Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Decadent Rest Well Earned

by Janis Patterson

I am so happy. And so tired. My republishing blitz is over. Twenty-two books, each re-edited, re-formatted and most with new covers, one released every other Wednesday without fail from 15 January to 25 October. 

Of course, it was a totally mad idea, and about three-quarters of the way through it I was starting to doubt if I could follow through...  as well as about my sanity. That’s kind of silly, since my middle name might as well be ‘stubborn’ and my pride wouldn’t allow me to quit. So I didn’t. But I am so happy it is all over! This project took up so much of my time I only did two new books this year instead of my regular four or five.

So is my husband. Bless him, he has had to put up with sketchy meals, late laundry and seeing nothing for hours but the top of my head as I bent over the computer. 

This year we did manage a few excursions, though - a conference for him in Hot Springs, a speaking engagement for me in Arkansas, a long-delayed couple of days visit with my dearest friend in the world, the NINC conference in Florida for both of us, a day of diamond-digging... and no, I didn’t find anything except a few muscles I didn’t know I had. Ouch!

As an early Christmas present, my wonderful husband is taking us to Germany for a week-long tour of Bavarian Christmas Markets. We’ve done this tour before, so I’m really looking forward to it. I also know it will be exhausting. And The Husband has laid down the law - I cannot take a computer. 

Know something? I don’t really mind. The idea of a rest from words is irresistible.

So - I have decided to take the rest of the year off. (Doesn’t that sound decadent?) I won’t even be doing a blog in December... but I will be back in January, rested and full of tales... and probably ideas for new books!

Hope you all have a bountiful Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The End Is Nigh

by Janis Patterson

For every beginning there is an ending... and conversely, for every ending there is a beginning... and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

This year has been a landmark year for me - it’s been one of the lowest output years for me in well over a decade (only two books as opposed to the four or five I usually do) and yet I’ve been busier than I ever have.

In case you have been living under a rock and not heard about my republishing blitz I’m going to give you a quick prĂ©cis...

During the covid crazies I got very lazy. The Husband was home - and even retired during this time - s0 we had things to do and my writing business came in a distant second to being with him. I knew that rights on previously published books were coming back to me, but being distracted by other things I just let the reversion letters pile up on my computer.

Until January of this year. Life was returning to a semblance of normal and I realized I wasn’t getting any younger (are any of us?) and if I wanted to get back into this writing thing I had to get busy, so a good start would be republishing those reverted books through my own company. A quick wander through my hard drive shocked me, because there were 26 (yes, TWENTY SIX) of the little beasties. Gulp.

A quick perusal decided me that for various reasons four of them were going permanently ‘under the bed,’ hopefully never to be seen again. That left 22 to be republished. As I am lazy, doing that could possibly take a couple of years, years which I might not have. As I was raised in advertising and journalism, the fact that deadlines are sacred is bred into my blood and bones. My father taught me that (to use his words) “There is only one excuse for you to miss a deadline, and that is death. Yours.”

So I set myself a deadline - I would release a book freshly edited, freshly formatted and most with new covers every other Wednesday until all were out, starting on January 15. MISTLETOE MAGIC, the last book, comes out October 25. 

22 books released every other Wednesday, each on schedule, each reworked as promised and all without missing a single release day. (Actually, there were 24 released - one through one of my publishers and the other as an outlier which appeared suddenly through a set of circumstances too complex to go in to... neither of which I counted as part of the blitz.)

I’m exhausted. I would love to take a few weeks off away from the computer, but I have deadlines... one for a July 4th mystery anthology, one for my new Flora Melkiot book and one for a summer Regency romance anthology. Sigh. Even though we spend our days pretty much in the same room (the den) The Husband says I spend more time with the computer and my invisible friends than with him and lately he’s been right. I’ve taken my computer along on every trip we’ve made this year - and it saved my sometimes tenuous sanity the days we were holed up in a motel in Mississippi when he fell ill on our way home from NINC!

Anyway, the blitz is now over and the encroaching deadlines await. It doesn’t get any easier, people. It really doesn’t.

And now for some good news! EXERCISE IS MURDER is now available in audio from Audible! (The ebook is available from Amazon and will hopefully be available in paperback before too long... it is the first appearance of the redoubtable Flora Melkiot!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

It's All In Your Point Of View

by Janis Patterson

People who don’t write don’t believe that stories and characters take on a life of their own, and if you don’t agree with them the story stops. Writers know what I mean. 

Now my writing process, I have been told, is different from most others’. There are many ways to write - plot wheels, detailed outlines, multi-page character interviews, etc. To me personally, that is the fastest way to kill a story. By the time I have plotted it I am bored with it. Now I do have a general idea of the basic construction of the story - a beginning, a probable end, a couple of major plot points - and then the characters come. Yes, come, just like real people. They walk into my mind, tell me their names and all about themselves. The stories come to life through the interactions of these people.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. I’ve had characters - fully formed, believable people - not like a turn the story has taken and shut down the entire process. One hero, who was perfect for the story, was insistent on a certain name. A name I hated, and immediately changed. He didn’t like that, and refused to talk to me. The story stalled and none of the techniques I’ve learned over the last decades made it work. Finally I surrendered, changed his name back to the one I hated and the story flowed like warm cream. It is one of my best sellers.

But there is more to a good story than storyline and characters. There is viewpoint. Is the story told in first person or third? Or even in that modern horror - second? I have been known to return a book when I find it is told in second person. Is it traditional indefinite past tense (I went to the store...) to the other modern horror, present tense (I go to the store)? I always return a book when it is in present tense. A most definite personal choice.

Once I was working on a story - a novella - with a good strong storyline, good visuals, great characters and even a good moral. Working is the right term. Normally I’m a very fast writer. This time ... not. I was struggling. Oh, I was writing, but slowly. Word. By. Painful. Word. Sort of like pulling long-rooted teeth.

Life happens, though, and everyday things must be done. One day I was running errands and a traffic back-up from a wreck kept me sitting in the same spot for a quarter of an hour. Well, a writer is always writing, so while my body waited for the wreck ahead to be cleared my mind went to work on the story.

How, I thought, would I feel in such a spot? What if the man I loved was in such danger? I’d...

Then it hit me. I was using the wrong person for the book. I had been writing in third person, and it just didn’t work. This book should be in first person. 

Now my personal preference is and always has been first person; to me it is more engaging and intimate, making the reader a part of the story whereas third has an inherent distance. However, there seems to be such a backlash of dislike of first person that I often write in third. This story, though, demanded first.

I had a little over 12,000 words already written. Not necessarily very good words, but a good solid first draft. It had taken me several weeks to get that far, and the deadline was approaching with the delicacy and hesitancy of a runaway train. Still, I had a feeling...

It took me two days to rewrite that 12,000+ manuscript into first person and then it took less than a week to finish the book. It worked. And it’s still one of my most popular books!

For those of you following my republishing blitz, all is going just as planned. I think we’re all defeated by the heat, so both September’s releases are Christmastide Regency romances - September 13ths was called THE RESURRECTION OF REGINA and  CHRISTMAS TANGLE comes out on September 27. Believe it or not, this blitz is almost over - next month is the end of it. And... if you’re in the mood for Halloween I’m fortunate enough to be part of the wonderful Kate Hill’s Halloween promotion which goes live October 1st! The link is

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

There May be Too Many of Us--Writers That is.

Now that anyone can self-publish, I suspect there are way too many of us grasping for readers.

Way back when the only way to be published was to be accepted by a publising house, there weren't so many books for readers to choose from.

Frankly, I've read--or a least read part of--way too many not so good self-published books. Tales with far too many plot holes and lack of editing have flooded the market.

Plus, I realize I'm behind the times, as I didn't recognize many faces or names of authors attending Bouchercon and appearing on panels. 

I still have my favorite writers and try to get copies of their latest books--though I admit, I buy the Kindle versions these day as I have way too many books even after giving many away. 

Am I discouraged by the huge amount of new writers? No, because I know the best ones will rise to the top.

Will I continue writing?

I don't plan on writing any more books in my two series--since I'm now 90, I'm busy writing a short memoir about my childhood during World War II. And if a great plot idea occurs to me, I may use use parts of it to write a Young Adult Mystery. 

I can't imagine not writing, it's been a part of my life always.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

This is my Birthday Week


Yes, I'm having a major birthday this week--the big 90! (And in actuality I've been celebrating all month.) 

To celebrate, I'm giving a free copy of the first book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, DEADLY TRAIL. It will be free until midnight on August 24.

Blurb: The tranquility of the town of Bear Creek in the Southern Sierra is disrupted by the suspicious death of the owner of the local inn. Investigating a murder case isn't Deputy Tempe Crabtree's job, but when the detectives don't look any further than Nick Two John as the primary suspect, Tempe begins asking questions. Putting the planning for her wedding to Pastor Hutch Hutchinson on hold, it doesn't take long for her to discover several more people who wanted the victim dead, including his wife. Tempe follows the trail of clues putting her job, her upcoming marriage, and herself in peril.

On Amazon, it's listed as #0--but it is the frst one in the series. It introduces many of the on-ging characters in the series: Native Ameican Tempe Crabtree, her fiance Hutch Hutchinson, Nick Two John  and Detective Morrison. It also introduces the small mountain community of Bear Creek. 

There are 21 books in this mystery series.


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Dead Zone

by Janis Patterson

We’ve all been there. We’re writing along happily on a book when suddenly - ZAP! - everything stops. It doesn’t matter if you have a minutely detailed outline or are a free-wheeling pantser or anything in between. Everything just stops. The well is dry. Ideas are things that happen to other people. The storyline that has carried you along so wonderfully, the storyline that was perfect and carefully crafted suddenly becomes a mis-matched pile of unconnected - and unacceptable - actions that have no relationship to each other or to any coherent tale.

Determined to work your way past this bump, you stare at the computer screen.

Like the single eye of a particularly malign deity, the computer screen stares back at you.


The reasons for this sudden and apparently impassible roadblock can be legion. The idea you thought was so perfect has suddenly revealed its hidden and insuperable flaws. You’re coming down with something. Influences/events in your real and everyday life are taking precedence. There are more valid reasons, almost as many as there are writers, and most of them are very real. Admittedly, some are conscious or unconscious excuses, but some are completely, sadly, totally real. Those are the ones we have to look out for. 

It is hard to concentrate on creating a fictional problem among fictional people who live in a fictional world - one that you created - when in your real actual life someone gets sick or your job goes away or there is a disaster threatening or perhaps even destroying your property or your life (metaphorical or physical). Fortunately, though, it seems that most of these distractors are, while distracting, are not so overwhelming.

Some call this sudden and absolute stoppage writer’s block. I don’t, but I don’t have a better term. Others call it burnout, which I don’t think it is. My problem is with this particular manuscript, not the process of writing as a whole. Either way, my go-tos are a cup of coffee, maybe a couple of hours of mindless TV or a nice long soak in the hot tub - which right now, sadly, is denied to me as it is on the fritz. Sob. Others may play with the children/grandchildren, take in a movie, take a nice long walk, go into a cooking frenzy, or anything else that particular person chooses. Often this works, and if it does you’re lucky. 

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t. Two or three or more days go by in this eyeball/screen staring contest and no progress is made. After a while, some writers simply put this project aside and go on to another, something new and shiny and so perfect it will never shatter so spectacularly on them. (Yeah.) Some writers will grit their teeth and forge on through, putting down word after painful word with all the same speed and ease as pulling teeth, even as they know it is garbage that will have to be deleted. Other writers will... well, there are as many answers to that as there are writers.

And perhaps, just perhaps, this death of a manuscript is normal and necessary. Not all projects can be or should be brought to fruition. 

But how do we know? I dunno. I can’t really answer for myself, let alone for all writers everywhere. I just know that everything I have said is at some time, in some place, to some (most? all?) authors true. And we just have to deal with it to the best of our abilities at the time.

After all, if writing were easy, everyone would be doing it.

And for those of you following my republishing blitz, all is going just as planned. Today’s release is a contemporary romance called CHRISTMAS CACTUS. THE HOUSE WITH THE RED DOOR, a gothic/ghost story set in contemporary South Carolina, releases August 30. A traditional Regency romance called THE RESURRECTION OF REGINA releases September 13. Annnnnnnd - an international romantic adventure called THE JERUSALEM CONNECTION is on sale for only 99 cents from now through Saturday, August 19. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

HOW I GOT MY PEN NAME By Morgan Mandel

    When my first book, TWO WRONGS, was about to be published way back in 2006, I had a decision to make. Should I use my actual name, or choose a pen name?
    Well, the book was written in the points of view of the hero and the villain, both of whom were male. Since I'm a female, I wondered if using my actual name would not get as many readers.
    So I decided the best bet would be to choose a name which could belong to either a male or female. Well, the names of Morgan Freeman, a guy, and Morgan Fairchild, a gal, came to mind.
     Not only that, I also owned a female dog who happened to have been named Morgan when my husband and I adopted her.

    So, Morgan seemed a great choice. As far as a last name went, I have to admit I wanted a short one which would be easy for people to remember and also short enough to easily sign autographs.
     When TWO WRONGS was first released, the book originally came out in paperback and ebook forms. Since then, after the publisher sold to another publisher, and the second publisher was of no help in selling my books, I wondered what to do. Upon the advice of Austin S. Camacho, a fellow mystery writer, I decided to arrange for the publishing rights to revert back to me. 
    With ebooks becoming ever more popular, I chose to publish this one myself solely in ebook form. From looking at the cover, I think you can figure out who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. 

    And now you've learned the deep dark secret of how I chose my pen name. 
    To learn even more dark secrets, check out TWO WRONGS. This mystery, set in Chicago, includes Marshall Field's in a pivotal scene before it became Macy's.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Once I Was Ahead of the Game

 When the Internet appeared, I learned how to us it long before any of my friends. I signed up for an Internet class and knew more than the instructor taught us.

I signed up for an email account as soon as they were available. I had a Blackberry that I loved.

I embraced e-books long before most. In fact when i talked about e-books at conferences, I was booed. Was an uncomfortable time.

Then I was asked to give a class on e-books at a big writers' conference. Slowly, attitudes began to change. Now, most people don't even know there was a controversy.

The years have passed and I prefer working at my old PC rather than my sleek small laptop. There are so many things I have to ask for help with when I'm doing some of my work.

When programs are upgraded instead of them being easier, they are more complicated. 

I have an I-Phone but don't know how to use most of the features. 

As I'm getting older, I'm realizing I am no longer the up-to-date person I once was. But it's okay, I have grandchilden who know how to do it all and are happy to help their grandma.

Life moves on, and I'm having trouble keeping up.


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Reasons for My Absence

Yes, I know, excuses, excuses, but these are good ones.

My husband of nearly 72 years passed away on April 1st after going to the hospital and then a nursing home. During that time we had a massive flood in our little town of Springville, ruined homes along the river, took out two bridges and closed the highway for a day. Our home was untouched because we sit high above tge river, 

I was injured at the end of husband's celebration of life, hurt my tailbone and ribs. Still recovering.

I also attended the Public Safety Writers Association's annual conference, which was wonderful. So nice to see old friends and make new ones. 

My husband and I were both honored at the conference. For years he helped with book sales. I was prsented with a plaque in his name, and a picture collage of him working the books sales over the years.

An award was created for the best published book called the Marilyn Meredith Excellence Award.  A big surpise.

Of course I miss my husband for so many reasons--he's been a part of my life since I was 17. 

Hopefully, I can get back on track with my writing now.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Travel and the Novelist

by Janis Patterson

Travel is wonderful. Travel is broadening. Travel is fun. Travel is enlightening. Travel can be used as research for an upcoming book - and therefore be made tax-deductible!

Travel can also be very problematic for the professional novelist.

I try to adhere to a writing schedule - a rough and occasionally flexible schedule, admittedly, and have been known to be somewhat slip-shod about keeping it (hey, I’m only human!) but schedules do work best when you’re at home and settled into a routine. Travel can knock all that into a cocked hat.

The Husband would rather fly everywhere we go; as I have an intense dislike of being treated as not-too-bright self-ambulatory cargo, I prefer to drive if at all feasible. The results turn out to be pretty much equal. Whichever way we travel, though, I refuse to go without a computer. (Yes, I am spoiled. And semi-obsessed.) That way I can make notes, keep a trip diary if the trip justifies such, and at least appear to be holding to my schedule. 

The Husband calls it my security object. I loftily reply that I haven’t yet started carrying it with me to the grocery store - though I haven’t yet admitted that sometimes it can be a near thing.

While the stated idea of taking a computer with me is so I can get at least some work done on the work in process (which does have a fast-approaching deadline), perhaps the greatest danger traveling poses to a novelist is the storm of ideas which attack you. I have a projected writing schedule for approximately the next two years. Then I go on a trip and everything goes wonky, as it is a very rare trip when I don’t get at least five or six workable plots, plots which call to me with the seductive whispers of excitement and creativity.

So, like a good little magpie snatching at something shiny, I make notes and jot down ideas, create a file for them on the computer and tuck them away in a remote corner of my hard drive. And, I’ll be honest, sometimes I forget them... but sometimes I don’t. Some of my best and best-selling books have come from these ‘vacation attack’ ideas. 

Anyway, as we are leaving in the morning, I have to go finish packing. All those ideas are lying in wait.

(P.S. - for those of you who are following my republishing blitz, I am happy to report that it is going perfectly according to schedule - a book, freshly edited, freshly edited and as often as not with a new cover - released every other Wednesday since the middle of January! THE EARL AND THE BLUESTOCKING (#15) will go live on 19 July, and INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS (#16 and a multi-award winner) on 2 August. Plus - drum roll here - my second audio book A KILLING AT EL KAB and my third CURSE OF THE EXILE are now available at Amazon and Audible!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Joys of Talking Writer to Writer

by Janis Patterson

Last week I got a kind of vacation - The Husband and I drove up to a secluded Arkansas hideaway where we had been invited to stay as part of an invitation for me to speak at a local writers’ group. Aside from an almost hurricane-force storm that flooded the area and cut short our holiday, it was a great trip.

Though I used to do it often, I had not spoken to a group of live people in a very long time (drat the covid crazies!) and was a little nervous, but that went away as soon as we got to the meeting. The ladies (all were ladies) were so warm and welcoming it was heartening. Best of all, they were all so anxious to learn.

There were only two published authors in the group - the leader, a long-time multi-published professional whom I have admired for years, and one member who had recently self-published a book she probably shouldn’t have in its current form. As I said, what was wonderful was how everyone wanted to learn.

Considering everyone’s overwhelming newbie status I started at the very beginning. The problems and perils and protocols of traditional publishing. The dangers both artistic and financial lurking in vanity/’assisted’ publishing. The risks, rewards and hard work of self-publishing. By the time I finished with that they were looking a little shell-shocked, but I’m not sorry. Being an author is so much more than sitting at a desk and writing stories. Sometimes it seems as if that is the easiest part! Writers both published and aspirant have to know about the nuts and bolts of publishing - all kinds of publishing. They want to be published but most of them have no idea of the realities of the business. 

And one of the biggest realities of the business is to sell something by any method you should have something decent to sell - although some of the more rapacious vanity houses will ‘publish’ any sort of trash, as will some untutored self-publishers. So I switched the lecture to writing. I stressed the importance of knowing what you’re doing - knowing how to use your tools, those tools being spelling, grammar, punctuation, tense, and all the other parts of language. We covered where and how to use proper English (definitely in the prose/descriptive portions) and when dialect/bad grammar is acceptable, such as in quotes or interior thoughts, where you can do pretty much what you want - but only if it is congruent with the status/etc of the character himself. In other words, you don’t have a duchess talking like a dockworker unless there is a solid reason in the story for it!

Then we went on to the construction of the story. How once you create a world - whatever it is - you have to stay true to the rules of that world throughout the story. Person, tense, general atmosphere, pacing, quotes from other works, allusions, prologues/epilogues... there wasn’t a tool or technique that we didn’t touch on. We also discussed plagiarism, info dumps, alliteration and everything else we could think of.

Of course, although we touched on so many things, those things were necessarily light and fleeting. It is no small exercise to condense 40+ years of experience (good and bad) into a 50 minute talk. Plus, since this group of writers was primarily interested in mysteries, there was a lively discussion about exactly what is a cozy mystery. No, we didn’t come to a pithy single sentence consensus, though the ladies now know more about cozies than they did before.

All in all, it was a great experience and the ladies, obviously being gluttons for punishment, said they want me back. I can’t wait.

UPDATE : For those of you who are following my republishing blitz, my Regency romance novella SARACEN’S GIFT - #13, which means everything is right on schedule! - releases today, June 21! The blitz is now officially half over!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Happy Place

by Janis Patterson

Every writer should have a happy place... not that it has to be a distinct physical location, just a place where your mind can be free and your well of creativity unconfined. 

My happy place is in the hot tub early in the morning; now that’s not quite as sybaritically self indulgent as it sounds. Sometimes the hot tub (prescribed by my rheumatologist, no less) is the only thing that keeps my arthritis at bay. On inclement or cold mornings or when we’re traveling I have to make do with a very hot shower, and believe me, that isn’t the same at all!

Anyway, when I’m sitting out there doing the extremely boring exercises I must do every morning my mind takes off on various flights of fancy. I let it free to roam as it will. Sometimes that results in a new twist on a work in process, a plan for a new project, some plans for home projects I’ll probably never do, or just some occasionally weird daydreaming. Sometimes it is little more than a nap for my mind.

While I realize how fortunate I am to have such a cushy set-up, that is merely the physical part. Happy places can be as varied as the writers that use them. A few minutes in the early morning before the family arises and the work begins when you can sit at the kitchen table and sip a cup of your favorite coffee. A quiet time in the bus on the way to work when you can just sit and look out the window. A comfortable seat in your local coffee shop where you can either people-watch or write as you will - and even better if you have a barista trained to bring you your favorite beverage at regular intervals! Or perhaps it’s just a few quiet moments between folding the laundry and unloading the dishwasher.

Whatever or wherever your happy place is, don’t forget just how important it is. It’s not selfish indulgence or an abrogation of your daily responsibilities... it is part of the recharge you owe yourself. It can be as luxurious or as practical as you can manage. It can be as long as you can make it - several hours (heaven!) or just a handspan of minutes.

Writers are special people in that we live two lives - one in real life, where we cook and work and do laundry, and the other in worlds that we create in our heads. We owe both our support and attention. Just as you wouldn’t deliberately starve your body, you shouldn’t starve your mind/imagination. Find and cherish your happy place.

For those of you who are interested in my publishing blitz, #10 THE LETTER/Janis Susan May released on 10 May, and #11 EXERCISE IS MURDER/Janis Patterson is due to release 24 May. I’m still on schedule! And... my first audio book THE HOUSE IN THE PINES is out and doing well!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

How To Drive Yourself Absolutely Mad

by Janis Patterson

Okay, the title of this is a little misleading... if you’re a writer you’re already at least partially mad. Even though we don’t have to keep proving it, that’s just what I have done. 

So what have I done? Well, it’s not totally my fault. People have always been telling me that I should be more businesslike about my writing, that there’s more to it than just sitting at my desk (or on the patio, or...) and making up stories. And there is.

Back during the years of the covid crazies I got very lazy. I was aware that reverted rights from some of my trad-pubbed books were showing up in my email, but having better things to do (namely hot tub and ice cream) I blithely tucked them away on my hard drive. In January of this year one of my resolutions (being a hopeful fool I still make them...) was to be more businesslike about my writing, so I started digging through the computer to find and do something about the reversions.

Imagine my shock when I found there were twenty six of the little beasties. TWENTY SIX! A quick glance through them decided me that four were going under the bed forever - either not to my current standards or requiring too much time/work to make them acceptable. Which still left twenty two. (To say nothing of the two new works for which I am currently contracted...)

I was raised in advertising, where deadlines are sacrosanct, so I decided that to get all these stories out and about again in a timely manner I needed a plan with firm deadlines. So... every one of those novels will be freshly edited and freshly formatted (ebooks only at the moment, though some of the will eventually go into hard copy) and if I don’t own the rights to the cover I will have to make a new one so I can rerelease a book every other Wednesday. 

Every other Wednesday.

This experiment began the last week of January. If I can hold to it, and so far I have, the last one of this batch will be released mid-October. 

This doesn’t really make me crazy, does it? Just ambitious.

What probably does push me over the line into crazy is that in the middle of this an absolutely splendid opportunity arose to enter the audio book market. As I have done audio narrations in the past for other authors and was a voice actress for a while I cherished the idea of doing my narrations myself, but there were two things in the way of that happy eventuality. First of all, I barely have time to do laundry let alone narrate even one book, and second of all, I don’t have the money to rent a half-way decent studio. (Yes, I know some people do their recording in their homes, but I have an extremely vocal little dog, and my next door neighbor - while a wonderful and upstanding man - owns every piece of gasoline powered lawn equipment ever manufactured and seemingly uses every single one of them every day. His showpiece of a lawn proves it. It is especially noticeable next to our scraggly property, where we cherish our weeds because at least they are green.) No, home recording was most definitely out.

However, due to a happy confluence of the universe and the intervention of a dear friend, I came into contact with a marvelous narrator - whose voice you might recognize if you heard it - who agreed to go into partnership with me. We hope to have at least fifteen books out in audio by the end of summer. Admittedly I have much less to do with the process - edit the books to make sure they’re ready to record and then do an editorial check on the final tape or whatever it’s called.

And sometime in the few interstices of time, I do frivolous things like cook dinner, do laundry and sleep. Oh, and write. Remember, I have those two new books contracted. Sigh.

Maybe there’s a reason writers are regarded as crazy?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023



This is the lastest and last in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series.

Available for Kindle and in paperback.

It is difficult to say goodbye to Bear Creek and all those who live there, especially Tempe and her husband, Hutch. They've been a part of my life for many years. This is #20 in this series.

Some of the regulars also make their final appearance, such as Tempe's friend, Miqui Sherwood. Miqui has some romantic excitement going on in her life, when two handsome men pursue her with marriage in mind.

Nick Two John, Tempe's long time Indian friend, and his wife Claudia have prominent roles in this final tale. 

When Tempe lets her curiosity get the best of her and starts poking around in the mystery surrounding the discovery of a body in a neighbor's pond, hers and Hutch's lives are threatened.

Hopefully, readers will find this final mystery satisfying.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A Bargain is Coming

I  usually drop the price on older books, but this time it's for a fairly new one. THE TRASH HAREM. 

Beginning March 20 and until Marh 27, the price for the Kindle editon is only .99 cents.


Now retired from her job as a sheriff’s deputy, she receives a message from friends who once lived in Bear Creek and attended her husband’s, Pastor Hutch, church. The friend, Jonathan, is a suspect in a murder of one of the residents in a retirement community in Temecula where he and his wife now live. The retirement community includes many quirky individuals who might have had a better motive than Jonathan While attempting to solve the mystery; Tempe has several visitations by Earle Stanley Gardner, the famous mystery writer who gives her some suggestions. A bit of history of the Pechanga Indians is woven in including the revered Pechanga Old Oak. You’ll have to read the book to find out what a trash harem is. 

The cover photo depicts the ancient Pechanga Oak revered by the Pechanga Indians.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Horrors of Homophonic Mayhem

by Janis Patterson

Their going to brooch the door, and it will phase them awl if they find the diamond pen.

Nonsense, right? Definitely, though apparently not a growing number of ‘writers.’ I put writers in quote marks, because an alarmingly growing number of scribblers are putting such egregious mistakes all through their books. How can you expect a reader to stay in a story when clangers like this have to throw them out?

To elucidate using the example above - their (possessive which should modify/define something as in their boxes or their time) versus they’re (contraction of they are, a plural with a verb).

Or - brooch (a decorative piece of jewelry, usually large, and pinned onto a piece of clothing) versus broach (to open, as in door or cask or subject).

Or - phase (a measurement of time or behavior) versus faze (disconcert or disturb or sometimes startle).

Or - awl (a tool for piercing something, usually leather or wood) versus all (the whole quantity).

Or - pen (a writing implement) versus pin (a pointed piece of metal used to fasten things, or a piece of jewelry fastened to a garment with such a thing). 

Though to be fair, though, in the last example one could have a pen (writing instrument) decorated with diamonds, though I expect it would be most uncomfortable to use. Another reason one must be careful in delineating exactly what one is talking about.

As the first sentence proves, depending on the usage of words and spelling a sentence can have a totally different meaning from what the writer intended or even become completely incomprehensible. No one should ever expect their reader to translate their work!

For example, I read not long ago about a character that was trying to describe a crime scene as ‘grizzly,’ which jerked me right out of the story. What on earth, I wondered, was a bear doing in there? I even looked back a few pages to see if I had missed the inclusion of an ursine character. Of course, it finally dawned on me that the writer was so disrespectful of her readers she didn’t bother to differentiate between ‘grizzly’ - a large brown bear native to North America - and ‘grisly’ - which describes something of horror or disgust.

Now some may say that I am being too pedantic, that such nicety of meaning is meaningless. Once on a romance critique eloop I made a suggestion after reading a sample that to make the book better the writer might wish to pay more attention to her grammar and word choice. I was astonished at the vituperation such a truthful - and practical! - comment engendered. One which I remember to this day castigated me as a bitter failed writer (I had published over 30 books at that particular moment in time) and that this (incorrect) writer’s emotion and honesty would touch more people than I ever could.

Well, maybe, but only if they could translate the writer’s gibberish into sensible prose. And they didn’t specify which emotion - heartfelt romantic resonance or disgust at such a mangling of the English language.

As writers our job is to communicate, and that can only be done when there is a common, understandable language. One of the difficulties in translating a work of either prose or poetry into another language is that of nuance; differing definitions render such a task impossible. On a less literary note, I can testify to this. For reasons I won’t go into now I read a Belgian newspaper daily; it is written in Dutch (it’s complicated) a language which I do not speak, so I use the automatic translator on the internet. The results are usually pretty good, but sometimes almost incomprehensible and others downright hilarious.

We shouldn’t have to face the same difficulties in our own language.

There are lists of words of homophones (sound alike but different meanings) and homonyms (spelled alike but with different meanings and pronunciations) and they are impressively long. I’m not suggesting we as writers should have to memorize them, but it would be better for our readers and for our own image as communicators if we at least learned to use the correct word with the correct meaning in the correct place.

After all,  when we brooch a knew subject we don’t want to create a grizzly mess and brake our readers’ trust!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


 I've been so busy, now it's my husband that I'm having to tend to. He's 92 and does less and less for himself. We've been togehter for nearly 72 years. 

I squeeze in time at my computer in the early morning and hours and sometimes like now when he's watching his favorite NCIS--over and over. Fortunately, it's a very long running series.

Because I do work for people wanting to open licensed care homes for the developmentally disabled, I'm oftne busy writing their program designs--and checking out various regulations. I've been doing it for years. Interstingly, the requirements continue to change, so I have to keep up on those.

Last Saturday I went to my first in-person writing group meeting since the beginning of COVD. It was great seeing old friends, but not sure I'll go again. Planning for my husband made it a bit difficult. I need to accept that I'm in a different stage in life.

I'm still working on the last book in my Tempe Crabtree series, and since I have a break in other jobs, maybe I can actually get this first draft done.

My life has always been full of some kind of writing, and I don't see a change as yet.

What I do miss i going to in-person events and seeing prople and talking about my books.

Enjoy your life and your family and friends. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Terror of the Blank Page

by Janis Patterson

If there is anything that delineates the professional writer from the hobbyist scribbler, it is the respect of a deadline.

I will say here that there is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, unless you misrepresent yourself as being a professional writer. While both professionals and hobbyists work at building things with words, there is a vast difference. The hobbyist either waits until his Muse (Calliope for epic stories/poetry or Erato for things pertaining to love, or even Sheshat, if you prefer the Ancient Egyptian pantheon) deigns to grace him with driblets of what the writer will doubtless regard as deathless prose. (It is odd that the hobbyist almost always regards his output as deathless and perfect, in contrast to the professional who more often than not never believes that his results are as good as they should be.)

By contrast, the professional knows that by a certain time he has to produce a certain number of words of a certain quality on a certain subject no matter if his Muse is standing over his shoulder or is on vacation in Barbados.

And that involves staring at a blank page, which sometimes resembles nothing so much as a hungry maw demanding to be filled. You stare at the page (or screen) and it stares back at you. It can be terrifying. Behind that blank page stands an editor waiting for the agreed-upon copy, or fans, or even enemies, all ready to pounce on your work and express their opinions. Even worse, they are all - metaphorically, one must hope - breathing down the neck of the poor writer.

Deadlines have variable beginnings - imposed by an editor, or in the case of the self-published or those writing on spec, by oneself, by long-standing contract or to be honest by just about anything. Their one constant is that by a particular time, market, circumstance and/or contract, or Heaven-only-knows what else, they are demanding taskmasters which must be fulfilled.

Oh, there can be certain exceptions where a deadline is either extended or vacated, but the time gained is hardly worth the bother. My own personal periods of grace have been granted because of severe illness in the family, a near-fatal car wreck, the death of a dear one, and other but similar disasters... Like I said, not worth it. I would rather fulfill a deadline no matter what the cost than face those horrors again.

So what is the poor professional to do? If you are worth your salt, you sit in the chair, put your hands on the keyboard and start churning out the words without regard to what siren call is trying to distract you. It doesn’t matter if the first few hundred words are total dreck. There truly is a reason the ‘delete’ key was invented! I regard this as sort of like priming the pump. (Do today’s people even know what that means? Putting water down an old-fashioned lever pump in order to create a sort of suction so pumping the lever will raise the water. TMI? But we gotta fill that word count however we can!) Remember the prolific Nora Roberts said, (paraphrasing) write, even if it’s garbage - you can fix garbage but you can’t fix a blank page. (Told you those blank pages could be terrifying!)

Once primed, the writer’s training and practice and determined professionalism should kick in and the words start to coalesce into a sensible form that fulfills the parameters of your project. And eventually - hopefully! - you will finish it to your satisfaction. A goal you must reach whatever it takes.

The resultant feeling of satisfied euphoria usually lasts until the next time, the next deadline, so always remember that terrifyingly empty blank screen will be waiting for you - but you can master it, with or without the assistance of your Muse. You are a professional.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

No Excuse for not posting

 Well actually I have a lot of exuses as to why I haven't done my regular posting on this blog.

First, my 2nd daughter had a huge heart problem, nearly died. She wentt home and in a couple of days had to go back--this time she had open heart surgery. Thankfully, she is doing well now--not 100% but oh, so much better.

From before Thanksgiving and almost to New Years Eve, I was really sick with bronchitis. I was prescribed two antibiotics and they didn't do anything for me. 

On New Year's Day I actually felt like myself. So much so, I made my annual pot of seafood gumbo. All together we had 21 people here to enjoy it. It was a bit harder to do because I went to church first, so the cooking was later than usual. May not do it again--it's expensive and I'm getting old. Might just make a small batch for just a few.

During all the time and into this year, I had a lot of requests to do program designs for people want to start residential facities. Most were in the area where I do the most work, but some were for other areas. Takes a lot of time. I have to look up reguations and figure out what each regional center wants in the program design. 

Then my house phone went on the blitz and I didn't know it, so probably missed some calls. It's fixed now. 

I'm about halfway through writing my latest and last Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, and I've finally had time to do some work on it. Not sure how it's going to end--which of two suspects will end up being the murderer.

Anyway, forgive me you folks who follow this blog. I'll try to do better in the future.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Poor Abused Apostrophe and the Confusion It Causes

by Janis Patterson

I will admit it, I am a stickler for the correct usage of the English language, which means that these days my grammatical sensibilities spend a great deal of time being lacerated, usually over the abuse and misuse of the apostrophe.

The apostrophe is a humble and very useful part of grammar. Not only does it indicate ownership both singular and plural, it denotes a shortening of a phrase by standing in for a missing letter - both very needful in writing if one is not to sound stilted and stuffy. Properly used, it can clarify a point like nothing else.

So why do so many people abuse it? The rules, even though not totally consistent, are easy to learn and follow.

For example, ‘its’ is a possessive, meaning something belonging to it, where ‘it’s’ is a contraction for ‘it is.’ This is an exception to the general rule, but certainly not egregiously complicated.

Customer’s is a singular possessive - something belonging to a specific customer. Customers is a simple plural - more than one customer. Customers’ means something belonging to all or a great group of customers. Is that so hard?

Apparently. Not long ago I wanted to go to a certain store, but the large - and largely empty - parking lot had a sign proclaiming ‘Customer’s Only’. Being of a precise (and admittedly bloody-minded) nature, I parked carefully across the street where I could be seen by the cashier and walked over. Once inside I asked why they restricted their parking lot to only one customer when it was of a decent size.

Unable to answer, she called for her manager, who didn’t understand either even after I explained the different between singular and plural possessive and voiced concern that they were driving away business because of their signage. I even told them that they were remiss in not explaining what exactly was the singular customer’s. Though in this ungrammatical day and age I suppose parking could be logically extrapolated.

They asked me to leave. And I guess that some people have no shame in parading their ignorance to all and sundry, because until they day they went out of business (by a lack of multiply parked customers, I wonder?) they never changed their sign.

Again, in a novel I found the character talking (obvious in the context) about a family named Smith. It read something like, “The Smith’s are going to rent a beachhouse.” Well, this is wrong on so many levels. First of all, which singular Smith? And which singular Smith’s what? In this case it should have been a simple plural - the Smiths. 

Sadly there is a definite prejudice against self-published novels, especially romance, and examples of this disregard of correct apostrophe etiquette are often cited as the reason. What is never mentioned is that there are the same kind - and sometimes worse - examples are to be found in the theoretically superior and sacrosanct precincts of traditional publishing in a rapidly expanding number.

Something like “’s appearance was unworthy of the care one would expect the Carters family shop to have expended on something that would bear the Carter’s name...” is not only confusing, it pulls the reader out of the story, it becomes an exercise in translation. And no writer wants that, does he?

Like its much more challenging cousin the comma, the poor apostrophe is abused and misused with a blatancy that is astonishing, especially since the correct usage is so simple. All writers - and readers - should learn the proper forms and meanings.

And stop being an Apostrophe Abuser!