Thursday, December 29, 2016

TRIBULATIONS in a rich world

...a very rich world.

I have the grand good fortune to appear in an anthology based on Faith Hunter's amazing Rogue Mage series. It is a rich world...deep, colorful, frightening...glorious to read her stories. AWESOME to be invited to play in her creation. Blessed, actually.

My story, River Bones, is in the volume called TRIBULATIONS, set for a December 30 release. Other stories in the book are by Faith, Lucienne Diver, Spike Y Jones, and Christina Stiles. So pleased to be in their company.

If you haven't read Faith's Rogue Mage fiction, do yourself a favor and buy a book or two. It's post-apocalyptic, haunting, and magical. These short stories in TRIALS and TRIBULATIONS are little slices of the setting.

I chose the Amazon basin for my tale. My buddy, Vicki Steger, gave me this incredible book about the Amazon River basin and the history of its exploration...a BIG book that had been in her father's library. It has served as the springboard for some of my short stories and a novel. And I just had to delve into it again because the basin would be a perfect place for a treasure-seeking girl raised in a convent to explore. Too, I was inspired by the History Channel program "The Curse of Oak Island." (I wonder if the brothers will ever really find something.)

I put a little magic in my story, and some explosives. I'm a fan of things that blow up.  

Thanks, Faith, for letting me play in your sandbox. What a magnificent place you sculpted!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Piper

Birthing Piper Blackwell

I love reading mysteries with plausible characters; they tug me through a novel. But an unbelievable character, or one who does things that make no sense, cause me to set the book on my giveaway stack and reach for another.

So when I started to write The Dead of Winter, first in the Piper Blackwell mystery series, I wanted a plausible character with a background that justified her motivations and actions.

I picked up the telephone and called the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My sheriff—Piper Blackwell—was going to have served with the Screaming Eagles. And she was going to be young.

Back in that proverbial day I was a reporter, and I ran the Kentucky news bureau for Scripps Howard. Several times I hopped in my car and drove to the base to cover various stories. They were never feel-good-features. It was either the occasional murder or the not-so-occasional incident of domestic violence, and once—thirty years past—it was for the devastating plane crash that killed more than two hundred and forty-eight soldiers. Here’s a link to an article about the tragedy:

Way back then I thought about writing fiction with a character who’d been a soldier. But after my news reporting days, and until recently, I’d only been writing fantasy and science fiction. When I switched to the mystery genre, I knew it was time to dust off that plan.

Enter Piper Blackwell.

When I called Fort Campbell, the man on the other end of the phone—Bob Jenkins—helped me build her training program, where and how often she deployed, her assignments, and showed me how she could have attained the rank of sergeant and been decorated by the ripe young age of 22. He taught me about the MP program, where women could excel, what she would have covered while on the base, and about the dangerous downrange assignments in the Middle East that could have shaped her.

He helped me craft a believable, plausible character…who I had run for sheriff of Spencer County, Indiana.

And Piper won that election, trading on her family name…the previous sheriff being her father. On my research trip through the county I chatted with local folks, some of them involved in campaigning, and learned that quite a few of the county politicians had family ties and that there was a scattered bit of nepotism.

It was believable that she could win.

Should she have won? Probably not, and hence that provided me with a little friction within her department. Her chief deputy was more qualified; he has a granddaughter the same age as Piper.

I enjoyed writing Piper and her first murder case. It brought back memories of my newspaper days and when I used to traipse around southern Indiana. Some good times there…and some unfortunate, awful incidents I had to report on.

I’m plotting her next adventure right now. She’s got to hire a new detective for the department, and another deputy. She’s got another murder to solve, a cold case. The sequel is tentatively titled The Dead of Night.

There will be a dog in it, a nod to the Robert B. Parker books I loved to read. Spencer and Jesse Stone had dogs.

I hope you join Piper in not-so-sleepy Spencer County. I promise to keep her real.

USA Today Bestselling author Jean Rabe has written 35 fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction novels. The Dead of Winter, her 36th, is her first mystery. She has roughly 100 short stories in print, has edited a couple dozen anthologies, and has edited more magazines than she cares to tally. When she isn’t writing or editing, she tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs, visits museums, and tries to find gamers who will play Axis & Allies with her.

You can find my blog at:

My personal webpage is at

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You cansubscribe here 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Thrill is Gone

... in a splattering bloody mess.

Yeah, I watched The Walking Dead. And I'll probably watch a few more episodes but only because an old buddy from my TSR days is one of Negan's henchmen. When my old buddy ceases to walk around with a pick ax--Ciao! In my opinion--my blog, my opinion--the storytellers took it too far with the popped-out eyeball and the smashed skulls. Blood without plot...well, not much plot. Blood. Blood. Blood. And a gob of flesh hanging from the baseball bat.

There was blood and gore and shock value. 
Battered characters. 
Crushed souls. 
But there was no real story to it. 

Sure, the writers can say they needed all the "ick" to affect the characters and to further the action in the remaining episodes.

But in this episode, I couldn't find the story. If I'm going to invest time in something--time is precious and once spent you don't get it back--I want there to be a story, a good plot. I want the action to move from Point A to Point B and eventually to Point C.

B and C were missing from that episode.

The thrill of that show, to me, is gone.

My friend Christine Verstraete has a much better zombie story, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. It's got gore in it, and history, and it didn't jump that proverbial shark like The Walking Dead. It's got A to B to C. 

I put down books that don't get to B fast enough. 

I like to be thrilled...with movies, books...I want my entertainment to make me scootch forward to the edge of my seat. I want a book that MAKES me turn the page even if I'm tired and thinking about calling it a night. Tug me through the story, hang me at the end of a chapter. Keep me up. Keep me engaged with the characters.

Don't make me think I'm wasting my time.

Some of my fellow writers criticize Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as not being well written. Sure, when I read it I wanted to take my editor's red pen to every other page. He's not an elegant writer. But what Dan Brown did right was pull me through the book, hang me at the end of a chapter. I had to keep reading The Da Vinci Code because he made me want to know what happens next. I don't care what happens next to Rick and his crew in The Walking Dead. It doesn't have me on the edge of my seat. I've read most of Brown's books, by the way, and studied his page-turning technique.

My current writing project is a thriller set under Rome. I like to read thrillers, so I thought I ought to write another one. I'm a little more than halfway done and I've just offed one of my characters. I let Christine Verstraete select who I "gave the ax" to. It's not a bloody ridiculous death, and I don't show you the body in all its awful detail. I don't need to...though I am more than capable of describing awful stuff.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child write great thrillers...I've a bunch of them on my shelves. Raymond Benson can spin a thriller to make you say WOW and reach for his next book. Ridley Pearson, Stephen King, Ken Follett, Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn, Dean Koontz, Jack Higgins...they can deliver good thrillers. 

Kevin J. Anderson has put together a great bundle of thrillers...tinged with science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy. GOOD stories, edge of your seat stuff, make me turn the pages stuff...each one better (okay, in my opinion) than what the storytellers did in The Walking Dead. Seriously good reading. Thrilling reading.

And, yes, this is a plug to latch onto Kevin's Thriller Bundle. I've a book in it--Pockets of Darkness--which has gore and STORY in it. Donald J. Bingle has his excellent Forced Conversion in it too. Yeah, this is a plug so I can sell books. I'm a full-time writer, I make a living by selling books. But it's also an offering of good thrillers. I don't recommend bad books. I will never recommend a bad book. I used to recommend The Walking Dead to my friends. But I don't do that anymore.

The thrill is gone from The Walking Dead. But the thrill is here courtesy of Kevin J. Anderson. Here's the link to that Thriller Bundle.

Find The Dead of Winter, my new mystery, on Amazon here. 

And my Amazon author page here.  

My personal webpage is at

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here. SUBSCRIBE


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sex Made the Difference

...or rather changing the sex of the main character did.

When I wrote Pockets of Darkness, the main character was Gavin, an Irish thief with a teenage son dropped on his doorstep. Gavin was smug and cocky and didn't suffer the failings of his subordinates.

I sent the book to my friend Lucienne Diver, of the Knight Agency, and she emailed me that the book didn't feel right, but that she thought it would sing with a female lead instead.


Gavin became Bridget. The ex-wife became an ex-husband. The teenage son stayed the same. And the mother-in-law...I left her a witch.

Lucienne was right. The book felt much better. Bridget was a far better character than Gavin, and it was both delightful and onerous changing the lead's sex through the entire manuscript...and then double and triple checking to make sure all the he and she references were correct.

I really really really like Bridget. And I'm hoping you will too.

She's tough and driven, born in NYC and raised by the streets, a former gang member who used to sneak into a boxing club late at night to hone her physical skills. She's complex...and vulnerable. Gavin wasn't near so amazing as Bridget, not as deep, and not near as elegant. And when she "lays down the law" on the members of her thieving band, it is more serious and frightening than when Gavin tried to do the same thing.

Bridget is AWESOME and bad-ass.

I picked NYC because I like to watch cop shows set there, and thrillers. It is a big, bad city with lots of shadows and secret places. My NYC friends helped...providing blueprints of buildings, detailing what corner bodegas had to offer at 3 a.m., and pointing out which subway stops to stay away from late at night. Naturally, I sent Bridget to the scary parts of the subway. Bridget loves the subway. She's one of those "Yea though I ride through the tunnel of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I am worse than whatever else might be down here."

I settled on Pockets of Darkness for the title 'cause I figured everyone has pockets of darkness in their souls, places where we put all the unfortunate things we've done and experienced. Bridget has a lot of those pockets.

Bridget--and Lucienne--made me rethink some of the other books I was plotting. I've a novel releasing November 1, The Dead of Winter. The protagonist is a woman, and a decorated Army veteran. She fits the story better than a male character would have...though the secondary characters in her life are all men. She's a bit bad-ass, too, but isn't dark and scary like Bridget.

Back in the day when I wrote fantasy fiction for TSR, a lot of Dragonlance books, I had several strong female characters, but the leads in my first two trilogies were men...the book department at the time wanted it that way because of the demographics of the readers. That third trilogy...about goblins...ah, Mudwort...she was pretty powerful. Gotta love strong female leads that are not cliches.

I am yippy skippy happy that Pockets of Darkness is featured in the Thriller Bundle so new readers will ride the subway with Bridget. She'll take them to the dangerous spots...those shadowy places are much more interesting, ya know.

I have two other books available from the wonderful WordFire Press:

You can find my blog at:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dogging It...Some Friendly Advice to Writers

Sometimes I dispense advice to writers. Today's tip: make sure you have a dog if you're working on a novel.

Yeah yeah yeah, I have writer-friends with cats. I'm not arguing dogs vs. cats. This is my blog, my advice. Get a dog. If they have blogs, they can dispense the "get a cat" wisdom.

My blog.

Get a dog.

Or two.

Or three.

Or four if you're taking care of someone else's buddy for a while.

One of the four-legged denizens felt under the weather at 3 a.m. this morning. This meant I had to get up, let him out, make sure he was okay. Then I started working on my book. If the doggie hadn't been ill, I would have missed out on three extra hours at the keyboard.

Get a dog...'cause sometimes they get sick.

Dogs play crucial roles in my mystery novel that releases November 1. Of course I'm going to mention it. There's a pre-release sale going on the e-version of it. If you're curious how I wove dogs into the plot, why not order it and find out. At the moment, you can do that for 99 cents.

There's a dog in my new author photo on the page. And there's a dog in my Facebook profile picture, my Amazon author page picture, and on my Twitter profile page. Some of my favorite authors had dogs in their publicity photographs--always Robert Parker, check out the Spencer and Jesse Stone books. And he put dogs in his mysteries too.

Get a dog 'cause they make you look better in promo photographs.

They are the impetus to get up from the keyboard for breaks. I'm writing this after taking the pug for a brief stroll. The next break will be to toss some tennis balls to the Labs and the Bossy Terrier.

Get a dog...or two...or three because they make you leave the computer, and when you come back you're refreshed and the words flow better.

Dogs can help you craft characters. Back in the day when I wrote Dragonlance fiction my editor approached me with the idea of a goblin trilogy. When I was finished, he pronouced it the best fantasy fiction I'd written. The goblins and hobgoblins...the ones in lead roles...their personalities were based on dogs who had shared their lives with me.

Get a dog 'cause they help with writing.

Dogs can also be inspiration. For example, I thought it was about time I wrote another blog. It was easy to come up with this go-round's topic. Writer advice: get a dog.

Get a dog 'cause they make everything better.

The shelters are full, why not look there?

Get a dog.

As I mentioned, there’s a pre-order special price of 99-cents for the ebook of The Dead of Winter. The price goes up sometime after the November 1 release.

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here:


Monday, September 26, 2016


I felt my blood pressure rise when I saw the news item on the MSN page yesterday…things people waste money on. The article keyed to a series of pictures and told the reader they could save so much money annually if they went the free route. Item #1…go with tap water instead of bottled water. I’m fine with that suggestion, as I know what those plastic bottles do to the environment. Item #2…don’t buy books.

I quickly clicked through the next pictures. It didn’t suggest people wasted money on going to the movies or baseball games or concerts or other forms of entertainment.

Really? Don’t buy books. It suggested, instead, going to the library where you can read them for free, or downloading free ebooks. Really? Don’t buy books?

Why ever would someone…a writer especially, as the author of the piece had to be a writer of some stripe…tell an audience not to buy books? What moron (I’m being overly polite) would offer such advice?

My mother bought me books when I was four years old, and she taught me how to read. I’d read the books again and again until they were memorized, and then I passed them along to other kids in the neighborhood…and she bought me replacement books.

As I grew up, I’d save my allowance and haunt the local bookstore. My friends spent their money on candy and pop magazines, Seventeen and such. I bought books. I discovered a used bookstore, which meant my babysitting money could go farther.

Today my house is filled with probably more books than I will be able to read before I die. Books make me feel good. Having books makes me feel good. And though I have enough books, I buy more every season as new releases by favorite authors come out. I buy ebooks, too, but I REALLY like the feel of a paper book in my hands.

And yet, I’m not a book hoarder. Once read, I pass the books along to someone else…unless it’s an Ed McBain or a Gene Wolfe book…or sometimes a Robert Crais (those are for rereading or studying passages). Then my friends can have more books too and I don’t wholly overwhelm my shelves.

Why ever would you tell someone not to buy books?

I wasn’t going to write another blog for a week or so, as I’d just put one up a few days past. But that MSN article royally pissed me off. It said people waste money by buying books. It didn’t say people waste money if they buy bad books, or books filled with so friggin’ many typos your stomach twists. And those free ebooks the article recommended…every free ebook I have downloaded has been filled with typos and was not well-written. I quickly deleted them from my Nook. And now I don’t bother glancing at a free ebook.

Don’t buy books?

If everyone stopped buying books, authors would be forced to stop writing them…especially the good authors. Writing is a profession, and writers should be paid. My husband asked me once why I don’t wait until a particular book comes out in paperback…or go to the library. (I do go to libraries, I love libraries, and I favor their reference sections. But I tend not to check out fiction books from libraries.) I’m a writer, and I want to give my fellow writers the royalty money from a book purchase. It’s investing in my profession, I believe. BUT that’s not the only reason I buy books.

I like to have them…so I can read them when the mood strikes. I usually have three or four books going at any given time, all different. A David Baldacci thriller is on the nightstand right now. A dark police procedural is on the porch. A SF novel is on the end table in the living room. Depends on my mood and where I am as to what book I pick up. And there’s a to-be-read stack. Oh, and I have a mystery next to the couch in the basement…so I can read while my glass fusing kiln is running.

When I packed up to move to Illinois, I stared at the sea of books in my basement. I’ve written a lot of books, and so I had BOXES of copies of my various titles. I don’t have so many anymore. I donated them to schools in Wisconsin. A lot of them went to an inner-city middle school. I got a couple of letters from the teachers there who said the kids were delighted. Coming from poor families, they didn’t have money to buy books for themselves. The teachers said for some of the kids, those books were the first they’d owned.

I think the MSN article should have said “don’t buy books only if you can’t afford them.” I would have been on board for that. But that wasn’t the article’s intent or bent.

Don’t buy books. REALLY?

I’m gonna go buy a book today.

Or maybe two.

I've a newsletter I send out twice a month. If you'e like to be put on my list, follow this link:

Friday, September 23, 2016

If there's an art... self promotion, I'm one of those dabblers painting Happy Trees.

But I'm learning. And I'm sharing what info I've picked up through my ramblings below.

Back in that proverbial day when I started writing, publishers did all the work on promotions. Those times are long gone...though publishers still help, if you're lucky.

  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Groups

Yeah...there's more social media than that, but I only got time for the above.

Here's the thing: more than one million novels are released annually in the United States, and more than two-thirds of those are self-published.

In this very crowded marketplace, it is not enough to write your book, sell it to a publisher, and start on the next.

You have to promote your novel to boost sales figures…to not get lost in the numbers. There are great promotional opportunities that won’t cost you anything beyond your time. However, spending a little money here and there can improve your exposure. Set a budget, and decide where to allocate your funds.

Bookmarks, pens, tote bags, coffee mugs…they’re all nice, but they don’t return any significant “bang for your buck.” In fact, they usually cost you more than you’ll make from selling a few books to someone who picked up your swag. However, if you really want them…to slip into a book when you have a signing or appear at a convention, here are a couple of links to reasonably-priced services. Look for promo codes to boost the savings.

Some studies have shown that the greatest response to book promotions is through author newsletters. Build your email list, then send out a once a month or twice a month newsletter highlighting what you are working on, and what’s coming out and when. Newsletters should be short; people don’t like to read long missives. Ten good newsletter services, some of which are free, are detailed here:

I HAVE A NEWSLETTER! It comes out twice a month, filled with a bit of promotion on my current project, as well as recommending books by other authors, some useful writing tidbits, and the occasional silly contest. I keep it short so not to take up much of your time.

If you'd like to get my newsletter...which also sometimes has dog pictures in's the link:

Hold a book launch in the first or second week of release. An online event, which could include a blog hop, a virtual book tour, or an “ask me anything,” session. If you are unfamiliar with these activities, publicists will handle them for you (for a fee, of course). Here are four good links about book launches:

Buy a stock of your paperbacks as soon as it is published so you can plan a local book launch at a library or other venue. Publicize this in the local newspaper. Newspapers usually love to do features on local authors. Though the books will cost you, they usually are available at a 40% author discount, and so you can recoup this—and more—through your sales.

Define your target audience and discover where they hang out online. You can promote there. FREE.

Browse the major blogs your target audience reads. Ask if you can do a guest blog or if they will like to your blog. FREE.

Join an author network, where the members cross-promote books. FREE. requests   

Gather reviews and quotes, use these in promotions. Good quotes from respected authors will help sell your book. In some cases you will have to provide the books to be reviewed or pay the service a fee for finding reviewers.

Consider a book trailer. While most of these cost varying amounts of money, there are a few services where you can do short trailers for free. Here’s one of the free sites:

Send a “shout out” to friends with well-visited webpages and well-read blogs. Ask for promotion help.

Attend writing conventions, mystery conventions, or set up a night at the local bookstore or library where you can hold a discussion, a reading, and sell your new book.
I'm picking and chosing from all of the above right now in my effort to promote my mysery novel, IN THE DEAD OF WINTER (which is available at Amazon right now for a 99-cent pre-order sale price).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Lizzie Borden… Dog Lover?
By Christine Verstraete

Welcome to another stop on the book release blog tour for Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter! ** Follow the blog tour and be sure to get your copy of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter in print and Kindle Sept. 13! **

Whatever you think you know about Lizzie Borden—spinster, “plain old maid” as one newspaper called her, Sunday School teacher, accused killer—she also was a dog lover.

Lizzie went on to live a quiet life after she was found not guilty on June 20, 1893, of killing her father, Andrew Borden, and her stepmother, Abby Durfee Borden, on August 4, 1892. She remained in her hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, and bought a large Victorian house she named “Maplecroft” up on “The Hill” where the better-off lived.

Some say she always envied how others lived and used her ill-gotten gains to get what she always wanted. There is no proof, of course, to the rumors, or even that she was even actually guilty of the crimes.

Think what you want, but whatever can be said of Lizzie Borden, she loved dogs. And as the old saying goes, anyone who loves dogs and children can’t be all bad.

Settled into her new, much nicer and more modern home, (gas lights and indoor plumbing!), Lizzie went on to own three Boston Terriers. However, if we add a moment of psychoanalysis, was owning dogs, especially a certain breed, another way that Lizzie could prove her place in society? During the Victorian age in England, little “lap dogs” were a sign of status, according to (

Boston Terriers originated in Boston (hence the name) and soon became so popular that a American Bull Terrier Club was formed. By the end of 1910, the dog was one of the most popular breeds in the US. (

Still, she apparently loved animals enough that following her death on June 1, 1927, her will included a bequest of $30,000 and her stock shares in the Stevens Manufacturing Company to the Animal Rescue League of Fall River. The facility, now the Faxon Animal Care and Adoption Center, continues to receive a small amount (about $5-$6,000) annually, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2014. She also provided funds for other animals. See

The center also cared for her dogs after her death. They are buried at the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery in Dedham, Mass., which dates back to the 1900s. They are buried by a gravestone that is a mini replica of the Borden family monument in the Oak Grove Cemetery. (See Roadside America -

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter:

Every family has its secrets… 
   One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy, and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
   Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them. 

*** Yes, there is a contest to win 1 of 10 Kindle copies (ends 9/14.). Entrants MUST enter an email as a blog comment or on the rafflecopter to be sent a gift copy if they win. Sorry, no time to hunt you down. No email, no chance to win.  ** And please, review it on Goodreads and Amazon. **

Think you know Lizzie Borden? Read on! The blog tour schedule is:
Mon. Sept 5 - GirlZombieAuthors – Introduction – A Little About Lizzie
Tues. Sept. 6 - Jaime Johnesee blog – 12 Questions for Lizzie Borden
Weds. Sept. 7 - Jean Rabe's blog – Lizzie Borden… Dog Lover?
Thurs. Sept. 8 - AF Stewart blog interview
Fri. Sept.  9 - Haunt Jaunts blog – More Lizzie
Sat. Sept. 10 – Stephen D. Sullivan blog  - Lizzie Films
Sun. Sept. 11 GirlZombieAuthors recap
Camille Minichino blog  - Why oh why zombies?
Mon. Sept. 12 - Horror Maiden's Book Reviews
***Tues. Sept. 13 - RELEASE DAY!!!
    Join the FB Release Party - prizes, guest authors, zombie fun!! (See info posted on my Facebook page and website or the GirlZombieAuthors blog.)
Weds. Sept. 14 - Lizzie as a Zombie Hunter - Chapter Break Book Blog

* This isn't the end! Get your copy. Share a review. And come back to the GirlZombieAuthors blog or the author website for info on another blog tour starting Sept. 26 with Bewitching Book Tours.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Finding a Character For My Next Novel

“Nobody talks to me,” the old man said.

I was visiting my father-in-law at a retirement complex, and I was off the lobby, editing a novel on my laptop. It had been a quiet corner; no one had pestered me. Though I did interrupt my work to pet the various dogs that people walked out the back door.

“Nobody,” he said.

He folded himself into a nearby chair and proceeded to pester me.
Incessantly pester me.

I saved my work and figured I’d give him a handful of minutes and then he’d nod off, as men with as many lines on their face as old tree bark tend to do. Except he didn’t nod off. He talked and talked and talked. I’d heard about the guy from my husband, who had taken his dad to lunch. I had stayed behind both to work and to give Bruce some time alone with his dad.

But this ancient dude—Mark—wouldn’t leave me alone. I moved my computer to another room, and he followed me. I went upstairs to the “library” and hooked my computer up to an outlet. He found me there several minutes later.

I saved my work and let him talk.

“I get lonely,” he said. “Nobody’ll talk to me.” He went on to tell me that he’d given his car to his grandson, and that said grandson would be picking him up in the morning to drive him to a funeral.

I learned he had two loves in his life. A wife who’d died many years ago, and a girlfriend he met at the retirement center and wished he would have married. She’d died several months back. He carried an eight by ten picture of her in a tote bag to show people. He missed them both, yet he counted himself lucky and blessed to have known and loved these two women. A few days ago…the girlfriend would have been eighty-eight; he got his grandson to take him to the cemetery so he could put a dozen roses on her grave.

He worked as a welder with my father-in-law, traced their association back more than sixty hears, recalled when my father-in-law took a swing at him ‘cause he was wearing a Kennedy for President button. Yet he’s not a Democrat anymore. Not really a Republican. Doesn’t trust Hillary. Doesn’t like Trump. Would’ve voted for Cruz…Biden in a pinch. Figured Sarah Palin would have made a “helluva” president. Smart and pretty; someone to pay attention to.

I learned he liked mystery books. We enjoyed the same authors…J.A. Jance, Stuart Woods, Lee Goldberg, and Robert Crais. He said he was particularly fond of authors that only hinted at bedroom scenes, leaving it to the imagination rather than blatantly describing sex acts; he said the better authors could tease you. I promised the next time Bruce came to visit his dad, I’d pass along some of the mysteries I was done with.

He asked what kind of music I liked. I said classical and country. He serenaded me with a few moldy oldies I’d not heard before, then ended it with Good Ol Rocky Top, which I had heard of. His voice wasn’t bad.

I eventually escaped, but not before he became winded and happy. He still wasn’t ready to nod off.

“Thanks for talking to me,” he said.

It wasn’t so much he needed someone to talk to. It’s that he needed someone to listen.

I think I’ll find a way to slip him into my next murder mystery. I've got just the spot for him in sleepy Spencer County, Indiana, someone for my sheriff to interact with. I think I'll put him in the opening scene...and no, not as the victim.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Weapon of Choice? A Silver Falchion!

I only had time for one convention this August, so I picked Killer Nashville over Gen Con. I write mysteries now, and so it seemed a most logical choice. Gee, I love this convention.

Don Bingle, my co-author on The Love-Haight Casefiles, was gracious enough to attend with me. Our book was up for a few awards. And--wow--we won three.

Three Silver Falchion Awards...Best Fantasy (peer voted), Best Urban Fantasy (judges award) and Best Multi-Genre (judges award).

Three days later and I'm still floating. How awesome is that? How friggin' awesome is that? 

Gee, I love this convention.

But honestly, I love it for the people. They have incredible author guests. This year Janet Evanovich. Hey, Beth Vaughan...I got my picture taken with JANET EVANOVICH. Kevin O'Brien, who was soooooo gracious and who presented us with one of our awards. William Kent Krueger, a joy to sit and chat with. I met the awesome and delightful Anne Perry and chatted with Glenn Meade, who wrote one of my favorite military books--Snow Wolf. Robert Randisi was beyond belief...he's written more than 700 novels. And I grabbed pieces of author Jaden Terrell's time. I'm gonna finish her book, River of Glass, tonight. Her book sends shivers, beautifully written. I started it yesterday and had to set it in another room so I would work today.

I like the South, the feel of it, the way complete strangers stop and wish you a good day...and sound like they really mean it. I like the music. No, I LOVE the music. There was a great band at the awards dinner, playing a mix of 70s and 80s rock. Joy to the World, It'd been a long time since I heard Jermiah...he really was a good friend of mine...and I danced to a Billy Joel tune with a retired policeman. The saxophone player was brilliant.

What I like most about the convention is the opportunity to chat with a variety of professionals...editors, agents, social media gurus, booksellers, publishers, and fellow writers. It's not a competitve atmosphere. Everyone tries to help each other. So, yeah, I recommend the convention if you write mysteries. Conversely, I touted Gen Con's Writer's Symposium to attendees who specialize in fantasy and science fiction. might be seeing some new faces in your audience.

I spent more than an hour with an agent--who wasn't at all interested in the actiony stuff I write--but who talked about the business, rewrote my query letter, gave me all sorts of tips and insights...and who I just had fun chatting with. She sought me and Don out later to chat some more. 

I got lots of good information about social media, promotions, and on and on. Yeah, I been in the business a while, 35 novels to my credit and more short stories than I care to count, but I learn something at every writing convention I attend. I learned a lot at this one.

Clay Stafford and his folks put on a fine convention.

I intend to be at next year's Killer Nashville. I love the South and the music, the people. My husband comes along so he can venture down to Broadway and visit all the honky tonks.

It's a great way to spend vacation days.

The three Silver Falchions with Don this go-round was that proverbial icing on the cake. It was really, really, really tasty icing.