Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Better Late Then Never

Though I knew I needed to write a post for this blog, it slipped my mind--like so many things do these days.

Yesterday, late, the edits for my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery arrived, so I dived into them immediately. That's how I spent the morning.

Oh what fun. I'd mixed up characters' names so many times, glad my editor caught them all.

Another big distraction was receiving this month's issue of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime because there was a wonderful review of Seldom Traveled in it.

Seldom Traveled

Living in the foothills of the Sierra gives an immediacy and personality to nature that is missing in town. From the danger of bears rummaging in the trash bin to the scream of a mountain lion after prey, the drought brought predators and flames down to my door last summer. In this fifteenth Tempe Crabtree mystery, forest fire comes to the mountain community of Bear Creek.

Tempe is a Tulare County Deputy Sheriff. Returning from a vacation she is plunged back into work by the search for an escaped felon and a missing woman. When wealthy socialite Mariah Konstanzer is found murdered the trail of clues leads Tempe into the deadly heart of a conflagration.

“I can’t go any faster. If we break down, we’ll be in a worse mess than we are now.” She eased around one curve and then the next…. She braked.

“What are you doing?”

“We aren’t going to make it. Not this way anyway. Take a look ahead.”

A wall of flames crossed the road. The treetops on either side blazed. Sparks flew high
into the sky. (page 117)

Does Tempe survive to return in a sixteenth volume? You must read the book to find out! Marilyn Meredith writes excellent books that are a believable slice of life without being boring or profane. The language is clean, the sex offstage and the action scenes are page turners. The hazards of mountain fire are well researched, the characters are realistic.

I really appreciate the bits of Tempe’s Yokut heritage sprinkled into the stories as well as the Native American designs on the book covers. This book can be read as a stand-alone. It is truly a pleasure to read about people with well-balanced psyches and interesting lives, a combination that is rare in fiction these days. This book is highly recommended and a keeper.--Reviewed by Terrell Byrd.

And there were some other things that cropped up--but finally, here I am!



Monday, February 20, 2017

Janet Elizabeth Lynn Interviews a Mobster's Daughter

Life of a Mobster's Daughter 
by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

        While researching 1955 Las Vegas for our book DESERT ICE
I had the opportunity to interview the daughter of a mob king who grew up in 1950s Vegas. "Amy" is a charming lady, 75 years old now, but looks closer to late 50s.
          As we spoke, I couldn't help but compare her life with mine, we are about the same age but I grew up in rural Long Island, New York. She rode her bike to school, to the post office, parks etc. as I did. Her mother was very involved with her and her sister even having matching summer dresses made for the three of them.

I remember our mother daughter dresses had blue flowers on them with blue lace around the neck. She said theirs were yellow with white lace.

My father left for work every morning, hers left for the casino every morning. Neither one of us knew or cared at the time what our fathers did, they just came home every night. Amy remembers ordering her first pair of high heels at Sears, I bought mine at Penny's.

She then talked about her house:  a kitchen, small dining room and a large dining room for parties. That's where we differed.
"You see, every night we had famous people over for dinner and afterward they entertained us." 

She was talking about Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and her brother Bill, Frank Sinatra, etc. Hence the rule of the house was everyone had to dress for dinner. 

Amy called her evening wear "After 5 Dresses". Her mother made sure her was hair done perfectly for dinner, every night.
          She explained that 1955 Las Vegas was heavily segregated. People of color were not allowed to use the main entrance of the hotels, stay in hotels, or frequent casinos or shows. This included performers. So they were allowed to perform, but not leave through the main entrance.

           "My dad felt badly about this so he built several small bungalows around our pool area and let them stay there and dine with our family. Otherwise they would have to stay in rooming houses."     
          I asked her if she knew her father was a mob king and if there were any precautions taken for her or her family's security.
          She smiled, "You have to understand, Las Vegas was a sleepily little town. Everyone knew we were his family yet I went to school with the locals, played with the local kids at the playground and went to their birthday parties. I just knew he was my dad and he came home every night."
          "It wasn't until I got older that I noticed the attention dad and mom were getting, and the press hounding our house and us. That's how I knew something was different. Then my sister and I were sent to college in the north."
          We ended the 20 minute interview with a promise of a signed copy of our book.
          On the way back to our hotel my husband and I talked and realized that the mobsters owned illegal businesses and were considered criminals, but the minute they set foot in Las Vegas, they were legitimate businessmen. And very successful ones at that.
          This interview gave me a real feel for 1955 Las Vegas and most important, where to dump bodies, car chases and most of all, where my character would eat. After all it was Las Vegas.

For more, here's a link to Janet and her husband, 
Will's book, Desert Ice, set in Las Vegas in the 50s - http://didrake.blogspot.com/

Janet's Website  http://www.janetlynnauthor.com/

Will's Website  http://www.willzeilingerauthor.com/

Please leave a comment about Janet's fascinating interview.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Named as a Character in a Book for the Second Time

 By Linda Thorne
The first time this happened, I was named as a character in Marilyn Meredith’s book, Not As It Seems. She does book tours for each book she publishes and often offers a choice of prizes to whomever leaves a comment on the most blogs. I won the prize on an earlier book tour and chose to be named as a character in a later book. When that book was published she stopped by my blog on her tour with a post called, The Character Named Linda Thorne.

This was a fun blog post (September 17, 2015). We got a surprise visit from Hank Phillippi Ryan who dropped in and commented on the complexities of using real people’s names as characters. Another commenter told us she’d never want to be named after a dead body or an evil person. Marilyn’s response was that she’d never kill off a character named after a real person or make them too awful unless, of course, they didn’t mind. I ended up in Not As It Seems as a not-so-nice, tall, redheaded woman. For me, it made the book more fun to read.

Last February, a few members of the Middle Tennessee Sisters in Crime organization met with Carolyn Haines in Mobile, Alabama. She'd joined us in Nashville a few years earlier, but was unable to make another trip in 2016, so we went to her. We had dinner with her one night, got to speak at the Mobile Writers Guild she belongs to, and have lunch with her college students. Carolyn had been teaching creative writing at the University of South Alabama for a very long time. At some point during all this, Carolyn Haines said she was going to name a character after me. I was all for it.

So I am a crotchety insurance sales woman in Sticks and Bones coming out May 17th. I can’t wait. It's part of her Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. I saw it online and will pre-order it.

Buy Link: Buy Sticks and Stones 

Author Carolyn Haines

She told me that she has one friend, Aleta, who has been a dead whore twice in her books. In The House of Memory (I think also available for pre-order) coming out in June, she has four friends who are dead, lobotomized whores. She joked about not being so good to her friends, but hey, I know they all agreed and are happy to be included, dead or alive.

Buy link for the House of Memory: House of Memory

I have loved each and every one of Carolyn Haines Sarah Booth Delaney bone series mystery books. The newest coming out is in mid March and can be pre-ordered now. It is Guru Bones. I guarantee you'll love it. Here's the buy link: Buy link for Guru Bones - A Sarah Booth Delaney mystery

Being named for a character in an author's book is a different experience -- a fun one for me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Writerus Interruptus

by Janis Patterson
I envy and am astonished at those people who can write with small children around – or big children, for that matter. How do they concentrate?
I am fortunate enough to be able to work at home in my own office, but always accompanied by our furbabies – one demanding cat and one prissy diva of a little dog. They are both rescues from horrific situations (curses be forever on the heads of those who abuse animals!) and though both our furbabies have been with us for several years they still bear the psychic scars.
In the everlasting attempt to be able to concentrate uninterrupted on my writing, I tried locking them in their rooms. (Yes, they each have their own, generally better furnished than The Husband’s and mine.) Ours is a reasonably large house, but totally insufficient to block the chorus of demanding barks, aggrieved howls and pathetic whimpers engendered by such obviously unjust incarceration. I doubt if Blenheim Palace would be large enough.
Failing that, I let them into my office, which though they enjoy it is not the best thing for me. Chloe the cat will sleep for hours, then demand to be taken into my lap just when I am trying to concentrate on a particularly difficult scene. ‘Demand’ is not a word I use lightly; a large cat, she stands on her hind legs and paws at my lap. (She was declawed when she came to us, but her little ‘fingers’ are incredibly strong. If she were not declawed I would be positively anemic from bloodloss…) If I don’t stop and take her up, she starts to sing the aggrieved song of her people at ear-splitting decibels. On the rare times that doesn’t work, she becomes more direct and simply bites me on the leg. Seldom hard enough to draw blood, but definitely hard enough to get my attention. Once ensconced on my lap, she takes offense if I go on typing; she wants all the attention.
Now Mindy Moo the dog will sleep though all this, until I pick up the cat; then suddenly the cat is trespassing on Her Mommy, and she makes her displeasure known. I have to divide Lap Time equally between them, which can be vexing, as I can only hold one of them at a time. As Mindy Moo is a terrier (I say she is half terrier mix and half pure diva) she is most decided about her wants. Any attempts to train her have gone unfulfilled by the wayside – with two exceptions. She does use her pee-pads. We don’t dare let her out, as we have both coyotes and red-tailed hawks in our neighborhood and at ten pounds she would be a tasty morsel for either. She also has made a fine art of obeying to ‘sit’ and ‘ask’ and getting a treat for doing so. Anything else – hah!
What is most alarming for me – as a writer of mystery and occasionally horror – is that she will sleep quietly for hours, only to explode into frenzied barking and snarling without warning – usually when I am deep into an unnerving and/or frightening scene. Perhaps she just wants to make sure my heart is working properly. It hasn’t exploded yet, though sometimes I wonder why. Despite the dark places in my mind, though, it is useful to know that neither postman nor UPS man nor marauding moth can approach the front door without Mindy’s noisy alert. I really don’t know if she thinks she is protecting the house or if she regards the postman and UPS man as a sophisticated, self-ambulatory version of meals-on-wheels for dogs. The moths are probably just for fun.
However – I love them (most of the time) and the three of us can rub along together tolerably well. Again, most of the time. But I still am in awe of those who can write with children around. My hat is off to all of you!
(By the way, A KILLING AT EL KAB, a Janis Patterson mystery, and CURSE OF THE EXILE, a Janis Susan May Scottish Victorian Gothic Romance, are on sale for only $1.99 each at most major ebook outlets through 18 February)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gone are the Good Old Days

Make Mine Mystery
February 2, 2017

The Dark History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty, right?  But the origins of this festival of candy, cupids, and heart are actually dark, bloody, and a bit muddled.
Although no one has pinpointed the origin of Valentine ’s Day, one good place to start is ancient Rome where men hit on women by, well, hitting them on the head, and other places.
February 13-15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. Men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just killed. Women would line up for men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile. This holiday even included a matchmaking lottery, in which men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be coupled for the duration of the festival-possibly longer, if the match worked.
But where did the name come from? Emperor Claudius II executed two men-both names Valentine-on February 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s where the ‘muddle’ comes in…Pope Gelasius I  mixed things up in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. Around the same time the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Gallatin meant “lover of women.”
It all ended up being a festival of love, drinking, cards, roses, and everyone had to put their clothes back on.

 Linda Lee Kane has a master’s degree in education, school psychology, people pupil services, and is a 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 :

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


The worst first--Facebook has been a tremendous interference lately. I am really trying to avoid it as much as I can. I made the mistake of posting my opinions and was called names. And I got sick of reading posts from people I admired that were full of guttural and potty language. (Yes, the biggest offenders were writers.)  I ended up unfriending some, I don't need that icky stuff in my mind.

The good is we had another great-grand born into our family--makes 18 all together. And did you get that I said great-grand? Yes, my grandchildren are having babies--and one of my great-grands had one, and another great is going to be a father soon.

We have two great grands living with us, darling girls. Believe me, they do liven up our lives. Took time out the other day to play three games of UNO with the four year old. she's really good at it. (But I won all 3 games--a miracle, because she almost always wins. Probably beginner's luck)

Hubby is beginning to show his age (me too, for that matter, I've slowed down considerably) and when he goes to the doctor's I need to go too because he doesn't always get or remember what he's been told.

Because of my BIG family, I want to do things with them. After all, not too many kids have their grandma and great-grandma still around. I need to enjoy them all while I can.

And then there's the in-person promoting--that is necessary, fun, but takes time away from the writing.

I also volunteered to help reorganize a local writing group--which also will take some time away form my writing.

There are so many other things that I do, some writing related, some family related that take time away from what actual writing.

Oh, and there's the biggie--doing my income tax. Will start that soon too, once I'm sure I've gotten all the forms.

Okay, I've belly-ached enough, time to get back to work.

How many of you feel the same? Seems like I don't have near the time I used too.


One of the latest good distractions--Daniel Adam.