a project is meant to take?
                                                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Decoupage Can Be Deadly is the fourth book in Lois Winston's Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series.  In Decoupage Can Be Deadly, Anastasia and her fellow American Woman editors are steaming mad when minutes before the opening of a consumer show, they discover half their booth usurped by Bling!, their publisher’s newest magazine. CEO Alfred Gruenwald is sporting new arm candy—rapper-turned-entrepreneur and Bling! executive editor, the first-name-only Philomena. During the consumer show, Gruenwald’s wife serves Philomena with an alienation of affection lawsuit, but Philomena doesn’t live long enough to make an appearance in court. She’s found dead days later, stuffed in the shipping case that held Anastasia’s decoupage crafts. When Gruenwald makes cash-strapped Anastasia an offer she can’t refuse, she wonders, does he really want to find Philomena’s killer or is he harboring a hidden agenda?
                                                                             ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In Every Broken Trust by Linda Rodriguez, life has settled into routine for half-Cherokee Marquitta “Skeet” Bannion now that she’s gained custody of fifteen-year-old Brian Jameson and shares care for her stroke-impaired father with her ex-husband—until the past reaches out to destroy everything she holds dear.

A party to celebrate the arrival in Brewster, Missouri, of George Melvin, a Kansas City politician accompanied by his troubled teenage daughter, wealthy wife, even wealthier backer, and mysterious employee, rapidly turns into disaster when Skeet’s best friend, Karen Wise, stumbles on a body in Chouteau University’s storage caves and is attacked herself.  Not knowing who she can trust as she finds friends and neighbors in Brewster keeping secrets from her, Skeet struggles against the clock to solve a series of linked murders stretching into the past before she loses Brian forever and her best friend winds up in jail—or dead.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Due Dates

by Bethany Maines

It's the new year! And you know what that means? That's right, we’re drawing ever closer to my due date. Not my actual due date. I'm alternatively pretending a baby not going to imminently be spawned from my body and wishing the date would hurry up so I could stop feeling like a ship under full sail.  (She’s coming about – tack starboard, avoid, avoid!!)  No, I'm referring to my next book - Tales From the City of Destiny. My ARC is due tomorrow and I'm starting to watch for the mailman with the same intensity as my dog (see picture – we call him the dogoyle.) Every new ARC is like a present. Will it be perfect? Will I wish to re-gift it? What's it going to be??? Ahhhhhh!!

Meanwhile, the crib isn't put together, we haven't picked a name, and my baby shower turns out to be at the same time as the Seahawk’s first playoff game. A fact that practically all of my friends have complained about. (Seriously, friends, seriously? It’s not like we knew that ahead of time.  And honestly, I like football better than baby showers too, but I swear it’s going to be fun – there’s going to be booze, and we’re not playing any of the stupid games.  Suck it up people!) But do I care about these things? Well, yeah, a little bit. But right this minute, what I really care about is seeing the fruition of all my hard work in print. 

Tales From the City of Destiny is a collection of short stories that track a character over the course of a decade. It’s something that has been years in the making and I have to say that I’m very proud of it. I feel that I have both challenged my writing skills and honed in on how I really wanted to write. I can’t wait to share it with my fans, friends and family! 

So as the date gets closer, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well, that typos vanish and the cover shines.  And as for the other due date… well, if worse comes to worse the baby can sleep on the dog bed – I’m sure he’d rather be on the couch anyway.  (I'm kidding - I swear!!)

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting Back in the Groove

The writing groove that is.

It's never easy after the holidays, and this time it seems even harder than usual.

Because I was having all sorts of heart tests, had an angiogram scheduled that had to be put off for over a week because I caught the flu, had the test (which turned out much better than the doctor expected), and then it was time to decorate for Christmas. Frankly, I was still recovering from the procedure and being sick and had no energy.

Fortunately, daughter-in-law and granddaughter came to the rescue and did it for me--and then undecorated when the time came.

Besides our usual get-together with son, his wife, and his sons, their wives, his daughter and her hubby and two great-grands on Christmas Eve, we visited with daughter and all her family on Christmas Day. Also talked on the phone to our other two daughters.

Hubby and  have watched Netflix movies galore including series that we've missed, and gone to the theater to see two movies: Saving Mr. Banks and Frozen. Liked them both.

I have squeezed in some book promoting. Learned that another of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries is now available on audio, from Amazon and iTunes. Bears With Us.

And yes, I've written a few pages in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series--but few is the key word here.

I really need to get with it because the critique group I belong to is starting up again and I always like to be a few chapters ahead.

As with every author, I have other commitments ahead. But I've always worked around them in the past, and I shall do it again.

If that sounds like a New Year's resolution, well that's as close as I'll ever get to one.

The truth is, the older I get the harder it is to stick to a schedule--and time goes by much quicker than it did when I was younger.

Because the only way I'm going to find out what's going on in Tempe Crabtree's life, what crimes she's going to solve, is to get into that writing groove--I will.

Marilyn Meredith

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Years Resolutions or Not?

Hey gang....
It’s been six days since the New Year started. How are your goals going? Do you set goals or resolutions?
For me, I’m a goal setter. Resolutions seem too dreamy. A goal is specific and time centered.

So here’s one of my goals – Make healthy choices and increase fruits/veggies in my diet. My hope is to lose 20 pounds by year-end. Now, it’s not going to get done just by adding a few apples and celery sticks. I’m also going to have to work out regularly and keep a log of both food and exercise. One day at a time. Kind of like writing a book. Or eating an elephant. (Although that might be a wrong metaphor to use.)

One way I can do this is using I love this website. Free and filled with excellent tracking programs. And, you can buddy up with friends and have an online push when you’re not reaching your goals.

Today I found Panera Breads is sponsoring a fitness challenge. Lose five pounds in six weeks. They have a mobile app called Lose It. It’s a lot like MyFitnessPal but it’s on my phone. Although, I think you can do that with MyFitnessPal too. Check out for more information.

Watching hulu plus while I rode my stationary bike I found another program I might like—Daily Burn. Apparently, it brings a variety of exercise programs to you every day – kind of like P90X which is one of my favorite workouts but my doctor banned me from using due to health issues. Right now, I’m playing Biggest Loser on Xbox with Konect. Love the workouts. And the weather warms up and I can get back to walking places like Chain of Rocks bridge, it's indoor work for me.

Technology rules.

One last hint for today – find a farmers market that delivers. Our local farmer’s market in the St. Louis are does a Fruit your Cube program, bringing fruits and veggies to your office for a reasonable cost. I never have to say, I should have gone to the store because the store comes to me. The only guilt is when I don’t use up the veggies before they go bad.

Are you on the health wagon for 2014? Do you like the on line programs, or good, old-fashioned meetings?