Friday, June 27, 2014

Is My Husband’s Life at Risk?  by Debra H. Goldstein

My favorite segment of the Mickey Mouse Club (the one that was played in reruns during my childhood) was the Spin and Marty episodes.  I had a crush on Tim Considine.  I had visions of walking down the aisle with him while Annette Funicello sweetly sang “When I Fall in Love, It Will Be Forever.”  Unfortunately, I discovered he wasn’t quite as young as he appeared on my television screen so there was little chance that he would wait for me to grow up.

Life went on and eventually I met Joel.  We used show music for the processional and recessional during our ceremony, and even though Annette didn’t sing and Tim wasn’t a guest, we were in agreement that “it would be forever.”  We haven’t consciously changed our minds or consciously uncoupled, but two of my beta readers are questioning my subconscious mind.  I didn’t even notice it, but lately, I’ve been threatening or actually killing off the husband.  The topic comes up in some of my WIPs and definitely is thought about in “The Rabbi’s Wife Stayed Home” published by Mysterical-E in April 2014. There also is a subtle relationship reference in “Early Frost” in the April 2014 Birmingham Arts Journal.

I’m seriously beginning to wonder what this means.  Do I have murderous intent within my heart?  Has boredom set in?  Have I realized that one of the most important relationships to address in writing is marriage?  Have I been reading too many issues of People Magazine?  I don’t know the answer.

Writers are told it isn’t nice to hurt little children or animals, but husbands don’t seem to fit the protected category.  Obviously writers can’t only kill or pin the blame on husbands. Other characters have to be introduced to give stories textured variety.  It could be the neighbor, the deliveryman, or even the butler whodunit.  I never fully make that determination until the story is writing itself.  That’s because my subconscious often dictates where my conscious writing. In fact, my writing is stilted if I don’t give my subconscious leeway.  I like what I’m working on right now so do you think my subconscious is trying to tell me something or is it just coincidence?  

Joel wants to know, but maybe we shouldn’t tell him. Shh…. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Importance of Death, Chocolate and Ex-Husbands

I’ve been a writer since I was eight years old and wrote my first story...a lieu of doing a book report.

Over the years my writing has taken many different turns. Superman inspired me to write about a clever newspaper reporter who solved mysteries. After reading Dracula and watching movies like Wolfman, The Mummy and Frankenstein, I wrote horror stories for a while. I moved on through science fiction to “true” romance stories and actually made a little money in that market. In the ‘90s I wrote romance novels for Harlequin/Silhouette. Now I’m writing cozy mysteries.

While that may seem like a varied repertoire, I sometimes find myself thinking that nothing I’ve written has been of any consequence. My books are funny, suspenseful, and emotional but what do they accomplish? Well, they do pay my bills which is pretty important to me! But I’m not writing the great American novel. I’m not writing to motivate others. I write about murder and chocolate and evil ex-husbands. I write to entertain myself and others.

I regularly get emails and Facebook posts from readers telling me they enjoy my books. That validates that I'm accomplishing my goal of entertainment. But still that lingering doubt haunts me. Should my books be more meaningful? Should I be striving to inspire world peace or fight hunger? My answer is always the same. Maybe, but I have no idea how to go about it! My brain continues to spin stories about murder and snarky dialogue.

Then a few days ago I got an email from a reader saying she was going through a rough time and my books took her away from the sadness and made her laugh for a while.

Wow. Mission accomplished.

Some writers are destined to write world-changing books. I’m not one of them. But if something I write makes one person’s life better even for a while, then my books do have a purpose after all.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Just The Facts

76% of American adults 18 and older read at least one book in 2013
  • 69% read a book in print
  • 28% read an e-book
  • 14% listened to an audio book

The average number of books read or listened to in 2013 is 12; median is five.

52% of readers only read a print book; 4% only read an e-book, and 2% only listened to an audiobook. Nine percent of readers said they read books in all three formats.
  • 35% of print book readers also read an e-book and 17% listened to an audiobook
  • 87% of e-book readers also read a print book in the past 12 months and 29% listened to an audiobook
  • 84% of audiobook listeners also read a print book in the past year and 56% read an e-book.

42% of adults own a tablet
  • Among tablet owners who read an e-book in 2013, 78% read e-books on their tablet

32% of adults own an e-reader
  • Among e-reader owners who read an e-book in 2013, 87% read it on their e-reader

Source: “A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013” Pew Research Center

What group do you fall into?

I consider myself an e-book reader since 90% of books I read are on my e-reader.

--Dru Ann

Friday, June 20, 2014


Hi, Linda Rodriguez here. You know, the author of the Skeet Bannion mystery series, including the most recent, Every Hidden Fear? (My agent has ordered me to put in an obligatory pitch on everything for a week.) Now, let's talk about writing.

You’ve started your story or novel, and you have a few good pages that you’re pleased with. You have to go out of town (or do something else) for a few days, but you know where you’re going with your writing project, and you can’t wait until you get back to the story you’re working on. When you do return, you set up time to write and do everything you can to be prepared and in perfect shape to work. The morning/afternoon/evening to get started again happens and bang! You run smack into some invisible force that refuses to let you write those pages that you want and need to write.

This is resistance, and it’s the common companion of the writer. It’s the enemy, an internal saboteur, fifth column located inside your head. You may find yourself checking email or Facebook or Twitter, going online to do some research that suddenly seems imperative and falling down the Google rabbit hole. You might find yourself organizing your desk or your files or doing a load or three of laundry. You may find yourself cleaning out closets or suddenly running errands that you’ve been putting off for days or weeks, which have suddenly become imperative. Anything, anything at all, but write what you’ve set yourself to write.

As someone who writes for a living, I’ve a long, close acquaintanceship with my own resistance. Often, I believe I have it under control. Then, it shows up in some new form to devil me. Often, it can be quite persuasive. It is true that any project, especially a big one, will be easier to accomplish in an organized space. It’s true that some research needs to be done before you put words to paper. And often clearing the decks before you work can leave your mind readier to sink into your created world. It whispers perfectly plausible excuses to me that will end up keeping me from writing or from writing as much or as well as I want and intend to write.

One of the ways I’ve found to subdue my resistance is to always have another ongoing project. This takes advantage of one of resistance’s own techniques to throw it against itself as judo and other martial arts do.   This does not mean, “Start another book.” All those million new book ideas that that resistance sends trying to seduce you from your project should just be written down in an idea notebook or document and promptly forgotten until the book is over and it’s time to look for new concepts. No, I’m talking about another project that you’ve decided ahead of time you want to work on in addition to the main project rather than instead of the main project.

I offer myself the reward of working on this secondary story when I’ve met my goal on the main project. If it’s a very bad day and resistance is winning, I might allow myself to work on the other project first for a limited time to get my writing muscles moving. I set a timer, though, and when it rings, I must move onto the main book. Often, I may be doing something that’s more fun on the secondary project, such as research or exploratory planning and note making.  This makes it an ideal reward.

The nice thing about using a secondary project in this way is that, often by the time I’ve finished my main project, my secondary project is well underway and becomes my new main project while I set up a new secondary project to help me deflect the power resistance wields over me. Stephen King once said, “A change is as good as a rest,” and I think he was right. Also, this technique weakens the power of resistance by making it believe that I am giving way to it, at least somewhat. Yet, it keeps me productive.

What do you do when you encounter resistance? Have you found successful ways to defeat it?

I'm going to have to be gone all day for some medical tests, but I will respond to all comments when I get back.

REPLIES TO COMMENTS (because Blogger):

Yes, Marilyn, plodding is what we all must ultimately do. I thank my stars for my difficult childhood that taught me I can always take one more step, deal with one more difficulty, than I think I can.

Debra, this is why I don't play games. I can get obsessive about things. If I'm going to do that, it had best be about work.

Kay, social media is a real problem for me. I'm fairly extensively involved and have gained a number of my fans that way, but it means I have to stay involved and not just disappear. But social media can become a rabbit hole of time suck for me if I don't watch myself fiercely.

Lynn, I think that's one of the toughest things--to write the first part of a book and then have to set it aside to write or finish something else and then try to come back into it and bring it to life again. It works, of course, but oh, it feels like you're pulling your guts out inch by inch through your mouth.

Yes, Mary, a change works well for me, but I simply can't always do it because of deadlines, etc. Then it can be sheer hell for a while.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Writers’ Lives in the Internet Age

By Kay Kendall

Once upon a time the image of a writer was someone who sits in a quiet room all day long and scribbles, or types away like a maniac. The key point is that writers were seen as introverts. Even at the beginning of this new century, that seemed to be the stereotype.

Then as the decade of the 00’s advanced and publishing began to change, the digital intrusion into the world of writers hit. The difference from 2004 to today is extraordinary. For example, when I contacted agents in 2004, most of them would not take submissions by email. Now that trend is reversed. If an agent wanted to see a partial or full manuscript, then you snail mailed it. Agents’ websites (for the third that had them back then) warned against sending attachments. They feared viruses.

Now, only ten years later, each agency has a website. That is, if the agency survived. Literary agencies have been decimated by the digital revolution.  Writers can skip them as gatekeepers and submit directly to small publishers or choose to go the self-publishing route.

I chaired a panel at Bloody Words 2014.

Once you are a published writer—or about to become one—that’s when you must hit the marketing trail…Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your webpage, Pinterest perhaps, and many other parts of the internet world. This is super time-consuming, and if you skip these steps, your sales will languish and your publisher will not be happy with you.

For those writers who are true introverts, living in this new world is torture. All they really want to do is sit at home in a quiet room and compose their stories. So they are torn, and I do feel for them. I meet authors like this at writers’ conferences, where they moan and say how shy they are, how they want to retreat to their hotel rooms.

As for me, I love the networking and marketing and meeting readers so much that it’s easy to forget about the writing at the core of it all…which remains sitting alone in that room and facing an empty screen and throwing type up on it. For me, that is torture. Once I get past the first draft, then the rest is glorious.
Pictured left to right: Pamela Blance, me, Gloria Ferris, Lorie Lee Steiner, & Liz Lindsay
Last week I attended a terrific writers’ conference in Toronto, Canada. It was called Bloody Words 2014, and participants came from all over North America. I met many authors who were Facebook friends and now are real ones, not just virtual. There was a group of four women—all writers from the province of Ontario—who made my visit remarkably wonderful. One said she was an introvert, one was clearly an extrovert, and two I’d judged to be in the middle. Whatever. We all had a danged good time, and much of our chat was about the rigors of the publishing world today. I almost called this blog piece “Misery Loves Company,” but nixed the idea as too negative, especially when the whole conference was so marvelous that it didn’t deserve any bad connotation.

Gloria Ferris & her book Corpse Flower
As promised here in my previous post two weeks ago, I have included some photos from the event. Two interesting twists to the usual mystery conference were the Books on Legs runway walk. An author who had a book released in the previous half year would strut her stuff while wearing an enlargement of that book’s cover. There were no introverts visible on that runway!

The concluding banquet was also novel. Attendees were encouraged to dress as fictional characters from mysteries. Our group had these disguises—one biker chick, one hippie chick, one pathologist named Kay Scarpetta, and two (count ‘em, two!) grieving widows. The latter duo hinted that perhaps they had done in their spouses, but they would never tell.

A great time was had by all. Books were sold and autographed, contacts were established, and promises were made to continue networking on the internet and at future conferences. 

But now I'm back in my author’s lair, where the empty PC screen whispers that I'm 4,000 words behind on completing my manuscript by summer’s end. Or, as my grandmother used to say, “There’s no rest for the weary.”  


Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three 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 and 1940s--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Brothers and Sisters, TV series

Hubby and I got a Roku recently, and with a lot of help from a daughter and granddaughter, we got the device hooked up. Now we can stream Netflix movies through our computer to our TV. It's still a bit complicated, have to use three different remotes to get to where we want to be--and hubby hasn't mastered it yet.

We've watched so many series we've loved: Call the Midwife, Island at War, a bunch of mystery series from England and now we're watching Brothers and Sisters which has over 100 episodes.

Here's the description from Wikipedia:

Brothers & Sisters is a drama from executive producers Ken Olin and Jon Robin Baitz. The LA-based Walker family is an ordinary American family. The adult siblings -- Sarah Walker (formerly Whedon), Tommy Walker, Kevin Walker, Justin Walker, and Kitty Walker -- try to live up to their parents' expectations. Alongside their mother Nora Holden, Nora's brother Saul Holden, Sarah's husband (now ex-husband) Joe Whedon, Tommy's wife Julia Walker, Kevin's husband Scotty Wandell and mysterious Holly Harper. And last but not least Rebecca, Holly's daughter. Who they originally thought was their half sister but later found out they had a half brother, Ryan instead, the Walkers struggle through their everyday lives.

As you can tell, it's really a very complicated soap opera--of course with far better writing and acting. We've become addicted.

When I first saw the house where the main character lives, I said, "Looks like Pasadena." My grandma used to live in South Pasadena and when I was a kid, loved walking around and looking at all the mansions.

Not only that we appreciate our own family far more watching this family. The Walker family can not keep a secret. As soon as one confides in another and says, "Now don't tell anyone this," it's barely minutes before the secret is known by all.

In our family, couples have not announced pregnancies so as not to take the spotlight off another's wedding or other special occasions. And sometime information that we'd all like to know isn't mentioned. 

We've not had any unknown children pop up--thank goodness, though there have been a couple of divorces, but for the most part our married couples work hard at making their marriages work.

One of our grown children did have cancer like Kitty on the show--but no miracle cure like she had--and we lost him. There are a few other parallels that I won't go into. 

Though hubby and I are having fun watching this series, we're glad that our lives aren't quite as complicated as the Walkers'. Don't get me wrong, we've had our ups and downs, and some drama, but not on the level of this imaginary family.

However, it has sort of become a joke that when something happens, hubby will say, "The Walkers have nothing on us."

Frankly, I'll be glad when we've finally seen all the episodes and can move onto a complicated murder mystery.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Reading Club

Do you remember the library programs where you earned points for every book read?  Of course, there’s always that kid who read the easy books, just to get the points. But for me, it was a matter of pride to expand my reading level, especially in the summer. All I wanted was a good story. And one that would keep me entertained so that my books wouldn’t run out before I got a ride back to town and the library.

Yes, I was also that geek kid who read the summer readings lists provided by the English departments in my schools. 

These days on Facebook, we can take quizzes on what books we’ve read.  Although we don’t get points towards prizes like mini pizzas. J

I’m doing a 50 book challenge this year on Goodreads.  So far, I’m 9 books behind schedule. But isn’t that what summer’s for? Stealing time to sit on the deck with your feet up and your nose in a book? My parents always said that like it was a bad thing.

For me, I’m focusing on a few cozy’s before I return to writing The Tourist Trap Mysteries in a few weeks. Then I’ll buzz through Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point and Virgin River series.

What are you reading this summer?


Side Note – If you haven’t read GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER – A TOURIST TRAP MYSTERY, now’s a great time to pick up your digital copy.  From June 10-24th, Kensington is running a sale on GUIDEBOOK to get ready for the July 31st release of MISSION TO MURDER (available for pre-order now.)

$1.99 is a great price to try out a new cozy series. 

“Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” --Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

Friday, June 13, 2014

Does Writing Sour Reading? - by Debra H. Goldstein

I can’t remember when I couldn’t read.  Picking out letters from the newspaper, storybooks, or off milk cartons made my day. My mother introduced me to the library at an early age and I still can recall how excited I was the day I printed my name and received my very own library card.  

Young Girl Sitting & ReadingMy reading speed also made reading rewarding for me.  I would race through the summer reading program award minimum in a few days and then quickly read enough books to guarantee winning whatever prize I desired.  Reading also made it possible for me to endure boring junior high and high school classes – it wasn’t unusual for me to check out a book before school, read it during the day, and take a different one home to read at night.  A good book always helped me relax during college exam days, when traveling for work, on vacation, or for a few minutes before bed.
PuppiesMy joy in reading changed when I opted to make writing a career.  The pressure of deadlines and wanting to write meant my reading time became more limited.  It also became less enjoyable.

The more I learned about writing, the more critical a reader I became.  I had always analyzed a mystery to figure out whodunit in advance of the writer revealing the culprit, but now I found myself examining each page for the technical way the author hid clues. Weaknesses in voice, plot, or character became so much more pronounced that there were times I feared I couldn’t force myself to finish a book.  When a book dragged, I wanted to take a green pen and cross out the offensive paragraphs.  The few times I found a book that read like the old days, I savored my time with it and usually grabbed more books by the same author.

I have talked to other authors and discovered that some rarely read for fear of stealing an idea while others read books in genres different than they write for the same reason.  Other writers believe that the more they read of any type of book, the better a writer they become.  Think about your reading habits – has writing or wanting to write changed them?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Villainy & Garbage

By Bethany Maines

I’m sitting in my backyard listening to my neighbors complain about one of their roommates. Apparently, the miscreant roommate has three bags of trash sitting by the door to his room that he has failed to take out. 

“I mean, that’s not a problem… exactly.”

Each of the guys carefully, and politely denote their own housecleaning failures. 

“I never make my bed.” 
“You never saw my apartment; I can get meh-ssy.” 
“I have empty bottles in my room too.”  (“Not like that,” interjects the first guy.)

They each tiptoe up to the line of declaring the roommate’s behavior an actual problem, but don’t cross it.  Clearly, the garbage is still being contained in the room.  But equally clear is that they all find the roommates sloth disgusting.  Note to the miscreant: When 3 twenty-something dudes, who have only a tentative grasp on hygiene, find your housekeeping habits to sub-par on the rank of foulness, you just might have a problem.

All of which got me to thinking about villains and bad guys and wondering whether or not they realize that they are failing at their end of the social bargain. What if villains are just totally incapable of realizing that their 3 bags of garbage is offending the other roommates? Getting kicked out of the house will come as a total shock if you have no idea that a hazmat suit shouldn’t be required dress for your room. Maybe if Sauron had just been a little tidier maybe he wouldn’t have had to move in with the Orcs.  If Darth Vader hadn’t grown up with Jabba the Hut as role model maybe he wouldn’t have gone to the dark side. If Voldemort hadn’t had to live on the back of some guy’s greasy head maybe he wouldn’t have been so peeved all the time. What do you think? Do villains choose to deviate from the social norm, or do they just blow right by the stop signs without seeing them at all? 

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, June 10, 2014

Stepping into the Big Leagues

by Marjorie Brody

When I imagined becoming an author, I visualized book signings, travel, interviews and photo shoots, writing on deadlines, searching for fresh ideas, juggling personal and professional tasks, influencing book cover concepts and designing stickers for book plates, giving presentations, answering readers' emails, teaching craft and encouraging new writers, and even creating a new genre, but I don’t think I ever thought I’d be on a panel with heavy hitters. Oh sure, I envisioned having friends who are best selling authors—and in fact, I do—but to be sitting next to a Hollywood screenwriter and TV staff writer, attorneys with legal thriller series, and a host of a crime and science radio show, well, I guess my imagination didn’t stretch that far.

In July, I’ll be on a panel at the International Thriller Writers conference. The topic is “Ego or Id, Unlock Your Character's Psychology” and the Panel Master will be Dennis Palumbo. On the panel will be D.P. Lyle, MD, Katia Lief, Laura Caldwell, Lynne Raimondo, and oh yes, a little known author whose psychological suspense debuted last year, me.

So how will I not be in tongue-tied awe?

I could remind myself that all of these authors started with a single book. I could remember that they write about what they know (forensics, or criminals and the legal system, or psychopathology and serial killers—well, they don’t need to know about that personally, I assure you, although on second thought, maybe they do!), and I write about what I know (resilient yet flawed protagonists, and self-deluded, maladjusted antagonists). Or maybe I could just see these panelist as colleagues who happen to share with me the same field in our second careers.

Or maybe I could remember why I was asked to join this panel in the first place; someone thought I’d be a valuable addition to the group. So, I guess it’s time for me to knock the dirt out of my cleats, pick up the bat, and step up to the plate. Who knows? I may just hit a home run. And even if I don't, it'll still be fun to play on the team.

Have suggestions for me based on your experience? I’d love to hear them.

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 was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award. TWISTED is available in digital and print at or
Marjorie invites you to visit her at

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mind Over Murder

By Evelyn David

Frank Herbert, the science fiction author, once said, "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." 

While the two halves of Evelyn David aren't moving into writing sci-fi, we did make a conscious decision to try, for our newest project, something entirely different. It's not that we don't love Mac Sullivan and gang, and adore Brianna Sullivan and her whole crew in Lottawatah. And of course, we are positively cuckoo crazy about Whiskey and Leon, our canine stars. 

We even started a new Mac-Rachel story, and we'll get back to it, but about a third of the way through we hit the proverbial brick wall. The Southern half sent the Northern half, the first two chapters of a book we'd begun a few years ago. Bingo! We started writing, like a house on fire (or in this case, two houses afire). The scenes unfolded so fast that we could barely keep up. 

New characters, new setting. What has stayed the same is our love affair with mysteries – and this one is a doozy. MIND OVER MURDER will thrill you, chill you, delight you. As always, there's a healthy dollop of humor, because, well, that's us. There's also a terrific romance because we're suckers for a good love story. 

Nothing bad ever happens in Seamont, New York, a quiet village 20 miles outside The Big Apple. Nothing, except for the brutal murders five years earlier of Lee and Vera Chang. But the local police made a quick arrest and life returned to suburban normal in Seamont. Except Valentine Zalmanzig Cohen knows differently. She knows, without a shadow of doubt, that Alex Fletcher, the man sentenced to life in prison, didn't kill the Changs. Val is a psychic. But the local cops don't want anything to mess up their slam-dunk case. 

Five years later, when the Bermans, a middle-aged couple who had just bought the Chang house are also brutally murdered, the police come knocking at Val's door. Is it a copycat killer? Has Fletcher hired a hit man to mimic the crime so he can appeal his own conviction? Or is there a serial murderer loose in quiet Seamont?  

Val doesn't want to relive the gruesome murder scenes that cloud her mind, but she wants to stop this killer once and for all. Things go from bad to worse after a brutal attempt on her life results in the loss of her psychic abilities. Val discovers that when all is said and done, she has to rely on her wits to save herself before the killer strikes again.  

Evelyn David and Valentine Zalmanzig Cohen invite you to find out whodunnit and why in this spine-tingling, roller coaster of a ride, new mystery. 

MIND OVER MURDER will be available for sale in late June. Thanks for all your continuing support and encouragement. You make it possible for us to take on new challenges. 

Marian and Rhonda, the collective Evelyn David

Evelyn David's Mysteries 

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
Leaving 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)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)
Book 4 - Leaving Lottawatah (includes the 11th Brianna e-book and some special features.)

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






Friday, June 6, 2014

In Real Life, Pirates Aren’t Sexy or Nice

by Linda Rodriguez
Pirates with a heart of gold are a mainstay of romance, fantasy, and science fiction, as well as defunct historical novels. They’re dashing rebels with sexy outfits and underneath the disguise of the rogue, they’re really nice guys who do the right thing. We see them on the book covers and in the movies and television shows. We even celebrate them with Talk Like a Pirate Day.

But in real life, in the modern world, pirates aren’t any of those things. They’re not Robin Hoods stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Despite a lot of discourse on the internet, they’re not rebels against the establishment, hurting no one and setting “content” free.

Content. Like the book I worked on for years and still haven’t earned out my advance on. Like the book series my friend wrote and went into debt to promote until her publisher dropped her because her sales weren’t rising fast enough—while people were downloading those books for free from pirate sites.

I have young relatives who use these torrent sites. It makes for heated discussions at holiday dinners, their mother embarrassed, them seeing it in that internet-discourse rebel-RobinHood fashion, me trying to explain the facts of life. I notice all the time that they and the internet groups that they parrot like to use George R.R. Martin, author of the bestselling Game of Thrones, as their example. “What can it hurt him with his millions?” they say disdainfully.

On the other hand, I’m in the field. I see the other 99% who are damaged by it. One or two hundred copies sold through an outlet that records the sales and pays the publisher and author versus that same number ripped off and given away without any record or payment can make the difference between an author being able to continue to write the books readers want to go on reading or being dropped by the publisher and having to give up that series and try again, often under a pseudonym or even in a new genre. George R. R. Martin and J.K. Rowling, they are not.

Today, again, I found my first novel, Every Last Secret, on a pirate site. It doesn’t take long for those free downloads to destroy a career for most midlist writers, which is what the majority of us are. Even more than the money in royalties lost, which is not a tiny problem for those of us who must make rent and buy food for our families with it, even more than that, the lost sales are a problem because they can lead to a writer being dropped. So I’m not happy about finding my book pirated.

I’m of the generation who were taught that it’s wrong to steal, and that’s that for us. Many of the younger ones I know don’t have the same idea of stealing=wrong. They see that equation only some times. When it’s convenient for them. But perhaps if they realized that pirating was a good way to kill the author’s chances to publish the books they like so much, perhaps then they would stop and ask themselves if it was really worth it.

What’s your opinion on the pirating question?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Much Ado About Something

by Sparkle Abbey

When we attend conferences, besides meeting readers (our favorite part of cons and the biggest reason we attend) we’re often on panels with fellow authors, and we also try to attend as many of the other panels as we can. We admit we’re sometimes (okay, frequently) distracted by catching up with friends and finding out what’s going on in this crazy world of publishing. And margaritas.

But we do attend panels.

Often these panels are so great that a panelist says something and we go away and need to think about it. It may be just a snippet but there are times when the “something” hangs with us long after the plane ride home. After the unpacking. After the laundry’s all been done. After we’re back to the routine of the day job. It often pops back into our heads the next time we sit down to write.

Lee Goldberg said one of those “somethings” in a panel we attended. At this point, we’re not even sure of the topic of the panel, but in any case, Lee said, “No one remembers the mystery plot of a Monk episode.” We shared a shocked look, sure that wasn’t true. Lee must be wrong. However, he went on to explain that mostly when fans of the series talk about a storyline, they say ‘the one where there the trash collection workers were on strike’ or ‘the one where Monk had a look-alike who was a crime boss.’

His point was that as writers we often think that the backdrop of the story is secondary, but really it's vitally important to the story as a whole. If plot is “what” the book is about, the backdrop or sub-plot is tightly hooked into “who” the book is about. And together the what and who make the why, and that’s the trifecta that creates the richness in a series. It's what makes us remember a book and come back to a character. As a reader, you've now lived through an experience with Monk. (Or in our case, Caro and Mel.)

That's a very cool something.

We belong to an online book discussion group and recently everyone was sharing their all time favorite book(s). Wow, what a wide variety of novels were noted as favorites.

We were again reminded of Lee’s statement.

Fiction books are read for entertainment. We don’t read fiction for knowledge - though it’s very cool when we learn new things as part of the experience. We've tried to sprinkle in a few of things we learned about Greyhound rescue in our latest book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound. But when readers talk about the book we hope what they remember is the unique adventure Caro had as she worked to solve this whodunnit.

Because when we discuss our favorite books we talk about the people in the books and all that was happening to them while the story was going on. We share their experience. And that's the magic of a memorable book.

Now, it’s your turn to think about Lee’s “something”

How about you? When you talk about you favorite books what do you remember?
(Oh and thanks, Lee.)

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter who write the Pampered Pets mystery series for Bell Bridge Books. They are friends as well as neighbors so you’ll often find them writing at ML’s dining room table or at their local Starbucks. They live in the Midwest, but if they could write anywhere, you would find them on the beach with their laptops and depending on the time of day either an iced tea or a margarita.

They love to hear from readers and you can find them online at:
Twitter: @sparkleabbey
Goodreads: goodreads/sparkleabbey

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

By Kay Kendall

Tomorrow I fly north to attend the Canadian mystery conference named Bloody Words. Location: Toronto.

This is something akin to poetic justice. Not only is this my first Canadian writers and fan conference but also Toronto is the setting for my debut mystery. Yes, Toronto.

New writers are often advised to “write what you know.” Yes, I do know Toronto. I lived there for three years, albeit twenty years after my fictional murder takes place there. At least I know the climate, the architecture, the street layout. For the right atmosphere for the time period of DESOLATION ROW, 1968, I consulted friends who lived there at that time.

Thanks to the joys of the internet—Facebook, Twitter, and the like—I’ve made many virtual friends in Ontario. I’m excited to know that I will be meeting some of them, live, for the first time after many months of correspondence. With Canadian authors like Cathy Ace, Vicki Delaney, Gloria Ferris, and Dorothy McIntosh I’ll soon be discussing different ways to bump off our fictional victims. If past mystery conferences are anything to go by, these chats will be replete with great cackling and fueled by a fair bit of vino.

Bloody Words has a novel way of winding up. It should be a hoot. People attending the closing banquet are encouraged to dress as characters from mystery fiction—preferably historical. I’ll be going as my amateur sleuth Austin Starr, in full hippie mode. Do expect photos later!

The life of a writer is not what I always thought it would be. Thanks to technology and to the gregariousness and kindness of folks in the mystery-writing world—both authors and readers alike—my several years as an author have been anything but solitary. For an extrovert like me, this is a great joy.


Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, four 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 and 1940s--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.