Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas is over, time for New Year’s Resolutions

Since it’s the holidays, I’m sort of taking this week off from the blog and repeated one that appeared last Saturday at, where I blog twice a month. Here goes:

I usually do make New Year’s resolutions, but do I ever keep them? Only if I rig it--make a resolution I already know I’ll do. It’s kind of a depressing practice because it so often sets me up for failure. Never again!

I’m starting a new tradition, beginning this year. It was prompted by one of those funny picture thingies on Facebook. Lots of them make me chuckle a little, some make me laugh out loud, some make me shake my head, but this one made me stop and think. Here’s what it said:

**Start 2013 off with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. On new years eve (sic), empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.

Writers, we can use these for our successes. A publication, a review, a kind word about something we wrote, or interest in our work.

Being prone to depression, I keep things around that I can review when I feel myself starting to crash--funny books and movies usually. I also have an *attagirl* file with accomplishments so I can remind myself that I can do stuff when I set my mind to it. This is kind of an extension of that. It’s a Good Things Jar, a Feel Good Jar. I think I’ll get a big one.

image from

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Travels of Kaye

We’re on the move again next month. My husband and I used to get what we called “itchy feet” every 2 or 3 years and we’d want to move somewhere. For a time, we did. We were both raised in Illinois and got married there, then went to South Carolina. Our next stop was Montana, on to Ohio, up to Minnesota, down to Texas, back up to Michigan, and back to Texas, where we stayed a good long time.

Sometimes I say we’re touring the United States the hard way, by living each place instead of just visiting.

Now we’re moving on to Tennessee. We’ll miss lots about the place where we’ve been the longest, but we’ll be so happy to get out of the heat and drought. We’re trading burnt orange for what hubby calls traffic-cone orange, state-university-wise.

While in Texas, we’ve done a tour of that state, too, living in Dallas, Holliday (Wichita Falls), Taylor (Austin), and Hubbard (Waco). Our last move was in June of 2012 and, being very busy with writing books, and related things, we haven’t finished unpacking. That will save us money on the next move since it doesn’t cost much for the movers to merely carry boxes out that they haven’t packed.

January will be hectic, but we’re looking forward to getting to know a new part of the country.

Public domain illustration by Homer Dodge Martin, engraved by R. Hinshelwood

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012


No, it’s not the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. (Are you sick of hearing about that?) But it’s the last time, ever, we can have a date, written as above, that has all three numbers the same. The end of an era. Unless--we redo the calendar and add a 13th month. That’s not impossible.

(Although I have found some people who think 12/12/12 IS the Mayan predicted date. If you’re reading this, that date is wrong.)

(12/12/1212 was the last time 4 numbers repeated. I wonder if they noticed.)

In fact, there’s more than one movement to institute a 13-month calendar. It would be more logical. Spock would love it. Each month, with that scheme, has 28 days (no more counting on your knuckles, or reciting “Thirty days hath September.” Every month would start of the same day of the week. There sure would be less to keep track of! Provisions would still have to be made to even the calendar up with the actual annual orbit around the sun, except for the purists who want a strict calendar. Eventually, the seasons wouldn’t match up, but that wouldn’t bother them, I guess. So, it’s slightly possible to have a date that’s 13/13/13.

I don’t know of any movements to create a 14-month calendar.

This all illustrates how artificial it is to give values to time. Hours, minutes, weeks, they’re all modern inventions that have nothing to do with how the earth rotates and orbits. Just our ways of measuring the progression.

How do we, as writers, measure our progression? Do we figure how long it takes to write a book? How many years it took to publication? How long our submissions have been out? Of course we do. Do we measure our growth as a writer, also? It’s good to look back on early writings, if we’ve been doing this for awhile, to see if we’ve gotten any better over the artificial time periods that we’ve been at it. How many years of writing does it take to make a good writer? Good question, but I don’t have an answer.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: WHITE HORSE by Alex Adams

I think this is a good review to post today, in light of the impending end of the world this month. The review was done earlier this year for Suspense Magazine, which has a free issue out this month at

The horror in the pages of this apocalypse book creeps up on you gradually. The action alternates between ‘then and now.’ ‘Then’ is before the disaster and ‘now’ is after, a world where taxes are no longer certain, only death.
Zoe is a cleaning person at Pope Pharmaceuticals, but she’s highly educated. When her love was killed, she sort of gave up on life and is working at a job that gives her time to think and piece herself back together. Until the day a jar appears in her highly secure apartment.
In the Then times, fearing for her own sanity, she reluctantly goes into therapy with the attractive Dr. Rose, later known to her as Nick. She lies about the jar, though, telling him she’s dreaming about it and the terror it instills in her. The terror is true, but it’s no dream. Gradually, the world falls apart, and the Pandora’s Box in her apartment may hold the key for the disfiguring disease ravaging most of the world’s population.
In the Now times, Zoe is desperately trying to make her way to Greece, carrying a letter from Nick. She takes Lisa, a young, blind English woman, with her to get Lisa away from the abuse she’s suffering at the hands of her remaining family, a father and an uncle. Zoe stubbornly clings to what makes her human, compassion and humanity, and refuses to stoop to the level of the feral survivors roaming the world.
It really does look hopeless! The reader is drawn toward the intersection of the two sections through revelation upon revelation (one of them reveals the meaning of the title), that kept me up way too late at night, avidly racing to the thrilling end.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling!

December 21st is coming! End of the world--according to a civilization that isn’t around to defend itself. Poor Mayans, they’re taking the blame for a lot.

But zombie fans are having a ball. (Type “zombie run” into the Googler and you’ll see what I mean, in case you’ve missed this phenom.) So are apocalypse writers. I’ll make sure you don’t miss this phenom!

Do you recall Isaac Asimov’s eerie, chilling, sci-fi story, NIGHTFALL? He postulated a planet that had so many suns that it was always bathed in light. Every 2000 years, night does occur, but civilizations come and go between those times and, to the present one, no one has ever known night.  I forget if the suns all line up, or how this happens, but I remember the encroaching darkness, spreading over their sunny planet, that strikes terror in their hearts.

Now, imagine an anthology full of “nightfall” stories! It’s called NIGHTFALLS: Notes from the end of the world. A bunch of us writers imagined the end of the world and what would go through a person’s mind if they knew it was the last night, forever.  

There are some awfully good writers in this antho and I’m SO honored to be among them. You can get a copy here:
(I recommend reading this before December 21st, just in case.)

The list of title and authors is too good not to share:

Thomas Pluck

Some Say the World Will End in Fire
Sidney Anne Harrison

Forward is Where the Croissantwich Is
Chris Rhatigan

Somebody Brave
Kat Laurange

Our Lady
Dale Phillips

Greene Day
Nigel Bird

Megan McCord

The Memory Keeper
Sandra Seamans

Bon Appétit
Barb Goffman

Déjà vu
Christopher Grant

It's Not the End of the World
Matthew C. Funk

A Sound as of Trumpets
Berkeley Hunt

Supper Time
Col Bury

Call the Folks
Alex Keir

Dellani Oakes

The End of Everything
A.J. Hayes

Last Shift
Steven Luna

Into the Night
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

Richard Godwin

Amidst Encircling Gloom
Scott J. Laurange

G. Wells Taylor

Princess Soda and the Bubblegum Knight
R. C. Barnes

The Last Wave
Kaye George

The Dogs on Main Street Howl
Allan Leverone

The Knitted Gaol-Born Sow Monkey
Peter Mark May

Christian Dabnor

The Tasting
Jesse James Freeman

The Annas
Patricia Abbott

Night Train to Mundo Fine
Jimmy Callaway

chicken picture from dreamstime

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Discussions?

I’m posting this blog to try to get a question answered. Exactly what do book clubs want to hear when an author addresses them?

For my published books, I’ve prepared discussion questions, like talking points. However every group I’ve spoken to so far has wanted to talk about other things.

I suppose this blog title is a misnomer. It seems book clubs actually want to hear about things like, how I became an author, or why; how I go about writing a book; the perennial--where do I get my ideas. I do make sure to let them know how hard it is, not only to write a book and get it published--both monumental tasks--but what that comes after that: selling the book, trying to make people aware of it without ticking them off. I give statistics on my agent and publisher queries, just so they’ll know how many years it takes to get traction.

But I’d really like to lead a discussion of one of my books. I think. At my last engagement, a woman was vocal about the fact that she didn’t like my book. Is it better for readers to discuss a book without an author present?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fun in Marion, Texas

Some of the readers in the Book Club

Marion is a small town in Central Texas with a better than average library. They call it their Community Library because it serves the high school as well as the community in general. This coalition also includes a Book Club! (Writers always like book clubs.) I was invited to speak there this month, after the membership purchased my book, CHOKE, the first in the Imogene Duckworthy series.

My good friend, Kathy Waller, former denizen of that area, drove me part way there and Gale Albright rode with us, too. They got three writers at their meeting that night.
Here's Kathy taking some of the pix below

Gale Albright, the 3rd author that night

Karen Lavere introduced us and I gave a talk about who I am and how I came to write this series. The audience was lively and had lots of questions, which I love! They had lots to say about my mystery and I enjoyed every minute of the meeting.

I’ve made such good connections and warm friendships in Texas, it will be hard to leave next year! I’ll be on the look out for book clubs in Tennessee. My real estate agent is a member of one, so there’s a headstart! A fellow Guppy has a sister in a book club near where we’re moving, too. If I’m lucky, they will be two different book clubs and I can try to interest them in my work.

This series, my Immy series, will be put on hold for a bit while I concentrate on the Barking Rain Press book, EINE KLEIN MURDER, coming out in the spring, in time for Malice Domestic (yay!). I’ll also be working hard on the FAT CAT series that will come out from Berkley Prime Crime in 2014. I hope that will be IT for starting a new series every year. I’ll be continuing all of them as best I can.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A romance for you to check out!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Review: KILLER KOOL by Marty Ambrose

This review appeared in "Suspense Magazine" earlier this year.

This is Ambrose's fourth in her Mango Bay Mystery series. The others have been called quick reads and chic-lit for the beach. This one fills the bill, too.
Mallie Monroe, part-time reporter and full-time RV island dweller, is burdened with too many, as the story opens. Too many boyfriends: surfer Cole and Nick, the local cop. An over-the-top nasty boss who has just made her the food editor for the Observer, the newspaper for Coral Island. And too many murdered bodies a little later on.
She soon takes cares of the problem of too many boyfriends by ticking off both of them and ending up at dinner with the island geezer, an ancient man with ill-fitting teeth. Mallie tries her best to get to the restaurants and write her reviews, but murder interferes. You'll meet some fun characters. One is Madame Geri, a psychic and mind reader and the mother of Jimmy, who is engaged to Sandy. Madame Geri foresees that the wedding will have to be postponed, that murder will intervene. Sure enough, Carlos Santini, the corpulent ice-cream vendor, succumbs to an apparent heart attack. The manager of the RV park where Mallie lives, Wanda Sue, is another colorful character. After one of the main suspects in Carlos' death expires, Mallie finds herself on the killer's trail so the wedding can go on.
The easy, breezy style whips you through the fun story. If you're not reading this on a beach, you can easily pretend you're right there, on Coral Island

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weather and Books

We’ve all watched with horror what the weather has done to the East Coast just now. All of us who weren’t actually there, suffering, that is. It’s got me to thinking about weather. I have a problem with one of the things writers are warned about: Never start your book with the weather. I’m sure you can do this badly, and maybe enough writers have done so that the warning came about. But you can do it well, too.

Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret  in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, toward K. Bridge.

The Idiot, same author
Towards the end of November, during a warm spell, at around nine o’clock in the morning, a train of the Petersburg-Warsaw line was approaching Petersburg at full steam. It was so damp and foggy that dawn could barely break; ten paces to the right or left of the line it was hard to make out anything at all through the carriage windows.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud on the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.

Those are two of my favorite authors and they may not be yours, but I don’t mind following in their inkprints.

I consider the weather extremely important. It dictates what my characters are wearing, how they get around, what noises they’re hearing and seeing, even what they’re smelling when it rains, and in the aftermath. It needs to fit the season. If I set a book in October, my characters have to be conscious of the fact that Halloween is coming, and in many places the weather will be making a major shift that month.

Hemingway agrees with me. He said, "Remember to get the weather in your god damned book - weather is very important."

There is a problem, though. Weather can be verrry borrring. Just listen to back-to-back news programs where the weather is talked about for five minutes on each show, whether or not it’s doing anything at all. Also, it’s such a pervasive part of our lives that it’s too easy to use clichés in descriptions. You’ve heard this: “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” The fact is, everyone DOES talk about it. “How enough for ya?” “We sure could use the rain.” “How many inches did you get?” Those are common ways to greet each other in Texas. It’s hard to find something new to say about sunshine, rain, snow, and wind. But you can do it!

I like to tie the weather to one of two things. Either what’s happening in the plot, or to my character’s mood. Sometimes it can be used for contrast, sometimes to underline. And sometimes you can bring on a tornado or a storm or a drought and make it part of the plot.

How do you use weather in your writing? Do you think it’s important, or of secondary importance?

Sunny Day Cuba is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

All other pictures are from

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rest Stop Tonight

I’m taking the day off from my travels this week, watching election results Tuesday night instead of blogging. Back next week!

Photo from wiki commons, public domain

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Exorcism and Ghosts

Imogene Duckworthy has a problem in her third adventure, contained in the mystery novel called BROKE. She's rented a house for her, her daughter Drew, and Drew's pet potbelly pig. The leasing agent, Jersey Shorr, tells her there's a rumor that the house is haunted. But Immy is not deterred, since she doesn't believe in ghosts.

If she wanted to exorcise the ghost from the house, could she? Not really. In Western thought, an exorcism can only be performed by a Catholic priest. Even then, it's more to rid a person of demons than to get rid of a ghost.

There are measures she could take, though. Ideally, you want to send the ghost to "the other side" or into The Light. This web page stresses that you should be sober when attempting to persuade a ghost to leave. Burning sage is the accepted method of cleansing your house. This page thinks that ghosts don't need to be gotten rid of, rather they need to be rescued. They just need to be talked into going into The Light. Some ghosts, apparently, are afraid of leaving because they don't think that's exactly where they will end up.

However, I've recently learned (through a short story in Kevin Tipple's collection, Mind Slices)  (which is a very nice bunch of stories) that the concept of that other place wasn't always what it is today. Earlier religions and cultures, pre-Judaism, had a cyclical view of life. For these people, hell was a place to either rest between incarnations, or a neutral zone for dead souls. Early Judaism had no concept of hell, but later developed one that consisted of a place where you go to be purified of your earthly sins so you can ascend to a form of what Christianity now calls heaven.

Anyway, wherever the ghost goes, the important thing for the people in the house is that is goes.

Immy found there were quite a few cultural views of ghosts. The book she bought, The Moron's Compleat Guide to Ghosts, lists these: doppelgänger, a duplicate of a living person; poltergeist, mischief maker but not connected with an actual person; vardøger, a Norse ghost who does things immediately before a real person does them (that would be handy for a fortune teller, she thought); gjenganger, a Scandinavian spirit of someone risen from the grave, but not really ghostlike, more human like; and wraith, a bad omen with a cloak and no face.

Immy didn't think her ghost was any of these! She valiantly plunged ahead, regardless, trying to get rid of the ghost.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Music, Art, and Writing

The Impassioned Singer by Giorgione c. 1510

I've been working on the edits for EINE KLEINE MURDER, which will debut in May from Barking Rain Press. I made an excuse to include a quote in the book. It's one of my favorite quotes about music, by Walter Pater, an English art critic and essayist who lived in the 1800s. In an essay on 'The School of Giorgione' (a 15th century painter and musician) he said, "All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music". My characters discuss what this means for a bit, but I think it could use a lot of discussion.

Why would Pater say that? He was writing about a painter who departed from convention and produced works that didn't illustrate a story, a painter who was also a musician.

Here's one interpretation for the wiki gods:  the arts seek to unify subject matter and form, and music is the only art in which subject and form are seemingly one.

OK. But why are subject and form seemingly one in music? Why aren't they one in painting, sculpting, literature, dance, drama? (Those are what comes to my mind when I speak of arts. Others may differ.)

The arts in the preceding paragraph have one thing in common. See if you agree with me. They must all be seen. You can't close your eyes and appreciate them. With drama, you can hear the spoken word, but you can't see the stage sets and the expressions and gestures of the actors.

To me, this is a layer that comes between the art and the mind of the receiver of the art. Visual art must be interpreted by people who perceive colors differently, such as the color blind. Who knows what blue looks like to someone else? No one knows what it looks like to me. In fact, my daughter and I get into heated discussions about what is blue and what is green. (Totally on a tangent, there are languages, such as Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai, that don't have separate words for blue and green. If my daughter and I spoke one of those languages, we would never argue about blue-green, green-blue, turquoise, or aqua.)

Some of the arts are conveyed through words, which are also subject to interpretation and are colored by experience and culture.

But you can close your eyes and receive music straight into your brain. No words, no shapes, no physical form to get in the way.

Another quote reinforces Pater's opinion. Rabindranath Tagore, a native of India who is  classified as a polymath (he would have been called a Renaissance man if he had been born in a different century), was a remarkable person. He is the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, for his poetry. He was also a visual artist and musical composer. Here's what he says"Music is the purest form of art". He lived in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. I wish he and Walter Pater could have gotten together for a conversation. And I wish I could have been there to hear it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writers' Retreat

The closest we came to a crime scene

A few Texas mystery writers, all women, decided to go away for a weekend in Salado, cute little touristy town south of Dallas and north of Austin. Since we all knew about the Stagecoach Inn, we decided to stay there.

Here's how it went.

High Tea--yum!
I guess I'm the one who started this ball rolling, and my thinking was that I needed a getaway and I needed to concentrate on nothing but writing, as I'm working on some time-crunch projects. They're not actually crunching right now, but will be if I don't get to setting some major sets of words down. We went with a laissez-faire structure, which means no structure. Meals happen, of course, and one member, Gale Albright, booked us for High Tea at Adelea's.

Those of us who could, Kathy Waller, Gale, and me, gathered Friday for lunch in the Coffee Shop (really, it was breakfast for me), then went to our rooms to write. Kathy and Gale roomed together, but I got a single since I'm so easily distracted. Except for the weird noise, which I later figured out was caused by big semis going over a stretch of bad pavement on the bridge over Salado Creek, my room was peaceful and comfy. I got a good bunch of words down--1602!

Midafternoon we took a break for fudge shopping and I got some Christmas shopping done.

We met for dinner and walked to the dining room at the Inn. The serving staff keeps their old tradition of reciting the menu. It's impressive, but does make it hard to order. Our waitress may remember everything she said, but I didn't. Gale and I picked ham slice out of her list. She shortly returned to say that it was all gone. We had no choice but to order prime rib, all three of us. It came with everything, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, veggies, bread, dessert--all but the wine. As usual, I order rare and got medium rare, but I've gotten used to that. We rolled back to sit out on the nice patio overlooking the pool at Kathy and Gale's room, then to bed. I think I wrote a little more that night.

Saturday morning, the other two writers arrived, Laura Oles and Nancy G. West. We had breakfast at the Coffee Shop, then had writerly discussion in the double room. I worked on FAT CAT until it was time for tea. I've never had such good scones in my life!

Outside Hemingway's Bar at Adelea's
I went to my room and looked through some emails, but then the wifi connection went down for most of the rest of the day. I got some more FAT CAT work done, a total of 948 words that day, then we had another session in the big bedroom.

We decided that there were a couple of drawbacks to our venue. One was the lack of microwaves and refrigerators in the rooms. The other was the lack of a good meeting place for our group. If this gathering happens again, I'll recommend we look around to see what else is in the area.

Sunday morning it turned suddenly cold. The Good ones, Laura and Nancy, went for a brisk walk while I slept in. We had breakfast and broke up soon after.

I loved getting to know Nancy better and meeting Laura for the first time. This is something I would recommend to any bunch of writers!

All pictures by Kathy Waller

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Today: Chris Redding

I'm glad to be able to host Chris Redding today! Chris discovered at age ten she had a knack for storytelling. Ever since, she has wanted to be a published author. She lives in New Jersey with her family and animals. When she isn't writing she works part time for her local hospital.

Chris is the author of the hot mystery, BLONDE DEMOLITION, a mystery thriller with romance. You're in for a treat--an excerpt from the novel. Here's a bit about it:

Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where nothing ever happens. Just the kind of life she has always wanted. No one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security.

Former partner and lover, Trey McCrane, comes back into Mallory's life. He believes they made a great team once, and that they can do so again. Besides, they don't have much choice. Paul Stanley, a twisted killer and their old nemesis, is back.

Framed for a bombing and drawn together by necessity, Mallory and Trey go on the run and must learn to trust each other again―if they hope to survive. But Mallory has been hiding another secret, one that could destroy their relationship. And time is running out.

Here's an excerpt from the novel:

She slammed her hand on the table. Her beer wobbled. She caught it. "You are not seducing me back into this life."

He shifted away from her, his arms crossed. His expression didn't change. He hadn't even flinched at her outburst. Not even at her use of the word seduce, which she knew any shrink would have a field day with.

Had he predicted what she would do?

When they had worked together, he'd known before she did that she had to pee. She'd never met anyone so in tune with her. Maybe she never wanted to have anyone know her that way again.

"I'm different now. I have this great life." Her finger stabbed the air, punctuated every word. "You cannot take that away from me."

"I'm not taking away anything. I'm giving you something. I'm giving you back the ability to make a difference."

She stalked away from him. "You think I don't make a difference? What about the family whose house didn't burn down because I was here?"

"You can prevent many more houses from not burning down with us."

She shook her head. "It isn't the same."

He would not pull her strings. He would appeal to her sense of honor and her strong desire to help people. He knew all the cards she held and how to play them to his advantage.

"No, it's better," he said.

Please take a look at the book on Amazon!
Amazon in print:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Imogene Duckworthy is a responsible adult. No, wait, she’s getting there! I realize that, if you’ve read the first two books of her adventures, CHOKE and SMOKE, you might think she has a long ways to go. But she does have a responsible job (OK, she got fired once, but she got her job back), she’s saved up enough to buy a car (OK, it’s a clunker, but it runs--so far), and she figures it’s time for her to move out and have her own place.

The problem, as BROKE opens, is finding a rental property in Wymee Falls that will accept her, her four-year-old daughter Nancy Drew Duckworthy, and Drew’s pet potbelly pig Marshmallow. He’s a cutie and very well behaved, but he is a pig.

The real estate agent, Jersey Shorr, finds four places that are amenable to having pigs, which surprises Ms. Shorr, but only one is in Immy’s price range. The rumor that the house is haunted doesn’t deter our intrepid Immy, but she is taken aback by the body of a broken-necked man in the bathtub.

You can sample a bit of the book hereIt’s available for Kindle and on Smashwords in all electronic formats right now.

As soon as Nook finishes processing the files, I’ll announce it launched, but you heard it here first.

The paperback is in the works and should be ready in a week or two. Certainly by Halloween! This is a bit of a spooky story, what with the ghost and all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Sheila Boneham: Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs

I welcome Sheila to my Travels today. She'll tell you about a terrific benefit for dogs and bookstores and--just about everyone--that's leashed with her brand new book!

I’m just the tiniest bit goal-oriented and competitive. Born this way, according to my mother (who, I might add, probably provided the genetic material that made me this way!). I’ve been involved since childhood in activities that provide lots of opportunity to challenge myself – competing with horses and dogs in a variety of sports, completing advanced academic degrees, teaching in universities, writing for publication.... Of course, these arenas provide even more opportunity to fail. It’s a good balance, I think, and good exercise, falling flat, getting back up, around and around. Still, let me go on record now: it sucks to lose or be rejected or criticized. The characters in Drop Dead on Recall know that all too well!

The good ones also know that collaborating with like-minded partners to reach a common goal is every bit as rewarding as personal success. More so, in fact. There's a synergy in working with smart, passionate people that is energizing and inspiring. So I’d like to tell you about to Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs, a collaboration I’m involved in to support canine health research as we launch Drop Dead on Recall, the first Animals in Focus mystery, just out from Midnight Ink.

As you might guess from the title and cover of my mystery, I'm crazy about dogs. What the cover doesn't show is that the protagonist's dog is an Australian Shepherd. It doesn't show that there's a very important cat in the book, either, but that's another story! In any case, the publisher chose to feature the victim's Border Collie, but the "protagdog" in Drop Dead on Recall is an Aussie named Jay. I have been involved with Australian Shepherds for almost two decades as owner, competitor, breeder, rescuer, and now judge. So when I decided to put the excitement of my book launch to work for a cause, The Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Foundation seemed a natural choice. The organization helps supprt health research and disseminates information, and while the major focus is on Aussies, the impact of the work extends far beyond a single breed.

My interests and love for animals also extends beyond Aussies, and I wanted to support an all-dog group as well. Last spring I worked with Canine Health Events to raffle off a cameo appearance for a dog in the next book in my series. First, Gayle Watkins and the other CHE volunteers were fabulous to work and raised $2,000 with the raffle, so when they expressed interest in trying another project together, I was on it like a hungry dog on a dropped cookie. CHE's purpose is to hold events, notably a big agility trial every spring, to raise money that they donate to support canine health research.

To accomplish this bnefit launch, we needed a bookseller, and I love to support independent businesses, especially booksellers. I am fortunate to live in a town with several Indie bookstores, and one of my favorites is Pomegranate Books, partly because owner Kathleen Jewel often takes her dog to work, and has let me bring my own dog for booksignings in the past. Books and animals - what could be better? So I talked to Kathleen and Pomegranate is the official vendor for Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs. The store is handling the "virtual" part of the event, meaning online or telephone orders, and hosting a real live launch party on October 11 at 7 p.m. Come if you can!

I love this idea, if I do say so myself. As a working author, of course I want my books to sell well. But I also love cooperative projects where everyone wins, and I think that’s what we have created. Kathleen and I both think this is a model that could work for many authors, booksellers, and causes.

So who wins?
· Readers, I hope. Drop Dead on Recall was fun to write, and I hope it’s fun to read as well. We are also offering Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals, my nonfiction book for animal rescuers, as part of this event.
· Holiday shoppers! Hey, it’s almost the season! Autographed books make terrific gifts, and I will be autographing for the buyers’ autographee of choice. How cool is that?
· Dogs! The research projects and other work that ASHGI and CHE support are aimed at helping our dogs live longer, healthier lives. All dog lovers want that. And the fact is that medical knowledge transcends species, so what researchers learn in their work with dogs may help our cats, our horses, and us.
· Local, independent business, specifically Pomegranate Books, which is a valuable resource for this community, as are Indies everywhere.
Thanks to Kaye George for letting me share. I would love to know what you think. (And authors, if you do something similar, please let me know.) If you like this idea, please share the link. Here's to healthy happy dogs and dog owners!

Award-winning author Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction and nonfiction, much of it focused on animals, nature, and travel. Although best know for her writing about dogs and cats for the past fifteen years, Sheila also writes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and poetry, teaches writing workshops and classes, and is interested in speaking to groups about writing, creativity, and related topics. Drop Dead on Recall, her new mystery, is available now from your local bookseller and online – ebook and Audible editions will be available in October. Find Sheila at or on Facebook at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Marilyn Meredith: My Bumpy Writers Journey

I'm so pleased to welcome Marilyn Meredith to my place today! She's been in this business for awhile and  has invaluable advice for writers. Check out her new book. And, hey, be sure to check out the end of the blog for an extraordinary offer. 

My Bumpy Writers Journey

Before I even begin I’m going to give any aspiring writers my best piece of advice—never give up. You’ll see why as you read about the hurdles I jumped over.

I’m not going into the nitty gritty of how difficult it was to even write and submit a book when I began before there were computers and no Internet, suffice it to say it wasn’t easy. Anyone who was easily discouraged did give up. I sent my typed and retyped manuscript off nearly 30 times before it was accepted. (There were plenty of rewrites along the way.)

At that time I didn’t have the benefit of writers conferences, most of my writing education came from reading books and seeing how other authors did it. (I’m horrified today by how many new writers I hear say they don’t have time to read.) My education grew as I subscribed to writer’s magazines and joined a critique group.

Despite being published the first time, my next move was a misstep. The next book was accepted by a publisher who despite glowing words everywhere turned out to be a crook. Yes, truly, he ended up in jail because he didn’t bother to pay royalties.

Even using Writers Digest’s big market book, I got tangled up with two more publishers who weren’t honest.

I’ve been with two small press publishers who died, and two who decided the publishing business was not for them.

While attending writers’ conferences I met the publishers I’m with now.

Oak Tree Press’s owner attended the Public Safety Writers Association’s writers conference regularly. When I pulled my contract from the publisher I was with I asked if she’d be interested in publishing my Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Not long after that I signed a contract wither her for the next book. Since that time she’s republished all the books in the series.

I belong to Epic which is an organization for e-publishers and authors, where I’d met Mundania Press’s publisher. At a cocktail party I approached him about picking up my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. He said yes and I’ve been with them ever since.

What every aspiring writer needs to do is check out the publishers you are thinking of approaching. Ask their writers about their experience. Make sure your book fits the house’s criteria. And lately, it’s been important to most publishers that you have a marketing plan for your books. Today, with so many people writing, first make sure you have the best book you can possibly write so you stand out.

Most of all, don’t get discouraged. Write, write, write and keep submitting. Most writers don’t have quite the bumpy journey I had. Giving up would have been easy, but I didn’t and I’m glad.

Raging Water Blurb: Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.

Contest: The person who leaves comments on the most blogs will have his/her name used for a character in my next book—can choose if you want it in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.

Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel us No Bells, the forth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at

Marilyn borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area.

I know there are some people who like to read a series in order, but let me reassure you that every book is complete. Though the characters grow through each book, the crime is always solved. Here is the order of the books for anyone who wants to know: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Wing Beat, Intervention, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Press Releases

Everyone should send out press releases when they have a book to be published, right?

OK, but what should it say? And who should it go to? And when should it go out?

Recently I saw some general guidelines online, I've put them below.

Lead Times:
Daily Newspapers, Radio and TV – seven to ten days. Weekly newspapers – four to six weeks. Magazines – four to six months

This means you have to know what your local newspapers (if you still have any) and radio stations are. I'm not sure what magazines I would send a press release to, but some of you may have some in mind.

The best days to send them are supposed to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The term for sending a press release is, well, releasing. But I hate to say release a press release. Maybe the publicity people are less stressed in the middle of the week and will pay more attention to your news.

I've saved the hardest for last. Of course, you must tell them the name and author of your book, a bit about it, and what's happening where. You can announce an award, a signing, or a book launch. Here's what I've put together for the first signing of my novel coming out in October.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Bartay

(254) 741-9499

Media Alert

Kaye George/Broke: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery

Waco-Kaye George, author of the Imogene Duckworthy mysteries, will sign copies of the third in the series, Broke, at Barnes & Noble Waco on Saturday, November 3th at 2:00 p.m. The store is located in Circuit City Plaza at 4909 West Waco Drive, Waco, TX 76710.

Immy, PI assistant, wants to be on her own. She finds a rental house where her four-year-old daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, and Drew's pet pig, Marshmallow, are allowed. The rumors are that the house is haunted. But it's no rumor there's a dead man in the bathtub when she tours the house.

Kaye George is a novelist and short story writer whose has been nominated for an Agatha award twice. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and writes articles for newsletters and booklets. She lives near Waco.

All events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

National Preparedness Month

I found out that September is National Preparedness Month. Does this mean I should be prepared for September? Or maybe it means I should take September to prepare? Since I didn't do the former, I'll try the latter.

Not going all that well so far. I posted my Monday blog at All Things Writing on Tuesday when I woke up and remembered it. I pretended I was taking Labor Day seriously, but really, I just wasn't prepared! And I forgot.

There's a lot to prepare for this month! I've joined a new blog, Make Mine Mystery, where I'm blogging twice a month.

I'm part of a discussion panel for the Austin Sisters in Crime chapter on Sunday, the 9th (NOT the 14th as I stated in my newsletter), although I don't need to prepare too much. I'll need to bring books to sell and a change of clothes, since I'm staying the night. I already have an audio book for the drive from Hubbard.

Hubby and I are flying to DC to visit our daughter's family and see their new house the next week, so that take a bunch of prep.

But I won't have to prepare for this blog too much, because I have two more fabulous guests lined up this month! Marilyn Meredith will be here the 19th and Sheila Boneham the 26th.

I've reached a breathing space in my writing. I've handed in my manuscript to Barking Rain Press. EINE KLEINE MURDER is on schedule to be published next spring by them. Yay!

BROKE is in the hands of a few first readers. I have the ebook cover, and that mystery novel is on schedule to be published last September/early October.

I'm writing a short story for an apocalypse anthology. It's due September 15th and I'm doing well on it so far. In fact, it's the only thing I'm actively working on right now.

More is coming, though! Stay tuned. Two more projects are in the wings.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Interview with Sandra Parshall

Today I'm welcoming Sandra Parshall to my place. She has been a role model for me ever since I got serious about mystery writing. Her series sleuth is Rachel Goddard, a veterinarian in Virginia. Parshall's love for animals is no secret and she champions their cause whenever she can. She's the reason I wasted--I mean spent --so many hours on the National Zoo Panda Cam when Tai Shan was a baby.

Her first mystery, THE HEAT OF THE MOON (which absolutely blew me away), develops Rachel's memories of her past and established her as a heroine to be admired. In the second, DISTURBING THE DEAD, Rachel leaves the DC area and ventures far into Virginia, where she will remain and practice. This book introduced me to Melungeons. In BROKEN PLACES, a past love of Rachel's beau turns up, along with a dead body, of course. UNDER THE DOG STAR, has, as one of its themes, a feral dog pack. These summaries are overly simplified and don't do the books any sort of justice. If you haven't discovered Parshall, I recommend remedying that quickly and delving into her work. Her books are available in print, ebook, and audio. She has a brand new mystery coming out in this month, called BLEEDING THROUGH. I can't wait to read it!

BIO: Sandra Parshall’s first paying job as a writer was that of obituary columnist for her hometown newspaper in South Carolina. Within a few months she moved up to writing feature stories. She worked on newspapers in West Virginia and on the Baltimore Evening Sun before moving to the Washington, DC, area with her journalist husband. They still live there, with their two cats, Emma and Gabriel. Sandy is a former member of the Sisters in Crime national board and remains active in SinC as manager of the members-only listserve.

ME: Sandy, have you ever worked for a vet? If not, why make your main character one? Wasn't that harder than choosing a profession you know?

SANDY: No, I’ve never worked for a vet, but I’ve certainly spent plenty of time (and money) in vet clinics over the years with our pets. I wanted Rachel to have a job that would show her as the warm, caring person she is. I also wanted it to be a profession that her mother, Judith, would disapprove of. I knew Judith would be a psychologist because that would work best in the kind of suspense novel I wanted THE HEAT OF THE MOON to be. Rachel’s sister Michelle followed in Judith’s footsteps and became a psychologist, but despite Judith’s insistence that Rachel go to medical school and become a physician, she held onto her dream and became a veterinarian. Judith never let her forget that she was wasting her ability by doctoring cats and dogs. So the choice of Rachel’s profession initially highlighted the mother-daughter conflict, but as the series has continued her job has often been important in the stories.

ME: I've learned so much about writing from reading your prose. For instance, I remember remarking, awhile ago, about how you know just when to begin and end scenes. Your dialog is natural, your settings are alive. And you tackle serious issues in your books. How did you learn to write so well?

SANDY: That’s enormously flattering. Thank you! I learned to write by reading voraciously and writing many, many short stories and, later, several novels that never sold. I didn’t fully grasp story structure until I started reading and writing suspense/mystery. A crime that has to be solved gives a book a narrative drive that keeps me on track. Every element must contribute to the central story. I can’t let myself indulge in long tangents that don’t move the plot forward or poetic descriptions that don’t develop the mood and tone. I need those constraints. I love writing in this genre.

ME: You are one of my mentors, with your rich, literary writing. I'm never disappointed when I delve into one of your complex, satisfying books. Can you name some of your mentors?

SANDY: The two mystery/suspense writers I idolize are Ruth Rendell and Thomas H. Cook. Rendell’s ability to get inside the heads of her characters is always amazing to me. There is no type of character she can’t write convincingly. Personally, I think she’s telepathic. Nothing else can explain how this genteel English lady in her early eighties knows so much about the thoughts and emotions of such a broad range of people from every level of society. Her plotting is impeccable, and she can invest the most ordinary objects and places with a terrifying menace. Tom Cook’s writing is beautiful, and his deep insight into his characters is extraordinary. I also love Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen, Linwood Barclay, and a number of others who excel at creating suspense.

ME: You're an expert at coming up with evocative titles. How do you do this?

SANDY: Usually the book will tell me its name if I’m patient. For example, my working title for THE HEAT OF THE MOON was MEMORY, because that’s basically what the story is about. I was well into it, writing chapter eleven, when I typed: “Her [Mother’s] show of affection for me was like the heat of the moon, an illusion, a glow that gave no warmth.” And I realized that was the title I’d been waiting for.

ME: How long did you write before you were published? Do you have unpublished books sitting around and, if so, do you ever plan to rework and publish them?

SANDY: I’ve been writing since I was a child, trying to sell since my twenties, so it took me decades to get published. I had almost given up hope of ever being published when Poisoned Pen Press took THE HEAT OF THE MOON. I have a habit of cannibalizing old manuscripts and reusing characters I love, settings I like – if I loved it when I first wrote it, I’ll find a way to rework it and give it new life in a new book. Rachel’s young friend Holly Turner was recycled. She existed before Rachel did, in an old manuscript I wrote years and years ago. I don’t have much that I could rework and publish now, but it has all been useful and will continue to be, I’m sure.

ME: Do you have plans to write books outside your series? (Not that I don't want waaay more Rachel books!)

SANDY: I would like to write more psychological suspense like THE HEAT OF THE MOON. To return to your previous question, I do have one suspense novel that I want to rewrite and try to sell. I’ve been careful not to steal a lot from it for other books. I don’t want to pick its bones clean and have nothing to rework.

ME: You've been putting out about a book a year. Are you comfortable with this pace? How do you manage your writing time? Are you disciplined about it?

SANDY: I’m not totally comfortable with it. It’s a strain, mainly because I’m not terribly good at managing my time or concentrating in the midst of distractions. If my writing time is interrupted, it tends to vanish. It’s hard for me to get my concentration back. I was just reading about Patricia Cornwell’s habit of retreating to a hotel room and writing every waking moment, with no distractions. I wish I could do that. But I would miss the cats!

ME: I know that writers involved in traditional publishing are frequently finished with the next and writing the one beyond that when a book comes out. How many do you have lined up? Can you tell us a bit about them?

SANDY: I wish I could say the next one is finished, but I feel as if it’s barely begun. (I’ll probably still feel that way when I turn it in. I can always see a million more things that need to be done.) I’m writing book number six in the Rachel series. On the surface, the story appears to be about a controversy over development of a high-end mountain resort in rural Mason County, Virginia – development that will bring in a lot of jobs while radically changing the nature of the community. And the jobs are the Walmart variety – not all that great. The dispute between pro and con is vicious, and people start turning up dead. Of course, this being one of my stories, there’s a whole lot more to the murders than a simple dispute over development.

ME: Anything else you'd like my readers to know?

SANDY: I’d like to add that my new book, BLEEDING THROUGH, was written for the readers who have relentlessly pushed me for six years to revisit the events of THE HEAT OF THE MOON and resolve some of the unfinished business in Rachel’s life and in her relationship with her sister. Michelle plays a major role in the book – the first time she’s appeared since THE HEAT OF THE MOON. The plot has a murder for Tom Bridger to solve, but Rachel and Michelle’s past – bleeding through into the present -- is a strong thread in the story. I can’t promise that I’ve given readers exactly the resolution they want, but I think I’ve handled it in a way that is true to Rachel.  

Thanks for being here today, Sandy, and best of luck with the new book!