…even though they are expensive and exhausting. It isn’t just what I learn attending panels on a variety of subjects, either. For me, it’s the camaraderie, getting together again with people I only see at these events. It’s the sharing, laughing, commiserating. it’s worth its weight in gold. The truth? I love mystery writers and I love being a part of their world. Not just because we have a common interest, but because mystery writers are so danged generous of spirit. They are willing to share tips and lessons that took them months, if not years to learn. Basically, why should you go through what they went through? No beauty pageant mentality here. The attitude is we are all in this crazy business together, so let’s help one another out. And we do. I just returned from Left Coast Crime (LCC) in Vancouver, Ca. What a beautiful city. What a beautiful event. What beautiful, like-minded people. I may be prejudice, but I happen to think LCC is the premier example of a writers and fans conference that promotes the learning/friendship/mentoring approach to these conferences. And even though they are expensive and exhausting, I can’t wait for next year’s 2020 LCC event in San Diego. I mean, do we look like we’re having a good time or what? Left to right: Danna Dennis Wilberg, Ana Manwaring, Heather Haven, Cindy Sample, Janice Peacock and Baird Nuckolls
Marriage Can Be Murder, Book 2 of the Love Can Be Murder Mystery Novellas, debuts on March 17th. While it has nothing to do with St. Patty’s Day, nonetheless I want to cry “faith and begorrah!” These novellas are lighter and shorter than the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries and showcase the Nick and Nora Charles of Silicon Valley, newly married Lee Alvarez and Gurn Hanson. I had a lot of fun putting these two lovebirds in a story wrapped around Delores De La Vega, an aging celluloid diva who has been married eight times. Whoops! Did I write that? I didn’t mean aging. Scratch that. I meant ageless, of course, ageless. Plastic surgeons take note. In my mind, I tossed around personas the likes of Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, and Zsa Zsa Gabor to come up with a woman who is as famous for her looks and multi-marriages as she is for her acting ability and animal activism. And like so many of us, she brings to the table her strengths and weaknesses. In Marriage Can Be Murder we find out about her and the ex-husbands who seem to still adore her. Or do they? Because just who is trying to kill Delores De La Vega? Debuting March 17th for only $1.99.
Welcome, everyone! And Happy New Year. Today my guest is Ana Manwaring, a talented author talking about her debut book, Set Up: Secrets and Lies in Zihuatanejo. Set Up is the first of The JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures and after reading the first book, I am glad to know there will be many more in the series. I’ve asked Ana a few questions about herself and her answers are entertaining, informative, and charming! 1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Before I could read, I knew I would write stories. Dad read to me every night. It was the best time of day. I had vivid, exciting dreams and liked to re-tell them later, filling -in what I couldn’t remember with fiction. When I was eleven I had my palm read and the reader said I’d be a best-seller when I was fifty. I’ll go with that! Seventy, the new fifty, right? 2. How did you pick the genre you write in? I think suspense /thriller picked me. I’d always read mysteries and cold war thrillers, but when I considered writing, my ideas tended more toward commercial literature: family sagas, historical and poetry. Then the narco-thug pointed his rifle at me as I trundled south down the Pan American Highway through Michoacán in my VW pop-top camper. The story started writing itself as soon as I could take a breath and stop shaking. 3. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? I wrote the first draft of Set Up (under a different title and in the 3rd person) during NaNoWriMo, which I “won.” I started with a first chapter written and no plan whatsoever. The process of high intensity writing and letting the characters lead the way was heady and exhilarating. I truly experienced “writer’s…
My Romantic Suspense Mystery is almost done. No more am I writing a pure romance novel. Couldn’t do it. Bad me. After several arduous months, I came to see I am absolutely no good at writing plain romance. I kept going back and forth over relationships, lack thereof, pain and abandonment issues, etc, adding layer upon layer of, frankly, hoo-hah. The more I wrote, the more boring it became. At least, I was bored. However, once I added the mysterious death, the story came to life. Now I see light at the end of the tunnel. I know the villain, the denouement, and the sweet ending. All I have to do now is write it!
Recently I paid a visit to my local DMV to renew my license. Back in 1986, when we first arrived in California from New York, I took a written test for the privilege of driving a car in the Golden State. Now I had to do it again. I guess every thirty-two years they want me to check in, so back I went. In 1986 when I was a slip of a thing, I didn’t bat an eyelash about taking a written test. The first time I took the test – and it seemed to have dozens of questions then – I passed without studying. This time I was very nervous. Age will do that to you. I actually read the booklet twice. There were only eighteen questions this time and you’re allowed to miss three. I only missed one. More on that later. As a writer, I tend to observe my fellow-man, woman, and wombat. I’m not sure what a wombat is, but if one was hanging around, I would observe it. All fodder for the writing, doncha know. So that morning, as I hustled through the many plateaus of renewing my license, I observed like the dickens. First off, probably over a thousand people pass through those doors daily. It is unbelievably well-ordered, organized chaos. But it works. Most of the people waiting didn’t have an appointment. Make note of that. If you go, have an appointment. Otherwise, you’re doomed to wait in line for hours. As I had an appointment, I can’t say I breezed through but very nearly. But appointment or not, everyone was treated well. The personnel was kind, patient and caring. Every last one of them. And it surprised me because whether you had an appointment or not, something happens to homo sapiens when crossing that threshold. We…
I usually don’t do a hard-sell hawk but this is over a $30 value. This first of a series featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors (including yours truly) is available for only 99¢ until the end of April. Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is retiring at the end of April 2018. If you never picked up your copy, now is the time. You only have until the end of April to sample each writer’s work for only 99¢. Come May those ten titles will cost $30.90 if purchased separately. Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of full-length mysteries. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—more than 3,000 pages featuring amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy novels with a combined total of nearly 2,000 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4-stars.
Folk-Lore is a wonderful thing. I always thought I was half Italian, a quarter Irish, and the rest was a mish-mash of good ol’ American. In my mind, being a quarter Irish answered a lot. After all, didn’t I have a grandmother whose maiden name was Margaret MacLaughlin? Didn’t I look good in Emerald green? Didn’t I believe in the wee people? I don’t think we need mention my fiery temper. Underneath this Claroil blond lives the soul of a redhead. But not much of my preconceived notions were true, and there’s the downside of doing your DNA. Yes, I am half Italian and I still look good in Emerald green. And my grandmother’s name is the same. Only the quarter is Scots, not Irish. Hoot man, I can live with that. Pass the haggis and hand me a kilt. But the truth? I so loved being Irish. The culture appeals to my sense of whimsy. Ireland has a charm all its own. I even hoped one day to go back to the ‘old country’ and find distant relatives. But maybe I’ll paddle my canoe from Africa to Tahiti because Ancestry dot com also said I was 1% Polynesian Princess. Alright, I threw in the princess part, because if I can’t be Irish being a princess makes up for it. But only a little.
Some of the books I write are humorous mysteries involving a Mexican/America Family called the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, which I am proud to say have won several awards. Our visits to Mexico in the early nineties, often had us staying with Mexican families during the language immersion courses we were taking. I’m here to tell you, the Mexicans won my heart. These are warm, generous souls, who were grateful if you even tried to learn their language, a language of great beauty, I might add. My husband and I found them to also be a hard-working society, filled with love and humor. How they deal with their own families and the world at large is only a part of what inspired me to write my series in celebration of the Mexican contribution to the good old USA. I am so very proud, in my small way, to have added to what they give us as a culture, and I’m not just talking about their food. So to Guillermo del Toro, born in the historic city of Guadalajara, congratulations on your Oscars. You represent the world of cinema and Mexico in such a classy fashion. And you come across as one nice hombre. To Coco, which won Best Animated film, I don’t usually go to animated films, but can’t wait to see you. And to the Best Song, Remember Me, Kristen and Robert Lopez, Ole! I’m humming it now!
And I’m here to tell you it’s a little like a ride at Disneyland, a 45-minute wait, five-minute ride, but not nearly as much fun. At this point, it takes two people to drive a self-driven car, one to sit behind the wheel and the other in the passenger seat, staring at a monitor to key in the route on a keyboard. Driver two has to pay attention to any variable that might get thrown at the little darling. Like a pedestrian or stray dog wandering nearby. As a ‘level-three’ car, it doesn’t do u-turns yet. The person behind the wheel has to do that. However, it does go forward, albeit at 19-miles an hour. I’m not sure if it backs up. We never saw that. But it will stop at stop signs. Where we live there aren’t any stoplights, which is a good thing, because it doesn’t do stop lights, either. But it is very cute, and if you need to feel smug about your own driving ability, this is the car for you to investigate. It seems like all the things a driver automatically does has to be keyed into the computer. Apparently, we are able to do a gazillion things at one time, even the worst driver among us, but it’s all in the future for these little self-driven love bugs. Altho, despair not. If you are under 40, the reliable self-driven car, which is ‘level-four’ and capable of city driving, might just be in your future. As I am somewhat older, it probably isn’t in mine. And it’s just as well. I prefer Disneyland.
And I know it will be a big hit because it uses the word ‘girl‘ three times. Actually, it might be three times a hit. According to various articles and studies, any title that has the word girl in it speaks to female readers. It also seems to mean that the protagonist (the girl) is probably going to make it to the end of the book alive if the writer is a woman. If the writer is a man, all bets are off. Here are just a few successful books with the word ‘girl’ in the title – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella; The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson; The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. And there are many more. Just ask the Great God Google about it. I’m not sure what started this phenomenon, maybe Hans Christian Anderson with The Little Match Girl. But it doesn’t make any difference, I’m on to it now. I’m going to have a best seller! But maybe I need to have an adverb or adjective in the title, as well. What do you think of these? Garbage Girl, A Sanitation Worker Reveals All; Gobbledygook Girl, Social Media Made Easy; The Girl in the Gazebo. The last one’s actually not too bad. Hmmmm.