Sunday, May 29, 2011

Author Awakening by Evelyn David

The author of Murder Off the Books, Murder Takes the Cake, and The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries e-book series, Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.  Marian lives in New York and is the author of eleven nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers! For more information on these books, please visit her web site at   Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries. Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person. 

Please check out Evelyn's website at  and their blog – The Stiletto Gang -  for information about Evelyn David's appearance schedule and writing projects.

Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake have been printed in a 2nd Edition with Wolfmont Publishing. Trade paperback and all e-reader formats of both books are available.

The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries include: I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries, The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah, The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah, Undying Love in Lottawatah, and A Haunting in Lottawatah. All e-reader formats of these books are available.

Evelyn David has also written an ebook collection of short romantic stories - Love Lessons


Author Awakening 
by Evelyn David

The topic of authors and how much, when, and by whom they will be paid for their literary efforts has always been part of the creative conversation. Lately we've seen much Internet chatter about major mystery authors boldly walking away from traditional publishers offering bucketloads of money (we definitely consider$500,000 one big sandpail of cash) in order to self-publish their own ebooks.  Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler discuss the long-term financial implications far better than we can (

Also helpful in understanding the history and the future of e-book publishing is Mike Shatzkin's blog ( He gives the long-view of the biggest change in publishing since Johannes Guttenberg printed the Bible on a moveable type printing press (and wanted to be paid for it, by the way).

And then there's the story of 26-year-old Amanda Hocking, who made her first million dollars by self-publishing her paranormal romance tales, and now has elected to sign with the same traditional publisher that Barry Eisler rejected.  But she got a tractor trailer full of cash for her next four books, $2 million in all.

As it happens, the collective Evelyn David has not been late to this particular party. Last October we decided to get on the self-publishing bandwagon and began releasing The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries. The stories feature a psychic who inexplicably ends up in Lottawatah, Oklahoma. It's a small town with a population of 1482 and an unknown number of ghosts wanting to move on, but who need Brianna's help to solve the mysteries that are keeping them tethered to this world. These tales are intriguing, funny, romantic, and have captured our imaginations and stirred our creative juices. Bottom Line: We're having a blast writing this series.

But as every self-published author will tell you, there's work in them thar hills. All of a sudden, we're not only authors, but cover designers, editors, marketing execs, tech wizards, and a myriad of other tasks formerly handled by publisher's staffs.

And the funny thing is: that's more than okay with us. Because what we've discovered about self-publishing is that it feeds directly into our Type-A personalities. In some ways, authors are consummate control freaks.  Who else beside an author (and God) gets to fashion man any which way she wants? We decide who lives and who dies. With a stroke of the keyboard, we can make a character filthy rich – or just filthy.

The payoff has been pleasantly surprising. While neither of us can give up our day jobs, we weren't able to do that with traditional publishers either. But from our self-publishing "empire," we are getting steady monthly checks, rather than waiting for twice-a-year royalty checks. Our cut of the sale price is bigger. The books are released when we are ready – not when the publisher slots us into a schedule.

Lori L. Lake argues convincingly that this self-publishing ebook craze will wane as the market becomes glutted with some good, but many bad books ( But frankly that's always been the case with traditional publishers as well. Cream rises to the top, so to speak. Readers figure out who they want to read – and who was a waste of $2.99.  And it's a lot easier to forgive a bad book if it hasn't set you back $25.

We're not giving up on traditional publishers. Though perhaps a tad late, they too have discovered that they need to figure out a new business model that works for both the author and the publisher. The third book of our Sullivan Investigations Series will be published in print and ebook version by the incomparable Tony Burton of Wolfmont Press. We don't see this as an either/or situation. Sales of our print books helped develop for us an audience who are willing to try our ebooks. The synergy is working.

Special thanks to Kaye who has supported and encouraged Evelyn David from our very first book. We invite all her fans to visit us at our website or stop by our Facebook page at

Any of Kaye's readers who email us the correct answers to the following questions will receive a coupon equal to the purchase price of any one of our e-books at Smashwords ( )  To qualify to win we must receive the emailed answers by 5 pm Eastern time on May 31, 2011. Send your emails to

1. Name the Irish Wolfhound in the Sullivan Investigations Mystery series.
2. Name the English Bulldog in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series.

Special bonus question worth a second coupon – Name the towns and the states where the two mystery series are set. 

What We Love About the South - Flora, Fauna, Yard Art and Stuff

Donald and I both enjoy photography. 

And now we have two cameras, which means we're both constantly snapping pictures all over the place.

If there's one thing I've learned from my friend Jill, it's not to leave the house without my camera.

There's always a fun shot of Harley waiting to be snapped, of course.  And then lately, we've had Little Deer coming to call, and never know when he might be hanging around the yard.

And our neighborhood has a wealth of photo opportunities.

So - here you are - a few random pictures we've taken around our place and our 'hood during the holiday weekend (and a few deer pictures from last week).

Flora, Fauna, Yard Art and "Stuff."


Happy Memorial Day, Everyone!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why We Love Mysteries by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Nancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years. She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News.  A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure.  She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences. 

Readers can read first chapters of books at Nancy's website  go to facebook and look at Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries

Why We Love Mysteries
by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Romance may currently top the list as the best selling genre for fiction and books with vampires are all the rage, but it’s easy to understand why mysteries are timeless mainstays in the world of fiction. Deep down, we are all amateur sleuths.

I’m not saying we spend our days with a magnifying glass in hand looking for clues a la Sherlock Holmes, but we do solve little mysteries regularly and it’s satisfying when we do.

Recently my mom began acting confused and complained she couldn’t sleep. I could have chalked her problems up to her age, but the innate mystery solver in me decided to do a little investigating. It turns out she changed insurance companies at the start of the year. Further sleuthing led to the discovery that her new provider sent her medicine before her old prescription ended. Her new pills treated the same condition and were the same dosage as her previous medicine, but they looked different and had a different name. Without realizing it, she began taking twice her prescribed dose of hypo-thyroid medication. The result was a 93 year old on speed.

When I figured out what was happening and spoke to her physician about it, she congratulated me for having solved a mystery. “Hey, I don’t write mystery novels for nothing,” I laughed, but what I did could have been done by any of us.

We’re all mysteries solvers in our day-to-day lives. Reading mysteries just raises our ordinary experiences to a higher level and lets us have fun seeing if we can solve the mystery before the protagonist does. Often we can, and don’t we feel clever when we do?

Solving a mystery is like solving a logic puzzle—Sudoku on steroids— and if that isn’t fun enough, mysteries can give a reader — or me as a writer — an excuse to delve into a world of fascinating but unsettling things like decomposition, accidental mummification, and how ligature strangulation and death by hypothermia work. When we look at clues and read details about murder, we get to be like a four-year-old playing with rubber dinosaurs: the game is especially enjoyable because we control what might otherwise give us nightmares.  

Mysteries let us share the sleuth’s shoes for a time. From the safety of our favorite reading spot, we get to be daring, crafty, and quick. We get to outwit the murderer within three-hundred pages.

Mysteries offer readers another perk. Not many of the problems we encounter in today’s complex world are easily and cleanly resolved. Mysteries, however, at least the kind I like and write, end with the bad guy getting caught and with justice being served. There’s not much in life that’s more satisfying than that.

Fala, our cat, in her usual summer outpost. This is where she goes when she isn't helping me write and explains why we can't have water in out courtyard fountain

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where I Write by Beth Hoffman

Before beginning her writing career, Beth was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio.  An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Personal interests: Reading, gardening, laughing with girlfriends, and the rescue of abandoned and abused animals.

Where I Write
by Beth Hoffman

When I made the life-altering decision to leave my career in interior design in order to pursue my dream of writing a novel, I had the idealistic thought that I’d take my laptop to the local park and sit at a picnic table overlooking the Ohio River. I imagined my fingers would blaze over the keyboard for hours, and now and then I’d stop to watch a coal barge lumber its way toward West Virginia.

Oh, the serenity of that image was burned into my mind and I couldn’t wait to make it a reality.  But, I soon discovered that I was the kind of writer who needed to work at a desk.

I live in a restored Queen Anne (circa 1902), and on the second floor I created what I call the writing library. The room isn’t very large, but it’s filled with bookshelves and artwork that I love, and it’s the perfect size for my needs. Set in an ashlar-cut stone bay are three windows that overlook the front gardens.

Morning light floods into the room, and it has a fireplace that I keep burning throughout the winter.

This is the room where I imagine, create, and dream. I’m happiest when I’m sitting at my desk in a totally quiet house, writing, researching, and developing characters and scenes.

I do write quite a bit when I’m on location—as in when I visit Savannah or Charleston—bit it’s always back in the hotel room where the notes I’ve taken throughout the day are expanded upon and then worked into my manuscript. I tried writing scenes for Saving CeeCee Honeycutt while sitting in Forsyth Park, and again in Montgomery Square, but I was so distracted with people watching that it proved fruitless. So, back to the hotel room I went.

I have a special totem that means a great deal to me. My great aunt Mildred had a powerful impact upon when I was a child. She was a true Southern lady who possessed great charm and wit. She lived in a big old Greek revival home that I fell in love with, and it was she who lit the fire I carry to this day. My great aunt introduced me to historical homes, antiques, and the power of the written word. In fact, the character of Tootie Caldwell in my novel is based upon my great aunt Mildred. One summer’s day I plucked a stone from her walkway and brought it home with me, and it has since become my totem. I keep it on the fireplace mantle and will oftentimes pick it up and hold it for a moment.

The other thing that I look at to help me stay grounded is a miniature antique carousel horse and teddy bear. From my desk I can peek around my computer screen and look into the den. By the fireplace sits these two happy creatures, and they always remind me to nurture a childlike spirit and not take things too seriously—the good or the bad.

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I love animals, and when I work at home my furbabies are always with me. I enjoy their company, and sometimes I’ll read a passage I’ve just written out loud, and I swear they listen with great interest.

Oreo, the tuxedo kitty shown below, gets right up on my lap and tries to help me write.

And little Frankie likes to sit on the credenza behind me and watch the birds.

Some writers like to have music playing in the background, but I’ve found that I work best in a totally quiet environment. I do enjoy the occasional “Meow” and I never tire of the birdsongs especially those of the red-winged blackbirds.

Beth Hoffman is the author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt—a New York Times bestseller.
You can visit her website at:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ten Things I Learned on My Book Tour (that have nothing to do with books) by Diane Chamberlain

Diane is the bestselling author of twenty novels, including her newest, The Midwife’s Confession.  She grew up in New Jersey and lived for long periods in San Diego and Northern Virginia, but her heart was in North Carolina long before she moved to the state and many of her novels are set there. Formerly a medical social worker and psychotherapist in private practice, she’s been writing “forever” and loves that the imagination that got her into trouble as a kid now pays the mortgage.  Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other and her two Shetland Sheepdogs. 

Ten Things I learned on My Book Tour (that have nothing to do with books)
by Diane Chamberlain

I need to get out more! Yes, I write most mornings at the Opium Den (my local Starbucks), but after touring the past couple of weeks for my novel, The Midwife's Confession, I realized the world has more to offer than the scenery between my house and Starbucks. I thought I'd share with you some of the things I learned.
1.  First, and most important, recipes.
In Wilmington, North Carolina--the setting for Midwife--my publicist, Tori, invited me over for dinner. She and her housemate, Judy, treated me to some great company as well as some super salmon. I'm always looking for a new way to make salmon, since John and I eat it two or three times a week (in an attempt to make up for all the pizza and take-out Chinese we consume). I don't have the exact recipe, but I watched pretty closely as Tori did her thing, and here's what I saw.
Tori's Roasted Salmon Provencal 

Amounts vary according to how many people you want to serve

-cooked potatoes (boiled, baked or nuked) cut into chunks
-veggies cut into chunks (Tori used zucchini and red peppers)
-calamata olives, pitted

Place salmon in a roasting pan, surround with the veggies. Then splash your favorite light bottled Italian dressing over everything and bake uncovered about half an hour. Delish!


I also visited an amazing book club in Charlotte. These women not only read well, they eat well, too. On a perfect evening, I met with thirty club members in the stunning garden of the hostess, Sharon. We sat at tables scattered on the lawn and ate and ate and ate. Oh, yes, we also discussed the book they'd read (my The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes) and they asked thoughtful and provocative questions, but what will stay in my mind for a long time is the ambience, the camaraderie . . . and the lamb! This was far and away the best lamb I've ever tasted, and the woman who made it, Janice Habash, was kind enough to send me the recipe along with permission to share it with you here.
Janice's Leg of Lamb Recipe (adapted from a recipe in Ken Hom's Travels with a Hot Wok )

-Boneless leg of Australian lamb (Janice gets hers at Costco). Trim all the white fat. Janice says this is where the gamey flavor resides. Cutting the fat breaks the lamb up into different sized pieces. One leg is enough for 12+ servings.       

Marinate for  1-2 hours in a combo of:

-Soy sauce 
-Sesame oil (can use olive oil)
-Rosemary- fresh or dried
-Thyme- fresh or dried
-Some type of chili (flakes, cayenne or a garlic chili paste)
-Salt and Pepper

-To cook lamb, broil on high for 15 minutes, turn over and cook for 10-15.  Cooking times depend on the thickness of the pieces. You can also cook on the grill. The mixed sizes means you will have some well done and some med rare at the same cooking time.

2. Il Divo
The second thing I learned came from Tori's housemate, Judy. She introduced me to Il Divo. I knew nothing about Il Divo! I feel so out of it. As I said, I really need to get out more. Their music played in the background as we ate and chatted and it was so beautiful I finally had to ask what it was.  Judy told me about the four tenors Simon Cowell had brought together, and later, she sent me this video, which is pretty enticing whether you have the sound on or not!


3. It's Possible to use an Electric Toothbrush on your Dogs

I stayed with old friends, Joyce and Rachid, in Charlotte, and there I picked up a great tip. . . sort of. I have two Shelties, thanks to Joyce. When my beloved three-legged Bernese Mountain Dog, Bruin, went to the Rainbow Bridge, I decided it was time to downsize.  Rheumatoid Arthritis had left me a bit "imbalanced" (though some friends would argue I'd been that way for a long time already), and a big dog was getting hard to manage. Joyce is a Sheltie lover and she took me to visit a breeder where I was instantly surrounded by balls of energetic fluff. I ended up with two of those fluffballs, Keeper and Jet, brothers from different litters. Shelties are wonderful dogs. Sweet, loyal, great guardians, gentle with kids. But they have terrible teeth. Terrible! I think my vet loves to see a Sheltie walk through his door because he knows he has a guaranteed income stream for the life of the dog. I've tried brushing Keeper and Jet's teeth. It's sort of the same way I am with exercise: I go at it full tilt for a couple of weeks, then I miss a day and the next thing I know I'm paying my monthly fee for nothing. Shelties have these long snouts with hard to reach teeth and they loathe the whole process. Anyway, that's Rachid told me he cleans Mini's teeth (that's adorable Mini in the picture) with a battery-operated toothbrush. So I tried this when I got home. Hmm. I couldn't get near their mouths because just the sound of the brush made them hide, Jet in the laundry room and Keeper under the guest room bed.  Dog owners, I'm open to your suggestions!


4. Southern Women can still be Yankee Fans

Isn't Facebook the greatest invention? I've made so many honest-to-goodness friends there. They may have started out as "fans" of my books, but as we've communicated via Facebook, we've become something more than just "readers" and "writer". Before my signing in Wilmington, I had dinner with FB friends, Tina and Linda, and Tina's "Momma". Of course I loved meeting Tina and Linda after chatting with them on Facebook for a few years, but it was Momma who was the biggest surprise and delight. This born and bred southerner is a diehard Yankee fan. Who would have guessed it? Long ago, she made her passion known to Yankees management and was treated to a special seat in the old Yankee Stadium shortly before its demolition. Plus, she was hugged by Reggie Jackson!  Talking to her reminded me of my father's passion for the Yankees, but he was a) a guy and b) a New Jerseyite. Momma, on the other hand, is an original!


5. I do have male readers!
Okay, they didn't exactly come out in droves, but every place I went, I met at least one or two. Here's Carl from Charlotte, who I believe has read every one of my books. (He says he has a special place in his heart for Annie in Keeper of the Light.) He's surrounded in this picture by some more wonderful 'Facebook friends who've become real-life friends', Debbie and Terri and a few of their family members.


6. Signing Books in an Airport is a Humbling Experience
My fans come to my signings. They make me feel loved, appreciated and accomplished. They sometimes even make me feel famous! But the bookstore at the Charlotte Airport invited me to sign books there two afternoons and the experience definitely cut me down to size, since people were just passing through and no one was there specifically to see me. ("Diane Who??") In two afternoons, I met only one person who'd heard of me. He told me that he and his wife hit the flea markets every weekend looking for my old books, and he bought a signed copy of The Midwife's Confession from me to surprise her.  But sitting there surrounded by Grisham and Picoult and all the other Big Names was humbling indeed.


7. Never Forget to Laugh
When you're working your butt off as I have been the last few years, it's easy to take life too seriously and forget to just kick back. Staying with Joyce and Rachid was such a treat for that reason. It was so relaxed and Joyce and I laughed about stuff from our pasts and our--ahem--aging processes, and our men and our dogs and just life in general. It made me realize how little I let my hair down these days and I hereby resolve to do more of it!


8. It's Nice to Meet People in the Green Room, but Even Better to Meet a Dog

I did some TV interviews on this trip. They're second nature to me now, but with each new book, I find the first interview unnerving. This all goes back to an interview I did about ten years ago. I had a rocky time getting to the station. It was a two-hour drive away from home and an ice storm hit as I was on the road. The car in front of me spun out and I just made it onto the shoulder to avoid a collision. By the time I reached the town where I was to do the interview, I was pretty shaken and I stopped at a 7-11 for a bracing cup of coffee. Back in my car, I found the engine wouldn't turn over. A helpful 7-11 customer fiddled with something under the hood as the minutes edged closer to the time for my interview.  Soon I was on the road again. I rushed into the station and they whisked me onto the live set.  The cameras started rolling even before I caught my breath.  "Tell us what your book's about?" the interviewer asked me.  I stared at the book on the table between us, my mind a complete blank. Seriously. Total dead air on TV. What was my book about??  The interviewer saved me, but I've never forgotten those few seconds of that near-death experience.  Anyhow, all this is to say that the first TV interview of the season always makes me a little nervous. This time, in the green room I chatted with a few other people waiting to be interviewed, but it wasn't until Harold arrived that I truly relaxed. Harold was the adoptable pet of the day. He bounded into the room and I was instantly in love. A huge, friendly hound, he was in my lap and my arms and there he stayed, communing with me in his doggy way until I was called for my interview. This is Harold in the picture. He may still be available for adoption, so if you're interested (he's in the Raleigh area), let me know and I'll get you in touch with the agency. (note: he's BIG).


9. "Forgiveness is a way of Taking Control"
This is the most profound thing I learned on my tour. In addition to eating and listening to Il Divo, Tori and Judy and I got into some heavy discussions--ethical, spiritual, emotional.  During that talk, Judy made the statement above and it has really stuck with me. I don't understand why, but my books nearly always have a theme of forgiveness in them. That's certainly the case with The Midwife's Confession. I'd never thought of forgiving as a way of taking control of a situation, though. It was a real "aha" moment for me. Kind of a heavy thought to ponder, no? I'd love to hear your take on it.

10. There's no place like home
Well, I already knew that, but it's still worth saying!