Catching Up with Rosemary Lord!

Late to the party, as usual – but I have just returned from visiting my family in England.

            During our earlier Blogs I was away much of the time, in Kentucky, where my husband Rick and I were going back and forth, taking care of my ailing mother-in-law – until she finally passed away.
            The thing that kept me sane during that time was the support of my WinR writer friends.
            They encouraged me to keep going with my first mystery novel. After years working as an actress and a journalist, I was now the author of two non-fiction history books:

Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now. I really wasn’t sure that I could ever complete a mystery novel: what did I know about this genre?  And so I tentatively started, “Lottie,”  about an English girl who works as an extra in silent movies in 1925 Hollywood. After her best friend is murdered Lottie vows to find the killer.  I lost myself in the world of Hollywoodduring Prohibition and fell in love with the characters that appeared on the pages.  In our WinR group we read each others pages and gave feed-back.  I felt way behind the other girls, as Gayle, Jackie and Miriam were already onto their next books, but I kept going.
            In between my seemingly endless trips to Kentucky- little by little, with their encouragement, I worked my way through 400 pages until I finally wrote “The End.” We celebrated at The Rose Tree Cottage with a proper English Tea.
            Now the next step was to get an agent and sell it. Harder than I had imagined, I researched, networked and submitted my novel and got positive responses, but no contract yet. As my mother-in-law had died, I had more time to work and so I began to write the second in the series, “Seven For a Secret…”

* * * * *

            Then, without warning, my darling husband Rick Cameron died of a massive heart attack. My world stopped. My WinR friends rallied round me once again.
            I did not have the heart to continue writing about Lottie. I could not even face submitting her to agents and publishers. I had a contract and a deadline to write the updated, revised versions of my Hollywoodhistory books. I plowed through this as it was dates, facts, research and not as emotional as my fiction writing on my novel.
            A welcome distraction, I became consumed in saving a Hollywoodhistoric building, The Woman’s Club of Hollywood, from being turned into condos.
            But still I could not bring myself to return to my novel “Lottie.” Meanwhile, our WinR group now had two wonderful additions, Kate Thornton and Madeline Gornell and we had decided to revive our Blog.
            I retreated back to Englandto spend healing time with my brothers and sister and their children. They reminded me how proud Rick was of my writing – and especially of my Lottie Topaz novel.

            My dear WinR friends have been very patient waiting for me to emerge from my dark cocoon. Without them I would not be writing this, the first step back. And today I pulled out my Lottie files and started some notes for the next literary agent who will get the chance to read about Lottie. So I guess I have my New Year’s resolution …….

Catching Up with Miko Johnston

I can honestly say writing has changed my life.
Shortly before the Writers in Residence blog folded, I decided to submit a short story to Sisters in Crime LA for publication in their 2010 anthology, Murder in La-La Land. The story was rejected, which devastated me. I resolved to get published in the next anthology and I’m pleased to say that two years later, my story, “By Anonymous” was included in LAst Exit to Murder.
Meanwhile I began polishing the novel I’d written, A Petal In The Wind, the first book in my series of three historical novels. While finishing the second book, two of my characters defied my attempts to keep them apart, which forced the need for a fourth novel to complete the series. After I finished book two, I intended to self publish the series. However, my Writers in Residence friends urged me to try traditional publishing first. Both Madeline and Bonnie recommended Champlain Avenue Books, so I queried the publisher regarding my first novel, mentioning I’d finished the second book and was writing number three. I’m thrilled to announce that on July 4th, Champlain offered me a two-book contract with options on the rest of the series. A Petal In The Wind was released in November; A Petal In The Wind II will be published in 2015.
Last year my husband and I moved from Southern California to Washington (the big one) and now live on Whidbey Island. We still have our house in SoCal, which we visit several times a year. I schedule our trips to LA so I can join my Writers in Residence friends for our monthly lunch date. I’ve been fortunate to meet gifted writers in my new hometown who’ve become dear friends over the past year as well. As they say, “New friends and old, silver and gold”, which is why writing has truly changed my life.

Holiday Read Recommendations from the WinRs!

The holidays are here, and it’s always nice to get cozy with a book that takes place during the season! We have a few books we’d like to recommend to you. Be sure to check out the Christmas-themed books by our own members, which are listed at the end of the blog!

We wish you all a wonderful, safe holiday season.

Merry, Merry Ghost  by Carolyn Hart

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

It’s not a mystery, but it will leave you feeling pretty darn good about life.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

Christmas Party by Nero Wolf

This is part of a collection of short stories set around various holidays.

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers

She really sets the mood, and you’ll learn more about bell ringing than you thought possible.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder with Joanna Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier

A collection of stories by three great authors.

Murder for Christmas Anthology

Murder, murder, and more murder, and by some of the greatest mystery writers who ever lived!

And of course we have some of the WinR’s Christmas themed-books.

Bearnard’s Christmas by G.B. Pool

Don’t you just love Bearnard?  Gayle made him by hand!

The Santa Clause Singer by G.B. Pool

An out-of-work lounge singer ends up playing Santa Claus at the mall and makes a very sick young girl a promise that could cost him everything.

Family Matters by Jacqueline Vick

A Wilder Women mystery.

Rubies for Christmas by Jacqueline Vick

A Wilder Women short mystery.

Kitty Christmas Caper

A Frankie Chandler pet psychic short mystery.

Catching Up with M.M. Gornell

What have I been doing since Jacqueline Vick and I last chatted? Looking back over what I would call my “accomplishments” during this last year, I’m at a loss. I can’t even comprehend a whole year has passed. Needless to say, my yardstick is what I’ve written (and promotions, too, but not so much).

In January I was working on my novel, Rhodes – The Mojave-Stone, and here in December, I’m still working on the same book! Not that there aren’t other book ideas floating around in my mind, and I have written synopsis or intro-paragraphs for several—mainly I’ve been struggling with my current WIP. Happy to say, I finally feel it’s almost there…

I can say Counsel of Ravens garnered a couple awards which I am very thankful for, and I attended Left Coast Crime in Monterrey, and the PSWA Conference in Vegas. Hard to explain how important these type of events are, along with the supportive and re-energizing writing cohorts you catch-up with at them. On the supportive cohorts front, right now thinking particularly about Writers in Residence!

Catching Up with G.B. Pool

Words Are My Life

It’s been a few years since we at Writers in Residence have posted and we all have a story to tell. Maybe that’s why we decided to dust off the blog and tell you about what’s been happening.

As for me, my back has been acting up and that has given me a great deal of time to write. Both my Johnny Casino Casebook series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. series have two additional books to keep the original ones from getting lonely on the shelf.

I found that Johnny’s past (The first casebook is subtitled Past Imperfect) led to a bunch of new stories. Johnny really found himself in the second book (subtitled Looking for Johnny Nobody). Digging deeper into his back story revealed things even Johnny didn’t know. In book three (subtitle Just Shoot Me) Johnny is working on several cases and it turns out some are connected.

Gin Caulfield is back in the private detective business in book two, Hedge Bet. This is where she belongs. It’s in her blood. I used to work in banking, playing with stocks and bonds. Gin gets a crash course that nearly kills her. And Damning Evidence, the third in the series, takes her on a ride you won’t soon forget. It takes place up at the old Tujunga Dam… a scarier place there never was. This is where Gin is pitted against a guy who threatens not only her but a vast portion of southern California.

I even wrote a stand-alone called Eddie Buick’s Last Case that features detective writer Frank Pennell who penned the famous fictional detective, Eddie Buick, a 60’s era gumshoe. When Frank’s family is killed, he goes on a binge and nearly kills himself, but Frank is saved by a guy who looks awfully familiar. The guy who helps him is his fictional sleuth: Eddie Buick.

But that isn’t all that came off the presses. I tried my hand at a Young Adult Romantic Fantasy (YARF) that features a lovely young girl who grows into a beautiful woman who has fallen in love with someone she thinks is a ghost. What he really turns out to be is the stuff of fantasy. The title: Enchanted – The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier.

Then there is The Santa Claus Singer. An out-of-work lounge singer in Las Vegas ends up playing Santa Claus at the mall and makes a very sick young girl a promise that could cost him everything. But sometimes the best gift you can give is yourself.

And last, but not least, a story near and dear to my heart and one that features photos of many of the Christmas decorations in my home and miniature houses I built, is Bearnard’s Christmas. It’s the story of Elaine Ivy, a woman who loves animals, but sometimes she gets herself into trouble trying to defend them. Even her husband tells her she can’t save them all. At a Christmas Party she is given a stuffed Polar bear. A magical voice tells her its name is “Bearnard.” On Christmas Eve, Elaine falls asleep under the tree and wakes up at the North Pole where she meets Santa Claus, Mrs. C and a big Polar bear named Bearnard. It turns out even the animals at the North Pole need a little help, but it will take more than human kindness this time to make everything right.

I guess writers can’t help themselves. We have to write. Those words need an outlet and we at Writers in Residence keep finding a few more to share with readers. We are a diverse group, but our books can be enjoyed by all types of readers. I guess the fact we enjoy each other’s work will testify to that.

Happy reading. We’ll keep writing.

Welcoming the Newest Writers in Residence

melting momma by bethography

Writer’s in Residence has grown!  We’ve made room for two uber-talented new members, M.M. Gornell and Kate Thornton.  

Gornell is known for her Route 66 Mysteries, and she pulls you into  her character’s lives with ease. Thornton has more than 100 short stories in print along with a few novels. Both are extremely gifted at crafting stories that will stay on your mind long after you put the book down.

Here are links to past interviews with the authors, so you can get acquainted with them. We will be giving updates–filling in the gaps since we were last together–on ALL of our WinRs next week, so you can catch up with them, just like old friends. We’ll supply the coffee. (But we’ll percolate it, of course.)

From NARA, Taken by Lewis Hine, 1874-1940

Interview with M.M. Gornell from A Writer’s Jumble, January 6, 2014

Interview with Kate Thornton from Writers in Residence, June 27, 2010.

"Speed dating" with Authors at Burbank Public Library!

***Pardon our dust while we revamp the WinR blog, but this information was too juicy not to pass on!***

You’ve heard of speed dating – where people hop from table to table in the hopes of meeting the love of their life.  Well, Burbank Public Library is hosting an author showcase that is pretty comparable, except with authors, there are no in-laws, no toilet seats left up (or put down, depending on your preference), and, unlike dating partners, their books are guaranteed to bring you pleasure for the rest of your life!

The event takes place at the Burbank Public Library, 300 North Buena Vista Street, from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 18.  Here is more information.

We are so excited!  A few of our WinRs will be there:

Bonnie Schroeder will sign copies of her breathtaking debut novel, “Mending Dreams”.

Gayle Pool, who writes under GB Pool, will bring copies of BOTH her Gin Caulfield series AND her Johnny Casino series.

Other dear friends will be there, such as Alice Zogg, who writes series starring the lady detective  R.A. Huber and her motorcycle-riding assistant, Andi. Get a peek at her new standalone novel, “A Bet Turned Deadly”.

We hope to see you there!

Jacqueline Vick’s Blog: A Writer’s Jumble: Bonnie Schroeder Lives Her Dream with "Mending Dre…

Jacqueline Vick’s Blog: A Writer’s Jumble: Bonnie Schroeder Lives Her Dream with “Mending Dre…: Bonnie Schroeder started telling stories in the 5th grade and never stopped. After escaping from the business world, she began writing f…

Weight Loss for Writers, or How I Trim Ugly Fat from My Manuscripts by Jackie Houchin

Okay, I’ve followed up on those cool ideas for articles (part I). I’ve conducted my interviews, checked my facts and written my piece (part II). Now I’m ready to submit my story (along with the invoice, of course) and wait for my check to arrive, right?


There’s one more step to take before I hit that “SEND” button. I must get out the scale and weigh my chubby little darling. What I usually discover is not pretty. My manuscript is not the lean, fit article I thought it was. There are double chins, love handles, and soft, flabby appendages. Eek! Now what?

Editing, like dieting and exercise, is not fun, but if I want a story tough enough to make it to publication, I must be ruthless.

Portion Control

The first thing I check is Word Count. Whether it’s a magazine guideline or an editor stipulation, I usually know the approximate number of words I can use. Mystery Scene Magazine limits reviews to 250 words. Some newsletters want no more than 400. The local newspapers I write for stipulate 600-700 words for articles, with an occasional “feature” story at 1,000-1,500.

Microsoft Word 2007 keeps a running count at the bottom of the document window. It also gives an accurate character/word/sentence count in its “grammar check” feature. I have no excuse for word count bulge.

If I’m only slightly over, I do a quick scan for superfluous words (“tiny little” to “tiny”). If I’ve switched words, I make sure I’ve eliminated the previous one (I drove the my car). Of the 15 times I used the word “just” I take out all but one.

Hyphenations change two words into one, so do contractions if the tone of the piece allows it. This is not exactly cheating.

Sentences average about 10 words, so if I can cut one word from each sentence, I’ve reduced my count by 10 percent. (I usually shoot for 20 percent.)

If I’m way over count, major surgery is required. I view the piece as a whole and consider where I can condense or cut entire paragraphs. I’m always surprised when this makes my article stronger. (Imagine how great you would feel if you could loose 15 pounds of fat overnight!)

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

Okay, my article is now comfortably within the allowed word count. Is it ready to submit? Not quite. While I have my red pencil out (finger hovering over the DELETE key) I review it once more, this time checking the “nutritional” value of my words.

I look for cliches (“pretty as a picture”), delaying words (“It seems that…”), redundancies (“I thought to myself,” “large in size“), and grand phrases (Institute of higher learning” instead of “college.”)

I change empty calories into powerhouse protein; “a dead body” is upgraded to “a corpse;” “he said in a loud voice” to “he shouted;” “dark golden horse” to “Palomino;” and “really very funny” to “hilarious.”

I exchange fat for fiber (the passive “was meeting” becomes the active “met”), and remove bloated descriptive words (some adjectives, most adverbs). Away with those unhealthy words and phrases! I want fat-burning, muscle-building prose!

Lean at last!

Editing is not easy. It hurts to cut away words and phrases (or paragraphs) that I thought at first were brilliant. I do it because I want my articles to be published. If I want clips, creds, and checks, I have to work (and re-work) at it. As they say, “No pain, no gain.”

Wait, was that a cliche? Darn!

%d bloggers like this: