What’s a Zephyrette? by Janet Dawson

The Ghost in Roomette Four, which will be published April 2018, is the third in my California Zephyr historical mystery series. The books feature protagonist Jill McLeod, who works as a Zephyrette, on the historical streamliner that rode the rails between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

What’s a Zephyrette? Think train hostess, like an airline stewardess in the early days of air travel. Jill’s job involves keeping an eye on passengers and being attentive to their needs. She’s a perfect amateur sleuth.

 

The first two books in the series, Death Rides the Zephyr and Death Deals a Hand, take place mostly on the train, during the two-and-a-half day journey. The third book is different. In The Ghost in Roomette Four, Jill does spend time on the train, where she sees something supernatural that tests her statement that she doesn’t believe in ghosts. We also see Jill at home between trips, spending time with her family and friends.

 

The books take place in 1953, more than sixty years ago, so that makes it historical. I want to make the novels as accurate as possible, and I’ve had fun doing the research and writing the books.

 

For The Ghost in Roomette Four, the music of the 1950s plays a role. The early ’Fifties were a time when pop music, the smooth sounds purveyed by singers like Jo Stafford and Frank Sinatra, was colliding with that new music called rock ’n’ roll, which in turn owed a great deal to what was in an earlier time called “race” music—the blues, and rhythm and blues.

 

Jill’s younger brother Drew has a passion for the blues. At home he plays records by Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton and derisively describes a hit pop recording as “that doggie-in-the-window” song (a #1 hit recorded by Patti Page and released in January 1953). Drew also plays guitar in a band that performs at a small club near Seventh Street in West Oakland, an area once called the Harlem of the West.

 

That neighborhood was the terminus of the transcontinental railroad and a lively, thriving area populated by many African Americans who worked for the railroads. Seventh Street, and its side streets, were lined with nightclubs and restaurants, including the famous Slim Jenkins’ Supper Club. The clubs were patronized by customers of all races who were joined by a love of the music. The upcoming novel includes a scene where Jill and her boyfriend go to Oakland to hear Drew’s band play.

My own brother, who plays a mean bass guitar, also loves the blues. He often plays a song called “Mercury Blues.” The fictional Drew would like it too, so I researched the date the song was written, to make sure it was around in 1953. Sure enough, it was.

 

“Mercury Blues,” originally “Mercury Boogie,” was written by bluesman K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins, musician and record producer. Both men came to Oakland, California during World War II, Douglas from Mississippi and Geddins from Texas. Douglas first recorded the song in 1948 and in the past 60-plus years it has been covered by many musicians. Geddins had a recording studio on Seventh Street in Oakland.

 

Do a search on “Mercury Blues” and you’ll find all sorts of YouTube videos of musicians performing the song. It has been covered by lots of them.

 

Here’s a link to K.C. Douglas’s 1952 recording of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsTfCITzISM

 

And here are a couple of links to more information on Seventh Street in Oakland: https://localwiki.org/oakland/Harlem_of_the_West; http://7thstreet.org/category/sources/other/;

 

http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/jenkins-harold-slim-1890-1967

 

Janet Dawson has written twelve novels featuring Oakland private investigator Jeri Howard, beginning with Kindred Crimes, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First PI Novel Contest. The book was nominated for Shamus and Anthony awards as well. Water Signs is the most recent book in the series.

Her California Zephyr historical mysteries feature protagonist Jill McLeod, a Zephyrette, or train hostess, and take place in the early 1950s. The books are Death Rides the Zephyr and Death Deals a Hand and forthcoming in April 2018, The Ghost in Roomette Four.

Janet has also written a suspense novel, What You Wish For. Her short stories include Macavity winner “Voice Mail” and Shamus nominee “Slayer Statute.” Her website is at www.janetdawson.com.

Advertisements

It’s not too late to win!

SEALED BID AUCTION – OPEN TO ALL NOW!

How To Win One of Six Terrific Donations

 

To help support the mega-beast known as the Writers’ Police Academy, we feature an annual raffle and silent auction. Great fun. But, in 2016, after receiving lots of requests to allow non-attendees to get in on the festivities, we offered a few truly unique items for sealed bids. It was a huge success, thanks to each of you! This year we’re offering six exciting items for sealed bids. These are available to the public, therefore anyone and everyone is welcome to participate.

 

HOW DO I BID …

· To win the prize/item you so badly desire, simply send your bid to2017WPAuction@gmail.com.
· Type BID in the subject line along with the name of the item, e.g. BID Guitar or BID Script or  BID Critique, etc
· In the body of the message please state the dollar amount of your bid (e.g. – “My bid for the signed guitar is $1 Zillion Dollars.”).

Also, please include your full contact information.

Bids will remain a secret until bidding closes at midnight PST, Saturday August 12, 2017. You need not be present at the WPA to win. Attendees of the 2017 WPA may submit sealed auction bids as well, and the same rules apply. Sealed bids are in addition to the raffle and silent auction items available at the event. You must be present to participate in the raffle and silent auction. Each of the six auction items is showcased below! After you look at your options, please read the FINE PRINT at the end of this email.

 

OAK RIDGE BOYS – SIGNED GUITAR AND CD

A guitar & CD signed by the legendary Grammy-winning Oak Ridge Boys. This unique item is a wonderful addition to any room in the house. Lee Lofland has one in his den, a gift from his wife, who spent big bucks for it at the auction. Superstar author Lee Child placed the winning bid a few years ago and he, too, has one of these signed beauties in his Manhattan office. WPA instructor/Detective Marco Conelli is another owner of one of these prized guitars. (In case you didn’t know, Marco is also a singer-songwriter/frontman for his own band in NYC).

 

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-GUITAR. The bid should be sent to 2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

MURDER, SHE WROTE – SIGNED SCRIPT

Murder, She Wrote script signed by head writer/showrunner Thomas B. Sawyer. Tom also served as Head Writer/Showrunner or Producer on 15 network TV series. He has written and sold TV movies, 9 series pilots, 100 episodes, both comedy and drama. This script is a must-have prize of epic proportion, especially so for Murder, She Wrote fans, and writers of all genres.

 

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-SCRIPT. The bid should be sent to2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

 

SEAT AT “LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLY” GANG CONFERENCE

 

 

This is HUGE! We have two seats available to a “law enforcement only” gang conference. For the first time EVER, two lucky writers will have the opportunity to learn and train side-by-side with top police investigators at a conference where outsiders are not permitted. That’s right, you’d be the ONLY writers privy to insider information about developing and maintaining confidential informants-gang-related, so this is especially tough for cops-human trafficking, how gangs infiltrate communities, Asian gangs, gangs and social media, and much, much more. This is a rare and EXCITING OPPORTUNITY that’s not available to the public.

 

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-GANG. The bid should be sent to2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

 

A COMPLETE POND FOR YOUR HOME

 

A pond! No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This wonderful indoor/outdoor pond measuring about 2-feet tall and 4-feet across holds about 40-50 gallons. It comes with everything you need. Well, except water, plants, and fish. But everything else is included –pump, liner, filters, plant baskets, light kits, etc. Denene and I love everything about ours, from the soothing sounds of the fountain to feeding the goldfish and watching hummingbirds take a dip in the fountain spray. This pond (retail value over $500) is absolutely COOL! Perfect for indoors, too. The pond will ship directly to you from the warehouse (Assembly IS required – takes approximately one hour and is remarkably simple. Hey, I did it).

 

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-POND. The bid should be sent to2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE BY TOP HARLEQUIN EDITOR!

Ann Leslie Tuttle, Senior Editor at Harlequin Books, is offering a critique of a synopsis and first chapter (up to 25 pages). How exciting, and what a wonderful opportunity to place your work on the desk of a top editor! (Manuscript must be formatted in standard format.)

 

Ann Leslie actively acquires for HQN Books, MIRA and Harlequin/Silhouette Books, she is especially interested in finding paranormal romance and commercial literary fiction. She has acquired trade, hardcover and mass market titles with critical and bestselling potential. Edits a diverse author base, including NYT, USA Today and international bestselling authors Sylvia Day, Julia London, Megan Hart, Vanessa Fewings, Lisa Renee Jones and Rachael Johns. She manages lines of contemporary romance and special projects, including e-books. She’s a popular speaker at writer conferences, including the Australia and New Zealand conferences in 2015.

 

Thanks to Jenna Kernan for acquiring this prize.

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-CRITIQUE. The bid should be sent to 2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

6-MONTH BOOK 
PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN

 

P.J. Nunn of BreakThrough Promotions is offering a basic 6-month publicity campaign (value $2995). It will include reviews, blogs, and radio interviews. It could also include store or library events depending upon book, location, author wishes etc. P.J. works full time in the publishing industry, but still serves as a consultant in the field of law enforcement and trauma counseling.

 

*The author would need to provide print and mobi promotional copies of the book.

 

The subject line to bid on this item should read: BID-PROMO. The bid should be sent to 2017WPAuction@gmail.com.

 

The Fine Print…

 

Proceeds are combined with overall WPA funds and go toward overall event expenses, the opening ceremonies (featuring the blessing of the WPA by the Oneida Nation dancers, Miss Oneida, tribal elders), and a student scholarship funded by the WPA. Remember, the WPA takes place on the Oneida Indian Reservation (hotel, academy, and college).

 

*Winners will be notified by email. We will attempt to contact winners three times (one every other day, starting on August 15, 2017), so please check your spam folders. If we do not receive a reply within five days after the third message is sent, we will move on to the next highest bidder, and so on until the prize is claimed. Funds to secure bids must be made via cash, WPA PayPal, or credit card. Once we’ve established contact with the winners we will provide payment details. Items will ship/can be claimed once payment is received. All Sales are Final. No Returns or Exchanges.

 

Spread the word!

Dancing through the pages by Jamie Cortland

Dancing through my pages is a natural for me. When I’m working   on a novel or meeting a deadline, I may lose track of time and miss lunch or dinner. At some point, you must take a break. It’s not good for you to sit so long. Get up from the chair you’ve become glued to, turn on the music and dance.

 

It could save you from a heart attack or a stroke. You need the exercise. You might be surprised how well dancing and writing blend. There are plots upon plots to be found on the dance floor. Characters to build a novel upon abound, not only for a romance novel, but also for a mystery. Jealously is       seething. Students often fall in love with their instructors and are terribly jealous   of the other students. Competition is at its highest, especially when in training for a competition. A ballroom dance floor is the perfect setting for a budding romance to form or a murder plot to hatch. If you think you have writer’s block, I guarantee when you leave the studio, it will disappear.

 

Other than both dancing and writing are creative endeavors, there are similarities between the two.  Both require a flow, a rhythm and balance.   My mother was a dancer as well as a gifted artist, my grandfather, a musician who not only sang, but also played many different instruments. Exposed to the creative arts at a very young age, I have always loved dancing, drawing, and telling stories. So, why not combine all of them? Once I decided I could do that, I signed up at a well known dance studio for a dance class, expecting to learn enough to begin a novel in which the heroine was a dancer. Five weeks of lessons soon turned into five years of lessons and dance competitions, national and international.

 

A year or so later, “Dying to Dance” a romantic suspense, was born. Currently, its sequel, “A Sharp Turn in Destiny,” a romantic suspense as well is taking shape. Did I mention, I also signed up for additional ballroom dance lessons? I can’t tell you the murder’s occupation, but I can tell you that the heroine is a dance instructor.

 

If you have a little time, need some exercise, or would like to lose weight dancing is a perfect activity to become involved in. For those of you who have just moved into a new town, it’s a great way to meet people.

 

If you think this sounds like fun, sign up for a few lessons.  The first thing you need is a pair of dance shoes for the type of dance you plan to take. If you take ballroom as I do, you may choose smooth or rhythm or both. I wanted to learn both as well as Flamingo dancing. Now, I have my favorites which, are the tango, the rumba, and the waltz. I could build a novel around each of them.

 

As far as what to wear, in the beginning, just a skirt and blouse or a pair of pants and shirt is fine. Later, you can purchase a full dance wardrobe if you like. So, call a dance studio tomorrow, make an appointment and get started on your adventure.

Weslynn McCallister, pseudonym, Jamie Cortland was born in Evansville, Indiana and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. Today, she lives in the southwest.

 

A published novelist and an award winning poet, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and is a founding member of the Florida Writers Association.

 

Website URL: Weslynn McCallister, Author http://www.jamiecortland.com

Facebook URL: https//www.facebook.com/jamiecortland

Twitter: Weslynn McCallister@twitter

LinkedIn: Weslynn McCallister, Author

 

Buy links:

What Lies Within

Dying to Dance

 

So many books so little time by PJ Nunn

I’ve loved books since I can remember. One of my first memories ever was the day the bookmobile parked across the street in front of our house (we lived across the street from the elementary school). From that day, I waited eagerly for its next visit the same way I counted the months until the State Fair. There, I discovered worlds that waited for me, friends to meet and stories to share. I loved it even more than the skating rink at the end of the block.

While I never thought of myself as nerdy, I am one of those rare creatures that loves school. I’d be in school today if I could. There’s always so much more to learn. Another book to read. But alas, life intrudes and we have to apportion our time accordingly. I work full time and am Mom to five offspring and Grandma to one perfectly lovely granddaughter. My twenty-four-hour days are very full.

Add to that the fact that I’m a publicist. I promote authors and their books for a living. Of course it’s imperative to keep abreast of the industry in which I work so I read books. Lots and lots of books. My clients’ books. Other authors’ books. All kinds of books.

I’m sure your lives are comparable. Everyone is so busy these days, leisure time is hard to come by. So when we finally carve out a few minutes that we can indulge in a new book just for the pleasure of reading it, how in the world do we choose which one to read next in the midst of so many?

Back in the days when I did book reviews as a freelance writer, I operated by the common 100 page rule. If it hadn’t grabbed me in the first 100 pages, I quit reading. Maybe I missed something that was just slow starting but I didn’t want to invest another 200 or so pages to find out. As time went on, my rule shrank to 75 pages, then 50.

Today, when I pick up a book to read it for no reason other than I just want to, there are a few things I consider:

  • Who wrote it. If Robert Crais wrote it, I will read it. If it’s another author I’ve read before and enjoyed, I’ll consider it.
  • Book description. Hopefully there is a description that is concise and engaging. If it looks like the type of storyline I enjoy or otherwise intrigues me, I’ll give it a chance.
  • Reviews and blurbs. Honestly, I’ve never bought or read a book solely on the basis of a review. However, if the reviews or blurbs give actual information as opposed to “this is great” hype, or if there’s a thoughtful mention by someone I recognize and respect, I’ll probably give it a look.
  • Author info. I’ve chosen to read several books over the years based more on what I learned about the author than the typical book information. If an author demonstrates writing skill (even in making sure his/her website is typo free) and presents a professional and interesting bio, I’m easily persuaded to look further and find out what he/she has to say. On the other hand, if the online persona says little about the person, is all about the books, and seems otherwise amateurish, I won’t bother.
  • Ambiance. It’s a no brainer, but if I’m captured by the opening sentence and the scenario set forth on the first page makes me want to keep reading, I’m in. It’s like a positive first impression. If that opening is great, even if interest wanes in subsequent pages, I’ll keep reading for a while, believing it will come back to the place where it began. But if it starts bad, even if it gets better, I’ll exhibit less tolerance if there’s a lot of back and forth.

How about you? I know your time is as fleeting as mine. How do you decide when to put it down and when to keep reading?

 

In 1998, PJ Nunn founded BreakThrough Promotions (breakthroughpromotions.net), now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is also the author of Angel Killer: a Shari Markam Mystery and Private Spies: a Jesse Morgan Mystery. PJ lives in Waxahachie TX near Dallas. Learn more at http://breakthroughpromotions.net

Links:

Facebook/BreakThrough – https://www.facebook.com/breakthroughpromo

Twitter – www.twitter.com/PJNunn

GoodReads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Bookbrowsing – https://bookbrowsing.wordpress.com

A Cozy Mystery with Cupid and St. Valentine by Connie Knight

Cupid,-god-of-love“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”

                                                                        —Author Unknown, quoted by Donna Diegel

 

 

Valentine’s Day celebrates early Christian saints of that name. Instead of promoting romance, Valentinus performed weddings that were forbidden, and ministered to Christians. He was a martyr who suffered prison and execution. Somehow, in the Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day became a festival of romantic love and Cupid, a Greek and Roman god of desire, became associated with it. Paintings and statues depicted him; later, flowers, cards, and chocolate candy became gifts of romance.

Today, Valentine’s Day is feverishly marketed with romantic cards and humorous ones popping up everywhere. Love songs may touch upon romance seriously or not. I remember one by Connie Francis. The lyrics start, “Stupid Cupid, you’re a real mean guy, I’d like to clip your wings so you can’t fly.” That song was a hit. Of course, romance is often part of a novel’s plot. In cozy mysteries, romance is almost always important—unless the amateur sleuth is elderly like Miss Marple, pompous like Hercule Poirot, or a priest like Father Brown.

Romance between the cozy mystery’s amateur sleuth and a local police officer happens pretty often. The setting is a small town, an English manor, an area like a fishing village or a Texas ranch. Both my novels, the Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery Series, are set in DeWitt County near San Antonio, in Yorktown and in the country—mostly ranches. Couples appear in both books, although St. Valentine’s influence is more important than Cupid’s bow and arrow.

In Cemetery Whites, the first novel, Caroline Hargrove Hamilton moves from Houston to Yorktown. Her husband died in a car accident andCemetery Whites Cover her life has disintegrated. She hopes to reshape it with her father’s family, and her old friend and cousin Janet welcomes her with open arms. They drive around the country roads one day and visit the family cemetery where they find a dead man and call the police. Constable Bob Bennett enjoys meeting Caroline. St. Valentine, so to speak, presents him as a handsome man who takes good care of the people in his precinct. Other romances include one from the old days discovered in genealogy records.

Romantic Cupid might turn up at Billie’s Bar-B-Que where Caroline and her cousins go for dinner, dancing, and playing pool. Bob Bennett turns up too, and by the end of the book, he and Caroline are romantically involved at his ranch and her house in Yorktown.

My second novel, Chances Choices Changes Death, involves several couples falling in love. The main plot is the murder of Myra Cade and Chances Changes Choices Death Cover (1)the solution of that homicide, but since the book is a cozy mystery, I’ve created subplots and characters with Western romance rather than grim suspense. Myra is a single mother looking for paternal support for her eight-year-old son. She was long in love with Danny Harrell, but they broke up and she had an affair with Danny’s best friend Richard Hurst and then a short fling with sleazy dude Brian Atkins. Did one of them stab Myra to death? Cupid took Myra on a date with Brian. A bad decision.

St. Valentine had better influence on Donny Harrell who spent the summer working on Robinson Ranch. Young Cathy Robinson fell in love with him, and her guest Chris took a liking to Donny’s twin brother Danny—but Danny didn’t fall in love with anyone anymore. His old friend Richard Hurst turned up and fell in love with Dora, Brian Atkins’ cousin’s widow. She loved him, too. They all got engaged, except Danny and Chris. The book ends at Billie’s Bar-B-Que with the wedding of a long-engaged couple, Martha McNair and Allen Boyce from San Antonio. And guess what happens when Bob and Caroline go home after the wedding reception? Bob asks a question, and Caroline says yes. That’s the start of Cozy Mystery No. 3.

 

 

connie10Connie Knight’s interest in Texas history is reflected in Cemetery Whites. Murders in 1875 and 2010 are solved, with the detective’s family history unraveling to reveal information. Knight’s hobby of gardening produced the title Cemetery Whites. The victim’s body is found sprawled in a patch of white irises in an old family cemetery. The flowers with that name still exist today, at old homesteads and in current gardens, including Connie Knight’s.

Connie Knight now lives in Houston and has just finished a second mystery, Chances Choices Changes Death, a sequel to Cemetery Whites. She is now working on her third mystery novel in the Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery series.

https://www.connieknightmysterywriter.com/blog/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/connieknightauthor?ref=br_tf

Twitter @conniejs59

Buy links:

Chances Choices Changes Death

Cemetery Whites

 

Beginning Again by Lea Wait

LeaonWiscassettownpier[1]           About two years ago my agent contacted me with a question: Would I like to start a new mystery series? And, oh yes: he knew an editor who’d be interested in a series with a background of needlepoint.

When he called I was writing the seventh in my Shadows Antique Print series, Shadows on a Maine Christmas. I was also editing Uncertain Glory, an historical for young people set in Maine during the first two weeks of the Civil War.

In short, I was busy.

Did I want to start a new series? My husband reminded me that I’d talked about new projects. I reminded him that a new cozy series hadn’t been on that list. And needlepoint? I knew next to nothing about needlepoint.

He reminded me that I loved to do research.

I called my agent back. Could the series be about knitting? I was pretty good at knitting.

Nope. Needlepoint.

I took a deep breath and agreed.

And I started blue skying. I checked: no needlepoint mysteries were set in New England. Many of my fans liked my books set in Maine.

My Shadows series is set in a small town on a tidal river, but I wanted this series to be different. I’d set it in a harbor town. So I created my setting: Haven Harbor. I sketched it out … three islands in the harbor. A lighthouse, a small rocky beach, a yacht club, a town pier, and a working waterfront with a lobsterman’s co-op and restaurant. A town green, of course. And shops, catering to both tourists and locals.

As the idea became a plan, I created my protagonist. Angie Curtis, a local kid who’d had a tough childhood, left Maine to escape it, but now was back, confronting her past. She’d be in her late twenties, and street savvy. She’d also know how to handle a gun. And the series would be written in the first person, from Angie’s point of view. Cozy, OK. But with an edge.

I even added a cat.

But where did the needlepoint come in?

Angie’s mother had disappeared when she was ten. Angie’d been brought up by her grandmother, an expert needlepointer. In the years Angie’d been away (working for a private investigator in Arizona, I decided,) her grandmother had started a small business: Mainely Needlepoint. She’d gathered a few local women (and men) to work for her business.

But why had Angie returned to Maine?

Her mother’s body has just been found. She wants to find her mother’s killer. And, to add to the complications, what if one of her grandmother’s needlepoint colleagues was also murdered …

And I had the beginning of my plot.

Because I love antiques and many of my Shadows series readers do, too, I decided Mainely Needlepoint would also be involved with identifying and conserving antique stitching. And to set the scene I’d put quotations about needlepoint at the beginning of each chapter.

Two weeks later my agent had a proposal and marketing plan. The editor was pleased – and I was writing a new series.TWISTEDTHREADS[1]

Twisted Threads: A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery, the first in that series, was published this week.

I’ve already finished the second book in the series (Threads of Evidence), which will be released in August, and I‘m working on Thread and Gone, next January’s book.

No doubt about it: I’m writing a new series.

 

Maine author Lea Wait writes the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, the most recent of which, Shadows on a Maine Christmas, Library Journal named one of the best Christmas reads for 2014, as well as the Mainely Needlepoint series. She also writes historicals for ages 8 and up, the most recent of which is Uncertain Glory. For more information about Lea and her books see www.leawaitcom. She also invites readers to friend her on Goodreads or Facebook.