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16 posts from January 2010


My 2 Cents On the Kindle/MacMillan Flap

I buy a lot of books. A couple hundred or more a year. Some in print, some ebook, very, very, very seldom in hardback. Why? I'm just not going to pay 25 bucks for a book. Not going to happen. I pains me that paperbacks have gotten as high as they are. I won't pay more than $9.99 for a paperback book. Nope, not going to do it. What about ebooks? $9.99 is my top dollar. I don't care if it's my favorite author and I've been waiting two years for his newest book. I'm not going to pay more than $9.99 for an ebook. That's already too much. I don't know how other people feel about this whole argument. More and more information is coming out all the time, but I think the people that are getting screwed here are the authors and the book buyers. And it's not Amazon that's doing the screwing. 

For a well written overview of what's taking place, take a look at this blog post by April Hamilton 

The publishing industry is changing. And it's a major change. Almost as big as when the printing press took over all those many, many years ago. Publishers need to remember that if the book buying public stops buying books, they will soon be out of the publishing business. 

And that's all I have to say about that.


What I Like to Read: Kit Ehrman

If you like Dick Francis, you’ll love Kit Ehrman. Her Steve Kline mysteries are terrific.  Buy them, add them to your library, re-read often. Just like Dick Francis. Hey, what could be better than that?


The Winner of the KdBlog prize pack from monday's blog Can a Series Survive When Sexual Tension Turns to Marriage is Pat Browning.
The Winner from the Tuesdays with Friends visit from Susan McBride is Alice Peck. Alice will get a signed copy of Susan's new book, The Cougar cllub.
Thanks for stopping in everyone.


Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Susan McBride

41TRRD-Ip2L._SS500_  This week's guest on Tuesdays with Friends is Susan McBride. I met Susan a hundred and two years ago (maybe not quite that long, but it's been a while) when I went to my very first writer's conference. I was nervous, actually terrified. I listened to her and the Deadly Diva's give a talk and managed to get up enough nerve to speak with them afterward. Susan was sweet, funny, and helpful to a newbie who didn't know enough to even know what questions to ask. I love her to death, I love her books, and I can't wait to meet up with her at another conference because wherever Susan is there's bound to be laughter.

Welcome to Tuesdays with Friends, Susan. Your book, The Cougar Club, comes out tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by KdBlog so we can help you celebrate. 

KdBloggers, Susan's giving away, that's right as in FREE, a copy of The Cougar Club to a lucky commenter so be sure and drop her a line. You might be a winner.

Joining The Cougar Club

 by Susan McBride

If you're reading this, it means The Cougar Club, my debut in women's fiction, has hit the shelves.  No doubt, my mother and mom-in-law have already invaded their local bookstores, buying armloads and telling their respective cashiers, "This book is amazing!  You must push it on customers!"  I've written mysteries and young adult novels, all of them dear to me.  But there's something very special about Cougar, and maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm an official member of the Club...albeit, an accidental one.

You see, I never prowled the city at night, wearing a tight mini-skirt and spray-tanned cleavage, hunting younger men (well, that's what I used to think a Cougar was--a contemporary and kind of frightening Mrs. Robinson with Botoxed forehead and a martini permanently attached to her hand).  Honestly, I was lucky whenever I found time to date at all, what with trying to kick-start my writing career and working part-time as a medical transcriptionist.  In fact, when I hit 40 and was still single, my mother started fretting that I'd end up a Crazy Cat Lady, cleaning litter boxes in my bath-robe and never leaving the house except to fetch the packages from QVC the UPS man left on my porch.

So it's my mom who inadvertently turned me into a Cougar, after submitting my name toSt. Louis Magazine and begging them to select me as a "Top Single" in 2005.  I can see her letter now:  "Please, help my workaholic daughter find a man.  She's not bad looking, has good teeth, and isn't any nuttier than anyone else in our family."  (Just kidding, Mom!)  When St. Louis Magazine ended up picking me and putting me in the November 2005 "Top Singles" issue, I knew my life was in for a bit of a change.  All of a sudden, I was going to parties sponsored by the magazine, letting myself be put on the auction block for charity, and turning into a veritable social butterfly.

I met a lot of very nice people in the process, but Ed stood apart from the rest.  I almost didn't go out with him at first.  I lost his business card, for one (though he cleverly emailed me through the magazine) and then someone freaked me out by telling me he was in his 20s (he does have a baby face). I had turned 41 a few weeks before the issue came out, and 30 was my bottom-line for guys.  I didn't want to have to explain what Smurfs were or how life existed before texting (or have to burp my date after dinner!).

Turns out, Ed was a mere nine years younger, which was fine with me.  I told myself, "Heck, have fun with him!  Enjoy yourself!  You don't have to marry him or anything!"  After he took me to my first-ever hockey game and purchased me at that charity auction, I realized I loved being around him.  He was smart and funny, and he knew a lot about so many things. He seemed quiet around others but he always had plenty to say to me.  I don't know quite what I expected about seeing a younger man, maybe that I couldn't keep up, that he'd be allergic to my having a few wrinkles, that his family wouldn't like me.  All fears were dispelled the more we got to know one another, and the more I understood, "This guy is great!  We're good together!  To hell with the age thing!"

Within about three months, I knew he was "the one."  We bought a house together eight months after we met, and Ed stood by me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer that Christmas (which was when we got engaged!).  We'll be celebrating our second wedding anniversary on February 24, and I can't imagine my life without him. I'm 45 now, and Ed's 36.  Yes, he still has a baby face and frequently gets carded when we're out to dinner.  Does it bother me?  Let's just say, I'll be very happy when he starts to go gray!  But he keeps me young, he makes me feel good about myself, and he supports me in whatever I do (plus, he's darned cute!).  I believe that all things happen for a reason.  If I hadn't married a younger guy, I wouldn't have been asked to write The Cougar Club, and that was the most fun I've ever had writing a book. 

So when people call me a Cougar, I just smile and think, "They should be so lucky."  ;-)



 Susan McBride is the author of The Cougar Club, hailed as "a fun fantasy" by Publishers Weekly and a Midwest Connection Pick for February by the Midwest Booksellers Association.  She has also written five Debutante Dropout Mysteries, including the award-winning Blue Blood and Too Pretty to Die, as well as several novels in her Debsyoung adult series.  For more scoop, visit her web site at


Can a Series Survive When Sexual Tension Turns to Marriage?

I'm pondering the future of a series here, and would like your thoughts. In a character driven mystery, the sexual tension between two characters offers opportunities to develop the characters, to delve into what makes them tick. It also give the writer the opportunity to move the plot or drive wedges between protagonists. My question is can you still use that feeling if your characters decide to get married? As most writers know, we have very little control over the characters in our books. Oh, we can throw roadblocks in their way, provide action, kidnapping, murder and mayhem, but their personal actions and reactions very quickly become their own. Characters you create so you can kill them off, decide they want to stay and take part in the story. Some of them don't like the area and move away. Some demand a larger part in the story and sometimes they fall in love. Oh you can take control, demand that they stick around, force them into the place you want them to go, but at least in my writing, when I do that, they become sulky and uncooperative. 

The reason I bring this up is I have a couple of characters that have decided they'd like to marry and I'm not sure that is a good idea. Far be it for me to ruin their lives or anything, but the byplay between these two has driven four stories so far, and I'm afraid in this case, wedded bliss might mean the death of the series. I mean, if they're blissfully happy, and living together full time, where's the tension, where's the humor. Should I allow them their till death do us part moment and wrap the series? Or should I devise a means of keeping them apart and take the chance that they'll rebel and wander off into the sunset leaving me with nothing. Or will their serious commitment make them more exciting, willing to risk life and limb for each other in a way they didn't before. 

Do you like married crime fighters? Is it possible to keep the sexual tension in a married couple without making them creepy? My own marriage was woefully short, and the only tension I can really remember had more to do with the fact that we annoyed each other beyond belief, so personal experience isn't going to serve me very well on this one. Tell me what you think.


If you are a Robert B. Parker fan

Check this out.


What I Like to Read: Tim Cockey

I love the main character Hitchcock Sewel. He’s in the funeral business, hence the book titles. He’s funny, I like his dog, I like his aunt. I enjoy his take on funerals and the bereaved.I really enjoyed every book in the series, but the publishing gods apparently did not. I heard Tim is writing under a new pseudonym, but if I ever heard what it was I’ve forgotten. If someone could tell me, I’d love to know. I like his writing style and would add his new series to my TBR list if I could.

Update---Tim’s now writing under the pen name Richard Hawke. Try him out, I think you’ll enjoy.


RIP Robert Parker

Img-931-1043_tb  It's the end of an era in crime fiction. Robert B Parker is gone. What am I going to do without a couple of new Parker books every year. How am I going to get my Hawke and Spenser fix. I am bereft. I always enjoyed Spenser's irreverent sense of humor. The complete rightness of his relationship with Hawke. The strict personal moral code they followed even if it meant breaking the law. I enjoyed these guys enough to put up with Susan, and that's really saying something.

And what about Jesse Stone. Is he ever going to get rid of that idiot ex-wife and get on with his life. Is Sunny Randall going to hook up with Jesse when he does? *sigh* I guess I'll never get these answers now.

My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. As a fan I'm saddened but it doesn't come close to the pain they are feeling. Take care of yourselves and know that thousands of fans share your mourning.

God Bless and Rest in Peace


Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Peg Herring

Pegherring 5B(WinCE)

Author Peg Herring is first up in the KdBlog series, Tuesdays with Friends. She writes historical mysteries and has set a blogging schedule for herself that's daunting. I don't know how she had time to drop in at KdBlog but she's here so make her welcome.

Peg, thanks for joining us today.

What’s a Blogger to Do?

 Blogging is everywhere, and the joke is a twist on Churchill: “Never have so many written so much that is read by so few.”

 But writers have to blog; we’re told that repeatedly. Today’s readers want to know more than an author’s name. They want to know the names of her pets, the condition of her office, and most of all, the status of the next book. So for years I blogged five days a week, sharing my thoughts on writing, publishing, marketing, and lots of other stuff.

 Eventually, however, it began to sound repetitive. How many times could I explain how busy a successful writer is? How much depth could I get into on the irritations of plot-knots, characters who won’t behave, and unclear motives?( It’s all at if you’re interested.) In 2010 I’m doing something new, blogging for readers on reader-friendly sites rather than those where mostly writers hang out.

 So what do readers like? I don’t know for sure. I’ve created characters whom I like, and others seem to like them, too, so I’m letting them do the work for a while. My Tudor protagonists get first shot, and they’ll be writing comparisons between their time and ours. Simon, a crippled apprentice gets Mondays. Hannah, a castle servant will be the Tuesday “guest,” and Hugh, a member of the king’s Welsh Guard, will offer opinions on crime and punishment on Wednesdays. Thursdays we’ll have a royal guest who prefers to remain nameless. Let me just say that she has strong opinions on many topics. Fridays will be either posts by me or an author/guest.

 Take a look at one of the sites below (the posts are the same) and see what you think.





It should be a relief not to have to write my own entries every day, right? J


Peg Herring is a former educator who can’t stop writing books. Her first novel, a Scottish romance called MACBETH’S NIECE, was published in 2008. Her second, a mystery called HER HIGHNESS’ FIRST MURDER, begins a series with Elizabeth Tudor as a character. She also has an e-book coming March 25, 2010 from Red Rose Publishing, a Vietnam era mystery called GO HOME AND DIE. Peg loves to travel and speaks at libraries far and wide about writing, reading, and publishing.



Tomorrow Peg Herring joins KdBlog as the first guest on Tuesdays With Friends. Stop by for a visit and make her feel welcome.

Am I Writing Now?

I'm sitting in a restaurant, a book open on the table in front of me. Around me the clatter of silverware against crockery punctuates the soft rumble of voices. In the booth behind me a mother and daughter discuss plans for a nursery. Across the way, the rumble breaks out into laughter and everyone in the the room looks toward the sound and smiles. Before my eyes drop back to the page, I watch the hostess in deep conversation with a busboy. The hostess isn't smiling, the busboy is grinning and ducks into the back unrepentant. The hostess turns smiling to a new customer as they walk in, but the frown remains in her eyes. The businessman with his back to me in the booth on my other side, is having a loud conversation on his cell phone. He's pompous, and arrogant and I feel sorry for his latest customer and check automatically to see that my phone is on silent, then slip it into my purse. I loathe loud cell conversations in restaurants. 

The waiter brings my food, the hostess seats a couple at a table to my left. I savor my meal and eavesdrop unashamedly on their quiet argument. You see, it looks like I'm having a nice meal and enjoying a good book, but actually I'm writing. I won't repeat the argument or the conversations, but I'll use the ambience, the sights and sounds, the annoyance caused by the rude cell phone user. I'll make up a discussion between the hostess and the busboy. I'll tell a joke that will erupt out of the general rumble of conversations.

Another day, I'll sit on the stairs overlooking the beach. I have a big floppy hat, a bottle of water, and a book. My toes are buried in the sand, and I'll lean back and let the sun warm skin and muscles that just recently were bundled in layers against the cold. It looks like I'm just a pasty-white midwesterner enjoying the beach, and I am, but I'm also writing. I'm noting the sound of the crashing waves, the way the light sparkles off the water. The shadows under the pier, the look of the little pile of shells some child has stashed near the foot of the stairs. I make mental notes of the children splashing in the shadows, the squeals of delight as they play tag with a puppy, and the seal-like look of the surfers as they slip through the waves in their wetsuits. I'm enjoying the beach, but I'm also writing.

Every time I see the light dappling through the leaves, or watch a beautiful sunset. When I watch a mother giggle with a child at the park. Any time I see a young man spontaneously drop a kiss on the cheek of his lady, or watch a firetruck race by with lights flashing and sirens whooping, I'm storing away visions for future books. And because I find humor in the absurd, I do the same with misspelled signs, embarrassing moments, (usually my own) or strange and funny encounters with strangers. When you are a writer, you work twenty-four seven. All you do, and all you see is feeding your craft. So if someone catches you staring off into space and asks what you're doing, just say, I'm writing.


What I Like to Read: Sarah Strohmeyer

I love Bubbles. I love Sarah. She’s got a couple of non Bubbles books out, The Cinderella Pact and The Sleeping Beauty Proposal. The Cinderella Pact was made into a Lifetime TV Movie.  Anyway, if you like Bubbles or Sarah, or any of her other books, check out her blog. She’s one of the BookTarts at The Lipstick Chronicles. TLC is an MRED Blog for me. These ladies are funny, their books are terrific and TLC is just a blast. And Margie, well, there’s just no way to explain Margie, you’ll just have to check out TLC yourself for that


Write On Mondays and Tuesdays with Friends

In honor of Twenty-Ten (2010), and because a year with such a cool name deserves something special. KdBlog is starting a some new features. The first one is called Write On Mondays, where I share a writing tip, bring up something writing related that's bugging me or just blather about writing in general. If any of you have been watching you'll note that I've pretty much always talked about something writing related on Mondays, so that's not really something new for Monday's. Actually, the only thing new about it is the name, Write On Monday. 

Feature number two is, Tuesdays with Friends, and it starts next week. Tuesdays with Friends is the day I turn KdBlog over to a guest so they can tell us a funny story, share a writing tip, tell us about their book, or give KdBlog an interview. 

I've already made a bunch of new Tuesday Friends while bringing this feature together. I've also got a nice long list of new books to read. Some of KdBlogs Tuesday guests will feature book giveaways for commenters or maybe even a contest or two. So get ready for some Tuesday fun at KdBlog. And be sure and check out the books our Tuesday friends share. What could be more fun than a chance to find new mystery authors?

Wednesday and Thursday will continue on as usual. Blank unless something funny or absurd catches my eye or one of my family members or myself do something so stupid it has to be shared. 

What I like to Read will continue on Fridays and the weekends will be blog free unless, as noted for Wednesday and Thursday, I do something so stupid I feel I have to share.

Thank you all so much for spending time with me on KdBlog. I hope you enjoy what's going on around here this year. 


Music to Write By

My books have theme music. No, they don't come with a soundtrack, but that would be really cool. Maybe something to work on in the digital version. But that's fodder for another blog post. No, the soundtrack for my books is in my head, or more accurately on my iPod. When I wrote Where the Dreams End, the first Brocs Harley mystery, Dire Straits, Brother's in Arms was the background sound. It's a dark mystery and Brother's in Arms is a dark, mellow album. And lo and behold, when Brocs comes home after a particularly awful day, the CD he slips into the stereo is Dire Straits.

When I wrote Murder at Timber Bridge, book one in the Randi Black mystery series, the Eagles were crooning in the background. I have a lot of good memories associated with the Eagles and apparently so does Randi, because during a long drive home when her life seems to be slipping back into a happier time and overlapping with the hopes and dreams of her youth, she slips in an old Eagles CD. 

I'm alternately working on an edit of an almost complete work, Book Three in the Randi Black Series and starting something new. The Eagles form part of the playlist for Randi along with a little Tim McGraw, and once in a while, a little AC/DC. But what about the soundtrack to the new work? Well, that one hasn't made it's musical preference known yet, but I have no doubt that it will soon, because I have to have music to write by.

Check out Where the Dreams End, featuring Brocs Harley and slip in a little Dire Straits while you read, and don't forget to knock the dust off that Eagles Greatest Hits album, because Murder at Timber Bridge will be out in April and you might just want a little music to read by.


What I Like to Read: David Baldacci

I discovered this book in a vacation cottage in California. I picked it up because I had nothing else to read and I’d already finished the back of the cereal box and the directions for my new printer. It was terrific. I bought it as soon as I got home and this week I just read it again. It’s a great book. David Baldacci is an excellent writer. Wish you well is a sweet story set in the Virginia mountains, but if your tastes run more to thrillers, check out his new paperback, The Collectors. It’s a great cast of characters and an action packed story set right in the heart of Washington DC. 

Check him out, I think you’ll enjoy.


What I Like to Read: J.A. Jance

I think J.A. Jance is terrific. I like all her series work, but my all time favorite is the one featuring J.P. Beaumont. I had the opportunity several years ago to hear Judy Jance speak at a writers conference. She's a great speaker and a better writer. Grab one of her books and meet up with Beau, Sheriff Joanna Brady, or Ali Reynolds, your time with them will be time well spent.