Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blogging and Blog Tours

On my own blog yesterday and today I'm talking about my own blog tour for An Axe to Grind and blogging in general.

Because I'll be in New Orleans from Wednesday on (Epicon) where I hope to see our publisher, Billie, and also Mike Orneduff and his wife Lai--and a bunch of friends from Epic, I wrote blogs through March 8th so I wouldn't have to worry about that while I am gone.

When I get back I'll have plenty to write about the conference and what I saw along with photos--if I remember to take them.

Anyway, it would be great if some of you would visit the blogs I'm touring on next week and leave a comment. If you go to my website you can just click on the link.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Sending review copies

There's quite a cottage industry proliferating of late of rather clever readers who get free books that we voluntarily send them, at no small cost to us (the book, the postage, the mailer). These enterprising types promise a "review," and that's great except a lot of these "reviews" are placed only on their personal blogs that are visited by not that many, if any, prospective readers.

I suggest that we first check out these "reviewers" by asking them a few questions: like where will they post the review and how will they "advertise" it...

Hey, I'm all for getting free reading material, but just not from ME!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Off to New Orleans

Epicon is next week. Epic is the organization for e-publishing and I've belonged since soon after it was organized. Every year they have a conference which moves from place to place, this year it's in New Orleans. The highlight of the conference is the Awards Banquet--think Academy Awards. This year my book, No Sanctuary is a finalist in the mystery/suspense category. So is Mike Orenduff's first Pot Thief mystery. (I didn't have a photo of that first book so put his picture up instead.)

The Pot Thief is a wonderful book and I fully expect it to win the award. There are two other books in the running, but I haven't read either of them. I was pleased to be one of the finalist--I've been a finalist before and it's becoming a bit like always a bridesmaid never a bride.

In any case, I'm excited about visiting New Orleans. One night we're going on a river boat cruise. I'm looking forward to great music and delicious food and seeing many friends that I only see at Epicon.

I'll report about everything when I return.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time to Get Registered for the PSWA Conference

You have until March 31st to sign up for the Public Safety Writers Conference at the lowest registration fee. If you'd like to be on a panel, you must be signed up by then too.

We have some great panel slots and being on a panel is a great way to promote you book as well as pass on some knowledge.

The photos show AJ Farrar and a panel with some familiar faces, Holli, Mike Orenduff, me, Michael Black and PSWA President, Marilyn Olsen.

There's also a shot of some of the Oak Tree authors who attended as well as John Taylor receiving his writing contest award from Michelle Perin, the contest chair.

This is a fantastic conference and we have a terrific line-up of speakers for this year. Don't miss out.

Go to and click on the conference registration to sign up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things Change

Things change. Whenever we write a non-fiction book, we need to remember those words. When I wrote my book, Hotels to Remember, I had no idea the hotels I included would change so quickly. It is indeed a "snapshot in time."

The Adam's Mark St. Louis has undergone a $63 million transformation
to the 910-room Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront. The building is still within the shadow of the Arch, but the photos show no evidence of the beautiful and amazing art work that made the hotel so special I chose it for my book. Where is all the gorgeous art that filled the lobby? Where is the outdoor art that formed the unique view from windows on one side of the hotel? Where is Faust's Restaurant?

I have not been to St. Louis to see the transformed hotel, but I'd like to visit it. I want to go to the new Busch Stadium and watch the Cardinals play.

The Hyatt Regency Union Station is also part of my book. It is usually among the views shown as I watch the Cardinals play on Direct TV. Since it is a historical landmark for the city, I hope it will not change.

Things change. We have only a snapshot in time.

Mary Montague Sikes

Friday, February 12, 2010

Marilyn's Musings

Hope you all will visit Marilyn Meredith's blog site where she has an interview up that she did with me. She did an amazing job with the photos. What a nice way to promote fellow authors! Thank you for your support, and good luck with your latest book, An Axe to Grind.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Franklin at the Finish Line

IN FRANKLIN'S HOUSE is our second title for 2010 (first of the new year was Marilyn's AN AXE TO GRIND which is about to come off the press!)

Bev Lauderdale's story takes us through Kate's heartbreak at her husband's infidelity, keeping us with her all the way through her adjustment to a new life in a new place.

IN FRANKLIN"S HOUSE claimed the top prize in the 2008 Timeless Love imprint and contest inspired by Monti's HEARTS ACROSS FOREVER, discussed in the post below.

BTW, Monti, fasten your know where I am headed next!

Have to Brag a Bit, New Review for No Sanctuary

Good friend and fellow author, Madeline Gornell, sent me her review of No Sanctuary.

Stacey, Doug, and the Rocky Bluff Gang

Took the weekend off and read! For some reason(s) that I’ll have to think about later, felt guilty spending a big block of time reading. Versus doing chores, walking the dogs, starting my taxes, and oh yeah, writing.

One of the books I read was No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith, aka Marilyn Meredith—the fifth in her Rocky Bluff Police Department crime series. I chose this particular mystery from my stack because when I read my first Tempe Crabtree adventure—Marilyn’s Tulare County series—I liked Marilyn’s writing style. Clear, crisp, and engaging.

But I have to give a disclaimer, I like Marilyn Meredith, and consider her and her husband Hap friends. That being said, I read No Sanctuary straight through without breaks. Friendship doesn’t compel me to continue reading a book—a good story with good writing does!

Stacey Wilbur, Doug Milligan, Frank Marshall, Abel Navarro, Ryan Strickland, and others—aren’t really a “gang”—members of a police department actually. But I liked the way it sounded as a review title. I like mysteries with lots of characters, lots of suspects, lots of back stories. With that in mind, Marilyn weaves a literary tapestry that includes all of those aspects—creating for me, a very pleasing and comfortable fictional world. It was easy slipping away to Rocky Bluff.

A lot of the story telling in this fast-moving tale is achieved through on-the-mark dialogue. And who doesn’t love good dialog! I certainly do. Not once did I get bogged down, or had to go back. What was particularly enjoyable (and remarkable), was how I walked away with a clear “feel” for each character, often through their dialogue.

And Stacey is so likable! Indeed, most of the characters populating Rocky Bluff’s police department are endearing. One of my favorite characters turned out to be Gordon Butler, a minor player, but definitely not a “throw away.” If you want to slip away to a world you can easily like, characters you can root for, and a story that will keep you engaged, Rocky Bluff is a good place to visit.

Marilyn’s website is,, and her BLOG site is Besides other interesting blogs, Marilyn is currently interviewing PSWA author members. Take a peek, it’s interesting getting to know what makes authors tick.

Needless to say, I am thrilled. She posted this on her blog and many other places.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Past Lives

Last night, we watched the first show in the new series, "Past Lives" on Fox TV. Since I've been fascinated by reincarnation for as long as I can remember, I was excited to discover that network television is interested as well.

The first program featured the story of a 14-year-old boy who starts having memories of the traumatic kidnapping and drowning death of an eight-year-old girl. His memories, pieced together with the work of the two paranormal investigators who star in the show, result in the discovery of the girl's four-year-old sister who is now 18. She is reunited with her parents who had no idea she might still be alive.

My fascination with reincarnation inspired my first novel, Hearts Across Forever. I wondered what would happen if my heroine saw a painting of Rose Hall Great House (in Jamaica) and that event began to trigger a series of memories. In my book, Kathryn visits the famous old plantation house where she has a vision of people from her past life in 19th Century Jamaica dancing on the portico. She remembers a life as the star-crossed niece of Annie Palmer, known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.

I look forward to seeing more of the "Past Lives" television dramas. Hopefully, this show will spark renewed interest in my book which is still available on Amazon.

Other Oak Tree authors who have reincarnation stories may enjoy viewing programs from this television series. I'd like to know what you think about them.

Mary Montague Sikes

Monday, February 8, 2010

Star-Crossed Romance Blog

Today, I'm guest blogger on Lynda K. Scott's Star-Crossed Romance:

Please take a look, and write a comment. In the article, I mention something I remembered about the beginning of Virginia Romance Writers. Also, I'll be giving away a copy of my reincarnation story, Hearts Across Forever.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting Ready for Launch for An Axe to Grind

Because I'm expecting to get copies of my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel within the next few weeks, I'm gearing up for the promotion. I will wait until I have books in hand before planning the book launches, but I have two spots already lined up--one at a new deli in town, and in the nearest city at an used book store.

During the month of March I'm doing a virtual book tour. Don't know the dates of where I'll be yet, but will be posting them as soon as I do know.

On the 3rd of March we're flying to Epicon in New Orleans. I've got cards ready to hand out with the new book cover and all the information. Of course at the awards banquet we'll find out who won best mystery/suspense--both Mike Orenduff's, Pot Thief and my No Sanctuary are running against each other. I'm expecting the Pot Thief to win, but I'm thrilled to be one of the finalists.

Sunday, March 21 we'll be setting up our tent at Channel Islands Harbor to sell books at the Celebration of the Whales, Oxnard CA.

And on March 28th, I'll be doing a joint booksigning with the Central Coast Sisters in Crime at the Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay.

In April we'll be heading over to Ridgecrest to talk to the Ridgewriters again. They are a branch of the California Writers Club.

On the 23rd of April, I'll be speaking at the Visalia Branch of the Tulare County Libary at 7 p.m.

May 8th I'll have a booth at the Jane Austen Fair from 9 to 5 in Fresno.

And on the 26th of May we're flying to Omaha for Mayhem in the Midlands.

The 12th of June will find me at the Hanford Library at 2 p.m.

And of course from the 17th to the 20th, I'll be in Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel for the PSWA conference. If you haven't signed up for that one yet, got to the website

And of course I'll be Twittering and posting on Facebook.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Again and Blogging

Looking out the window at the diagonal snow falling from the sky, I feel like we have moved to Alaska. It's especially strange to see our Southern Magnolia tree (in the photo) covered with snow. Washington, DC is not that far away, and they're expecting feet, not inches of snow, so I think we may be lucky with a lot less. It truly makes it hard to believe that global warming is real!

A few weeks ago, when we could still see the ground, I followed Marilyn Meredith's advice about guest blogging and signed up for Lynda K. Scott's blog I'll be her guest on Monday, Feb. 8 and on Friday, Feb. 12 Marilyn will interview me on her blog I hope some of you will stop by and make comments on both of these blogs. I'm looking forward to the blog events and appreciate these ladies for having me as their guest. BTW Lynda's is a paranormal blog site, so those of you who have paranormal elements in your writing may be especially interested.

In the meantime, I am pondering if global warming could possibly be real. In my memory, we have never had so much snow in Tidewater, Virginia.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PSWA Conference

I'd like to recommend attending the Public Safety Writers Association conference in Las Vegas in June. Though there are many law enforcement men and women attending, we also have romance writers and mystery writers--three small press publishers including Oak Tree Press and an agent. Because it's a small conference, you'll have the chance to network with everyone.

Our line-up of speakers is fantastic. Do check out who is coming.

Sign up before March 31 for the lowest registration rate and if you want to be on a panel. And yes, you can bring books to sell, PSWA gets 10% of sales.

Last year we had a great showing of OTP authors--lets make it happen again this year.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Article on Macmillan-Amazon affair/feud


Inetresting business analysis in Wash. Post of the Macmillan-Amazon back and forth regarding Kindle.

I'm just glad Amazon blinked and it's settled.

PSWA Conference

I have finally made flight and rental car arrangements for the Las Vegas PSWA conference. I had booked the room, but was debating whether to make it a longer road trip (from New Orleans), or to fly. The underwear bomber and the terrorists alerts have me a bit nervous, but in the end, not as nervous as spending three 8-10 hour days in the car with my two girls and the husband. Reality slapped me in the face when my husband pointed out by the time we got to Lafayette LA, driving, we could already be getting off the plane in Vegas.

It would have been interesting though- 8 hours from New Orleans to Dallas, one night in Dallas, 10 hours from Dallas to Albuquerque, one night in Albuquerque, and then 8 or so hours to Vegas. The main drawback (other than the time in the car with the family- or did I mention that?) is that we wouldn't have really gotten to see anything. Dallas is a place I would want to spend several days, as is Albuquerque.

In addition to agonizing over travel plans, I've been busy working on Jambalaya Justice, the follow up to Gumbo Justice, and had a few breakthroughs that hopefully will make the novel even better. I'm trying to get it finished and polished in time for Billie to have it out by PSWA. I saw the interview on Marilyn's blog with Mike Orenduff, and I can't wait for the Orenduff's presentation at the PSWA conference.

And of course I have to mention that in New Orleans, we're all gearing up for the Saints first visit ever to the Superbowl, and Mardi Gras a week and a half after that. There are a lot of distractions around this city normally for a writer, but this is pure insanity. Fortunately, I do insanity well.

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice

Monday, February 1, 2010

OTP's Auto Repair Author on KGO

Richard Mundy tells of his radio interview....

The KGO - San Francisco radio interview on January 28th went well. I was given 10- 15 minutes on the Gil Gross show at 2:00 in the afternoon. He pitched the book at the beginning and the end; and I had a chance to pitch the book's theme right at the beginning.

If you would like to listen to the interview on-line, please go to KGO's home page at:

Click on: ON AIR
Then click on: 7 Day Audio Archives
Then click on: Friday
Then click on: 2p.m. - 3p.m.

My interview starts about 10 minutes into the broadcast, so you can move the slide to that point to go straight to it. The only catch is that they only archive broadcasts for seven days. So you will only have until Thursday, February 4th to listen to it on-line.

Thanks for the lead,

Rich Mundy

PS from Billie: As I was talking to the show producer, Gil was talking in the background, and finally the producer said, "He wants to know if you eat at Bill's Toasty Shop" Turns out, Gil is from Decatur, IL, just 35 miles from here! Small world, huh? (And yes, I do eat at the Toasty Shop...great Burgers!)