Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How has the Corona Virus Affected You as a Writer'

I've been hearing all sorts of comments about how the virus is affecting other writers, from even though they have the time, they haven't had the desire to write, to the other extreme, some love the fact that being confined to home has given them lots of time to write.

Which end of this answer are you, or somewhere in the middle?

To be honest, the writing part of my life hasn't changed much because of the virus. I am mostly staying home, except for forays with mask on to the grocery store.

What I miss most is all the events and conferences I'd planned on going to and were cancelled.

Because I had a non-refundable hotel reservation for San Luis Obispo for a conference that cancelled, my daughter, hubby and I packed up and headed over to the coast. For those of you who don't know, San Luis Obispo is a jumping off place for many coastal beaches.

Though we didn't get close to any people at the surprisingly crowded beaches we did watch the otters play at Morro Bay, and visited Pismo and other popular spots and saw a lot of great scenery at vantage viewing spots. Many of the restaurants had just opened following all the new rules, so we had some great meals too.

It's been long enough to know if we were exposed to anything, and we're all fine. It was a great get-away and certainly renewed all three of us.

As for my writing, I've been busily going over old books in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series that have been re-edited and making sure to catch mistakes. These books have all been published before, but oh, my, there are typos and goofs. They are all going to be self-published and some of them are already there on Amazon for Kindle and in paper.

Though we haven't been doing them in order, the first ones are done.

The series begins with Final Respects. When I wrote it I had no idea it would become a series.

Marilyn who writes this series as F.M. Meredith

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Who Are You Again?

 by Janis Patterson

As someone once said, it’s always something.
After decades - centuries - of respecting proper grammar, pronouns, tense, sentence structure, conjugations and all the other bits of pieces that comprise language and forms so much of communication, writers are being asked to learn a totally new - and distressingly flexible - set of personal pronouns.
Now there are people who are intent on messing up the concept of language. In a politically correct move some who believe they are more than one gender are not only using different pronouns for themselves, they expect others to use them as well. Some use ‘they’ referring to their singular selves. Some make up pronouns. Some commit even more unforgivable grammatical mayhem. One person interviewed calls itself ‘It.’
Whatever my personal feelings about these people are people have a right to live their lives as they see fit, as long as it’s legal. They can call themselves what they want to when they’re among their intimates, but who on earth would agree that they should be allowed to change the shape of the language?
Language is communication. Language conveys ideas and feelings and information and all kinds of things, but the basis of language is understanding. Both parties - the one speaking and the one listening - have to have a common ground, not only a knowledge of what the words they speak mean, but a certainty that they both know the same meanings.
For example, there are many languages in this world, and in each language there are many examples of beautiful writing. But - unless you speak that language, those writings are nothing to you. Someone could be reciting the most exquisite words in the world, but if you don’t know what they mean you hear nothing but polysyllabic babble. There is no common point of reference.
Now that might be something of an overdrawn example, but the principle is true. Language is shared communication.
Say someone wants itself to be referred to using ‘tym’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she,’ as in “Tym is my friend.” Or someone refers to itself as ‘they’ rather than ‘I,’ as in “they want to go to the mall” meaning that the speaker wants to go to the mall. Unless you are personally acquainted with this person, or know of its preferences, you won’t know what they’re talking about.
Language has rules. For example, ‘they’ is plural - not singular. ‘Tym’ is a made-up word, signifying nothing.
We are writers. Our job is to communicate, to share ideas and situations and information. If people don’t understand what we’re saying, we are not doing our job. And it will lose us readers. Another possible pitfall is that writing is forever, and the words that are currently trendy may be totally incomprehensible in a decade. Or less. Yes, language changes and mutates, but it is a natural process, not a fiat declared by a tiny minority, a minority that can’t even agree on which of their new words are right.
Again, people have the right to refer to themselves as they wish. They do not have the right to demand that others use those same words. There is no standardization to these new manufactured words/meanings, and the definitions are too fluid to last.
Call yourself what you want, but don’t mess with the language. Posterity - and those who believe in clear communication - won’t thank you if you do.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Oh, oh, Late Again

I  do have a good excuse though, I am crazy busy.

I took my rights back for my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. I loved the publisher, but he's just too busy with life and too many authors to work with.

The books are all being re-edited and self-published. The re-editing and the actual publishing are being done by my good friend, Lorna Collins, and her hubby is doing the covers.

My part in all this is going over each book for any more errors, typos and in some cases bits of the plot that need to be fixed. The ones being done first, are the books the old publisher hadn't gotten to yet.

The first on, Angel Lost, is one of my favorites in the series for many reasons.

As usual, there is a lot of family things going: 

1. Officer Felix Zachary's wife, Wendy, is having problems as a new mother.
2. Sergeant Navarro's mother may have Alzheimer's.
3. Officer Ryan Strickland receives some unsettling news about the new baby he and his wife are expecting.
4. A man is exposing himself to unsuspecting females jogging on the beach.
5. Officer Stacey Wilbur is busily planning her wedding to Detective Doug Milligan
6. The newest officer on the RBPD has an underlying problem no one knows about.
7. The vision of an angel is making a nightly appearance in the window of a downtown store.
8. Gordon Butler does an heroic deed.

As I was going over this book, when I came to the end, I shed a tear. Sounds crazy, but it had been a long time since I'd revisited Angel Lost.

Some of the situations were based on events that actually happened--of course with a new spin. 

If you haven't read it yet, it can be found on Amazon for Kindle and in print.

Marilyn though I write this series as F. M. Meredith.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Concern, Cash and Capitulation – My Love/Hate of KU

                                                                              by Janis Patterson/Janis Susan May

According to some, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results. I guess I’m insane, because I’ve been avoiding Kindle Unlimited for years. Why? Because I hate even the threat of a monopoly.
Let’s face it – the ‘Zon is closer than a lot of people – myself included – think to becoming a monopoly in ebook sales, and if that goal is accomplished, how long do you think we writers will be receiving those lovely 70% royalties? On the other hand, the ‘Zon is the 800 pound gorilla in online book marketing, and that is a very real fact with which we must deal.
I have long touted the desirability of going wide, of having my books available on numerous platforms, of supporting diversity in sales venues. (In the interest of full disclosure – I will admit to having a couple of short stories exclusive to the ‘Zon for various reasons not germane to this discussion.) However, going wide can be dangerous to one’s bank account.
The ‘Zon’s exclusivity program of Kindle Unlimited, which they push shamelessly, is ruthless. If you aren’t in KU, your books get shoved down... way down. I have typed in the exact title of one of my wide books, both with and without quotation marks to show search for entirety and by word, yet in neither instance did either show up until the fourth or fifth page. The pages of books that did show up were all KU titles – some of which did not even share a single word in their title with mine.
Even with such a handicap regarding discoverability, the biggest chunk of my income is from the ‘Zon. The other venues, which I have worked so hard and done without in order to support, offer only trifling sales. And no, they don’t advertise or push my books either.
So – the question becomes, how much can I afford to support a principle when it is not supporting me? I am fortunate; I do not have to depend solely on my writing income to survive – however, it is a part of our household income. I repeat – how much are we supposed to give up in order to support a principle? One of the writers whom I have mentored, as well as several other professional friends, are in KU and making very respectable sums on page reads alone. And no, none of them are ‘book stuffing’ scammers of any stripe – just hard working writers with good stories to tell.
I’m a good writer, too, I work hard and I have good stories to tell. I’ve won awards and been on several best-seller lists (all in Europe – go figure!) but I’m buried so far in the search engine heap my books may never see the daylight of solvency.
So I have come to the conclusion that the least I can do is experiment. I’ve decided to pull some of my better-selling books from other venues and place them in KU. If they do well, I’ll move them all. To those of you readers who use non-‘Zon venues and devices, I’m sorry I shan’t be available to you, but let’s be honest - if you had bought my books I wouldn’t have to be doing this.
I still hate even the remotest hint of a monopoly.
I hate bankruptcy even more.

Friday, May 15, 2020

by Linda Thorne

Wordiness that clogs up your communications is often caused when you use filter words, something I confess comes naturally to me. I may be worse than others because someone has called me on it my entire life. Not just high school and college English or literature teachers, editors, and critique group members, but friends and family.

Let me give you some examples of common filter words. Notice our five basic senses are among them, below, in bold and underlined.

Assume,  Believe, Can (or Able to), Feel, Decide, Hear, Know, Notice, Realize (or Note), See, Seem, Sense, Smell, Taste, Touch, Wonder

Filter words separate and distance the reader from the action. They add an extra layer that the reader must wade through while, in the process, being robbed of the story's urgency. Normally, the reader is forced to follow the story only through the character’s perspective. 

This is something I work hard to minimize, but the minute I let my guard down--that moment I relax wanting to talk or write effortlessly--filter words flow from the communication. Somehow, this habit became ingrained into my being early in life. You may not fight it as much as I do, but most people will muddy a story or communication with filter words at least on occasion.  

Compare the examples below with filter words and without.

F: Joannie looked like she was going to pass out. When I heard her moan, I felt the need to hurry over to catch her.
NF: Joannie’s face turned white and her legs wavered beneath her. When she moaned, I hurried over to catch her.

F: I felt pure panic when I realized I had left my wallet on the store counter across the street. I decided to whip around to face the traffic. I heard car horns and vehicles whooshing past, but I knew I had to hurry back. When I saw the first break in the traffic, I ran.  
NF: Pure panic hit me. My wallet – I had left it on the store counter across the street. I whipped around to face the traffic. Car horns honked and vehicles whooshed past. With the first break in traffic, I ran.
See the difference?

Like any rules in writing, there will be times you’ll need to use these words. When they’re unnecessary or overused, the simple fact is they’ll slow your story down.

I enjoyed reading up on this topic, something I need to refresh myself on often, and then sharing it with all of you.

This was a nice break from these stressful times. Stay safe.

Amazon Buy Link - Kindle Selling now at $0.99 

Author Website

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree Mystery Now Live!

I did it! For a while I wasn't sure I'd actually get there, not because of COVID-19, but I couldn't seem to get myself motivated to finish it.  My writing group is not meeting right now and I've grown quite dependent upon their critiques and feedback. Yes, I did sent it out to them via email for their input, but it isn't the same.

Finally, my good friend, editor and publisher, Lorna Collins prodded me a bit and I buckled down and finished it. She's a great editor and once she went over it and I did the fixes, and ran some questions by her, the book was sent off to Amazon. (Her husband designed the cover.)

I had to make some hard decisions with this book. The big one was will it be the last? Even now I'm not sure, as I've got an idea developing for another. One of the reasons I've been thinking about whether the series should end or not is my age. I feel great--well, mostly--but it is getting harder to do the promotion part of writing. (And all the in-person events for now have been cancelled, even a book fair I usually do in October.) Though we're all hoping to see the end of this virus soon--who know how long it will be?

Life goes on despite the changes we're facing. I'm fortunate in having lots of family in my home and close by, so I'm not lonely. I do miss the ones that live afar though and will be thankful when we can all visit.

So, about the new book. The End of the Trailis available on Amazon for Kindle and in print.

To buy:


What are you  up to these days?


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Moving Right Along--or What's Next?

Like all of you, I've mainly been sheltering in place, though I do venture out to the grocery store once in a while dutifully wearing a face mask.

My .99 cent sale for Murder in the Worst Degree is over, and the result were 91 people purchased the book on Kindle. Certainly nowhere the number of books if it had been free, but this was the  publisher's choice. Plus, it had been free once before when it was with the first publisher. But who knows, maybe it will encourage some of these readers to try some other books in the series.

While staying at home, I've managed to finish my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I going over it, looking at suggestions and corrections from my critique group (we're doing it via email these days), and then I'll send it off to my editor.

When all that's done, I'll start planning the promotion which will  not at this time include any in-person events until this darn disease is under control. Maybe I'll do a blog tour.

I'm also getting thought about the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, and the big question is, should I include what we are all going through now or not? Fellow authors, what are you going to do about this big chunk of history (when it is history) in your next mysteries?

I'd also like to hear what you're doing during this stay-at-home time.

See you in May. And I'll share the cover of the new book.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Should You Self Publish? Or Not?

 by Janis Patterson

While browsing on Facebook this morning (instead of working on my current novel, my bad!) I found a post asking writers what made them choose self publishing over traditional publishing. I just had to answer. By the way, my answer is specific to me, and is not intended as a dictum to anyone. To self publish or not to self publish is a decision only the individual writer can make.

Though I do still traditionally publish rarely (a dear friend is a publisher, and I love doing business with her) I chose self publishing because I hated the ‘writing by committee’ aspect of traditional publishing.

Think about it. Most of the major publishers won’t even look at a manuscript without the intervention of an agent, which means that your story must go through an agency’s first reader who will ‘suggest’ changes to be made before they will show it to the agent, so you do them. Then if all goes well the agent will ‘suggest’ changes to be made before offering representation, so you do them. The agent then shows the book to an editor at a publishing house, who (again if all goes well) will ‘suggest’ more changes, which if you do them will get your book handed to the acquisition editor, who will probably ‘suggest’ more changes before the book goes to the editorial committee, who – you guessed it – will ‘suggest’ more changes. Then the book gets a content editor, a continuity editor, a proofing editor – all of whom will suggest changes, which you do. (And this is a good-case scenario – your book can be shot down at any step of the process!)

Then – tah-dah! – in another 18 to 24 months your book is on the shelf. The only thing is, the book that comes out more than likely won’t resemble much of your original story. Writing by committee.

By contrast, in self-publishing I can tell my story as I want to and make sure that my story is the one the readers receive. I do hire editors and make my story as strong and good as it can be, but through the process it remains my story with no alien ideas or sub-plots or character changes grafted on to fit the whims of others. The basic bones of my story – if they are good – are not changed to suite the whims of those who determine if it should be published or not.

Make no mistake – self-publishing is a lot of work. Fiddly, picky but essential work. It’s not hard, though, and your story remains the story you wanted to tell – not a conglomeration of various peoples’ ideas. I have a friend – an accomplished and seasoned writer – who under a multi-book contract wrote a romance novel with a Montana rancher as the heroine and an insurance agent as the hero. I read it. It was a lovely book. Then she got a letter from her editor ‘suggesting’ that she change the locale from Montana to the Florida keys, make the hero a deep sea diver and the heroine a secretary. And that is not the worst tale I have heard of editorial re-writing!

Self publishing comes down to control. You control the story. You control the cover. You control the price and the distribution. You control whether it will be ebook or paperback or both. You control the timeline – no more waiting years for the book to come out. (Am I the only one getting the lead-in to the old Outer Limits tv show here?) You control the publicity – which you would most likely have to do with a traditional publisher anyway. Plus, so many traditional publishers limit you as to the number of book you can release in a year; that decision is now yours, which is wonderful for us fast writers. These days there are ways to get your book considered by libraries (impossible during the early days of self publishing) and foreign markets.

One drawback to self publishing is that it costs money – you need to hire editors; you need to hire a cover artist; you need to hire a formatter; you should buy ISBNs even though with some retail outlets that is not necessary. (I always say if you’re going to play with the Big Boys of publishing, play by their rules and conventions.) If you’re so inclined, you can learn to do all of this yourself – except editing. You always need another set of professional eyes on your book. Yes, there are companies – some legit, some the worst kind of money-grubbing vanity presses – who will do this for you. Some are kind of reasonably priced, some are extortionate. Personally I cannot think of paying a great deal of money to do what I can do myself, but then I was raised to do what I can do well and hire the rest out. If you do decide to go with a ‘helping’ company, do your due diligence.

As I said, self publishing does require a certain amount of outlay up front, but you can control how much. On the credit side, you will probably make more money than with trad publishing. Since I’ve been self publishing I sell a markedly fewer number of books than when I was traditionally published – but I’m making a lot more money. 60-70% of cover price sure beats 3-6% of net! I’ll take the money – and the control of my career!

Self publishing is not a decision to make lightly. Investigate, think about it and then do what is best for you. I have, and I love it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Having a .99 cent sale on Murder in the Worst Degree

Thanks to the pandemic we are all stuck at home. Writing conferences and conventions have been cancelled as have many book and craft fairs. So what are we to do as far as promoting our books?

For me I'm still writing and sending out my monthly newsletter, posting on Facebook, writing new posts for this blog, and another I'm on monthly, and my own personal blog. https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/  I welcome other authors to be a guest on my blog.

And, I've decided to offer the newly updated and with a new cover Kindle copy of Murder in the Worst Degree for .99cents from April 20 through April 24.

This is one of my all time favorites in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, for several reasons. I love the members of the tiny police department located in the fictional beach community of Rocky Bluff. I love writing about them and what's going on with their families and those they love. I enjoyed the new characters who appear in this book, including the old guys who hang out in McDonald's and the strange homeless lady.

When I wrote this, despite contacting Amazon, the reviews from the old version have not been moved to the new version, so I'm posting one of my favorite reviews here:

Although Murder in the Worst Degree is the tenth book in F.M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff PD series, you don’t need to have read the nine previous novels to pick up on the action. I think the several characters would’ve been easier to keep track of if you’d read the earlier books, though, so this is a hint that you might want to read a couple of those first. It doesn’t take long before you learn who is who, however. And you'll find the setting—the California coast—so vividly depicted you can almost taste the salt air. I loved the foggy scenes.

The story begins with a couple surfer dudes discovering the battered body of an elderly man in the water. Turns out he didn’t drown, which brings a murder investigation to the fore. Suspects are rampant. The men and women of the Rocky Bluff PD are soon knee deep in not only contending with the murder, but with a new chief of police, and what may be a serial rapist on the loose. Then an earthquake hits. Good stuff, for sure.

F.M. Meredith ties up all the loose ends concerning the mysteries, and doesn’t neglect the drama of her character’s lives in this most enjoyable short novel.
--C.K. Crigger

5 Stars
If you haven't read Murder in the Worst Degree  yet, I hope you'll give it a try.
Marilyn Meredith who writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F. M. Meredith

P. S. All the reviews were moved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Coronavirus Makes Many Changes

I read what I wrote the second Tuesday of the month, and so much has changed since then.

The two conferences I mentioned have been cancelled, as has the regular meeting of one of the writers groups I attend. And of course it all began with the cancellation of Left Coast Crime which I hadn't planned on attending, but was looking forward to hearing all about it via Facebook.

Now the big problem lies in taking care of oneself, trying to find toilet paper and food in the stores.

Though I'm in the group that's supposed to stay at home, I must venture out to try and find what we need to exist.

One thing about staying home most of the time is I'll get a whole lot more writing done. I've also done a lot more praying. I'm a praying person anyway, but now I have a new topic to pray for: the health of my friends and the end of this new virus.

What about the rest of you? What are you doing these days with all the new rules we all have to follow?


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The World Gone Upside Down

by Janis Patterson

I don’t know about you, but right now I don’t know if I’m on my head or my heels. I didn’t realize The Husband and I did so many things, had so many meetings, went to so many organizations until they started cancelling one after the other like a cascade of dominoes. A simple trip to the grocery store became a frustrating expedition, where the shelves were empty and the store hideously crowded with people. I spent two days and many stores getting sufficient supplies for some elderly (90+ years old) members of our family, an exercise that was annoying and time-consuming. Some of the overreactions of the shoppers could almost be regarded as amusing – as in two grown men fighting over a package of toilet tissue.
Then today (I’m writing this on Monday evening) everything doubled, trebled, then went right off the ‘scary weirdness’ chart. Our mayor announced at 5 pm that beginning at midnight all bars and restaurants would be closed except for car-side delivery takeout – no dine-in allowed. Not only that, but our school district is closed. No restaurants, no schools, no… I have no idea what’s going to be forbidden next. They even canceled the iconic St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for Heaven’s sake!
I am not going to touch on politics, but I’m of two minds about the way this situation is being handled. Yes, this virus is serious, but is it enough of a threat for such draconian measures? I don’t remember this much hysteria for the H1N1 (aka swine) flu a couple of years ago. We cannot just do nothing, so we must do something, but are we doing too much?
For example, I fear that a lot of restaurants and small businesses – which operate on narrow margins in the best of times – will fold permanently with an extended enforced closing. Worse, their employees – most of whom work for minimum wage and live paycheck-to-paycheck – will suffer almost immediately. One of my restauranteur friends is providing bags of rice and beans for his employees – boring fare, but nutritious, and at least they will be able to eat. And my worries are not limited only to food service workers or small store clerks. Far too many people in our society have nothing put by for a rainy day and are dependent on receiving a regular paycheck. Now it seems the monsoon is about to rage around us and it’s too late for many to prepare.
And there are other, less immediate but more personal casualties. Next month I was to go to the American Research Center in Egypt International Conference in Toronto where, in a first for both ARCE and me, naming rights for three characters in a novel I would write especially for ARCE would be auctioned off as a fund raiser. The international publicity had already started when – because of the coronavirus – the conference was cancelled. The auction… who knows? It’s dead at the moment. There is always next year, but by next year it will be old news, all novelty gone, and who knows what will happen between now and then? Even if it comes back next year, it can never be the same. This could have been a breakout for me, and I grieve for its loss.
We must realize, though, that it is indeed an ill wind that blows no one good. Bars and restaurants are closed. Schools are closed. In many places gatherings of more than 50 people are forbidden. Social interaction (in person, at least) is discouraged. People are going to be pretty much stuck at home. So what are they going to do? You can only watch so much tv, play so many board games, do so many chores. What’s left, that will entertain and yet not expose you to the dangers of public places? Books. Especially ebooks, which can be ordered over the internet, meaning more sales for more authors. In the long run, perhaps something good can come from all this. If it is allowed – Amazon has already announced that it is focusing on immediately need supplies such as food and medicine, and that books are way down on their priorities. We can only hope they mean physical paper books and not electronic ones, which shouldn’t present any shipping difficulties. It is Amazon, though, so who knows?
However – to drag this subject kicking and screaming back to the writing of mysteries – it’s a rare situation that a writer can’t use in some fashion. Just think of all the plots that can spring out of this flirtation with real-life dystopia. In a few months I predict a flood of books with plots that can be traced back to our current situation.
I just wish they were fiction.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Getting back to writing and promoting mysteries..

This has been a rough time, not only for me, but our whole community.

Nearly every time we go to the town of Porterville, we pass near the burned out remains of the library. I've taken two loads of books, including the complete works of Louis L'Amour, to the place where they are collecting books. I've hugged my favorite librarian.

As an added problem, my husband and I both came down with the flu. (And yes, we had our flu shots.) My granddaughter and her family who live with us came down with it first and shared. It was a wingdinger. Hubby spent several days mainly sleeping. I found I did better if I got up and did my usual.

My usual has been doing some writing that actually brings in money and when I had a break from that working on my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. It's been slow-going.

I have managed to get to my critique group finally. And I've attended my Sisters in Crime chapter meeting, as well as another local group of writers I belong to.  And that brings me to another topic, promotion. That groups is going to be discussing promotion at this month's meeting. We are all to share what we do.

Of course there are obvious things such as giving presentations. (I was supposed to give one this month at our library--now out of the question.) And going to book and craft fairs in order to sell your books--also writers conferences and conventions. (Some folks are staying home from these because of the new virus.)

Everyone should be promoting their books on Facebook. I've found that always results in a few sales. I only do one book at a time and try to find something new to mention about it. I post here twice a month, once a month on the Ladies of Mystery blog, and I have my own blog, https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/. I love promoting others on my blog too. If you'd like to be on it, just let me know.

I have an email newsletter that goes out once a month, and to subscribe all you have to do is give me your email address. That's a fun one. Some of my subscribers respond back to me like I wrote the letter just to them.

I tweet occasionally but am not good at remembering to do it.

Upcoming are two writing conferences I'm going to: Writers of Kern Spring Conference where I'll have a table to display my books. (I'm mainly going because they have some great speakers.) And I'm also scheduled for the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime, writing conference coming in May.
I'm helping with that one, and will also have books for sale.

How about sharing some promo ideas that have really worked for you?


Monday, February 24, 2020

Missed My Regular Posting Date--

with good reason.

Our very busy library burned down last week and two firefighters were killed while checking the building to anyone who might be trapped. The flames were visible for miles!

To add to the tragedy, it was set by two 13 year-old-boys. Nothing has been said officially about the motive, be people who frequent the library said they were troublesome, making to much noise, hollering and whooping and using foul language. They'd been chastised and sent home several times.

At the time of the fire, the library was crowded as it always is after school. Many children came to the library to do homework and wait for parents to come pick them up. Homeless used the library as a place to rest and read the paper and magazines. Many activities were planned for all ages.

Fortunately the library staff got everyone out safely.

Frankly, this is all I've been able to think about lately.

The building was built in the '50s and no sprinklers.

Someone has offered an empty building close to where the library was for a temporary solution. Donated books are being collected there for now. What else they do with the space, I have no idea.
However the library staff are very creative and resourceful. And yes, I'm donating books. I have many that I know I'll never reread.

By March, I'll be back on my usual schedule--I hope.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Truth In Advertising - At Least, Sort Of

by Janis Patterson

Most of you know that I grew up in my parents’ advertising agency from the age of nine on, starting as a stripper (not that kind!) and progressing to doing product photography and writing copy before I entered high school, then doing international space buying several years before I graduated. One of the things that was drummed into me during those formative years was that my ad copy had to be truthful.
Apparently that is a virtue long gone extinct, at least in the book business. When I scroll through the online ebook vendors I am appalled at some of the titles. No, not the regular titles, though some of them are pretty grisly, but the subtitles. Now I will admit that personally I am sick to death of pun titles, but that’s just me. What I cannot stand is the subtitle, which sometimes appears to be as long as the book. For example (and totally fictitious) – The Leaving Tree – A Riveting Exercise in the Deliciously Lethal Discipline of Gardening, Where Each Plant Has A Story to Tell And No One Walks Without Fear. Or – Bedding the Lustful Billionaire – A Heartwarming Story of True Love Distorted by Money, Blackmail and Jealousy That Will Warm Your Heart and Give You New Hope For Romance.  You get the idea.
Isn’t it the duty of the blurb to give an indication of what the story is about, not a lengthy and more often than not mendacious subtitle? When the subtitle proclaims the story to be ‘thrilling’ or ‘can’t put it down’ or ‘riveting’ or any of a hundred other descriptors, you can pretty much believe it isn’t. When I read a title/subtitle/blurb I want to know what the story is about, not something telling me how I should feel about it.
One example (again fictional) of a subtitle that is not overblown and offensive is a short, accurate piece of fact that a reader really needs to know, such as Flying High – A Jane Smith 1920s Mystery #6. It just tells you what it is, not what the writer wants the reader to think or believe or feel. The book itself should do that.
On the whole, these lengthy and overblown subtitles make me think of books printed during the Victorian era and before, where pretty much the whole title page was taken up with what is basically a long subtitle, usually with every line done in a different typeface. It may have helped sell books back then, but in today’s short soundbite society I don’t think such over the top description helps.
It shouldn’t. In my not-so-humble opinion, the book – and to a lesser extent the blurb – should be what says the book is. I mean, why read the book if the story is revealed in the subtitle? Shouldn’t the reader be the one who decides if (and hopefully leaves a review saying) the story is riveting, heartwarming or whatever?
Honesty, and a decision made by the reader. What a concept.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Marketing Old Books

Because I have over 40 books published, I recently decided to see what would happen with those that are self-published if I wrote something about one or another and posted with a link on Facebook. I did the self-published, because I can see if anyone has purchased a book after I wrote about it.

I started with some of the older Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. The first and the second, Deadly Trail and Deadly Omen.

I did a couple that had started out as Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, but didn't quite seem like they fit the bill.  Deadly Feast was one of those. I got the idea from a huge flood that happened a long time ago where I'm living and a bridge was washed out, stranding people for several days.

 I did some others too. Every time I did this on Facebook, a few of the books were purchased. So it was worth the few minutes it took to do this.

I'm always willing to try something new, how about you?


(The above books are available on Amazon for Kindle and in paper.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Making a difference through Blogging

Make Mine Mystery

Linda Lee Kane
February 5, 2020

Not long ago, I took a class about blogging from Nina Amir. I also bought many of her book and I’ve learned so much from her about so many things in writing, as well as blogging. 

About two years after taking her class and following her plan I jumped right in and wrote about women who’ve made a difference in our society throughout the ages and many that you’ve never heard about. I got the idea after writing my YA book, Chilled to the Bones. I wrote it about the heroines of the American Revolutionary War…how many of you knew that it was Agent 355 who took down Benedict Arnold? To this day, we don’t know her name, we do know that she was a member of George Washingtons Culper Spy Ring, and we know she died in the British ship, New Jersey after giving birth. That’s it, nothing more. To me, knowing about these unsung heroines can make a difference in a kid’s life. It can inspire them to reach for the stars.

I decided, after listening to CNN, speak about ‘what can bring our country together again’? I had been thinking about this for quite some time. So I stopped writing about Heroines and began writing about the history of state desserts. I mean, what can bring people closer together than food, particularly a great dessert? How many people knew that each state has its own dessert? I didn’t and when I discovered that I researched the history behind each dessert and how it came to be so important to that state. I call the blog, 'Bringing the US Together One State Dessert at a Time! I’ve also written the recipe out for each dessert. All last year, every week I baked or cooked up a dessert from each of the 50 states. The people at the barn, the people at the football parties, and family gatherings loved each and every one. So in a small way, no matter the politics my desserts brought people together, and for just a while shared in the joy of food, the history behind it, and forgot their differences in politics. 

That's what writing can do, it can make a differnce.

You can read my blog at www.lindaleekane.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January is Galloping Along

The days are flying by because I am so busy--and unfortunately not busy with working on my book.

In order to do other writing related things like attending writers conferences--this year I am only going to two: Writers of Kern's Spring Conference in Bakersfield and PSWA at the Orleans Hotel  in Vegas--I need to make extra money. Though I do earn some from my books, it is not enough for big expenses.

The way I do that is help people who want to open residential care homes for the elderly and those with mental impairments write program designs. Yes, it is writing, and a lot of work, but it helps pay for things I want to do.

Truly, I'd rather be working on my work in progress, another Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I'm about 3/4 of the way through. I have to make a major decision about it and the series itself.

In the last book, Spirit Wind, Tempe went to Tehachapi to help a ghost hunter, spend time in a haunted house, encountered a spirit, and was threatened twice by a murderer.

In the book I'm working on, Tempe is back in Bear Creek where she once again has an encounter with the legendary Hairy Man. Of course, there's a murder; and the suspects are few.

Darn, I'd like to get back to it, but I have other work to do.

Frustrated, yes I am a bit.

How is your January going?


Friday, January 24, 2020

The Power of Writing Contests

by Linda Thorne

I recently entered a writing contest for a short story I'd written a long time ago and was reminded of how these contests can get your creative juices flowing. I polished off my unpublished short story, revising and revising until I felt I'd reached perfection. I submitted it early for a contest that doesn't end until close to the end of the year, but it's a big contest, huge, even for those who don't win but make the finals. I not only felt satisfied, but totally motivated. This started me on another contest for my unpublished novel in the works. My work in progress is still in revision stage, but I'm plowing through it now. Why? Because I have a contest, and this time the deadline is early summer.

I'd forgotten the power writing contests always had over me. When I first started writing I entered them regularly. That magic feeling. For years I’d entered the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition with my first book. They also have one for First Crime Novel. This contest is free for those mystery writers who have not yet published a novel and, if you win, it's traditional publication for your debut novel with an advance against future royalties of $10,000. The judges read your entire book. That’s an opportunity you don’t often find. That's gold! Sometimes I think the motivation to win this contest was what drove me to get the finished product I needed to find a publisher for my book. There is no second or third place winner in this competition only first place, or in the finals, or out of luck. I never won the contest, but for the last two consecutive years I entered, my book was a finalist. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has a novel in works (mystery or crime fiction), but has not yet published a novel.

Before I was published, I entered numerous writing contests regularly, not just for motivation, but for feedback from judges and an occasional critique thrown in as a bonus to those contests that charge fees for submissions. To me, the writing contests provided an invaluable learning tool.

Some other contests that I recommend to those seeking publication are: The Sandy Writing Contest, The PNWA Literary Contest, and The Colorado Gold Writing Contest.

Contests are motivational because there is a shorter-term possibility of getting something in return. You have a good reason to buff your submission. There’s the hope of a win of some sort. You’re given a deadline, so you meet it instead of dallying around. Then there's the precious worthwhile feedback many writing contests offer.

If you're trying to get published, seeking writing training, or want to get out of a writer's block mode, try submitting to a contest. If you do this, trust me, you'll really "get" what I've said here.  

Linda Thorne Website

Book on Amazon - Kindle on Sale for 99 cents

Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


by Janis Patterson

This has been in the works for the past eight months, and I’m finally free to get the word out publicly.
Most of you know of my lengthy affiliation with the American Research Center in Egypt, a scholarly organization which is headquartered in Cairo – with a secondary headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Begun over seventy years ago as an archaeological facilitating entity for those scholarly institutions and museums which did not maintain a dedicated presence in Egypt, ARCE has become one of the biggest Egyptological organizations in the world.
I have been working with ARCE for almost thirty years on a volunteer basis. The North Texas Chapter – one of the largest and most active chapters – was begun in my den in 1992. I’ve served the chapter in some capacity on the board for almost every year of its existence. I began and for nine years put out the Newsletter of the North Texas chapter, which for the nine years of my reign (word chosen deliberately) was the only monthly publication for ARCE in the world. It was archived by universities and museums as a scholarly journal in spite of physically being just four sheets photocopied and stapled. Some of the biggest names in Egyptology wrote for our Newsletter. I’ve also served the international organization in several small ways. One of the highlights of my life was being the closing speaker at the ARCE International Conference of 2005.
Do you get the idea that I’m slightly mad about Egyptology? I even met The Husband through our mutual love of Egyptology, and he proposed to me in a moonlit garden across the street from the Pyramids. Yes, those pyramids…
So you see, Egyptology has always been a big part of my life.
Now ARCE and I are starting something new, something that neither one of us has ever done before. (And with the life I’ve led, that’s a rare statement for me to be able to make!) Here’s the text of the press release – it’s prettier in actuality, with my picture and a pretty border and some photos of Egypt, but this gets the important part across…


The Ancient Egyptians believed in achieving immortality through their burial practices. You can do it through a winning bid, and you don’t have to die!

Well-known mystery novelist Janis Patterson is partnering with ARCE to auction off a chance to become a character in her new mystery novel set in Egypt. The highest bidder will be named as a secondary character in her next novel set in Egypt.

There are still more chances to win. The second and third highest bidders will be named as tertiary characters in the novel.

The Silent Auction will be held during the Annual Meeting starting Friday morning, April 3 and conclude at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. The winning bidders will be announced at the April 4 Members Dinner.

Look for the Janis Patterson booth at the Annual Meeting and win the chance for immortality!

Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson is a 7th generation Texan and a 3rd-generation wordsmith who writes in mystery, romance, and horror. Once an actress and a singer, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Can you see why I’m excited? I'll keep you all up to date on how this goes...