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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!