Category Archives: News

Reading Around

Mysteries + Romance + Audiobooks for the week of Sept 10, 2019

If you’re like me, you’re reading an ebook, a print book and an audiobook (or two). And let’s not get into podcasts because I’ve happily fallen into that rabbit hole, too.

Or, you don’t and you’re wondering how my head hasn’t exploded.

Below are my current reads with links if you’re interested in adding them to your TBR (To Be Read) list/pile/queue.

Cozy Mystery – Kindle

Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook

All the feel good coziness you want in a fall themed cozy mystery, plus a one-ghost rating for spookiness.

Historical Mystery – Kindle Unlimited Audible

Relative Fortunes: A Julia Kydd Novel, Book 1 by Marlowe Benn; Narrated by Sarah Zimmerman

At first I had a tough time getting behind this 1920s-era amateur sleuth. She’s motivated by financial gain to solve the suicide or murder of a suffragette. The more she understands the plight of the woman on the front lines to secure the 19th Amendment, the more she realizes that without her privilege, she is just as vulnerable as the next woman.

Red Herring: True Crime Audible

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker; Narrated by Sean Pratt

I’m listening to this in bits and bites. It’s hard to listen to one downfall story after the next. But strangely compelling. I’ll keep you posted.

I use affiliate links to Amazon.

Getting organized

I’m putting together a Dori O. Read Along and a Beta Reader & Listener Tribe.

If you’re like to do a read along of the Dori O. series, please sign up here and we’ll coordinate dates and times and places and all that stuff to make it fun!

If you love getting first, never-before-seen copies of my new books and/or audiobooks, please sign up for my Beta Tribe. (We need to come up with a better name but we’ll get to that later!) As a beta reader/listener, you’ll help me out by leaving reviews, taking some cool Facebook and/or Bookstagram pics and sharing with the world why you love the books.

Thanks for making it all happen! Without readers, these books would just linger in the ether. And that’s not very fun!

Mary at Wondercon 2019

This is my very first Wonder Con signing and if you’re planning to be there, come say hi!

I’ll be in the Broad Universe Booth #902 signing at 10 a.m. on Saturday March 30th. If you’re not an early riser, I’ll be there all day Saturday and Sunday managing the booth. I can’t wait to chat with you and sign special edition print copies of Lost in Whispers + Girl in the Mist and Lost in Whispers.

Here’s our booth line-up so you can stock up your TBR pile!

  • D.D. Croix writes YA fantasy set in Queen Victoria’s court about a misfit maid with a magical pet dragonfly. Sort of HARRY POTTER x DOWNTON ABBEY
  • Angela Shelley writes middle-grade fantasy featuring a necromancer girl sent on a quest by an artifact-hunting wizard where she must learn magic to battle an undead sorcerer, monsters, pirates, massive storms, and zombie chickens.
  • Jennifer Lynn Wines wrote a young adult paranormal mystery feature a teenage girl who must solve a century old murder.
  • Paranormal romance author and self-proclaimed “Smut Mongering Minx” Cynthia Diamond offers stories full of humor and adventure featuring strong women, passionate men, and worlds where consent is always sexy.
  • Join paranormal and sci-fi romance author Tessa McFionn and discover worlds where heroes do exist, heroines are quite capable of rescuing themselves, and where love truly conquers all. Time to believe in magic.
  • Eddie Louise writes Steampunk mad science. Think Frankenstein meets Quantum Leap.
  • Zenobia Neil writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun.

Schedule

Lost in the Light audiobook finals in ABR Audiobook Listeners Choice Awards

NEWS

Lost in the Light is a finalist in the Mystery category for the 2018 ABR Audiobook Listeners Choice Awards!

This is such an incredible moment. I started from scratch not knowing if I had the chops to narrate an entire audiobook or figure out how to produce it. But thanks to all of the tools provided by ACX, my podcast listeners as well as my background in high school theatre, I pulled it off!

Seriously, to be included in the finalist category is an honor.

Thank you and congratulations to my fellow nominees.

NaNoWriMo Tip 2: How to Make Your Goal

I should’ve added, “How to Make Your Goal Without Losing Your Mind.”

So this is by no means the absolute, fool-proof, 100% guaranteed list of how to achieve your NaNoWriMo goals. It is what works for me and I share this with the goal that it might stimulate you to come up with ways that will work for you.

Here we go:

  1. Understand how you write. I’ve been doing this writing thing since 1994. One would think I had it figured out. But life changes. The demands on your attention and energy change. You develop back problems and the old eyes stop working the way they used to. I was trying to do the same old routine: sit my behind down for an hour and write without a break. I can tell you what that accomplished: a page or two of work and way too much Facebook scrolling, sharing, liking and commenting. I read and practiced The Chunky Method and it changed my writing life for the better. I learned that I have an optimal 15 minute attention span. So I set my stopwatch and within an hour I work in 15 minute segments. And guess what? I write like the damn house was on fire in those 15 minute sessions! Do I say and not as I once did: rather than write the way you think you should write, embrace your work style and make it work for you!
  2. Give yourself a break. Oh I just heard that groan. I’m a mama so I also caught that eyeroll with the eyes on the backof my head, too! But seriously, give yourself a break. Even if it’s just to stand up, do some wrist circles or scream into a pillow, moving re-energizes the body and mind. My personal favorite is to do the dishes. Maybe it’s the flow of the water but it just gives my mind a release and then those characters start up again and I’m ready for my next 15 minute session.
  3. There will be days you can’t work and that’s okay. This is a judgment-free zone. Life happens. Kids get sick. You get sick. Someone at work gets sick and you have to pick up the ball. On days when I can’t write (and boy do I get a grumpy!), I remind myself that the world is always there. Because really, where the hell is it going to go? What will the characters do without you? I find that the simple statement, “The world is always there,” lifts the stress off my shoulders and prepares me to jump in mess up my characters’ lives even more.
  4. Meditate. Dude, this changed my life. I’m telling you the truth. A short prayer followed by a ten-minute session of quiet gets me in the world and ready to go. I’ve now started meditating after my writing session to transition into family time or work. I highly recommend davidji‘s Sweetspot Online Community for free meditations. He brings ancient meditation techniques to the modern world and he’s a funny guy. Plus Rocky the pug may have a crush on Peaches the Buddha Princess.
  5. Turn off social media. In fact as soon as finish reading this, do yourself a favor and turn off your browser. Set your mobile to Airplane mode, throw the wireless thing-of-boob out the window and get writing!

Entrances

The hardest part of a story to write is the first line. Speaking from my experience as a reader (e.g. what pulls me into a story) and a writer (what has sold my work), a character has to make an entrance. Or, if told in the first person, a statement. I don’t mean just having someone walk through a door, or wake up in bed and most definitely not stare at herself in the mirror over the bathroom sink. Characters arrive. They have a presence that makes you turn to the next page and the next until the end when you (hopefully) wish the book hadn’t ended so soon.

When I think of great entrances, I remember the night I watched The Seven Year Itch on the big screen in downtown LA. When Marilyn’s fan cord stuck in the doorway, three hundred of us gasped in the dark. We held our breath at the palpable energy that radiated from her 50 years after she’d shot that scene.

Right now, or rather right before I began this blog, I arrived at the phase of my WIP when it’s time to write the first line. Some lines appear just like that. Some take a few drafts or they hide from me until I realize that the first 20 pages I wrote don’t belong in the book. The only way I know that I have the first line is when (a) it no longer bugs me in the middle of the night, and (b) when it makes me sit up and shout, “Whoa!”

So here I go into territory unknown and still no first line in sight. But I figure it’ll show up sooner or later.

And speaking of signs…


When I logged into my Facebook page last night, Selina McLemore left me a little present that Latina Magazine choose Names I Call My Sister and In Between Men for their Top 10 Summer Reads!

No way! WAY!!!

So back to last night … Just when I was about to shake my groove thing, the Little Dude peed all over the bathroom floor. You know what I did? I let Daddy clean it up while I basked in my glory.

(Singing)

Shake you groove thing, shake your groove thing oh yeah!
Show ’em how you do it now

And now its back to work but with a smile on my face.

Thanks Selina! And MUCHAS GRACIAS Latina Magazine!

Beginner’s Mind

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

-Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This week I began a page one rewrite of my mariachi book. I know, I know. I’ve been working on this book for three years. The writing experts would’ve told me to give up and move on to more profitable pastures. Actually, three years ago I would’ve told myself the same thing.

But the last eight weeks (and being dumped by my agent) have shown me the number one reason why this book has yet to fly. It’s not the fault of my agents or readers. It’s not because the market sucks or Mercury in retrograde. It’s because I worked on it with the mind that I knew what I was doing.

I’m not saying that this journey has been wrong. I’m not blaming anyone or anything or labeling my decisions as mistakes. In fact, I’m beginning to waver on the concept of right versus wrong and adopting the idea of “what is.” (Note to Karen Maezen Miller: you’re rubbing off on me, comadre!) For us Westerners, specifically for us writers striving to become published/acknowledged/adored, the idea of “it is what it is” is wrong and scary and exclusive to authors with a lot of money and mileage on the best-seller lists.

Through all of May and June I wrote a pilot script, a series treatment and then a spec script. I began those projects never having taken a TV writing course or having written a script for TV. (Although I’d taken screenwriting courses in university, that was 15 years ago and I’d lost those class notes!) How did I do it? Well, I did it by pinching my nose and jumping in. This journey turned everything I had believed in as a writer upside down. I believed in business plans, outlines, the three-act structure and 10,000 hours of practice. I believed that I had to get away from my beginner’s status as quickly and efficiently as possible. I even believed that my producer should have hired an experienced screenwriter instead of a beginner like me.

But then I remembered what Nora Roberts had said in one her chat sessions back in 1994. Someone asked if she ever got over the fear of writing a new book. Nora, who has written something like 120+ books in her career, replied, “No. Starting a new book is like starting all over again.”

At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought it was nice of Nora to say that to all us beginners, but now I know what she meant and it freed me to write the pilot, spec and treatment. No matter how many books or screenplays I may end up writing, I will always be a beginner. It’s not scary or discouraging. A beginner’s mind isn’t hemmed in by business plans, right vs. wrong, plot-driven or character-driven or the three-act structure. A beginner’s mind damns the consequences and is open to spontaniety and “what if.” Isn’t that what we writers do?