Sunday, March 26, 2017

Writing Fast

By June Shaw

I had never written a novel in less than a year--until recently.

The first book I wrote took two or three years, and it collects dust. It was fun. It was exciting. It was awful. It went on and on, and I was having a good time getting it down because I had wanted to do such a thing for so long. Then I discovered most books shouldn't be much longer than 100 pages unless the author was well-known or the book fit into a certain kind of genre, but it wasn't the genre I was writing.

Each book I sold in my first cozy mystery series took about a year to write, and that time frame let me write and exchange manuscripts with my critique group and revise a couple of times before I sent them in. Here is the first one--Relative Danger.
https://www.amazon.com/RELATIVE-DANGER-Cealie-Gunther-mysteries-ebook/dp/B003YJEWNK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490560419&sr=8-1&keywords=Relative+danger

Now I'm writing a cozy mystery series for a different publisher, and they want the books faster. They want one turned in every six months. At first I thought I couldn't do it, but then I sat, knowing I needed to do and many authors write two or three or even more books a year.

My first book in that series came out last month. The second will be published in August, and last week I finished the first draft of the third one.

Wow, how productive this publisher has made me. Thank you.

Many positive reviews tell me A Fatal Romance came out very well:
https://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Romance-Twin-Sisters-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01F0YVQEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490560830&sr=8-1&keywords=a+fatal+romance





Wednesday, March 15, 2017

John Lindermuth's New Novel



I've always been interested in history and few eras are more interesting than that of our American West. I'm also intrigued by mystery. So what could be better than combining the two?

As trappers, gold-hunters and settlers expanded into the West they ran head on into people they often regarded as less than human but who had cultures as diverse as their own. When conquered, these people were forced onto reservations where it was hoped they might be controlled.

Like most other reservations in the United States, San Carlos in Arizona was established by politicians ignorant of native cultures and relationships. The process forced both friends and enemies to live cheek by jowl in a harsh environment made worse by cheating agents and abusive soldiers while constantly being spied upon by tribal police and scouts who assisted the Army in hunting down renegades.

The conquered Yavapai and Tonto bands of the Apache people, formerly hunter/gatherers, turned to farming and were becoming near self-sufficient on their first reservation on the Verde River. This didn't sit well with contractors who profited from supplying the reservation. Orders came down for the Army to march these Indians 180 miles on foot to San Carlos in mid-winter, a move General George Crook called "cruel and greedy, the foulest blot in Indian history."

John Clum, who had been appointed agent in 1874 (after twice turning down the job), appears to have been a decent man who attempted to treat the people fairly and gave leaders more autonomy than they'd had under other administrators. He embarrassed and inspired the wrath of the Army when he and a small group of scouts brought in Geronimo and his band to San Carlos in 1877 without a single shot being fired
.
Despite Clum's best efforts, San Carlos was bleak, rations were short, there was animosity between the various bands and disease afflicted the people. No wonder then that many chose to break out, seek freedom in the mountains and over the border in Mexico.This is the background for Geronimo Must Die.

My protagonist is Mickey Free, based on an actual scout who served as a translator under Al Sieber in the Yavapai/Tonto campaign and then at San Carlos. His mother was Mexican, but his father has not been definitely identified. As a boy, Mickey was kidnapped by Pinal Apaches and an Army officer blamed it on the Chiricahua, igniting a decade-long war. Mickey was adopted by Nayundii, a White Mountain Apache, and he and his foster brother John Rope both joined Sieber's scouts.

As Mickey says in the book: "History's like an old mirror, distorted, smudged and fly-speckled. It don't always reflect things the way they are." This gave me the liberty to play with fact and fictionalize to suit my story.

There's a plot to kill tribal leaders in the hope Apaches can be convinced to leave the reservation in a great runaway. Sieber suspects Geronimo is behind it. But when Geronimo himself becomes a target of the sniper it falls upon Mickey to save him and discover who is behind the plot.

I love research and fortunately there are a ton of books, government reports and other sources for information on the period and the people involved. Incidentally, the San Carlos reservation stills exists. Despite formation of a Chamber of Commerce, a casino, a language preservation program and other efforts by the people, it is one of the poorest Native American communities in the
U.S. 
Here's a blurb for Geronimo Must Die: 

Geronimo and rascally half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free have never been friends.

Yet, Mickey has already saved Geronimo's life twice (without acknowledgement) and is the only one who can keep the great Apache leader out of the sniper's sights now. The sniper has already murdered several tribal leaders and Mickey believes it's all a plot to prompt a great runaway from the hated San Carlos reservation.
Mickey's efforts are stymied by Al Sieber, head of scouts, and John Clum, reservation agent, as well as suspicion of other Indians. Adding to his problems, Mickey is in love with a girl whose name he keeps forgetting to ask and who may be allied to the plot.
Only perseverance, risk to his life and, eventually, Geronimo's help will enable Mickey to resolve this dangerous situation.

Geronimo Must Die will be published March 28 by Sundown Press.

________________________________________

A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill--which may have helped inspire his interest in the West. His 15 published novels are a mix of mystery and historical fiction. Since retiring, he's served as librarian for his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Mystery Series

by June Shaw

I am so excited to announce that Kensington's Lyrical Press has just published A FATAL ROMANCE, the first book in my new Twin Sisters Mysteries!

This series is set in a place I live in and love--South Louisiana's bayou country. The second book, DEAD ON THE BAYOU, is scheduled to come out in August--and I'm writing like crazy on the third, SAVING MOM. (The twins' mother lives in a retirement home.)

Writing these books is fun and difficult and so rewarding once they're done. Here's the opening of A FATAL ROMANCE:
I stood in a rear pew as a petite woman in red stepped into the church carrying an urn and stumbled. She fell forward. Her urn bounced. Its top popped open, and ashes flew. A man’s remains were escaping.

“Oh no!” people cried.

“Jingle bells,” I hummed and tried to control my disorder but could not. Words from the song spewed from my mouth.

“Not now,” my twin Eve said at my ear while ashes sprinkled around us like falling gray snow. She pointed to my jacket’s sleeve and open pocket. “Uh-oh. Parts of him fell in there.”

I saw a few drops like dust on the sleeve and jerked my pocket wider open. Powdery bits lay across the tissue I’d blotted my beige lipstick with right before coming inside St. Gertrude’s. “I think that’s tissue residue,” I said, wanting to convince myself. I grabbed the pocket to turn it inside out.

“Don’t dump that.” Eve shoved on my pocket. “It might be his leg. Or bits of his private parts.”

“Here Comes Santa Claus,” I sang.

She slapped a hand over my mouth. “Hush, Sunny.” 

The dead man’s wife shoved up from her stomach to her knees, head spinning toward me like whiplash.

“Sorry,” Eve told her. “My sister can’t help it.”

Beyond the wife, a sixtyish priest and younger one and other people appeared squeamish scooping coarse ashes off seats of the rough-hewn pews. An older version of the wife used a broom and dustpan to sweep ash from the floor. People dumped their findings back into the urn. Other mourners scooted from the church through side doors. A boiled crayfish scent teased my nostrils. Someone must have peeled a few crustaceans for a breakfast omelet and didn’t soap her hands well enough.

Ashes scattered along the worn green carpet like a seed trail to entice birds.

“Look, there’s more of him. I’ll go find a vacuum,” I said.

The widow faced me. “No! Get out.”

“But she’s my sister,” my twin said.

“As if I can’t tell. You leave with her. Go away.” The petite woman wobbled on shiny stilettos, aiming a finger toward the front door.

I sympathized with her before this minute. Now she was ticking me off. I’d been kicked out of places before but never a funeral. “I didn’t really know your husband, but Eve did. I stopped to see if she wanted to go out for lunch, and she asked me to come here first. She said y’all were nice people.” 

“We are!” The roots of the wife’s pecan-brown hair were black, I saw, standing toe to toe with her, although my toes were much bigger inside my size ten pumps. I was five eight and a half. She was barely five feet. Five feisty feet. “But you’re not going to suck up parts of my husband’s body in a vacuum bag.” She whipped her pointed finger toward me like a weapon. “And you need to stop singing.”

I wanted to stop but imagined parts of the man that might be sucked into a vacuum cleaner and ripped out a loud chorus, my face burning. Nearby mourners appeared shocked. Mouths dropped open.

“You don’t know my sister,” Eve told the little woman who’d just lost a spouse. Actually, lost him twice. “Sunny can’t help singing when she’s afraid. And that includes anything dealing with sex, courtesy of her ex-husband.”

“What does sex have to do with Zane?” The wife’s cheeks flamed.

Should I tell her about his privates possibly being in my pocket? Second thoughts said not to. “Who knows? But you don’t need to worry. I certainly wasn’t having an affair with your husband,” I said, quieting my song to a hum.

“Just the thought of sex makes her sing,” my sister explained. “Maybe it’s a good thing she doesn’t think of it often.”.

The widow shook her finger. “Zane was always faithful to me.”

“I’m sure he was,” I said, working to get my singing instincts under control. Nodding toward the carpet, I spoke without a hint of a tune. “I’d really like to help you get those pieces of him out of the rug. If we can just find an empty vacuum bag, I’ll—”.

“Go! Get away!”
www.juneshaw.com        http://amzn.to/2k1GBys

Thursday, January 26, 2017

OLD IS COOL AND SO IS WRITING!


by Jackie King

I’m a writer, so I write. Sometimes I have to write what’s foremost on my mind. Today that happens to be writing as I grow older.  If you’re a writer, everything is connected with your writing. And no matter what your age is today, one day you too, will be old. So this morning, instead of trudging ahead on my latest Work-in-Progress, I’m talking about my Life-in-Progress.

Arranging your life successfully as you age isn’t as easy as it looks. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I have two daughters in the area who are both willing to help. The problem is, I don’t want to be a pain in their backside. I must say that hard as I’ve tried, I have complicated both of their lives. But I make a discernable effort to minimize their problems.

Years ago I vowed that I wouldn’t unnecessarily cause my children pain. I won’t go into the history of why, just that this was my goal for dealing with adult children. Did I always accomplish this? Of course not. But with all honesty, I can honestly say that I’ve tried.

Here was my game plan when I hit about 75: Since I’m single, I sold my four-bedroom house and downsized to fit into a three-room apartment in a complex for seniors. My daughters helped me, but the decision was mine. Here are my self-imposed ground-rules:

The “treasures” that I spent a lifetime collecting are just “stuff.” Look at the need to shed them as a relief, not a tragedy.

No “meltdowns” allowed. (I had one rather serve collapse right after I moved. Luckily my youngest daughter was with me, and she was wise enough to just let me boohoo in her arms until I recovered my equilibrium.)

I had to try two senior complexes before I found the right fit for me.

I made up my mind that I’d be happy.

I adopted the motto: OLD IS COOL! Because it is. (imo)

I chose a drop-dead date when I would stop driving, and then sold my car to my youngest granddaughter. Her delight at having a bright red, sporty-looking car, sweetened the bitterness of this pill.

As with all of my decisions, I made up my mind not to grieve over what laws of nature governor.

My rule as a writer: NEVER GIVE UP WRITING.

Write something each day that it’s humanly possible. (Did I break this vow? Of course. But as soon as possible, I went right back to writing. And I’m not talking about my grocery list.)

Growing old is sometimes a challenge. One must reject bitterness, regret and loss, and then press forward with hope, courage and faith.

Now back to my new cozy with the working title of Corpse Under a Sagebrush. Which more than likely will change.

Cheers,

Jackie

Thursday, January 12, 2017

INDIE PUBLISHING: My New Venture in 2017


by Jackie King
Technology in printing and the popularity of ebooks have changed the publishing world in ways that have transformed the book industry.

I’ve always been something of a late bloomer, and my entrance into publishing my own books is no different. When I started writing seriously, that was back in the late 1980s, self-publishing was considered to be something that only hobbyists indulged in to bolster their egos. Twenty-first century publishing is a whole new ballgame.

The once shabby title of “self-publishing,” is now called “Indie publishing," and has a shine all its own. Now everyone and his favorite author seems to be considering some type of Indie publishing. Including yours truly.

At the close of 2016, I asked for the copyrights to all of my books and novellas to be returned to me, and the regional publisher I worked with for many years graciously agreed. So with the help of local writer/editor, Joshua Danker-Dake, and local graphic designer/artist, Mark Combs, I am in the process of printing Blue Cameo Books.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Josh Daker-Dake, Writer and Editor
“Self-publishing was time-consuming, but straightforward—it’s nothing any reasonably computer-savvy person can’t do with a little bit of diligence." Josh Daker-Dake—interview with Publisher’s Weekly 2015


Mark Combs, Graphic Designer/Artist
This imprint will soon republish all of my Grace Cassidy Mysteries, and my stand alone contemporary mystery, MURDER AT THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, which is set in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Later in the year I’ll issue a collection of my historical novellas that are set in 1889 Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, at the time of the Land Run.

I’m very excited with this new venture, and am enjoying learning more and more about the craft of self-publishing each day. The illustrious SistersInCrime organization plans on sponsoring a ListServ for its members sometime this year.

Very soon I’ll show the new covers of my “Corpse,” series, featuring Grace Cassidy, an independent B&B inn-sitter who offers her services to overworked innkeepers who desperately need a vacation.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

WAITING FOR SANTA -- AND THE NEW BOOK

by June Shaw

This morning I heard footsteps padding around on my roof and had hopes: Maybe it was Santa (I mean it's the coldest day so far this winter in south Louisiana--the low forties last night.)

It wasn't such a surprise, though, when a man came down, a slim man who'd gone up on the ladder I had watched him lean against the house. That was before I felt the wind's chill and pulled my nose back in my snug house.

He came down minutes later and knocked on my backdoor again. "I'm sorry. There's a spot right over there that feels soft," he said. "I need to go to the lumberyard to get a piece of plywood to replace it and a few shingles that match yours."

At least it didn't sound too terrible. That wouldn't be such a large bill, I figured--even though spending any money on work on the house right before Christmas didn't seem right. I mean, the kids did want presents. Of course mine are grown and would be content to receive nothing, but they'll get gift certificates to a favorite restaurant or building supply place they frequent. The teens are different. They might say they don't need anything--Wait, they're girls and teenagers, and would never make such statements. But they are most pleased with cash to spend on things of their choosing so that's what they'll get.

Now me: I want to get more work done on my current book--SAVING MOM, and I am pleased to say I have quite a bit done.

I also want to get make preparations for the first book in that new series, which is set down here. It's called A FATAL ROMANCE, and it is available for pre-order now! It will be released on Jan. 24.

As you can tell, I am satisfied, even if the little footsteps from my rooftop didn't come from the person I had hoped for. Looking forward to having the first book in a new cozy mystery series is a wonderful present!

What would you like Santa to bring you?

http://www.juneshaw.com




Thursday, November 24, 2016

TRUE THANKSGIVING STORY and Pecan Pie Recipe


by Jackie King

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for reminiscing and for remembering family stories. These generational memories are often centered around cooking and good food, and these special tales of family history should be treasured and never forgotten.



Here is a yarn spun for the pleasure of all gathered at a festive Thanksgiving meal celebrating God’s abundance and goodness. Such true stories cry out to be told and retold.  
June Butts with Sofia her Great Granddaugter
June Butts with her grandson, Jamie Horn

Memories of Papa Peeling Pecans for the Grandkids

 “We called our grandfather, Papa,” June Butts, now a great grandmother herself, said. “Back in those days different generations of the family lived in the same house, and it was wonderful to grow up with an older person who had the time to tell stories and to teach us kids about the generations past. I think maybe that’s one reason why families were closer back then.”

 The comely woman smiled and the faraway look that came into her blue eyes told me she had transported herself back to South Texas and a simpler life sometime in the 1950’s.

 “We had a pecan tree and Papa peeled pecans for the kids. We’d sit in a circle at his feet, listen to his tales, and eat the perfectly shelled and halved nuts as he passed them around.”

 “Peeled pecans?” I asked, trying to imagine how such a feat might be possible. “How could he peel pecans?”

 It was Thanksgiving Day and I had been invited to join June’s family for a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing and all of the trimmings. We were sitting around the table drinking coffee and savoring that mellow sated satisfaction that fills a group of friends during happy times.

 “With his pocket knife,” June said.

 “His pocket knife?” I asked. “You’re kidding.”

 “I’m not!” June’s robust laugh was typical of a woman who was Texas born and bred. “He peeled those pecans just the same way you’d peel an orange. He’d slice off the top and the bottom, cut slits around the nuts and then just peel off the hulls. Those pecans came out in perfect halves and he’d hand them to us kids.”

 “That must have been one sharp knife,” I said, wondering how he kept from cutting off his fingers.

 “That it was,” June said. “And he could peel those nuts really fast. Sometimes he’d peel enough for Mama to make us some pies.” She sighed with remembered pleasure. “Mmm—mmm—mmm, those pies were good! We never had much money, but we had happy times, anyway. God was always good to my family.”

 “I’ll bet you learned to cook from your own mother,” I said.

 “Sure did. Mama and Daddy had eleven kids, and I was helping stir up dinner as soon as I could hold a spoon and stand on a stool to reach the table.”

 It happened that we were drinking Texas Pecan flavored coffee. I took a sip of the hot brew and savored the rich flavor. Pecans, family and holidays equal pure pleasure, I thought. Everyone sitting at the table owned their own cell phones and computers, but some things never change. The memory of “peeled pecans,” outranked any of the electronic pleasures available to the diners.



Only the delicious food that we shared stayed the same.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Loretta Carson’s Pecan Pie

1 Scant cup sugar

1 cup dark Karo Syrup

3 eggs

3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans



Beat eggs and sugar until blended. Add Karo syrup and mix well, then add melted butter, salt, vanilla and pecans. Mix well and pour into 9 inch unbaked pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. (Center will be set.)



Happy Thanksgiving to All