Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekly Roundup: January 22, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! We've had another full week of blog posts from our authors, and we hope you've been following along. Ronald Wendling, author of the memoir Unsuitable Treasure, started the contributions with a post about the effects of self-disclosure. Holli Castillo, author of the Crescent City mystery series novels Gumbo Justice and Jambalaya Justice, followed up with a detailed post about preparing a manuscript for publication. Then Stephen L. Brayton, author of ALPHA, finished the week with a light post about making fun out of drudgery. 

Please take a look and leave your comments and questions for the authors and the OTP community.

These authors' books—and all of our other wonderful memoirs, mysteries, thrillers, westerns, romances, and a few paranormal tales—are available in the OTP bookstore, of course. With something for every taste and preference, our selection is sure to help you find your next favorite series or author!

Thank you for stopping by our blog 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.

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."
~Philip Pullman

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Jeff Zwagerman was featured on the online lifestyle and entertainment magazine Female First on January 15. He wrote about the 10 reasons he includes strong female characters in his novels.

He writes, "1. We are in the 21st century. Unless you are writing about woman being dominated in other centuries, you'd better look around and see what they have done.

"2. Woman are the bulk of our readership. Better make them strong and enduring to the reader, even if they are the antagonist."

You can read the rest of his reasons here.

Jeff is the author of Always a Kicker and its sequel, A Full Bubble Off Plumb. These stories follow the story of Zander, whose life has been shaped by an accident that he suffered when he was 15. In the second novel, readers see that going home after twenty years is never easy. It compounds itself, when the reason for going back home is to bury parents. Zander could have done the easy thing and let others help him in his time of turmoil and grief. He was powerless to follow that path, however. His father had said it best. He was like “a dog with a sock.”

Closing his parents’ estate and settling their affairs could have been done anywhere. Zander chose to remain, and make sure it was done correctly. He was, after all, “a dog with a sock.” Was there actually another reason? In his search for some deeper truth, Zander reconnects with some old acquaintances from his past life. He has hopes that these old friends and neighbors might be able to ground him once again.

Then Quentin Stryker forces his way into an already damaged existence. A Full Bubble Off Plumb is a story about walking away from the small insignificant irritations in life before they take you beyond the point of no return. 


Lesley Diehl was featured on the Novel Spaces blog today, where she wrote about the frequently dispensed writing advice "write what you know."

She says, "writing a story based upon your own work background or even a hobby you’re familiar with doesn’t guarantee you a book or short story your reader will find enticing. There are some problems with writing what you know. I’ve identified five of them."

You can read the full post and comment with your own insights here.

Lesley is the author Dumpster Dying, and Grilled, Chilled and Killed, novels in the Big Lake Murder Mystery series. In Grilled, Chilled and Killed, Emily Rhodes, retired preschool teacher and bartender turned amateur snoop, wonders if she is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbeque cook-off dead and covered in barbeque sauce in a beer cooler.

She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong.


J.L. Greger was a guest on the Ladies of Mysteries blog on January 21. In her post, she makes the argument that mystery writers are like scientists. She writes, "Mystery Writers Are Like Scientists

"No way you say.

Wait! I think I can convince you that writing a mystery novel is similar to conducting a science experiment."

Be convinced and comment after reading the rest of the post here.

J.L.'s I Saw You in Beirut is the latest of her five mysteries published with OTP. In the novel, F, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” As Sara Almquist is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran, she is forced to remember and re-evaluate characters from her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist.

Which of her past decisions put her in jeopardy? Or is her current friendship with Sanders, an urbane state department official, the real reason she’s being attacked?


For three consecutive Wednesdays ending on January 27, author and artist Mary Montague Sikes is teaching "Acrylic Painting for Beginners" at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia. The class takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Students may take one class or sign up for all.

Mary will also be teaching two "Creating Collage Art" classes during the month of February. A course offering through Arts Alive will take place on Wednesday, February 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pamunkey Regional Library's West Point Branch in West Point, Virginia.

The second offering will take place again on Saturday, February 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia.

Mary is the author of both novels and nonfiction books published by OTP. You can read about these books as well as her artistic projects at her website. Her most recent novel is Evening of the Dragonfly. Threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?


OTP children’s book author and artist Beryl Reichenberg has been presenting a series of children’s paper craft and bookmaking classes this month in cities along California’s Central Coast. She’ll be showing children how to make a pop-out book of monsters and animal faces on Sunday, January 24, at the Santa Maria Discovery Museum at 705 McClelland Avenue in Santa Maria from 3 to 4 p.m.

This event is part of the Nat Fast Children’s Art Day celebration at the Discovery Museum. This commemmoration is held each year to honor Nat Fast, a local artist who was a champion of art education for young children. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 89.  Beryl will be joining other artists from the region to bring many art projects for children.

She explains that the monster and animal faces "are relatively easy for kids to make and involve simple folding and one cut to pop out the mouth.  It’s exciting to see what kind of face the children choose to draw.  Once they draw their faces, I’ll encourage the children to make up a story about these characters. If there is time we may move onto other pop-out forms." 

Then on Saturday, January 23, at 1 p.m., Beryl will be at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden in San Luis Obispo helping children make a recycled book about elephant families and conservation.

Beryl will be selling her six OTP children's books and other books at these events. You can read about her writing and other creative projects at her website.

Her most recent OTP children's book is Clowning Around, the story of Charlie, a young clown fish who delights in performing antics for the children who come to the aquarium to watch the action in the fish tank.

Radine Trees Nehring will be signing copies of her novel, A Fair to Die For, at Barnes and Noble, 4144 N. College Avenue, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Saturday, January 23. The event, from 1:00 to 4:00, is part of the Community Business Development Manager's interest in supporting local authors.

Radine writes, "If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello. The B&N cafe is highly recommended. Come for fun!"

In A Fair to Die For, it’s October, craft fair season in the Ozarks, and Carrie and Henry are helping their friend Shirley sell her quilts and Baby Cuddlys at the War Eagle Craft Fair. A mysterious cousin with ties to drug dealers appears, danger stalks the fair.

When Carrie is abducted by killers following a breakfast at War Eagle Mill, she’s afraid she won’t escape, because—though her aim in life has always been to help others out of problems—no one who can help her knows where she is. “There is no me out there to help me.” 


In preparation for the release of At the Crossroad, the fourth book in the Black Horse Campground mystery series, Amy Bennett is undertaking a blog tour. The lineup is here, with links to each blog where she'll be hosted. Follow along and meet new authors, and help her build momentum for the release date!

Friday, January 22

John M. Wills, author of Healer and The Year Without Christmas 

Sunday, January 24
Oak Tree Press blog 

Wednesday, January 27
Marilyn Meredith, author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. and Tempe Crabtree mysteries 

Friday, January 29
Stephen Brayton, author of ALPHA, a Mallory Petersen mystery 

Wednesday, February 3
Janet (J.L.) Greger, author of the Sara Almquist mysteries, including Malignancy, I Saw You in Beirut, and others

Friday, February 5
Ilene Schneider, author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead

Wednesday, February 10
Erin McCole Cupp

Amy encourages readers to stop by each blog and leave a comment. All those who do will be entered in a drawing to win a Black Horse Campground-themed prize and the opportunity to have a character in an upcoming Black Horse Campground mystery named after them!

In the novel, trouble often comes in threes, and it’s no different at the Black Horse Campground. On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department, J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who have disappeared over a fifteen year period at five-year intervals. It seems that no one has ever taken the cases seriously . . . or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives a visit from two former colleagues who inform him that he’s about to receive another visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’s finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up . . . someone who’s hoping for a second chance with her. In the meantime, Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on discussing personal business with him -- business that has to do with digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.’s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women… and is prepared to kill again?

When trouble comes to Bonney County, Corrie, Rick, and J.D. band together to protect each other and their community. But can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?


Additional details about these events will appear in future Roundups. 

David Freedland will be presenting his novel Lincoln 9 on Wednesday, February 10 at the Mission Viejo Rotary Club at 7 a.m., and at the Mission Viejo Book Club at 6 p.m., both in Mission Viejo, California.

His book will also be available at the Oregon Reserve Police Officers conference being held Saturday, February 27, in Keizer, Oregon.


Ed Traylor will be signing copies of his novel The Crossing at the Litchfield Public Library in Litchfield, Illinois, on Saturday, February 6, from 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. 


Many OTP books are available for Barnes and Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle readers and apps. E-books are perfect for budget-conscious or on-the-go readers who like to have a library at their fingertips. Remember: you don't need to own a Nook or Kindle device to read e-books. You can read on your computer, smartphone, or tablet by downloading the Nook app from Barnes and Noble and the Kindle app from Amazon.

Our latest title to become available for Nook and Kindle is Dizzy in Durango by D.R. Ransdell. Dizzy in Durango is the third book in the Andy Veracruz mystery series. In the story, missing women, abandoned children, and a crazy mariachi fan add up to further trouble for Andy Veracruz. After a fellow traveler disappears, he can’t concentrate on vacationing. Worse, he’s saddled with two children who aren’t his, an angry would-be girlfriend, and a self-appointed younger brother who is more reckless than he is. No wonder he starts seeing double.

Praise for Dizzy in Durango:

"Ransdell’s fluid style allows Andy’s story to unfold effortlessly. Besides providing a vivid insider's view of Durango, Ransdell demonstrates how the machismo attitude in Mexico warps the lives of women and children." ~J.L. Greger, author of I Saw You in Beirut

"With his personal and professional life in a mess, Andy Veracruz's head is already spinning when he heads to Mexico and gets mixed up with a missing woman, missing children, and a mariachi fan who's missing a few screws. Murder, mayhem, and mariachi music... how else would you expect to find Andy 'dizzy in Durango'?" ~Amy Bennett, author of the Black Horse Campground mysteries 


Dac Crossley blogged this week about the stars at night on his Western Blog. He writes, "What would it be like, to sit in this chair and see the Andromeda Galaxy about the size of the full moon? Will some old man have that pleasure, off in the future? Not likely – it will take Andromeda a few billion years to get here. Where will humanity be?"

You can read the rest of his thoughts here.


Jackie Taylor Zortman introduced her daughter, Barb Kent, in her Mountain Memos blog this week.

She writes, "My guest today is my daughter, Barb Kent,  who, apparently, is another budding writer in our family.   People are encouraging Barb to either write a book, start a blog or do something more than simply post her prose on Facebook.  We are starting to suspect the ability to write may be a genetic trait. I am both proud and happy to introduce her to you." Barb writes about her new mantra for 2016. 

Find out more about this budding writing talent here.


John M. Wills kicked off Amy Bennett's At the Crossroads blog tour this week by hosting her at his blog. Amy's post, titled "Keeping it real: Using actual places in fiction" touches on a subject that comes up frequently from readers of her Black Horse Campground mystery series, which is set in Bonney County, New Mexico.

She writes, "I incorporate a lot of actual places in my stories. Locals who have read the BHC mysteries know exactly where the campground is located—even though it doesn’t exist—due to all the real-life towns and businesses I use to set the scene and give the stories a more true-to-life flavor."

You can read the rest of the post -- and a bonus excerpt from chapter 14 of the novel -- here.


Radine Trees Nehring blogged this week about fact and fiction. She writes, "I’ve lived a long life, and in every story I write, I draw upon emotions, events, conversations, and experiences viewed and experienced during that life. Why not? This helps me write scenes where what my characters say and experience rings with truth.  Even if it’s not."

Read the rest of Radine's take on the truth in fiction --  and nonfiction -- here. 


Ilene Schneider received a new 4-star Amazon review for Unleavened Dead on January 17. In a review titled, "Unleavened Dead has everything I like in a cozy," reviewer DRob writes, "I used to read a lot of cozies, but in recent years have gone more for police procedurals. However, Unleavened Dead has everything I like in a cozy: a strong heroine with a sense of humor, a believable plot, an interesting premise, and zany characters. . . . 

"The book is a fun read, told with lots of humor and a believable plot."

You can read the full review here


Have you entered the latest OTP Goodreads Giveaways? We have two under way right now! To participate, you'll need to create a Goodreads account or log in (you're already on Goodreads as an OTP author or avid reader, right?). Then just enter your address to complete your entry. Winners will be notified at the end of the contest.

We're giving away five copies of JoAnn Smith Ainsworth's paranormal suspense thriller Expect Trouble in a drawing that will take place on January 25.

In Expect Trouble, The U.S. government recruits psychics to find Nazi spies on the East Coast during WWII. Opening herself to ridicule by revealing she’s clairvoyant is the last thing U.S. WAVE Livvy Delacourt wants, but when Uncle Sam needs her skill to track Nazi spies, she jumps in with both feet. Join this emotional journey through paranormal realms of fast-paced suspense and supernatural battles as U.S. Navy psychics pit themselves against their Nazi counterparts.

It's easy to get in on the giveaway by following this link.    


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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Amy Bennett said...

Woo hoo! Thanks for the write up, Nancy! I'm off to share the link to the Roundup on my Facebook page. And thanks to the OTP authors who offered to host me and commented on my post!

Beryl Reichenberg said...

What a busy blogging group we have this week! I'm impressed. Reading these should keep me busy. Good job, fellow writers.

helen shapiro said...

Thank you so much. Your works are fantastic and very useful for all of us. We are waiting for your next post. Thank you.
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