Thursday, March 27, 2014

Welcoming today's guest on the ASMSG Electorate Blog Hop, Anna Othitis

Special Announcement! March 27-31 JUST DESERTS, book 4 in the Hetta Coffey series is FREE.

Welcome to ASMSG Electorate Blog Hop, where a group of ASMSG authors are swapping interviews over the next couple of weeks. We have a selection of authors from all genres, all with their own unique style. Check out the dates and blogs of the other participants at the end of this interview and don’t forget to enter the RAFFLECOPTER with free e-books available to the lucky winner.

Today my guest is Anna Othitis, author of My First Travel Book.
Welcome Anna,

I see you are from Zimbabwe. Since this is a location many readers might not be familiar with, can you give us a little history on the country, what you did there, and how you came to live in the United States?

Zimbabwe is shaped like a kettle it is located below the equator and borders the Republic of South Africa. It used to be called Rhodesia, a British Colony. They took their independence and named it Zimbabwe. It is a beautiful country, with  natural, simple un-spoilt surroundings and people with an interesting African culture.  I feature two destinations in my children’s book: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and the Serengeti, Kenya.  A land untouched, and my home for 55 years, where we had a family business and were self employed. We relocated to the USA due to political unrest and land grabbing due to racial profiling problems

Your background sounds like a good subject for another novel. Any plans in that direction?
I have thought and considered writing a few novels on my life and experiences in Africa, on close encounters with animals, and the  dangers we encountered during the terrorist bush war. But this will come at a later time.


Regarding your book: What inspired you to write it? And what age-group is it aimed at?
When our son Frankie was younger he loved flying model airplanes. I always took him to our Model Airplane Gliding Club where we watched his gleaming face enjoying the control and maneuvering of these little airplanes. From this came his inspiration (and mine to encourage him to follow his dream to study and take up his career in life as a pilot) to fly the wonderful skies. Now he has been given this opportunity in the USA to make his dream a reality.
Whilst living in Africa we traveled to visit Canada and Greece to visit family and stopped off to various destinations where we saw and learned so much of the world and its people. We were always interested and curious to visit famous landmarks and experience the lives of people's cultures, and living around the world.
Arriving to settle in the USA children and adults always asked where Zimbabwe was, and yearned to learn more of our home land and the world beyond their borders. World Geography was not part of their world, and they were always curious to know if we lived in tree huts in the natural wilds of with the wild animals.
Children reading “My First Travel Book” (ages 4-9) from their comfort of their homes are introduces them to famous landmarks in the world in order to broaden their minds about the beautiful world we all live in. We share important information with them and parents learning together, hoping that one day they too will be inspired to travel, see places beyond their borders, and be inspired to take up careers they will enjoy.

Are there more books to come? 
Yes, many. We will publish a series with subtitles, for example, Wonders of the USA, Wonders of Canada, and so on.

Anything more you would like to share with us?
Parents, please encourage your children to pursue their careers and futures to become useful and give back with love and peace to the environment, and to our world. With your trust, encouragement, and confidence they can soar the skies just like the eagles smoothly soar the deep blue skies.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Anna. Good luck with your books.

Other Interviews with ASMSG Electorate Blog Hop
followed by the RAFFLECOPTER!
March 18 Kirstin Stein Pulioff
March 19  Stefania Mattana
March 20  Maer Wilson
Marsha Roberts
March 22  Melodie Ramone
                 Anna George Othitis
March 23  Khalid Muhammad
                 Su Williams
March 24  Christoph Fischer
March 25  Hunter S Jones
                  Lillian Roberts
March 27  Ian Hutson
                 Jinx Schwartz
March 28 Dianne Harman
                 Shane KP O’Neill
March 29 Tina Power Traverse
                 Ann Rothchild

Just follow the link below to the Rafflecopter:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Say hello to Marilyn Meredith!

  • My guest today is one of my favorite people, prolific author Marilyn Meredith. She has more than thirty published novels to her credit, including the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation.

  • She does like to remind everyone that she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.

  •                                                              CONTEST!
The person who comments on the most blogs on this blog tour will have the opportunity to have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. This is the last blog on my tour for Spirit Shapes.  She will wait a few days and make sure she has counted everyone who commented and on how many blogs—then will inform the winner, and announce who it is on my own blog:

Today she tells us abut her newest Crabtree mystery, and how such an otherwise sweet person is so in entranced with horror!

My Love of Horror Movies
When my children were little and my husband was overseas, if a horror movie was on television, everyone piled into my bed to watch,  which meant between 3 to 5 kids joined me. Because the movies were scary, often the whole bunch spent the rest of the night with me. Back during that time period, the horror movies that were on TV were pretty campy by today’s standards—Frankenstein, Dracula, and other mad scientist tales. But once in a while there was a really good (meaning really scary) like the Spiral Staircase. That was far scarier than any monster movie.

I’ve continued to enjoy watching scary movies, but I don’t like the slash and gash types that are more blood and gore than storytelling, or the ones about the group of young people stranded in a house, on an island, in a campground and are killed one by one.

I loved the Woman in White and other such movies set back in some early time period with lots of fog and atmosphere.

The best horror films are the ones that seem somewhat plausible—the latest one being  The Conjuring. One of the scariest I can’t remember the name of, but it was about some people traveling in a motor home that were being pursued by witches. I still get goose bumps when I think about that one.

I’ve read most of Stephen King’s books and the one I though the scariest was It. The movie didn’t come close as far as the shiver factor is concerned. (That seems to be the problem with most of the movies made from his books though The Shining was scary, just not as much as the book.

That gives you a pretty good idea that I do love scary movies and books and that’s probably why I like to put the scare factor into my mysteries. If you like a bit of that too, do try Spirit Shapes: Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Temp Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and present, and demons and angels at war.

To buy directly from the publisher in all formats: 

Also available from Amazon.





Sunday, September 22, 2013

The "unintentional series": Meet Evelyn Cullet


Evelyn has been an aspiring author since high school when she wrote short stories, but she didn't begin her first novel until college, later in life, with encouragement from her English Professor. Afterward, she continued to take writing classes while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. Now, after early retirement, she finally has the chance to do what she loves best: write full-time. She's a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, and is currently a member of Sisters in Crime. When she's not writing mysteries, promoting them or blogging about them, Evelyn enjoys playing the piano, organic gardening and being an amateur Lapidary. She and her husband live in a suburb of Chicago.

What inspired you to write in the first place, Evelyn?  

As a life-long mystery buff and a long-time member of the Agatha Christie Society, I've read all of her novels, short stories and plays, and have discussed them in detail with other members of the society. Two other mystery authors I love are Dorothy L. Sayers and Arthur Conan Doyle. These three talented authors had the greatest influence on my writing, especially with my first novel, Romancing a Mystery.

I see your latest book in the series is available, as is the sequel to it, but the first, Romancing a Mystery, is still not published. Tell us how that happened.

Unfortunately, that manuscript got rejected by publishers so many times that I decided to self-published it, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect, wasn't. I ended my contract with the self-publisher, and I'm currently working on revising that manuscript and re-releasing it sometime this year.

Romancing a Mystery didn't start out to be the first in a series. It was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but I enjoyed writing the two main characters so much that I continued to write manuscripts featuring them.

I also noticed that your latest release, Love, Lies and Murder (second in the series) has only recently been published, while Masteriece of Murder (third in the series) was already out there. How did that come about?  

I wrote, Love, Lies and Murder, as the second novel, and then, Masterpiece of Murder, as the third. When I submitted both manuscripts to publishers, the second was rejected while the third was accepted and subsequently published last year.

I rewrote Love, Lies and Murder, (the second), with the help of my editor. And after re-submitting it to my publisher, it was accepted this time and published this year. So that explains why my novels are being published out of sequence, but that's not the way I wrote them. It’s just the way things turned out.

It's kind of a mess, I know. And now that I've thoroughly confused everyone, moving forward, I'm working on book four, Once Upon a Crime, in what has become a series. I suppose I'll have to come up with a name for it now. But whether I will continue to write more novels in this series depends on how well readers like the characters and enjoy reading the stories.  

Publishing is a strange business, that's for sure, but it looks like you are getting a handle on it now. Tell us more about your latest romantic suspense release, Love, Lies and Murder

In this prequel to, Masterpiece of Murder, Charlotte Ross sees her world  about to crumble when the man she’s in love with–her mysterious boss, John Trent, announces his engagement to someone else.

Charlotte’s best friend, dubious globe-trotter and mystery author Jane Marshall, arrives back in town only to stumble across the gruesome body of the town’s millionaire industrialist.

Jane becomes too wrapped in up hunting for the murderer to help Charlotte in her embarrassing attempts to stop her ex-lover’s wedding. Charlotte decides to join forces with her friend, hoping to ease her heartbreak while helping to find the old man’s killer. In the process, the two self-appointed sleuths turn their small town upside down as their snooping leads them to discover that people are not always who they seem–and a single error in judgment can prove fatal. 

Thanks, Evelyn, for sharing with us your unusual publishing circumstances. I'm sure there are many out there who can learn from your experience.

Love, Lies and Murder - Amazon -
Masterpiece of Murder - Amazon -
Wings ePress -
Evelyn's website and blog:
Evelyn's Facebook page:
Evelyn's Amazon Author's Page:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

HAD IT !!!

Every reader harbors writing pet peeves, and one of mine is the word, HAD.
Not that it isn't a perfectly good word; it has its uses. It is overuse that drives me nuts...and I'm already pretty far down that road.

So here I was, all tucked in and happily reading a new novel on my Kindle when chagrin formicated* into my bed. (No, I don't have a dog, and the hubby already slept soundly by my side.) I was infested by a horde of dreaded and dastardly HAD monsters! Totally distracted from my almost-favorite thing to do, which is reading myself to sleep, I doggedly counted the buggers.

Needless to say, I am not about to name the book here, and I have heavily edited the example so as not to have some author flaming me all over social media. This is what sent me into snitdom:

She had grown very old in the four years since he had walked away. They had married young, and for the most part, were happy. He had worked hard, while she had kept house and had babies. They had had an ordinary life until the day he had walked out.

Luckily my husband sleeps like the dead, for my scream was loud. In the good old days I'd've launched the book across the room, but Kindles are far too expensive to bounce off walls, so I girded my loins (I've always wanted to say that) and read on, albeit now highlighting HADs as I went.

I lasted for fifty more HAD'S until this sentence steered me into a ditch: He HAD grown very old in the four years since he HAD walked away from BLAH BLAH BLAH. Not only HAD he grown old, the almost identical sentence was used before to describe the wife.

The next morning—after reading another, much better, book long enough to stabilize my blood pressure and go sleepy-eyed—I Googled information on using HAD in writing, and learned I was not off my rocker. At least about the overuse of HAD. Scholars on the Internet (so they must be right, right?) agree that overuse of the word is an indication of TELLING, rather than SHOWING, something we've all been warned about. Also, said they, too many HADs make for blah/bland writing, and any sentence that begins with He had should be exterminated faster than a bed bug at the George V.

Here's my take. Once the writer establishes a paragraph, or even a chapter, as taking place in the past, one well-placed HAD is enough. Then, by using the proper verb tense, the reader knows they are being told about something from another time frame.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but I hereby vow to stop reading anything after the third HAD in a flashback. Take that, HAD!

*The other thing that ticks me off is having to look up a word:-)

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Day was (and I won't name that day, lest I end up with an expiration date stamped on my forehead) that if a book featured cowboys and Indians, it was a WESTERN.

Unless said cowboy fell in love with a beautiful Indian princess, then we had a LOVE STORY.

Then a cowpoke fell for another cowpoke.

With the explosion of genres on the writing scene, perhaps the time has come for  a GENRE CZAR; someone to categorize all books, genre-wise.

But wait! We already do have that czar...sort of. Amazon wants tag words to categorize a book so those looking for your genre can find you. Great idea, but what IS your genre? And how do your readers, some of whom might not even know they'll like your book because it doesn't fit nicely into a particular genre, find you?

Take my Hetta Coffey series as an example. First in the series, Just Add Water, won the EPPIE AWARD for BEST MYSTERY.
Great! But is it really a mystery?
Okay, so there is some mystery, but the words "humorous" and "light" need to get plugged into that description, unless I want disgruntled reviewers (as one did) grousing that it isn't much of a mystery. So now we have a HUMOROUS MYSTERY, featuring a woman with an unusual career, a snarky attitude, and a lousy love life who is looking for a man in all the wrong places. In her case, countries.

So, whaddaya got?
Well, it could be:

ROMCOM (romantic comedy): Sort of...there is both romance and humor.
CHICKLIT: Fiction genre which  addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. This according to Wikipedia. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series qualifies here. Not bad company.

But wait! Those two genres are sure to send men running in the other direction, and I want men to read my books. Those who do love Hetta Coffey's fierce independence and irreverent attitude, so I don't want to scare them off.

So, how about NAUTICAL ADVENTURE? The men are back, but their wives and gal friends are thinking: Clive Cussler. Again, not bad company, but runs the risk genre-bending the truth, although Just Add Salt, book two in the series is definitely an adventure at sea. 

So how do you warn (or entice) readers who might like the book, but don't know it yet because it doesn't fit neatly into a genre category?

Here's my shot in those seven tag words for Amazon: Mystery, humor, nautical adventure, chicklit, romcom, vampires. Okay, just kidding about the vampires.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jeez, who wrote that stuff? Dusting off a half-written book, and resuscitating my blog.

Hetta's back!

After being MIA for far too long, Hetta Coffey has resurfaced in the Sea of Cortez, and it doesn't take her long to find trouble.

I spent last winter afloat in the Sea, breathing life back into Hetta. I had Just the Pits (at the time entitled: Just Have No Friggin' Idea) almost written, then stashed away to mellow. Out of sight, out of mind?

But we all know Hetta does not take well to mellowing. Nag, nag, nag. Jeez, can't a writer get a vacation once in awhile?

Anyhow, as those of us who write will do, I dusted off the manuscript and went back to  work. Okay, so that dusting off part is no longer true, as Hetta's new adventure was stored in a memory bank that is obviously much better than mine. Did I really write that drivel?

I'd like to claim I slaved away over a hot pc all winter long, never enjoying the wonders of being on the boat again, and underway headed south, but I would be, say, lying. Yes, I did put in a couple of hours a day, but mornings at anchor are for coffee on deck, communing with the dolphins and the like. It's when the wind comes up in the afternoon that I was compelled to get back to my work station, and that nag, Hetta.

The good news is Hetta considers herself my must and takes over, so I just follow her lead into her next fiasco. As many have learned, following Hetta anywhere in an iffy proposition, but this time I gave her a new skill to add to her already gilded resume: sleuth. Not that she's not nosy enough, mind you, but now she's putting her natural snoopiness to good use, even if her detective skills are less than sterling, or
and subtle. Luckily, she has her BFF Jan around when the Velveeta disappears!