Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Three Way

I have way too much news for one writer in one week. But I’ll try!

I got a new account open for my Kaye George writing business, with a minimum of fuss. Love the Y12 Federal Credit Union. It’s named for the Y-12 National Security Complex, also known as Oak Ridge, the place where the nuclear bomb was developed. There’s no nuclear activity at the site today, but there’s a great historical tour you can take if you ever visit in the area.

Now, to the writing stuff!

First, the galley proofs for EINE KLEINE MURDER are finished and turned in, ahead of deadline! Barking Rain Press is working on my cover and the preliminary one is gorgeous! The publisher is also creating an ad for the Malice Domestic program for the three BRP writers who will attend this year, me, Tace Baker, and James M. Jackson. We’re going to have so much fun there this year! (Have I mentioned that you can read the first four chapters, free, here?)

 Second, big news! Untreed Reads will publish my Neanderthal mystery! (My other UR works are here, some published by UR, some distributed there.) I’ve turned in cover ideas and now need to gather together the names I need to put in the acknowledgements. This project has taken many turns and had a lot of help for a lot of people. I need to thank all of them!

I have some cool Pinterest pages with themes from my research:

Third, Untreed Reads will also publish a short story I submitted called “A Fine Kettle of Fish”! This is a story I worked on for the second Guppy anthology. After a rewrite to take out a part that the UR people weren’t fond of, it has found a home.

Non-writing news:  We were going along so well in the new house, until we decided to have a heating and air company do a 
sort of what our yard looked like
routine inspection/maintenance on our furnace last Friday. The technician found the heat exchanger full of large holes! They’re clearly visible, I’ll have to admit. He was obligated to turn off the unit until the heat exchanger is replaced. Sooo, we called the home warranty people. After an additional phone call, they agreed to send someone on Saturday, since our weather is dipping below freezing at night. The guy came and said a part would be ordered on Monday--AND would take 2-4 days to arrive. A week without heat, in freezing weather! In fact, it has snowed here every day since then. We had, luckily, unpacked our space heaters. We had 4 of them. One overheated and quit working, so we tossed it.

I called Tuesday to check on the status of my work order. Nothing had been done! The guy who came out Saturday didn’t turn a report in to anyone! Yikes! I got a responsive (I hope) person from the home warranty company on the phone. She’s supposed to try to expedite the shipment of the part. We’ll see.

I can get my office toasty warm if I crank the little heater up high enough. I’m kind of scared to, though. We’re eating out and shopping a lot.

Please send warm thoughts our way. We went and bought new space heaters today, ones that we hope won’t short out and quit.

(snow photo and dice from
(atom from

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post: The World According to Birders

I totally goofed up today and did not post my guest blog for James M. Jackson! He got it to me in plenty of time and neglected to post this! I can't not do it, though. You'll LOVE it. Here's a bit about Jim:

JAMES M JACKSON is the author of Bad Policy for Barking Rain Press. Known as James Montgomery Jackson on his tax return and to his mother whenever she was really mad at him, he splits his time between the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s low country. Jim has published a book on contract bridge, One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge, as well as numerous short stories and essays.

Please visit where he has a continuing updated list of places that carry the book and where people can read the first 4 chapters and get a 35% off coupon from Barking Rain Press.

Now, here's his post~~~~~

I have been a birder (note, not bird watcher) for over 35 years. Most birders keep lists: a life list of all the different birds they have seen, state lists, county lists, backyard lists (where I spotted this red-shouldered hawk). Many keep total lists as well as lists for each year. I was the same way for the first half of my birding life, but since then other interests have captured more of my time and attention.

My partner, Jan, and I love road trips. For me, there is nothing like seeing a biome first-hand to start to understand its history, its people, and yes, its birds. Neither one of us had been to the Rio Grande valley. 
This January we rectified that gap in our experiences.

While we enjoy road trips on our own, I know I learn more about a region using professionally guided field trips. In addition to the guide there were eight of us on the tour. Jan is not a birder. She enjoys seeing the geography, loves walking outdoors and prefers looking at ducks because they are big and stay still. Those LBJs (little brown jobbers) that flit from perch to perch, hiding behind leaves are not very interesting to her.

One of our other members was a new birder. Several had been in the area several times and had joined the trip in hopes of seeing two or three specific birds they had previously missed. My rusty skills left me in the middle of the pack between these two extremes. And frankly, these days I would just as soon spend an hour watching a robin working over a pile of leaves for a morsel as see a brand new bird. But truth be told, I would not drive hours to see a robin, but I would for a new-for-me bird!

One of the things I do when I’m not out looking at birds is write. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy seeing different parts of the country. I won’t place a character in a locale if I don’t have some experience there.

If the birding is slow, I start to think about how a story might fit a particular local. For example, the Rio Grande is not very wide and the Border Patrol folks travel the river in high-speed boats you can hear ten minutes before they arrive. So smugglers…

Or I start thinking about how characteristics of the people I’m traveling with might flesh out a story. Some people are like the long-billed curlew above right or the common pauraque above left, whose camouflage makes it seem one with the environment. You need to look closely at the curlew picture to see how long its bill is. And if you don’t already know where the bird is, you may never spot it in the field, even though it’s almost two feet tall. If someone had not pointed out the common pauraque I would have passed it by.

Others stick out like this green kingfisher. They wear bright colors as if to say, “Look at me! Look at me!” When we do look closely, we notice the mud on its bill from capturing a tasty morsel from the mud.

Some just want to be left alone, like this yellow-crowned night heron trying to ignore me while I took its picture. Some, like this scaled quail, have no clue of the impression they make on others as they go about their business.

Now being a birder is not without its problems, one of which is being engrossed in a movie when from the middle of an Amazonian jungle comes the haunting ululation of a common loon. The call might be perfect for the mood of the scene, but someone would have to kidnap a common loon to get it to visit a South American jungle. It’s North American and prefers open water.

Sometimes the sound techs will get a bird in the right habitat, but wrong season, and I’ll hear a warbler signing its mating song in the middle of winter.

I use my love of the outdoors and of birds in my writing. None of my characters, so far, has been an avid birder. Seamus McCree, the protagonist of my mystery Bad Policy, does enjoy birding and often makes references to birds.

For example, Seamus’s girlfriend (a bodyguard) has been away on business for a long time and Seamus is wondering what their status is but hasn’t figured out how to resolve the situation. He takes a run in a nearby park and the comparison between his life and what is natural slaps him in the face.

On my run, I purposefully slowed my pace and added a loop to include Burnett Woods, where the trees sang with spring bird migration in full swing. Coupling was in the air and in the woods. I was having difficulty putting one foot in front of the other. If you don’t like the way things are going, I chided myself, do something different.

Seamus also uses his grounding in bird nature to make comparisons. He and his son are eating. He has no appetite because someone has just been killed. Not so his son, Paddy.

Paddy, who still had the metabolism of a hummingbird, eyed my plate and at my nod swapped his empty one for mine.

We learn Seamus feeds birds in this sequence when he is being interrogated by the police and first finds out why they have taken him in for questioning.

“When were you last in your basement?” [the cop asked]
“My basement? I have no clue. Maybe to get food for my bird feeders? Tuesday? Wednesday?” I wracked my mind trying to piece together the last week, but my sleep-deprived brain didn’t work. “Look. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I want to help because whatever you’re investigating, I didn’t do it. Is Abigail okay? What happened?”
Lewis snapped his fingers at the sergeant who brought over a 4x6 print, which he laid face down on the table between Lewis and me.
“Go ahead,” Lewis said. “Take a look.”
I searched their faces for a clue, but they sported flat cop eyes—daring me to turn over the photo. Instinctively, I picked it up by its edges. Not that I didn’t trust them…actually, I didn’t trust them. For whatever reason, I mentally counted to three before flipping the print over. I gagged. A nude man, his face blown away by a shotgun blast, elbows, knees, and ankles shattered, burn marks on his chest, sat in my basement on one of my porch chairs. Orange adjustable straps, just like the ones I owned, held his body to the chair.

All those scenes from Bad Policy took place in the Cincinnati area where we lived for many years. Now that we’ve visited the Rio Grande Valley, I might be able to add a future scene from that area—as long as the point of view is from a character who hasn’t spent much time there. If the character actually lived in the area, I’d have to go back and study it more---hmm, that’s not such a bad idea…

 ~ Jim

Some of the Throes of Moving

The two things I hate leaving most (besides friends and family) are my doctor and my hairdresser. It’s such a pain to have to break new ones in! My husband and I are both getting shaggy, so we’d better get on that one soon.

One thing I thought I wouldn’t have to do is find a new place to bank for my Kaye George business account. However, my Texas credit union isn’t going to work here. I was told they do some sort of remote/share banking with Tennessee credit unions. However, after spending eons on hold with them (at the TN credit union!), I found out that business accounts are not eligible for that. Ugh. So today I’ll open an account with a local credit union, then start to switch all the associations: Amazon, B&N’s Pubit, PayPal, Createspace, Smashwords, Untreed Reads, and probably some that I’ve forgotten. Some of those pay directly to PayPal (I’m pretty sure Untreed Reads does), so maybe that job won’t be as bad as I’m thinking it will be.

We got some new furniture delivered yesterday. We left our dressers behind when we left Taylor for Hubbard in June of last year. I bought a new dresser in Waco, while we were in Hubbard, but Cliff didn’t. Now we both have new ones! It is SUCH a pain living out of a suitcase in your own home.

Our new house has a lovely sunroom in the back, overlooking our yard and the woods at the foot of our property. Our other new purchase was a small round table and four chairs for that sunroom. Can’t wait for my first cup of tea at my new table. In fact, I’m going to go make that right now.

Meanwhile, writing-wise, I’m in the midst of galley proofs for EINE KLEINE MURDER and they’re going very well! I hope to finish well before my 20-day deadline.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guest blogger and contest! F.M. Meredith

  I'm pleased to be hosting prolific mystery writer, F.M. Meredith, sometimes known as Marilyn. Please be sure and notice the comment at the bottom about her contest!

Places I’ve Traveled as a Writer

Never would I have gone to Anchorage, Alaska if it hadn’t been for Left Coast Crime first and a few years later, Bouchercon. The first time, I also visited a school in a tiny village called Kwithlik. To get there, I traveled in a Suburban on a frozen river. (Scary!) The second time, I stayed in Wasilla with a Native friend who I met on the first visit.

church in New Orleans
My first and only trip to New York City was to attend Edgar week and the Edgar awards. I was in awe the whole time I was there—it looks just like it does in the movies and TV.  (I know that sounds dumb, but I couldn’t help just staring at everything that seemed so familiar.) From there, my friend and I took the train to Washington DC and then on to Arlington, VA for Malice Domestic. I attended Malice a second time and included a visit to my husband’s hometown in Cambridge MD.

When I was asked to be an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat, I didn’t hesitate a moment to pack my bags and jump on a plane. Of course I took hubby too, and he had a great time while I was busy working with students all day. Besides being in a beautiful place, I had a great time.

Because of various mystery cons, I’ve visited places I’d never have thought of visiting, sometime with hubby sometimes by myself: Bellevue and Seattle WA, Austin, El Paso, Plano and San Antonio TX, Madison and Milwaukee WI, New Orleans LA, Oklahoma City OK, Orlando and Tampa FL, Nashville TN, Portland OR, and Virginia Beach, VA.

We fell in love with Omaha NE when Mayhem in the Midlands (now sadly no more) met there for ten years.

Though I may have visited Las Vegas and Reno NV with my hubby, I’ve also gone there for writers’ conferences.

Sedona AZ
I’ve been to one end of California (Crescent City and Redding in the North, to Temecula and Dana Point in the South) and from coast to coast, giving talks at writers’ conferences and attending Left Coast Crimes and Bouchercons.

Now I’m back on the road again to promote the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Dangerous Impulses. I’m headed to Epicon in Vancouver WA this month. and have various places in California to go. In July it’ll be off to Vegas for the Public Safety Writers Association’s annual conference.

Thank you, Kaye for letting me tell you about places I’ve been. It’s been a wonderful experience with great memories.

Now a bit about Dangerous Impulses:

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


The person who comments on the most blog posts on this tour may have a character named after him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel or choose a book from the previous titles in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series in either paper or for Kindle.

Rocky Bluff P.D. Series:

Though each book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is written as a stand-alone, I know there are people who like to read a series in order. From the beginning to the end:

Final Respects
Bad Tidings
Fringe Benefits
Smell of Death
No Sanctuary
An Axe to Grind
Angel Lost
No Bells
Dangerous Impulses

F. M. Meredith’s Bio:
F.M. is also known as Marilyn Meredith, the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. She first became interested in writing about law enforcement when she lived in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. The interest was fanned when her daughter married a police officer and the tradition has continued with a grandson and grandson-in-law who are deputies. She’s also serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and has many friends in different law enforcement fields. For twenty plus years, she and her husband lived in a small beach community located in Southern California much like the fictional Rocky Bluff. She is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Epic, and Mystery Writers of America.

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow I’m visiting here: