Saturday, August 30, 2014

She Did What?

Kathleen Kaska (Fifth-Saturday Blogger)

            A few years ago, I sent a manuscript to the agent who was representing me at the time. She was appalled that my protagonist had the temerity to speed over a cattle guard on an unmarked the dirt road. There was no motive to my protagonist's wacky actions, according to her, and furthermore, this absurd incident wasn’t mentioned again in my story. And what did she have against this cattle guard anyway?
       Her comments momentarily confused me. What was the big deal about driving over a cattle guard? How in the hell else was she supposed to get where she was going? It finally dawned on me that this young New Yorker hadn't a clue about ranch life. She assumed the cattle “guard” was a person, standing sentinel over some bovines. Fighting laughter, I gently explained this contextual cattle guard. She was good-natured enough to then allow some mutual chuckling.
            In one of my writers’ critique groups, two members were confused about “she pulled the door to.” They wanted to know why I didn’t finish the action stated. “Pulled the door to what?” they asked. When I explained to them that “pulling the door to,” meant closing it without actually shutting it, they seemed unconvinced. To them, the door was either closed or it wasn’t.
            Here’s another example. A reader chastised me about an expression in one of my mysteries. My protagonist had responded to something of no surprise to her by saying, “Well, slap me silly.” The reader thought the remark a bit extreme, bordering on masochistic. She couldn’t imagine someone asking to be slapped and why there wasn’t a comma before “silly.” I demurred. The reader obviously lacked a sense of humor. 
            My current mystery series is set mainly in the South and I use a lot of Southern expressions, which come naturally to me since I’m from Texas. My new series is set in Manhattan. Fortunately, I lived there a while and some Big Apple slang stuck with me. One of my favorites is “schmear” (a small amount or smear of cream cheese added to a bagel order. Living now in the Pacific Northwest, I was pleased to see this word on a local coffee shop menu. Is the world shrinking? Are we really becoming a global village? Have we reached the point where we all understand one another? I hope not. That would be boring.
            Do any of ya’ll use similar regional slang or colloquialisms in your writing? Keep on!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day

After spending the last week plus up close and personal with my dogs on vacation, I thought I'd give them the floor today.  They are smart cookies. They figured out how to open the back windows in the truck when they wanted some air. My husband figured out how to lock the windows. :)

This is Homer, our youngest, and a total mommy's boy. (He's in his usual spot, under my desk.

And this is the old man, Demon.

Feel free to share your own dog shots.

MISSION TO MURDER - available now. (And of course, has a dog or two in the book.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Going to Nashville!

I’m going to be at Killer Nashville when this posts. This will be my second trip to this conference. Someone mentioned that there is a trolley tour available a short walk from our hotel. I won’t have time to do this, so I decided to do my own tour, before I go, from the comfort of my office.

First, some history. Nashville was named after Fort Nashborough, near which it was first located. The fort is named after Revolutionary hero Francis Nash. Situated on the Cumberland River, it grew quickly.

Its nickname is Music City, mostly country music. Four major record labels and other small ones record there. It boasts the Grand Old Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the General Jackson showboat.

Other nicknames: Athens of the South, The Protestant Vatican (or The Buckle of the Bible Belt), Cashville, Little Kurdistan, and Nash Vegas.

Gibson guitar and Nissan North America headquarters are also located in Nashville.

Three interstates meet near downtown, I-40 (the one I’m driving in on), I-65, and I-24. This must be a mess! It’s the second largest in population in the state (Memphis is largest), but the biggest in metropolitan area, spreading over 13 counties.

The town gave rise to Moon Pies and Goo Goo Clusters. I’m going to see if I can locate any of those while I’m there. It’s been ranked the 13th snobbiest city for foodie culture. Am I the only one who sees a disconnect here?

Vanderbilt University and at least 4 other colleges make this a university town, AND it’s the state capitol.

Some local dishes are called hot chicken, hot fish, barbecue. Meat and three is type of restaurant service. I might see if I can locate some of that, too.

You know, I might have to schedule an extra day or two next time.

info from:,_Tennessee

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beyond the Screen

by Janis Patterson/Janis Susan May
Sometimes our lives get so tied up with words and writing and editing and publishing and publicity that we forget there is a world out there beyond the confines of our computer screens, so today I’m not going to talk (at least very much!) about business.

This past week was my birthday – exactly which one we won’t mention – and to mark the occasion The Husband took me on a four day trip to Las Vegas. I have been so occupied with my June-October publishing blitz that he complains he never sees me anymore because I’m always locked away in my office. I wasn’t even allowed to take a computer on our trip, just my phone to check emails.

The trip was wonderful. We spent an entire day at and in Hoover Dam. I never thought of that as particularly fascinating (I had seen it before) but the trip inside was incredible. Do not go if you are in the least bit claustrophobic. The tiny little tunnels, well-lit but dank as cave passages, made me feel as if we were in the bowels of the earth – until we got to peek out a ventilation shaft halfway down the face of the dam and our perception changed immediately. 400 feet down from the dam top is still a verrrrry long way from the bottom! It did not make me feel secure when we found out that the second half our group was stuck in the elevator we had just exited, either! That made us have to climb approximately four floors to the next part of the tour, and I had morbid fantasies of having to spend hours and hours climbing out of the dam’s innards. The problem was fixed by the time of our next elevator ride, however, and we rode up with no troubles at all.

One day we spent most of the day at the Atomic Energy Museum, where you can learn EVERYTHING there is to know about the history and uses of atomic energy in stultifying minutiae. The Husband loved it. I… Personally I enjoyed the exhibit on Area 51 much more, even though the lighting was so ‘atmospheric’ and the exhibit cards print so light that reading the information was sometimes difficult. When I pulled out my pocket flash (never leave home without one!) The Husband pretended he didn’t know me.

We had planned to see a show or two, but by the evenings we were so tired out we just said ‘next time’ and left it at that. We did gamble – a little. We work too hard for our money to enjoy gaming deeply, but we did give ourselves a $25 budget for an afternoon of the penny slots. We won a little bit, which we then lost again, but had a lot of fun – a lot more than some of the players at the big $$ machines and tables seemed to be. We saw a couple of the more fantastic casinos (the Egyptian statuary at the Luxor is really quite good for commercial replicas) and walked the Fremont Experience. We also ate ourselves into a stupor – never saw so much fabulous food at such reasonable prices.

One of the high points was a visit to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (the one from the TV series Pawn Stars). It’s smaller than I had expected, and the four stars of the show weren’t there, but as an added and completely unexpected gift I got a beautiful white gold and kunzite ring studded with teeny-tiny little chips of emerald, ruby, diamond and sapphire in a floriform design. Beats meeting TV personalities any day!

As much as I love writing and creating my own worlds, the real world has it beat.


My August 15 release SHADOWED LEGACY marks the tipping point of my 30 June – 30 October publishing blitz. It’s a gothic romance set in Louisiana of the 1870s. The story is about an orphaned young woman who has survived by singing in the saloons of the Western silver camps only to be ordered by her unknown and autocratic grandfather to come to his plantation. She wants to be part of a family, he has other ideas and an unknown villain has more sinister plans. It was a fun book to write.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Highlights of the Month, So Far

Usually, I have a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery coming out in August. This year I was really slow getting the manuscript finished. Not sure why, but I did struggle with it a bit. I even got an email from my publisher asking where it was. I finally got it turned in and I've received my contract. An editor has been assigned to the book which I've called "River Spirits."  The proposed publishing date is the end of September. So, as I've mentioned in another blog, it's time to start planning the promotion.

I'm going to do another blog tour--yes, I know, I'm a glutton for punishment. Because I know things never quite go as planned, I'm setting it up for November. Not sure how or where I'll do my in-person launch party.

Another big highlight is the fact that I got the biggest royalty check I've ever received. The reason it was so big is because I did the free Kindle book deal. I did use BookBub which advertises free Kindle books to thousands of subscribers. It's a costly way to do it, but in my case it did pay off. Not only were over 500,000 free books downloaded, more were paid for, and many of the books in the series were also purchased. Even a few other books I've written were purchased too--ones that have been sitting dormant for awhile.

For the freebie, Angel Lost, as I write this, I have 106 reviews for the book on Amazon. Most are positive, though there are a few not so wonderful reviews--a couple are quite strange.

For a day, Angel Lost was #1 in police procedurals and hovered below #50 in mystery.

By the time this is online, great-grandchild #15 will be born. Her name is Priscilla Rose and I'm eagerly waiting to meet her. And of course, this will be the biggest highlight of all.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited

Rumor has it that Kindle Unlimited is really taking off. It's an Amazon program where readers can download as many books as they wish at $9.99 per month, in increments at ten at a time. Once a book over the limit is returned, the reader can pick another.

This program is a boon for voracious readers, and appears to be a boon for authors in the KDP Select program, in which authors agree to make certain books available for ninety days exclusively at Amazon, and to lend out books to Amazon Unlimited and Amazon Prime members. Lent books net the author a share of the monthly pot, which usually turns out to be a little over $2 each.

Now, that may not be a blessing for authors with books selling for $4.99 or so, but, since my highest priced books are $2.99, and the lowest one is 99 cents, I'd gladly accept the $2+ amount, with the advantage of more downloads.

So far, I've noticed an uptake in book loans for Her Handyman and A Perfect Angel, which I've been promoting a lot on Twitter lately, and I plan to start promoting my other books more.

If you're a reader, Do any of you belong to Kindle Unlimited? If you're an author, have you also noticed an uptake in book loans? 

All of my books, except for Two Wrongs, which is at multiple venues, are available to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime members, and can be found at my Amazon Author Page:

Find Excerpts of Morgan's romances, mysteries and thrillers at Morgan's Book Links:

Me & My Sleuths

I love my sleuths and have lots of fun watching them solve murders and navigate relationships. As the protagonist in a series, each of my sleuths is complex, with both endearing and irritating characteristics. They’re all clever enough to solve mysteries, spunky enough to take risks they have no business taking, and all have blind spots that occasionally lead them to wrong conclusions and into danger. As their creator, I have something in common with each and every one of them. I thought I’d say a few words about my sleuths Lydia, Gabbie, and Lexie—what they’re like and the traits and similarities I share with each.

Lydia Krause stars in A Murderer Among Us and Murder in the Air of the Twin Lakes Mysteries series. She is an attractive widow aged 58, who once ran her own company and now resides in the upscale retirement community of Twin Lakes on Long Island with her red tom Reggie. She has two daughters who give her joy and grief, a slew of new friends, and a budding relationship with Detective Sol Molina. While I live in a gated community on Long Island, it’s nowhere as posh as Twin Lakes, nor is it a retirement community, and, alas, we don’t have an indoor pool. Ironically, Lydia became a widow before I did. I have two sons, not two daughters, and one granddaughter so far, not two as Lydia has. Both Lydia and I have red toms.

In Giving Up the Ghost Gabbie Meyerson comes to the village of Chrissom Harbor on Long Island in the middle of a cold January to teach English at the local high school.
Gabbie is in her midthirties and like Lydia, starting a new life. She has recently divorced her husband, after helping to send him to prison for white collar crimes. She rents a cottage on a bluff and discovers she has a housemate—the ghost of wheeler dealer Cameron Leeds, who plagues Gabbie until she agrees to find out who murdered him. Gabbie’s students play a part in the mystery. While I never had a ghost for a housemate, I was a high school teacher for several years though my subject was Spanish. I never divorced my husband, nor did he ever commit any crimes. We writers must take liberties. <g>

Lexie Driscoll is my sleuth in the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series. Lexie is a 48-year-old English professor at a Long Island university. Though she is very bright, she has poor judgment when it comes to choosing husbands. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with her son, Jesse. Now father and son enjoy a close relationship. Years later, she married a fellow academic, only to learn he was extremely unstable. When Lexie told him she was ending the marriage, he burned down her house and died in the fire. In Murder a la Christie, Lexie’s best friend, now married to Lexie’s former college boyfriend, asks her to facilitate a Golden Age of Mystery book club in her wealthy town of Old Cadfield, Long Island. While discussing Agatha Christie and her novels, one of the members becomes ill and dies. Lexie is c
ertain that Sylvia’s been poisoned. More members are murdered, and Lexie fears their lives are on a parallel course of Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None. Lexie’s barrage of questions often upsets the Old Cadfield residents. She exposes old secrets and resentments, until someone tries to kill her. While I’m nowhere as intrusive as Lexie, probably because I haven’t had to, I find it ironic that just before the book was published, my local library asked me to lead the mystery book club. (I am no longer the leader, and we have not suffered any murders. ) A case of life following art.  <g>

What do you and your sleuths have in common?