Thursday, October 27, 2016

WHAT ARE THE ODDS? by Lois Winston

In fiction authors know to steer clear of circumstances that are considered too coincidental. Readers and reviewers will call them out on it. However, in real life coincidences often occur fairly frequently. For instance, when my husband and I lived in Philadelphia, every few months we’d drive up to New York City for a weekend of museum hopping and Broadway shows. On countless occasions we’d wind up bumping into people we knew from Philadelphia.

Considering the population of Philadelphia and how many people are on the island of Manhattan on any given day, what were the odds of this happening even once, let alone half a dozen times over the course of three or four years? Still, it’s not a trope I’d ever use in a book. Truth might be stranger than fiction, but coincidence stretches the suspension of disbelief too thin for most readers.

However, coincidence did play a role in the creation of Literally Dead, the second book in my Empty Nest Mystery series. An unbelievable coincidence in my own life gave me the idea for one of the plot points in the novel.

A couple of years ago my husband and I reluctantly attended a family reunion given by one of his elderly aunts. (Arm-twisting on the part of his sister played a huge factor in our agreeing to go.) His family is a bit strange. Not only were family members in attendance but so were ex-spouses of family members who had divorced decades ago. I knew very few of the people at the party. My husband’s family is not what you’d call close. We rarely saw any of them, which made the reunion and our invitation to it all the more surprising.

One of the invited guests was an ex-spouse of one of my husband’s relatives. Although we had never met, I knew addiction had played a role in the breakup of their marriage. Imagine my shock when I discovered this ex-relative was someone I knew from the publishing industry! What were the odds?

Even though I’d never write a coincidental meeting into one of my books, my own coincidental meeting of this person at the family reunion wound up playing into the storyline for Literally Dead. And to think, I almost skipped going to that party.

Literally Dead
An Empty Nest Mystery, Book 2

After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring husband Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Pinterest at and onTwitter at Sign up for her newsletter at

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Report on .99 cent sale of Spirit Shapes

My intent was to have Spirit Shapes free on Kindle for a week. The publisher was agreeable, but when he set it up, Amazon had changed its rules and the only thing I could do was to have the price lowered to .99 cents.

This caused a big problem because once the publisher said yes, I promptly advertised through many of the places that promote free e-books. I back-tracked as much as I could, but I'm sure I missed some. Fortunately, I hadn't paid too much for the advertising.

And of course I advertised the deal myself everywhere I could--and at first the numbers on Amazon went down and hovered at 3 figures for a while--but not as much happened as I'd hope for. 

Of course I hoped readers would buy it at the lowered price because it is the perfect Halloween story complete with a haunted house, ghosts and evil spirits, Unfortunately, it didn't happen as I'd hoped.

Why does anyone lower prices on a book? Because Spirit Shapes is part of the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the hope is that if someone likes the cheaper book, that he or she will want to read other books in the series. It certainly worked on the Rocky Bluff book that I offered for free. 

Though disappointing, those who follow me on my blog and Facebook know that I don't give up. 

I'm a writer and I'll keep on writing no matter what. I've done it through crooked publishers, publishers who died, publishers who shut their doors, slow sales, book events where I didn't sell many books, and so on.

I have two things that keep me going:

1. Readers who let me know they love my books. 
2. I want to know what's going to happen to my characters next--after all, I created them.

You can lift MY spirits by trying out the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Seldom Traveled.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Report on the Great Valley Bookfest

On the Friday night before the actual bookfest, we (daughter Lisa and I) were invited to enjoy the Author's Reception. And enjoy we did. We sat with Bob and Carol, long time friends, though I don't get to see them often. Talked to lots of interesting folks. Ate some great food, but most exciting of all was seeing William Kent Krueger. Not only is he one of my favorite writers, but when Mayhem in the Midlands was still the best conference going--hubby and I became friends with him and his wife. We looked forward to seeing them every year.

Kent was the super star of the event. If you haven't read him, try Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone. I love his mystery series too, and he may be one of the best when it comes to setting. 

We headed back to the hotel looking forward to sleeping in those wonderful beds. I slept for about two hours, had to get up to go to the bathroom. On my way back to bed, my heart started beating so fast it made my ears hurt. This has happened before. I had Lisa get me an aspirin and I took it. Usually that calms things down--but it didn't. Then I got a dull ache in my upper back. Scared me. Lisa called 911, the 911 operator told me to chew another aspirin which I did, but it didn't help.

4 Firemen and 2 EMTs arrived. They took my blood pressure, high, and did an EKG, erratic heartbeat. They convinced me I should go to the ER. By the time I was in the ambulance I felt better. Arrived at the hospital, more tests. Blood test showed my magnesium very low--doc said due to taking Nexium. Gave me magnesium tablets and a prescription for more.

(I gave my Seldom Traveled cards to the EMTs and nurses in the hospital.)

We got back to the hotel around 2:30 a.m. Got up next in about 3 hours, went after the prescription, and headed to the book festival. Got set-up and sat there, not really feeling too well. But was tickled when Kent's wife came by and we had a nice conversation. 

I did sell two books and handed out lots of cards, but after lunch I knew I really needed to leave. I hate bailing on something like that, but looking back, I should have given up and not gone at ll. 

We headed home, sleepy as could be. Stayed awake by playing games.

Went to bed not long after getting home. Rested most of Sunday, and yes, I feel much better.

Marilyn, who hates to give up.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Only Two Days Left to Get SPIRIT SHAPES for only .99 cents!

Today and tomorrow--October 21 and 22, are the last days to get a copy of Spirit Shapes for only .99 cents.

This book is perfect for the season--lots of scary stuff.


Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

This is one of my favorites in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series--I had a great time writing it and I hope you'll enjoy reading it. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Girl on the Brink: Recognizing Signs of an Abusive Relationship

 by Christina Hoag

Girl on the Brink: Recognizing Signs of an Abusive Relationship 
My new YA novel Girl on the Brink relates the story of an abusive relationship. Abusers tend to follow a set pattern of behaviors, and when you’re familiar with what they are, they’re recognizable. When you’re not familiar with these red flags, you can misread them or dismiss them too easily. In my novel, the main character Chloe experiences all the following behaviors in her relationship with Kieran. In honor of October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here they are:
10    Key Signs You Are Dating an Abuser
1. Rushed relationship. He presses for an exclusive commitment almost immediately. He claims to have never loved anyone like this before.
2. Jealousy. He’s jealous of any guy you even speak to and says his jealousy shows how much he loves you. He’s possessive, calling constantly, dropping in out of the blue, and gives you little room to yourself.
3. Controlling. He checks up on you, interrogates you about where you went and who you were with, monitors your email and phone. He wants you to ask him permission to do anything.
4. Unrealistic expectations. He puts you on a pedestal, expecting you to be perfect and fulfill his every need, and will tear you off the pedestal when you aren’t perfect.
5. Isolation. He tries to cut you off from family and friends.
6. Blaming. He faults others for his own mistakes and makes others responsible for his feelings: “You make me mad,” not “I'm mad.”
7. Hypersensitive. He’s thin-skinned, taking minor slights as major insults and blowing them up into more than they’re worth.
8. Verbal abuse. He criticizes you, calls you names, embarrasses you, uses your vulnerabilities against you.
9. Mood swings. He goes from normal to raging almost instantly.
10. Minimizes. He minimizes the harm he’s done to you: “You’re making a big deal out of that?” He promises to never do it again or get help. He goes on a charm offensive with gifts after an abusive incident.

Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, August 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She lives in Los Angeles. For more information, see


The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge. Available from Fire & Ice, the YA imprint of Melange Books in ebook and paperback.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Never Giving Up by Marilyn Meredith

When you read about all the things that have happened along the way with my publishing history, you may think I was a bit crazy to keep on going. 

First off, though I did plenty of writing before hand, I didn't become a published author until 1982. Raising a family, serving as PTA president two times, plus other offices, and being a Camp Fire leader for 10 years,  and working as a pre-school and day care teacher kept me quite busy.

Once that book was published, I though it would be easy going from there on. Boy, was I wrong. Here's a list of things that happened, not necessarily in the right order

1. Editor for the first publishing house quit and the new editor wasn't interested in my next offering.

2. Next publisher turned out to be a crook--yes really, he was put in jail for gambling away author's royalties.

3. Who'd expect that I would get mixed up with another crooked publisher--this one absconded with all the author's funds and disappeared.

4. And I managed to find another who never kept track of royalties--and of course I didn't receive any.

5. I signed on with the first electronic publisher--there was no such thing as an e-reader, and the manner to purchase it was much too complicated.

6. Two of my publishers died.

7. Two other publishers decided not to continue on with their businesses.

8. I've not become famous nor do I make much money.

I can hear you big question now--"So why don't you give up?"

My answer: Because I love to write and because I love the characters in both my series. If I don't write the next book, how will I find out what happened to them? Besides, I'm not the type to give up. I'm a writer and I'll not be discouraged.


 This is the latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series--and I've been with this publisher the longest:
And you can find all the Deputy Tempe Crabtree books there in many formats. It is also available at  and

Saturday, October 15, 2016

SPIRIT SHAPES only .99 cents starting October 16!

Though this was supposed to be free, Amazon changed their requirements and it can only have the price lowered, so--

Yes, Spirit Shapes, will only be .99 cents on Kindle from October 16 through October 22. This would be a great way to introduce yourself to the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.


Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

Try it, it's a perfect mystery for the season.