Walking the Moors With Agatha

Walking the Moors With Agatha

As I sit out on my deck watching the fog roll over the fields of my farm, I realize what a wonderful opportunity I’ve had to be able to write in such beauty. It seems wherever I am, I’m usually drawn outdoors to a porch or a patio, especially in the spring, summer and fall, when flowers are blooming, the hummingbirds are sipping their nectar and the cicada’s are singing their songs. My writing seems to flow easily when I’m outside the confines of four walls.

Apparently I’m in good company, as Anne McCaffrey once told an interviewer, “I think writers need windows on a view to remind them that a whole world is out there, not the minutiae with which they might be dealing on a close scale.”

One writer friend, who shall remain nameless, has 5 children under the age of twelve. He says the only place he can truly settle in to write in peace is comfortably seated on a sheepskin rug he carries into their large, oversized bathroom where he can lock himself inside for some quiet writing time. I thought this strange to the extreme until I discovered that Agatha Christie did much of her writing while soaking in her oversized Victorian tub.

On that note, there have been several other famous writers who have found sitting behind a desk in their library untenable. Gertrude Stein used to sit in the driver’s seat of her Model T Ford while parked on the streets of Paris.

It’s said that Sir Walter Scott wrote many of his poems on horseback, and several famous writers wrote from their bed.

Agatha Christie plotted out her first mystery while walking the moors near the Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor, and Ernest Hemingway is said to have written while standing at a writer’s podium.

I know that writers write wherever they find themselves, at all times of the day and night, but what I wouldn’t give to have walked the moors with Ms. Christie, eavesdropping as she plotted The Mysterious Affair at Styles, or to have stood gazing out over the rooftops of Paris with Earnest Hemingway and listening as he admonished himself with these famous words:

“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

So, as I sit on my deck getting ready to write and watching the ghostly tendrils of fog roll in, I close my eyes and imagine the heavy air carries the distinctive aroma of Hemingway’s pipe and I quietly put my fingers to the keys and say to myself, “Do not worry. You have always written before…”

My Newest Epic Fantasy, Duchess Rising, is Published and Available for Your Reading Pleasure

My Newest Epic Fantasy, Duchess Rising, is Published and Available for Your Reading Pleasure

As most of you already know, I just published the latest book in the Seven Realms of Ar’rothi series Duchess Rising. I absolutely love writing this series. I’m getting to know each character better and better with each book, and am looking forward to seeing what adventures and romances they get themselves into.

I especially like the cover for this one, which was created by my friend Deb Lewis, from Arena Publishing. As with most of my series, this one has very strong, kick-ass women characters who, much to the relief of my friend and reader Rob G., aren’t men haters and bashers. I definitely enjoyed getting to know King Leopold in this book. His personality and leadership really began to shine, and his obvious affection for his cousin, Duchess Bree Makena, shows through. His love for his ten-year-old son, Prince Darius, is evident as well.

Speaking of the crown prince, we begin to see how very much he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, although there are times where learning to be everything to everyone can be a little overwhelming for the young man. And of course, Kaiti, The Spirit Child is learning and adapting to Anacafrian ways while still learning about how she can help the Spirit Guides battle the Tevaiedin.

I also had fun with the healer Becca Solárin and her Shona lover, Nashotah. The two of them are reunited in Duchess Rising, which causes just a little bit of erotica and romance to appear for the first time in any of my books. Hey, what can I say? They hadn’t seen each other for a while, and well….

Anyway, here’s a brief summary of what you can expect when you once again enter the fantasy world of Ar’rothi:

If you love stories about smart, strong, capable women, swords, kings and queens and Spirit Guides, sprinkled with a touch of lesbian romance, this is the book for you. In Book Two of the fantasy series, The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, Duchess Aurelia (Bree) Makena, first cousin to the king and the former commander of the elite Huntington’s Cavalry, finds herself once more taking up the sword in defense of her king and kingdom.

Stormy clouds of war are moving against Anacafria on two fronts; the Tevaiedin, the dark spirits of the seven realms, and Desdamea, the cruel and grasping queen of the neighboring country of Organdy, are both gathering their forces in a bid to dominate and destroy the kingdom. The Duchess finds her loyalties divided between her adopted daughter, who is the only one who can lead a defense against the Tevaiedin and her king, who needs her skills as a warrior and as one of the commanders of his elite troops.

Duchess Rising is the second book in a powerful and moving fantasy series by Alison Naomi Holt that will appeal to fans of Anne McCAffrey and Mercedes Lackey — one that blends the lyrical and mystical with pulse-pounding action.

Five Reasons a Writer Should Run From Social Media

Five Reasons a Writer Should Run From Social Media

multi-tasking

Multi-tasking using Social Media seems to be all the rage these days. You say you’re a writer. Do you want to be a successful writer? Do you want to take your writing to the next level? Then I highly suggest you jump off the Social Media bandwagon and turn off your internet while you write. Why, you say? Here’s why…

1. Let’s say we’re true writers who allot so many hours per day to write. Remember, writing is a job. If we want to be professional writers, we need to, and must, commit to spending x amount of hours at our desks putting words on a paper. How many of us have been happily typing away, and a notification pops up on our desktop reminding us that today is Ralph’s birthday. We have only written 300 words so far out of the 3000 that is our daily goal. But, it’s Ralph’s birthday! Let’s just pop over to Facebook and wish him a Happy Birthday before we forget about it. Happy Birthday, Ralph! Oh look, Auntie Mame is getting a breast reduction done on her size FFF breasts this morning. Let me jus take a few minutes to wish her well.
2. Auntie Mame just happens to be on Facebook and sees our well-wishes. She shoots us an instant message and wants to tell us all about her ungrateful children who won’t call or write and who don’t care about the fact that she’s having major breast reduction surgery because all of the weight she’s carrying around on her front half is causing debilitating pain on her back half and she’s so happy we took the time to write and did we happen see this interesting article on the cute little puppy who dances the merengue?
3. Hmmm, there’s a puppy in the next chapter of our book. Maybe we should just take a minute to do a little research. We click on the link Auntie Mame so generously provided and find a cute little five-minute video of a Havanese puppy dancing in front of a delighted audience of oriental children. Wait, what’s a Havanese puppy? Let’s just Google that breed because we may just want to use that one as the second puppy who comes to meet the first one in the chapter we haven’t written yet.
4. Oh yeah, that reminds us, we only have 300 words written so far. Back to Word where we stare at the page a few minutes wondering what we’d written so far. Let’s just start at the beginning and re-read what we wrote because we need to keep the flow of the book going with just the same rhythm we had when we first sat down to write. Oh yeah, there’s that word we couldn’t think of in the second paragraph. Let’s pop over to the online thesaurus and try to come up with just the right word. Hmmmm, there’s one that might work, but what’s the exact definition of that particular word? Let’s click on the dictionary to find out. Oh! How cool! That word has a link to…
5. Wikipedia. Whew. Now we can really find out why the word we were going to use might not work because it was used in ancient Greece to let the hedonistic slaves know when it was time to come in to work for their owners. Uh oh, we know what that means…and we certainly don’t want our readers to think we’ve stepped into the slightly erotic zone in our writing. Phew, we dodged the bullet on that one.

Well, the time we allotted for writing is now over because we have to go make lunch and walk the dog. But wow, what great research we did, and we scored points with Auntie Mame and Ralph. And well, we did get those 300 words written, didn’t we?

To Live or Not to Live

To Live or Not to Live

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Not Feeling Too Well 🙁

We had several chicks arrive today. They’re barely three days old and already I can tell the timid from the bold, the strong from the weak and then, there’s this tiny little one that I have tucked up under my shirt because she needs just a little bit more warmth and extra care. Her eyes are closed, her wings are limp, and her breathing is almost nonexistent. She’s nestled in close to my chest, fighting to live as I write. Every now and then I feel her adjust a wing or reposition her teensy toes. I wonder if she’ll pull through, if she has that intangible ingredient that gives her that extra little oomph that I’ve seen in so many other wounded or weak animals throughout the years. I’ve found that the trait I’m hoping to encourage in this little Silver Laced Wyandotte, that intangible will to survive and to thrive, is found in all aspects of nature. It runs true in successful human endeavors as well. It’s the difference between a very talented shower crooner who is too afraid to sing in public, and, say, someone like Barbara Streisand, who ignored the naysayers of her youth and rose to the very pinnacle of her profession. Why does someone like Cesar Milan triumph while thousands of other wannabe animal trainers languish in obscurity? And, along those lines, since I love to write, I wonder why some people dream of becoming a writer “someday” while others crank out novel after novel after novel. Why do negative reviews completely derail certain authors to the extent that they never write again, yet others laugh at the negative comments and publish another book on the heels of that negative review? I think it has something to do with whether or not this little chick is going to pull through. If she has that drive, that little extra belief in herself, combined with the will to live—to succeed where others have failed and died. At some point, will she tell herself she’s just too tired to try anymore? Will she decide that the three days she’s been in existence have simply been too difficult to even want to go on? Over the years, I’ve spoken to many people who have a thirty page manuscript tucked into a drawer that one day they’ll pull out and dust off and hopefully crank out the other two hundred and fifty pages necessary to complete their book. But it’s just so hard to find time to write. It’s not fun waiting for inspiration to hit. It’s easier to simply say, “Maybe one day.” The successful ones are the people, and chickens, who shout out to the world, “Just let me write one more word, take one more breath, finish one more page, and swallow one more dropper full of sugar water.” They believe, unequivocally, that they’re going to make it no matter what. Nothing is going to keep them from their success.

IMG_0271

Silver Laced Wyandotte

I just heard a few tiny peeps out of this little chick. As I pull her out from under my shirt, her eyes are open again, her wings are tucked in tight and she’s telling me she’s ready to live. I guess she has that little extra something that all truly successful creatures possess. How about you? Are you ready to pull out that dusty manuscript and finish it? Do you have what this tiny little chick obviously has in abundance? Of course you do. Now get out there and put that one more word into your story, finish that next page, and start that next chapter. Decide to succeed. It’s really as simple as that.

Credo’s Fire is Published

Credo’s Fire is Published

Alexandra Wolfe has been trying to stay out of trouble. Honest! But with budget cuts being what they are, Alex and Casey find themselves putting on a uniform twice a month to help out the officers on the street. The ladies are right in the middle of rescuing an errant emu when their sergeant, Kate Brannigan tells them to meet her at the Rillito Race Track. There’s been a fire in one of the barns and a body has been discovered buried in a shallow grave. The tricky part comes when Alex discovers that the barn belongs to her mafiosa friend, Gianina Angelino. Tightrope walking is one of Alex’s specialties and when she begins digging deeper into the cause of the fire and Gia’s activities, well, let’s just say her balancing act is about to be tested to the limit.

Getting Kicked Out of the Story

Getting Kicked Out of the Story

I’ve been practicing a new technique that I learned from my friend, Harvey Stanbrough. If you are a writer, Harvey’s website is full of excellent material he’s written and collected on everything having to do with writing. He’s a great writer himself, but as a resource, I highly recommend him.

The technique I’m talking about is called “Writing Into the Dark.” It’s a wonderful way of writing that actually frees up writers to do what we’re meant to do—write. When I’m writing into the dark, I’m not planning the story—any part of the story—I’m simply following the characters around and reporting on what they’re doing. I’m listening to their accents and trying to write them so they make sense to the reader. I’m watching the street they are walking down and reporting on what I’m seeing.

This technique is so freeing I wish I could convince every writer I meet that they should at least give it a try. If you’re interested in looking into it, go to Dean Wesley Smith’s website here and check out number #24 of his lecture series. (No I’m not getting a commission for recommending it)

Harvey Stanbrough

Harvey Stanbrough

But that’s not the main topic of this post. I realized something after being hit over the head with it by Harvey the other day.

I am someone who is focused on putting out the best, cleanest book possible. By cleanest, I mean one with very few grammatical errors. I’m also very precise with my words because I know exactly what I want to convey, even with a single word. Now, I have always been very aware as a reader, that there are times when I’m completely immersed in a story and then, wham, I’m jerked out of it by something. For this post, it doesn’t matter what that something is. Suffice it to say, it happens.

What I never realized before, is that the same phenomena can happen to a writer. When I’m focused on the grammar, or the punctuation, or on finding just the right word, I’m jerking myself out of the story. I stop what I’m writing and do something else. That was an epiphany for me, and Harvey’s whack with a metaphorical stick is what it took to allow myself to write. If I come to a word that doesn’t work, I type the wrong word in caps so I can find it easily later, and I move on. Punctuation? Same thing. I’ll bold the sentence and move on.

The result has been a 1/3 increase in word count per day. Before this concept I was struggling to fit 2000 words into my writing time. Now, 3000 words fly off my fingertips, and the key thing I’ve noticed, is that my writing hasn’t suffered a bit! It’s still tight or edgy or funny and well written. The only difference is that writing is no longer a struggle!

I highly recommend trying this process to any writer out there who is struggling with perfectionism. I still go back at the end of the day to find the right word or the correct punctuation, but I don’t do it in the middle of my creative process.

Let me know if you try it and how it works for you. I’m really interested to see if it helps your writing as much as it has helped mine.

Different Strokes

Different Strokes

Credo's Legacy VodkaWriting mysteries comes easily to me since most of my adult life has been spent unraveling true to life mysteries as an officer in a large metropolitan police force. Solving cases is really nothing more than methodical fact-finding and taking the time to follow-up on every tiny scrap of evidence you can find. Can three words a four-year-old lisps while you’re trying to talk to her mom break a case? Of course! Well, if she says, “Daddy did it.” that’s a no brainer. But what if the mother is telling you the mailman did it, and the child whispers to her pink elephant, “Thath not twru.” A good detective would hear her and make note of what she said. A great detective would ask the mother to excuse them a minute, get down on the floor and start playing with the girl to see if he could get her to talk.

The Alex Wolfe Mystery series has been fun to write because Alex is like a dog with a bone. She digs and digs and gnaws and chews until she begins to drive everyone around her absolutely crazy. She does and says things to her superiors that would get me or any other officer fired in a heartbeat. I’m the type of person who comes up with the perfect comeback about two hours after the fact when I’m driving down the road playing back the conversation in my head. Not Alex. Her comments to her bosses are witty, biting or just plain outrageous and they’re constantly a source of contention between her and her fellow officers. Her methods are definitely not found in the regulation police manual, but they work.

One of my favorite by-products of writing books is the chance I get to answer questions from other writers. I love to teach authors how to write realistic police scenes or dialogue. Most people are pretty well versed now on police procedures because of all the reality police TV shows. At a seminar in Arizona, I was asked how one officer could handle a particular call so differently from another. In other words, how can Alex be successful when she’s so definitely “not by the book”?

Within the confines of the law, there is no one “right” way to do police work. There are many, many different ways to handle the same situation. For example, a cop walks up to a local gang member on the street and asks for identification. The gang member takes off running down the street. If the cop has twenty years under his belt, he’ll probably watch the young man running away and think to himself “Tomorrow’s another day.” He knows he’ll run into the kid again.

Now take the same scenario, but make the cop a twenty-one year old rookie fresh out of the academy. Everyone knows, the chase is on. The rookie keys his mike while he’s running after the suspect, breathing heavily while giving his location and making sure everyone in his division know he’s chasing a bad guy. Alex on the other hand might run to her car, drive around the block and be leaning up against her car with her arms crossed waiting for the guy to run out of the alley. Three very different responses, all of them acceptable. “How can the grizzled old veteran’s response be acceptable?” you may ask. Actually, they did ask at the seminar, along with about a hundred other questions that turned into a fun discussion on how these fifty and sixty year old writers could best capture a fleeing suspect.

Anyway, I digress. If you go back to the original scenario, the cop simply walked up to a man who was dressed in gang clothes and hanging out on a street corner. The man ran. Nothing illegal in that. Suspicious? Yes. Illegal? No. The veteran has probably worked the same beat for fifty years. He knows who hangs out where, when, and why. If he didn’t know this particular gangster, he’ll know who he is by the end of the day, why he’s there and what drugs he specializes in. He’ll notify the undercover street narcotics squad who’ll set up several buys and get the man off the streets for good. It’s the difference between short-term and long-term thinking. Rookie versus Veteran.

To me, it’s these types of differences that make police procedurals interesting and I like to put all different types of officers into my stories. So like I always say—Pop some popcorn, curl up by the fire with Credo’s Hope and get ready to be entertained.

 

The Spotlight Effect

The Spotlight Effect

Being a writer isn’t easy. Most of us use our computer to write our great American novel. The trouble is, there are so many distractions on the internet today that many times what took us 3 hours to write ten years ago takes us six hours today.

We are distracted by

• Reading our email
• Answering our email
• Checking our social media
• Surfing the web
• Anything else that we can find to help us to not write

 But honestly, there’s another, more insidious reason many writers fail to complete one book, one short story, or even one blog post. That reason?

THE SPOTLIGHT EFFECT

What exactly is this mysterious ailment? According to a study done by Cornell University, The Spotlight Effect is “An Egocentric Bias in Estimates of the Salience of One’s Own Actions and Appearance.” What does that mean in basic English?

It means

• Most people think everyone is staring at them

When in Reality

• Nobody really cares or notices what you do, think, or say

How does this study relate to writers? Most writers freeze up when they start worrying about that next review. What will my readers think? I’ll be everyone’s fool. Everyone will say I should never have been a writer.

Honestly, take a minute and breathe. Now take a minute to set some goals. Decide to write 1000 words/day or 2000 or 3000. Then realize that if people don’t like what you’ve just published, that’s okay because you’ll already be off and running on your next project, on that next 1000 words, or half way into your next novel. Take control and silence your worst critics. Move beyond them, don’t listen to them, and don’t EVER let them stop you from attaining your goals and dreams.

Police Pet Peeve #11 – The Door is Always Left Ajar

Police Pet Peeve #11 – The Door is Always Left Ajar

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who has worked patrol for the past twenty years. As usual, the conversation eventually got around to my writing. He asked me if I still wrote about what writers do that really bugs cops on the street. When I said I did, he said, “Let me tell you one of the things that drives me crazy every time I see it on some cop drama or read it in some book. I hate it when they walk up to a door to talk to somebody or to check on a possible victim, and when they touch the door, it just swings open.”Front door before 2 - Version 2

I knew exactly what he was talking about. Every time I see that in a movie, I involuntarily roll my eyes. It’s like a subconscious twitch, and when it happens, I have to keep my thumb from automatically clicking the “off” button on the remote control.
Writers, hear me on this, please. In twenty years of police work, there was only one time that I pushed on a door and it squeaked open for me. And honestly, that was on a house check a neighbor had called in and when I contacted the owner to come home to check things out, we discovered that her husband just hadn’t pulled the door shut hard enough when he left that morning.

I have however had to climb through windows, bash open doors (granted they were hollow core doors) with my shoulder, crawled in through the doggy door, and rooted around in the yard until I found the secret hiding place for the key. Use your imagination. It is so cliché for your character to push on the door, throw an astonished look at their partner, and slip in an already open door. Have fun with it. Have your detective do something outlandish or even illegal. But get your character into the house any way other than through an unlocked front door.
If you do, my patrol friend will thank you from the very bottom of his heart.

 

Now, as  promised, I’ve been searching for some great gifts for families and friends to give to the writer in their life. I told you I would add a few to each post in the days before Christmas, so…here you go!

1. I love this one. There is nothing so important to a good book as a great first line! This mug features opening lines of some of the greatest works of literature from “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” to “Call me Ishmael” and 22 more. Check it out!
Great First Lines of Literature Mug

2. As an incorrigible tea drinker, this is an absolute must have, in fact, if any of my family is reading this, this is it!
Novel Teas contains 25 teabags individually tagged with literary quotes from the world over, made with the finest English Breakfast tea.

3. And there’s always the great chocolate inspirational flag. Who could live without this hanging in their front yard?

EvaDane – Funny Quotes – Writer powered by chocolate – 12 x 18 inch Garden Flag (fl_157370_1)

Writing for an Audience of One

Writing for an Audience of One

DadIf we are lucky, there comes a time in a writer’s life when we realize that, although we love our readers, we can no longer write simply to try to please them. Writing for other people can be a strangling experience, one where the hidden demons of self doubt creep into our subconscious and whisper crippling innuendos of fear and incertitude. “They won’t like it if I turn my character into this.” Or “They don’t want me to start another series, they want more of this one.” Or “This book is no good, the reviewers will tear it apart.”

Those thoughts generate the greatest excuse not to write known to man; the fearsome “writer’s block.” In reality, I don’t believe in writer’s block, and neither do the men and women who write thousands of words day after day, writing through their hesitations and fears. What I’ve come to understand is that they don’t write for their fans or for a large audience of potential readers. Those writers have learned to write for no one other than for themselves. They have an audience of one.

And yet even with that audience of one, doubt and apprehension try to wriggle into the writing process. A true writer has to push those doubts way down into the dark recesses of their mind and simply put pen to paper, writing word after word after word, and always coming back the next day to resume the process. There is no place in our writing for doubt. We have to believe that the stories are within us, that the gift of words we’ve been blessed with will coalesce into brilliant, wonderful stories that will transport our readers into another world, another time, or another dimension.

The best advice I can give any writer is to put away your doubts, your fears of your audience and your fear of failure, and write. Remember, the best audience you have is an audience of one.

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for a Writer’s Family and Friends

Christmas Gift Ideas for a Writer’s Family and Friends

Christmas WreathGift Ideas for Writers

I absolutely love this time of year. The idea of dressing up my house with beautiful lights and wonderful smells is something I’ve looked forward to ever since I was a small child. I remember my dad pulling down box after box of tree decorations while my brothers, cousins and I worked to shove the tree stand onto the trunk of our newly cut Christmas tree. Our decorations certainly never looked like the designer trees you see in stores today. We were happy if the red puff-ball nose we’d glued onto our cardboard toilet paper roll reindeer stayed on and the strings on the handmade popcorn garlands didn’t break.
Fast forward to our busy hustle and bustle lives of today. So many people don’t have the time to make homemade decorations or to bake gooey double chip chocolate chip cookies. Heck, as writers, we’re lucky if we even have time to go gift shopping let alone do all the little extras that make Christmas so special for your family.
I know I sit at my computer eight hours a day, sometimes more, where I live in whatever fantasy world I happen to be creating that day. When people ask me “What do you want Santa to bring you?” my response is usually a blank stare and a mumbled “Can I get back to you on that?” Which brings me to the reason for this post. I thought I’d give my writer friends a list that they can print out and give to their friends and family of various items that might be appreciated by a writer. Some are whimsical, some are practical, but I hope something here might tickle your fancy. I’ll try to add three or four ideas to each new blog post I put up before Christmas.
1.  The first item on the list is this wonderful clock that doesn’t let us procrastinate, get distracted, file our nails, walk the dog or any of one hundred other excuses we find to get ourselves out of putting words to the page. I personally love this clock
2. One of my personal favorites are these coasters that make my imaginary friends legitimate.

3. And here’s one for the more practical minded. I have learned an incredible amount from reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog over the years. He is considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction. If you really, really want a gift that your loved one can consider a great investment in your life’s passion, ask them to buy you one of the many available lectures in his WMG Publishing Lecture Series. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/lecture-series/

4. How about some help with your writing? Here’s one that I found especially helpful whenever I write about a character’s emotions. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have done an excellent job of illustrating the importance writers taking their innate skills of observation and transferring them to their characters in ways that are compelling to read.

I know holidays can be stressful, but try to look at the positive rather than the negative and most importantly, keep on writing!

Coming Out Of Hibernation

Coming Out Of Hibernation

Front of House in winter snow

 

One truism I’ve found as a writer is it’s easier to let life get in the way of writing than to let writing get in the way of life. I’ve decided to turn that trend around and get back to the business of writing. Five years ago, I was easily writing up to 3000 words/day. My writing business was thriving, life was fantastic and I didn’t have a care in the world. Then, insanity struck. I bought a 100+ year old house intending to do a quick 1 year renovation while continuing to write. Five years later, I own a beautiful turn of the century home, but where in the time prior to my madness I wrote three novels in two years, I have only written one novel in five years.

Right now, right here, I am publicly declaring that my writing hiatus is over. I intend to write more now than I ever wrote before. The madness, the insanity that has been my life for the past five years is over. I’m a writer, damn it. I’ve known I was a writer from the time I was a child. The written word is my chosen form of communication and I WILL write.

So, anyway, if anyone is still out there….  I’m Baaaack!!!!

Finding Characters and Interesting Personalities

Finding Characters and Interesting Personalities

Thank you for visiting with me as I’m touring with one of my Alex Wolfe Mysteries, Credo’s Hope. I’m traveling across the country as I write this, meeting wonderful people and enjoying the many different cultures and personalities found in each of the charming regions I’m traveling through. Have any of you ever noticed how incredibly friendly the people of the Midwest can be? A total stranger in Oklahoma spent almost an hour of her own time helping me find a pet friendly hotel while a young man in Missouri ran through a farmer’s field after my Chihuahua who’d decided she wanted to take her own tour of the Show Me state. As I drove through the southern states, people with wide smiles and heavy southern drawls were only too happy to repeat themselves as many times as necessary to make themselves understood by my uninitiated ears.

One side benefit to meeting such an eclectic group of people is the shear number of interesting personalities and quirks I can use for new characters in my novels. Take for example the waitress in a small town in northern Texas. We’d pulled into a Mom and Pop cafe on the main street of town. What made this town unique was there were no McDonalds, Subways or Taco Bells lining the main thoroughfare. We had the choice of this clean little place with sky-blue naugahyde booths, old-fashioned music players on each tabletop, and hand printed, laminated menus or a dirty little greasy spoon across the street. We chose the Mom and Pops.

betty-boopThe waitress who met us at the door wore blindingly white polyester pants and blouse with a sky-blue trim that matched the color of the booths. She had a pretty, round face and a sparkling gleam of mischief dancing just behind her greenish brown eyes. Our conversation went something like this:

   I pointed to the menu and asked, “So, what do you recommend?”

 

The waitress smiled, and instead of answering my question, asked one of her own. “You’re not from around here, are you?” She didn’t have the typical small town Texas accent, and if I had to place her, I would have said Valley Girl from California.

 

“No, We’re from Arizona. Why?”

 

We were the only ones in the dining room, but she still glanced around to make sure we were alone. Looking back at me, she raised carefully plucked eyebrows, silently expecting me to get her meaning. I raised mine in return, telling her I didn’t have a clue what she was trying to say. Very slowly, and with exaggerated meaning, her eyes slid to the greasy spoon next door. I followed her gaze, and for the first time noticed their parking lot. It was filled with cars and trucks and people standing around both inside and out laughing and jostling each other.

 

Just about that time, the owner/chef of our clean little diner stepped into the room and all of us turned toward him. The portly man had the same round face as the waitress, except where hers was open and laughing, his was pinched with an angry scowl and lowered, glowering eyes. He didn’t say anything to the girl, just motioned with a little waving flick of his hand for her to hurry up.

 

“Be right there, Uncle Brett.” She turned back to us as he retreated into his kitchen. Standing there with her pen poised over her notepad, she smiled conspiratorially at me, pointed across the street with her chin and said sotto voiced, “So, that’s what I recommend.” Her eyes sparkled. “They’ve got a killer chicken fried steak and Ms. Porter makes the most wonderful gravy in the world.”

 

I looked across the street at their full parking lot, then glanced at our lone car sitting in the lot of the cafe looking like a lonely fourth cousin at a family reunion. My attention shifted back to our waitress. “Uncle?”

 

She looked over her shoulder toward the kitchen, then leaned in to whisper, “He takes all my tips and keeps them for himself. I’m only here for another two weeks then I’m outta here.”

 

I nodded, stood up thanked her quietly, then sauntered over to the crowded restaurant where I had the most mouth watering chicken fried steak and gravy I’d ever tasted.

 

And that my friends, is exactly where I get the kinds of characters for my books, such as Credo’s Hope, that have my readers writing to say they wish they could actually be friends with my main protagonist, Alexandra Wolfe and her friends who help turn Alex’s everyday life as a detective upside down.

Police Pet Peeve #10 The Job Ain’t Over ‘Till the Paperwork’s Done

Police Pet Peeve #10 The Job Ain’t Over ‘Till the Paperwork’s Done

bigstock_Woman_sitting_on_a_toilet_hold_13037114This Police Pet Peeve comes by way of a homicide detective. “Why doesn’t anyone ever show a detective buried in paperwork?”

Sure a detective gets to go to crime scenes. But what about the hours and hours it takes to bag and tag the evidence? And every single type of evidence has to be processed a certain way. Guns are processed differently than drugs which are different from blood samples which are different from samples of vomit, etc. etc. etc. Each and every piece of evidence has to be photographed, collected and identified on a property sheet.

Then once that’s done, the detective has to take the evidence and sort it, either for the crime lab, or the evidence section.  Does it have to go into the crime lab refrigerator or can it just go into the storage locker?

THEN, the if the detective is lucky, he’ll have time to sit down and write a report detailing every action he took. Who did he talk to? Where did he gather the evidence? How did he gather the evidence? What about the different times the evidence was gathered.  With some evidence, the detective has to note the weather, i.e., temperature, wind velocity, wind direction, cloudy or sunny. Who entered the crime scene. Why?

I realize such minutia could really bog down a good story, but what about putting in just one or two of the aforementioned details to make your story more realistic? Go to your local police records section and see if they will allow you to go through an old homicide case. They might not, but maybe they will. See exactly how much paperwork is generated by a case. Then spice up your work! How easy is that?

Truth or Fiction?

Truth or Fiction?

Alison and Bear     As a retired cop, and as a writer, especially as a mystery writer, I’ve been privileged to be able to see the lives of some of my characters from both sides of the fence.  One fun question I get to play with while I’m populating my stories is whether my fiction is going to mimic real life or do I get to write the real lives of my characters as though they mimic fiction.

There were many, many times when I was handling a call where my partner would turn to me and say “You know, even if we put this into a book, no one would believe it really happened.” I’ve found that to be true. For example, during a writing seminar, I had the opportunity to discuss my books with one of my readers. She was teasing me about what a vivid imagination I had when it came to one of the chapters in the first book of my Credo series. My protagonist, Alex Wolfe, had to go undercover as a prostitute and my reader refused to believe that all of the situations my character found herself in had actually happened to either me or to some of our undercover vice detectives.  This is a perfect example where fiction mimics the eccentricities of real life.

On the other hand, I’ve had more than one of my police colleagues ask me whether I’ve ever heard of internal affairs because many of the antics of the detectives in my novels would obviously get a real officer fired. My answer always brings a knowing smile and a wistful nod of their head. For twenty years, I had to toe the line. Heck, I was a sergeant in Internal Affairs for part of my career. One of my great joys as a writer is allowing my characters to act like most officers wish they could act if they were living in a fictional world.  It’s very difficult to have to be polite to jerks or to have to call a sweating, foul mouthed idiot sir or ma’am.

What I enjoy even more while I’m writing, is allowing Alex to get even with “superior” officers, i.e. sergeant’s, lieutenants and above, who are less than a credit to their profession. Being a cop on the street is a little stressful but it’s also a lot of fun. Being a cop who has to put up with idiots for bosses is a lot stressful, and no fun. I love allowing my characters to mouth off, or to act unprofessional or even downright juvenile at times. I consider it one of the perks of the writing profession.

So what do you think? Should fiction always mimic real life or should we allow our characters to be a little off the wall and perhaps a little unrealistic? I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject.

Police Pet Peeve #9 Don’t (Ahem) a Football.

Police Pet Peeve #9 Don’t (Ahem) a Football.

bigstock_Young_Chimpanzee_Playing_With__5081746

I recently received this one from a friend of mine who is a retired marine. He also did a stint in law enforcement in his “civilian life”.

“Hey, about what TV cops do wrong, how about the way the main guy on (TV show omitted, but you can probably guess) hunches over his 9mm when he thinks he’s sneaking up on someone? (Ahem. Looks like a monkey <aheming> a football.) He fires it like that, he’ll need stitches in the middle of his forehead.”

I receive quite a few police pet peeves about the way fictional characters, whether on T.V. or in a book, handle firearms. If you are going to write about a cop using a particular type of firearm, go to your local shooting range and take some lessons. At the very least, ask some intelligent questions.

A writer friend of mine told me about a very embarrassing chapter in his *already published* book where he actually had his character “Pull back the hammer on his Glock.” For you non-gun people, a Glock is a semi-automatic weapon that never did, doesn’t now, and never will have a hammer. He can pull back the slide, charge the weapon, or, if the weapon is already charged, shoot the bastard, but he’ll never “pull back the hammer.”

And speaking about “stitches in the middle of the forehead”, add some color to your book by having the rookie cop tear up the skin between his thumb and index finger in the slide of his Glock because he had his hand in the wrong position when firing, or have the hammer of the bad guy’s Smith and Wesson snap down on the cop’s fingers as she’s trying to disarm said bad guy.

Remember, a poorly educated writer is a great inspiration for hysterical stories at a dinner party, so if you’re writing about guns, get out there and learn from the best.

5 Networking Essentials for the Authorial Hermit

Owning a business is hard work, and like it or not, being an author is a business. For the most part, an author is responsible for writing a book (hopefully a fantastic book), getting the book to an editor, working the edits once they return, publishing the book and most  importantly, marketing. If you don’t market your blockbuster, nobody will know it’s out there.

There are many, many, many ways for a hermit to market her book, and I will try to touch on several of them in the next few weeks.   One aspect of marketing that a lot authors seem to neglect is networking. Authors tend to be an introverted bunch so I’ve compiled a list of 5 networking essentials that even the most shy authorial hermit can try.

Networking Tips for the Authorial Hermit

  1. Here’s one that will put you at ease. Don’t try to network with hundreds of people. Joe the plumber who doesn’t like to read not only won’t pass your card around, he’ll probably flush it down the toilet. Better one good networking buddy than twenty Joe the plumbers. Find a few people who know the business, invite them to tea and pick their brain. I have  four or five people whom I can call for advice and who will come running when I call. Why will they come running you may ask…..because of tip #2.
  2. Always be willing to help other people. The idea of networking is an exchange of ideas. Try to discover what you know that someone else might need. Are you really good at WordPress? A lot of your fellow authors need help with their website. Photoshop? Help someone with their book cover. I absolutely guarantee if you help other writers, help will return to you tenfold.
  3. Networking is not always face to face (whew, I can see you wiping your brow over that one) Much of today’s networking is done on the internet. Read blogs and if you see someone with a question or a comment that you can help, do so. If someone has information you think might help you, shoot off an email. One major caveat however, keep the email short and sweet. I once received a request for help from someone who sent me a four page letter explaining what he needed. Remember, other people are just as busy as you are. That said, once you have an established networking friend, don’t be afraid to buy them a coffee so you can chat.
  4. You don’t need to apologize every time you ask for help. Introverts always think they are bothering people and extroverts always think people are thrilled to hear from them. Generally, if you don’t take up too much of a person’s time, they are more than happy to help you over whatever problem you’ve gotten yourself into. Go on, try it!
  5. Finally, Follow Up! People like to know there is someone out there watching out for their best interest. If you help someone, call or email to find out if what you suggested worked. If they helped you, a quick note to say thanks and to say how much you appreciated their help will do wonders for future meetings.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Set a goal to make five new contacts each week, and of those five, maybe one will become an excellent networking contact for you. And the other four? At the very least, there are four more people in the world who might  not wonder why that introverted guy behind the computer over there never takes the time to speak to anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Can Writers Find Interesting Characters?

Thank you for visiting with me as I’m touring with one of my Alex Wolfe Mysteries, Credo’s Hope. I’m traveling across the country as I write this, meeting wonderful people and enjoying the many different cultures and personalities found in each of the charming regions I’m traveling through. Have any of you ever noticed how incredibly friendly the people of the Midwest can be? A total stranger in Oklahoma spent almost an hour of her own time helping me find a pet friendly hotel while a young man in Missouri ran through a farmer’s field after my Chihuahua who’d decided she wanted to take her own tour of the Show Me state. As I drove through the southern states, people with wide smiles and heavy southern drawls were only too happy to repeat themselves as many times as necessary to make themselves understood by my uninitiated ears.

One side benefit to meeting such an eclectic group of people is the shear number of interesting personalities and quirks I can use for new characters in my novels. Take for example the waitress in a small town in northern Texas. We’d pulled into a Mom and Pop cafe on the main street of town. What made this town unique was there were no McDonalds, Subways or Taco Bells lining the main thoroughfare. We had the choice of this clean little place with sky-blue naugahyde booths, old-fashioned music players on each tabletop, and hand printed, laminated menus or a dirty little greasy spoon across the street. We chose the Mom and Pops.

The waitress who met us at the door wore blindingly white polyester pants and blouse with a sky-blue trim that matched the color of the booths. She had a pretty, round face and a sparkling gleam of mischief dancing just behind her greenish brown eyes. Our conversation went something like this:

   I pointed to the menu and asked, “So, what do you recommend?”

 

The waitress smiled, and instead of answering my question, asked one of her own. “You’re not from around here, are you?” She didn’t have the typical small town Texas accent, and if I had to place her, I would have said Valley Girl from California.

 

“No, We’re from Arizona. Why?”

 

We were the only ones in the dining room, but she still glanced around to make sure we were alone. Looking back at me, she raised carefully plucked eyebrows, silently expecting me to get her meaning. I raised mine in return, telling her I didn’t have a clue what she was trying to say. Very slowly, and with exaggerated meaning, her eyes slid to the greasy spoon next door. I followed her gaze, and for the first time noticed their parking lot. It was filled with cars and trucks and people standing around both inside and out laughing and jostling each other.

 

Just about that time, the owner/chef of our clean little diner stepped into the room and all of us turned toward him. The portly man had the same round face as the waitress, except where hers was open and laughing, his was pinched with an angry scowl and lowered, glowering eyes. He didn’t say anything to the girl, just motioned with a little waving flick of his hand for her to hurry up.

 

“Be right there, Uncle Brett.” She turned back to us as he retreated into his kitchen. Standing there with her pen poised over her notepad, she smiled conspiratorially at me, pointed across the street with her chin and said sotto voiced, “So, that’s what I recommend.” Her eyes sparkled. “They’ve got a killer chicken fried steak and Ms. Porter makes the most wonderful gravy in the world.”

 

I looked across the street at their full parking lot, then glanced at our lone car sitting in the lot of the cafe looking like a lonely fourth cousin at a family reunion. My attention shifted back to our waitress. “Uncle?”

 

She looked over her shoulder toward the kitchen, then leaned in to whisper, “He takes all my tips and keeps them for himself. I’m only here for another two weeks then I’m outta here.”

 

I nodded, stood up thanked her quietly, then sauntered over to the crowded restaurant where I had the most mouth watering chicken fried steak and gravy I’d ever tasted.

 

And that my friends, is exactly where I get the kinds of characters for my books, such as Credo’s Hope, that have my readers writing to say they wish they could actually be friends with my main protagonist, Alexandra Wolfe and her friends who help turn Alex’s everyday life as a detective upside down.

Amazon Asks Site Owner To Remove Kindle From Domain Name By Steven Lewis | Book Marketing Strategies and Tips For Authors

Today’s post is an important one for you to read on many levels. It goes to the heart of what this blog is about. As you build your brand, the lessons you learn in this post are priceless and will set you ahead of the curve with most authors and others with a web presence.

Recently, a friend and colleague of mine, Steven Lewis, was contacted by Amazon and asked to change his domain by removing their trademarked “Kindle” from his domain name. Can you imagine having to change months, or years of posts and link relationships? When you read this, you’ll realize just what a daunting task this can be.

I approached Steven about sharing his story with us for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that Steven’s site is such a great resource for authors that I genuinely wanted to do what I could to help spread the word of his domain change. But second, this is a rare opportunity for me and my readers to learn, first hand, the “whys” and “hows” of a move like this. You truly have a unique seat at the feet of someone willing to open up and share this amazing experience with you.

To read more of this blog post, go to:

via Amazon Asks Site Owner To Remove Kindle From Domain Name By Steven Lewis | Book Marketing Strategies and Tips For Authors.

WHERE THE HECK CAN I FIND…???

WHERE THE HECK CAN I FIND…???

door book cover                Credo's Hope ePub        cl amazon  newest       SPIRIT CHILD EPUB

Quite often, people ask me where they can find my books – so often, in fact that I’ve decided to write a quick blog post listing the various sites that carry my books and what types of eFiles can be found where.

My first book, a psychological thriller entitled The Door at the Top of the Stairs, is available in many places and in many formats. Pretty much, you can read it however you want it.

www.BarnesandNoble.com
•Nook Reader

www.Kobobooks.com   
•Kobo Reader

The Reader Store
•Sony Reader

www.Amazon.com
•Kindle Reader (Mobi)

www.Dieselebookstore.com
•Samsung

www.Smashwords.com
Online reading (HTML & Javascript), Epub (Stanza reader and others), PDF, RTF, LRF (Sony Reader), Palm Doc PDB (for Palm reading Devices), Plain Text.

The Alex Wolfe Mysteries, Credo’s Hope and Credo’s Legacy  can be found at:

www.BarnesandNoble.com
•Nook Reader

www.Kobobooks.com
•Kobo Reader

The Reader Store •Sony Reader

www.Amazon.com
•Kindle Reader (Mobi)

www.Dieselebookstore.com
•Samsung

www.Smashwords.com
Online reading (HTML & Javascript), Epub (Stanza reader and others), PDF, RTF, LRF (Sony Reader), Palm Doc PDB (for Palm reading Devices), Plain Text.

Pretty much whatever format you’d like to use, my books are available to you.  So all I can say is, kick off your shoes, relax in your favorite armchair and give them a try.  I know you’ll have a wonderful time escaping into another wonderful reality…

                                                                              

Police Pet Peeve #8 Super Macho Cop Prefers to Take on Bad Guys…Alone

Police Pet Peeve #8 Super Macho Cop Prefers to Take on Bad Guys…Alone

bigstock_Sexy_Rude_Man_8183951

This one comes from a friend of mine who can kick a** with the best of them when necessary.  “I hate it when someone is going to be arrested and a fight breaks out….one super human cop kicks ass on either some guy twice as big as he is, or several guys without anyone’s help…we all know that we always call the troops for help.”

Now granted, this is a big city cop talking where back-up is already on the scene or just minutes away. There are county cops and cops from smaller jurisdictions who don’t have a choice in the matter. Back-up might be thirty minutes away, and that’s if they’re running code three with lights and siren.  But I can guarantee you, if that county mounty’s been in a real fight with a mean, angry bad guy before, he’ll be wishing he had three other cops there to help.

Sure you can have your protagonist take on a big guy twice his or her size. Just make sure the cop either fights dirty to ensure a win (there are no gentlemen’s rules when fighting for your life) or give your police character A LOT of trouble until back-up arrives.

As I said, gentlemen’s rules don’t apply when your life is at stake.  You do what you have to do to survive. One of my friends ended up having to kill a man she ended up wrestling with because he was huge, deranged, and was trying to kill her. Her back-up couldn’t get there in time, and she was devastated that she had to shoot him in order to survive. No good cop enjoys having to really hurt or kill someone, but if it’s them or you, it’s gotta be them.

Questions From Other Writers

Questions From Other Writers

DadOne of my favorite by products of writing books is the chance I get to answer questions from other authors.  I love to teach writers how to write realistic police scenes or dialogues.  Most people are pretty well versed now on police procedures because of the plethora of reality police television shows.  I was recently asked how one officer can handle a particular call so differently from another.  Well, there’s a long answer and a short answer and right now you get the short one.

Actually, there are many answers to that particular question, but I’ll just give you one today to whet your appetite.  Within the confines of the law, there is no one “right” way to do police work.  There are many, many different ways to handle the same situation.  For example, a cop walks up to a local gang member on the street and asks for identification.  The gang member takes off running down the street.  If the cop has twenty years under his belt, he’ll probably watch the young man running away and think to himself “Tomorrow’s another day, Punk.” He knows he’ll run into the kid again.

Now take the same scenario, but make the cop a twenty-one year old rookie fresh out of the academy.  Everyone knows, the chase is on. The rookie keys his mike while he’s running after the suspect, breathing heavily while giving his location and letting everyone in his division know he’s chasing a bad guy.

Two different responses to the same situation.  Maybe the rookie’s response is the right one, maybe the veteran’s.  I guess it all depends on where the writer decides to take this particular scene.

Police Pet Peeve #7 Brave or Just Stupid?

Police Pet Peeve #7 Brave or Just Stupid?

bigstock_Brave_Or_Stupid__1805639

One police sergeant, whose hair pretty much turned a dashing shade of grey during my rookie year, can’t stand it “when the idiot officer, empty-handed, approaches the suspect and talks him out of the gun he’s been pointing at the officer’s head.”

 

Whoa, big no no.

 

Rule number one, never go to a gunfight empty-handed.

 

Rule number two, bad guy points gun at cop, bad guy dies.

 

The moral of the story is if you want your protagonist to look brave by walking up empty-handed to a loaded gun pointing at his or her chest, realize that, in this case, brave equals stupid.

 

The Slow Death of the American Author – NYTimes.com

The Slow Death of the American Author

By SCOTT TUROW

LAST month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.

via The Slow Death of the American Author – NYTimes.com.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

As part of  “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop” I was tagged by wonderful fellow writer  Alexandra Wolfe. The purpose of this hop is to expose you to writers and their work that you might not have heard of before.

According to the rules of the hop, I’ve answered some questions below about my latest WIP, which are the same questions each Blog Hopper is answering. Other authors will be doing the same thing on successive Wednesday’s on their blogs. So watch out for more.

 

What is the working title of the book you are currently working on?

Credo’s Fire. It is the third in the Alex Wolfe Mystery Series.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

In all of my books I take a little bit from different cases I worked as an officer, and I combine that with a wicked imagination and a rollicking sense of the perverse to create a slightly realistic and slightly improbable fiction.

What genre does the book fall under?

Murder Mystery

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I had to ask my daughter because she knows more actresses in the age range for my protagonist, Alex Wolfe. Of all the actresses she suggested, I like Melissa Peregrym the best.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your work?

Alexandra Wolfe is a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I self-publish all of my books. In this day and age, unless a major publisher promises me the moon, I feel it is foolish to turn over the rights to my work only to get a fraction of the selling price.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your MS?

I haven’t finished the first draft, but it usually takes me about three months to get the first draft out, and then another month to get it to the editor and then to do the re-write.

Who or what inspired you to write this book.

That’s easy. I keep getting requests from people who read the first two books in the series to write the third. I’ve been busy starting a fantasy fiction series, The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, and since I published the first in that series, The Spirit Child, I’m now ready to continue with Credo’s Fire.

What else about your work might pique the reader’s interest?

I always create strong female characters in my books who are multi-dimensional and who play well with others. Very often, readers comment that they’d like to be friends with my characters in real life, because they are honest, caring, loving, kick-ass women.  I also write in several different genre’s and it is easy for readers to find action, adventure, angst or just plain entertainment .

Next in line:

The next author I’ve tagged is the incomparable Harvey Stanbrough. Harvey is an editor, teacher, guest speaker, seminar leader and a pulitzer nominated poet. To read his answers to these questions on December 26th, go to http://www.harveystanbrough.com/blog/

 

Gold Coast Murder

Gold Coast Murder

A Guest Post by Author Ron Wick

There’s a new murder mystery author in town and I’m happy to be one of the first to introduce him to the reading world. Ron Wick began writing for others as a ten year old when his parents gave him a small rotary printing press with handset rubber type. Maybe not as old as this puppy…

 

…but not a new Mac computer either. It was good enough to allow him to “publish” The Golden Nugget News where he wrote about the latest neighborhood happenings for the next two years. I wonder if he had neighbors to write about like John and Ada Gillespie, who lived next door to my Dad and who let him, as a five year old, “drive” their draft horses,

bigstock-Two-Horse-Power-1701656Bob and Dick,  while they moved steadily back and forth pulling a rope to haul hay up to the upper reaches of their barn.

But I digress as that’s a story for another time…


As Ron moved through life, he  progressed from a ten year old journalist to being a teacher and administrator in Snohomish County, Washington where he influenced the younger generations for 30 years. As an educator he also worked with police and court authorities involving many criminal issues, ranging from juvenile delinquencies to suspected pedophiles. Also during his teaching tenure, he co-authored a  collection of high contrast photographs and poetry centered on motorcycling which was published by Ellis Robinson Publishing.  He is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all humanity and will donate 10% of his royalties from his new book, Gold Coast Murder, to Lions Clubs International Foundation, the charitable arm of the association of which he has been a member and officer for 35 years.

And now, let’s learn a little more about Ron, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak…

 

 

Milk in Bottles

Do you know that milk used to come in bottles?  I remember those in my youth.  When I was 5 years old a broken bottle of milk changed my life and taught a lesson in helping others, something I believe in and have done my entire life.

Dad and I were walking to the neighborhood grocery store, Mrs. Wickstrom’s, in Ballard.  Another boy about my age was coming out the door with a bottle of milk in a paper bag.  The bottom of the bag gave way, the bottle of milk hit the sidewalk, glass and milk went everywhere.

The boy jumped then began to cry.  My dad went to him and asked if he was hurt.

“No,” he said.  “My dad’s gonna beat me when I get home.  We don’t got any more money.”

“Come with us,” dad said patting him on the head.  “It’ll be alright.”

We went into the store.  Dad got another bottle of milk for the boy and paid for it.  Mrs. Wickstrom put it in double-bags and showed him how to carry it with one hand under the bottle.

“Thank you, mister he said going out the door and still trembling as he passed the man cleaning up the glass.

My dad was a commercial fisherman, halibut in the Gulf of Alaska.  He always described the money he made as “…chicken today, feathers tomorrow.”  That day we were in the “feathers” stage.  Dad bought the milk and loaf of bread we came for.  We didn’t get the ice cream.

That day I learned from example.  Dad’s only comment was, “Sometimes you’ve got to help people.  Sometimes others might help you.”

I didn’t know about kids getting beaten.  I didn’t know some strangers would help you just because they could.  What began that day carried into my life of writing, teaching, and serving my community through my  35 years as a member of the Lions Clubs International.  My writing today reflects the observations and themes that began to form when I was a 10 year old writing and printing a neighborhood newspaper.  Those themes and passions are shaped by life experiences, some wonderful and some brutal.

When I retired in 1997 I began expanding my love for poetry and short stories.  The creation of the Santiago Mystery Series provided a vehicle to share fictional stories around fictional characters built around real life themes.

 

Gold Coast MurderRon’s debut novel, Gold Coast Murder, published by Stone Thread Publishing, is available on Amazon for Kindle and Smashwords in all other formats.  Here’s a description of Gold Coast Murder as seen on Amazon.

When the body of a young black woman is found in a bathtub at the Avenue Hotel in Seattle’s University District the victim is unidentified. The crime scene yields little evidence beyond a blue banquet ticket to a teacher conference from the night before, a possible semen sample on the bed sheets, bruising on the victim’s neck, and the torn tissue of her earlobes. The specifics of the crime are withheld from the media. The desk clerk identifies the room renter as John Smith; large, early thirties, married, wearing a big southwestern watch on the left wrist, and Caucasian.

Homicide detective Michelle “Mitch” Santiago is young, smart, sassy and sexy. She is a twenty-eight year old University of Washington graduate, Police Academy graduate; and member of the Seattle Police Department for four years including two on homicide. She is on the fast track to advancement; a gifted but independent investigator. Santiago and partner Chance Stewart are assigned the case. As the investigation proceeds Santiago is forced to deal with personal issues and a lifestyle that parallels the victim’s.

Using the limited clues Santiago and Stewart identify the victim as Hailey Cashland through a missing persons report filed by gay artist neighbor Terry Shaw. They discover Cashland led a double life with a sordid background beginning with a childhood of sexual abuse including rape, to college and the porn industry in Las Vegas, to the day of her death; successful teacher by day, many lovers by night. The case becomes high profile enough Santiago and Stewart’s other case, the killing of a hobo at Golden Garden’s is shifted to another team.

Santiago and Stewart focus on four persons of interest. Jack Hartley, Superintendent of Gold Coast Academy, has known Hailey for years going back to their days in the Las Vegas skin industry. They are close and he has a unique and distant relationship with his wife. Moses Cruz is an infatuated student athlete stalker, a jealous and confused teenager. Terry Shaw is the angry gay artist neighbor who loves Hailey like a naughty sister, reported her missing, and tries to manipulate the investigation. Trevor Gunn is the mystery man in her life, known of by all her colleagues but not by name; a man with an alcoholic wife, two sons and unable to earn tenure at any of three community colleges where he has taught.

The investigation leads Santiago and Stewart back to the hobo killing, linking one of the suspects to both murders. The suspect runs. He’s traced to Port Angeles, Washington. Did he take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia or go into hiding? Santiago discovers he once had a relative living in Forks. He is traced to La Push. The motel is staked out. .

When found the suspect is battered and bruised after meeting the enraged brother of a local Native American woman he had attempted to seduce. He is confused and disoriented as he fluctuates back and forth contemplating escape, starting over, suicide and murder. All the key players are present. At the close Santiago moves closer to resolving the personal issues revolving around her background as a stripper while in college, sexual harassment within the squad room, and whether to remain with SPD.

 

 

 

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi)

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi)

SC thumbnail for website5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit Child, January 27, 2013

By Sher “Sher” (Canton, OH) – See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi) (Kindle Edition)

First off, my favorite genre of books is Fantasy. That being said, in my opinion Alison can hold her head up proudly with her contribution. I loved this book! I loved the characters and how the story unfolded. Miss Holt has a way of keeping the readers attention with every page. I thouroughly enjoyed this first volume to her new series and can’t wait for the second one to be available. I don’t want to give any of the story away but if you love Fantasy books, this one is well worth your time. Thank you Alison for yet another great book!

via Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi).

“Great Read” – Review of The Spirit Child on Amazon

“Great Read” – Review of The Spirit Child on Amazon

SPIRIT CHILD EPUB

The Spirit Child available in paperback or as an Ebook.

I read The Spirit Child in one sitting; once I started I couldn’t put it down and I will be following the series. This book will hold your attention with every page. I love a book where the main characters are smart, stubborn, kick-ass women! The author does an awesome job at describing a fantasy world in a way that captures your imagination. I definitely recommend this book.

-By Dena Elliott

Police Pet Peeve #6 Frustrating Equipment issues

Police Pet Peeve #6 Frustrating Equipment issues

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Equipment issues.  To any cops reading this, need I say more? For you authors, in your novel, does your main police character ever experience dangerous and often embarrassing moments in the patrol car? These examples came from a friend of mine with somewhere around thirty years of police work under his belt.

“Ever had a cop in a murder mystery where either the radio just wouldn’t work or there was an over-saturation of airtime and he can’t get on the air? I was in a chase once and couldn’t tell anyone. One time I was going Code 3 (lights and siren) while leaning out the window and banging on the light bar to keep it working. Another time a cab driver stopped traffic so I could get out of the 4th Avenue tunnel on a Code 3 run when all my equipment quit. Another time I was about to stop a drug car for MANTIS (Metropolitan Area Narcotics Trafficking Interdiction Squad) and my car died every time I hit the lights.”

 

If you want realism, write the most ridiculous equipment failure you can think of. I guarantee that some cop somewhere will read it and say, “Hey! That happened to me!”

 

 

 

 

Seven Excellent Safety Tips For Women

Seven Excellent Safety Tips For Women

 

Alison and BearI’m going to take a minute and step back into my cop persona.

A friend emailed these tips to me and they were so good I thought I’d pass them along to my friends. I don’t know who originally wrote them, but the email said they were written by a female cop. I’m not writing these as gospel, and I KNOW a lot of people will have differing opinions. However, if a woman finds herself in any of these situations, maybe, just maybe, remembering one of these suggestions will save her life.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :

The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide.

If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM.
Toss it away from you…. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.

The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON’T DO THIS!

The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR , LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything,wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or   parking garage:

  • Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor , and in the back seat.
  • If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
  • Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
  • ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)
  • If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!
  •  As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

6. Crying Baby Scam

Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The dispatcher said, ‘We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby’s cries outside their doors when they’re home alone at night.

7. Water scam

If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.

Please feel free to copy this to your blogs or email it to your family and friends. One of these tips just might save the life of someone you love.