Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Covers matter!

An interesting article in the NYTimes on the importance of book covers and how, with the advent of ebooks, Kindle, etc., their absence is being missed by readers AND publishers!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Joint Author Booksigning in Morro Bay

The Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay hosted 6 members of the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime on Sunday from 1-3.

It was very successful. I sold 16 books, very good for a 2 hour event with 5 other authors. We took turns speaking and there was lots of food and drink and a couple of bottles of wine.

Why did it work so well?

My thoughts are first, the bookstore did some advertising. A great article appeared in the newspaper about all of the authors attending. Posters were up in the store. The various authors told people about the event.

And it was a true event. The bookstore has a lovely garden and wedding chapel. All the speaking went on in the chapel.

Each author had a 10 minute time to talk, then that author went outside to stand by their book display. People came, looked at the books, and picked up what they wanted to buy. For each person who remained for the next speaker, they got a raffle ticket--and this happened each time--and a ticket was drawn. Raffled items were books and finally a large gift basket filled with Easter items and books.

Very few people left, so everyone who was there heard all the speakers. The bookstore took care of sales so the authors didn't have to mess with the money.

Each author contributed some kind of food and so did the members of that Sisters in Crime group. The bookstore set up coffee, hot water for tea and a couple of bottles of wine.

A few authors read a section from their book, one read a bit of the manuscript of the next one coming. I told about my two series though I focused on an Axe to Grind, why I write about people in law enforcement, read one of the reviews I received, and generally made people laugh.

I'd put up a photo, but Blogger is having an off day when it comes to posting photos.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ARTICLE: Why Publishing is Embracing Social Networking

Interesting article from Huffington Post on publishing and social networking:


We are finishing up the cover for Monti's latest Passenger to Paradise novel, Night Watch, and I am wrestling with that most challenging of elements, the back cover blurb. How much is too much? How much is too little?

Please take a look at the cover at SIKES BOOKS and give me some comments!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Congratulations to Marilyn Meredith

I've been predicting that Marilyn Meredith would win an award, and I was right. Congratulations to her on winning the American Authors Association's Golden Quill Award for the best mystery. O.K., I thought it would be for No Sanctuary, but it was instead for Dispel the Mist. So sue me. Dispel the Mist is on my TBR pile, but not yet read, so how was I to know? Of course Marilyn has won all sorts of accolades over the years. How she finds the time to write, play grandma, and be the number one advocate for the PSWA I do not know. What I know is that she and Hap are fun to be around and the woman is a writing machine!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

short Left Coast Crime report

I just returned from Los Angeles where I visited all the family and dropped into Left Coast Crime for my panel and to renew some old acquaintances. It was great to see Sunny Frazier, too! The conference was NOT the best organized I've ever attended—late panel assignments, day passes available at a much reduced rate (sob) but only at the last moment and even the poor program was printed absolutely backwards. Those in charge must have been furious!

BUT I do think conferences can be valuable. It really does get you SEEN and your name out there, if only to the people you run into, see your panel, or chat up in the elevator. I was glad to see my three last books at several venues in the book room and I got a nice invite to speak at a local Sisters In Crime event, TBA later.

So was it worth the money? I think, from viewing the crowd, that quite a few people thought not, but, as I already confessed, I really went down to see my children and grandchildren, so it worked out fine for me, with enough PR to make me feel nice and business-like!


Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have seen a lot of blogs lately about reviews-- whether evaluating the worth of reviews, how to decline doing a review for a writer if you don't think the book is good, or if you should review something you really think is terrible and how far you should go with the review.

Reviews don't sell books. According to a link on the Sisters In Crime website, a study was done and reviews were not in the top three things that cause someone to buy books- unlike reputation of the author, word of mouth, and price.

However, I am of the opinion that a book review, whether good or bad, can drum up interest in your book. If a website only has six followers, and just one of them decides your book is worth buying, that can result in multiple sales if they end up liking it, because this goes back to word of mouth. One person likes it, spreads the news, others end up buying it based upon the first person's recommendation. I don't mind sending a free book if the review is actually going to appear on a blog or someone's website, but I will check out the blog or website first to make sure books are actually being reviewed, and to check out the quality of the reviewer's writing before submitting.

That being said, I received a luke warm review from someone who will remain nameless, who although found fault in my characters, particularly the protag in Gumbo Justice, also said I had promise and to buy the next book when it comes out. What a mixed bag of tricks that one was. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I'm sure there are books that didn't impress me that others thought were the bomb, so I'm not going to argue.

(I feel the same for movies, such as the whole Twilight thing. I love vampires-- the way they're supposed to be, menacing and scary, not cute and romantic-- and found the whole concept and movie dull and slow and the acting kind of horrible. But that's me, and most of the world apparently disagrees, go figure.)

In any event, I have received a nice review from a blog where I did send the reviewer the book, and she really seemed to enjoy it. I feel like she'll likely buy my second when it comes out, and if a few people who read her blog do the same, I've made some sales for the cost of one book. Being a first time author, anything that gets my name out there is gold. (The blog is at if you are interested.)

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice

Is This Man a Walk-In?

A segment on the CBS Early Show this morning caught my attention. Before a double brain aneurysm put him into a coma, Tommy McHugh, a handyman from Liverpool, England, never exhibited much interest in art. However, as documented in the Early Show, when McHugh awakened from his week-long coma, he suddenly became a compulsive artist. Now, he paints for up 18 hours a day. His whole life has changed.

The story made me wonder, is McHugh now a walk-in? Is he like Lily, the heroine in my soon-to-be-released book, Night Watch? Lily's life changes and her interests shift when trauma strikes her life. Lily changes her job and her life goals. And she starts having different memories as well. Now nothing was said about McHugh having unusual memories, but they said he is now more emotional than he was in the past.

In my book, following her traumatic event, Lily appears different to her friends. She doesn’t like the things she once liked, and she withdraws from her friends of the past.

Is McHugh a walk-in? Is Lily?

Mary Montague Sikes
Night Watch, coming soon from Oak Tree Books

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Review for an Axe to Grind

From The Book Connection:

Doug Milligan, Stacey Wilbur, Abel Navarro, Gordon Butler, Frank Marshall, and more familiar names are back in An Axe To Grind, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series by F.M. Meredith.

Doug Milligan and his partner, Frank Marshall are investigating the murder of a stalker. There are several suspects, which include the father and brother of the girl who was being stalked. Meanwhile, Stacey Wilbur, now a Vice-Officer, is working a case involving a soccer coach who might be a pedophile.

With their busy work schedules, Doug and Stacey's romance is pushed to the back burner, and even though Stacey and her mother, Clara, continue with wedding plans, a lot hinges on whether Gordon Butler can find himself an apartment so he can move out of Doug's house.

When Doug sets out on his own to corner the murderer, Stacey is in a race against time to find him before it's too late.

Right from the start, like Meredith does with all the books in this series, the reader is instantly drawn into the world of the Rocky Bluff P.D. Gordon Butler, who is usually the butt of many jokes around the station, is flagged down by a paperboy who has just discovered one of his customers looking more than a bit worse for wear. Butler is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in this series because you just can't help but feel sorry for everything that he manages to step into.

Doug and Stacey's romance, which began in the previous installment of this series, No Sanctuary, continues with great difficulty in this one. One thing I've always said about the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is that Meredith does an excellent job of blending the personal and professional lives of the people working in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Whether it is Doug and Stacey, Abel Navarro and his wife Maria, Ryan Strickland, the Department's public relations officer, and his wife Barbara, or any other member of this fictional police force, the author has created characters that you easily care about, just like they were your next door neighbors.

With her masterful storytelling, Meredith includes many twists and turns to keep you guessing who the real culprit is. But what I like best about all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books is that the pace doesn't slow down. Every new clue leads to something else, and before you know it, you're at the end of the book and eager to read more.

I impatiently await the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F.M. Meredith!

Title: An Axe to Grind
Author: F.M. Meredith
Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (Oak Tree Books)
ISBN-10: 1892343789
ISBN-13: 978-1892343789
SRP: $12.95

Available in a Kindle edition for only $1.99!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Shown here just moments after accepting the award for Best Mystery or Suspense Novel, Mike O. and co-finalist Marilyn Meredith share a moment!

We've had a wonderful time here in the Big Easy...fabulous food, great chats, scads of networking contacts. Alas! it was hard to say goodbye to Mike and Lai, Marilyn and Hap, plus all the new friends. Now I'll be counting down the days until PSWA!

Tomorrow I'm meeting Holli and Julio for more eating, yakking and a tour.

You gotta love New Orleans where everything is an adventure!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Billie in New Orleans

I am so excited that Billie is in my hometown for a few days! She has had some issues with her motel room, but I'll save that story for her to tell. I'm looking forward to Sunday when we're going to lunch and I 'm giving her the Gumbo Justice tour, dragging her to all of the places in Gumbo Justice, and giving her the Jambalaya Justice tour, showing her all the places I've included in Jambalaya Justice so far.

There are a few areas we're avoiding, because I won't even go there, such as the 9th Ward, where Shep finds some insight into Edie. And of course I created some places that don't exist because some areas of New Orleans are a little behind the times when it comes to trends, such as internet cafes.

I'll be sure to follow up after lunch on Sunday to let everyone know how it went. By then we should also know if either Mike Orenduff or Marilyn Meredith won at Epicon. Wouldn't it be nice if they tied?

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice