Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back From Texas

Randy Rawls

I've just returned from seven delightful days in Texas. Got to see some friends, had Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family in Austin, did a TV interview in Kerrville a signing in Georgetown, bought a new hat in Bryan, and enjoyed the Texas landscape. Time well spent.

As anyone who knows me is aware, I'm a devoted Texan at heart. I tell folks it's because I grew up as part of the John Wayne generation. Big John was all over the place, putting bad men away. And, of course, in almost every movie was that glorious western background. Yeah, I know much of it was filmed outside Texas, but, for me, it was everything I imagined Texas to be.

I fit the mold of the non-Texan who was not born there, but got there as fast as I could. Then, I moved away, moved to the warm weather of South Florida. Last Monday morning reminded me I made a pretty good decision. A November freeze descended on Austin. Brr. This country-boy was not warm, nor was he happy. And, while it wasn't quite as cold on Tuesday (the day I left), it was close enough to make me yearn for Florida.

Folks in the airport at Fort Lauderdale gave me some funny looks when I walked through the terminal in long pants and a heavy leather jacket. I just smiled at them, knowing it had felt darn good that morning.

So, I'm home again—and warm again—but I already miss Texas. I can hardly wait for my next trip. Maybe I'll wait till Spring though.

To my good Texas friends, Sylvia Dickey Smith (WORLD OF HER OWN) and
Earl Staggs (MEMORY OF A MURDER), I say enjoy being Texans. But keep your warm clothes nearby.

Just sign me "A Texan at Heart Living in the Warm Paradise of South

Randy Rawls

Friday, November 25, 2011

“Mystery We Write” Virtual Holiday Book Tour Starts Today!

by Jean Henry Mead

The virtual tour kicks off today with 15 mystery writers taking part--and a 60 plus novel giveaway. Blog visitors who leave comments at the individual sites are eligible to win mystery novels from writers:  Marilyn Meredith, Earl Staggs, Tim Hallinan,  J. Michael Orenduff,  Anne K. Albert, Beth Anderson, Alice Duncan,  John Daniel, M.M. Gornell, Wendy Gager, Jackie King, Jinx Schwartz, Pat Browning, Ron Benrey and me.  

I’m giving away 14 Kindle or Nook books—one at each blog site--as well as three print copies at the conclusion of the tour. I would love to be eligible to win some of the great books offered by my fellow tour writers.
A lot of good writing advice and interviews are going to be featured, including book excerpts and photos of the writers’ latest books and work spaces. You can win one or more mystery novels by leaving a comment and email address at as many host sites as you have time to visit during the next two weeks. The tour ends on December 8.
My tour schedule is listed at:  "Mystery We Write" Holiday Tour along with links to all the other blog sites.  There's also a slideshow of all our books on the site, created by our tour coordinator Anne K. Albert.

I’m appearing at Marilyn Meredith’s blog site today to talk about the importance of novel settings, and Jackie King is featured on my blog site to tell us why she fell in love with “wordsmithing.”

I’m also signing books today at the Blue Heron bookstore in downtown Casper, Wyoming, from 1-3 p.m., so if you’re in the area, please stop in to say hello (if you can find a parking space on Black Friday).

We wish you the happiest of holidays and hope to see you along  the tour.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Everyday by Christine Duncan

It's Thanksgiving so I'm sure you have other things to do--family gatherings, football, and maybe even a little Christmas shopping. So I'm going to make this short.
I am thankful, have always been thankful to be an American. I believe in our country, our values and our freedoms. Freedom of speech is especially important to me as a writer, as I'm sure it must be to you.
I question whether we still have as much of that as we used to when I see what is happening to the Occupy movement. Whatever you think of the movement, you have to wonder about the police tactics. Just what is so threatening about a bunch of people saying, "We are the ninety-nine percent."
So today, while I am still proud to be an American, I am also worried. And I think as writers we all should be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Are You Reading....


It’s become the question of the new century. No longer are we reading only hard cover or paperback….now we can read also on our smartphones, computers, laptops, MP3 players, tablets and dedicated readers. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Some people still prefer the feel of a book in their hands. A friend was telling me the other day she loves the bindings, the smell of the paper and ink and it’s part of the comfortable feeling of reading for her. Others find holding a traditional book can become uncomfortable or even painful after a while. But they don’t want to give up the joy of reading.

The various electronic ways of reading have their benefits and drawbacks as well. A desktop keeps you sitting in your office chair. A laptop is more portable, but still heavy compared to an ereader. A tablet like an iPad or Playbook is very light and easy to hold, but more the size of a hardcover book. An MP3 player, iPod Touch or smartphone is super-portable, but some find the screen small for reading. All these devices have a lot of glare on their screens if you want to sit outside on a nice day to read.

The new eInk readers like the Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Sony Reader are light, portable, easy to tuck in a purse or commuter bag. They have dedicated bookstores and it’s quick and straightforward to download a new book. However, they’re not backlit, so low light presents a problem. However, there are lots of clip-on lights to get around that. Some people don’t want to have to buy another device to cart with them, so they’re not for everyone either.

Bottom line – find the device that works best for you and whether it’s traditional or the newest thing, keep on reading!!

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
On Twitter, Facebook & GoodReads too

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Makes A Book GREAT?

Here are some GREATS which, when combined, can make a book GREAT:

1. A GREAT cover - It should be not only eye catching and professional, but also consistent with the image expected for that genre.

2. GREAT back cover copy - Tell the reader about your book in a concise, engaging way, leaving hints and unanswered questions to engender curiosity.

3. A GREAT hook - The first few sentences in a book are terribly important. Since attention spans are so  short these days, get right into the action immediately. As you go along, you can sprinkle in bits and pieces of how your character got into the situation.

4. A GREAT title - Again, as in the cover, the title should be consistent with the image of the genre, but also something that stands out and intrigues the reader.

5. GREAT grammar, spelling, punctuation - Readers get turned off by grammatical errors. Don't rely completely on your word processor to tell you if you've made mistakes. I've found many grammatical errors in spell check, and also found some instances where spell check was correct. Get an editor or someone in the know to go over your manuscript. Authors tend to see what they want to see and overlook the obvious.

6. A GREAT story line - This is subjective, since readers have various tastes. However, there are certain guidelines an author can follow to help the cause;  such as, not making your character too stupid to live, not making the hero or heroine do unheroic things, not giving away solutions along the way, or even the ending, not introducing characters out of the blue just to resolve an issue, and not relying on coincidence. Other than that, I can't say what kind of story anyone should write. That has to come from an author's heart. Remember, though, if you want to follow a current trend, it would help if you're a fast writer, since trends change.

7. GREAT characters - An author needs to get the readers into the characters' heads, hinting through internal dialogue or body language how the characters feel, so the readers can bond with them. It helps to give the heroes and heroines not only some likeable characteristics, but also a few foibles, because no one's perfect. Also, offer a reason or two why or how the villain became twisted. Again, no one's all bad or all good.

8. GREAT dialogue - Dialogue makes a book sparkle. Long, rambling narratives can turn off a reader. Long, rambling dialogue can also. Have the characters say what they need to say to get the plot moving along, yet have them say it in their own way. A teenager should not talk like a Baby Boomer.

9. GREAT description - Readers like to use their imagination, but it doesn't hurt to help them along some. Intersperse various descriptions of physical description, body language, clothes, places, time, weather elements, so the reader doesn't founder along. Imagination can only go so far.

I hope these GREATS will help make your book GREAT!

Can you think of any I've missed? Or, can you think of a book where you were impressed by any of the GREATS I've mentioned?

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel is a past president of Chicago-North RWA,past library liaison for Midwest MWA, belongs to EPIC, and Sisters in Crime.
Find her on Facebook at
Coming soon is her thriller, Forever Young:Blessing or Curse. You can find her romantic suspense,Killer Career,and romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, on Kindle and Smashwords for 99 cents each.Two Wrongs will soon follow.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Candles Can Bring Illumination

By the time my day comes around again to blog in this spot I'll have passed the point where I turn 86. It's not a particularly significant anniversary, like 75 or 100, but the year leading up to it has made me wonder about this condition called aging. I have a brother two years older who has complained for years that he started falling apart when he reached 80.

At my annual physicals, the doctor always plunks his stethoscope here and there, thumps around on my knees and elbows, and says I don't see anything wrong with you. The lab lady drains a bunch of test tubes full of blood, and the results show I'm normal.

But this year I've begun to wonder. My ophthalmologist diagnosed me with AMD in my right eye, Age-related Macular Degeneration, a few years ago. She put me on some high-powered vitamin pills, and I've had no problem since. Except for cataracts. I don't see well driving at night. Now she has me scheduled for cataract surgery. But she says I might get back to where I don't need glasses to read. Maybe no more bifocals.

Then there's my mouth. Early in the summer, I had my four lower front teeth pulled and a bridge put in. Of course, I had the same thing done with the upper four when I was a teenager, so that's no big deal.

I walk two miles most days at the mall. Whenever I get a pain in a knee or a twinge in a hip, I think about all my acquaintances who've had knee or hip replacements. But it hasn't slowed my 15-minute-per-mile pace, so I don't worry about it.

I guess as long as my musty old brain can continue creating mysteries I shouldn't complain. And I have lots of them stirring around waiting for my fingers to get them on paper. Speaking of fingers...

Chester Campbell
Visit me at Mystery Mania

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orphaned Story

Recently I republished a story I had high hopes for, but which didn't go far. Home Wreckers was published in Nefarious-Tales of Mystery webzine in 1999. Nefarious looked like a winner when it appeared. Not only did it publish stories, it had true crime features, movie trailers and such. Home Wreckers appeared in the inaugural edition.

The Nefarious webzine had an up and down history. You couldn't count on it being up, or if it was up, you couldn't count on new stories. As a result few people got to read Home Wreckers and the story ended up as something of an orphan.

Home Wreckers was an early attempt at hard boiled and noir. Everybody in the story does something wrong--which made it a lot of fun to write. Even after a dozen years, I think it still holds up well.

I took the title of the story from an article in Sports Illustrated about the Purdue Women's basketball team beating the Lady Vols on their home court. In my story, "home wreckers" has two meanings, the SI meaning of winning on the opponent's home court and the more common one of adultery. Adultery is the theme of the story and the consequence is murder.

When I prepared the story for republication, I discovered two versions on my computer, the original version and a bowdlerized one. The bowdlerized version had all the F words changed. I don't remember which version Nefarious published, but I decided to leave the F-bombs in this version. I didn't use it a lot in the story, but this story opens with a woman learning that the wife of the man in bed with her has been murdered and the f-word seemed highly appropriate.

I think the cover captured the theme perfectly (although the strategic placement of the title is a form of bowdlerization.) You can get this story at Smashwords and Kindle. If you purchase from Smashwords, use this coupon code at checkout to get a free copy in any format--PC44Q.

Mark Troy
Hawaiian Eye Blog

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Reporting on my cruise and something I found out that I found hard to believe.

Hubby and I went on the ill-fated mystery cruise. I say ill-fated because it was scheduled for last year and had a large group signed up. It would be like a conference with panels and speakers, open to the public and a last day meet the author. The week before we were supposed to go, the ship we were going on caught fire at sea and had to be towed in. Big news--the cruisers were without fresh food, hot water, and electricity.

There was no way the ship could be fixed in time for our cruise so it was cancelled. The mystery cruise was re-scheduled for this year, most of the people signed up again. The price was definitely right. About half way into the year one person decided not to go and said the cruise was cancelled. It wasn't, but that was enough for many to back-out and there were no longer enough people for our events to be listed in the ship's daily calendar.

The price was really good and hubby and I decided to go anyway as did a few others. We had about 10 mystery authors, four members of a group called Citizens Against Homicide, and a some folks just taking advantage of the good price for the cruise. We did get together three times. Once to get to know who we all were, and one of the authors gave a presentation on short story writing.

The Citizens Against Homicide gave a two hour presentation another day. They help people who have lost someone to homicide. I'll write more about the group at another time.

The unbelievable came about when I gave a presentation about blog tours. I had this idea in my head that we mystery authors on the cruise ought to plan a blog tour. I began talking about blogging and a hand went up. No names, but this was an author I'd never met, but I had heard her name. This was the question, "What on earth is a blog?"

I thought she was kidding. She wasn't. And she wasn't alone, except for one other author, none of them not only didn't blog, they'd never heard of blogging, had no clue what I was talking about. I explained along with the help of the other author who did blog. Unfortunately, this particular day the seas were rough and it was impossible to stand up to talk. I did my best from a chair. Finally I offered to send everyone hand-outs I've done for other groups on blogging and blog tours. The day after I got home, I did just that. I hope everyone got them--but I haven't heard a word back from anyone.

So, for those of us who blog regularly, this was a shocking surprise to me.

While I was gone, I had a new blog posting everyday--they were writing tips I'd posted at previous times, but at least I had something new everyday for those who follow my blog.

Is anyone as surprised by this as I am?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Mercury's Rise

by Jean Henry Mead

Mercury’s Rise is the best historical mystery I’ve read this year. Set in the early 1880s in Manatou, Colorado, it’s the fourth novel in Ann Parker’s Silver Rush series; featuring Inez Stannert, whose husband Mark disappeared before the first novel, leaving her with a baby as well as a saloon to run.

In Mercury’s Rise, Inez travels by stagecoach to Manitou, a health resort, to meet her sister, who’s been caring for Inez’s son. When one of the passengers, with his family aboard, dies during the trip after drinking his wife’s tonic, Inez is determined to discover who and what killed him. And why. More bodies turn up at the health resort, including a man attempting to uncover the truth about his brother’s death.

To complicate matters, her husband returns while she’s in the process of divorcing him, having fallen in love with another man in Mark's absence. Against her better judgment, she sends her husband a telegram to aid in the investigation when she fears for her sister’s life.

Suave and charming, he arrives on the next train and attempts to woo her back to their marriage. But his reason for disappearing for more than a year doesn’t set well with Inez and she holds him at arm’s length.

The plot is cleverly woven and beautifully written, leaving the reader wanting more. The author lives in San Francisco and makes occasional trips to Colorado, but her research is impeccable. This is one historical mystery that I highly recommend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grammar Rant by Christine Duncan

First off, let me say that I do not believe that I am the person to consult when you have a grammar problem. I don't even like reading grammar posts; they tend to read holier than thou. Yet, I had thought that by now that most writers knew that they had to edit their own writing-correcting their own grammar, making things clear and concise. Unfortunately, lately I keep reading things that are clearly unedited.
Here are a couple of the mistakes that I keep seeing over and over again, even with accomplished writers:

There/They're and Their

If it has to do with place, or location, if it can be replaced with the word here add a T and make there. Example: Put it here. Put it there.
If it can be replaced with the phrase, they are, take out the a and replace it with an apostrophe, and close the gap between the words to make one word-they're.
Example: They are too good to be true. They're too good to be true.
If it has to do with ownership, think of the word, heir. Add a T for their.

One of my English teachers long ago put this one into perspective for me. She said that we don't expect to add an apostrophe to the possessive of any of the other first, second or third persons so why would it be different? Think about this--his, hers, yours, mine, ours; so in keeping with all of that, you have its as the possessive. No apostrophe. (Yes, that is a sentence fragment. I believe in breaking the rules for emphasis.) An example might be: the dog has its own bed.
Whereas, if you can replace the word in your mind with the phrase, it is, then you need the apostrophe. Example: It is going to be a good party. It's going to be a good party.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?

All writers have a different style – some are plotters, some write by the seats of their pants, some work with a combo of the above or their very own construct. It doesn’t matter how the author creates, but what the author creates – and what the writer creates is a story filled with characters we root for and against.

There is a great deal of information available about heroes – alpha or beta, romantic or hard-boiled. Is he tall, athletic and handsome, or do the ladies adore his geekiness?

Our favorite heroines are generally smart, funny, and accomplished. But then again, there are the Stephanie Plums of the world, too! She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s klutzy!

But villains – where do the villains come from? Are they archetypes, constructs from our days of hearing fairy tales and myths? Are they the product of nightmares or do we pick our boss’ least appealing characteristics and make them bigger than life? Do we build him or her from people we read or hear about in the news? In documentaries? Or are they only a product of the writer's fertile imagination?

As far back as man has created, the villain has been a crucial component of the storyteller’s craft. The villain – or villainess, as the case may be – creates a great deal of stress and angst for our lovely hero and heroine. The villain will thwart them at every turn, for a while, and then their brilliance, bravery and moxie will shine as the villain is conquered.

What was our bad guy’s fatal flaw – hubris, stupidity, inexperience? Whatever it is, it brings him down in the end.

And isn’t that what we all want – to see justice done, the villain stopped and our hero or heroine win the day?

Who is your favorite fictional villain and why?

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
Find me on Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Lumps Were Worth It

I've always had the itch to write. Over the years, I started several books, but each of them petered out after a couple of chapters. That was pre-desktop and laptop computers, and the stubby pencil routine was too tough. Yet, the itch never quit stinging. Then in the mid-90's, with a desktop computer at my disposal, I started another story. This time, I stuck with it and about 130,000 words later, I wrote THE END, then sat back and waited for the riches to roll in. NOT! One of the worst books ever written.
Undaunted, I began a sequel and plowed through to about a 100,000 word BAD book. Not as badly written as my first one, but still bad. Then, a revelation settled around my ears. I read all the time, never went anywhere without a book. Why not learn from what I read?

While my original plan was a three-book series with Bad One and Bad Two, I gave up the idea and decided to write a first person, private investigator story. For a year, I concentrated my reading on such books, absorbing as much as I could from the techniques of many successful authors. The first result of my learn-by-reading program was JAKE'S BURN, an Ace Edwards, Dallas PI, mystery. It wasn't a breakout novel, but I had learned enough to write something readable. JAKE'S was small-published and received good reviews.

Over the next years, as I continued to learn-by-reading, five more books in the Ace Edwards series were small-published. After book six, I decided to move away from Ace and his cast of characters.
Since I now live in South Florida, I invented a female PI. But I've read so many female leads who were little more than men in skirts, I knew I didn't want to write one of those. Or she was a super women who could whip a congress of gorillas while having her nails done—not for me. Or, she was some frail young thing, but always managed to win in the end—nope. With the help of some wonderful ladies in my critique group, I wrote a Beth Bowman, female PI, mystery set in South Florida. I believe Beth can be accepted as a real woman. She's soft when she needs to be and hard as nails when the situation calls for it. I call the book DEATH BY DIAMONDS. When it was finished (and edited and re-finished and edited some more and re-re-finished, etc.), I began to shop it. I queried Terri Bishchoff at Midnight Ink, who asked for the manuscript.
Time passed, and I moved on to another book. THORNS ON ROSES featuring Tom Jeffries, a S FL PI, was small-published in August by L&L Dreamspell, a couple of really nice people who love books. It's another shift in my writing—an avenger story. Tom Jeffries is a hard-edged man with the experience to back him up.

At SleuthFest during the first weekend in March 2011, I was lucky enough to meet Terri, and she told me she liked Beth's story and my writing. I was overjoyed and came home waiting for the acceptance email to arrive. Time dragged on and on and . . . Just when I was ready to give up the idea of being published by Midnight Ink, a company I have the utmost respect for, lightning struck. Terri offered me a two-book contract for Beth.

On, November 1, I signed the contract and mailed it to Midnight Ink via Overnight Express. As I sit and look back over the fifteen years or so of my writing education, I can truthfully say, the lumps were worth it. Without all of those knocks on the head, and my learn-by-reading program, and the wonderful small presses who were willing to publish me, I would not have the contract. I'm proud, yes. But I also realize how lucky I am. There are so many talented writers who are never given the opportunity I have. Now I just have to hope I live up to Terri's and Midnight Ink's confidence in me.

And, of course, when the books are published, I hope they will be loved by readers across the country and, perhaps, in foreign countries.

Randy Rawls

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Blank

Today, I thought we'd try a fun exercise inspired by my losing something this morning. I'll give you my instance, and you can provide yours, real or fictional.

The Mystery of the Missing Password -

Being semi-organized, I have trouble finding items at home, sometimes even important ones. This morning I had to remember where I'd put a new password I'd made up last month. Of course, I couldn't remember the handy, safe spot where I'd put it. Fortunately for me, the site was one where I could click and say I'd forgotten and after a few security questions, I could make up a new one.

If a were writing The Mystery of the Missing Password, I'd specify the password could not be changed if forgotten. Not remembering that password would carry enormous consequences, perhaps over life and death of the main character, or worse, a country or the world.

Your Turn -

In the comment section, fill in your Mystery of the Missing Blank and provide a brief description. It could be about a novel or part of a novel which could be written, has already been written, or maybe you'd like to just provide a real life mystery not writing related.

For romantic suspense, try Killer Career. Only
99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords. Also in
print for $13.95.Coming soon see
Forever Young-Blessing or Curse,
plus the re-release of Morgan's backlist romantic
comedy, Girl of My Dreams,
and Chicago based mystery, Two Wrongs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Including special days in your mysteries

Honoring a family's dead at
Dia de los Muertos, Mesilla, NM
Sometimes an event of regional interest can provide a great locale for your fiction. In the fall there are lots of county and state fairs, for example. We all just had Halloween, of course, but that's followed on November 1 by All Saints Day. In Mexico and in much of the Southwest, that's known as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The tone is much different from Halloween, as people honor deceased members of their families. It's mixed, though. In the plaza in downtown Mesilla, New Mexico, vendors will sell sugar-coated skulls and artwork depicting skeletons, almost with a feeling of thumbing our noses at death. But other people will display pictures of their deceased loved ones, with touching mementos from their lives. Children do participate, but it's not specifically for them at all. Many adults take the day quite seriously.

What events do you know about that can add life and color to your mysteries?

Sugar skull made for Dia de los Muertos
Bob Sanchez is the author of three novels. Check them all out at

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mysterious Weather

Here it is the first week in November and leaves on the oak tree outside my window are still in the process of shifting from green to red. At the moment they're about half-and-half. Normally, they would have been fully red by now. This year's weather has been weird from the get-go. Snow, rain, floods, searing heat, we've had it all in spades. The message is if you want to use weather in a mystery novel, don't worry about it being unbelievable. Anything can happen.

I've used hurricanes to good effect. Also thunderstorms, snows, and torrential rains. Scorching summertime heat as well. William Kent Krueger used a derecho in his latest book, The Northwest Angle. It's a violent, widespread straight-line windstorm accompanied by showers or thunderstorms. I'd never heard of it before, but he made it very believable.

One of the most violent weather phenomena is the tornado. I don't recall ever reading about a tornado in a mystery. They should provide excellent fodder. They can turn a house into kindling and leave its contents spread all over the place. They can kill and maim. What if one of the bodies found in the shambles of a house had a bullet wound? Ah, the plot thickens.

I know what tornadoes can do. I was in one that hit East Nashville back on March 14, 1933. I still remember the day like it was last week. A seven-year-old at the time, I remember how still the air seemed that afternoon on the schoolyard. The temperature had risen to an unseasonable 80 degrees. Early that evening the old Atwater Kent radio on the living room table began to crackle with static, indicating lightning in the area. Chandu the Magician became so difficult to hear that we turned the radio off.

Hail began to batter the roof and around 7:30 p.m., the lights went out and a roaring wind came up. It sounded like a locomotive racing by in the street. Bricks began to fall down the chimney into the fireplace, and my dad herded us into the basement. It was over in minutes but the rain came down in torrents. We made our way to my aunt's house several blocks away that hadn't been damaged.

Fifteen people were killed that night. We were lucky, living in a one-story house between two-story houses, so our damage was mostly to the roofing and chimneys. A large house two blocks away was demolished, injuring a whole family. Down the street, one house had columns blown out on the porch, allowing the roof to swing down and block the front door and windows. At a friend's house, a post had blown through a wall and just missed a baby grand piano. An iron pipe sticking up above a fence in the alley behind us had been bent 90 degrees. All sorts of strange things had happened.

Freaks of the 1933 Nashville Tornado. A. A piece of plank driven through a two-and-a-half-inch limb of a Mississippi Hackberry tree. B. A two-by-four driven through a door panel without leaving splinters. C. Weatherboarding pierced by a cornstalk.

Do you know of any mysteries involving tornadoes?

Chester Campbell
Visit me at Mystery Mania

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's Halloween time. Time for something creepy. I'm sure everyone has a creepy tale in their experience, so here's mine. I haven't written about this before. If it ever appears in a novel, it will be highly embellished. What follows here are the bare facts without embellishment.

When we bought the home we currently live in, our real estate agent disclosed that a tragedy had occurred there. A previous owner, prior to the owners from whom we bought, had committed suicide. The knowledge didn't deter us from buying the house. We did not believe the house was infected with bad juju. If there was such a thing, it had not affected the family from whom we were buying. How long does the juju stay? Does it skip owners? It all seemed pretty silly. So we went ahead with the purchase and didn't inquire into the circumstances.

The first indication we had of what had happened was when we hired a steam cleaning service to clean our carpets. The technician said, "I remember this house. I cleaned it after the suicide."

The victim had slit his wrists so there was a lot of blood to clean up.

The creepy part was the shadow. We'd been in the house about a year when we became aware of a shadow on the bedroom wall that never seemed to go away. It was like a smudge that wouldn't wash off. In fact, it seemed to grow and take on more definition over time. I don't know if it actually became more distinct or if our eyes simply became more attuned to it, but eventually my son asked about the heart on the wall. Sure enough, we looked at it closely and were able to distinguish a crude heart followed by a quite distinct letter "U." Both were preceded by a messy spot that we came to realize was the letter "I."

"I heart U." The victim's final message written on the wall in his own blood.

We have since redecorated that room twice and covered the wall with several coats of paint, so the message is no longer visible. If and when I use the incident in a story, you can bet that no coat of paint will keep that message hidden. It will probably reveal itself in smoke and flame like the writing on the ark of the covenant box in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Do you have any creepy stories in your house?

Mark Troy
Hawaiian Eye Blog

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For All My Good Intentions, I'm Having Trouble Finding Time

"Time for what?" you ask.

"My writing," is my answer. And I'm sure everyone who read my last post about what it takes to be a writer is going to say, "You're a good one to talk."

When this post appears I'll be out of town--on a cruise with hubby celebrating our anniversary. Oh, I'm sure I'll be doing some promotion like handing out my business cards--especially to anyone with a Kindle. I think I'll probably stick in a couple of my latest books too, just in case.

What's been keeping me busy lately is the promotion for Bears With Us. I've been on a month long blog tour and anyone who has done one knows that you need to promote a new blog each day and go back and visit it periodically to see who has commented and to comment back or answer any questions. In my case, I've had to go back and check on earlier ones, because whoever left comments on the most blogs will get to have their name used for a character in a book.

I've also had a couple of writing jobs that bring in money which took quite a bit of my time. And yes, I have to do them to pay for my promotion. I had two in-person events--one at a book store and of course two days with a booth at the Apple Festival. Though I love to do things where I can actually meet the readers in person, they are tiring.

I'm also doing the rewrites on a different book from the one I'm writing. I'm reading a chapter a week to my writers group and they are great critiquers and come up with some great ideas. The day I do those rewrites, I can't work on the book I'm in the middle of writing. Both have very different voices--and I have to think a bit to switch from one to the other.

I'll get it done, though, I always do.

What are the major challenges to your writing?