Monday, October 27, 2014

Beware the Fall - A Great Season for Mystery and Mayhem

The leaves are falling off trees in rapid numbers. As soon as a lawn is cleared, more leaves magically reappear. Next week, the clocks will be turned back an hour, and it will get dark sooner. Those happenings, and many others, lend themselves to mysteries.

So easy to bury a body in the woods, where the leaves will cover the ground, as if the dirt was never broken. So easy to lurk somewhere in the dark, and create mayhem on unsuspecting victims.

Lest I forget - Friday is also Halloween. Seeing grown people wearing costumes that day or around that day will not seem unusual. Who could tell if any of them are up to no-good?

If you haven't already done so, consider the Fall in your setting for a mystery. Or, maybe you've already thought of that!

Find all of Morgan Mandel's mysteries & romances
at her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts at

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My guest: DJ Adamson on Setting

I'm welcoming DJ today, a writer I have something in common with. We're both deeply rooted in the Midwest, me in Illinois, she in Iowa. I love her comfortable description of the setting she uses for Admit to Mayhem!
-Kaye George

A Thought to Setting

My father, who wasn’t a writer but was a successful man, offered me some good advice. He said I needed to be able to see in my mind’s eye the subject I was writing about so clearly that I could almost touch it, in order for my reader to visualize the same to a degree they felt they had touched it.” This is why I set my Lillian Dove Mystery Series in Iowa.

 Not Europe, Asia, India, Paris, New York, Los Angeles? No, Frytown, Iowa.
            I wasn’t raised in Iowa but my family roots run deep there. And whenever I visit, I feel a stirring inside, a seeded core in me from family past who whispers, home. My family immigrated in the 1850s. I am German-French. Some of the original homesteads are still owned by family. No one but family has ever lived in my Great Grandmother’s house—although, after so long, it was rebuilt and modernized. There’s one small town outside Iowa City that when I walked down its streets as a child, I could say “Hi Cousin” and it would have been true.

      Admit to Mayhem’s Frytown is not a real city. It is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Iowa, about ten miles southwest of Iowa City. The town has been known as Frytown since the 19th century. My parents pointed the area out where the grange once stood and said they always had a great time in Frytown, dancing. Both were raised on farms not far away.
            Lillian Dove’s Frytown is a mixture of several cities and towns in Iowa. I located it outside Iowa City and gave it a recreational lake. But the people are as real as I can make them in my mind’s eye. So real, they visit me often in my den while writing. I understand their values, the way they live, their understanding of life, and how they handle their problems, or hold secrets, or gossip about others.
            Lillian is forced to move to Frytown to take care of her convalescent mother, who doesn’t want to be convalescent and who was the enabler in Lillian’s alcoholic childhood. Dahlia is the key to a Lillian’s understanding and ability to take on life sober. Because, while she may have five years notched on her sobriety, she finds staying sober much easier than handling life’s problems.
             She finds herself in a real fix when she comes across a house fire and later finds she may be the only eye-witness to arson. As Lillian realizes that her life is in jeopardy, she becomes increasingly involved in a mystery: "If you continue to insist you saw someone, it could mean you’re an eye-witness to first degree arson, a felony
            Admit to Mayhem is the first book in the Lillian Dove Mystery Series. Book Two Suppose is set to be released in March.
In a nutshell, Admit to Mayhem is a well-rounded, engrossing read that creates a memorable, believable protagonist and uses her to immerse readers in a series of challenging probes that end not in court, but in the very human realm of motivation and twisted purposes. - Midwest Reviews

D. J. Adamson is an award-winning author. The second book in her Lillian Dove Mystery Series is set to release in March 2015. A SyFy-Mystery Serial, first book Jake’s Story is coming out this December. Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest and it is here where she sets much of her work. She juggles her time between her own desk and teaching others writing at two Los Angeles Colleges. Along with her husband and two Welsh Terriers, she makes her home in Southern California.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bears, Mountain Lions and Clowns by Marilyn Meredith

Perhaps you've read or seen in the news, or on the Internet, about the clown who has been turning up in various small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. It began on October 1 in the town of Wasco.

Of course copy cats followed immediately. Sightings have been reported in Bakersfield, Visalia and believe it or not, in my little town of Springville. Yes, it's true, I heard in an email message from our local resident sheriff.

And to make life interesting, before we learned about the clowns, our neighbor reported seeing a young mountain lion down by the river that runs behind our houses. We knew there was some sort of predator roaming because the feral cat population has diminished drastically.

That's not all--along with these events came the news that a bear or bears have been sighted under the bridge in town and on one of the nearby roads. Others have reported bear scat in various places.

Of course the mountain lions and the bears have always been here, and that's what makes living in the foothills interesting.

But a clown? There has to be a mystery here.

And if you'd like to read more about what goes on in my little town, all you have to do is read one of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, since I've liberally borrowed from my surroundings for the setting of these novels.

The latest is River Spirits. And no, Tempe has never dealt with a clown, but she has had encounters with plenty of other wild life--human and animal.

P.S. I doubt I'll ever run into the clown since he/she only appears at night. I seldom go into town after dark.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing the Second Book in a Series

I’ve just put up the e-book of Murder the Tey Way on Amazon. This is the second book in my Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries. A good deal has been written about writing the first book in a mystery series. I thought I’d say a word about the one that follows.

In many ways, writing the second book is easier. You know your sleuth quite well—her personality, how she thinks and acts and relates to people. You’ve established the setting, the tone of the series, and know some of the secondary characters.

But writing second book in a series presents a challenge. For me, it means exploring new territory that includes a deeper understanding of my sleuth’s character and love life.  In Murder the Tey Way, my sleuth Lexie Driscoll is living in a new neighborhood and meeting a new roster of friends and suspects. Of course, her best friends Rosie and Hal, make a few appearances. Her relationships with world-renown architect Allistair West and homicide detective Brian Donovan undergo changes that affect her life significantly.

A second book is a great time to introduce important but distant characters related to one’s sleuth. Lexie’s sister Gayle, whom she hasn’t seen in years, appears at Lexie’s doorstep. Gayle’s been running away from a dangerous situation. The possibility that someone is chasing her to kill her is a very real. A man lies dead in Lexie’s backyard the morning after Gayle arrives, and Lexie fears her sister has murdered him before he could kill her.

Like all the books in the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club mysteries, the various members have secrets and venal weaknesses that may lead to murder  Secret identities, doing business with criminals are a few of the elements in Murder the Tey Way. Lexie sleuths as she leads discussions about Josephine Tey and some of her wonderful novels.

Murder the Tey Way is available as an e-book on Amazon for $2.99:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Conference Rationale

by Janis Patterson

I’m packing. I always start packing early, partly in anticipation and partly because I am terrified of forgetting something essential to my well-being, style or comfort.

So what brings about this preparational frenzy? Next Tuesday I’m off to St. Pete Beach in Florida for the NINC (Novelists, Inc) conference. I’m going early, and will be there an entire week, as after the NINC gathering ends a group of us self-publishers are going to have a somewhat freestyle indie un-conference.

Normally I don’t go to many writing conferences, but lately it seems that they’re just about all we travel to. Like RWA National. No, I didn’t go as an attendee – haven’t attended an RWA National for years. Too big, too noisy, too frenetic; some people thrive on that – I don’t. What The Husband and I did do was go to San Antonio during the time of the conference, get one of the 1850-era rooms in the Menger Hotel (one of my three favorite hotels in the world) and see San Antonio again. I also had meetings with some of my publishers and editors, attended some parties, saw lots of people I knew, made contacts, attended the Beau Monde one-day seminar and best of all – since The Husband does lots of work as my assistant – almost everything was tax-deductible as a business expense. Sweet, and well worth it.

Likewise, our ‘winter vacation’ will be the Florida Romance Writers’ cruise conference next February. We did this conference the last time they held it – two years ago – and loved it. It was a first cruise for either one of us – if, of course, you discount The Husband’s Navy duty voyages, and I don’t think Navy ships have champagne bars...

So are these little excursions just ‘tax-deductible vacations’ or work? Of course it’s nice to go to a swell place instead of some dreary ordinary city, which is probably why so many conferences are held in such nice locations, but the main thrust is strictly professional. We’re only a couple of hours from San Antonio, and go there with some regularity just for the fun of it. Likewise, if we were going to take a cruise for the sake of taking a cruise (and someday when we’re planning to when we have time) it would be much longer than a three day jaunt from Florida to Cozumel and back.

No, conferences are much more than just a couple of days in a fancy place. If the conference is done properly, it’s quite possible to go and never want to leave the hotel! One of the blessings of the internet and our interconnected world is that we can work at home, but it is also one of the curses because it separates us, and nice as they are, eloops and the vastly inferior fori are just not the same as face to face interaction. A conference not only allows us to meet editors and agents and make contact with our publishers and agents, it allows us to interact with our peers. Yes, the internet does that too, but personal contact is different, and in many ways much better. Writing is a lonely profession, and personal contact is to be prized.

Especially when it comes with a beach attached.


Believe it or not, my publishing blitz is almost over. Amazingly, it’s stayed on schedule! There were times I doubted I’d make it, but there are only two books to go. 15 October’s offering is a re-release, a tasty gothic romance set in a forbidding house on the Connecticut coast just preceding the Southern War of Independence. A spunky heroine looking for a lost cousin, two handsome brothers, sinister Oriental servants, and the Devil walking in Connecticut abducting young women... it’s a fun tale that I greatly enjoyed writing. Of course, it has been thoroughly re-edited, re-formatted and given a lovely new cover, as well as a first-time paperback edition.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bits and Pieces By Lynn Cahoon

Life is winning this week. Or should I say the last three weeks. I won't go into my tale of woe, but if I'm not back on today to respond, I beg some grace. :) 

So what's going on in Lynn's writing world?  It feels as fractured as the rest of my life. I pressed SEND on the email for Tourist Trap #5 which will be available in March 2015. Then I started two new projects, hoping to get a generous word count on one before I had to get serious on the next Tourist Trap mystery due the end of the year.  

And when I couldn't write, I spent time editing a third story (romance) that I'll self publish near the end of the year. 

See, fractured.  Three plots in my head, three heroes, and even three different styles. 

I've decided to go back to focusing on one story - Tourist Trap #6. And when I meet my weekly word goal, that's when I can play in the other worlds, but not before. 

Homework first, right?

How do you handle too many projects trying to claim your time?  

BTW, if you haven't checked out The Tourist Trap mystery series, MISSION TO MURDER is on sale now for #99cents at all fine digital outlets.  Amazon/Nook/Kobo

In the California coastal town of South Cove, history is one of its many tourist attractions—until it becomes deadly…

Jill Gardner, proprietor of Coffee, Books, and More, has discovered that the old stone wall on her property might be a centuries-old mission worthy of being declared a landmark. But Craig Morgan, the obnoxious owner of South Cove’s most popular tourist spot, The Castle, makes it his business to contest her claim. When Morgan is found murdered at The Castle shortly after a heated argument with Jill, even her detective boyfriend has to ask her for an alibi. Jill decides she must find the real murderer to clear her name. But when the killer comes for her, she’ll need to jump from historic preservation to self-preservation…

Monday, October 13, 2014


With well intentions, I created a monster. It started innocently enough. I felt sorry for my dog, Rascal, who would eye my people food longingly. Since she's getting older, I thought she may as well live it up, and enjoy what I denied her before. I started slipping scraps into her bowl, along with the dog food. Unfortunately, the result is she's become very picky and won't eat her dog food unless something for people is mixed in with it. And, even then, she's become picky. Only certain kinds of people food meet her qualifications. However, when she's happy with what I've provided, she grunts with pleasure and snarfs it down, like she can't get enough of it.
I couldn't help relating her experience to mine when it comes to books, especially on kindle. Before, when I picked up a book and it didn't meet my expectations right away, I was content to keep reading and wait for at least one good part to turn up. Sometimes, I would read an entire book, not because it was so great, but only because I'd started it and felt obligated to finish it.

Now, I expect the good part to start right from the beginning, and it has to keep being good until the end, or I'll start another book instead. If the next doesn't work immediately, I'll start yet another, until I find one to my liking.

I'm afraid, like Rascal, I've become spoiled. With the proliferation of books available, either free or at reasonable prices for my kindle, it's so very easy for me to be picky.

I suspect a lot more readers have become as spoiled as I am. Are you?

See Morgan Mandel's books on her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts & buy links at Morgan's Book Links Blog: