Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No Killing This Christmas

by Janis Patterson

This Sunday is Christmas. It’s a wonderful day – a day for thankfulness, a day for prayer, a day for family, a day for reflection, a day for gifts, a day for… Well, there are as many ways to spend Christmas as there are people.

I remember enormous family Christmases at my grandparents’ when I was a child, with great-aunts and uncles and cousins and lots of people whom I really didn’t quite know how were connected but they were kin, and that was all that counted. My mother and her sisters would each bring enormous amounts of food and we would feast continually all day long. No dishes were ever assigned or discussed, but somehow we always ended up with a fair balance of meats and vegetables and salads and desserts. My grandmother was not allowed to cook – not because her children wanted to spare her, or because they wanted to show off their own culinary expertise – it was because while she was a lovely woman she was a rotten cook! About all you could say was that she never poisoned anyone.

I take part of that back. She made the best divinity candy in the entire world, and she made it every year. She couldn’t do a roast and her mashed potatoes were … interesting, but her divinity, which I’ve heard is one of the hardest candies to make well, was simply and literally divine. Even now, many decades later, her divinity is to me the real taste of Christmas.

After the feasting and the exchange of gifts around the tree and the shadows were growing long across the ground it was time to go home. The sisters would divide up the food – and I swear each year everyone took home more than they brought, though to a logical mind that seems impossible – and at my house we would eat Christmas leftovers for at least two or three days.

Through the haze of memory those Christmases were perfect, though I do have clear memories of someone always a-feudin’ and a-fightin’ with someone else and painful memories of one of my younger cousin’s repeated attempts to significantly damage all us other cousins, but this is too magical a time to remember old hurts, be they mental or physical.

I know this is a mystery blog, but crave your indulgence just this once. Sunday is Christmas, and too wonderful a time to talk about murder and mayhem, no matter how many books are set around the holiday. This is a time to enjoy friends and family and faith and tradition and bask in the glow of the season.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Bit More on Where Ideas Come From

I wrote a post recently about how different my life was from those of my characters, but I have a bit more to say on the subject.

A writer friend, who truly helped me along the way, recently wrote to another writer friend that most fiction writers based their stories on what happened in their own lives. She is not a mystery writer and that holds true for the fiction books she's written. I know her well enough that when I read her fiction I knew she had drawn much from her own life.

In my case, though I have used incidents at times that really happened, once I've written it into a story and rearranged and changed it, no one would ever recognize it.

Some of my writing ideas pop into my head unbidden--especially right before I go to sleep. Some I remember, some I don't.

Like many, I read about something that really happened and then think about it and ask, "What if it happened this way instead?" And off I go from there.

I've had people tell me about a crime that happened in their family and though I used it, as I wrote, to fit it into the plot I envisioned, everything changed.

And I can tell you with all honesty, my life is not as exciting as Tempe Crabtree's. I've never been in law enforcement, or solved an actual mystery, I've never seen a murder victim--thank God--though I have seen people who have passed on. (Certainly not the same thing.)

As I often tell people who ask me how I know about certain things--I've lived a long time and had enough experiences to know how people react when things happen. And, you can find out anything on the Internet.

And yes, despite it being holiday season, I am getting some writing done.


Monday, December 19, 2016

How Much Grit Do I Want in My Mysteries?

My guest today is my dear friend and fellow mystery writer, Maggie King. Murder at the Moonshine Inn, the second book in her Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, has recently been published. Today Maggie discusses how much grit she wants in her mysteries.

Gritty mysteries. Violent content, bloody images, sexuality, language. The movie versions are rated R. One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of gritty is “harsh and unpleasant.” Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, Robert Crais, Henning Mankell, and Ruth Rendell are just a few of our renowned authors who write the “dark stuff”—noir. And they’re really good at it.

I watch many TV shows where violence runs rampant. The British and Swedish do it best—Luther is breathtakingly violent; the characters in the riveting Swedish drama, Beck, don’t flinch at a little blood; the American Animal Kingdom had a mild, if menacing, start but by the end of the season the violence had reached a nearly unbearable level. Sexuality and language are a natural part of these stories— the characters aren’t likely to say, “Oh, fudge!”
I love these depictions of a grim reality, whether in print or on screen. But do I want to write tales
with a “darkness of the spirit?”

No, no, a thousand times, no! Maybe spending so much time with my characters and story makes me fear all that darkness. I write cozies, edgy cozies, but cozies all the same. My violence happens off-page and is minimally described. In one story, I have the killer picking up a weapon and using it. But I left the aftermath to the reader’s vivid imagination. In another story, a character gets killed in a pretty horrific way, but all I mention is the murder weapon. Again, I let my readers fill in the blanks. No grisly details. Sometimes a well-chosen word here or there will paint a complete picture.
My characters love sex and love to talk about sex but when they “get right down to the real nitty-gritty” (see how well the song title fits the subject?) they go off-page. I may sprinkle a mild expletive—or two—into the dialogue. My readers object to profanity and I must respect their wishes. There are ways to suggest swearing and mystery author Naomi Hirahara is so skilled at this that you know the exact word she’s not using. Another mystery author, F.M. Meredith, has this to say about the lack of salty language in her Rocky Bluff P.D. series: “Oh, the characters do cuss, I just don’t quote them.”
But Merriam-Webster has another definition of gritty: having or showing a lot of courage and determination.

My main character, Hazel Rose, doesn’t consider herself to be brave and accepts her crime-solving missions with great reluctance. But, once committed, she will run a killer to earth. Mystery writers, regardless of how noir-ish or cozy their story is, want a determined detective, one with an abundance of “true grit.” It’s true grit that unites crime writers as we restore justice to our fictional worlds.
And it’s true grit that I want in my mysteries.

Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.
Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.
Buy link:

Blurb for Murder at the Moonshine Inn:
WHEN HIGH-POWERED EXECUTIVE Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Peace on Earth and Good Will to All - Linda Kane

This is my normal third Thursday of the month post (Linda Thorne), but I am honored to have Linda Lee Kane be my guest on Make Mine Mystery. The title is hers, and this is Linda Kane's Christmas post:

This is the time of year those loved ones, both here and gone, should be remembered and cherished with joy and gratefulness. They are the very reason we are here to celebrate the holidays and to bring in the New Year. They are often the reason for the traditions that warm our hearts and allow us to truly appreciate the blessings we have each day. For what are we without our traditions passed down to us; putting up the Christmas tree, adding the ornaments, hanging the stockings. More traditions like making popcorn with cranberry strands to wrap around our trees. Let us not forget another tradition, watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. These are the things that help unite us all.

As you celebrate and ring in the New Year, I hope you take in the time and special moments to really appreciate all that the season teaches us. Love of our fellow man, kindness at its very best and hope for a better tomorrow. There is so much joy to be found in the smallest things, like the smiles that greet you as you rush by little children with their rosy cheeks and hope. I know that I will be thinking of all of you, my friends, my new friends, my family at this glorious time of the year. You are all a blessing to me that I cherish each and every day.

Linda Lee Kane has a master’s degree in education, school psychology, people pupil services, and learning disability specialist. She has authored eight books; two are mysteries, The Black Madonna: A fast-paced action adventure and an exciting, exhilarating read. Murder, mystery, and intrigue keep you on the edge of your seat. Chilled to the Bones: An adventurous and chilling ride where four high school friends find themselves embroiled in a historical mystery more than a century old. Secret codes, murder, and a lurking evil presence lead them to the point of almost no return. A page turner from beginning to end.

Check Out Her Books:

Check Out Her Blog:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

And the Holiday Season is Upon Us

Many authors are now participating in Christmas boutiques and craft shows, and I just did one too.

I thought I'd make a comment about authors who do these. I know that it's fun to be with other authors, but sometimes that can be a problem. I've noticed too often that if two or more authors are together, they tend to spend a lot of time chatting with one another instead of paying  attention to those who are passing by.

For me, I find that I'll sell more books if I stand up and make eye contact with those passing by. And if they do glance my way, I ask, "Do you like to read mysteries?" Those who aren't at all interested will shake their heads, or say they don't read, or only read non-fiction, but many will stop and listen to what I have to say about my books. Once I've had that opportunity to give a few short sentences about my series, they'll often ask questions, and will probably purchase a book or two.

Another problem I've seen is the author leaving his/her post to go visit with others. No one is going to buy your books if you aren't there to sell it. I've seen people stop at an unmanned table, pick up books and then look around to see who was there to talk to--no one. Then the potential buyer moves on.

Because authors work alone, it's great to finally have someone who know about writing be available to visit with--but do it when there are no customers or readers walking by. Interrupt your conversation if needed.

And smile at everyone. Look like you're enjoying yourself even if you aren't. Maybe you're way out of your comfort zone, but you signed up for the event to sell books so that's what you should do.

And with that, I'll sign off--but tell me what you think--both readers and writers.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Novel Spaces: Book Reviews

Novel Spaces: Book Reviews:   by Linda Thorne Ah, reviews. Whether good, bad, or ugly, we yearn for them. Well, maybe not the one-star review or those certain t...

Contemplating What To Do

by Linda Thorne

Just the other day, our dog, Mo, was sitting at the door looking out and I wondered what could possibly be on his mind as he stared into space as if contemplating something. 

At last it's fall and a record long heat wave in Nashville is behind us. My third Thursday of the month post here at MMM happens to fall on the same day as my 17th of each month post on Novel Spaces blogspot. So I'm two places at once. Well, actually three, since I'm also at work at my job in human resources.

I'd rather be home sitting with Mo and contemplating how I'm going to continue handling what I really want, a career as a writer, when I'm very busy at work. "Hmmm." 

I think about this a lot, but always end up with the same disconcerting realization. There's no alternative now for me to consider. I work at a good company and my husband and I (and the two fur people) need the income and the benefits. I'll have to continue to squeeze in as much writing and promotion into the small amount of free time I have. We all do what we have to do and it's not always exactly what we want to do, but that's not all bad. Life normally requires some balancing. I think we all came into it to play the gameto go for the adventure, to chase our dreams. That's the biggest part of life. Yeah, it would be nice to win or fulfill our dreams, but somehow I think that's secondary to the journey, the chase. 

Our other fur person, Abby, will take issue with being 
left out when I show this post to her and Mo and read it to them, so I'm adding a picture of Abby here with her brother. She's not contemplating, she's just posing for the camera. 

Enjoy the fall. It's not a long season.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Those Blessed Accursed Friends

by Janis Patterson

I am among the blessed – I have a number of very good friends who are – in the main – proud and supportive of my work. Most of the time.

Except – I don’t think any of them really understands how much pure work and concentration writing a novel and then self-publishing it entails. They will call me just to chat or say ‘let’s go to lunch’ or do whatever – most of which I really enjoy, but there are sometimes you just don’t interrupt the Muse when she’s cooperating. Or when you have a deadline. Or when you are doing the intricate dance of getting a book arranged just so before it’s sent to the formatter. Somehow at those times the thought of something so pleasant is either a snare and a lure that must be avoided, or a plain bloody nuisance. There are those writers who through necessity or natural inclination can turn their writing on and off at will. I am not and never have been one.

At times I have simply resigned from the world – turned off both the landline and my cell, so I can live in blissful solitude. Until one dear person – who does have a history of over-reacting – drove by the house when I hadn’t answered the phone after several calls, saw my car and knew that I’m supposed to be home, so she stopped and pounded on the door to make sure that I was all right. The first time this happened I swallowed my anger and tried to be gracious. All subsequent times I was… well, less than gracious. She hasn’t done that in a long time now.

My late mother was a master at this. She’d call and when I told her I had been working she’d say “I’ll just take a minute of your time…” I could never understand that once you’re interrupted the thought is broken and it makes no difference if the interruption is two minutes or two days. It breaks the flow. Even when I told her to get a spool of sewing thread, pull off a length and then cut it. No matter if you put the cut ends an inch apart or a mile apart, it was still cut. Her response? “Well, why are you so testy about being interrupted if all you’re doing is sewing?” That was the only time in my life I ever simply hung up on her. At that moment it was the more polite of my impulses. (Oh, but how I do wish she could call and interrupt me again, just so I could hear her voice just one more time!)

It’s hard to say no – especially repeated times – when dear friends whine “But I haven’t seen you in so long! We haven’t been able to talk for ages!” after I have explained for the umpteenth time that I have to work, that I have deadlines. These friends (all now retired from their jobs) would never be so pushy about me taking time off from an office job, but since I work at home obviously they think I don’t have a ‘real’ job and can run and play at will. Sigh.

However this unconscious war against my work ethic has taken a new turn. One dear friend of many years was concerned that working so much might just wear my brain out (I love her, but she is something of a ditz) after I had casually mentioned that sometimes the writing was so intense that I had to take a short break with a quick game of solitaire or backgammon – sort of a clear-the-decks reset. I know that’s not advocated in writing circles, but it works for me. So this darling lady thought I needed something besides solitaire and backgammon and – knowing I love jigsaw puzzles – sent me a link to an on-line jigsaw site where they have all kinds of puzzles with all kinds of pictures in sizes from 9 pieces to over 500+ pieces. Nirvana!

What she didn’t realize is that self-control is perhaps my weakest – or perhaps most non-existent – virtue. The siren song of those multi-colored scraps is overwhelming and I find myself playing more than I should. More than anyone should. I’m going to have to pull the URL off my computer (which will really do no good, since I have it memorized) and then go to her house for a little ‘talk’ – hoping I don’t become overly excited in the process.

At least, I will as soon as I finish this newest puzzle. It’s 480 pieces and a glorious picture of the Duomo…

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Writing is Suffering

Here it is, November already. I am getting near the end of my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. police procedural mystery--but I've been at that point for several weeks now.

Life has really interfered--some of it good, some not so good.

Because, like too many writers, I don't make much money from my books, I do other things that do make money. I've been blessed to get several of these jobs one after another. Because these particular endeavors also entail writing, when I'm done, I don't really feel like getting into the fiction mode.

I have my own blog to keep up, Marilyn's Musings and I like to have new content every other day. Because I host many guest authors, though I don't have always have to come up with something new to write about, it still takes time to get the post done. I also maintain the blog for
the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime--though that one isn't as time consuming.

Other writing chores I have are three newsletters--my own (monthly) and one for residential service providers (also monthly) which involves keeping up with new regulations and requirements, and a quarterly newsletter for the Public Safety Writers Association. And by the way, there is an early bird fee for their most wonderful conference which expires at the end of December. Check it out, and you can read the last newsletter while you're there, if you're interested.

And as you all must be aware of by now--I have a huge family. We've had lots going on.

I'm really anxious to get back to my writing, but at this point it's been so long, I might have trouble remembering everything, which means once I'm done I'll have to do some careful editing.

No doubt, all you writers who read this understand exactly what I'm talking about.

Now, this is one job I can cross off my list.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

In Praise of Proofreaders by Mar Preston

We’ve all read bestsellers from the five major publishing companies containing errors that jerk you right off the page.  Misspelled words.  Words jammed together.  Missing words.  Not to mention formatting problems and grammatical goofs.

Yet you will look through a book with yellowing pages in vain for these errors.  I remember my mother and the librarian clucking their tongues over a proofreading error found in a book long ago.  Such errors were rarities.  What has happened?  

  • ·         Self-publishing
  • ·         Proofreading costs have risen

  • ·         Shorter attention spans

  • ·         Over-reliance on electronic proofreading programs


            The bottleneck that once existed between writer and publisher – the agent – no longer ferrets out writers who have not polished their work to a high gloss.  It is a hard lesson to realize that you cannot proofread your own work.

Proofreading Costs

            Costs for professional proofreading have risen and can amount to a significant fee, posing a particular problem for many self-publishing authors.  Proofreaders estimate costs by the hour, page, and word.  I’ve read estimates as high as 6 cents per word for fiction. 

Our Attention Spans

            Advertisers calculate that we now have only a 30-second attention span.  We flit like butterflies from one thought to another.  Proofreading requires a laser-like, sustained focus.

Electronic Proofreading Programs

            While proofreading programs such as spell-check provide a good place to start for an initial check of a document, people can develop a false sense of security using such programs.  A careful review by a patient, trained set of eyes is still needed.

Singing the Praises of My New Proofreader, Mary Goss

            I met Mary Goss a few years ago at a Sisters in Crime convention in Long Beach, which she was attending with author friend Dianne Emley.  She has proofread my last two novels, and I was very pleased with her meticulous work.  Over twenty five years of proofreading legal prose has trained her eye and honed her skills.  

            Mary’s advice to writers is to try to get a second set of eyes to read through your manuscript, as it is difficult to spot errors in one’s own work.  If you cannot afford a professional proofreader, find a detail-oriented person who has strong English skills and at least a slight case of OCD.  

            Find beta readers. These are people who have an interest in you and your work and want to see you do well. Beta readers are fans of crime fiction and willing to read the entirety of your best first draft. Beta readers are somewhat similar to your critique group members, but your critique group may have read Chapter IV seventeen times. Beta readers have fresh eyes. Anyone you can hornswoggle into doing this is valuable to some extent, but most valuable will be the reader who can catch glaring errors.

            Now I expect that Mary Goss may have a built-in level of concentration that may be superior to mine or yours.  She admits to a wee bit of OCD, but this quirky quality is a good thing in a proofreader.  She has likely honed her skills as a proofreader over the 25 years that she has been reading court transcripts.  Practicing a skill over decades certainly would make you better at it.

            Mary would like to expand her business to proofread more works of fiction.  Her contact info is:  iphone, 310-508-9476; e-mail,        

            As author Isaac Bashevis Singer has said, “A writer doesn’t die of heart failure, but of typographical errors.”


Check out my webpage for a boxed set of the first four titles in  "Writing Your First Mystery"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Blood On The Bayou - Bouchercon in New Orleans

by Linda Thorne

What an ideal place for me to attend my first Bouchercon World Mystery Convention last month. The great city of New Orleans.
Above is a picture inside the Marriott - New Orleans on Canal Street where I stayed and where the convention was held. A great location near the Riverwalk and the French Quarter. Harrah's Casino was close by too, but no time for a casino visit this trip.

The first time I saw New Orleans was in early 1995. My husband and I had moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so not far from NOLA. On our first trip we stayed at one of the old boutique hotels close to Bourbon street and immediately fell in love with everything about this city.

Here some of the pics I took last month around the French Quarter.


I'm not sure I can do justice describing the ambience of the place to folks who have never been there.

In 2002 my husband and I moved across country and it was goodbye to New Orleans. This September 2016 Bourchercon visit was the first time I've been back since we left the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I'm happy to report that it looks and feels like the same place we fell in love with. Katrina did her damage and over many years we heard the presumptions that New Orleans would never recover, never come back. I'm glad to report that the soul of the city seemed untarnished, completely alive in the same way it's always been.

My book, Just Another Termination, is set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with numerous references to New Orleans. I had it stocked for sale at the makeshift bookstore set up by Garden District Book Shop at the convention (front center below). I also donated a number of my books to the Bouchercon Book Bazaar at the convention. I wanted the book available in the region of the country where my story is set.
I got to participate on a panel at the conference called the Continuous Conversation. This went on through the entire convention, with new panelists rotating every fifteen minutes to stay a solid hour. My hour was Thursday afternoon. It was a good time and I stopped in again periodically to hear other authors joining the Continuation Conversation. I attended numerous traditional author sessions too.

Anyone else have some experiences to share about the New Orleans, Blood on the Bayou, Bouchercon? Or New Orleans? I came back muttering the words, "Laissez les bons temps rouler," meaning "let the good times roll."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Beginnings, Endings and In Between

                                                                                                                  by Janis Patterson

There are few things more wonderful than starting a new book. A whole new world full of promise and excitement beckons, along with a new population of characters who are eagerly anticipating your bringing them to life and giving them directions to a satisfying resolution.

There are few things more terrifying than starting a new book. An unfamiliar and possible dangerous world lies in wait, along with a possibly hostile population of characters who will block and frustrate you at every turn and go their own way no matter what you have planned.

The truly frightening thing is that both statements are absolutely true. Like the Red Queen, it really is possible to believe two absolutely impossible things at the same time.

One of my favorite exercises in masochism is to compare the book that actually got written with the book that was so carefully planned. There are usually, however, a few points of congruency; most of the time, though, they’re two totally different books.

I’ve written at length about how my characters simply will not behave. They walk in, take over and pretty much run things the way they see fit, and perhaps that is rightly so. This is their life I’ve created, and they should have some say in how it works out. On the other hand, so should I, as I am the one who has made all this up, but that doesn’t seem to count. It’s odd, but I have come to believe that perhaps my characters are better writers than I…

Now if I could only find out a way for them to create their own stories, worry with foreshadowing and motivation and plausibility and get the whole thing down in a readable form… Then perhaps while they’re doing that I could go take care of housework and laundry and all else that needs to be done!

I’m not holding my breath, though. In the meantime, I have a new book to begin, a new land to create/explore and a new population to deal with. Maybe this time I will actually get the upper hand. But – like I said, I’m not holding my breath.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Offering for Halloween, SPIRIT SHAPES

Though this was supposed to be free, Amazon changed their requirements and it can only have the price lowered, so--

SPIRIT SHAPES will only be .99 cents on Kindle from October 17, through the 22nd.

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.


This is one of my favorite books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and certainly a painless way to get acquainted with the series.

As with all the books--the mystery itself is complete. 

One of the main plots is loosely based on something real that happened in the past and was related to me by the person it happened to. However, most of what goes on in the story is strictly fictional. 

I hope you'll give it a try--and pass on the information.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Escaping Winter

I’m escaping winter in my California mountain village. So I’m looking for a furnished rental place of some kind in Ventura, California.

It’s not so easy because I want to bring my two cats along. Landlords have had bad experiences, and I understand that.

Since I grew up in northern Ontario, I’m well aware this is baby cold. Nonetheless, it bothers me. I’m also looking forward to bright lights, a choice in restaurants, and places to go after dark. Like most villages, everything shuts down here after dark. And there are no streetlights. Sometimes I get tired of my own company, I must admit.

Sooner or later, my plan is to move to Ventura.

Ventura is warm and sweet and there’s somewhere to go after dark.

I’ve made a lot of friends on the California coast through Sisters in Crime. Moving means taking a look at the books I need in my life. I’m a fast reader and go through books way too fast. I’m always scrounging for something to read. Some of my books I want to keep, but which ones?

I mostly read fiction when I read actual books. I read nonfiction online, not that that makes a lot of sense. Since I write crime fiction, the fiction I read is—no surprise—crime fiction. But I’ve collected paperback and hard-bound reference books on police procedure, police science, and forensics. Those I keep.

Most crime fiction novels I read once. Some of them I read all the way through and enjoy. Those I pass on to my mystery reader pals at Sisters in Crime Bakersfield meetings. I go to writers conferences and there are always books available and books for sale. I’m looking at my six book shelves now.

I’m not going to throw out the dictionary my parents bought me when I went away to university, or the Norton Anthology I used in my first English classes. This is where sentiment and nostalgia creeps in.  This must be suppressed ruthlessly. I don’t dare to go through the boxes of photos because of the avalanche of emotion.

When I was young and foolish, I thought that having books on my shelves told the world that I was smart. I don’t care anymore whether people think I’m smart.  That’s a freedom to put books in other people’s hands who will appreciate them now.

Some are going to the English teacher at the nearby correctional institute. Many inmates are poor readers, and using these books as teaching material makes me feel good about giving them away. Our nearest library is 18 miles away. Some will go to the Friends of the Library Sale.

I’m finally giving up my Guide to Literary Agents 2005. Some books don’t have any value to anyone.

You might be curious about the crime fiction novels I've written . Payback is set in the village where I live. The others are set in glitzy Santa Monica.

A sequel to Payback, titled The Most Dangerous Species  is moving slowly through the publication process.  Sign up here for my yearly newsletter and I will notify you when it is released.