What success I have as a novelist has come about because I’m known to write Gothic mysteries. And please don’t get me wrong – I like writing them. And I like reading them. I like suspense and ghosts and supernatural events and cold, drafty English estates and heroines on the edge and all the elements that make up the category.
But, I had a story nagging at me: I kept thinking of it as a love-letter to the senior generation and to all the people who made/make up that group.
Background:  I was born and raised in South Philadelphia and grew up listening to the parents and grandparents and neighbors tell endless stories about how they “came to America” and what they did to survive and how serious they were about how to be good citizens.
On hot summer evenings, after dinner, after the dishes were washed and dried and the kitchen straightened, neighbors would gather outside on their porches and on the steps and then the stories would begin. About their day, their work, who they met and spoke…

The Astral Gift is Back!

Many know that one of my publishers has had serous health problems causing me to take back all my rights. This was so difficult because we were good friends.

The publisher who did my last Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, said he'd republish the others, but this will all take time. 
I had two other books with the publisher that did well over time--and though I wanted to self-publish them I really didn't have a clue how to go about it.
Enter my good friends and angels, Lorna and her husband Larry, who generously offered to get both books ready for publication. 
The first one is done: The Astral Gift

The heroine is a young woman who, as a child, escaped from the sexual abuse of her stepfather through astral projection. As an adult, she continues to astral project, but has no control over when it happens. 
No, I've never astral projected nor was I sexually abused as a child. The heroine is a day care center teachers--and yes, I've been one of those. 
Like most writers, I do borro…

Blog Tour for A COLD DEATH

September 18 A Breakfast Date Supplied the Ideas for A Cold Death
September 19 Coming Up with Titles
September 20 A Lesson Learned Late in Life            
September 21 Finding a New Way to Kill Someone Off
September 22 Multi-Tasking in Writing and Life
September 23 Aging of Characters in the Series
September 24 How Tempe Crabtree has Changed Through the Series
September 25 My Journey as an Author
September 26 What About Killing Off a Main Character?
September 27 Deputy Tempe Crabtree and the Food She Eats
September 28 http://www.lindat…

Herbs for Authors by Kathy Stevens

Last month I shared a favorite recipe of mine with members of the Tulare-Kings writers.  We made this recipe during our meeting so that everyone could take some home.  I hope they will find inspiration for their writing projects as I have. Refresh Mint An Herbal Recipe for writers        
In the early days of our country, the colonists knew that mint “cleared the head.”  They placed a mint blend in a decorative jar and used it as a desk accessory.  Whenever they felt the need to freshen their minds, they shook the jar, then opened it, and enjoyed the lively scent.
This is a version of the recipe they used:    
2 parts dried peppermint, spearmint, and lavender 1 part dried thyme and rosemary      A pinch of cinnamon  (optional)
Instructions:    Toss  all the herbs together.  Leave them to age in a closed container for 24 hours.  Spoon into small glass jars with lids. 
I keep a jar of this by my computer.  When I am writing a chapter in my next book or doing a bit of editing, this reci…

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston

It’s not a cozy! 
My recent book The Most Dangerous Species is set in a 12-acre cat rescue sanctuary in a village much like the one where I live in the mountains in Central California.
Cozies are a genre of mystery fiction that often include cats, domestic murders, amateur sleuths, and sometimes recipes.  The tone is often light and airy and the sex and violence happen off screen. I like them just fine when I’m in that mood, but those are not the books I write.

Police procedurals are more in my line. The Most Dangerous Species features a hotshot sheriff’s homicide detective from Bakersfield and a prickly village patrol officer. The backstory of cat rescue is one that I know well, having been a co-founder of the local SPCA.  Over the space of years I helped set up spay/neuter clinics, trapped and fostered litters of feral cats, wrote grants and set up a thrift store to help fund our work.
Animal rescue work makes you hate people for the terrible things they do to animals. All of tha…

The Adventure of Writing by Judy Alter

I confess. I am an unrepentant pantser, with only occasional regrets. I have heard writers say they simply sat down—in the day at a typewriter, I suppose, and today at the computer—wrote that first sentence, and took off from there, as curious as future readers would be to see what would happen. I’m not quite that bad. I have notes and rough ideas of what’s going to happen on the pages of the work-in-progress, but those ideas usually change dramatically as I write. Right now, I’m working on a Blue Plate CafĂ© cozy set in a small Texas town and involving a thirty-year-old unsolved murder. I’m in the soggy middle, and the other day I was semi-stumped, writing some desultory background material, mostly to keep going. Most of it will probably come out in first draft. And then suddenly, one character asked the other a direct, blunt question, and the entire direction of the last half of the novel changed, much for the better. I know where it is going, but I can’t attribute that sudden epiphany…

Priming the Pump

When we were being threatened by the fire, grandson and friends came up to our property  to do whatever they could to make sure the house and surroundings would be safe. The brought a pump to bring water up from the river, but couldn't get it to work. Son asked if they'd primed it? No one was sure what that meant until it was explained that they had to put a little water in it to get it started.

This made me think about what we as writers do to prime the pump.
For me, the actual writing takes very little--as long as I don't have other jobs looming.
Other jobs could be working on promotion, maybe necessary household chores, or anything that I think is important.
I know that some of my writer friends need to be in a special place, have certain music playing, or they only write at a certain time.
I prefer writing in my office and on my old PC computer. Writing early in the morning before anyone is up and having my cup of Chai latte certainly primes the pump.
Is there somethi…