A rejection that didn’t hurt by Maryann Miller

I had one of those rare experiences recently that only happen to a writer once or twice in a lifetime.


A rejection that didn’t hurt.


I was talking to an editor who had to turn down an idea I have for a book, but he was so nice about it, it was hard for me to remember he was saying “no.” That was such a pleasant change from the rejections that would send me reeling…


“How dare they not LOVE my book?”


“My life is ruined.”


“It’s a conspiracy. I know it is.”


Sounds a little paranoid, I know, but for a long time the only thing I had to attest to my credibility as a writer was my basic insecurity.


Writers are insecure for a lot of reasons. Some of us were born that way, but for others, it’s accumulated over the years like a fringe “unbenefit.”


Not only do we have to deal with the possibility, and reality, of rejection on a continuing basis, we also work in a professional vacuum. We don’t get to discuss the latest Idol reject at the water cooler or get some direct feedback on the day-to-day ac­complishments of our job. Nobody here to pat me on the back except my cat, and he’d rather sleep in front of my monitor.


Sometimes this isolation is so intense, I feel like I’m in the middle of a desert, and one kind word about my work can be as refreshing as a drop of nectar.


We all know that we write because we think we have something to say, hopefully, something important and meaningful. Even when we get discouraged, we seem to still be drawn to the keyboard – if the cat will let us – to impart some new words of wisdom. But if that was all there was to it, we wouldn’t care if our words ever saw print. And I have yet to meet a writer who didn’t care. It’s good to want to say all those nice things, but the whole process would undeniably be meaningless if no one was ever going to read what we write.


The added bonus comes when someone reads the work and thinks it’s good. Or bet­ter yet, great, wonder­ful, fantastic and ter­rific. Family members don’t count since they may be more than a lit­tle prejudiced, especial­ly if they think dinner may hang in the balance. So, I am always thrilled when I get a note from a reader who enjoyed one of my books and took the time to let me know.


Those notes have prompted me to let other authors know that I’ve enjoyed their stories. I’ve also come to be more diligent in writing reviews on my blog, as well as on Amazon and Goodreads. That is my way of paying it forward. We are together in this wacky world of writing, with all of it’s peaks and valleys, and mutual support goes a long way.


It is also a good way to promote each other. Share about that last great read you enjoyed. Post all over social media, and those authors will, in turn, share about your books. This kind of author-to-author support is priceless.

Maryann Miller is an award-winning author of numerous books, screenplays, and stage plays. She started her professional career as a journalist, writing columns, feature stories, and short fiction for regional and national publications. Now she writes primarily mysteries, including the critically-acclaimed Seasons Mystery Series that features two women homicide detectives. Think “Lethal Weapon” set in Dallas with female leads. The first two books in the series, Open Season and Stalking Season have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal. Stalking Season was chosen for the John E. Weaver Excellence in Reading award for Police Procedural Mysteries. Her mystery, Doubletake, was honored as the Best Mystery for 2015 by the Texas Association of Authors.

Among the other awards Miller has received for her writing are the Page Edwards Short Story Award, the New York Library Best Books for Teens Award, first place in the screenwriting competition at the Houston Writer’s Conference, placing as a semi-finalist at Sundance, and placing as a semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Competition. She was named The Trails Country Treasure in 2011 by the Winnsboro Center for the Arts, and Woman of the Year in 2014 by the Winnsboro Area Chamber of Commerce. Her mystery, Doubletake, was honored as the Best Mystery for 2015 by the Texas Association of Authors.

Miller can be found at her Amazon Author Page her Website  on Twitter  and  Facebook  and Goodreads  She is a contributor to The Blood-Red Pencil  blog on writing and editing.


Book Clubs by Cathy Perkins

As a genre author, I was surprised (okay, astonished) when a local book club contacted me about reading my book and asked if I had a Book Club Question list for their selected novel. (Short answer at the time? Eh, no.)

Authors or publishers don’t often issue questions for mysteries for several reasons, but mostly because specific questions tend to give away the plot, ruining the element of surprise. Remember, mysteries depend on withholding information and red herrings.

What’s a mystery author to do? I did some internet research and talked with other mystery authors. Rather than offer specific questions, here are some categories and guidelines to help you build a set of book club questions for your story.

Ambiguity. Does your novel leave anything up in the air as to what really happened? Readers love to determine the how and why of ambiguous events. (Did you believe the wife’s/husband’s/villain’s version of events? Why or why not? What do you think really happened?)

Motivation.  Questions about a character’s motivation, especially if he or she behaves in a socially unacceptable way, generate a lively discussion. (Sarah shared privileged or confidential information with a reporter. Why? Amy says she stole the jewelry to protect it, but what were her real reasons? The parents’ child-raising practices were as crazy as they were, but there was a lot of love in the family. Did this give the children the strength they needed to thrive?) Readers often bring their own experiences into a novel and perceive things in characters that others, including the author, don’t. It can spawn fascinating discussions.

Fate. (Full disclosure – I struggled with this suggested topic, but maybe that’s just me.) Questions about the course of events and whether those events are inevitable may generate strong reactions. (Did the hero have to die in the end? Could the story have gone in another direction and still been effective? Did all the villains have to be captured or killed? What if one got away?)

Coincidence. Does the story rely on a major or minor coincidence? Was it believable and did it work for you? Was the story plausible overall? Or was the coincidence “too convenient” and therefore distracting? (Hmm… Do we really want to ask that last question at a book club?)

Values/beliefs. In what ways do the events and characters reveal the author’s values or worldview? What is the author trying to say about (insert hot-button topic here: women, race, sexuality, discrimination)? Did the story make you question any of your own beliefs or offer new insights?


What are some of your favorite book discussion questions?



An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationships in her characters’ lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill.

When not writing, she does battle with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Sign up for her newsletter on her website (https://cperkinswrites.com) or follow her on BookBub (https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cathy-perkins ) for new release announcements.


Social Media

Facebook Page            https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCathyPerkins

Twitter            @cperkinswrites         https://twitter.com/cperkinswrites


The next novel in the Holly Price Mystery Series, In It For The Money, just went up for pre-sale. Here’s the blurb:

Holly Price traded her professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle Mergers and Acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.

When her cousin Tate needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her already shaky relationship with JC.

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Money-Holly-Price-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07D6FDF2X

Spotlight: Death’s Favorite Child by Frankie Y. Bailey

Death’s Favorite Child

By Frankie Y. Bailey


ISBN-10: 1628158026

ISBN-13: 978-1628158021

Speaking Volumes, LLC

Paperback: 318 pages

November 30, 2017, $16.95

Genre: Romantic suspense

Series: A Lizzie Stuart Mystery


When They Met, Murder Was Only the Beginning


African-American, 38, a crime historian, Lizzie Stuart has spent most of her life in Drucilla, Kentucky. When her grand­mother dies, Lizzie decides it is time for a vacation. She joins her best friend, Tess, a travel writer, for a week in Cornwall, England, in the resort town of St. Regis. Lizzie finds her vacation anything but restful when she becomes an eyewitness to murder and the probable next victim.


Criminologist Frankie Bailey has five books and two published short stories in a mystery series featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart. The Red Queen Dies, the first book in a near-future police procedural series featuring Detective Hannah McCabe, came out in September, 2013.  The second book in the series, What the Fly Saw came out in March 2015. Frankie is a former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Website URL: http://www.frankieybailey.com

Twitter:  @FrankieYBailey



Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Favorite-Lizzie-Stuart-Mystery/dp/1628158026/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1526180479&sr=1-2


Here’s a surprise for you…

Private Spies

By PJ Nunn


ISBN-13: 978-0615832562

Tidal Wave Publishing

Trade paper $13.95

Kindle ASIN: B00D96VHDQ


June 2013

Also available for Kindle and Nook


When Jesse Morgan’s boss and best friend died, she inherited Private Spies, a private investigation firm that specializes in missing persons. Unfortunately, she knew little about the business aside from her intensive work on the computer. But if Joey thought she could handle it, she felt obligated to at least give it a try. How hard could it be, right?


So Jesse took on her first case. Very straightforward. This guy is missing, find him. Oh but wait, he also kidnapped his own daughter. Find her too. Still not that hard. Except when she ran his report, the picture she found on his driver’s license is of another guy. And when she found a guy who matched the first picture, he had another name. And when she found a girl that looked like the daughter, she didn’t match anything. Not good.


Enter a retired police officer named Byron (really?) who says before Joey died, he hired him to work for them. Ok. This might be helpful. But then came a stalker, and a dead guy, a dead duck and an increasing list of incidents that all seem confusing to Jesse. Up to her eyeballs in threats and questions, Jesse’s outraged when the woman who hired her decides to fire her. Unbelievable! Unable to stop at that point, Jesse is determined to find the guy and solve the case. If only it was as easy as it sounded.


Back cover bio:

PJ Nunn is the owner of BreakThrough Promotions and has spent much of the last 15 years running promotional campaigns for authors. She says her Master’s Degree in Psychology and Criminology comes in handy from time to time. PJ has been a freelance writer since 1984 and is also the author of Angel Killer: A Shari Markham Mystery.

Buy link, Amazon:

Buy link, Barnes & Noble:


Spotlight: Murder at the Bus Depot by Judy Alter

Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, four books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University, where she earned a Ph.D. and taught English. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.

She holds awards from the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Texas Institute of Letters. She was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and recognized as an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth and a woman who has left her mark on Texas. Western Writers of America gave her the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and will induct her into its Hall of Fame in June 2015.

The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie. Follow her at (Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Alter/e/B001H6NMU6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1377217817&sr=1-2-ent; her blog: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com; and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857


Murder at the Bus Depot

By Judy Alter



Alter Ego Press

Print Length: 220 pages

April 6, 2018

Genre: Mystery

Series: Blue Plate Café Mystery 4


Also available in Kindle format



Is the depot a symbol of the worst episode in a town’s history or does it stand for revitalization, bringing the citizens of Wheeler together with pride in their community?

Kate Chamber’s trouble antenna goes up when Dallas developer Silas Fletcher decides to help “grow” Wheeler. She and her brother-in-law, Mayor Tom Bryson, have less spectacular and drastic ideas for revitalizing the town. When Old Man Jackson dies in an automobile accident, the specter of the past comes back to haunt the town. Thirty years ago, Jackson’s daughter, Sallie, was murdered at the bus depot. The murder is still unsolved.

Kate and Silas clash over almost everything, from the future use of the abandoned depot to a fall festival celebrating Wheeler. Another murder at the depot blows the town apart, and Kate knows she must do something to solve the murders and save her town, let alone the festival she’s planning.


Other books in the series:

Murder at the Blue Plate Café

Murder at the Tremont House

Murder at Peacock Mansion

Spotlight: Flying Jenny by Theasa Tuohy

Theasa Tuohy is a long-time journalist who has happily turned her life experiences and reporting skills to fiction featuring female reporters. She is the daughter and namesake of a pioneering pilot who flew an old-World War I “Jenny” with an OX-5 engine. Theasa worked for five daily newspapers and the Associated Press. Her “first woman” stints included assistant city editor at The Detroit News and the copy desk at The (Newark) Star Ledger.


Her first novel, The Five O’Clock Follies, was published in 2012. Flying Jenny came out May 1, 2018. She is currently working on a mystery series set in Paris and is co-author of the book for “Lawrence,” an award-winning musical about the life of D. H. Lawrence.

She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and lives in Manhattan.


Flying Jenny

By Theasa Tuohy


ISBN-10: 1617756210

ISBN-13: 978-1617756214

Kaylie Jones Books

Paperback: 288 pages

May 1, 2018, $15.99

Genre: Fiction


Also available for Kindle and Nook


People are doing all sorts of screwy things in 1929. It is a time of hope, boundless optimism, and prosperity. “Blue Skies” is the song on everyone’s lips. The tabloids are full of flagpole sitters, flappers, and marathon dancers. Ever since Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic solo, the entire world has gone nuts over flying. But everyone agrees that the stunt pilots take the cake.

Jenny Flynn defies the odds and conventions in her pursuit of the sky. She attracts the attention of Laura Bailey, a brash reporter crashing through her own glass ceiling at a New York City newspaper. Laura chases the pilot’s story–and the truth about her own mysterious father–on a barnstorming escapade from Manhattan to the Midwest.

Flying Jenny offers a vivid portrait of an earlier time when airplanes drew swarming crowds entranced by the pioneers–male and female–of flight.

Theasa Logan Tuohy, the author’s mother.

“The heroes and heroines and the characters Tuohy brings to life in the book were derived from tales told to her by her mother, the daring, petite fire-cracker female pilot (named Theasa as well), who was a contemporary of Will Rogers and friend of Wiley Post, the first pilot to fly solo around the world.”
Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine

“It is August 1929, and this romp through the early days of women’s aviation history arrives with all the immediacy of a late-night edition. Theasa Tuohy memorably limns the adventures of not one but two pioneering women. Debutante pilot Jenny Flynn and cub reporter Laura Bailey carry the spunk of Thelma & Louise to new heights as they fight for space in the cockpit and the city room.”
Janet Groth, author of The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker


Books That Changed My Life—Make That, Books that Changed “Me” By R. Franklin James

What’s the difference between my ‘life’ and ‘me’? When I contemplated writing on this potential topic the first thing that came to mind was: why would anyone care what books changed my life?  I’m not Oprah, Lee Child or Agatha Christie, or in politics—or anyone else of celebrity. But then I thought that as a reader vs. a writer, I would be interested in knowing what books had the capacity to change lives—how people were transformed.


The first book that changed my life was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I was in high school and the radical thinking of “self-ness” was enthralling to me. She had the ability to fictionalize social issues without being boring. She was followed closely on the heels by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. He was not a mystery writer, but I loved the way he could make words sing off the page. He is my favorite to this very day. These two books are about as opposite in thought and style as books can be but their storylines are timeless from the 1930’s to the 21st century. They also had three things in common: first, they made me think about the story between the words; second, they were entertaining; and, third, the prose while wildly different was lyrical with no wasted words, and each one with meaning. I knew I wanted to write like that.

I have come to realize that true classics, regardless of genre, are stories about the human condition. That said, I write in the genre of mysteries.


I loved and still love to solve puzzles. While I read Nancy Drew in my younger years, in college my interest was snared by John LeCarre and his novels of intrigue and betrayal. Because of him, my goal to write page-turners was forged forever. From then on, I wanted to write suspenseful mysteries with twists and turns that kept the reader guessing until the very believable end.


Then there was Agatha Christie, with story plots that also kept me turning pages and P.D. James who wrote flawed characters that seemed so real. There is Walter Mosely who transports the reader into a mid-20th-century world that is just as built as any science fiction work.


I’m not a person who reads the book and then goes to see the movie version. I don’t want the exactness of the author’s words interpreted by an actor that may not fit my imagination. Books that change my thinking stand on their own as works of literature and personal growth, which may sound like a lot for a book to accomplish, but the good ones do.


Today, I find that my taste in books is not meant to change my life as much as to enhance it—to feed it and hopefully make me a better writer. Most recently, Louise Penny’s, The Great Reckoning, brought me up to attention. Her words in the context of a powerful plot touched on all my senses and emotions. Harlan Coben can do that and so can Brad Meltzer, David Baldacci, and the late Sue Grafton’s Yesterday.


As a mystery writer, I write best in the style of what I like to read.  After completing my sixth book in the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series—The Identity Thief, I’ve come to realize that the best series are carried by strong characters that span a protagonist’s arc. Hollis, is a former ex-felon turned attorney, who sees life as a half-empty glass. But, it was her pardon for insurance fraud made it possible for her to take the bar exam.  It was her husband, now her ex, who set her up to take his stay in prison, now, she finds herself coming to the aid of those who also face disgrace or injustice.


A good book of fiction no matter what the genre must convey “meaning” for the reader. Characters must be made real and have compelling storylines so that readers can think: “Wow, that’s the way it is for me, too.” Additionally, a mystery writer wants the reader to think: “I should have seen that coming, but thanks to the author, I didn’t.”


Franklin James is a native Californian and a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. After years of public service, and serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, she went back to her first love—writing mysteries. In 2013, her debut novel in the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press.  Her second book, Sticks & Stones, was released in 2014, followed by THE RETURN OF THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB (2015), THE TRADE LIST (2016) and THE BELL TOLLS (2017). The next book in the series, THE IDENTITY THIEF was released earlier this year. R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband. See more about the author on Facebook and at : www.rfranklinjames.com.