Archive for the ‘The Writing World’ Category

August 27, 2012

Meet Natalie R. Collins and Her Newest Book

Natalie R. Collins has 9 published books, several others in various stages of publishing, and is currently working on her next one… or two… or three.  Her current new book is TIES THAT BIND, from St. Martin’s Press. She has dabbled in both dark suspense and cozy mysteries, and is happy to be able to work in both genres.

She has also written for Penguin Putnam, Thompson Gale, BPP, and Sisterhood Publications. She says she does not have a thing for the word “Sister.” A lot of her titles just kind of turned out that way. Maybe it’s branding, and maybe it’s eccentricity.

Or both.

Her website is:

REVIEW:   TIES THAT BIND by Natalie R. Collins

I’ve read every one of Natalie Collins’ books to date and this one, the story of a female police detective’s family destroyed by a tragedy, and the evil that can permeate a small town completely dominated by its Mormon leaders, knocks it out of the park and then some.

Teenagers are committing suicide in Kanesville, Utah, and nobody has any idea why. Police Detective Samantha Montgomery has the feeling they’re not suicide, as has been commonly assumed, and when the young son of the stake president is found hanged with a tie, Sam is more than ever convinced that the deaths are murder. She finds her investigation hampered by her conflicting feelings for Detective Gage Flint, who had her taken off another case in another town and in fact made her lose her job. Now Gage has been borrowed from that town to help with this case.

In spite of the tension racing back and forth between Gage and Sam, she continues with her investigation, with personal memories assailing her from time to time. All the dead young people were found hanged, as was her own sister when Sam was only six. Too many memories. Too many young people dead by hanging. Sam’s mother, who just gave up when her daughter was hanged and never recovered. Sam’s older sister, who left town and never returned. Sam’s father, who struggles to take care of her mother until he’s forced by Sam to take her to the hospital, where she remains. All of it, piling up on Sam as she continues to fight her attraction to Gage.

In this tale of this town that shimmers with evil vibes everywhere, and one female detective’s day by day fight with those trying to keep her from solving any of the cases, I was particularly intrigued by the way Collins brought in new characters. This is the first book I’ve ever read where each new character is introduced by being dropped smack into the story in the middle of a scene without any introduction at all, leaving you to wonder who they are and why they’re here–until a few pages later, when Collins drops in a few of lines of backstory with a deft touch that is perfect every time. It definitely adds to the intensity of the story because you soon realize that nothing in the book is what it first seems and you find yourself constantly guessing, while Collins ups the ante on every page.

This is a powerful, first-rate thriller, her best to date. It pulls you into this town with its religious undercurrents and the obsessions of some of its inhabitants. It’s a whole new fascinating look at Mormonism and its spinoff, polygamy, which enters somewhat, but not too much, into the story.

Natalie Collins’ TIES THAT BIND is so riveting that you’ll find it almost impossible to put down. Make sure you don’t miss this one.  …Beth Anderson, Author and Reviewer August, 2012

That’s it for this week, folks.  Looks like fall’s heading our way here in Washington state.  My favorite time of the year, just full of hope and anticipation of the holidays ahead, and blessed, blessed cool nights.   I absolutely love it here and so does Sarge, who says “Hey!”  See you next week!

XOXO, Beth



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April 7, 2012

Presenting: EPPIE Award Winning Marilyn Meredith

This week I’d like to introduce you to Marilyn Meredith, who, in addition to being a prolific writer, is also an award winning one. This year she nabbed the EPPIE for Best Romance with Supernatural Elements–not an easy contest to win because the competition is fierce. Without further…oh, okay, I won’t bore you with cliches.  Let’s go straight to her photo and then she’ll talk to you for a bit.

Setting Up My Own Blog Tour by F.M. Meredith

The last few years I’ve gone on a blog tour for each of my books. I hired a blog tour company to do it and all I had to do was write what each person asked for or send a book to be reviewed. The blogs were chosen by the company with the addition of a few I added and the dates all set up. When the time came, all I had to do was visit each blog, read the comments and add my own.

With No Bells, the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, I decided to do the blog tour myself. How hard could it be? Ha, ha, ha. Believe me, these blog tour people earn their money.

First I contacted people that I knew through the Internet who write mysteries and have blog sites, letting them know what I wanted and figuring out what dates I’d like to be on their blog. Sometimes, the date had to be changed for one reason or another. I also asked each one what they’d like me to write about. Some had very definite ideas, others told me to write what I want. I have close to 30 blogs on this tour and I really wanted to make each blog different for anyone who might actually visit each one. Thinking up a new topic for those who hadn’t assigned me one became quite a challenge. Yes, I know, I am a writer—but I write mysteries not essays.

I made a list on the computer of the dates for each blog, the person’s email and their blog URL. Important so I’d know where to promote and visit each date so I can read the comments and add my own. And since I’m having a contest to see who visits the most blogs, I also have to keep track of that.

Doing the writing for each blog was scattered over many days. On each blog post I pasted the book’s blurb, my bio, links, and contest information. When I finished one, I filed it under Blog Tour for No Bells with the person’s name. I had to wait for the cover to arrive before I could send anything out. Along with the post, I sent the cover and a picture of me as a .jpg. I sent different photos of me because Pat Browning had done that on a blog tour we both were on and I though that was clever. (Thank you, Pat.)

Now that the tour is in full swing, I’ll soon be able to see what kind of a job I did being my own tour director.

Was it worth all the work? I won’t know until I see if the tour generated sales for No Bells. What I do know at this stage of the tour, that while it is a lot of work, I’ve had a great time. I dearly love all these authors who were willing to give me a day on their blog.


Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem. She’s the major suspect in a murder case.


Marilyn’s Bio:

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels—and a few that will never see print. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area.

F. M. (Marilyn) is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves as the program chair for the Public Safety Writers of America’s writing conference. She’s been an instructor at many writing conferences.

Visit her at and her blog at

CONTEST: The person who comments on the most blogs on my tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email too, so I can contact you.


Thank you, Marilyn, I hope you get a lot of responses.  I enjoyed having you here on this latest blog tour.  Good luck with the rest of the tour and all book tours in the future.  I hope you’ll visit here again soon with yet again another new book.

Cheers for now, folks.  I’m going to be making some changes on this website in the next couple of months, so stay tuned, and thank you to all the people who bought and apparently liked my latest book, Raven Talks Back, my own supernatural mystery set in Alaska.  You can see  chapters here on my books page or at Amazon and B&N.  Don’t make me beg. 😉

XOXO, Beth Anderson aka Hotclue Herself’


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December 9, 2011

Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye to All The Company…

Well, this has been a busy couple of weeks, if I do say so myself. The Mystery We Write Blog Tour, Winter 2011 is over as of yesterday, and what a hectic ride it’s been! We all have held drawings and are announcing the winners on our various blogsites:

Ron Benrey 

Pat Browning

John M. Daniel

Alice Duncan

Wendy Gager

M. M. Gornell

Timothy Hallinan

Jackie King 

Jean Henry Mead

Marilyn Meredith

Mike Orenduff

Jinx Schwartz

Earl Staggs  

Anne K. Albert

I held my drawing yesterday and my three winners have responded with their addresses and preferences. They are:  Brenda Williamson, Jacqueline Seewald, and Sandy Giden.

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you again for visiting my blogs. Your books will be on their way to you sometime next week, if not sooner.

All of the blogs are on this page and several prior pages, easy to find if you missed someone and you want to see what they had to say on my blogsite, or you can click the links to their blogsites above. I can tell you, if you haven’t visited the various blogsites AND you’re a writer, particularly if you’re a fairly new writer, then you should visit every one of them and stay a while and look around, because there are tons of writing tips you won’t find anyplace else. We each have our own journeys in this wild, wild writing world, and we’ve each pretty come to the same conclusions, only each in our own way. We did this blog tour primarily for new writers, to help shorten their journey to publication, fame and…uh…fortune? Well, two out of three isn’t bad, right? Anyhow, this is our way of saying thanks to our readers, and also trying to help newbies along the way.

In closing today, I want to tell you that you can click on the covers of all the books to the right of this blog and go to pages where you’ll find great reviews as well as several chapters of each book for you to read and see if you like my style. 😉 If you do, there are also buy links on those pages, or you can find all of my last four books in both print and ebook on or Barnes& by typing in my name. Right now, RAVEN TALKS BACK is on Christmas sale in its ebook incarnation for only $.99 cents at both places. This book has hit the bestseller lists on Amazon numerous times now. I’ve actually lost count, but people are buying it and apparently loving it. (Your mileage may vary, but I hope not 😉 Anyhow, the deal is there so you might give it a try.

Come back next week, when I put my new Christmas Page up here on my blog. It’s going to have not only YES! Christmas decorations! but also a slew of brand new Word Pictures, Christmas 2011. Last time I did this (several years ago) it was a smash hit and I hope I can reach the same level with these new ones. I’m sure going to try.

Thanks again to my fabulous co-authors on this blog tour. All pros, all have great experince to share with you on our blogs and some of us, including me, have other pages easily accessible from our blogsites that will help you make your own journey. Look around while you visit all these blogs. If you need help, you’ll find it on our blogs and websites.

Until next week, XOXO to all of you, and have a happy, safe holiday. I’ll fill you in on mine later on, it’s bound to be fun and interesting because up here on this mountainside we have a slew of family coming in for the holidays and you ALL know how that usually goes. 😉

But first, remember, next week: Word Pictures, Christmas 2011. You don’t want to miss it.

Warm Holiday Hugs, Beth Anderson aka Hotclue Herself

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December 8, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog Tour Presents Ron Benrey

The Magic Paragraph

By Ron Benrey

For starters, let me say that I was a prolific non-fiction writer (books, magazine articles, speeches, marketing literature). But when I started to write fiction back in 1990, I was puzzled to find that my first efforts at fiction were “dead.” That’s how I described my writing.

Two years later, I figured out that my “fiction” lacked an essential ingredient. My words didn’t create a “fictional dream” in the mind of a reader. The late, John Gardner — novelist, teacher, and author of  “The Art of Fiction” — coined that apt term to describe the “being somewhere else” experience a reader enjoys when reading a novel.

Doing this is actually a fairly simple “craft” skill that many novelists do instinctively, but which I had to learn “the hard way,” through lots of trial and error.

I call the technique I discovered the “Magic Paragraph”—a paragraph designed to invite the reader to dream. Look at any novel you enjoy reading. The first (possibly first two) paragraphs in each scene… and the first paragraph after a block of dialog… and lots of others scattered through the scene will probably follow the following pattern:

1. Signal whose head to enter.

2. “Activate” one of the character’s five senses or a thought process.

3. Give the character’s initial reaction to what s/he sensed or thought.

4. Start the character thinking.

Here’s an example from “Dead as a Scone,” the first novel in our “Royal Tunbridge Wells Mysteries” series. The following two paragraphs start Chapter 2:

Felicity Katherine Adams—Flick to her friends—yanked three more tissues from the box on her desk, blew her nose for what seemed the umpteenth time, and wondered when it would finally stop dripping.

Blast them all—their closed minds and calloused hearts.

She crumpled the tissues into a tight ball and decided that if ever there was a proper occasion for unabated sniveling, this was it. How could she not cry after losing a wonderful friend and smashing into a stone wall of obstinate stupidity? No one else in the boardroom recognized the
obvious facts. Not one of them would pay attention to simple truth that Dame Elspeth was murdered.

Now, here are the same paragraphs “parsed” into the four elements I listed above.

Felicity Katherine Adams—Flick to her friends… (Signal whose head to enter)

…yanked three more tissues from the box on her desk, blew her nose for what seemed the umpteenth time… (“Activate” a sense)

…and wondered when it would finally stop dripping. (Give her initial reaction)

Blast them all—their closed minds and calloused hearts. (Start her thinking.)

She [Flick]… (Signal whose head to enter) …crumpled the tissues into a tight ball…  (“Activate” a sense)

…and decided that if ever there was a proper occasion for unabated sniveling, this was it.  (Give her initial reaction)

How could she not cry after losing a wonderful friend and smashing into a stone wall of obstinate stupidity? No one else in the boardroom recognized the obvious facts. Not one of them would pay attention to simple truth that Dame Elspeth was murdered.  (Start her thinking.)

Repeated use of the Magic Paragraph will establish and maintain a strong fictional dream. I consider it the single most important “craft secret” I learned about writing fiction.

Here’s a synopsis of Dead as a Scone:

Murder is afoot in the sedate English town of Royal Tunbridge Wells … and the crime may be brewing in a tea pot!

Nigel Owen is having a rotten year. Downsized from a cushy management job at an insurance company in London, he is forced to accept a temporary post as managing director of the Tunbridge Wells Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum. Alas, he regrets living in a small town in Kent, he prefers drinking coffee (with a vengeance), and he roundly dislikes Flick Adams, PhD, an
American scientist recently named the museum’s curator.

But then, the wildly unexpected happens. Dame Elspeth Hawker, the museum’s chief benefactor, keels over a board meeting—the apparent victim of a fatal heart attack. With the Dame’s demise, the museum’s world-famous collection is up for grabs, her cats, dog, and parrot are living at with Flick and Nigel—and the two prima donnas find themselves facing professional ruin.

But Flick—who knows a thing or two about forensic science—is convinced that Dame Elspeth did not die a natural death. As Flick and Nigel follow the clues—including a cryptic Biblical citation—they discover that a crime perpetrated more than a century ago sowed the seeds for a contemporary murder.

Ron Benrey writes cozy mysteries with his wife Janet. Ron has been a writer forever—initially on magazines (his first real job was Electronics Editor at Popular Science Magazine), then in corporations (he wrote speeches for senior executives), and then as a novelist. Over the years, Ron has also authored ten non-fiction books, including the recently published “Know Your Rights — a Survival Guide for Non-Lawyers” (published by Sterling). Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law. He is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Ron, that’s an interesting point you make, and it’s well worth following up on in my own work.  To my blog readers, please comment here if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Ron’s book.

Cheers, All, Beth, who invites you to come back tomorrow for a recap of the whole author tour, and one last chance to have your name drawn for a free book, in my case a copy of Raven Talks Back in either print or Kindle.  And thanks so much for stopping by!


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December 7, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog Tour Presents Pat Browning

Pat Browning was born and raised in Oklahoma. A longtime resident of California’s San Joaquin
Valley before moving back to Oklahoma in 2005, her professional writing credits go back to the 1960s, when she was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time in aHanford law office.

Her globetrotting in the 1970s led her into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as a correspondent for TravelAge West, a trade journal published in San Francisco. In the 1990s, she signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and
then at The Hanford Sentinel.

Her first mystery, FULL CIRCLE, was set in a fictional version of Hanford, and published
through iUniverse in 2001. It was revised and reissued as ABSINTHE 0F MALICE by Krill Press in 2008. An extensive excerpt can be read at Google Books

The second book in the series, METAPHOR FOR MURDER, is a work in progress. ABSINTHE takes place on a Labor Day weekend. METAPHOR picks up the story the week before Christmas. Log line: Small town reporter Penny Mackenzie tracks an offbeat Christmas story and finds herself in the middle of a murder and the mysterious desecration of an old Chinese cemetery.

Pat’s articles on the writing life have appeared in The SouthWest Sage, the monthly journal of SouthWest Writers, based in Albuquerque, New   Mexico. Her web site at is under construction.


ABSINTHE OF MALICE can be ordered through any bookstore or online from and Barnes & Noble.

Barnes and Noble, print and Nook

Amazon, print and Kindle


A Writer’s Book Shelf

There are many ways to write a book, and many writers who want to tell you how it’s done. I have a very short shelf of how-to books that I wouldn’t be without. Herewith, in no particular order:

HOW TO WRITE KILLER FICTION by Carolyn Wheat (Perseverance Press 2003). Among other things, she explains the difference between mystery and suspense, and takes you through the Four-Arc system for organizing your novel. Wheat is a no-nonsense teacher. In her Preface, she writes: “If anything in this book works for you, I’m glad. If it doesn’t, toss it away and write from
your gut, always keeping in mind the one immutable fact about fiction: You’re the one creating the reader’s experience.”

FICTION WRITING DEMYSTIFIED by Thomas B. Sawyer (Ashleywilde, Inc. 2003).
Sawyer was show runner and writer for the TV series “Murder She Wrote” so he knows how to move a story along. He writes from a screenwriter’s experience, but it easily translates to the novel. Chapter Six on writing dialogue cured me of using tiresome dialogue tags. Sawyer wrote his first thriller, THE SIXTEENTH MAN, without a single dialogue tag, letting action and internal monologue take the place of “he said” and other tags.  Sawyer calls it “high-energy writing.” Reading his novel is like being there, watching the whole thing take place. Try it. In fact, my cure for being stuck in a difficult scene or chapter is to draft the whole thing in dialogue. Works every time.

DEADLY DOSES: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, by Serita Deborah Stevens with Anne Klarner (Writer’s Digest Books 1990). This detailed and highly readable book is responsible for the murder weapons used in my mystery ABSINTHE OF MALICE. As one character says: “Every pretty thing that grows will kill you or cure you, depending on how you use it.”

An updated version of this book is HOWDUNIT – THE BOOK OF POISONS by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon (Writer’s Digest Books 2007). The new book is also on Kindle. It’s pricey, but I think I will have to buy it.

FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES by D.P. Lyle, M.D. (Wiley Publishing 2004). Chapter 15, “What’s The Deal With DNA?” caused me to re-write an entire chapter because I didn’t fully understand
DNA when I wrote FULL CIRCLE. When Krill Press republished FULL  CIRCLE as ABSINTHE OF MALICE, I had the perfect opportunity for revising.

Dr. Lyle’s Chapter 10 subsection “Dem Bones, Dem Bones: Working With Skeletons” gave me important information for my second book (still in progress) after a local physician gave me faulty advice. Fortunately I know a brush-off when I get one. I kept looking for answers until I found FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES. Dr. Lyle takes crime writers seriously. His subjects in “Working With Skeletons” include determining whether bones are human, determining age, estimating stature, determining sex (with good illustrations), determining race, and determining cause and manner of death.

A quick mention of two other books on my shelf:

EYE LANGUAGE: UNDERSTANDING THE ELOQUENT EYE by Evan Marshall (New Trend 1983). (An updated version was published in 2003 as THE EYES HAVE IT: REVEALING THEIR POWER, MESSAGES AND SECRETS.)

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF HUMAN BONES by Simon Mays (Routledge 1998). A big manual with everything you ever wanted to know about bones, and great illustrations.

Beth, thank you for hosting me today. It was a pleasure to
be here.

You’re welcome, Pat.  Folks, be sure and leave a comment for Pat.  Might want to get into the habit of doing so, you never know when you’ll win a book!

Cheers and XOXO, Beth

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