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Thursday, December 22, 2016

January's Speaker: David Kulczyk: California's Deadliest Women

Join us on January 7, 2016 when our speaker will be David Kulczyk, a fringe history maven.  

His topic? California’s Deadliest Women:  Dangerous Dames and Murderous Moms, which also happens to be the title of his newest nonfiction book.  

Think true stories from the National Enquirer that retain respect for the victims.  Included is our local claim to infamy:  Clovis’ Larissa Schuster who killed her husband with acid sold by her own chemical company.

Born to first-generation Americans in Bay City, Michigan, David Kulczyk (pronounced Coal-check) is a Sacramento-based historian, freelance writer and award-winning author of short fiction. 

He entered college at the age of 40 after working as a factory worker, sous chef, musician, warehouseman, fish butcher, process server, barista and bike messenger. 

Kulczyk’s work has appeared in the SF Guardian, the East Bay Express, the Chico News and Review, Maximum Ink Music Magazine, The Isthmus, Madison Magazine, the Seattle Times, Pop Culture Press, Strange Magazine and the Sacramento News and Review. 

He is the author of "California Justice: Shootouts, Lynchings and Assassinations in the Golden State" (2008); "Death in California: The Bizarre, Freakish, and Just Curious Ways People Die in the Golden State" (2009); and "California Fruits, Flakes, and Nuts: True Tales of California Crazies, Crackpots, and Creeps" (2013), all available from Craven Street Books. Kulczyk lived in Seattle for most of his adult life, with stays in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; and Amsterdam, Uitgeest and Limmen in The Netherlands. He has lived in Sacramento since 2002.


1. No need to reserve, you will have the whole Yosemite Falls lunch menu to choose from.
2. Please arrive by 9:45 and sit at your table until a server takes your lunch order. Then if you wish you can mingle and visit.
3. Each member will be given their own bill to pay at end oflunch. Food & drinks will be itemized separately so drinks are optional. Water will still be provided at the tables. Tip will be automatically added to the bill.
4. Note: there is good selection of senior lunches which are smaller portions and cheaper in cost. And most salads come in two sizes.
5. Visitors will be charged a $10 fee at the door.

Yosemite Falls Restaurant
On Ashlan, West side of 99
Saturday, Jan 7, 2017. 10AM

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

San Joaquin Sisters in Crime Christmas Party

If you didn't come, you missed a fun time.

It was great to see our president, Terrell Byrd, so fit looking after her big health scare and operation that followed.

Also, Sunny Frazer came, just home from her kidney transplant. She looking and feeling spectacular.

We played several mystery-connected games, and then we participated in the great and wild gift stealing game. Only this time not too many stole, but seemed content with the gift they chose.

We ordered off the menu--something new, and it seems to work. And we had lots of delicious desserts to try.

Enjoy the holiday season one and all! And I hope you receive lots of mysteries for gifts!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Holiday Offer

Most of you know that I write the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. To introduce more folks to the series, I've put together this deal:

For the price of postage, $6.50, I'll send you the first three books in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series at no cost: Deadly Omen, Intervention and Wing Beat. (The actual 2nd one, Unequally Yoked, is only available from the publisher: Mundania Press and regular outlets.

Send a check to me, at PO Box 526, Springville CA 93265. (USA addresses only, please.) Or you can use Pay Pal. If you don't have my email address, leave a comment below and ask for it.

For those of you who don't know, Tempe is a Native American deputy who works in and around the fictional town of Bear Creek in the southern Sierra. (It has an uncanny resemblance to Springville though it's 1000 feet higher in altitude.)

Tempe is married to the local pastor who is often concerned when she uses Indian mysticism to help solve a crime.

The three books I'm offering are:

A murder at a Pow Wow tests Tempe's investigative skills.

Tempe and Hutch plan a romantic getaway at a mountain lodge. Among the guests are several washed-up movie people. During a blizzard one of them is missing.

A hidden marijuana farm and a grandfather with troubles keep Tempe busy.


Sunday, November 20, 2016


“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” ~Sherlock Holmes

I’m totally with Sherlock on this one…especially when it comes to the improbable.  I’m drawn to the weird, odd and bizarre.  I’m fascinated by the oddities in life that shouldn’t happen.  They appeal to my imaginative sensibilities.  Blame Roald Dahl and Rod Serling for making me believe in the crazy.  It’s the reason why I’m a rabid fan of the show BANSHEE but not LAW AND ORDERBANSHEE is crazy, intense and over the top and only works when the universe’s cosmic tumblers are off, whereas LAW AND ORDER is rooted in the now and the real, which makes it totally mundane to me (sorry Dick Wolf).  If I want mundane, I can pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news.  I want it weird.  I’m an escapist!  What can I say?

That’s why one criticism of my stories is that they push the limits of believability—and that’s true.  They do.  But for all that limit pushing, they don’t go outside the realm of the possible.  I go out of my way to pay attention to the strange happenings in the real world.   I think I have a fascination with the strange because I possess a small talent for calamity myself.  I have many firsthand accounts of how my life went off the rails.  One example was when I had a near fender bender on a roundabout which then developed into someone filing a fraudulent insurance claim against me.  That led to me being charged with half a dozen driving offenses and was topped off by the police handing me a confession they’d written for me to sign.  Seems unlikely, but it happened to me so things like this must happen to others.

I’ve discovered some tragic and cruel twists of fate such as a Sacramento motorcycle cop who responded to a fender bender caused by  an elderly man who pulled out of a turn and tee-boned a car.  The cop felt bad for the elderly man and let him off with a warning instead of citing him.  The following week, the same elderly man did the exact same thing at the same intersection.  This time he struck and killed the motorcycle cop who’d let him off.  The weird what-if game that plays out in your head after that is what inspires my stories.

Things like this have been the inspiration for several of my books.  The trading of life insurance on the living that is the backbone for ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN is a real thing.  Private security firms being involved with workplace violence claims, which is the foundation for TERMINATED, came from something that was happening with one of my wife’s employers.  The disturbing series of suicides in WE ALL FALL DOWN were inspired by similar ones that happened between coworkers in the UK in the 80’s.

With my current book, DECEPTIVE PRACTICES, things are a little different. The events in this novel don’t have a direct link to an actual event.  Instead, they are inspired by a way of thinking.  Namely, how can a seemingly mundane event get its strange on?  In DECEPTIVE PRACTICES, there is a company called Infidelity Limited.  They are the last ditch effort when it comes to marriage guidance counselors, especially when their pitch is: Do you have a cheating spouse?  Has counseling failed?  Want to get even with them?  Then hire Infidelity Limited to teach them a lesson…  They're a shadowy company that operates on a speakeasy premise and offers a bespoke service.  Tell them who’s done you wrong and they will beat some sense into them.  Olivia Shaw buys into their promises and hires them to even up the score with her husband when she discovers he’s cheating on her, but when he's killed, she discovers Infidelity Limited is far more dangerous than its advertising pitch.

It sounds a little wild but how many times have we read about spouses caught in police stings hiring hit men to kill their nearest and dearest?  Now the idea of a specialist firm that deals in cheating spouses doesn’t sound all that farfetched. ;)

I know this outlook might not be to everyone’s liking but if you’re willing to go off-piste and embrace the improbable, then I think you’ll enjoy the ride.

Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist, an animal rescuer and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and four cats. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Asking For Trouble, We All Fall Down and the Aidy Westlake series. His current thriller THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY has been optioned for a movie adaptation. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Curious people can learn more at

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sue McGinty's appearance at SJ SinC Meeting

At 5 a.m. in the morning, or late in the afternoon when the sun is at ‘just the right angle’ for that certain glow conducive for writing, you will find Sue McGinty in her office or deck overlooking the ocean, writing her Bella Kowalski cozy mystery series. Sue left the corporate world of McGraw-Hill in LA and escaped 200 miles north to the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos where she is now a writer. Not the Cabot Cove of "Murder She Wrote," but close.

Sue came to speak Saturday at San Joaquin Sisters in Crime and we loved having her. She was engaging and answered all the questions flung her way.

Her character Bella, a former nun turned sleuth, gets entangled in all sorts of situations—always having to do with a dead body discovered usually somewhere on the California Central Coast.
Asked where she gets her ideas, Sue mentioned standing on one of the cliffs on the coast, looking down and wondering, what if a body were found down there on the beach below? And so as any good mystery writer, she began the ‘what if’ questioning: what if the person had not just fallen but were pushed, or dumped, or? Then, after the where is decided, the other mystery questions follow: who, why, when, how of the murder.

Though most of Sue’s mysteries are set at the fictional small town of Los Lobos, it’s based on the real Los Osos, but she doesn’t limit where Bella can do her sleuthing (you may find her following the clues of a drug death to the doors of Detroit’s crime families). 

Sue has recently started working on another series, but whether Bella has any more adventures and sleuthing to do is still undecided. She might get herself mixed up in sussing out yet another murder.

Sue’s Books can be found on Amazon:
Book 1: "Murder in Los Lobos:" Introduces readers to former Detroit nun, Bella Kowalski, now a Central Coast obituary writer who can't help getting involved in murder investigations.

Book 2: "Murder at Cuyamaca Beach:" Bella volunteers for the homeless program at her church and people start dying on her.

Book 3: "Murder in Mariposa Bay:" Bella takes on the Mafia when they try to muscle in on a controversial Los Lobos public works project.

Book 4: "Murder in a Safe Haven:" On a quick trip to Detroit, after Bella witnesses a murder at the airport, she is stalked by a mysterious woman with a raven on her shoulder.
Sue’s website:

--reported by Cora Ramos

Friday, October 28, 2016

Questions Readers ask Writers, by Sue McGinty

Thanks for asking me to contribute to your SJC blog. I will be the speaker at your monthly meeting on November 5th. As many of you know I write the Bella Kowalski Central Coast mystery series.

What kinds of questions do you get as a writer?

As a mystery writer I get all sorts of questions about my books, my characters, even my personal life. Concerning the latter, sometimes I am forced to answer, “None of your business.” I mean, reallyAre the love scenes based on real life?

Do you welcome questions from your readers?

Absolutely, it shows that the reader is connected with me and with my protagonist, Bella Kowalski, obituary writer, former nun, former cop’s wife, now single woman on her own.

Do readers ever give you advice about Bella?

All the time. A reader told me I should have Bella color her hair because all that gray makes her look old. Don’t know how she knew that because there’s never been a photo of Bella, per se, anywhere, but obviously the reader sees her in her mind’s eye.

Do you get questions from men?

Rarely. But mostly they critique the writing, saying they love it or they hate it, that this character is underdeveloped, or overdeveloped.

Do you ever create characters of add plot details base on readers’ questions or comments?

Sometimes, though mainly I depend on my beta readers for these. For example, in “Murder in a Safe Haven,” my newest, all three of the beta readers said if I mentioned the old slave tunnel under the convent, I had to put Bella there. I didn’t want to, but I did, though I thought her being in a tunnel violated the norm of a cozy mystery. However, I kept it short, readers like it and it turned out well.

What is your preferred way to ask and answer the questions of readers?

Definitely via social media like Facebook, because then others can chime in as well. It’s amazing the number of opinions I get about even simple things.  

(To find out more about the meeting and Sue, scroll down.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

November Meeting, Sue McGinty Speaks!


1. We are trying out a new order/serving system lunch.

2. No need to reserve, you will have the whole Yosemite Falls lunch menu to choose from.

3. Please arrive by 9:45 and sit at your table until a server takes your lunch order. Then if you wish you can mingle and visit.

4. Each member will be given their own bill to pay at end of lunch. Food & drinks will be itemized separately so drinks are optional. Water will still be provided at the tables.

Tip will be automatically added to the bill.

5. Note: there is good selection of senior lunches which are smaller portions and cheaper in cost. And
most salads come in two sizes.

6. Visitors will be charged a $5 fee at the door.


With little more than an urge to hang out at the beach, write mystery novels and calm a cat experiencing his first car ride, Sue McGinty left Los Angeles June 17, 1994, the same day OJ Simpson took his infamous ride. Unlike OJ, Sue had a destination in mind: the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos. Not the Cabot Cove of “Murder She Wrote,” but close.

Her California Central Coast mysteries include:
“Murder in Los Lobos,”
“Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” and
“Murder in Mariposa Bay.”

Her new release, “Murder in a Safe Haven,” takes Bella back to Detroit, her hometown, for new

Sue’s short fiction has also been featured in four Sisters in Crime Central Coast chapter anthologies.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chilled to the Bones by Linda L. Kane

I began writing Chilled to the Bones on the idea I wanted to teach kids about the American Revolution. Somehow, Chilled morphed into a book with ghosts, vampires, and yes, information about the brave men and women of the American Revolution, including the spy Agent 355 who brought down Benedict Arnold.

Linda Kane takes her readers on an adventurous thriller and chilling ride through the small town of Setauket, New York where four high school friends find themselves embroiled in a historical mystery more than a century old. Secret codes, murder, and lurking evil lead them to the point of almost no return. This page turner is just the beginning of a great series!


"What's up, man? Joe hollered. "Something in your way?"
"Yeah, there's something in my way all right. I've unearthed a piled of bones."
"Bones? What kind of bones?"
"Bones, human bones with a skull."
"Oh, my god!" the workers yelled in unison as they scrambled off their paint buckets and slid down the embankment of the hole Warren was peering into.
Trevor picked up a long tree root and nudged the skull. It rolled over, and empty sockets stared back, vacant and weathered by time. The backhoe had cst the rest of the bones adrift in the dirt. They were a strange dirty tan color, and the hinges of the arms and legs were bulbous. He leaned down to investigate them more closely.
Several hundred years and the right soil conditions for the fungus that had settled in the buried bones propagated a walking terror. Trevor was the one chosen as the host for that terror. What was left ot the other workers' bodies was disposed of, and darkness fell. 

Krullstone Publishing

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Doogledums in Dystopia, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones. The Daisy Murphy Mysteries. She lives with her husband and three dogs and six horses in California.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

SPIRIT SHAPES is only .99 cents on Kindle Oct 16-22

SPIRIT SHAPES Though this was supposed to be free, Amazon changed their requirements and it can only have the price lowered, so--the price iw only .99 cents on Kindle from October 16, through the 22nd.

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.


This is one of my favorite books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and certainly a painless way to get acquainted with the series.

As with all the books--the mystery itself is complete. 

One of the main plots is loosely based on something real that happened in the past and was related to me by the person it happened to. However, most of what goes on in the story is strictly fictional. 

I hope you'll give it a try--and pass on the information.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Sue McGinty, Author Guest for November Sisters in Crime

A Little About Sue McGinty:

With little more than an urge to hang out at the beach, write mystery novels and calm a cat experiencing his first car ride, Sue McGinty left Los Angeles June 17, 1994, the same day OJ Simpson took his infamous ride. Unlike OJ, Sue had a destination in mind: the Central Coast hamlet of Los Osos. Not the Cabot Cove of “Murder She Wrote,” but close.

Her California Central Coast mysteries include “Murder in Los Lobos,” “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach,” and “Murder in Mariposa Bay.” Her new release, “Murder in a Safe Haven,” takes Bella back to Detroit, her hometown, for new misadventures. Sue’s short fiction has also been featured in four Sisters in Crime Central Coast chapter mysteries.

In her “real” life, Sue worked as a technical writer for McGraw-Hill.

Summary of presentation:

“So, Have You Ever Been in Jail?” 12 Questions of a Writer

Readers often feel a writer’s life is fair game for all kinds of questions: often thoughtful, sometimes rude, a few way too personal. Sue will ruminate on the questions she’s been asked in the eight years since her first Bella Kowalski mystery was released. On the table will be small cards where audience members can write their own questions. The one deemed the best or funniest by a show of hands will receive a free copy of her latest, “Murder in a Safe Heaven,” which has been nominated as a Michigan Notable Book for 2017. 

This will be a most special presentation, do come and meet Sue. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Plotting Murder at the Reunion by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Writers think. 

That’s how they come up with things to write, and they can think anywhere, one of the perks of having a portable brain that goes where your body goes. There I was, with Marilyn (my wife) at her Fresno High class reunion…thinking.

On Friday night, about 300 grads and significant others gathered in the open-air courtyard of the Piccadilly Inn (where out-of-towners were staying)  in Fresno for a happy-hour meet-and-greet. Tall and short, heavy and thin, and the only people I knew were…my wife, and local TV personality Kopi Sotiropolous. What was I going to do with my time? Think.

I noticed a swimming pool at the side of the courtyard, and I thought, What a great place to dump a body! I went over to investigate while Marilyn talked to new old friends (and old new friends), following the iron fence to the gate, which was locked. The latch had a key-card-reader installed, so it could only be opened by hotel guests and staff. 

Looking at the key-reader put a question in my mind. What does a writer do with questions? Answer them!

I presented myself at the hotel front desk and explained, “I need your help in planning a murder…mystery story. Since the pool gate requires a key card to open it, does it store the numbers so you could check which cards were used?”

The two desk clerks looked at each other in confusion, and the blonde one answered, “No.”
I thanked them and started for the door, but I paused and said, “That was probably the strangest question you’ve had all day, wasn’t it?”

“It sure was,” the brunette said.

Okay, so I’d ruled out one way to limit the suspects. I returned to Marilyn and her conversations, and started talking to another alumnus-spouse. This kind gentleman from South Carolina had met a pretty young Fresno High grad at the old Castle Air Base during his Air Force days and married her. I mentioned that I was spending my evening planning how to kill someone for a story, and pointed out that the lock on the gate required a room card.

He said, “Well, that gate was open when we came by at five.”

AHA! Of course! People don’t always follow the rules. Someone could leave that gate wide open, just waiting for a killer carting a carcass!

Saturday morning, we did not join the tour of Fresno High, because Marilyn and I were at Sisters in Crime. Listening to our guest speaker, Michele Drier, one of her guides to crafting dialogue stood out—eavesdropping. Listen to conversations and get ideas. I could use that at the reunion dinner.

At Pardini’s for the banquet attended by700 or so, I found the snag in that advice—my hearing loss. Even with my hearing aids, it’s hard to eavesdrop when you can’t hear anything clearly. Michele had suggested reading relationships by watching body language, but the lighting was on the “intimate dining” level, and I couldn’t see that well. What was a writer to do? Think.

AHA! I’ll make up relationships.

This couple got divorced, and she married her husband’s best friend. That couple got divorced, and he married…another man. The young guy at that table, heavyish with over-the-shoulder hair, looks like the singer Meat Loaf; he seems suspicious.  There is a trophy wife being dragged around, and there’s a….. It was fun. 

To get a younger sleuth, I imagined a graduate who brought his little sister as his plus-one to his 50-year reunion (which is what Marilyn’s brother did; she enjoyed their “date”). Better yet, the sleuth is the daughter of someone at the reunion, back in town to help him for a while.

This was the first reunion Marilyn went to, because she didn’t think she was well known, but she reconnected with people she didn’t know were still alive. A month ago, at the Greek Food Festival, Kopi told her, “Come to the reunion. They’re a lot nicer, now,” and talked her into going. Now, she says everybody should go to reunions. She had a great time.

I really enjoyed that FHS reunion, too…and I got the bones of a story out of it. What shall I call it...? A Reunion for Killers.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

MAKE IT REAL, Authors!

By Krista Lynn

On October  1st,  Michele Drier made it clear. Draw your readers in by making the “story real enough to connect with them.” Do your research and give just enough real-world information to engage your readers. And what is the best way to pull them in with interesting information? Write good dialogue!
 “Dialogue is emotion,” she said. She emphasized that books are about people and what they say in the story shows their true character. In a good mystery, dialogue develops the characters, shows how they feel about each other, while their discourse helps define the plot, and unveil the clues. Through well-crafted conversations, the reader may discover the very solution to the mystery. For Drier, it’s all about the interaction between the people in the story - and that interaction is forged in dialogue.
“Words hold emotion,” she said, and explained that it’s important to choose words carefully. Being a former newspaper reporter and editor in the time of the old-style typewriter with triple-carbon copies where every typo meant a major re-do, she admits that technology has made this is a great time for writers. Computers and word processing is a blessing, but also allows writers to be sloppy about word choice – it’s so easy to type quickly, hit the backspace or delete and keep going at a fast pace. The downside is that authors are not always so careful about what their words are. She cautioned that frequent review of their work with a critical eye is essential to understand “what the reader is getting out of it.”
In response to questions about her books, Drier described her popular Vampire series and her Amy Hobbes mysteries. It was clear that Drier practices what she preaches. In each of these books, she infused a real-world topic, i.e. Chernobyl in a story about nuclear weapons in one book of the Vampire series, and the challenge of the drought in California in the Amy Hobbes mystery, Delta for Death.
All in all, the “Dialogue” at today’s meeting was engaging and edifying and…REAL!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Next SJ Sinc Meeting


Michele Drier is our speaker--going to talk about dialogue.

Scene of the Crime
Yosemite Falls Restaurant      On Ashlan, West side of 99     EARLY START at 10:00 am
SATURDAY Oct. 1, 2016. – Please come early by 9:45 so we can start on time and you can look at books

 Members - $16.50      Visitors - $21.50
**NOTE:  We will be served a choice of  California Burger, Soup & Salad Combo, or
                                                                                                        Spaghetti & Meatballs with bread.
RSVP by Wednesday before the meeting
If you can, we highly encourage you email your reservation instead of phoning it in, Thanks.
NOTE:  please put your lunch choice on subject line
Do not log on to the website, simply send email to the above address.
IF YOU CAN NOT EMAIL Please call 559-431-0360 
with your name & choice of lunch.
Dial carefully, there is no greeting announcing SJ SinC.



 In October we will hear Michele Drier. Her topic is, "Can we talk?" She is going to talk about dialogue, one of the most important experiences of life, in reality or fiction. Michele is the author of the Amy Hobbes Mysteries and the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles

 Michele Drier, a fifth generation Californian, was born in Santa Cruz, California to a family that migrated west to San Francisco in 1849. Unfortunately, they never found gold, nor did they buy (and hang onto) any California land, but books and writing are in her blood. Her mother named her Michael, after author and actress Blanche Oelrichs, who wrote under the name of Michael Strange. Her maternal grandmother belonged to a writing club in San Francisco in the early part of the 20th century and wrote poems and jingles— one of which won her a travel trailer during the Depression. Before she began her third career as a genre novelist, she had a two-decade stint as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, and also spent about 20 years as a non-profit CEO. She’s a member of the Society of California Pioneers and Sisters in Crime and lives in California’s Central Valley with a cat, skunks, wild turkeys and an opossum (only the cat gets to come in the house, although the others have tried!).

 San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime meets the first Saturday of the month at Yosemite Falls Restaurant (which is located at Ashlan & Freeway 99.)  10:00 AM.  Price includes lecture & lunch. 


I have been reading a lot of big city mysteries lately. I do like hanging out with guys like Harry Bosch, Martin Beck and Sean Duffy. I decided it would be good to take a break and visit some gal pals who know about small town crime. My next three reads are Amy Hobbes, Tempe Crabtree and Bella Kowolski.

Edited For Death
by Michele Drier

Amelia Louise "Amy" Hobbes was a big city journalist. A policeman's widow, she married a cad the second time around. At the time of this story the cad has departed and she is the managing editor for The Monroe Press, a California foothill town newspaper.

Robert Calvert, a US Senator and native of nearby Marshalltown, has just died. Amy sees a chance to get out of the newspaper business by writing a book about the beloved war hero's life. Her best reporter, Clarice Stamm, is helping her with some research.

At this point the story takes a turn into the past. We see through letters, illegal diaries and other sources the actions of Robert Calvert during World War II. People start dying in Marshalltown from unnatural causes. The old Calvert family hotel is being renovated. The residents of the building are troubled by deeds from the past in the shape of villains in the present. What is going on? Will Amy and Clarice survive to finish the book? You will have to read it to find out!

This book is in the first person and the present tense. As a writer I can tell you that present tense is not easy to sustain. It took me about a chapter to adjust to living in the moment with Amy, but it soon faded and the story flows very well. Because of the passage of time, a story where people were involved in WWII is hard to write without making it a period piece. It was nice to read one more novel about people from the 'Greatest Generation' before they are all gone. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Michele Drier Reports on Bouchercon

Our speaker for October, Michele Drier, shared this report on Bouchercon, the world mystery convention.

Lee Child on the right.

Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Harlan Coben.

Aching feet, lack of sleep, erratic meals.

David Morrell, Michael Connelly, Catherine Coulter, Catrinona McPherson, C.J Box, Charlaine Harris.

Michael Connelly on the left.

Trying to talk to 2,000 people.

Sisters in Crime breakfast when Leslie Budewitz passes the Seal of Office to Diane Vallere for a new presidential term.

Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention, was last week in New Orleans and 1,967 mystery and crime writers, fans, publishers, agents, fans…did I say fans?...spent five days talking, meeting, listening, drinking with each other.

Mystery conventions are a lot of fun. Where else can you meet a range of authors—your favorites, prepublished, struggling newbies, stars—in an up-close-and-personal way?

Bouchercon is the biggest convention and can be overwhelming. But if you’re a first-time convention attendee, there are many others you can cut your teeth on before you tackle 2,000 people.

One of the ones I like best—about half the people and closer to home—is Left Coast Crime.  In 2017 it’s in Honolulu and 2018 in Reno.

And if you’re a cozy mystery fan, there’s the venerable Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD. They cut off registration at about 500, so it smaller, more intimate but packed with authors such as Margaret Maron, Hank Phillipi Ryan and Rhys Bowen.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Boston, there’s the New England Crime Bake. Florida? Try Sleuthfest and Killer Nashville. Some of these are self-developed and some are Mystery Writers of America sponsored. Places, costs and authors change, but each offers writers and fans unequaled opportunities to spend time with like-minded people.

Before I threw in the towel and became a full-time writer, I put together (and attended) probably 20 conventions and conferences across the country in the arts, criminal justice, housing and health delivery.  Held onto my program book or panel list and trudged from room to room. I once walked out of a lunch in Monterey where 250 arts administrators were collectively trying to write a telegram to the National Endowment for the Arts.

But mystery conventions? Hearing top-notch writers tell stories of starting out with 50, 100 or more rejections. Driving around with a trunk full of books. Going to signings where the audience consisted of your partner and two people who came in to get out of the rain.

I recommend going to at least one mystery convention. They’re gatherings of folks who love writing, reading, mysteries, whether hard-boiled noir, serial killers or cozy poisonings by the neighborhood baker.

And Bouchercon? Well, it’s coming to you (almost!). It will be in Sacramento in 2020. Guests of honor are Scott Turow, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry and Cara Black, with Catriona McPherson as toastmistress. And I’m pretty sure Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Sara Paretsky, Harlan Coben and new rising authors we don’t know yet will be there.

Catch a conference. Your feet will ache, you’ll lose sleep, you may even have sensory overload. But it will be exciting, fulfilling, stimulating and just plain fun!

.The guests of honor rode Mardi Gras floats into the opening ceremonies. A second line formed to walk to the theater where the Anthony Awards were held.

Despite 88 degrees, 90% humidity and rain, several hundred attendees followed the Preservation Hall Band, twirling umbrellas and waving bandannas, down closed streets at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night. Band members, stilt walkers and krewe members welcomed people to the Orpheum Theater. 

Diane Vallere accepts the Seal of Office from Leslie Budewitz during the Sisters of Crime annual breakfast and meeting.

--Michele Drier

 Editor's Note: Bouchercon can be overwhelming, but it's the place to see the super stars of the mystery world. And Michele really caught the flavor of what it's like.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


What can an author do for promotion? With so much commotion of advice vying for my attention, I felt burned out and decided to go back to the basics—the old methods—put ads in the newspaper, present talks at local venues, find speaker opportunities at conferences and make announcements where we can. I began exploring options for authors in local venues. And an idea began forming.

In the spring, I talked to some romance writer friends who were having their first romance novels coming out in 2016 and asked them to join me for a panel talk at a local bookstore, the Book Barn in Clovis. I wanted to share the publicity to help ourselves and our writer organizations (all of us being members of Yosemite Romance Writers and two of us being members of San Joaquin Sisters in Crime). If I had known all the work it would take, I might not have started, but I found that when you set your mind to a goal, help comes along the way to make it possible.

Opportunities opened up, and I flowed with the ideas and inspiration as they came. It started with an ad I saw on Facebook. The local Central Valley Internet Talk Radio was asking for local artists and writers who might want to be interviewed about Art Hop, an event that happens once a month for people in the community to come out and visit local artists where they work and display (I only just learned they were adding authors to the mix and I would be the first author interviewed at CVTR).
So began the journey:

·         I appeared on Central Valley Talk Radio to promote Art Hop and my novels. As a result I was compelled to do what I’d been putting off doing; approaching the one bookstore that would be in keeping with my writing themes (past lives/reincarnation and the wisdom of indigenous people)—our one metaphysical bookstore/gift shop in the Fresno area, The Brass Unicorn, so I could announce where interested readers might find my novels during Art Hop.

·         I was then contacted to talk ta a writer’s group in Visalia which gave me some ideas for questions for the panel.

I    I was asked back to Central Valley Internet Talk Radio and invited fellow author, Krista Lynn, to join me for promotion for the Book Barn event. Our host was charming and made it easy. I was nervous—but not as nervous as when I’d made my first appearance (it gets easier over time).
·         I made up a flyer and put copies around town and all the authors helped spread the word and the fliers. We announced it at our respective writer groups, on Facebook, Twitter and in every other venue we had access to.


·         Then the Book Barn put me in contact with KSEE 24 TV where we all gathered for an afternoon chat with Alex Delgado and Stephanie Bainum about the Saturday event and our books.
·         Finally, The Book Barn event itself was play time. We all learned something in the process of speaking and having some fun with our audience while they munched on cookies we provided. I think we all gained a few fans and feel more confident about our promotional speaking abilities after that.

Long story short, it was a great success. I stopped listening to all the promotion advice of everyone else, learned a few things and lost some of my appearance fears. My admonition to authors who read this and need to do promotion in a way that is right for them, to quote Steve Jobs,

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Share what you’ve done for promotion and good luck on your writing journey. 

#writerslife #TV #Radio

Cora J. Ramos