Sunday, May 29, 2011

Looking toward Chocolate City Justice

With Jambalaya Justice just about to come out, I’ve started working again on the third in the series, Chocolate City Justice, which takes place in the midst of hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, I had started writing it right after Katrina, when everything was still fresh in my mind. I had also taken a lot of notes and jotted down things that were going on, knowing I was going to include them in the book. I hadn’t really thought I would forget them, but wanted my ideas in one central file.

Looking back on my notes, I have forgotten a whole lot about that time. Little things that don’t seem to matter or seem to be that important in the big scheme of life serve well to create authenticity in writing. I’m reading notes about a nearly daily occurrence of petty thieves who electrocuted themselves trying to steal copper from wire; everyday guys trying to clear their property accidentally killing themselves by chainsawing trees that they were in; pesky flies the size of small birds making pumping gas a nightmare; and in the areas that flooded the worst, after the water went down but the electricity was still off, cockroaches and rats like you can not even begin to imagine, just hanging out, waiting. I’ve heard you’re never more than three feet away from a spider, no matter where you are. In N.O., it was cockroaches.

Some other things I had forgotten I had read in the newspaper or had seen on t.v., such as babies crying from rooftops during the flood, parents who threw their children into the flood waters to try to save them, never to see them again, and perhaps the most common image from hurricane Katrina, the dead old woman in the wheelchair outside the Superdome, with a sign on her from her family, who couldn’t take her body with them. I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to have a loved one die under these circumstances, and without even being able to grieve, to be forced to leave the body behind in the street.

Of course, there were hundreds more stories like these. Women forced to leave dead babies behind. Pets that weren’t allowed in the Superdome, Convention Center, or shelters, left behind, lined up outside the Superdome, confused, waiting for owners that never returned. And families that were split up when help finally did arrive, in some cases parents being sent to different states than their children, with no money to reunite from even one state away.

Of course, a good deal of that will not make it into Chocolate City Justice. My next novel is not about Katrina. It’s a mystery novel, with an NOPD shooting, gang members, a mistaken identity, attempted murder, political corruption–you know, everyday New Orleans–but set against the backdrop of the deadliest hurricane New Orleans has ever experienced. So while a few of the real life happenings will occur in the novel, there just aren’t enough pages to include it all.

While New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina, and the oil spill, and probably soon the river rising, we’re still hanging in there. And if I can entertain a few people and take someone’s mind off of their own hardships for awhile, I think I’ve given our tragedy some small purpose.

Holli Castillo
Jambalaya Justice coming 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Promoting Kindle Books

I've been doing a bit of extra promotion of my Kindle books on Facebook. Just happened to have a few minutes before going to a church picnic.

Though I have an extremely full schedule I really try to do some Internet marketing once a day.

It's time to print out my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, this one is called No Bells. I've finished reading it to my critique group and incorporated their suggestions (not all, but usually what they come up with gives me a better idea.) I've run it through WORD's spell and grammar checker. It sure doesn't like sentence fragments--and I say, too bad. Also, it isn't always right on grammar either. But it does find extra spaces and periods that ought not to be there.

Once I print it out and go over it carefully and make the corrections online, then I'll be ready to send it off.

At the same time I writing another book in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, another publisher, and I'm a little over halfway with that one.

What I ought to be doing is straightening out my office--but no time for that.

Anyway, just thought I'd put the cover of Lingering Spirit up because I love it. If you like romances with a supernatural touch, you'll love this one. But be warned, you need to have tissues handy.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jambalaya Justice

Now that I've finally gotten Jambalaya Justice off to Billie, I have been working on the 100 word promotional piece required of the contract. That is so difficult for me, reducing a whole novel into 100 words. I have a shorter version for Billie, but I put a longer version on my website,, and copied it below:

The murder of a hooker in a New Orleans crackhouse is destined to become another unsolved homicide until prosecutor Ryan Murphy takes an interest in the case. Ryan has a connection to the victim and won’t back down until the murder is solved, even if it means she has to go undercover as a hooker herself and keep her fingers crossed that her detective boyfriend, Shep, won’t find out. She’s also juggling her Strike Force cases, including the prosecution of a mobster murderer, a nasty domestic violence, and the armed robbery of Big Who’s strip club. Not to mention a home invader she prosecuted is off of probation and might be following her. Being an outspoken pit bull of a prosecutor makes life dangerous enough for Ryan; trying to find a killer and hiding it from the one person who can protect her may end up being deadly.

Shep is on a secret quest of his own, investigating the identity theft of Ryan’s former best friend, Edie, who is presumed dead. As he delves further into the case, he begins to question whether Edie may still be alive and out to harm Ryan. Ordered by his captain, Ryan's father, to keep the investigation quiet, Shep not only has to lie to Ryan, but find a way to protect her from harm she doesn’t know exists. He'll also have to figure out what to do if Ryan ends up discovering the truth, because secrets have a way of getting out.

Set against the backdrop of pre-Katrina New Orleans, Jambalaya Justice is the second in the Crescent City Mystery Series, which eventually follows Ryan through Hurricane Katrina and into the strange new world of post-Katrina New Orleans.

The third in the series, Chocolate City Justice, is in progress.

Holli Castillo

Monday, May 16, 2011

Want to Read a Prize-Winning Story?

Sunny Frazier

Hi everyone.

Years ago I wrote a story that picked up a 3rd place win in the Writers' Digest contest out of 19,000 entries. It was one of my earliest efforts and was printed in Valley Fever, an anthology of stories set in the Central Valley. Kind of collector's item now, we only printed 1,000 copies. I never felt the story got much chance for readers to take a look, but now it's up at

You can win a copy of the book as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reaching Forward South

September 29-30, 2011
Northfield Inn – 3280 Northfield Drive
Springfield, Illinois

This is the date of the upcoming Reaching Forward South conference for library support staff. I have the opportunity to be a presenter and offer my books for sale at this event. It is my hope that everyone will want a copy of Fairytales Are Fragile!

Billie has mentioned many times the benefits of being part of a conference like this one. Having a chance to present will allow me to share information about the joys of writing, plus plug my book. The conference also offers a time and place to meet other central Illinois authors and learn from them. Knowing what it takes to start and finish a manuscript, I am always in awe of other authors and impressed by the tenacity we all need to get from point a to z.

While I find the tenacity to write the book to completion can be daunting, then once it is done, taking the time to promote it still needs to be followed as well. I think we all finish our books take great joy to learn that Oak Tree Press is going to publish our masterpiece, then sigh and sit down thinking "Yeah, I am done".

I guess we are done if we don't want to help sell our novel, taking the time to be a part of a book signing or conference helps the books move along. This particular conference also will give me contacts with some of the most important people in the reading world librarians.

As May rides out and June rides in, see what opportunities are available in your backyard!

Cindy Ladage

Thursday, May 12, 2011

blog guest

Sylvia Ramsey has me on one of her blogs today. If you feel like it, pop over and leave a comment. We'd both appreciate it. Interestingly, the URL has a typo, but it still works! Good old internet!


My Next In-Person Promotions and More

Tomorrow I'll have a table with my books at Mooney Grove Park in Visalia from 10 to 2 at an event called Young at Heart (targeting seniors.)

On May 19th, I'll be on a panel with two other mystery authors at the Cedar/Clinton Library in Fresno at 5 p.m.

In June, we're combining our vacation with our eldest daughter and hubby to Sedona AZ with two presentations. On June 7th, I'll be speaking in the Community Room of the Sedona Library at 3:30 with a good and long-time writing buddy, Willma Gore. I'll be talking about working with small publishers on June 11 at 2 at the Well Read Coyote Bookstore. I'm really looking forward to visiting Sedona once again.

On June 18th, I'll be heading into the foothills of Oakhurst to speak about an Author's Platform for the writer's group that meets at 2 p.m. the Willow Bridge Book Store.

My biggie for July of course is the Public Safety Writers Association's Conference at the Orleans Hotel in July in Las Vegas. It's not too late to sign up, we've extended the Early Bird Rate to June 1--but you have to print out the registration form and include you check or money order and mail it in. If you come, you'll get to meet Billie Johnson, the publisher of Oak Tree Press.

In the meantime I'm writing a new post every day for my own blog, or hosting an author. and I'm also appearing on other blogs on a regular basis. Of course, I Facebook and Twitter.

Again, this is to give you some ideas about what you might be doing.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Mystery author panel

I had the pleasure of being on a mystery author panel last evening at Towne Center Books in Collegeville, PA. The writers all belonged to the local chapter of Sisters in Crime. There was quite a range of talent there. Elena Santangelo, an Agatha winner, writes historical paranormal mysteries. J. J. Murphy launched his Algonquin Round Table mystery series with a book centering on writer Dorothy Parker. Jane Shaw writes YA mysteries. The audience was very well read when it came to mysteries. I was even able to sell a few books. Speaking of YA literature, I was wondering how adult authors make teenagers in their stories sound authentic in terms of speaking style and vocabulary. I don't have any young people at home, so it's difficult for me to listen to adolescents without being called a stalker. Just wondering in case I decide to write in this genre.

Gus Cileone

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tuesday evening saw the launch of Dark City Books’ new mystery anthology, Spokane is Still Deader Than Dead. The book is published by a local house with the stories written by local writers, and set in and around Spokane, Washington. I have a story in the book so I toddled downtown to Auntie’s Bookstore (a good-sized independent) for a reading. There I joined seven of the other writers and we each spoke a couple minutes before reading a passage from our stories.

Some people, as you may guess, are good readers, others not so much. I was surprised to discover a former city attorney actually made me uncomfortable. Another was so good she read her entire story using a heavy southern accent because that’s how she heard the story in her head. She was great!

But what really struck me about this little party was the enthusiasm everyone shared. Most everyone is working on a novel. One, a former policeman, says he has two in first draft stage stuck in a drawer until he feels confident enough to work further. He’s starting small, he says, and enjoys the short story form.

The editor/publisher introduced each of us with a short bio that had to do with the dreams we see/hear in our heads as we write, which I thought a rather innovative intro. What he said got me thinking. He says we’re all weird, and he may be right.

Right, anyway, if the euphoria of capturing the visions in our heads is maybe THE most important part of our lives. Well, maybe not placed above family, but with me it’s neck-and-neck. I consider myself a writer, but I don’t have the words to describe how the creation of a story makes me feel. Whether set in a place I know, or in one only of my imagination, which I then populate with characters I give life to, giving birth to a story is a total rush. I get to include minutiae to flesh these characters out, give them emotion to feel, make them happy or sad or raging, let them love, put them in danger, and occasionally kill them off.

That makes me a Goddess, folks. There’s just nothing like creating a book.

Carol Crigger