Thursday, December 8, 2016

Second Novels are Murder by Sue McGinty

Hi Marilyn, thanks for hosting me today. I’m going to answer your questions about getting that second novel off the ground.

What were your assumptions when you started your second novel, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Like most writers with a successful first novel, I assumed the writing, publication, and marketing of my second Bella Kowalski California Central Coast (5 adjectives, count ‘em!), mystery would be a cinch. I was wrong on all counts.

How was the writing process itself?

I assumed that because I’d written one novel, the second would be faster and easier. If anything, it was harder. Novels are like children, they don’t all behave the same way. Some let you sleep peacefully all night long, others keep you up all night. The challenges I faced with my recalcitrant child, “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach” were: Choosing a different location on the Central Coast that fit story's plot, creating a believable plot with means, method, and motivation, and how much backstory to include from the first novel, “Murder in Los Lobos.” 

The biggest challenge was revealing another side of Bella’s character the reader hadn’t seen in the first book. I decided to showcase her empathy for the homeless population and for physically and mentally challenged young people. She was a nun, after all.

Is any of this based on your real life?

Well, as you know, I was never a nun. In fact, I was such a teenage rebel I couldn’t make it through all four years in a Catholic high school and was "invited" by the Mother Superior to transfer to the local public high school for my senior year. It was a huge school, most everyone had been together since grade school, and I had no friends the entire year. But that, as they say, is another story.

Concerning the homeless population, and challenged kids, I have quite often volunteered for an overnight stint in one of the excellent homeless shelters run by our local churches. And after my retirement from McGraw-Hill, I worked part time for a grassroots agency that provided help and support to mentally challenged kids and their parents. Both of these life experiences found their way into “Cuyamaca Beach” and helped to build Bella’s character.

Was the writing process faster for “Murder at Cuyamaca Beach?”

Oh heavens no, my second “child,” took me almost a year and a half to produce a workable draft because of the aforementioned challenges. I wrote “Murder in Los Lobos” in  nine months in a white heat (for me anyway) of creative energy.

Part of the second novel angst was the monkey who sat on my shoulder during the entire process, whispering that I could never repeat the first novel’s success. I’m glad to say that wasn’t true, but that monkey still makes an occasional appearance now that I’m working on the fifth Bella book.
Links you may like:

Tomorrow I’ll discuss publishing and marketing that pesky second novel.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CHANGING IT UP A BIT by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

If you’ve read my previous books—Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness—you’ll get a feel for my writing style. I always liked sweet stories with good messages growing up, and I strongly believe in my publisher’s mission:

Guardian Angel Publishing believes we can change the world by investing in children, one child at a time. We want the seeds of the influence from our books to live longer than we do, building a harvest of knowledge and vibrant faith that will help transform a time we may never see.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret….

Sometimes I like to write different stories. Every once in a while I don’t want to be so serious. 

In 2010, I was in one of those “need to lighten up” moods while participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This annual November event (moving to January in 2017) challenges writers to come up with 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. A lot of silliness came out in those 30 days, including what would become Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.

My quest to create a book that wasn’t about being thankful led me to contemplate possible holiday disasters. My mind finally settled on…

What if the dog swiped the turkey off the table?

Ten-year-old Macy has to do some quick thinking while her twin brothers are fighting, her poor frazzled mom is sighing, and her naughty dog has been sent off to play with Dad.
I hope readers will enjoy this lighter side of me. You can purchase Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving online at:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and the newly released Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, Cheryl lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.
Visit Cheryl online at:

A note from Marilyn: 

Though Cheryl and I live about 3000 miles apart and have never seen one another in person, I feel like I know her. She guided me through several virtual book tours, and we've been prayer warriors for on another along the way of being great Facebook friends.

This is a delightful book for kids--so if you have any you need to get a Christmas gift for, you can't go wrong with this.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

THE STORM by John Wills

Here’s a brief synopsis of the story: Anna’s life in the small town of Heavenly Harbor, Michigan, seems idyllic. Married ten years to her childhood sweetheart, Mark, she wants for nothing, except a baby. Unfortunately, her husband doesn’t share her enthusiasm. Anna has been secretly keeping a journal. She’s recorded her suspicions about Mark’s reluctance to share her dream and his possible infidelity. As she is about to confront him, lightning strikes, literally, causing her to lose her memory. The Storm will not only damage Anna physically, but possibly destroy her marriage as well—and Mark’s secret life is about to implode.

I was inspired to write this story simply because I’ve had people in my life recently who’ve suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve witnessed the steady progression of the disease, sometimes developing slowly, other times the result of a sudden onset. The destruction the malady causes is beyond description. After a while, the victim hardly realizes what is happening. Sadly, however, those close to the patients suffer immeasurably. Their once vibrant loved one disappears before their eyes. In the final stages, it’s not unusual for the victim to be unable to recognize family and friends. Heartbreaking.

So while I was pondering a story involving memory loss, I thought it would be interesting if it centered around a young person. Rather than Alzheimer’s, I thought an injury-induced case of amnesia would make for a compelling story. Thus, the making of Anna’s story took shape.
I did my research with respect to injuries resulting from lightning strikes—how they affect the physical and mental well-being. In addition, I wanted the protagonist to be likeable, believable, and strong. Anna is that person, and her tenacity after her injury makes her character even more powerful. The injury transforms Anna’s character, once a one-dimensional teacher and wife, into a strong determined woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

Of course what would a story be without at least one antagonist that readers dislike right from the beginning? We have such a character in Vicky, a personal trainer at the local health club. Her chicanery and outright lack of morals wreaks havoc upon Anna’s marriage. Add to the mix a couple of strong insightful cops and the recipe for a great novel is ready to serve.

Early reviews have been outstanding and I look for more to be posted. Now excuse me as I need to start the wheels turning and come up with a tale for my next book.

Thanks, Marilyn, for allowing me to introduce my newest novel—The Storm.

--John Wills

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Santa Claus Machine by G. B. Pool

In order to modernize his image, Santa builds a series of Santa robots that are sent to stores around the world. They are programmed to tell Santa’s stories and record children’s wishes. An unscrupulous sales manager at the largest department store chain in America along with their computer engineer, kidnap the real Santa and hide him in an ice cave. They reprogram the Santa Claus Machines to encourage children to ask for more and more toys. When Santa learns about the change, he becomes disheartened and thinks he might have to cancel Christmas.


A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (G.B. Pool) writes the Johnny Casino Casebook Series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. Mysteries. She also wrote the SPYGAME Trilogy, Caverns, Eddie Buick’s Last Case, The Santa Claus Singer, Bearnard’s Christmas and The Santa Claus Machine. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story” (which is also in book form), “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “How to Write a Killer Opening.” 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Recipes by the Book: OakTree Authors Cook

A few years ago, one of my fellow Oak Tree Press authors, Ilene Schneider,  suggested we do an author’s cookbook and feature recipes from our books.  We got it started and somewhere along the way, it got side-lined.  Just recently, Ilene and authors Lorna Collins and Mary Montague Sikes decided to grab the bull by the horns and make sure we got it published.  As it turns out, we have two editions.  One is full color inside and out, and sells as a paperback SPECIAL EDITION for $24.99.  The second edition has  the same beautiful color cover but is black and white inside.  It sells for $14.99.  Both are available at It has 132 pages and is a 6×9 trade paperback.  Buy:

The gorgeous artwork for the cover is done by author Mary Montague Sikes.  The authors who contributed recipes are:  Amy Bennett, Holli Castillo, Lorna Collins, Lesley A. Diehl, Michael Eldridge, Nicola Furlong, J. L. (Janet) Greger, Shirley Skufca Hickman, Ann K. Howley, Marilyn Levinson, J. R. (John) Lindermuth, Nancy LiPetri, F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith, Sharon Arthur Moore, Radine Trees Nehring, Carolyn Niethammer, Eileen Obser, Beryl Reichenberg, Tanis Rush, Ilene Schneider, Anne Schroeder, Mary Montague Sikes,  Denise Weeks, Robert Weibenzahl, John R. Wills and Jackie Taylor Zortman.
Amazon describes our book this way: ” Not only are the Oak Tree Press authors wonderful writers, they are also great cooks.  Meals often appear in their books.  This cookbook assembles the best of their recipes along with author profiles and a bit about their books.  Special thanks for the owner of Oak Tree Press, Billie Johnson, for her support and encouragement.”
With the holidays upon us, remember that books are great gifts, both as hostess gifts on Thanksgiving and for Christmas or Hanukkah presents.  Hope you’ll keep it in mind as you prepare your holiday shopping list.  Buy it and enjoy or wrap it up and give it to someone who likes to cook or just loves books.

I borrowed this from Jackie Taylor Zortman's post. I have a recipe in this book too!

Monday, November 28, 2016

And Yes, More Ideas for Christmas Giving (Books, of Course)

Aunt Madge is staying briefly in Ocean Alley's Silver Times Assisted Living apartments. That's what happens when you stand on a stool to hang garland and lose your balance. Madge's broken wrist and ankle are healing enough that she hopes to join her family at her Cozy Corner B & B for Christmas. The body that falls into her apartment in the wee hours one morning kind of changes things.

Does the killer think Aunt Madge knows something she shouldn't? Will Madge follow the advice she regularly gives Jolie -- to accept that she may not ever know all the answers? It's not looking like it.

Even as she's on the prowl for a killer, Aunt Madge harnesses her friends to make the holidays -- and beyond -- happier for children who end up with broken bones and other ailments.

Newspaper reporter Paul Bradley discovers the body of Springfield Union Mayor James Rodgers prone on the municipal executive's City Hall office floor. The nearly seventy-year-old mayor has been shot twice in the chest. Suspects of the deed are plentiful of the openly womanizing administrator. A string of short term affairs and numerous one-night-stands over sixteen years since his return to his old hometown is just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous other relationships during his prior military career compounds the investigation.

Added to this, his contentious relationship with City Manager Kurt Buckwald and other political rivals as well as potential enemies from a presumed Black Ops career in the Air Force finds Detective Steve McCandless with a larger pool of suspects than he could imagine for the first murder in this small Kansas town in more than thirty years.

Who done it and how to prove it makes for page-turning excitement in this latest murder/mystery from author Michael Schafer.

Western history buffs and fans of the California Missions will enjoy Maria Ines, an impressively researched and vivid depiction of the Salinan Tribe of the Central Coast. Maria Ines is an Indian girl born under Padre Serra's cross at Mission San Miguel who witnesses the political intrigue and greed of Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui invaders who plunder California, destroying everything she loves.

Purebred Dead, a Mary McGill canine mystery. 

It’s the night of Santa Louisa’s annual Victorian Christmas Extravaganza. Mary McGill, chairwoman of the event, stands on the library steps making sure all is going as planned, waiting for the Posada to arrive at the crèche set up on St. Theresa’s front lawn. But the manger isn’t empty. Two children have discovered a man laying in it, very dead, a small puppy beside him.

The children saw a shadowy figure run out of the crèche, dressed in a mediaeval robe. Are they in danger? No one can be sure but they must be protected until the murder is caught. Mary agrees to help. She is sure the puppy is a clue, but to what? Dogs, and dog breeders are plentiful in Santa Louisa. Mary knows nothing about dogs. She’d better learn, and fast, because the local owner of the pet store is also dead and she and the children seem to be the chosen next victims. 
Published by Severn House

Recommended by Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Book list, among others
Available in hard cover, soft cover and ebook

Read 1st chapter and find buy links through

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Even More Christmas Book Giving Ideas!

There's romance, there's intrigue, there's murder, but best of all there's Eve Appel, a gal into high end fashion who's not afraid to get her hands dirty.When Jenny McCleary leases her property to be ravaged by the annual mud bog races, the small rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, is divided into warring camps: environmental activists versus monster truck fans. 

Jenny, who frequents the consignment store owned by Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, doesn’t seem to mind when Eve and Madeleine join the protesters the day of the races. During the race, Eve catches Jenny’s airborne head after it is tossed into the air by the wheels of a truck. 

Now every protester is a suspect in Jenny’s murder. . Even without the disembodied head, Eve has her hands full. The town resents her role in the protests and is boycotting the consignment shop on wheels. She is torn between two men—GQ-handsome, devoted PI Alex and tall, dark, and exotic Sammy. Jenny’s sweet and needy teenage daughter is dating a petty criminal. Will Eve and Madeleine ever be able to move into their new digs? Not unless the town forgives them. And not if whoever decapitated Jenny gets to Eve before she and her sleuthing buddies solve the mystery. Book 4 in the Eve Appel Mystery series.

Who should read it:
Entertaining for women of all ages and those guys who like their women sassy.

Crystal Creek Christmas by Laura Haley-McNeil

A snowstorm paralyzes Crystal Creek’s cattle operation. Jake Whitloch joins the cattle rescue, but finds a woman who consumes his thoughts despite the diamond sitting on her finger.

Noelle appreciates her rescuer, but her deadly secret will endanger the family who opened their home to her.

Laura Haley-McNeil

Risking Her Heart, Book 5 of the Crystal Creek Series, Coming Soon
Steeling Her Heart, Book 4 for the Crystal Creek Series

Kindle Kobo  Barnes & Noble iBooks

THE SLEUTH SISTERS would make a great Christmas gift for a sister or other female relative. 

Not only is it a best-selling, award-winning mystery, but you'll introduce her to a series that focuses on sisters and the bonds between them--some good and others less than good.

Barb (the responsible one), Faye (the caring one), and Retta (the fun-loving one) are as different as sisters can be, but they start a detective agency in mid-life, each for her own reasons. They seldom agree on how to run it, but they come together when trouble arises,as sisters do. 

One reviewer comments: "If you have sisters, you have to read this book!"


Mojo For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery

Do you believe in magic?

There’s a hex on Charley Howard’s Hot Links Emporium, and Charley, a.k.a. the Hot Sauce King, is furious.  He suspects the Jamaican psychic who’s been “advising” his gullible wife Mabel is a phony, and he asks choir director Bertie Bigelow to do a little amateur sleuthing to help him prove it.

But Bertie’s already got all the drama she can handle.

The high-profile concert she’s doing with The Ace Of Spades, an ageing (but still sexy) rap star, has Metro College in an uproar.  Her on-again, off-again flirtation with attorney David Mackenzie has hit a dead end, and her best friend Ellen Simpson has been seduced and abandoned for the third time this year.

When a Chicago Zoning Commissioner is rushed to the emergency room after filling up on the Soul Food Special at Charley’s restaurant, Bertie is forced to take action. She doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that there’s trouble on the horizon.

On the South Side of Chicago, a murderer lies in wait for Bertie Bigelow.  To solve this case, she's going to need all the mojo she can get.

Will Bertie get her mojo working in time? 

When it's cold and snowy and you're trapped inside with cabin fever, what more could you ask for than a romantic adventure in the Southwestern desert? If you can't get there in person, travel in the pages of a book with a couple of spunky women, a handsome helicopter pilot, and a precocious cat.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic – and deadly – New Mexico desert.... 

Reviewers give it a 4.6 star average: “The story has it all – action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....” 

“Great balance of history, romance, and adventure. Smart romance with an “Indiana Jones” feel.”