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.