Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Heading Toward the New Year: 2019

It doesn't seem possible, does it? 2018 is coming to an end. My writing year was filled with hurdles to jump and decisions to make.

A friend urged me to re-edit all my old books that needed to be self-published. I did so, and she did all the work formatting both for print and e-books, and her husband redid the covers. Of course this took a long time, but was well worth it.

The publisher of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series passed away, the already faltering publishing company closed. For a while I wasn't sure what to do. Aakenbaaken & Kent offered to pick up the series--I was overjoyed. I was asked to re-edit the first four books in the series, which I did. The were repubbed on Amazon with new covers--and the latest in the series, Tangled Webs, was published in November.

Mundania published my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and they decided the first four book in the series should be re-edited and have new covers.  Any all of you writers know how much time it takes to edit any book--and I was faced with doing four more. Of course this meant, the latest in the series was put on hold.

The publisher had a problem with a computer crash, so everything has slowed down. I suspect I'm going to be quite busy in 2019 promoting the first four books in the Tempe Crabtree series, and hopefully the latest which is done but not edited as yet.

So what does this mean for me as 2018 winds down? More time to write, and even better, more time to enjoy the holidays with my family.

What about you? Any big plans for the holidays ahead? And if you're a writer, what are you looking forward to in 2019?

Marilyn, who also writes as F. M. Meredith.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Krista Lyn, author of Nora Pigeon

Make Mine Mystery 
December 5, 2018

by L Lee Kane

I’d like to introduce you to my friend,  fellow author, and artist as my guest this month, Krista Lynn. I'm excited to share her new book, The Nora Pigeon Mysteries with quirky characters that are reminiscent of Agatha Christie novels. The three short stories have strong appeal, exciting plot lines, beautiful scenes, and interesting dialog. If you’re looking for a cozy read this winter, in front of a fireplace, glass of wine in hand, this is the book for you.

Tell us about The Nora Pigeon Mysteries:
From helping her best friend sort out a deadly family drama to exonerating a woman charged with killing her husband with a dousing switch, to solving the theft of precious ancient runes, Nora Pigeon never fails to find the truth. Using her “ancient forms of inquiry,” and a crew of human and canine friends, Nora stays one step ahead of law enforcement and forever in the way of her beloved and often exasperated nephew - Sheriff’s Detective, Thomas J. Pigeon. 

Who did you write your book for?
The original story, Blue Moon Blues was written to enter a mystery contest. It won for best new author, I’m happy to say. So, the intended audience from the start were people who like whodunits. As the character and stories continued to come to me, I knew they were perfect for the Cozy Mystery genre. If one likes Agatha Christies’ Miss Marple, and enjoys humor and dogs and clever plots, then Nora Pigeon is a good bet for an engaging read.

Is there a central message in your book?
Friendship. Believing in the good of people and sometimes looking beyond the surface to find that goodness. And for fun, Nora uses what her detective nephew, Thomas, calls those “ancient forms of inquiry.”

If you had to choose, what would you say is the single most important idea you're sharing in your book that is
really going to add value to a reader’s life?
This series showcases characters in several occupations that are interesting. One story, Blue Moon Blues, highlights an author who writes urban fantasy and almost falls prey to relatives who want to take advantage of her success in publishing. The next story, The Doused Witch, revolves around ‘Water Witching,’ which is the practice of finding water with a forked branch from a tree. That story relates how water ownership is often the source of conflict that can cause violence. And the last tale, The Rune of Her, is about the importance of ancient artifacts being kept in the country where they are found.
Each story is a ‘Cozy’ with quirky characters, and rascally dogs!

If you could compare this book with any book we might already be familiar with, which book would it
be and why?
There aren’t too many characters like Nora Pigeon! But I like the “A Tourist Trap” novellas series by Lynn Cahoon. A Deadly Brew is a good story in that series.
Tell us about the central characters in the book?
Nora Pigeon is my version of the mature mystery-solver—a well-known psychic and healer who uses various ‘mediums’ to ferret out the truth when a crime is committed. Nora, and her partner, Francine Bayley, co-own Pigeon and Bayley’s Arcane Treasures Shoppe where one can purchase items of magic and the occult. While Nora is famous as a psychic and healer with an aura of calm composure, Francine, just shy of four feet in height, with wild curly hair and scattered focus, is known for her knowledge of ancient runes and Nordic culture. Together, Nora and “Frannie” re-opened the shop and imbue it with the spell of friendship and magic.
Nora’s best friend and cohort in many of her ‘cases’ is the famous urban fantasy author, Cassandra Cartwright, who is always up for one of Nora’s ‘investigative’ jaunts. And to round out Nora’s human cohorts, we have Nora’s oft-frustrated nephew, Thomas Pigeon, who is a Sheriff’s detective. He loves his aunt dearly, but wishes she would just let him solve a case by himself.
Then, there are the dogs – two Great Danes, Odin and Thor, and one mischievous Yorkie who lives to leave his mark on the shoes of selected victims. His nickname is Kipper the Pee-Shooter. In each case, Nora’s canine assistants are integral in crime solving.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?
Two great experiences come to mind right away. 1, receiving good reviews from my efforts! It is so rewarding when someone leaves a good comment, or tells you in person that they liked your book. And 2, getting to know other writers, enjoying their friendship and working together to make the most out of our writing endeavors.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Krista Lynn: One very lucky person

How would you describe your writing style?
I’m not sure how one answers this question. I write how I do, and the ‘style’ is just how I write, LOL. Some say I write ‘lyrically,’ which I take to mean - with a poetic bent in description. I do think that is true of my Haunted Canyon series. To put the reader into the world of the Sonoran Desert where the story takes place, I would be remiss if I didn’t describe the desert as something wildly beautiful. J
In the Nora series, I dive right into dialog and character development. I adore the characters and it is really true, as other authors have told me that characters write themselves – they are the muses that keep the author’s fingers on the keyboard. I’m so looking forward to writing a Nora novella. I’m sure she and Thomas will enjoy telling me what to write!

Who influenced your writing the most?
M.M. Kaye, Tony Hillerman, Bronte sisters, Daphne Du Maurier, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane – all authors that I admire. Linda Howard’s Death Angel inspired to write my first story based on a character in that book. Death Angel and Cry No More by Linda Howard influenced me a lot.
Are your characters pure fiction, or did you draw from people you know?
The characters in the Canyon Series were inspired by people I knew in my youth. Those in Nora Pigeon series are probably fashioned after many people I’ve known over time. That’s the way it is for a writer, I think. Every character, setting, and circumstance is borrowed to some degree from real-life experiences.

Are you more of a character artist or a plot-driven writer?
I don’t think you can have one without the other. I write for the characters, but if they don’t have a reason, a challenge, a mystery to be going on with – then why do they exist? So, I try to make my stories have interesting characters in the middle of interesting plots.
For instance, The Nora Pigeon Mysteries. The characters resonate with readers, but reviews of the stories always mention the mystery, the plot, as well. In each of the short stories in this anthology, the plot involves psychic elements. Nora uses her ancient Ouija Board or Tarot Cards, or Runes.
At the start of the series, I knew very little about Tarot Cards or runes and did quite a bit of research so I could show Nora’s expertise. As a child, we used the Ouija Board to try and find the gold purportedly hidden in the hills of Arizona after a 1902 stagecoach robbery (true story!) Of course, we found no gold, but had a lot of fun with the Ouija. By the way, did you know that Ouija is a combination of the word yes? French ‘oui’, and German ‘ja’?
For research, I dusted off a deck of Tarot cards that I bought in Paris years ago and started to study them. Now, at least once a week, I do a quick study of one or two of the cards. Did you know that our standard deck of playing cards is related to the Tarot?
The runes are probably the most interesting to me because in addition to their relationship to nature and human emotions, they also relate to letters in our alphabet. For over a thousand years, runes have been used to tell the future, to see the truth of a situation, and to leave written ‘inscriptions’ on their homes, gravestones and other surfaces such as bone and wood.
It’s been so much fun researching and using these three implements in Nora’s stories. They are all intricate parts of each plot.
Who should buy this book?
Lovers of cozy mysteries will enjoy Nora Pigeon. Those who love Miss Marple and Poirot will ‘get’ these humorous mysteries.

Where can readers find you and your book?

 Nora Pigeon uses her psychic gifts to help law enforcement.
Whether they want it or not! http://bit.ly/norapigeon
One woman scientist  +  One mysterious deputy sheriff  One haunted canyon  = 
   More puzzling clues than science can unravel.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Where to Write - An Experiment

by Janis Patterson

I’m lucky. I have an office. Well, that’s a bit grandiose. I have a tiny desk against one wall in our very small guest room. There’s also a very good sort-of ergonomic chair with good back support, a printer stand, a ceiling fan and a radio/CD player. Of course, there’s also a double bed, dresser, chest of drawers and all the other regular guest room paraphernalia. Yes, it’s crowded, but it is mine, and there are two doors I can close against the intrusions of the outside world. It’s also a great big step up from my days of using the dining room table.
Lately, though, I’ve been hearing a lot about going ‘someplace else’ to write. Some swear by trendy coffee shops, others cafes, others parks… just about anyplace that isn’t their home or office. I can see this, if your home or office is noisy, interruptive, non-existent or in some other way unconducive to the business of writing. Being of an experimentive nature, though, I decided to test it – several times, in fact, with a good friend who also writes.
Hmmm. It wasn’t altogether a success. Out in the world, a world full of distractions, I wasn’t able to concentrate as well and found myself missing points I had intended to use in the scenes I wrote. Neither was it pleasant working on what I call my purse computer, a small netbook purchased mainly for travel or for inescapable waiting times such as at the garage or doctor’s office.
I also felt something like a zoo exhibit. One of the places we went to write – a favorite restaurant owned by a long-time friend – was very gracious about having us there. There was a nice-sized corner table, an attentive staff who kept refilling our iced tea, and nice air-conditioning. There was also constant music, much louder than I prefer and not to my working taste. (This was salsa, which normally I like, but I prefer to write to classical, if to any music at all.) Our host had teased about putting out a sign saying ‘Please Do Not Feed The Writers’ but he didn’t, probably since I had threatened him with his life if he did.
Still, I feel something had leaked out, for many patrons took the long way around to the rest room, all passing close to our table and staring as they did so. The recurring movement and attention was most distracting. 
On a more concrete level, a table meant for eating is a different height from a desk, giving your arms and wrists a different and ultimately very tiring angle. I learned that lesson in the years I had to use the dining room table, and it was one of the reasons I bought a real desk. And a separate ergonomic keyboard, as the tiny straight keyboard on my writing laptop (to say nothing of the netbook!) are much too small for comfort.
The true deal-breaker, though, was the chair. Restaurant and coffee shop chairs are not made for real comfort in the long term. My back, injured long ago and held together pretty much with spit and baling wire, loves being pampered by my ergonomic chair with the adjustable back support. It does not like hours spent working in a commercial dining chair and was very definite in letting me know its displeasure. Or maybe I’m just a wuss, but no place I went to write was very comfortable – all of which showed in my work, I’m sure. 
I don’t know how my friend’s output was, save that she was satisfied with it, but I wasn’t impressed by mine at all. I produced less than half of what I would have in the same time in my office, and the chapters I wrote while away needed much more revision than any produced at home.
Was it a waste of time? No, not completely. I enjoyed lunching with my friend, as I always do, and the afternoons spent writing ‘away’ were pleasurable, but if anything they proved that – for me, at least – they are ‘hobby’ and not professional sessions. In the future if I want to meet a friend for lunch, I will, and I will eat and drink and enjoy it. If I want to work, I will go in to my office and work. A social occasion is a social occasion and work is work.
I realize that my situation is optimum – a home office, however cramped, with all the tools I need to follow my profession. Not everyone has these luxuries, and I applaud those who strive on and write whatever situation they face. When one does have an office, though, it seems counterproductive to go write ‘away.’ Again, I speak only for myself. Everyone has to find their own path for writing. Mine is in my office with my back-pampering chair and my ergonomic keyboard, both doors closed and soft classical music playing. The most important thing for every writer, however, is producing the words. However, wherever – whatever works best. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

On Getting Older

I supposed most people would just say I'm already there--old, I mean.

And yes, I do have the symptoms, hair turning white, lots of wrinkles, slow walker, takes some effort to get up out of chairs, and not being able to do all that I once could.

That last is probably the most frustrating.

I've always been used to making a list of what I planned to accomplish in a day, but not so much anymore. Oh, I still make the lists, but I don't always get everything done that I planned.

Of course I always have a lot to do--and the have-tos, I do finish, but they are also the jobs I'm least interested in doing--laundry, cooking, etc.

What I really want to get with is the writing on my next book, and more promoting of the latest.

Unfortunately, there is only so much time.

And now we've moved into the holidays. I no longer buy all the gifts that I once did, can't afford it and my family just grew to large. For those who come to our house on Christmas Eve, we drew names--so I only have two to buy for, and my kids (I give money) as I'm not longer good at figuring out what they might like.

That might sound like I don't really care for Christmas anymore, but that's not true. I love the true meaning of Christmas. We;ll celebrate on Christmas Eve with some of our family.

We share out home with 3 little girls, so we'll be in on the Christmas morning surprises.

And some time soon, I'll put up a few Christmas decorations.

What about you? Do you still do all the holiday things you used to do?

Marilyn, who still manages to accomplish a lot.

My latest, Tangled Webs.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Libations Fit for a King by Saralyn Richard

Today, I'd like to introduce my guest and fellow Black Opal Books author Saralyn Richard who shares behind-the-scenes information and history about expensive libations and exclusive parties, much like the party event in her recently published mystery, Murder in the One Percent.  Check out the impressive number of good reviews this book has brought in on Amazon (link next to the book cover below).  

Linda Thorne

Libations Fit for a King
by Saralyn Richard

            Who’s up for some amazing libations at an exclusive party?
The dictionary definition of “libation” is “a drink poured out as a ritual offering to a deity.” (Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press). Sometimes libations were given as an offering to a god or spirit, often in memory of those who have passed on. Pouring libations was a common practice in many religions of antiquity, and it continues to be performed in various cultures today.

            This is very likely where the ceremony of toasting before drinking alcoholic beverages derives from.

            In Murder in the One Percent (2018, Black Opal Books), the characters attend a birthday party at a mansion in the horse country of Pennsylvania. That Saturday night, they dine from an elegant nine-course menu with wines selected for their best years and perfectly matched to each course.

We would expect nothing less from the wealthy and powerful hosts in the one percent, right?

Just for fun, I priced the wines being served, using today’s market quotes. Following are the prices per bottle:

Champagne Krug, 2000  $225

Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 1990  $350

Sauternes Chateau d'Yquem, 1990   $265

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2006  $125

Richebourg Leroy, 1991                  $3122

Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, 1982    $2400

Graham's Vintage Port                     $139

Hennessy Paradia Cognac               $693

That adds up to a hefty $7319 for just one bottle of each. Knowing these characters as I do, they would consume at least two and probably three bottles during the party, bringing the cost of libations to a whopping $21,957.

No wonder the guests had such a fun time at that dinner party! They ate and drank like royalty and went to bed happy. Too bad the next day, one of them woke up dead.

Murder in the One Percent

Someone comes to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket.

     When old friends gather for an extravagant retreat at a country mansion, no one anticipates how their lives will be changed--or that one of them will turn up dead. Remote and serene, Bucolia Farm is the perfect setting for a lavish party. The guests, members of the country's wealthiest elite one percent, indulge in gourmet food, fine wines, Cuban cigars--but greed, lust, and jealousy crash the party.
     Playboy and former Secretary of the Treasury, Preston Phillips, brings his new trophy wife to the party, unaware that his first love, the woman he jilted at the altar years ago, will be there, enchanting him with her timeless beauty. A snowstorm, an accident, and an illicit rendezvous later, the dynamics crackle with tension.
     When Detective Oliver Parrott is charged with solving the untimely killing of one of America's leading financial wizards, he realizes this will be the case to make--or break--his career.

Author Bio

Mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Some of her poems and essays have won awards and contests from the time she was in high school. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children worldwide. 

Murder in the One Percent, ©2018 Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on the privileged and powerful rich. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book shows what happens when someone comes to a party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket. 

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn is writing the sequel to Murder in the One Percent. Her website is www.saralynrichard.com