Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Thought to Ponder by Walter Luce

Getting your book published is a great feeling of accomplishment. How many folks do we run into who say to you “I’ve been meaning to write a book”? Most everyone. Well you’ve done it! Be proud! A problem we run into is the business side of being an author or at least it seems that way. We go cold! We seem to think “I’ll let other people worry about that.” No one will care more about your book than you—not your agent, not your publisher or your friends. Only you can own it! 

We have a handbook that was given to us by our publisher that will, if followed, bring you the success and exposure you seek. I’m guilty of not working as hard at promoting as I do at writing. I’m going to make 2016 a year about sales and open that handbook. How about you?

You can view my work on my website. My Donatelli series: Miami Exit Atlanta Exit, and Vermont Bound.  My Eva Pennington series: Eva Pennington, Eva Pennington - Trouble in Georgia, and Eva Pennington - Damsels of Diversion.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sharing A Passion by Nancy LiPetri

I'm excited about Feb. 12th-15th! If you're one of the other 85 million Americans who shares my
passion, then you probably know what event I'm anticipating with camera, binoculars and seed ready: the annual Great Backyard Bird Count . . . or GBBC, as the cool people call it.  Here in Charlotte, North Carolina, we were 2nd on last year's list of localities submitting the most checklists in the country.

Cedar waxwing
Others of you who don't really care about the difference between a chickadee and a nuthatch, or a Bohemian waxwing and a cedar waxwing (shown left, in my tree last year) might assume we birders are a bunch of nutty nerds. After all, there was an entire Hollywood movie, The Big Year, that poked fun at the competitive obsessive type.

Having said that, though, I have to admit I call myself a bird nerd. But I do so in the hopes that, as with fictional characters, it makes me a bit more interesting. Hopefully the mix of my other traits and interests (e.g., boater, stand-up paddle boarder, horseback rider) combined with a fascination with migration patterns and species differences, is more intriguing than bland.

 It's the same reason I love to see writers weave their own hobbies into their stories. Like discovering the NFL's Rosie Greer enjoys needlepoint (yes, I'm old enough to remember that), non-stereotypical combinations of traits bring personalities to life.

Of course those of us who give our multi-dimensional characters our own interests face another problem: people wonder how else the writer is like the murderer/adulterer/sociopath or crazed writer in the story.

If you're an author, what hobbies do you bring into your writing? I know some other Oak Tree Press novelists include birding (a witty rabbi springs to mind). And as a reader, is there a hobby/passion you'd like to see represented more in fiction?

Nancy LiPetri, author of The Wooded Path. Read more about my writing at my blog.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What Are We Worth? by Serita Stevens

Why is it that so few people appreciative of how much work we put into writing? Especially here in Los Angeles, every other person is either an actor waiting to be discovered or a writer with a “fantastic, unique” script just waiting for Steven Spielberg to discover and pay them billions of dollars. Most of them are looking for the fame and (hah) fortune of being a writer. Very few of them really want to do the work required to succeed. They want us to write it for them. They become insistent and upset that we do not see the excellence in their stories and do not want to volunteer our own precious time to make their fortunes.

I reached for the glass of wine from the passing waiter as someone tugged at my sleeve. The tall young man stared down at me. “You…you’re Serita Stevens, the writer?”
I nodded.
“I just love your work, especially your two new books – Logan’s Land, the female-driven western, and your historical novel about Boadicea’s revolt – Heathen Heart. “
I smiled. “Thanks.” I started to move off. He blocked my way.
“Listen, I have this great idea about some kids being killed on a bus and I thought if –“
I frowned, knowing where this was going already. “How far have you gotten?”
“Well, that’s just it. I wondered if you could help me write it. I mean it’s such a great story. It’ll make a ton of money. And the movie… I mean Brad Pitt could be the teacher and –“
“I really don’t…” His face dropped. “Have you outlined it?”
He flushed. “Oh, no. I thought you would do that. I mean you’re such a great writer. Can’t you just see the story?” He waved his arms wildly as if picturing a big screen.
“Everything depends on how it’s executed. Have you done character bios?”
“Well, no.” He gulped down one of the appetizers and grabbed another from the waiter trying to escape before he devoured them all, not leaving anything for the other guests.
 “It’s just me and my friends.”
“So it’s a true story?”
“Well, no. It’s kind of based on…”
“I see. Inspired by true events.”
The young man practically jumped into my arms. “I knew you’d see it. I knew you would. You understand the potential, don’t you?”
“Well…”I hesitated. “True stories are popular if done right. But no, I really don’t see the story. Do you have a theme?”
His blond hair fell forward as he shook his head. “You’re the writer. I thought you would…”
“This is your story.”
“But if you help me…”
“It sounds as if you want more than help. It sounds as if you want me to write the whole thing for you.” I looked around at the crowd, hoping to see someone I knew so I could escape this without being rude.
“You got it. So since it’s my story, we’ll split it 50/50. I expect at least a $25,000 advance. And then there’s the royalties. It’s really going to be a bestseller. Once the book is done, then the movie…”
I almost choked on the wine. “Were you thinking of a work for hire or what?”
“No, I said sharing the profits.”
I shook my head and took the poor novice down to earth as I explained to him that very few publishers paid advances anymore and those that did were very small. Originally, I told him, the advances were to help the writer live while they wrote their book. Now, advances barely touched the surface. “Did you have a budget in mind? I mean to pay the writer?”
He shook his head. “This is going to be a bestseller,” he repeated. “It shouldn’t take long to write.”
Acid churned in my stomach. Did this guy know nothing of first drafts, rewrites, etc.? Apparently not. Stories of successful first drafts abounded, but they were mostly myths. Just like the successful “newly discovered” writer hitting the bestseller list, who actually had written eight or nine books before, which had never seen the light of day.
“First of all, publishers these days want a full manuscript – even if you’ve already had several published. Do you know how long it takes to write a novel or script?”
He shrugged. “A few weeks?”
He saw the look on my face. “Okay, a few months.”
“Maybe a few months – like five or six – and that’s only if you are working full time at the writing of it. Those that have to work other jobs often take much longer to complete their stories. And then the book or script has to be rewritten depending on notes from your agent, editor, producer, actor, director, and public relations. So what were you planning on paying someone to help you write it?”
He shook his head. “It’s going to be a huge seller. Really it is. Brad Pitt… I mean I can see the poster for the movie now.”
“Uh, huh.” I again looked around hoping to find someone I could use as an excuse to break away. “Writing is my livelihood. Living in Los Angeles is expensive.”
“Well, yeah, but –“
I wanted to be gentle and not discourage even such a raw novice. “You only have a one sentence idea, which cannot be copyrighted. You have no theme, no real character bios with goals, desires, flaws or obstacles. And you intend for the writer to do it all with only a promise of 50%. That’s only if the story sells and there is no guarantee of that. What were you thinking of paying ahead? Anything?”
I shook my head.
“Okay, $200? It’s such a super story. Brad –“
Oh boy. “Look, I write my material on speculation. And between assignments from my agent, I scarcely have time for that. I don’t write others material on spec. Have you tried writing an outline of your story?”
He looked askance. “Outline? No, I never…I mean I write from my soul. It’s what’s in my heart.”
He reminded me of my students at USC Master’s Program who became angry when I tried teaching them how to write commercially and sell their material. They wanted to write what I called “belly button writing” from their “inner depths” and they became angry because I was teaching them to write commercially acceptable stories.
“Some people can do write without an outline, but then they get caught in the middle without knowing what to do or where to go. You travel down rabbit trails and lose your story. I outline because it helps me to see ahead and know where I am missing areas of my story and what needs to be developed. It also helps me write faster. Maybe you should try that first and attempt to write the story on your own since you seem to know it so well. Why don’t you pick an inciting incident, pick some plot points, twists, you know…things that develop the characters and move the story forward?”
He was irritated and frustrated with me. He shook his head. “You’re missing a big chance. This…this could really…skyrocket your career. I mean with…”
“I don’t care if Brad Pitt is attached or not, which he isn’t – I mean, it’s not a good idea to say someone’s attached when you don’t have it in writing. People think you’re lying then.”
“Well I sent a letter to his company.”
I gave a sad smile and shook my head knowing that his letter probably went into the trash since he did not go through proper channels.
“When I get the award for best screenplay…”
“Aren’t you a bit ahead of yourself? You don’t even plan on writing the story yourself and you want to take credit for the writing?”
“Well…well…it is my story. Hey! You’d better not steal my idea.”
Finally, I saw my producer friend across the room. “Ideas can’t be copyrighted. Only the execution of them can. Four people can write about kids on a bus and it will all be different depending on who the characters are, what they want, and what their obstacles are.“ I handed the glass back to the passing waiter. “Good luck with your story. The only way it will be what you really want is to write it the way you see it.”
With those last words, I moved away and grabbed another glass of wine. Goodness, I needed it.
The truth is, I am often approached by wanna-be writers who believe they have a great idea. They want the glory and the fame, but not only don’t they want to do the work, they don’t want to pay anyone what it is worth to help them.
Writing expertise is often undervalued and the effort to do the work is underestimated. The fact is many of us with published or produced work also, undervalue ourselves, and agree to work with someone because they are desperate for publication or seeing their writing – or any writing that they have done - on screen or in print.

I have friends who approach me, just as that young man did. They believe because it is their story or idea, they need to get 50% or more of the profits…if there are profits.
Another time early in my career someone made a suggestion for a book – she had done nothing on it and had no background medical knowledge, but because she had had the idea, I foolishly said “Why don’t we write it together?” (I did not realize at the time that ideas could not be copyrighted and I ended up doing most of the writing and had to rewrite her material because of inaccuracies. She still received 50% because we had not written a contract between us.)
Some people even offer us a minimal pay without even checking what the going rate might be.
Many producers, too, ask us to write for free and then they want to own the rights 100% or want to option our stories for a dollar. If you, the writer, feel passionate enough about the story and feel that it will really help your career than you might want to consider it, but understand the amount of work you put into it and get everything in writing of what you will benefit out of it.
(Memories can be fleeting, especially where money’s concerned. I did this with a friend at work who had an idea and because we were friends did not think a written contract was needed. Wrong move. I ended up doing all the work with a few suggestions from him – and yet he believed he deserved 50% of the profits when we sold the script. Because we still have not settled this percentage – the script cannot sell since no producer will buy anything where they believe there will be legal problems.)

If you agree to work with someone do these things.

1.     Set boundaries. Have everything in writing. Who will do what and by when? Be sure you are passionate about the project since it might take years for something. Understand there will probably be rewrites. Know who does what.
2.     Understand your partner’s strengths and weaknesses.
3.     Know your time frame, what other projects you have and how much time you can devote to this on without overwhelming yourself or harming your other projects. Are you really ready to write and rewrite on this?
4.     How well does your partner take notes and suggestions? Is he/she easy to get along with or are they firm on what “their” story is. Are they willing to give you proper credit?
5.     Do research on your partner – if it’s a producer have they ever produced anything before? Do they really have the contacts they claim they do? Most – at least here in Hollywood – are more talk and less action. They will tell you they have major people interested when they might have a minimal conversation (if that) with the star, but no commitment. (If they had commitment, they would have it in writing and would probably have been paid something for it.)
6.     Value yourself. Love yourself and your time. Be sure that you’re giving your own projects enough time. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be so desperate to get published/produced that you take on just anything. Understand what you get out of the partnership.
7.   Again, I will say it again - GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING. If it is not in writing, it will be assumed by the courts that the division is 50-50. Register your writing - $35 online to list your copyright. WGA does not give you protection and neither does the poor man’s copyright of sending it back to yourself in a sealed envelope.

 You can read more about my writing projects at my website.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Roundup: February 5, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! Did you follow along with our author posts this week? Richard Paolinelli (author of Reservations) wrote about the choices a writer makes during the draft stages can improve the final story. His thoughts were prompted by comments made by a recent reviewer. John M. Wills (author of Dancer, A Year Without Christmas, and Healer) rounded out the week with a post on becoming a book reviewer.

Please take a look at these insightful posts and leave your comments and questions for the authors and the OTP community.

We're releasing new titles monthly, so please browse the OTP bookstore for your next good read. You're sure to find it among the compelling memoirs, mysteries, thrillers, westerns, romances, and paranormal tales we have available in the OTP.

Thank you for stopping by our blog for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.

"Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.."
~Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on
Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured. Recently added titles include Dizzy in Durango, A Perception of Murder, and Something to Die For.



Shirley Skufca Hickman's Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book was mentioned on Facebook by Heather Dawson Thuresson, host of "California Life HD." The Facebook post linked to a "California Live HD" video review and interview with Shirley about the book.

The host wrote, "My daughter . . . just read this book & loved it as much as [my other daughter] did when she read it. They're recommending it to their school's AR program."

You can watch the video here.

Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book follows the story of  Elena Hernandez. As they work in the orange groves, her parents are suddenly taken away by uniformed men. Elena believes that Immigration has deported them back to Mexico. Only seventeen, she is left to care for her younger brother, Miguel, and sister, Lupe.

Elena dreams of graduating but may have to leave school to support her family. When a mysterious caller demands money for her parents’ return, Elena is afraid that Rodriguez, the labor contractor who hired her parents, is behind their disappearance. Should she go to the police and risk deportation or stay in the shadows and spend the rest of her life working in the fields?


D.R. Ransdell's Dizzy in Durango was the Thursday Sampler at Venture Galleries on February 4. The novel is the third in the Andy Veracruz mystery series.

Missing women, abandoned children, and a crazy mariachi fan add up to further trouble for Andy Veracruz. After a fellow traveler disappears, he can’t concentrate on vacationing. Worse, he’s saddled with two children who aren’t his, an angry would-be girlfriend, and a self-appointed younger brother who is more reckless than he is. No wonder he starts seeing double!

“A woman disappeared,” Rachel said. “So what?”

“I still have her bag.”

“Andy, you’re making a big deal out of nothing. Again.”

Rachel wasn’t even watching me. She was busy rolling tacos. We were sitting in the kitchen of her cousin’s taquería in Durango, Durango, Mexico, where everyone in town had decided to order crispy fried tacos at the same time. Since two of the employees had called in sick, Rachel was pitching in.

I wasn’t sure how to press my point. Maybe Rachel was right. Maybe it was nothing. But it didn’t feel like nothing. My stomach didn’t say it was nothing. My stomach was in knots.

It had been a rocky twenty-four hours since I’d headed south of the border to catch up with Rachel. She wasn’t exactly my girlfriend, but she was a fellow mariachi player and occasional lover. I hoped this would be one of those occasions, but she hadn’t appreciated my weeks of silence. By the time I’d shown up on her doorstep in Arizona, she was in Mexico visiting cousins.

I’d managed to get on a flight so that I could join her, but mechanical problems in Hermosillo delayed us so long that I’d missed my flight to Durango. Several other passengers were in the same predicament. Luckily Aeroméxico had comped us a decent hotel. I’d been lounging in the pool area anticipating a swim when a fellow passenger joined me on deck. Thanks to the woman’s spiky blond hair and dancing hazel eyes, I’d noticed her in the customer service line.

Claire was en route to Durango to visit a college friend who had taken a teaching job, but meanwhile we had time to flirt. We’d traded insinuations until her cell phone went off and she had to dig around in her bag for it. Before she answered, she nonchalantly asked if I’d watch her bag for a few minutes and strutted off wearing high heels, a red bikini made mostly of straps, and a towel. I watched every move.

She never came back. A day later, I was still trying to figure out what happened to her.

“Are you sure you heard that woman correctly?” Rachel asked.

“I’m a violinist. If there’s anything I trust, it’s my hearing.”

Rachel nodded, but she dismissed the story. The episode could have been featured on the cover of a gossip magazine: woman walks to a pool, leaves her bag, doesn’t return. Happens all the time.

Except that it didn’t happen all the time. . . . 

You can read the full sample here.


John H Gibson's Track Three was recently reviewed by Night Owl Reviews. Naming it a top pick, reviewer Adeshr gives the novel 4.5 stars and writes that it "is action packed and flows throughout. The overall suspense and story plot was well written."

You can read the full review here. 

In Track Three, readers come along for the ride when a popular and top-rated investigative journalist, Elliott Lawder, and Katherine Lambert, a street-wise black British street urchin, are thrown together by the untimely death of an NSA systems analyst. Follow the adventure of our hero and heroine as the story moves at break-neck speed from Washington to London to Brussels to The Netherlands as the two attempts to discover the answer to why every US security agency, including the NSA and the CIA, are trying to kill them.


Several OTP authors and their books have recently been featured on the promotional site Ebook Bump. The site gives a synopsis and reviews and publicizes titles on Twitter.

I Saw You in Beirut by J.L. Greger. A mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” As Sara Almquist is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran, she is forced to remember and re-evaluate characters from her student  days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist. Which of her past decisions put her in jeopardy? Or is her current friendship with Sanders, an urbane state department official, the real reason she’s being attacked?

Something for Nothing by Robert Richter. Set in the swampy lowlands of coastal Nayarit, the novel's locales are perceptively observed, the background history entirely plausible, and the dialogue faithfully echoes the voices of its motley crew of colorful characters. Seeking revenge for the killing of his drifter buddy Gabby MacLean, and hoping to be the first to find the treasure, Cotton Walters steps into a world of danger. An entertaining read from beginning to end! 

Track Three by John H Gibson. Readers come along for the ride when a popular and top-rated investigative journalist, Elliott Lawder, and Katherine Lambert, a street-wise black British street urchin, are thrown together by the untimely death of an NSA systems analyst. Follow the adventure of our hero and heroine as the story moves at break-neck speed from Washington to London to Brussels to The Netherlands as the two attempts to discover the answer to why every US security agency, including the NSA and the CIA, are trying to kill them.


Ghost Writer, by Lorna Collins. (Her Memory Keeper, co-written with husband Larry, was also featured.) In the novel, unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, and she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.


The Wooded Path by Nancy LiPetri. Ever wonder if you’re normal? Laine McClelland sure does. When the mysterious disappearance of a Bunco friend, Paula, shakes her Lake Norman neighborhood, her seemingly perfect world is suddenly filled with dark thoughts, dangerous temptations and surprising confessions. What is normal once you realize life’s short, anyway? Was her marriage ever enough? She finds herself risking it all…and afraid of what really happened to Paula.



I.C. Enger's Black ICE was reviewed by Night Owl Reviews in December. The book is the third in her Lake House Mysteries series. 

Giving the novel an enthusiastic 4 stars and calling the characters "splendid," reviewer Booklister writes, "This exciting novel by I.C. Enger is an exhilarating rush for your mind. Enger does an awesome job of igniting the sensory elements and the development of her characters."

You can read the full review here.

Black ICE delivers a buffet of possibilities into the unknown. Both chilling and thought provoking, it is a page turner with a bombshell ending you won't anticipate. Homeland Security Special Agent Jack Strickland and Brooke Breckenridge are thrown into a maelstrom of intrigue, murder and kidnapping by the discovery of a mysterious silver sphere lying quietly at the bottom of Three Cranes Lake.
This perplexing sphere becomes the center of a mystery involving an ancient Hopi Indian prophecy of the Blue Kachina and a remote cave hidden deep within the earth. The secrets discovered there are both frightening and wondrous. Throw in a troubled teen and suspicions of a leak within Homeland Security, and the fun and games begin.   


Ronald Wendling is currently being featured in a series of short posts in the blog at More Than A Review. Entitled “Memoir and the Effects of Self-Disclosure,” the series began on January 11 with a post on how the self-disclosures in his memoir, Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, affected him. 

He writes, "There is a moment in my recently published memoir when I am at a party wearing the white collar that was then the standard outfit for young Jesuits studying to be Roman Catholic priests. As I stood there chatting it up with other invited guests, I was suddenly struck by the enormity of the distance between the person I was presenting to the world and the quite different one that returned to me as soon as I twisted off that collar, relaxed, and put my feet up."

You can read the full post here.

The series continued on February 3, with another post on how his disclosures affected his family.

He writes, "One of the most honest reactions to my memoir came from a relative who said that he didn’t like books that disclose details of a writer’s life that are none of the reader’s business. I understand that point of view, but my advice to readers like him is to stay away from books like mine.

"I also understand the perspective of my sister, who found growing up in a family like ours even more painful than I did and who was naturally wary of re-living that pain as I presented it in my memoir. But there was also the cousin who backed up my portrayal of one character in our extended family with evidence of behavior on his part far worse than I had suspected."

You can read the full post here.

This series will continue with postings on the effects of self-disclosure on friends, classmates, Jesuits, and former Jesuits, and these too will appear in More Than A Review during the first week of each month from now until the summertime.


Mary Montague Sikes will be teaching the second of two "Creating Collage Art" on Saturday, February 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia.

Mary is also the featured member on the front page of the Chesapeake Bay Writers Club website during the month of February. 

Mary is the author of both novels and nonfiction books published by OTP. You can read about these books as well as her artistic projects at her website.

Her most recent novel is Evening of the Dragonfly. Threatening telephone calls and strange cars with dark-tinted windows plague artist/teacher Farrah Ferand. Recovering from the tragic loss of her mother, Farrah is trying to adapt to the life of a small-town art teacher when she encounters Dirk Lawrence, a mysterious stranger. Her attraction to him is immediate and electric until Farrah discovers Dirk is part of the Lawrence and Pendesky investment firm that led to her mother's downfall a few years earlier.

Farrah's not too perfect dating relationship with Tom Douglas, the town favorite football coach, worsens. An unexpected encounter leads to dates with Dirk and his help with the construction of a dream art studio in her rented house. But trouble looms with Tom who believes he and Farrah are engaged, and the entire town appears to be drawn in. Haunting dreams and lost memories overwhelm Farrah as she creates paintings for a one-person art show. Will shadows of the past ruin all hope for Farrah and Dirk?


Children’s book author and artist Beryl Reichenberg will be taking part in the city of San Luis Obispo monthly Art After Dark event on Friday, February 5. She'll be at the Gallery at the Network at 778 Higuera in San Luis Obispo, California, on Friday, February 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. to show children and adults how to make a valentine bookmark.

Beryl will also be teaching bookmark making at the Paso Robles Public Library at 11th and Park Streets in Paso Robles on Monday, February 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. in conjunction with the annual Take Your Child to the Library Day. This event is mostly for children, although kids under six may need adult help. Adults are also encouraged to join in.

Beryl will be selling her books at the monthly SLO NightWriters meeting in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday, February 9, from 5:15 to 9 PM. 

Beryl is also announcing the publication of her latest picture book, Dancing with Leaves, a story about a little girl named Mary who loves to dance. One fall day she sees leaves dancing in her yard and decides to join them. But a strong wind carries her away and sets her down in the tree tops in a nearby forest. A friendly jay and bear help her climb down and find her way home.

Written for children under the age of seven, especially girls, the book also includes a description of why and how leaves change color in Autumn and encourages kids to draw pictures or write their own story about falling leaves or being lost.

You can read about her writing and purchase her books at her website.


D.R. Ransdell will be signing copies of her books at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire in Glendale, Arizona, on Saturday, February 6. In an anti-Super Bowl move, the city hosts a two-day celebration of chocolate on the weekend of the big game.

D.R. writes that she will be one of several authors signing books and trying not to eat up all the chocolate! Since Dizzy in Durango just came out, she'll be happy to have a chance to show it off.

In the novel -- the third in the Andy Veracruz mystery series -- missing women, abandoned children, and a crazy mariachi fan add up to further trouble for Andy Veracruz. After a fellow traveler disappears, he can’t concentrate on vacationing.

Worse, he’s saddled with two children who aren’t his, an angry would-be girlfriend, and a self-appointed younger brother who is more reckless than he is. No wonder he starts seeing double!



C. Ed Traylor will be signing copies of his novel The Crossing at the Litchfield Public Library in Litchfield, Illinois, on Saturday, February 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

In The Crossing, a routine traffic stop in the Illinois heartland uncovers a sinister secret – a sweeping terrorist plot endangering the lives of thousands of Americans.

Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge against the United States, the obsessive Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized attack that will hit three American cities on the anniversary of September 11. He obtains contact information of Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees -- for a price -- to move terrorists across the border and supply all materials needed for the attacks.

All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped for a speeding violation in Illinois.  There, 400 kilograms of cocaine are discovered, concealed in his vehicle, and he is facing significant prison time. To save himself, Garcia, becomes an informant for agents of the FBI Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

Unbeknownst to the other terrorists, the informant, or the FBI Task Force, Racheed and his partner change plans at the last minute and enter the U.S. at a different location. This unexpected move forces the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?


In preparation for the release of At the Crossroad, the fourth book in the Black Horse Campground mystery series, Amy Bennett is undertaking a blog tour. The lineup is here, with links to each blog where she's being hosted. Follow along, meet new authors, and help her build momentum for the release date!

Friday, January 22

John M. Wills, author of Healer and The Year Without Christmas 

Sunday, January 24
Oak Tree Press blog 

Wednesday, January 27
Marilyn Meredith, author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. and Tempe Crabtree mysteries 

Friday, January 29
Stephen Brayton, author of ALPHA, a Mallory Petersen mystery 

Wednesday, February 3
Janet (J.L.) Greger, author of the Sara Almquist mysteries, including Malignancy, I Saw You in Beirut, and others

Friday, February 5
Ilene Schneider, author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead

Wednesday, February 10
Erin McCole Cupp

Amy encourages readers to stop by each blog and leave a comment. All those who do will be entered in a drawing to win a Black Horse Campground-themed prize and the opportunity to have a character in an upcoming Black Horse Campground mystery named after them!

In At the Crossroads, trouble often comes in threes, and it’s no different at the Black Horse Campground. On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department, J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who have disappeared over a fifteen year period at five-year intervals. It seems that no one has ever taken the cases seriously . . . or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives a visit from two former colleagues who inform him that he’s about to receive another visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’s finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up . . . someone who’s hoping for a second chance with her. In the meantime, Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on discussing personal business with him -- business that has to do with digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.’s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women… and is prepared to kill again?

When trouble comes to Bonney County, Corrie, Rick, and J.D. band together to protect each other and their community. But can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?


David Freedland will be presenting his novel Lincoln 9 on Wednesday, February 10, in Mission Viejo, California, at the Mission Viejo Rotary Club at 7 a.m., and at the Tiagua/Ambar Book Club of Mission Viejo at 6 p.m.

His book will also be available at the Oregon Reserve Police Officers conference being held Saturday, February 27, in Keizer, Oregon.

Lincoln 9 follows the career of Lieutenant Scott Hunter, the consummate cop who rises to the level of responsibility to lead a team of detectives on a mission aimed at connecting the clues and solving these crimes. The story conveys the pressures associated with working within an organization that hires only 4% of its applicants, and whose efforts result in perennial accolades for achieving the lowest numbers of violent crime.

Readers who enjoy the challenges of attempting to solve crime dramas will appreciate the first third of the book, which provides opportunities for the suspect’s identification. In addition, it introduces a look behind the curtain of secrecy shielding the role played by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in the development of leaders.


Lorna Collins will be giving away her new short story, "Be Mine," for free on Kindle from February 10 to 14 as a Valentine's Day gift to reader.

In the story, Emma Macaulay hates Valentine's Day, but when a secret admirer begins to leave her gifts, she begins to question her dislike of the day.

Lorna is the author of Ghost Writer. In the novel, unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, and she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees.

The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.


Serita Stevens will be giving a talk about story pitching do's and don'ts at Women Helping Women in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 21

Serita is the author of the forthcoming Heathen Heart and Deceptive Desires. The latter is a classic story of the American frontier in which a young woman travels to the town of Ruby City, Montana, to find her twin brother, but he does not meet her stagecoach. Though unnerved, she must find her own way in this rugged and unfamiliar country. 


Thonie Hevron co-chairs of the Spotlight Fiction Book Club, a collaboration between Copperfield's Montgomery Village bookstore and Redwood Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club. The Spotlight Fiction Book Club meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at the store in Santa Rosa. Each meeting features a book by one of the club's members.

The spotlight is on the author, but according to the club's website, "The books aren’t the only enticing feature. How about a chat with the authors? You can ask, 'How did you start writing?' or 'What made you pick this time in history for your novel?' or just, 'What about that ending, eh?'"

 Thonie's Intent to Hold will be the May 31st feature. In the novel, Sonoma County Sheriffs' Detectives Nick Reyes and Meredith Ryan travel to Mexico to rescue his kidnapped brother-in-law. Along the way, they battle corrupt cops, natural disasters, and even family to save his wife's brother. A fast-paced read that will have you on the edge of your seat.


Additional details about these events will appear in future Roundups. 

Beryl Reichenberg will be teaching two upcoming paper craft classes for children. On February 19, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., she'll be at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, California

Then on February 28, she'll be at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum in  Santa Maria, California, from 3 to 4 p.m.


We’re always adding OTP ebooks to the collections available for Barnes and Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle readers and apps . E-books are perfect for budget-conscious or on-the-go readers who like to have a library at their fingertips. Remember: you don't need to own a Nook or Kindle device to read e-books. You can read on your computer, smartphone, or tablet by downloading the Nook app from Barnes and Noble and the Kindle app from Amazon.

Dig The Grave First by April Knight (Kindle, Nook). Cameo Easton is a completely honest person. She never lies, she pays her taxes, and obeys all the rules. So why does she have a human skull hidden in the detergent box in her laundry room and a body buried in her flower garden? When Cameo’s brother, Drake is tragically killed in a car accident, she inherits his house in the quiet suburbs of Seattle. While planting flowers in the back yard she discovers a human skeleton. She decides not to call the police until she discovers the identity of the body in her yard. She begins investigating her nice friendly neighbors and discovers none of them are what they appear to be. Little old ladies have dark secrets, a mysterious Scotsman carries a gun and her brother’s best friend has a bigger secret than she ever dreamed. There is no one she can trust. Cameo risks everything to uncover the terrible truth and finds she might be in love with a killer and she has to choose between mercy and justice.

Dizzy in Durango by D.R. Ransdell (Kindle, Nook). Missing women, abandoned children, and a crazy mariachi fan add up to further trouble for Andy Veracruz. After a fellow traveler disappears, he can’t concentrate on vacationing. Worse, he’s saddled with two children who aren’t his, an angry would-be girlfriend, and a self-appointed younger brother who is more reckless than he is. No wonder he starts seeing double!

My Dad's the Wrestling Coach by W. V. Quarters (Kindle, Nook). All Kristen Brockport wants is for her father, the legendary local high school wrestling coach, to stop destroying her burgeoning social life with his intimidating stares and grumpy disposition. She truly loves her dad, especially since her mom walked out on them without warning years before, but his reputation and general demeanor have caused her problems no high school freshman should ever face.

When she develops a teenage crush on his new assistant coach, Mitch, Kristen decides to join her father’s wrestling team, against his stern wishes, but as the season progresses, Kristen forgets about Mitch, and instead focuses more on mysterious senior standout Cal who is hiding a tragic, dark secret. All is going well until her cancer-ravaged mother returns to rekindle their relationship and Kristen is placed in the middle of an awkward reunion. As the championship match unfolds against her dad’s hated rival, Kristen is forced to actually wrestle in the deciding match, a nightmare she never imagined. More importantly, however, she is forced to face some harsh realities about her family and, ultimately, herself.

New York Scramble by Bert Silva (Kindle, Nook). "This is for you, Frank," the shooter said and fired his weapon at point blank range. The one-time boss of the New York underworld grasped his bloodied neck and fell. This begins a curious story where a gangster and a freelance artist become acquainted through a mutual interest in comics. A friend introduces Joe and Gilda to each other in Los Angeles. They venture to New York on a quest for success. He strives to sell cartoons to magazines. She, an actress, seeks roles on stage or screen. A producer Gilda knew in Germany is in the city to promote a major motion picture. His presence will prove to be disastrous for the couple. A shady psychiatrist, dealing in illicit drugs, creates another complication. More bad people become involved. And finally the police.

No Vacancy by Amy Bennett (Kindle, Nook). An ominous note is shoved under the door of the Black Horse Campground store as Corrie Black and her staff celebrate the first “no vacancy” day of the season. But is the note meant to be a warning or a threat? When a man suspected of writing the note is found dead in a cabin, it seems that the threat is averted. Until the man's identity is revealed. Someone from Corrie's past. Someone who knew a lot about the Black Horse family -- a lot more than even Corrie knew. With the help of Bonney County Sheriff Rick Sutton and former Houston PD Lieutenant J.D. Wilder, Corrie has to dig into the past, into secrets that her parents kept, to find out who is threatening her and the Black Horse Campground and what it is they want from Corrie. But the deeper she digs, the more she finds out things that could change her life forever . . . if not end it!

A Perception of Murder by Carl Tiktin (Kindle, Nook). Evan Dorchester, stuck in a mid-level job at an insurance agency, has come up with a way to beat the tedium of actuarial tables and legalese. He’s invented a shadow company, The Good Fortune Insurance Company, and under an alias as its rep, he contacts his real employer’s clients who have taken insurance policies which enrich their companies upon the death of a partner or key employee. “What’s it worth to you,” he asks them, “to guarantee that the insured is deceased by a [date certain]?”

It’s a wonderful prank which Evan delights in performing most days from the lobby pay phones of his office…then one day, Evan gets the news that he has been found out, and he realizes the joke is now on him.

Something for Nothing by Robert Richter (Kindle, Nook). Set in the swampy lowlands of coastal Nayarit, the novel's locales are perceptively observed, the background history entirely plausible, and the dialogue faithfully echoes the voices of its motley crew of colorful characters. Seeking revenge for the killing of his drifter buddy Gabby MacLean, and hoping to be the first to find the treasure, Cotton Walters steps into a world of danger. An entertaining read from beginning to end!


Something to Die For by Robert Richter (Kindle, Nook). Cotton Waters is a gringo expatriate in exile on the Mexican west coast, an illegal alien and ex-political activist with old and unresolved legal problems in the U.S. Known to his cantina buddies as "Algo," or Something in Spanish, for years he's scrounged a lazy fishing village lifestyle and a little beer money out of the Puerto Vallarta tourist trade as tour guide, cultural consultant, and a private hustler of a Mexican Riviera lost-and-found--helping some people get lost and finding others--if the price is right or the client's cause worth the time and interest.

Sudden Justice by Les Hoffman (Kindle, Nook). A Mexican drug lord expands his brutal enterprise into South Texas. An overbearing business executive entraps the women in his employ. A Southern patriarch and his son control a small Alabama town with an iron fist and a thieving hand. These situations have one thing in common.  The perpetrators have found a way to operate outside the law, while the victims have nowhere to turn . . . or do they? Bryce Daniels is a man who understands the pain and frustration of feeling helpless against the power of money and the arrogance that it breeds.

Resurrected from a troubled youth after the death of his father, he is now a family man, engineering professor, and community theater actor with a flair for costuming. But behind these idyllic circumstances, he uses all his skills to help those who find themselves outside the rule of law. Daniels travels from the hills of Texas to the coastal wilds of Alabama to hunt a ruthless enemy, while being hunted himself by an investigative journalist piecing together his vigilante activities. The ensuing roller coaster of events culminates in a dire threat to himself, his family, and the belief system he has built his life around.


J.L. Greger hosted Amy Bennett on her Goodreads blog this week as part of Amy's At the Crossroads blog tour. In the post, Amy talks about "The Art of Juggling for Writers with Other Jobs."

She says, "With the release of my fourth Black Horse Campground novel, At the Crossroad coming up, I keep getting asked the same question: So when are you quitting your job with Walmart?

"Let's say I don't anticipate giving my notice anytime soon. Or to my part time employer, either." 

You can read the full post here. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win a Black Horse Campground-themed gift and a chance to have a character named you in a future book!


Ilene Schneider's blog was also a stop on Amy Bennett's At the Crossroads blog tour this week. In her post, Amy talks about adding local flavor to her stories by including details about the food her characters eat.

She writes, "One thing that always bothers me is reading a book in which the characters never eat.

"While I’ve never been a huge fan of books or series that revolve around recipes, I do enjoy reading about characters that are human. And humans eat!

"I’ve never been one to go on in great detail about food—and you will rarely find food photos on my Facebook page—but what your characters eat can tell a lot about them and their setting. Stories that are set in coastal areas will, most likely, have the characters enjoying seafood. My stories are set in New Mexico and there are some things that New Mexicans eat that are unique to the area."

You can read the complete post here. As with the other blog posts, leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win a Black Horse Campground-themed gift and a chance to have a character named you in a future book!


Lorna Collins blog this week picked up from last week's post about childhood memories and talked about her recollections of Granada Park in Alhambra, California.

She writes, "Last week, I wrote about growing up in the Midwick Tract in Alhambra, California. At the edge of the tract was Granada Park, the hub of activity for the entire area.

"The kids in the tract attended two public schools and the nearby Catholic school, but on weekends and during the summer, we all met at the park."

You can find out about the special features of the park in the full post here.


Beryl Reichenberg is giving away a copy of her children's picture book Meerkats In Danger on Goodreads. The giveaway runs from February 3 to February 11. It's easy to participate in the giveaway by following this link.

You'll need to create a Goodreads account or log in (you're already on Goodreads as an OTP author or avid reader, right?). Then just enter your address to complete your entry. Winners will be notified at the end of the contest.

Meerkats In Danger is about a young meerkat who falls asleep on lookout duty and wakes just in time to warn his group about a hungry eagle descending on his friends and family. This story is written for children under the age of nine and includes a discussion about meerkats and other animals who have a sentry warning system. Children are encouraged to draw pictures and write their own story about meerkats.


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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