Monday, November 18, 2013

Change of Address

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Most people have a lot of homes in their lifetimes. These days, a lot of us have internet "homes," too - spaces where we can interact with those whom we might never meet except for the magic of the Internet.

This has been my Internet "home" for a couple of years - 95 posts, blogged more or less weekly, so you do the math. However, they time has come for new digs. I've moved to another place in my writing career, and it is only fitting that my blog come with me.

I have a newly redesigned web site at, which now has my blog as an integral part. I think it looks fabulous (and if you want the name of a good web designer, let me know). I invite you to come and check out my new digs. All the old information and comments have been ported over there. I'll leave this site for archival purposes (some of my old Scrivener posts are still getting decent hits).

I look forward to keeping connected with you in my new corner of cyberspace!

Ooo, and be sure to come visit tomorrow. I'll be sharing big news for a friend of mine - very exciting stuff!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

LUCKY CHARMS: Launch Information

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Updated launch information below.

If you're friends with a member of the Mary Roberts Rinehart (Pittsburgh) chapter of Sisters in Crime, you'll notice a lot of them changing Facebook and Twitter avatars to this:

Why, you ask? Well, that's because the official launch date has been set for our first anthology, Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales - December 2, 2013, Cyber Monday - and it's less than a month away. My story, Batter Down, is included and I couldn't be happier to be among such a talented group of writers.

From the back cover: Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.

To see a full list of authors and stories, see our chapter website.

As we wind down the publication phase, the marketing and launch activities have ramped up. Read on for more details.

Official Launch Party

The launch party for Lucky Charms is set for December 8, 2013 at 5:00pm at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. The authors will be in the house, signing books and popping the cork on some well-deserved champagne. Come down and celebrate with us, no RSVP needed! There will be books available for walk-ins, but if you want to make sure you have a copy…

Print Copy Preorders

Mystery Lovers is handling preorders for the print version of the book, which retails for $9.99 on launch date. Copies can be picked up at the store, or mailed to you. Want an autographed copy, but you're not in Pittsburgh? No sweat. Here's what to do:
  1. Preorder your copy of the book here or call the store at 412-828-4877.
  2. On the last screen of the order process, specify that you want a personalized copy of the book, or tell the sales staff you want an autographed copy.
  3. Mystery Lovers staff will make sure that your autographed book is sent to you!
Please note that preorders must be placed by November 26 to receive an autographed copy.

Mystery Lovers' ships via USPS media, and charges $5.00 shipping on orders under $25 (and they have a fabulous selection of books, so browse around and support the best independent mystery-centric bookstore in Pittsburgh).

Digital Copies

Ebook copies of the book will be available at all major e-tailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the iBookstore. See the chapter website for direct buy links on or after December 2.

Like us on Facebook!

Stay on top of all information about the anthology by liking our Facebook page.

This has been a long, hard process - but a true labor of love. If you are anywhere Pittsburgh in December, we would love you to come celebrate with us. And even if you can't be there, pick up a copy in the format of your choice. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wasteland Blues - Cover Reveal

Of Mice and Men Meets The Odyssey in a Post-Apocalyptic Future

Having only ever known the uncivilized wake of nuclear and biological apocalypse, three friends and their wheelchair-bound hostage set out on a perilous fool’s mission--to cross from one side of the devastated United States to the other, in the desperate, half-believed hope of finding a rumored haven. 

Spurred by a dark vision and the murder of their father, rageaholic Derek Cane and his over-sized, simple-minded brother, Teddy, flee the only home they've ever known, a struggling shantytown on the edge of the vast Wasteland. Heading ever eastward, they are accompanied by their friend, John, an orphan brought up by a fanatical religious order, and Leggy, a crippled old drunk who brags that, in his youth, he once traversed the Wasteland as a scavenger.
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Post-Apocalyptic novel  coming from Dog Star Books in March 2014

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Other Stuff

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So, brief update this week.


Well, I might be jumping the gun just a bit, but a release date has been set for Lucky Charms - December 2, 2013. That's Cyber Monday for all you holiday shopping types (books of all types make superb gifts). The book will be available via all e-book outlets (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo) and in print from CreateSpace. And, I'm sorry, but the cover is to die for (pun intended).

Cover for Lucky Charms
My story Batter Down is included (written as Liz Milliron), along with eleven other fantastic stories. A little bit of suspense, a little bit of police-procedural, a little bit of paranormal. I am so honored to be included in such fantastic company!

My major contribution to the project (aside from the writing) is formatting and compilation of the book files, a task I've been hard at work at all weekend. I'm pleased that we have a pretty solid print file, and only a few tweaks to make to ebook files. It's been quite the learning experience. At the same time, I've learned a ton so I can (maybe) use it for my own writing some day.

Launch festivities are in the works, so stay tuned!

NaNoWriMo Starts this Friday!

So, NaNoWriMo kicks off this Friday. I've got my outline, and I've got my scenes mapped. I'll be drafting the first novel in The Laurel Highlands Mysteries and I'm super-excited to start. I'll be posting weekly word count updates here on the blog, so check back to keep up to date on my progress. And feel free to crack that virtual whip if I'm slacking! To be a NaNo "winner," I need to put down 1,667 words per day, every day from November 1 to November 30.

Wish me luck - should be a wild month!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hardest Writing Job Ever

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Over the weekend, I completed what I consider to be the hardest thing I've ever written.

I planned an entire novel.

Now, this is not to say I wrote the novel. But I planned it. I sat down with Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland and thought about things like plot points, and pinch points, and a three-act structure. I wrote a twelve-page narrative of how this story was going to go, and then turned that into a list of 64 scenes.

It was tedious, time-consuming, and exhausting.

"But wait," you will say. "Haven't you done this before? Don't you do it all the time?"

Well, yes - and no.

Much of the other things I have written to date are much shorter. The Hero's Sword series, for example, is almost all novella length. So while I do write a "road map" (that's what I call these things - I'm not sure they are what a literary agent would call a treatment or synopsis, but it's my map to the story) for those, they usually don't exceed five pages.

All of my Laurel Highlands Mysteries stories have been short stories or novelettes (6,000 to 12,000 words). So while I've worked out the story question and key plot elements, I've never done a full-blown road map.

This was different. This was sitting down and saying, "Okay, what needs to happen? What needs to happen before that? How is this scene going to flow into the next one? How does this plot point affect the story?"

I wrote. I changed. I moved paragraphs. I rewrote. By the end, my brain felt like a wet sponge.

Yes, it's harder than writing the actual story. It's still not a true "outline" - I'm still what they'd call a "pantser" at heart (someone who makes it up as she goes). But I think I'm going to be very glad I did it.

I have, on a couple of occasions, compared this to a construction project. You draw plans. You measure. You write up lists of required materials and tools. And you do this all before you start, not in the middle. The purpose is to do everything you can to make sure you have what you need before you start and minimize those middle-of-the-project trips to Home Depot because you didn't buy enough dry wall (I mean, it might happen anyway, but you're doing your best).

You are also trying to make sure that you lay a firm foundation, so your masterpiece doesn't fall in on itself when you're done.

I'm also taking an online scene writing workshop. Based on today's homework, I finished just in time. I'd never be able to complete the work without what I finished last night.

The next step? Write the darn story. That will happen in November as part of NaNoWriMo. My hope is that since I've planned out all of the scenes, the actual writing will go much smoother because, well, I'll already know where I'm going. I might take a side trip or two, but it shouldn't derail me completely. At least I hope not.

So onward! Wish me luck - I'll let you know how I did at the end of November.

Image courtesy of Linus Bohman; used under Creative Commons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Growing and stretching

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Last weekend, I went to my annual writing retreat with my fellow Sisters in Crime. It was my third retreat and, as always, great fun. Our weekend instructor was Tim Esaias, and he provided not only tons of useful information, but made me laugh so hard Saturday night that my sides hurt. And he let me help with an impromptu self-defense demo Sunday morning, which is always fun.

As I always do, I returned home full of energy and holed myself up in the den to work on the story I'd submitted for critique (that was fairly well-received). And after the weekend, all sorts of things started jumping off the page. I thought I'd gotten rid of them. But suddenly, I wondered why people weren't falling over all of the eyeballs rolling around, and why someone hadn't reported a hurricane with all the sighs blowing through the rooms.

It was eye-opening - and awesome.

Later, as I was still bouncing around about this, I was talking over imagery with my husband, who has read all of my stories. I was looking for the metaphor for the series. And he just said, "Duh, it's the dog, dummy." But isn't that too obvious? "It doesn't have to be rocket science, dear. I'm your target audience. It's fine."

And much later, when I reported completion of the revisions, my husband said, "It's really exciting to watch. You've moved from gifted amateur to a real professional."

The comment caught me off guard. There are days when I really don't feel like a professional. After all, while I've garnered a few publication credits, I still have a day job. I still don't get to get up and spend all day playing with my make-believe friends. I'm still so far away from where I someday want to be.

But when I go back and look at what I wrote three years, a year, or even six months ago, I can see the difference. My first Laurel Highlands story, An Idyllic Place for Murder, was published this month at Mysterical-e. I had to professionally edited, and I know the editor liked it, so it's a good story - and readers have told me they like it. But while I re-read, I found lots of places where, if I was writing the same story today, I'd change things, craft a sentence differently, go for a different visual.

And, in that sense, I guess I am further down the road, a professional. An amateur just writes. A professional studies the craft. She enjoys her publication, but never stops learning, looking for yet another tool for the box. I spent part of the weekend reading Structuring Your Novel, and light bulbs went off as I finally had words and techniques for the things I always sort of "felt" rather than "knew."

Even reading the book is a change. Three years ago, when I wrote my first novel, the word "structure" was a foreign concept. Structure? I don't need no stinking structure. I'm going to wing it! And man, does it show.

So on a rainy Monday morning, I am making a conscious decision. I will not lament where I am not, I will celebrate how far I have come, all while I acknowledge that there is much more to learn.

And maybe that's the sign of a true professional.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Seventh Equinox - book trailer reveal

THE SEVENTH EQUINOX by Matthew Warner will debut on November 6th but the pre-order starts today and we're celebrating with the reveal of the book trailer:

“The best part of Warner’s easy-paced, almost pastoral tale is the friction between Bessie’s attraction to Robin, her longing to believe in magic, and her fear of trusting again—all of which run deep. This is a world-shattering crisis acted out in small scale, with a subtle appeal to romantic fantasy.”
Publishers Weekly
The Seventh Equinox

From the Back:
Her recent divorce left Bessie Henderson on guard against being exploited by any man. When she escapes to Augusta, Virginia, she’s captivated by the small town’s charm, but also its quirks: her intrusive elderly neighbor, the secret labyrinth of caverns beneath her Victorian house — and the man hiding from the law in her root cellar.
But Robin Goodfellow is not just a criminal. He’s a fertility demigod called the Hunter. He’s been injured, and he needs Bessie’s life force to survive. By the spring equinox, he must complete the grand Hunt, an ancient ritual of environmental renewal, or the planet will slowly die.

As the equinox nears, the couple must reconcile their growing feelings for each other. Bessie may not be ready to trust and give to another man, especially one who takes so much from her. And Robin must choose between love and duty — a duty that means life for the planet but death for himself.

About the Author:
Matthew Warner’s publishing credits span a variety of formats, although readers mostly know him through his horror novels and short stories. Dramatic works include films from Darkstone Entertainment based on his screenplays, plus a radio play and stage play premiered by theaters in central Virginia. Warner lives with his wife, the artist Deena Warner, and sons, Owen and Thomas. Readers can visit him at

Pre-order NOW for $2 off

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Time has Come

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

The Youghiogheny River
By george, I think I've got it.

If you've been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I've had random, episodic scenes coming to me for, oh, the last month or so. The story has, I think, finally come to together.

It is time to move Jim Duncan and Sally Castle from the world of short fiction to the novel. My main project for October will be plotting and writing the synopsis/summary for the first Laurel Highlands Mysteries novel, tentatively titled Every Other Monday is Murder.

I've been reading a lot of Don Maass as the lead-in to this project. Honestly, I feel a little intimidated. Who am I to think I can actually pull this off? But when you wake up with scenes for a story running through your head, well, it's a story begging to be written, right? And I get the feeling that this one is bigger than a short story.

So, here I go. Wish me luck. And check in at the end of October to ask if I'm done (if nothing else, knowing people will be checking up on me will keep me honest).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Random Updates

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

I had a lot of posts last week (well, a lot for me), so some random updates.

Wedding Bells: Hero's Sword Vol. 3 is with the publisher. I do not have a release date yet for this, but if I get one, you'll know. In the meantime, I am hard at work on Lightning Strike: Hero's Sword Vol 4.

I am so close to being able to share the cover of Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales, which is the short-story anthology that will be published by my Sisters in Crime chapter this December. It is so gorgeous; I think you'll think so too. My story in the anthology is part of The Laurel Highlands mysteries, and will be published under my crime fiction pen name, Liz Milliron. There are so many great authors in this anthology, you're going to want to get a copy. And we've decided to do a print edition as well, so those of you who don't read ebooks will be able to get in on the fun!

Speaking of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, you may have noticed that summer has come and gone. I keep checking Mysterical-e, but they have not published the Spring/Summer 2013 issue yet. I'll keep checking.

And if you follow my Facebook page, you'll know that random scenes for a Laurel Highlands novel have been coming to me sporadically over the last month or so. I admit, it's a weird way to work on a novel. Usually my stories are much more linear. But the book finally has a working title, Every Other Monday is Murder, and a plot. So I expect to be spending more dedicated time on the first draft. Hmm, maybe I've found my NaNoWriMo project?

Anyway, keep watching this space for more updates. And if you want those updates delivered right to your email inbox, go ahead and sign-up to get the newsletter (that box, right up there on top of the right-hand column).

Image courtesy of Jim Kelly, used under Creative Commons

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Author Interview: Cheryl Carpinello

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Young Knights of the Round Table Blog Tour Button

Today, I am excited to welcome author Cheryl Carpinello to the blog! Take it away, Cheryl!

1. What drew you to this story?

After writing Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, I wanted my next Arthurian Tale to appeal more to boys. With my emphasis on encouraging reluctant young readers, this made sense because boys are usually the ones not reading as much. However, the story is also definitely for girls. I also wanted to write more of an action/adventure story that incorporated what I call the cornerstones of Arthurian Legend: Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship. It’s also a story that I would have loved reading back when I was younger.

2. Do you find yourself coming back to certain themes? Why or why not, and what are they?

Coming from a teaching background, I’m aware of the need and struggle of kids of all ages to find out who they are, to determine what they are capable of achieving, and to discover how they fit into the world around them. In a sense, these are the themes that run through my stories. In Young Knights, the three protagonists face deadly challenges revolving around these themes. In Guinevere, she, at the tender age of 12, must find a way to come to terms with a future that has already been decided for her.

3. What’s the one thing you must have when you write?

Music. Music has always inspired me and carried me to other worlds. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, but more often it’s the tune. For my current WIP, I’m addicted to Mumford and Sons.

4. What three people, living or dead, would you most like to talk to and why?

On a world scale, at this point in my life, I would like to sit down with Zahi Hawass, former Secretary General of Egyptian Antiquities. He intimately knows all of Egypt’s ancient monuments, and his insights into the lives of the ancient Egyptian people and their pharaohs would be fascinating to hear.

For my craft of writing, I would like to visit with Aristotle. His Poetics forms the basics of writing even today, over 2500 years ago. Without his guidance, writing might look very different today.

On a personal level, it would be my parents who both passed from this world when I was in my early twenties. I would share all that has happened in my life, what I’ve learned and experienced, and my successes and my failures.

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would write the soundtrack?

I love the soundtrack of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, so I would have to say Howard Shore.

6. What’s up next for you?

I’m working on the second draft of my next story which will be for upper MG and YA readers. My scene shifts from Medieval Times to Ancient Egypt and the time of the Pharaohs. In it, the protagonist teams up with an famous pharaoh in a search for a lost queen and a quest for honor. Similar to the concept behind Young Knights, this story takes readers on a search for self and also holds some surprises!

About the Book

The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello Title: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom

Author: Cheryl Carpinello

Publication Date (Kindle): May, 2012

Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

Number of pages: 84

Recommended age: 9+

Summary (Amazon):
In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder. Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. Join Gavin, Philip, and Bryan on their quest and share the adventures that await them in the land of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.


Amazon * Muse it Up * Barnes and Noble

The Buzz

"The King's Ransom is a fast-moving story, a tale of knights and castles and villains. As Gavin, Phillip, and Bryan set about to save their friend, the reader is brought vividly into the medieval world of King Arthur. There is just the right balance of action and character development to entice young readers and reluctant readers to pick this book up, as was the author's intent. I recommend it to all middle grade readers." ~ Laurie C., Amazon, 5 Stars
"The adventures these future Young Knights of the Round Table experience in their quest to save their friend are filled with the fantasy and adventure story elements that children love to read. There's a villain, secret passages in castles, swordplay, and even a witch. And with King Arthur's appearance, astonishing secret identities being revealed, and a happy ending, what more could anyone want in a good read?" ~ Tyler T., Amazon, 5 Stars
"This was a great book! I liked all of the action and excitement in it. Ms. Carpinello wrote this book really well and it was very appropriate for kids even though it deals with fighting and a wrongfully accused person. Ms. Carpinello described the time period really well, I felt like I was a knight in medieval times! I really love that the story features a bit of King Arthur legends in it! The ending had a couple fo great twists that had me totally surprised!." ~ Erik @ This Kid Reviews Books, 5 Stars.


2013 EVVY Finalist and EVVY Merit Award for Juvenile/Young Adult from Colorado Independent Publishers Assoc.
2013 Ariana Cover Finalist
2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children's Literary Classics and the CLC's 2012 Seal of Approval.
2012 Finalist E-Book Children from USA 2012 Best Book Awards

About the Author: Cheryl Carpinello

Cheryl Carpinello, Author
Cheryl Carpinello
Although a retired teacher, Cheryl Carpinello still has a passion for working with kids. She regularly conducts Medieval Writing Workshops for local elementary/middle schools and the Colorado Girl Scouts. She is not the only one who loves Medieval Times and the King Arthur Legend. The kids thoroughly enjoy writing their own medieval stories complete with dragons, wizards, unicorns and knights!

She loves to travel and her other job is with a major airline. Her favorite trip was a two week visit to Egypt with her husband that included traveling by local train from one end of Egypt to the other. Some of her favorite books include The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Once and Future King, and any by the duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Author Site:

Author Blog:

Facebook page: Author Cheryl Carpinello

Goodreads author page: Cheryl Carpinello

Twitter: @CCarpinello

Google+: Cheryl Carpinello

Young Knights of the Round Table Blog Tour Schedule (2013)

September 9
September 10
September 11
September 12
September 13
September 14
September 15
September 16
September 17
September 18
September 19
September 20
September 21
September 22
September 23
September 24
September 25
September 26
September 27
September 28
September 29
September 30

*** Young Knights of the Round Table Blog Tour Giveaway ***

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash

Contest runs: September 9 to October 6, 11:59 pm, 2013

Open: WW

How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. If you have any additional questions - feel free to contact Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Post: Kate Voss's Top 5 Detectives

This special guest post is from Kate Voss. She's talking about her Top 5 detectives, leading up to the upcoming movie based on the classic Encyclopedia Brown series. Take it away Kate!

Top Five Detectives in Literary History

Nothing compares to jumping into an alternate reality, being presented with a string of clues, and then being left to wonder how to solve a mystery. The pure wonderment and complex solutions that mystery novels allow readers to experience is the reason they are my favorite genre.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the popular Encyclopedia Brown detective series, I have created a list of the best fictional sleuths in literature, from the bumbling and obese Nero Wolfe, to the feminine and feisty Nancy Drew.

5. Nero Wolfe, by Rex Stout

An armchair detective, a more extreme version of the infamous Sherlock Holmes, Wolfe solves crimes from the comfort of his home by reading the newspaper and listening to verbal accounts but never actually visiting the crime scene. Introduced in 1934 by Stout, the series features Wolfe’s sidekick Archie Goodwin, who is the street-smart narrator and manages the investigations outside of the brownstone that Wolfe refuses to leave. Wolfe is an eccentric, and quite large (estimated to be around 350 pounds), homebody who has the evidence for each case brought to his doorstep. Nero Wolfe was made into a television series called A Nero Wolfe Mystery by A&E in 2001, and starred Maury Chaykin as Nero and Timothy Hutton as Archie.

Favorite Story: “The League of Frightened Men,” 1935
Trademark: arrogant, hefty recluse with a strict schedule

C. Auguste Dupin, by Edgar Allen Poe

The clever Dupin was first introduced in 1841 in Poe’s story The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is widely considered to the first-ever detective story. Apparently, Poe wrote these stories before the word “detective” was ever coined, and the Dupin character helped create the foundation for future detective novels to come. Dupin solved crimes by using his imagination and putting himself in the shoes of the criminal -- “If I were a criminal, what would I do?” Poe dubbed this type of thinking as “ratiocination.”

Dupin also has a narrator wingman, but is his name is never revealed within the three stories. Dupin is an eccentric, nocturnal observer who uses his senses to help the police solve crimes. The Murders in the Rue Morgue inspired one of the crimes in the 2012 film "The Raven," starring John Cusack.

Favorite story: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” 1841
Trademark: “Ratiocination”-- thinking like the criminal

3. Nancy Drew, by Carolyn Keene

The books Keene wrote about amateur detective Nancy Drew were some of the first popular detective stories to employ the skills of a female sleuth. I remember reading The Hidden Staircase when I was 9 years old and being wowed by Nancy’s wit and young age. Using the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene, many authors contributed to this series (to the horror of us Carolyn Keene diehards). In the original version, Nancy is an independent 16-year-old high school graduate who stumbles upon crimes (sometimes originating from her lawyer father’s cases).

The young Nancy Drew, who was introduced in 1930, has become a cultural icon-- the books have sold over 80 million copies, have been translated into over 45 languages, and have been adapted into five big screen flicks (one starring Emma Roberts), and two television series.

Favorite story: “The Hidden Staircase,” 1930
Trademark: feisty young prodigy

2. Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sherlock Holmes character has been reworked and crafted again and again as the years go by to resemble a more contemporary version of this popular sleuth. Many consider Sherlock Holmes to be the king of detection, the face of observation. Originally created in 1887, Sherlock Holmes is a consulting detective who has astounding observation skills. He can use abductive reasoning to solve any crime. Holmes, and his crime-solving friend and partner Dr. Watson, appear in four novels and 56 short stories. The Sherlock character has been made into many TV series and big screen flicks, including BBC One’s Sherlock, Elementary, and the 2009 film "Sherlock Holmes" starring Robert Downey Jr.

Favorite stories: “A Study in Scarlet,” 1887
Trademark: extraordinary knowledge, logical reasoning and attention to detail

1. Encyclopedia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol

Encyclopedia Brown is a children series created 50 years ago, featuring the brilliant boy detective, Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, who knows just about everything. This series is unique in that it lets the readers decide the fate of each story, and then provides the answer to the mystery in the back of the book. It is sort of a “create your own adventure” style of reading.

Each story in the series begins with the same formula - Brown solving a case at the dinner table for his father, the local police chief in the fictional town of Idaville, by briefly closing his eyes, thinking deeply, and then asking one single question which directly leads to him finding the solution. His enemy in most stories is the town bully, Bugs Meany, and his sidekick is Sally Kimball. The series was adapted for television in 1989 in the HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, and is soon to be made into a feature film by Warner Bros.

Favorite story: The Case of the Kidnapped Pigs from “Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day,” 1970
Trademark: closing his eyes and thinking deeply

Author Bio: Kate Voss is an entertainment writer for Kate lives and works in the windy city. She is an avid reader of detective novels and her favorite TV show is BBC’s witty series, Sherlock.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Long and Winding Road

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Note: I'm going to try to avoid spoilers. But if you are a regular watcher of "Waking the Dead" or "Longmire," and are not up-to-date on your viewing, you might want to catch up and come back later. Or not. But don't say I didn't warn you.

One of the staples of fiction is the concept of the "twist" and "turn." These are the little things that happen in a story to make the reader go "Wow!" Often times they take the story in a different direction, or reveal something to the reader.

And while all fiction makes use of these techniques, twists and turns are especially important in crime fiction, where part of the goal is to keep the reader guessing, glued to the page, wondering what comes next. If you think about it, one of the most common accolades given to "good" mysteries is "It kept me guessing until the very end!"

But, as with everything else, there are rules surrounding this device. The most important of them is this: don't cheat. And what I mean by that is the reader has to have a fighting chance of figuring it out. The author needs to spread enough evidence, and drop enough clues, that the reader could (in theory, anyway) figure out "whodunnit." (A lot of Agatha Christie detractors, by the way, accuse her of cheating frequently. I happen to disagree, but I digress.)

The rule applies to books and film/TV. And, recently, I saw two examples, one of which I thought was done well, one which, well, wasn't.

First, the example of how not to do a plot twist. While on vacation, I watched an episode of "Waking the Dead," a show that my father recommended highly, and a lot of my friends said they have enjoyed. It was, as is common with the show, in two parts. Okay, fine. The first half hung together well, although it was a lot of psychological stuff that got a bit tedious. But at least at the end of the first episode, I was engaged enough to want to plow on.

And everything was fine, for a while. I picked up on the odd behavior of the victim's daughter. I knew something was going on with her, something she was holding back that was pertinent to the investigation. But then bam! out of nowhere, the murderer is revealed and I was left shaking my head. "Did you see that coming? Was there anything in the last episode that would have drawn your attention to her?" I asked. My dad shook his head. "Nope, not a clue. Totally surprised."

Surprise = good. Out of nowhere? That, my friends, is cheating.

Now contrast that with the Season 2 finale of "Longmire." If you've been watching the show, you know that Walt's wife did not die of cancer, she was murdered by a drug addict in Denver. You know Walt went to Denver, probably for revenge. You know Henry followed him and is also involved (you know this through flashbacks, as well as Henry's conversation with an old Indian woman who tended to Walt's wounds). Clearly, Henry had something to do with this death, and if Walt wasn't actively involved, he at least knew about it. Fine.

Season finale. Walt arrests an Indian for charges of assault against a third party (not involved in the Denver murder story line). Henry says, "You have to let him go." And it turns out, Henry had engaged this man to travel to Denver to take out "justice" on Walt's wife's murderer. He assumes, and perhaps can be forgiven for this, that the addict died as a result of that justice. And bam! the guy says, "I did not kill him. It is not for me to decide who lives and who dies." He did knock out the guy's teeth, which he gave to Henry. The Denver police find those teeth in Henry's bar and arrest him. But (duh-duh-duh) as shocking as that is, we (the audience) know that all is not as it seems.

How? Well, first, there's the statement of the Indian. But more than that, there's a conversation between Walt and Cady. The addict had $700. But Walt and Cady know - Walt's wife wouldn't have had more than $50 in her purse. So where did the rest of the money come from? Something is not right here.

Plot twist? Yes. Unexpected? Yes. Cheating? I don't think so. We had enough clues to know Henry (and by association, Walt) was involved somehow, which is true. Assumptions were made. Those assumptions were wrong. But that one conversation, lasting only a few minutes, also tells us there is more here. And so, the season cliffhanger (Henry being led out in cuffs), sets up next season. Can Walt find his wife's killer and save his friend? (I really hope so.)

That, my friends, is the way to do a twist. Looking back, the clues were there. We could follow them. We just needed to be observant. And, after all, the misleading clue (known as "misdirection") is another staple in crime fiction.

So there you have it. The right way and the wrong way. The next time you read or see something and feel "cheated," ask yourself: Did the author/writer leave enough clues that I could have figured it out had I been paying attention?

What about you? Have you ever read, or seen, something and felt the writer cheated? Why?

Road image courtesy of Flavijus; used under creative commons. Waking the Dead and Longmire icons copyrighted by their respective creators.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Not Too Late

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

The start of the school year always puts me in a reflective mood. And here's what I'm reflecting on this morning.

Yesterday, Diana Nyad completed a historic swim from Cuba to Florida - at the age of 64.

One of my favorite authors, Hank Phillppi Ryan, is set to release another book next week, the follow up to her wildly successful novel The Other Woman. She published her first book at 55.

I turn 40 next week. I used to think that I was behind the eight ball - that I'd wasted so many years. But looking at these women, I now know the truth.

I'm not behind at all. I'm 15 to 20 years ahead of the curve.

Dream big.

PS: Read a flash fiction story "Twins" by Liz Milliron (my crime fiction alter ego) in this month's issue of

Image of Diana Nyda courtesy of Banned Network. Image of Hank Philippi Ryan courtesy of Lucius Beebe Memorial Library. Both used under Creative Commons.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Best of Summer Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It's finally happened. Summer is over and the kids are back in school. Depending on whether you are a kid or a parent, this could be good or bad.

For me, summer always meant two things: time at the pool, and time to read - not just books my teachers told me to read, but anything I wanted to read! Of course, many of those paperbacks went to the pool with me (I mean, a kid has to do something during periods of "adult only swim," right?). But I spent just as many hours hiding from those pesky younger siblings, up a tree or in the woods of the house across the street, losing myself in the adventures of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, or journeying along with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Of course, back to school means getting back into the reading habit. Or maybe you're lucky, and your kids never got out of it. In any event, there will be opportunities for "what did you do this summer" essays and "pick a book" free reading book reports. So hopefully you got some good reads in over the last few months.

And if you didn't, no worries! The bloggers below, assembled by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews, are more than willing to share their summer reading expertise.

Tell me: What's the best kid's book you've read (or your kids have read) this summer? One lucky commenter can win $25 Paypal case (open to US and international residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 12, 2013


By Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

I am suffering from "end of summer" syndrome, which means my brain is a mess. So it may be sort of a cop-out, but here's another excerpt from Wedding Bells, which is looking like it will be released sometime this fall.


I went out into the courtyard to find Geoff. But although people were swarming everywhere, I couldn't find him.

As I walked, I watched the faces around me. The older people snapped at each other, at the younger folks, and were generally miserable. I received few greetings. Most just nodded briefly in my direction. I was another distraction, a body to be avoided.

It was a totally different story with the younger people. They chatted and laughed. All of them seemed to think highly of Perry Goodhaven. The girls sighed and gushed about how handsome he was, and the boys talked of his accomplishments, which seemed unending. To them, this was something to distract from everyday boredom. More than once I saw two or three simply stop what they were doing and stand around talking. It was clear they weren't earning any points from their elders.

I was about to look elsewhere for Geoff when I heard a voice behind me.

"Well, if it isn't the girl-hero. Enjoying the view? Perhaps you've come to make yourself useful."

I gritted my teeth and turned to see Perry strolling toward me, a line of breathless girls behind him. "It certainly is something. Actually, I was looking for Geoff. I had some questions for him." I adjusted my sword belt and shifted the bow at my back. I hoped it looked at least a little threatening. The "girl-hero" routine was getting on my nerves.

But if Perry felt threatened he didn't look it. "What kind of questions?" He smirked the same way the senior high kids did when we middle-schoolers were around. "I'm sure I can tell you anything you want to know about the wedding."

"Actually, I wanted to know more about Roger." I made my voice mostly light, but my words were blunt. I wasn't in the mood for games. "I'm still shocked he would abandon his lady on such an important occasion. She'd need his guiding hand now more than ever."

"Well, I'm surprised that he managed to keep his job as long as he did." Perry examined his nails.

I noticed that they were perfect, without a speck of dirt or any evidence that he'd ever handled a sword. "What makes you say that?" Stay cool. Losing your temper won't help Roger.

"The man is a thief and a liar." Perry looked up. When I didn't say anything, he continued. "I had a very valuable dagger stolen from me. It was found in his room."

I moved out of the way of some red-faced men carrying chairs to the tent. "Why on earth would he take it?" I studied Perry's face.

"Why ask me? Obviously he hoped to discredit me somehow, although what he was planning escapes me." Perry looked around, then met my gaze, a trace of a smile at his lips. "We had been talking about the art of knife throwing. He asked if I had much experience with it. Of course I do. He wanted a demonstration, so I offered to show him--with my own dagger, of course. When I went to get it, it was gone." He circled me, and I resisted the urge to turn. "It was a very valuable piece. A gift from the Emperor himself. Well, he gave me a matched set, but I rarely travel with both of them. No man needs two daggers."

I didn't care about his stupid daggers. Why was he telling me this? To make me aware of how important he was? To show me that he was buddies with the Emperor? He sounded like Tyler Tasselwaite from school, constantly bragging about how many of the high school football players hung out at his house every weekend.

"I'm surprised that you travel with such valuable gifts." He stopped and I lifted my chin. "Weren't you ambushed by thieves on the High Road? I mean, that's what I've heard. They attacked you, scared off your horse, and you walked to Mallory Manor."

He ran his tongue over his lips. "You heard wrong. Yes, I was attacked, but I scared them. No doubt they saw my skill with a sword and fled. My horse, unfortunately, was lamed in the fight, and I had to leave him at an inn near the Mallory border. I tried to borrow a horse, but there were none available. The innkeeper tried to get me to take one of his nags, but it was hardly fit for a noble. It was barely able to carry an underfed peasant child. So I walked. Arriving on foot isn't as embarrassing as arriving on an animal fit for the glue factory."

Was he incapable of answering a question with just yes or no? "Well, you didn't need to risk another horse being injured, of course." I glanced at his feet. No way he walked very far in those shoes.

"Indeed." He studied my clothes as well and smiled, probably concluding that I didn't look much like a hero. "I would be happy to give you a lesson in swordsmanship. I'm sure I have a lot of tricks that a woman would find useful in a fight." Once again, his smile didn't reach his eyes.

I bet you do, I thought. Taking a deep breath, I smiled. "It would be a honor. Let me know when you are available." Available for me to dump you on your fancy-pants butt.

I thought we might come to a clash of blades right there, but our staring match was interrupted by Geoff's arrival. "Lyla, I've been looking for you," he said. He made a short bow to Perry. "Perhaps you are busy with my lord Goodhaven. Shall I find you later?"

"We had just finished our conversation. I'm thirsty. How about a glass of cold ale? Goodhaven, I'll see you at dinner." I walked away without bowing. I had the feeling a target had been drawn on my back, but I resisted the urge to turn around.

Monday, August 5, 2013


by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So, I don't have the actual cover art to go with this book yet, thus, the stock photo. But not having cover art isn't a reason not to post a sneak peek, right?

The slightly tipsy cake should be a warning! Is Starla's impending marriage a dream come true, or a disaster waiting to happen?


“Perry, you’ve come.” Starla rushed up to meet the newcomer and get a kiss. Her eyelashes fluttered and she giggled, a completely un-Starla reaction.

I looked him up and down. Well, Perry Goodhaven was handsome, I’d give him that. Handsome like the captain of the JV football team. His wavy blond hair was perfectly trimmed, falling neatly across his forehead. His tanned skin set off a perfect model-white smile, but the smile failed to reach the deep blue eyes behind long, dark, almost girlish lashes. Those eyes were cold pools of water, waiting for me to slip and drown. I figured he was a few inches taller, and a little heavier, than Roger. But his rich velvet jacket didn’t disguise a muscular set of shoulders. His pants fitted him perfectly, with no bulges of fat anywhere.

“Darling, this is Lyla Stormbringer. She is our greatest hero, and has saved us at least twice.” Starla’s face shone up at Goodhaven, frighteningly empty of thought. “Lyla, this is my love, Perry Goodhaven. You must have heard that we are to be married. Goodness, the young people can talk of nothing else.” She giggled again.

Goodhaven smiled and kissed her hands. He looked at me and flashed another perfect smile. This guy knew he was good-looking, how women usually responded, and was giving me the full treatment. Definitely just like the captain of the JV football team. But he couldn’t make his eyes look friendly. “Of course, the fabled girl-champion of Mallory. It’s an honor.” He didn’t offer his hand. “You know young people, my love, any excuse for a party. I’m sure Lyla would agree, being a young person herself.”

I bristled. Girl-champion, huh? I thought. Okay, if you want to be that way. “The honor is mine.” I didn’t bow or bend my neck. Two could play this game. “As I was saying to Lady Starla, I am surprised that Roger Woodbridge is absent. He has been her ladyship’s most trusted servant, especially during her recent troubles. I can’t believe that he would want to miss such a happy occasion.” I stared at Goodhaven, daring him to look away. He didn’t, but neither did I.

“Yes, well, I’m sure you all have much to talk about.” Carson fussed, giving Starla another hasty kiss on the hand. “I’ll just let myself out. Once again, I’m glad you have taken this step to respectability. I look forward to hearing the joyful news that you and Lord Goodhaven are expecting the birth of your heir, a bouncing baby boy, I hope.”

“Thank you, Master Carson.” Starla didn’t take her eyes off her future husband. She fumbled for a bell on the nearby table. “Some wine, I think. To celebrate the meeting of Mallory’s champion and my beloved.”

Ugh. Had someone swooped in and kidnapped Starla without my noticing? What was with the fluttery, girly act? “So you are a lord, Master Goodhaven? From what estate?” I fingered my sword hilt and wondered if it would be too much to challenge Goodhaven to a duel right here in the reception hall. Roger probably wouldn’t approve. Then again, if he really didn’t like Goodhaven, maybe he’d cheer me on to victory.

“Not yet,” Perry said, not missing a beat. “At least not until I am wed to this model of nobility.” He traced Starla’s face with his finger and smiled. She giggled yet again, and I coughed.
Starla rang the bell once more, louder this time. “Where is that girl with the wine? This delay is unforgivable.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. It had been less than a minute since she’d rung the bell the first time. That was an unforgivable delay?

“I’m afraid the servants have been allowed to become lazy under Woodbridge, my darling.” Perry kissed Starla’s hand again. “Once we are married, you won’t have to worry your pretty head. I’ll take care of whipping them into shape. You, girl—wine, and be quick about it.” He barked at the serving girl who had appeared in the door. She curtsied, and rushed to fetch the wine and some glasses.

I frowned and ignored Starla’s unspoken invitation to sit. “I wouldn’t have described Roger as permitting laziness. He’s a kind man, but he has high standards.” The girl appeared with the wine, but I waved off the offered glass. Instead, I paced the room, keeping an eye on my hosts.

Perry fussed over Starla as she sat and gave her a glass of wine. “I wouldn’t expect a girl to know how a man should behave,” he said, turning to me. “Woodbridge allowed shocking lapses in behavior. I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did.”

The heat rose in my neck, and I expected Starla to rush to Roger’s defense. Instead she remained silent. “Is that truly how you feel, my lady?”

For the first time, Starla looked embarrassed. “I am sorry things happened the way they did,” she said, refusing to meet my eye. “But he spoke ill of my lord, and that simply cannot be allowed.”

“If he did, I’m sure he believed he was acting in your best interests.” I wanted to shake her, but I stood still. Perry must have played a great role to turn Starla against her former steward this way.

“Nevertheless, Roger Woodbridge spoke against me publicly, undermining the rule of the one who would be his lord.” Perry’s voice was still smooth, but held a trace of scorn. “In doing so, he spoke against his lady. That is treason and must be punished.” He stared at me, daring me to argue.

I thought for a moment. Reaching a decision, I said, “I’m sorry, my lady, I have been traveling and I’m quite tired. If you would be so kind as to provide a room, I would be most grateful.”

“You’ll stay for the wedding, then?” Starla turned an eager face to me. “You absolutely must stay. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Don’t trouble yourself, I’ll find someone to show me to a room. By your leave, my lady.” I bowed to Starla and jerked my chin toward her intended husband. “Goodhaven.” I turned and stalked out of the reception hall.

Bed, schmed. I needed to find out what was going on, clear Roger’s name, and stop a wedding.

Image courtesy of Shelley Panzarella, used under Creative Commons

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

This special guest post brought to you by my daughter.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is told from the view point of Hazel, or known as Hazel Grace to Gus (Augustus) Waters. The book was very relatable as a teen myself and quite realistic. I felt Hazel's problems very similar to my own sometimes. I liked how she did not spend most of the book crying about nothing and was very out there.

When she meets Augustus, I felt as if he was a little on the impulsive side. Like if he wanted something to happen it would. But while he was very outgoing and almost unrealistic, his character is later made realistic, which is other point. Another thing that I felt the author portrayed well was grief. It wasn't sappy, it was heart wrenching. And there wasn't loads of crying going on.

The book had swearing, but I think that was one of the more realistic assets to it. Teens swear, like it or not. And the book didn't prance around the ideas of being a teen- it was as if the author was a teen. There was sexual content, but noting erotic. Overall the rating, would only be PG-13

The Fault in Our Stars is funny, heart wrenching, and extremely realistic. I would recommend this to any teen who is looking for a good read.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Story Cartel Campaign for POWER PLAY

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

I recently read a post by K.M. Weiland on her experiment with Story Cartel. If you aren't familiar with Story Cartel, it is a site where authors offer free books. In exchanged, readers are encouraged to leave reviews (because what better way to support an author you like than by giving them a boost through "word of mouth," which is really what reviews are). To sweeten the pot, authors run a little giveaway for those who leave reviews.

Now, this may sound bad. "But aren't you buying reviews?" Not really. First, giving free copies of a book in exchange for a review is an old, well-established tradition. Do you think The New York Times buys all of those books it reviews? No. Publishing houses send out review copies (advance reader copies, or ARCs) to major book reviewers. In return, the publication runs a review. Naturally, publishers hope that the reviews are favorable. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't.

What Story Cartel appears to be doing (at least to my eyes), is opening this field up to small press/indie authors and ordinary readers. Because we all don't work for The New York Times, but if you're a reader, you are certainly capable of giving a review. And don't we all have opinions? Of course we do.

So for the next twenty (20) days, Power Play: Hero's Sword Vol. 1 will be available to download, for free, from Story Cartel by using this link. If you've already purchased the book, thank you. You can help by sending a friend or family member the link and with a recommendation. If you've been on the fence about trying the Hero's Sword series, here's your opportunity to try it, risk free (the only thing you are risking is your time).

You are, of course, under no obligation to leave a review - good or bad. And I really do want your honest review.

Numerous polls and surveys show that the vast majority of the book-buying public discovers books through "word of mouth." In other words, they read a review or get a recommendation from a friend/family member. So if you're a regular reader of this blog, I humbly ask for your assistance. Go grab a copy of Power Play and leave a review. And if middle-grade fantasy isn't your thing, get a copy for a child (or child of a friend) and get them to write a review. Their opinions count too, you know.

And, as added incentive, three (3) lucky reviewers will win a $10 Amazon gift card (winner selected at random by Story Cartel).

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Value of an Editor

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Apologies for the late posting today. I was going to write about JK Rowling, but something has trumped that post.

Some writers don't like editors. They think that, somehow, letting an editor in messes with the "purity" of their story, as if the editor's goal is to rip everything to shreds and rewrite it to fit their (the editor's) own vision of the story. Or if they want an "edit," they only want a copy edit. Go find all the typos and leave the rest alone, lest you mar my beautiful creation.

I have a word for this: baloney.

I've been blessed to work with three wonderful editors for various projects. I'm working with a fourth for Wedding Bells: Hero's Sword Vol. 3. I will admit to feeling a little nervous when the new editor was introduced. Would he like the story?

Being a professional, he went back and read the first two books. I'm happy to report he liked them, and he liked Wedding Bells, saying it might be his favorite of the three. Yay!

However, that doesn't mean the manuscript didn't come back with suggestions and changes: everything from grammar corrections to suggestions on word choices. Plenty of red marks, that's for sure.

And you know what? All of it resulted in a better, tighter story. I did a lot of nodding as I read his comments. he didn't change my story - he made it better.

I had a similar experience with my first Laurel Highlands story. I submitted it and it got rejected a couple times. I worked with an editor. I incorporated her suggestions/changes. And I sold the story.

That's what a good editor does. It's not about changing or remaking the story. It's about elevating it. Because face it, authors; after staring at your manuscript for days/weeks/months/years, you can't see the weak spots any more. You need fresh eyes to come in a say, "You've used 'hurry' three times in three successive paragraphs; pick something else," or "Strengthen the scene with a little more/less description."

A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold. Yeah, you might have to work with a couple different ones (if you are self-publishing), but when you find one, hold on tight. Your editor is not your opposition, she's your partner. Together, you'll work together to make a great book for your reader.

And isn't that really what it's all about?

Image courtesy of Nic McPhee, used under Creative Commons

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

STORM CLOUDS Blog Tour Winner

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Yes, the blog tour is over. Thanks so much to all of the hosts and those of you who followed along. Now it's time for the big winner announcement - the winner of the Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch. Drum roll please.....

Congratulations Mary Preston! You've won! Expect an email from me to claim your prize.

Once again, thanks to everybody for following the tour. I hope it sparked your interest in the world of Hero's Sword. Books 1 and 2, Power Play and Storm Clouds are available now from all major e-tailers. Publication details for book 3, Wedding Bells, will be released as I know them.

Of course, if you want to get information about Jaycee, Stu, and the rest of my writing delivered right to your inbox, sign up for my monthly newsletter (no spam, I promise).

See you in Mallory!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Author Interview: Kaye George

by Mary Sutton / mary_sutton73

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome Kaye George, author of Eine Kleine Murder to the blog.

Take it away, Kaye!

1. If I invited your main character for dinner, what would we probably talk about?

I’ve had two releases in three months, so I’ll have to pick one. I’ll choose the one who speaks English, as it would be hard to converse with my Neanderthal characters.

Cressa Carraway, as a graduate student, would be happy to accept dinner. She rarely has money to eat out. She’s probably begin by complimenting all the dishes--and she’d be sincere. Since her grandmother died (her parents passed away years ago), she doesn’t get home cooking. If you let her, she’d love to tell you about what she’s writing. It might be a piano concerto or a chamber music piece, maybe even a symphony.

2. Do you find yourself coming back to certain themes? Why or why not, and what are they?

I’ve been told by more than one person that I’m very hard on men in my short stories. I didn’t see this theme until it was pointed out, but they’re right, I am! I don’t see this happening as much in my novels, but, honestly, I don’t know what my themes are. Maybe family? Mitch Albom tells about a reader complimenting him on his books about fathers. He was puzzled, since he hadn’t, as far as he knew, written one on that theme. The last book he wrote, however, had been written as his father was dying. He pondered this and decided that he had written that book about fathers. He thought it was about baseball.

3. What's the one thing you must have when you write?

Quiet. I know many writers like music setting the mood for them, but I can’t listen to music and write at the same time. Maybe that’s because I’m a musician and I participate when I hear music. I do to great lengths to get quiet. Barking dogs are my idea of hell on earth. One place we lived, a nearby rat terrier would bark for an hour at a time. Appeals to the neighbor didn’t help for more than a day. Desperate, I bought a dog-training device called Super Bark Free. I figured that, if people can’t train their dogs, I’ll do it for them. Hey, this thing works!

4. What three people, living or dead, would you most like to talk to and why?

First, I’d like to interview a major, successful female conductor, maybe Marin Alsop or Kate Tamarkin. There aren’t many to choose from, there are so few even today. I’d gather material for future Cressa Carraway books. She intends to be a major conductor and it’s going to be hard for her. I’d like to know exactly what’s involved and how she should best go about it.

Second, I’d like to talk to one of my own great-great-grand parents, the ones who came west in covered wagons. What a time they must have had! I’d like to hear their stories. There’s an ancestor buried in Natoma, Kansas, who wrote a book, my grandmother told me, but there are no traces of it. If I could learn more about her, I’d love that, too.

My mother has been gone for over 10 years, but I still want to talk to her several times a month. That might be true for everyone who had a good Mom. She wanted to write books and I’d like to tell her I’ve gotten it done.

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would write the soundtrack?

Why, I would, of course! I’ve always wanted to write movie soundtracks. It would be awesome.

6. What's up next for you?

I’m currently working on a cozy for Berkley Prime Crime. I’m thrilled to have a three-book contract with them for a series set in Minneapolis called the Fat Cat series. It features Quincy, a pudgy, adorable, clever cat who, always hungry on his diet, is good at getting out and finding things--clues, bodies, things like that. I’ll be writing that series as Janet Cantrell.

Kaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated for Agatha awards twice. She is the author of four mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, the FAT CAT cozy series, and The People of the Wind Neanderthal series.

Her short stories can be found in her collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, as well as in several anthologies, various online and print magazines. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", writes for several newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye lives in Knoxville, TN.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goals for 2013 - at halftime

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It's hard to believe, but 2013 is half over. The weather is warm, the kids are out of school, and it's time for me to review how far I've come with my goals for this year.

As with any year-long plan, there have been some adjustments, but I think that's a good thing, right? Shows that I'm flexible and willing to change to meet new priorities. So, here's where I stand.

Submit my second Laurel Highlands story.

This is done. I sent it off earlier in June. Now it's just waiting to hear whether Mysterical-e will accept it (they accepted the first, so I'm hopeful).

Complete and submit my Black Orchid Novella Award contest entry.

This is done. There was some nail-biting ("Is it good enough?"), but I finally stuck it in the mail. The confirmation postcard is hanging on my fridge. Now to wait until December when the results are announced.

Read at least one craft book per month.

I don't know if I've done one per month. Well, that's a lie. I do know, and I haven't done one per month. But I've continued to read and I'm in the middle of a class on short fiction. So I'm making good progress. Right now I'm still in Plot and Structure; I think Donald Maass' Writing 21st Century Fiction will be next.

Complete the SFD of Hero's Sword 4 by May 31 and first revisions by July 31.

Because of the other commitments, this one had to be reset. Target for completion of the SFD is now July 31 (I am doing Camp Nanowrimo to help make that reality). And since I let things sit for a while post-completion, I probably won't get to first revisions until late August/early September.

Complete and submit two more Laurel Highlands stories by end of summer.

I've completed the SFD of a third story. But it won't be ready for submission by end of summer, and I won't have another one. So I'm going to have to move this to end of year.

Plan an anthology release of the Laurel Highlands Mysteries by the end of 2013

Another one I'm going to have to reset. This won't get done until Q1 of 2014 at the earliest now, so I'm going to put it on the back-burner for the time being.

And because I forgot yet another commitment...

Finish edits on my Sisters in Crime anthology story by June 24

I hit this one. I'm kind of proud, too. When I submitted the story I was only 6 words under the upper word limit. After receiving revisions from the first round of edits, I needed to shore up the ending, and I went almost 200 words over. But I managed to get it all back under count (by the original 6 words) all by my lonesome. But since I hadn't planned on the work (silly me), that kind of messed with the schedule. But it's all good.

So there I am. 2013 half over and I'm looking pretty good. Stay tuned for another update at the end of September!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cover Reveal: Greenshift - Heidi Rub Miller

To celebrate the cover reveal for Greenshift, the e-book will be temporarily 99 cents at Amazon!

A tale set within the world of Ambasadora.

Mari's rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people...except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.

But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look--an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.

When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn't as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.

Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Foreword by Dana Marton

Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance paperback coming from Dog Star Books in August 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

STORM CLOUDS Blog Tour with Bewitching Book Tours

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It's here! For the next month, I'm doing a blog tour through Bewitching BookTours for Storm Clouds: Hero's Sword Vol. 2. At various stops along the tour, you can win an e-copy of Storm Clouds (your choice of format - Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks). At at the end of the tour, one winner will receive a Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch (Rafflecopter widget below).

I'm looking forward to "seeing" folks along the tour, so please take a moment and stop by any of the sites below!

June 17 Interview
Mom With A Kindle

June 18 Guest blog
Escape Into A Book

June 19 Intevriew
Books in the Hall

June 20 Guest blog
So Much To Write So Little Time

June 21 Interview

June 25 spotlight and interview
Happy Tails & Tales

June 26 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books

June 27 Spotlight and review
Mom Loves 2 Read

June 28 Guest blog

June 28 Review (Power Play and Storm Clouds)

July 3 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

July 4 Interview
Books & Tales

July 5 Spotlight
Reading In Twilight

July 8 Guest blog
Buffy Kennedy

July 9 review (Power Play & Storm Clouds)
Brooke Blogs

July 10 Interview and review
A Chick Reading

July 11 Spotlight
Fang-tastic Books

July 12 review
Gimme The Scoop Reviews

July 15 Spotlight and review
Teen Blurb

a Rafflecopter giveaway