History of Slavery in California

I am doing research for my latest book, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book 7 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, and came across a very interesting article in Wikipedia about slavery in California which led to yet another article, Uncovering California’s overlooked slave past, updated 2/16/2004 6:21:25 PM ET by Deborah Kong for NBC during Black History month.  As the article doesn’t always respond to the link, it is below in its entirety. In the picture above, Mary Ann Carlton-Wyatt shows pages from her family Bible, dating to the late 1800s, to Joe Moore at the campus library of California State University in Sacramento. Before I go any further, let me say I love living in California. I love the lifestyle and the people. However, I was born and raised in the south and, YES, Florida is part of the south. I’ve lived in Manhattan for a time and traveled somewhat. This has given me an appreciation of all the states. I am including Wyoming, which I cannot personally say exists because I’ve never been there nor met anyone from Wyoming. Yoo-hoo! Are you there? Raise your hand. I would love to meet you! Anyway, back to California. While the Golden State is wonderful, there are a few things about it I don’t like: 1 – A lot of people drive like they are the only person on the road. That can be dangerous and annoying. 2 – there is a snobbery with some that Californians were and are above such horrors as prejudice (Internment of the Japanese during WWII is often glossed over, for instance). So imagine my surprise when I came across these articles on the existence of slavery in California, which not only included the indigenous population, but Chinese, African, and African-Americans. Does it bring California down…

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Marriage Can Be Murder

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.

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All Good Things Must Come to an End…

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.  

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Viva Mexico!

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!

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I’m Writing A New Book called ‘Girl, Girl, Girl’

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.  

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I’m teaching my cat, Ellie, to say the word ‘Greenies’

There is a method to my madness. My two cats get three types of treats. Yes, they are spoiled, but let’s move beyond that. Yulie has learned through the years to jump up on their counter, and point to the treat he wants with his nose. Problem solved. But it is Ellie that concerns me. When I put treats down on the floor for her (she can’t jump up onto the counter; too tubby), Ellie turns her back on me and just sits, waiting. I have to put all three treats down before she turns around and chooses one. Sure, she does eat the other selections, but maybe it’s more of an afterthought? Anyway, it occurred to me that if I teach her to call out the treats by name, it could save me a lot of trouble. I started with the brand, Greenies. My reasoning was ‘Temptations’ is a hard a word to say right off the bat. And the word ‘Party Mix’? Forget it. And after all, she is a cat. She needs time to work into this. Every day for about three months, I shook the bags with the treats in them and she came running. Then I repeated the word “Greenies’ again and again. So far, nothing. So I STILL have to put all three down for her to select the one she wants. And then she eats the rest! I mean, really? How dumb can she be?

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A Little Chit-chat With Cindy Sample And Me

              Cindy Sample, the talented writer of the humorous Laurel McKay Mystery Series, and I had a wonderful time on Sept. 9th, talking to the Norcal Sisters in Crime about Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Self-Publishing (but were afraid to ask). Cindy is the taller, elegant one on the left. For an hour and a half, we were led by our moderator and fellow Sister, Marla Cooper, another dazzling writer.

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I am honored to be a part of this mystery set

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by eleven critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series–a total of over 800 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries. And for a short time, the set is only 99¢.

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Reinvigorating Your Imagination

Another Round Robin Blog Topic. On a subject I recently experienced, so I can really go with this one. Several weeks ago, as I pounded the keyboard toward the finish line of my latest novel, The Culinary Art of Murder, I found the ending wasn’t going to work. Here I was with nearly 80,000 words done, only 5,000 to go, and no “The End” in sight. I had an October delivery deadline. I panicked. I prayed. I wept. I ate chocolate. Nothing. At a loss, I put the manuscript away hoping my sub conscience would find a way. After all, I’d already written eleven books and it hadn’t let me down yet. I let the old ‘sub’ gestate, percolate, and regurgitate. Maybe my inner mind knew what it was doing, even if I didn’t. The scary thought was maybe. More prayers. More weeping. More chocolate. Nothing. So, was I done as a writer? No, I decided. But writing can be an ephemeral thing, as can the rest of life. You can’t always get to the same place in the same way at the same time. And things can turn on a dime. I allowed myself to become distracted. Life helped me out. One of my two cats, Ellie, got sick. As a dutiful mommy, I became preoccupied with getting her well. My musician husband, Norman, had a lot of gigs. I went to see him perform. The weather became oppressively hot. When I wasn’t watering my garden, I stayed inside and watch old movies on TCM, eating more chocolate. Every now and then thoughts of the book would flit into my mind, but I’d beat them back with a mental stick. I didn’t want to think about writing or my book for a week or two. And as a person who…

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I was so excited, I had to go eat some ice cream

              I’ve been notified that The CEO Came DOA, Book Five of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, won two awards this year from Global Ebook Awards:                                   The Dan Poynter Legacy Award Best Fiction 2017 Global Gold Medal Best Mystery Fiction 2017 I can’t believe it. Seriously. I am so very honored. Thank you to husband, Norm Meister, editor, Baird Nuckolls, and the wonderful beta readers such as Roseanne Pavlescak Dowell, Penny Ehrenkranz, Cindy Sample, Carter Schwonk, and Mary Wollesen! Did I forget anyone? Apologies. Every person helped me turn out a better novel.

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