Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Crushing Death Blog Tour Continues

April 28  A Day in the Life of Chief Chandra Taylor

April 29 Interview

April 30 Questions Answered

May 1 Keeping a Series Fresh

May 2 Naming Characters

May 3 The First Two Pages

May 4  How Much Grit do you Want?


If your planning a blog tour and don't think you have enough topics--feel free to borrow some of mine.

F.M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DO MYSTERY WRITERS READ MYSTERIES?

Based on the emails and other social media messages I read daily, the answer to the title of this blog is “Absolutely!” Other authors and I recommend favorite mystery books (and TV shows and movies), review favorite mystery authors, publicize new mystery publications, write back page blurbs, and otherwise engage in devouring every book we can in our favorite genre – and sub-genres.
             
So why do I ask a question to which there is an obvious answer? Because sometimes, the answer is not so obvious.

Some writers refrain from reading books, of any genre, when they are actively writing, which, judging from their output, is always. They are afraid they will pick up the pacing, style, cadences of other authors’ books and imitate them in their own. I know when I was in high school and college, my book reports tended to sound as though they were written by the author I was studying. My written explorations of the Bronte sisters tended to be rather long-winded; those of Hemingway quite brief.
 
And then there is the fear of unwittingly using a theme or murder technique or plot device or McGuffin used by another author. There is no copyright on titles or ideas, but there is the concern of being seen as “derivative.” Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery in some circles, but not when creating a book that you hope will be unique.
It can be eerie to come across something you thought you had created and had never been used before. Recently, I was reading a mystery book in which a suspect was revealed to be a Wiccan, the murder victim to have a heart condition, and the “murder weapon” to be ephedra. All three were features of my first mystery novel Chanukah Guilt, published a year before the book I was reading. All other details in this book – location, characters, motivation – were totally different from mine. But I was so unsettled that I checked the publication dates and was relieved my book had been published before this other one. If anyone had “stolen” my idea, it was she. But I could not imagine that a best-selling, award-winning author living in England would have come across my book early enough to have copied my idea and incorporated it into a book that was published less than a year after mine. I’m sure it was pure coincidence, but it was still reassuring to know I had been first and hadn’t unwittingly copied her idea.
For me, there is another factor that can impede my enjoyment of reading mysteries – not that it has ever stopped me. I am often second-guessing the author as to the identity of the perpetrator, thinking it would have been a better book if X had done it, not Y. (I did that with Chanukah Guilt, which is why I appended an “alternate solution” in the second edition, with a different ending.) Sometimes, I do figure out the solution correctly, and early in the book, at which point I metaphorically scream at the characters, “Come on, you guys! It’s obvious!) Other times, I figure out the bad guy, but not the motivation. And, of course, there are the times when I am as baffled as Watson witnessing Sherlock’s incredible mental gymnastics.

But none of these reasons are impediments to my enjoyment of the books. There are always incentives to continue reading. I won’t know if I’ve correctly identified the guilty person until I finish the book, and I don’t like to cheat by turning to the back of the book. And the puzzling motive is often not revealed until close to the end when the detective, channeling Poirot, gathers all the suspects in one room to expostulate on his reasoning. And there are authors who delight in big surprises, revealing someone no one suspected. Unless it involves an “aha” moment when I’m mentally kicking myself for not noticing the solution earlier, those unexpected solutions often leave me unsatisfied and deciding not to read anything else by that author. Until, of course, I forget my resolve, and do.

So, for me, too, the answer to the question in the title is “Absolutely!”

Rabbi Ilene Schneider is the award-winning author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries, Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead; the 3rd, a work-in-progress, is titled Yom Killer. She also wrote the best-selling nonfiction Talk Dirty Yiddish: Beyond Drek.

Email: rabbi.author@yahoo.com
Website/Blog: rabbiauthor.com

 

              

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Being a Hooker by Serita Stevens

When a longtime friend got into an argument with another friend about the myth of the first ten pages, I had to step in. Having, as a big favor, read his script, I had to agree that indeed the first ten were crucial.

It's often said that readers -- script or book -- will give you ten pages to prove yourself as a writer and get them engaged enough to continue reading.  Maybe book readers might give you a chapter before they put it down, but file it in the circular container they will if you cannot follow the dictates and needs of today's readers. This is especially true here in Hollywood, where 1:4 people -- maybe more -- have a script in their drawers and readers are swamped with material.

In fact, I've heard various readers say that they can after only one or two pages determine if you are a professional writer. They know this by how you introduce the character, establish the point of view, make him likeable, set up the world, the problem that the character must solve, and their obstacles.

My friend's script meandered, did not make clear who the main character was, what her problem was (I didn't learn that until page 25 -- and if I had not promised to read it for him I would have put it down long ago!) and what her obstacles were. He also had numerous transitions scenes that were unnecessary for the story -- her getting into the car, making dinner and even going to the bathroom -- none of which moved the story forward.

At one time, when books were king and authors like Charles Dickens had the leisure to slowly draw us into the world, things were different. People had time then. These days, with everything that demands our attention, time is something we give grudgingly, and we are easily distracted and pulled away from stories that move slow.
 
Readers today want instant excitement, engagement and concern.  In my workbook -- The Ultimate Writers Workbook For Books and Scripts -- based on my teaching at various universities and conferences, my chapter on beginnings says that we must be hookers. We, the writer, must hook the reader with "sexy" active words, showing not telling and only hints of the background. I don't care if the science fiction palace has 4 or 10 columns, what the dress is or even the physical description of the characters -- unless those are crucial to the story. I do care what the characters' first actions and reactions are. That is how we get to know our hero and antagonist.

In scripts, where every word counts, the writer must be a minimalist. We don't need to know about the velvet drapes or the oak desk -- unless they are crucial to the story. You can just say an ornate room with Jacobean furniture and let the set designer decide. Part of that is because scripts are a team effort and not a sole job as many books are. They have to be a reading experience, but not overwhelming with long passages of description, dialogue or backstory.

Even with books, too many novice writers start with a flashback -- or what they believe to be a flashback. (However, you cannot flash back to a scene when you haven't started yet, when you haven't engaged us in the character and his problem yet.)  Or they start with pages and pages of backstory (how the character came to where he is now) when that is better dripped into the story by bits and pieces once we have already identified with the character and decided we want to follow him. They tell us things, but they don't show us and their writing is passive rather than active. (He is running versus he ran.) They have not yet learned to start with an action that will involve us in the character's life. They bore us with physical traits of blond hair and blue eyes when that doesn't really matter to who the character is or how he reacts.

You can read more about me and my creative projects at my website. My forthcoming novel is titled My Pagan Love.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Anniversary Celebration by Ronald Wendling

A party to celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of my memoir, Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-JesuitMakes Peace with the Past, was held on April 3rd at the condominium in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where my wife Mary and I reside. A good part of the crowd was made up of friends and neighbors at the condo many of whom had already read the book and spoken to me about how it resonated with them, especially the first few chapters about the sufferings of families.

There were also family and longtime friends in attendance, among them Father Anthony Berret, author of Music in the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who with the generosity so typical of his Jesuit colleagues supported me in the writing of my memoir from its beginnings. (See the photo below in which Father Berret is standing next to my wife, Mary.)
 
Members of our immediate family were also there, as you may see in the following photo. From left to right: Daughter Jen, Ron, daughter Margie, wife Mary, brother-in-law Ed, sister-in-law Margaret, Ed and Margaret's daughter Maura, Maura's daughter, Maggie.

I read three short passages from my memoir, all three about my father. Dad was a prankster, especially before recovering from his long addiction to alcohol, and the first passage I read related to a particularly cruel trick he played on me and my mother when I was about six. The second had to do with the last day I saw him alive, and the third with a treasury bond he had set aside for my mother that ended up, thirty-seven years later, paying almost to the penny for her last month in a nursing home. After the reading, I signed copies of the book.

I am still good friends with the man who served as best man at my wedding. He could not attend the book celebration for health reasons but sent a floral centerpiece instead, and the day after the party my wife and I took the flowers to that nursing home in memory of my mother.

Unsuitable Treasure tells how my choices were influenced by my father’s addiction. I attended a Jesuit high school in Buffalo, New York, at the same time my father was recovering from alcoholism. But my mother, unable to forgive her husband for his past mistreatment of her, fostered in me a need to make up to her for my father’s sins and so delayed the separation from her necessary to my growing up. I entered the Jesuit order at seventeen, my father died of cancer shortly afterward, and nine lonely years later I left the Jesuits having discovered under their tutelage that I was not one of them. My marriage, my children, my career teaching literature, and the writing of this memoir all taught me mercy, especially to my body, and helped me bridge the gap between my appreciation of the Jesuits and the necessity I felt to leave them behind.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Standing Desks

Mary,

Thanks for the blog about standing desks. If memory serves me, Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway used them. You're in great company.

Doug

What a Difference Standing Up to Write Makes



"Varitec Desktop" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Have you ever gotten tired of sitting in front of your computer writing day after day? I know I did. That's why I was so excited to discover the Varitec desk that comes completely ready to install on a table or desk of your choice.

After I complained often about wanting to be able to stand while writing, my Knight in Shining Armor (KISA) got busy researching the best products. That was right before Christmas, and by Christmas day, he had ordered it and had it ready to install.

The problem was that I had my desk piled high with papers and books on all sides of my computer with no place to put the Varitec. I needed to do something with everything, and throwing stuff out was not an option. I decided on a new shelf unit from Lowe's, and KISA, with help from our daughters, soon had the very nice new set of four shiny metal shelves installed in a corner of my writing office. I went through everything and filled the shelves in a very orderly fashion.

Seeing the big wide desktop empty and ready was an amazing experience. To my surprise, as promised, the Veritec was ready to open and set down on my desk. It has several height settings, so if I decide I want to sit, I can.

However, I never have changed the setting that allows me to stand tall. This has done wonders for my posture. I am so pleased. What a difference maker this is for an active writer.



Mary Montague Sikes


Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Roundup: April 22, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! Our blog had another busy week. Amy Bennett (At the Crossroad) started the week with a tribute to the biggest fan of her fiction, and Ronald Wendling (Unsuitable Treasure) followed up in a post describing his reactions to Theresa Weir's memoir, The Orchard. John Wills (Healer) added commentary about writing non-fiction, and Marilyn Meredith (A Crushing Death) posted a status report about her blog tour. Please be sure to enjoy these posts and leave a comment!

Fiction and publishing had an exciting week with the announcement of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The winner was The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a USC professor. Published by Grove Atlantic, the novel focuses on the Vietnam War and its aftermath as seen through the eyes of an anonymous Vietnamese protagnoist, the son of a Vietnamese teenager and a French priest who is educated in the United States. This duality is carried further by the protagonist's role as both citizen and spy. The novel itself is at once a tragedy and a comedy. You can read more about The Sympathizer in this New York Times review.    

While you're adding that book to your reading list, be sure to add some of the award-winning titles in the OTP bookstore as well. We have compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal storiesmany of which have been acknowledged as prizewinners or finalists for regional and national book awards. Whatever your tastes, you'll find a book to love among our titles. 

And as a bonus to commemorate Earth Day, all OTP books listed at All Romance and its partner site OmniLit are eligible for a 50% rebate April 22 only. Shop to your heart's content at AllRomance.com, the ARe Android app, or the ARe iTunes app and enjoy a 50% rebate that can be used for future ebook purchases through All Romance.    

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.


"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
~Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
 

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured.





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LATEST RELEASE

We're excited to announce our latest release: A Portrait to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring. This novel is the latest in Radine's award-winning mystery series, which also includes A Fair to Die For and several other mysteries.

The series follows the Ozarks adventures of Carrie McCrite and Henry King
. People often ask me where Carrie McCrite and Henry King came from," Radine says. "Truth is, they just 'came,' like friends newly introduced. I got to know both of them better as I wrote their stories. . . . I feel very close to both of them. Sure, I live in a make-believe world while I'm writing, but that's true of most, if not all, fiction writers. If I don't feel the emotions my characters are experiencing, how can I expect readers to?"

In the latest installment, Carrie discovers two versions of a supposedly original portrait in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. When a reporter who interviewed Carrie at the museum disappears, Carrie must choose between her promise to stop crime-solving or work to find the woman--a college friend of her son's.

Praise for the novel

"Using her faith and her ingenuity, and with capable assistance from her husband Henry, amateur sleuth Carrie McCrite finds herself dealing with a strangely aggressive reporter and a volatile Iraqi war veteran while trying to make sense of duplicate portraits she sees in a loaned exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Tackling her biggest challenge yet, Carrie sorts through a series of confusing scenarios, only to face a man who'll do anything to protect his lucrative scheme." --Joe David Rice, tourism director, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

"Radine Trees Nehring has again earned her Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame acclaim by setting A Portrait to Die For in the world-honored Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. 

"Popular amateur sleuth Carrie McCrite is involved in yet another mystery endangering her and her family. This time they deal with art fraud, arson, kidnapping—all because of their attempt to locate and save a missing news reporter." --Marilyn Collins, publisher at CHS Publishing, public speaker, noted non-fiction author and teacher.

"Carrie McCrite loves her work as a volunteer in the library of Arkansas's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Everything is going smoothly until she agrees to be interviewed by a notoriously invasive reporter.

"Nehring's suspenseful craftsmanship makes this story a never-to-be forgotten read." --Barbara Youree, author and volunteer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, author of Renaissance Brides.

"Nestled in the hills of Arkansas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is the setting for the latest crime facing Radine Trees Nehring's married senior sleuths, Carrie McCrite and Henry King -- only this time there is a threatening twist, exposing how complicated some family relationships can be. An engaging and fun read." --Linda Apple, Arkansas regional speaker trainer for Stonecroft Ministries, author of Writing Life: Writing From Your Soul; Connect! A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers; and Women of Washington Avenue 

Radine Trees Nehring's writing career (non-fiction) began when she was old enough to join AARP, and she didn't expand into fiction writing for a number of years after that. "Yes, a journalism and feature writing career was satisfying, even fun," she says. "It was great to see my work in print and know others were reading what I had researched and shared in published articles and a non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, as well as a broadcast journalist. But then I thought, hmmm, I love reading mysteries, could I write one? Why not try? Well . . . fiction writing turned out to be the most fun of all. 

"I'm grateful to say my writing has earned recognition and a number of awards because that, along with reader-fans who write me, affirms that I am accomplishing something worth while. Isn't that, after all, our goal in life, no matter what avenue we use to accomplish it? I firmly believe those who have been here on earth for a spell have a wealth of observations and ideas to draw on for their writing. And, the longer we live, the more of this wealth we have to share. As for research necessary to write about Carrie and Henry's adventures? Well, who could ask for more fun? Friendships made with "research assistants" at each location are a huge plus that I hadn't expected at start-up. Friendships with readers, met in person and on the Internet, are another valued plus."

You can learn more about Radine and her writing at her website. 


REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS


Richard Paolinelli was a guest on Red River Radio's No Limits with Barbara M. Hodges on April 19. Richard talks about his career as a writer and his approaches to the various genres in which he writes. He also describes his current books and upcoming projects. An engaging and revealing interview!

You can hear the full broadcast here.  

He also appeared on The Writers Block on Thursday, April 21, at 8 p.m. (PDT) as part of the LA Talk Radio online network.

The complete show is available in this archive.

Richard is the author of Reservations, a mystery/thriller, set near Gallup, New Mexico where the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations are adjacent. Three tribal leaders have been murdered —murdered in a fashion that suggests the deeds were carried out by the Coyote, a legendary evil trickster feared by many Native Americans.

The tribal president contacts his old friend in the FBI for assistance in solving the crimes and preventing more murders. The FBI selects its star agent, Jack Del Rio, and dispatches him to New Mexico. Del Rio finds a situation tangled in political intrigue, and must work through those issues on his way to solving the mystery. Assisting him in his quest is Officer Lucy Chee. A romantic interest develops between the two. Del Rio identifies the murderer, but not without further bloodshed and loss.

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Radine Trees Nehring was interviewed on Evelyn Cullet's blog on April 17. Evelyn asks, "What is it about the Ozarks?"

Radine anwers in part, "When John and I bought acres of Ozarks hills and hollows in 1978, there were no houses along our road. We wanted a country location and this was definitely it. Camping in wooded areas in New England, Oregon, and across Canada during our August vacations had awakened something amazing inside both of us. We were a city-dwelling-career-oriented couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who had fallen in love with sparsely populated country locations. The city? Careers? We wanted out!" 

You can read the full interview here.

Radine's latest novel is A Portrait to Die For. In the novel, Carrie discovers two versions of a supposedly original portrait in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges of American Art, where she does volunteer work. When the reporter who interviewed Carrie at the museum is abducted, Carrie must choose between honoring her promise to stop crime-solving--or work to find the woman who was her son's college friend.






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Marilyn Meredith (aka F. M. Meredith) was interviewed on Jacqueline Vick's A Writer's Jumble blog, where she answered a question about finding venues for book promotion. Her appearance was part of her multi-stop blog tour for her latest book, A Crushing Death.

She says, "I love meeting readers and talking about different facets of writing.

"Early on, I felt like bookstore signings were the only way to go—but it didn’t take me long to discover there were so many more places to appear and talk about my books."

 
The rest of the post appears here.

Marilyn's latest book is A Crushing Death, the latest in her Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. In the novel, a pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Officer Milligan’s teenage daughter has a problem.




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J. L. Greger's forthcoming Murder: A Way to Lose Weight was featured as a Venture Galleries Book of the Moment this week. The post included two reviews.

Reviewer C. L. Swinney, a homicide detective and author, praised the book: "Being a constant dieter and someone who tries every new diet fad on the market, the topic of overlooking ill effects of a diet product during scientific testing struck a chilling chord in me. The plot is unique and compelling, and although I am not a 'science' person, the science part of the mystery was so well portrayed I had no problem understanding it.

"I think the dialogue and the mannerisms displayed by the characters during the dialogue were my favorite part of this book. Reading how the author was able to show rather than tell this interesting story was refreshing.

"I’ve been around law enforcement and crime scenes for almost fifteen years. I’d say Greger nailed the scenes, how they’d be processed, and what the officers would do at them."

The other review is by OTP author Dac Crossley. You can read the rest of the feature here.

Dieting is hard. So is fitting into a new job where you aren’t wanted. In Murder: A Way to Lose Weight, Dr. Linda Almquist is trying to do both as she investigates two diet doctors who are endangering the lives of their obese patients. When she finds one diet doctor dead, she and the police suspect the other diet doctor. Maybe they’re wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past—something involving the dean of the medical school. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

J. L. is also the author of Coming Flu, Ignore the Pain, Malignancy, and I Saw You in Beirut.  

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Thonie Hevron's By Force of Fear was featured as a Venture Galleries Book of the Moment this week. The post included several reviews.

Reviewer Mike Worley, author of the Angela Masters Detective Novel series, enthuses, Thonie Hevron nails it with this story of a new detective and her senior partner as they hunt for a vicious killer. But the detective herself is being hunted, by the most unlikely of suspects.

"The story is set in Santa Rosa, CA and features authentic locations, which bring realism to the narrative. Ms. Hevron, a law enforcement veteran, also shows her knowledge of police procedures and, most importantly, the impact that one unexpected event can have on an officer’s life.

"I highly recommend this book for those who love a good mystery. Not only did I enjoy the book itself, but my own novels are set in Santa Rosa and I learned some new things about the area from Ms. Hevron’s accounts.
 
You can read the rest of the feature here.

In By Force or Fear, the shocking end to a hostage situation brings a courageous Sheriff’s Deputy to the attention of a powerful young judge. His obsession grows as she pursues a violent killer in the Sonoma wine country. After losing almost everyone close to her, she finds out the judge’s offer of security isn’t as attractive as he presented. As she closes in on the murderer, the judge’s own trap snaps shut, putting her and her partner in jeopardy.

Thonie is also the author of Intent to Hold.

   
  AWARDS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Marilyn Meredith (aka F. M. Meredith) was featured in the April 2016 edition of Le Coeur de l'Artiste, which listed a short synopsis of her latest novel, A Crushing Death.

You can see the listing here.

She was also featured on several blogs this week as part of her extensive blog tour for A Crushing Death, the 12th in her Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. 

On the Writers Who Kill blog on Saturday, April 16, she wrote about ways in which she's killed off characters in her mysteries.

She says, "I’ve managed to kill of a lot of characters in my mysteries in many different ways.

"I’ve used poison a couple of times and an overdose once. An axe came in handy for a decapitation, and of course knives have played an important part in others. In the book I’m working on now, a fireplace poker did the horrible deed.

"Drowning or what looks like drowning has also been the cause of death, as has strangulation and suffocation.


"A deliberately set house fire took another life, as did a wildfire. In fact, I put fires in so many books, I once had someone ask if I was a repressed fire bug."
 


You can read the full post here.

Then on Sunday, April 17, she appeared on the Celebrate with a Book blog where she wrote about what makes her write. 

She explains, "What makes me write? For me it’s a compulsion. When I finish writing one book, editing it, sending it off to the publisher I already have ideas churning around in my head and making notes about the next book I’m going to write.

"One of the big reasons is because I’m writing a series, I really want to know what is going to happen to my characters next. The only way to find that out is to write the next book."

You can read the full post here. 

On April 19, she appeared on the Buried under Books blog to talk about writing and book promotion for introverts. In her post, titled Confessions of an almost cured introvert, she writes,

"Anyone who knows me in-person or even as a friend on the Internet probably won’t believe that I was ever an introvert. I’m quite willing to get up and speak in public almost anywhere and about anything I’m passionate about—especially topics to do with writing or books.

"I once quivered and suffered nervous attacks when I knew I had to give a speech, or even when attending a social engagement where I might not know anyone.

"The first step to healing was when I became PTA president . . .


You can read the full post here

On April 22, she posted on M. M. Gornell's blog about the blogger's favorite character in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

She writes, "Because I know that Officer Gordon Butler is M.M. Gornell’s favorite character in this series, I thought I’d write about him and how he came to be.

"Gordon makes his first appearance in Fringe Benefits. At that time, I had no idea how important he’d become to the series." 


You can read the full post here.  

Two OTP authors also featured Marilyn this week. Check out our Blog Corral (below) for details.
  
In A Crushing Death, pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Officer Milligan’s teenage daughter has a problem.


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Ilene Schneider was featured on James R. Callan's The Author's Blog this week, where she divulged the secret to writing books that people will read.

She writes, "A short while ago, a friend, who is a fan of mysteries, asked me if I had ever read any books by a specific author. The author has won numerous awards and is the name you do not want to see on a “best of year” ballot with yours. You may as well take her out for a celebratory drink before the voting ends. Yet, despite her status as a “must read,” and even though I have heard her speak at conferences, I had never read her series. I told my friend I’d download the first book in the series to my Kindle and try it.

"That was two weeks ago. I am now on the fifth book in the series. I finish one and immediately click the link to download the next. There is no more than a minute lag between my reading."


So what do a cozy-ish police procedural and Games of Thrones have in common for Ilene? Find out here.

Ilene is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mystery series, which includes Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead. In the latter, two members of Rabbi Aviva Cohen’s congregation are found deadvictims, apparantly, of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. But Aviva has info that leads her to doubt it was an accident. Then, police suspect Aviva’s niece’s partner in a hit-and-run death. Aviva is sure the woman is innocent, even though her SUV has a body-sized dent on the hood.

As she looks into the two disparate cases, Aviva discovers they may be connected, and her amateur sleuthing takes a sinister turn that involves sexual abuse of teenage girls, money laundering, stolen identities, and an FBI investigation. Once again, her curiosity has put her life in jeopardy.


UPCOMING


Frank Fiordilisi will be attending the members-only Charlotte-Columbia Ladies Book Club for a private book discussion on Friday, April 22. His novel, Ichabod Wolfe, was the featured book for the club in March, and they will be discussing it at this upcoming meeting.

"Don’t let the title or the vibrantly rendered 1860s Kansas setting fool you, Ichabod Wolfe is more than western or a detective thriller. Frank Fiordalisi vividly delivers the tale of one good man, from boyhood into middle-age, in a time before law and order was the order of the land. Ichabod Wolfe is a character who will stay with you for a long time, a quietly smart man who keeps his head—and his heart—in the face of perversity and corruption, an investigator in the time before the certainties of fingerprints and DNA. A good yarn, a trial of justice, well told." --Rhonda Riley, author of Adam Hope




 
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John Wills will be signing his books at the 6th Annual Home & Garden Show at the Fauquier County Fairgrounds, 6209 Old Auburn Road, Warrenton, Virginia, on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

John's most recent book is Healer. In Healer, sixteen-year-old Billy Anderson’s short life has been full of daunting challenges. A birth defect and the death of his parents force him to live with his Aunt Staci. That situation becomes untenable for Billy and he chooses to live on the street. One day things change dramatically when Billy receives the “Gift of Healing.” Not only does Billy’s own life take a dramatic turn, but his new gift also affects those around him. Is this gift a blessing or a curse?

John is also the author of Dancer and The Year Without Christmas.

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Author and artist Beryl Reichenberg will be teaching a children's paper craft and bookmaking class on Saturday, April 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., she'll be at the park along Highway 1 across from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, for the San Luis Obispo Botanical Gardens Earth Day celebration. She writes, "I will be able to sell my books and will highlighting my book Butterfly Girls.

"Preserving the micro-environments that monarch butterflies use to winter over on the Central Coast and planting milkweeds that monarch caterpillars eat are locally important in encouraging these insects that help pollinate other plants.

"The organizers of this event anticipate a big crowd and lots of children. I’ll have my usual display of my books, my brochures, business cards, and email signup list."


Finally, the Gallery at the Network in San Luis Obispo will host a fiber show during April and May. Anyone interested in seeing some of Beryl’s book art form should visit the gallery at 778 Higuera Street, Suite B, during the day or during Art After Dark on the first Friday of May.

Beryl is the author many titles for children, including six from OTP. In addition to Butterfly Girls, she has written Ants on a Log, Camouflage, Clowning Around, When Caterpillars Dream, and The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake.


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C. Ed Traylor will be signing copies of his award-winning novel, The Crossing, at two upcoming events. He'll be at the Nokomis Public Library in Nokomis, Illinois, on April 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. and at the Pana Public Library in Pana, Illinois, on May 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The novel focuses on Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge against the United States, the obsessive Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized attack that will hit three American cities on the anniversary of September 11. He obtains contact information of Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees – for a price ― to move terrorists across the border and supply all materials needed for the attacks.

All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped for a speeding violation in Illinois.  There, 400 kilograms of cocaine are discovered, concealed in his vehicle, and he is facing significant prison time.  To save himself, Garcia, becomes an informant for agents of the FBI Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

Unbeknownst to the other terrorists, the informant, or the FBI Task Force, Racheed and his partner change plans at the last minute and enter the U.S. at a different location. This unexpected move forces the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?

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Ann K. Howley will be among the authors participating at the Bethel Park Library's Author Fair on Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

Ann is the author of the memoir Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, a wry, humorous coming of age memoir about a well-intentioned "problem child" raised by conservative, evangelical Christian parents in Southern California during the Sixties and Seventies.

As she naively stumbles through her youth and young adulthood, one misadventure after another, she also struggles to reconcile her ultra-Christian upbringing with women's liberation, prejudice, protest and poverty during this turbulent era, eventually gaining a different perspective of faith in a world more complicated, terrifying, funny and wonderful than she expected.






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Marilyn Meredith (aka F. M. Meredith) is in the midst off a blog tour for her latest release, A Crushing Death—the 12th in her Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

With more than two dozen stops, this tour is extensive, and Marilyn will be answering a host of questions about herself and the novel as well as sharing advice about writing and publishing. You won't want to miss these posts.

Another reason to keep up is Marilyn's blog tour contest. She explains that "the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery."

The full schedule and destinations of the tour are available here, and we'll be covering them throughout sections of the Weekly Roundup as they take place.

April 15 - Bookbrowsing blog: Why with All Your Experience Did You Choose to Write Mysteries?
April 16 - Writers Who Kill blog: What a Great Name for a Blog!
April 17 - Celebrate With a Book blog: What Makes Me Write?
April 18 - John M. Wills's blog: The Basics of a Blog Tour
April 19 - Jacqueline Vick's blog: Public Appearances
April 19 - Buried under Books blog: The Confessions of an Almost Cured Introvert
April 20 - Thonie Hevron's blog: The Setting for A Crushing Death
April 21 - J. L. Greger's blog: What Makes a Series Work?

April 22 - M. M. Gornell's blog: A Favorite Character in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series
April 23 - Profiles of Murder blog: Where Did the Idea for A Crushing Death Come From?
April 24 - Will Kill for a Story blog: About the Rocky Bluff P.D. Series
April 25 - Lorna Collins's blog: Questions About My Younger Life
April 26 - Linda Thorne's blog: The Challenge of Coming Up with New and Interesting Topics for a Blog Tour

April 27 - Joanne Guidoccio's blog: Ten Interesting Facts About Chief Chandra Taylor
April 28 - Dru's Book Musing blog: A Day in the Life of Chief Chandra Taylor
April 29 - S. D. Skye's blog: Interview
April 30 - Patricia Gligor's Writer's Forum blog: Questions Answered
May 1 - M. K. Graff's blog: Keeping a Series Fresh
May 2 - Holli Castillo's blog: Naming Characters
May 3 - B. K. Stevens's blog: The First Two Pages
May 4 - Maggie King's blog: How Much Grit do you Want?

May 5 - Jackie Taylor Zortman's Mountain Memos blog: Jackie Zortman is a Character in A Crushing Death
May 6 - Anastasia Pollock's blog: Mistakes People Make on Facebook
May 7 - Serita Stevens's blog: Crossing Paths on the Internet and in Person
May 9 - Amy Bennett's Back Deck blog: Critique Groups
May 10 - Dave Cropp's blog: My Most Favorite Writing Conference
May 11 - Evelyn Cullett's blog: A Review and Excerpt (This is the last stop on the tour. The contest winner will be notified by email or Facebook message and announced in many places.)
May 26 - Murderous Musings blog: Summing Up My Blog Tour


In A Crushing Death, a pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Officer Milligan’s teenage daughter has a problem.


RECENT

Carolyn Niethammer recently attended a book club that had read her novel The Piano Player as their monthly selection. Carolyn downloaded onto her laptop a dozen historic photos that showed characters and events depicted in the novel.

The book club members enjoyed seeing pictures of the real people they had read about in the book. Among the photos were images of the 1898 climb over the Chilkoot Pass during the Yukon Gold Rush. The photographer took the pictures using a large format camera and glass plates. 

The Piano Player has been recognized by the International Book Awards, Western Fictioneers, Arizona Authors Association, and New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.


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Nicholas Checker reports that the April 20, 2016, edition of The Day that the Otis Library in Norwich received an award as one of the nations highest ranked libraries. Nicholas recently had his Nightshade Productions film Wisp shown there, and he has given presentations on his Oak Tree Press novels Druids and Scratch (both available for loan through the Otis Library). "As a writer, I am extremely delighted!" he says. 




ADVANCE NOTICE

Additional details about these events will appear in future Roundups.

C. Ed Traylor will be presenting and signing copies of his novel The Crossing at several upcoming events in Illinois this summer. On May 19, at 7:30 a.m., he'll be the Taylorville Optimist Club in Taylorville.

On May 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., he'll be at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.

On June 11, from 4 to 7 p.m., he'll be at the Doyle Public Library in Raymond.
 
On June 15, from 10 a.m to noon, he'll be at the Henderson County Public Library in Biggsville.

On July 11, from 3 to 8 p.m., he'll be at the St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library in St. Joseph. 

On August 4, from 3 to 7 p.m., he'll be at the Sandwich Public Library in Sandwich.



 
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Ann K. Howley is looking forward to hosting her first Memoir Writers Weekend Retreat in western Pennsylvania's beautiful Laurel Highlands from June 3 to 5. Overnight spots are already filled, and she expects the Saturday-only spots to fill as well.

She will also be teaching summer and fall classes -- How to Write a Memoir, Short Story Writing. and How to Write for Magazines -- on three campuses of the Community College of Allegheny County system.

Finally, she's been invited to speak at two local conferences and a book club in the fall.


 



BLOG CORRAL

John M. Wills featured Marilyn Meredith (aka F. M. Meredith) on his blog this week as part of Marilyn's blog tour for her latest book A Crushing Death. Her topic was the nuts and bolts of planning a blog post.

She writes, "Fool that I am, I decided to embark on yet another blog tour. I put it that way because it’s a lot of work. So why do it? Because it’s fun and does introduce new readers to my books.
 

"For someone who’s never done this on their own, here are the basics of planning one."
 

You can read the rest of the post here.

John is the author of Dancer, The Year Without Christmas, and Healer.

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Thonie Hevron's Just the Facts, Ma'am blog also hosted Marilyn Meredith for a stop on the blog tour for Marilyn's A Crushing Death. Marilyn talks about the setting in her novel.

She writes, "I love the California coast and its beach communities, particularly the small ones. My affection comes from growing up in Los Angeles and as a teen being able to take public transportation with my friends and visit the beach often. My family made excursions to many nearby beaches whenever we had a free summer weekend."

Read more here about how these childhood memories transformed into a new world for her novel's characters.

Thonie is the author of By Force or Fear and Intent to Hold.



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J. L. Greger's Bugs blog was another stop on Marilyn Meredith's blog tour for A Crushing Death. In Marilyn's guest post, she answers the question, What makes a series work?

She writes, "The easy answer is the characters. For a series to work, the reader has to love the main character(s). If the main character(s) isn’t realistic with some flaws and redeeming qualities, he/she/they aren’t going to compel readers to be anxious for the next offering in the series. The writer hopes the reader will want to find out what is going to happen to the heroine/hero or supporting cast next."