The New Me

January 5th, 2017

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAside from entering the Witness Protection Program, one rarely gets the opportunity to change her identity. But that’s what I agreed to do regarding a 2-book contract for my new mystery series starring Carrie Singleton, Clover Ridge Library’s new head of programs and events. The idea bothered me at first. I’ve been Marilyn Levinson since I married many years ago. Why should I, at this stage of my life, have to interact with my readers as someone else? I wasn’t an identity thief or a striptease artist intent on adapting a more respectable lifestyle. I was a writer, and I’d published all my mysteries, romance suspense novels, and kids’ books under my own name.

Then I remembered how, when I was in elementary school, I’d spent hours dreaming up a pseudonym for myself for when I’d became a famous author. I remember deciding my first name would Brenda—perhaps after the comic strip reporter Brenda Starr. I can’t, for the life of me, remember which second name I’d chosen all those years ago. No matter. I had a fresh slate before me.

As a fiction writer, I’m used to choosing names. I have to. Every new novel includes a cast of characters. And every character, regardless of his/her importance, requires a name. I have a tendency to call my female sleuths names that end in the letter a—Lydia, Alexa, Gabriela—though they often have nicknames: Lexie, Gabbie. But I digress.

Allison Brook, I thought. Nice. But should I opt for the first name that came into my head?

I turned to my baby book of names. What should I choose? How should I choose? Names I liked the sound of? Names similar to my own? A combination of the two.

Lynne Levin? That was like Marilyn Levinson. A possibility.

One friend suggested Lynn Holbrook. I found it disconcerting since I live in Holbrook. Which is probably why she thought of it.

People, I discovered, have strong associations with names. I’d no sooner mentioned Marisa to my boyfriend, when he rejected it because he didn’t like someone with that name.

Lindsay Lewis appealed to me, but alas! I checked it out on Amazon and saw there already is an author with that name.

“What names do you like?” one author friend asked. I said I loved Karen Meredith, which was what I would have named my daughter if I’d had a daughter instead of two sons. But after all this time the name has lost its appeal. Darn! Back to the drawing board.

Allison Brook had the vote of most of my writer friends. I still wasn’t sure.

One friend suggested, “Draw it out of a hat.” The way things were going, that was beginning to make sense.

Finally, I called my agent and presented her with two choices. Dawn thought. “Allison Brook,” she decided.

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Allison Brook it is.”

Do you have a pseudonym? How did you choose it?

Ten Things I’ve Learned While Undergoing Treatment for Cancer

November 17th, 2015


1. I have a positive outlook. I must have, because that’s what everyone tells me. Of course my outlook is probably influenced by the fact that my doctor expects me to make a full recovery. The fact is, I simply do what I’m told to do.

2. Many people love and care about me. They really do. I can tell by the outpour of calls and notes and visits. I’m grateful to have my Significant Other in my life. He looks after my health and well-being.

3. I don’t consider myself a victim. I’ve never asked myself “Why me?” I’ve too many friends and know too many people who were diagnosed with cancer and are leading full, cancer-free lives. Yes, some have died of the disease, but so have people died of heart disease, war, and in car accidents.

4. Thank God I’m a writer. This gives me a variety of things to concentrate on, to keep my mind occupied when I’m too weak and feeling too woozy to do much more than sit at a computer. Somehow, taking care of my writer-ly activities doesn’t zap my strength as walking up a flight of stairs will do.

5. I’m surprised that many medical people who treat me are impressed when they find out I’m an author. They tell me the type of books they enjoy reading and are happy when I give them a bookmark featuring some of my novels. I’m not used to this. More often people I meet are eager to tell me their sister-in-law’s sister wrote a book, or did I know their neighbor who’s often on the Best Sellers List. I can’t do a fraction of the promotion I’m “supposed” to be doing while I’m in treatment, but I’ve discovered a new readership

6. The side-effects of my treatment are cyclical. I feel well the six days I’m in the hospital, and then it’s downhill until the Neulasta shot takes effect a week or so later. I’m strong for a few days, then it’s back to the hospital. Also, I feel differently after each bout of chemo and after each Neulasta shot. The pain level varies. I’m never sure how bad the side-effects will be.

7. I’m not upset about losing my hair. I think I would be if I had long, thick locks instead of short, rather fine, hair that’s really salt and pepper under an ash brown coloring. I wear my wig when my S.O. and I go out for dinner. It looks great, but I feel like I’m wearing a hat.

8. People feel comfortable asking me about my treatment. I suppose it’s because I’m open about my condition and don’t regard it as something to be kept secretive and under wraps. I’ve no problem answering their questions.

9. Because I’ve always been healthy, I still find it astounding that at times I’ve no energy, and I’m panting after going up or down my staircase. I feel decadent watching TV during the day, but sometimes that’s what I have to do.

10. I’ve had to learn to accept help from caring friends. I’ve always been independent, but during treatment I’m unable to carry out activities like cleaning the kitty litter and driving the long distance to my doctor’s office.

Right now my treatment seems to go on and on. I’m missing parties and luncheons, outings and meetings. I look forward to the future when I’ll be healthy once again and can resume the activities in my life.

The Devil’s Pawn

October 7th, 2015

166_0.336569001438810656_tdp_cv_hr-bpfbtThe Devil’s Pawn:
After fifteen-year-old Simon Porte’s family is killed in an automobile crash, his father’s brother, whom he’s never met, brings Simon to live with him and his wife in upstate New York. Simon doesn’t trust Uncle Raymond, and for good reason. Raymond is dying and using his diabolical powers to take over Simon’s body. Simon must develop his own supernatural defenses. With his dotty great-aunt, his young sister, and a pair of odd twins, he wages war against the evil Raymond and his cronies.

Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/nwr4bsc

Fifteen Reasons Why I’m Glad I Attended Malice Domestic 27

May 7th, 2015

1. Chatting with my travel companion as she drove to Bethesda, I worked out some of the kinks in my WIP.

2. Arriving in Bethesda late Thursday afternoon gave me the opportunity to see a dear college friend. She treated me to dinner at a lovely restaurant, where we caught up on each other’s life.

3. Staying at a luxury hotel allowed me to sleep through the night instead of being awakened at five a.m. by my cat Sammy demanding to be fed.

4. At registration, I received several mystery novels and magazines for my reading pleasure.

5. My yearly pen and bookmark supplies were replenished.

6. At Malice-Go-Round I heard my fellow authors talk about their various series, and noted those I planned to read in the near future.

7. Dining with several writing friends—many of whom are in the Virginia Beach chapter—at our annual Friday night dinner was a highlight of the weekend.

8. I spoke with an agent with whom I’d been in contact about a subject important to my writing career.

9. I attended panels and enjoyed my fellow writers’ comments and exchanges.

10. I had fun at my southern friends’ Derby party before the banquet, even though I didn’t pick the winning horse.

11. The food at the banquet was surprisingly delicious, especially the chocolate dessert. Yum!

12. I rejoiced watching my fellow Sisters win Agathas, and was especially happy for my friend Elaine Will Sparber who had worked so hard on Writes of Passage, the Sisters in Crime’s non-fiction winner edited by our illustrious Hank Phillippi Ryan.

13. Taking part in my Sunday morning panel was a blast. I talked about my Golden Age of Mystery series. I already knew the other three authors on the panel. And now I also know Kate Parker, our Moderator.

14. I relished the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new friends as well.

15. I was eager to start for home and get to work on my WIP, energized by having attended Malice Domestic 27.

An Interview with Teresa Inge

July 10th, 2014

2upToday I’m interviewing my dear friend and fellow mystery writer, Teresa Inge. T and I met at Malice a few years ago. Traditionally, we go out for dinner with a group of fellow mystery writers one night during the convention. Recently, her mystery stories Guide to Murder and Shopping for Murder appeared in the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology.

1.Tell us a little about yourself—where you grew up and lived, your education and work experiences.

I grew up in North Carolina with 6 siblings so I learned to share and get along with others. I also read a lot. It was my one salvation by myself. After graduating from high school I earned an associates degree and have worked as an executive assistant ever since.

 2. When did you start writing?

I wrote in diaries and journals during my youth and dabbled in poetry.

 3. What made you decide to write mysteries? 

Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with trying to figure out “whodunit.” I read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and watched Alfred Hitchcock, Dragnet, Perry Mason and Get Smart! Go figure…but Maxwell Smart, a secret agent who talked to his shoe phone was ahead of his time! Later, I enjoyed Murder She Wrote, Barnaby Jones, Matlock, Quincy and Rockford files.

4. What writing groups and/or organizations do you belong to? How do you think they’ve impacted your writing career?About 15 years ago I searched for a mystery writer’s group in my area but could not find one so I joined a local romance writer’s group. I didn’t write romance but figured it couldn’t hurt. I learned a lot about writing and networked with local writers. However, it wasn’t mystery an I knew I had to make a change so I joined Sisters in Crime. I then found addresses of local SinC members, wrote each of them a hand-written letter about forming a chapter and started my own chapter. Back then, online wasn’t what it is today.

 5. What hobbies do you have? Do they enter into your stories?Virginia is for Mysteries Final Cover - Dec 2013

My husband and I own many classic cars. I show my 64 Comet at car shows and just love it. I am writing a story about this now.

 6. What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite mystery writers and why?

I read mysteries by author’s I know. Most of them are SinC members or attend Malice Domestic. I truly support authors I know personally.

 7. What are you writing now?

A Wine Country Murder, Classic Car Murder and a short story for the upcoming Virginia is for Mysteries book two.

 8. What is the hardest aspect of writing for you—plotting, dialogue, marketing?

Time is a big factor after working all day. Marketing is easy. I’ve been very successful marketing Virginia is for Mysteries.

9. Tell us about your stories that are in the anthology.

“Guide to Murder” —  A trip to Virginia Beach turns deadly when Connar Randolph, owner of the historic Cavalier on the Hill, discovers a dead body on her property while giving a tour of the inn.

“Shopping for Murder” — When fabric store owner Jana Karson tries to clear her name in the murder of ex-boyfriend and fellow merchant in the Great Bridge Shopping Center, she uncovers a love triangle, bad debt and her own hurt feelings.

Teresa’s website is: http://www.teresainge.com/

The anthology can be purchased at:

Koehler Books
http://www.koehlerbooks.com/?s=Virginia+is+for+Mysteries

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Virginia+is+for+myteries

Patricia Gligor Talks About Her New Novel, Desperate Deeds

April 5th, 2014

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I’m happy to have Patricia Gligor here with me today to talk about her new mystery, Desperate Deeds.

As Ann Kern starts her new business as an interior decorator, the temperatures have risen, tulips and daffodils are in bloom and there’s a feeling of endless possibilities in the air. She has no idea that her world is about to be turned upside down. When Janis Riley, a woman for whom money is no object, contacts Ann to redecorate her house, Ann is elated. But her initial visit with her first client leaves her with mixed emotions. Why did Janis react so strangely to seeing a photo of Ann’s six-year-old son, Davey? But Ann has bigger problems. Her husband, David, a recovering alcoholic, has lost both his mother and his job and Ann worries that he’ll start drinking again. To add to her concerns, their next-door-neighbor, Dorothy Baker, is severely depressed but Ann’s efforts to help her are rebuffed. Ann is terrified when she wakes up the day before Easter to find Davey gone. Another child, Kelly Kramer, has been missing since December. Does some pervert have both children and what, if anything, can Ann do to get her son back?

When A Child Goes Missing

Those of us who are fortunate to have never had this happen to us, can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster a parent goes through when their child goes missing. In this excerpt from Desperate Deeds, Ann Kern is watching a news broadcast, her heart going out to the parents of a six-year-old little girl.

A photo of a little girl filled the screen. Ann recognized her immediately because her picture had been shown on TV several times since her disappearance in December. The little girl had long blonde hair, big blue eyes and a smile that could melt your heart. She was clutching a rag doll, with enormous hand-painted blue eyes and yellow pigtails, to her chest.
The picture stayed on the screen as Steve Lane continued. “It’s been almost four months since six-year-old Kelly Kramer went missing. Police are urging anyone who has any information that might help them to locate Kelly to please call the number at the bottom of your screen. Kelly’s parents have increased their reward and that information is also at the bottom of your screen. Channel 10 has made a commitment to run this photo every night for the next two weeks in the hope that someone out there knows something that will help bring Kelly back home safely.”A young couple appeared on the screen and Ann’s first thought was that they’d both aged a lot in the months since their daughter went missing and they’d first appeared on TV. The man looked directly into the camera. “I’m Kelly’s father and,” he nodded toward the woman standing next to him, “this is Kelly’s mother. If you’re watching and you have our daughter or know where she is, we’re begging you. Please bring Kelly home to us.” The woman nudged her husband’s arm. Ann watched as tears streamed down her face. “Please bring her home. We love Kelly so much. She’s all we have.”

Ann turned off the TV. She’d seen enough bad news for one night. She couldn’t watch any more; it was heartbreaking. Those poor parents! They look like they’re at their wit’s end and I’m sure they are. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. Not knowing if their child is dead or alive or if some maniac has her and is doing unspeakable things to her. Four months! The endless waiting; the not knowing. How can

they stand it? That’s too much for any parent to bear!                                                                                        DEEDS - Front Cover

As she watches the drama unfolding, Ann has no idea that her young son is about to go missing too.

Bio:

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. Mixed Messages and Unfinished Business, the first two novels in her Malone Mystery series, were published by Post Mortem Press. Desperate Deeds is the third novel in the series. Visit her website at: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/

You can buy Pat’s new book at:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B007VDDUPQ_B007VDDUPQ_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Patricia+Gligor&sort=relevance&ie=UTF8&qid=1396017920

 

Presenting Marilyn Meredith

October 1st, 2013

Me with books I’m happy to have my friend and fellow author, Marilyn Meredith, talk about her writing life and her newest Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes. I first met Deputy Tempe Crabtree in Bears With Us, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Marilyn writes two mystery series.

How do you manage to do everything you do–writing and the rest of your life?

This is the question Marilyn asked me to answer. And the simple answer is, “It ain’t easy.” But I don’t think that’s what she wanted to hear.

First, I should mention what I do on a regular basis.

1. Write two books a year because I have two series, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
2. Promote whatever book is the latest one out and as time draws close for a new book, I start planning the next set of promotion—like this blog tour.
3. Up until this past July I was the program chairperson for the Public Safety Writers Association. Not doing that anymore will free a lot of time, though I’m still on the board.
4. I write a monthly newsletter for the California Residential Service Providers Association which means keeping up with regulations and attending their monthly meetings.
5. I write program designs for people wanting to become residential service providers—usually one or two a month.
6. I maintain a blog and try to have something new on it every two days—something I’ve written or a guest post. http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
7. I read my email and respond to what’s important several times a day.
8. I’m on Facebook quite a bit too, for promotion, for fun, and to keep up with my friends and family.
9. I teach a 3-6th grade Sunday School class and attend church most Sundays.
10. I cook dinner most nights.
11. Once a week I go to my writers group.

I also spend a lot of time with my hubby and other members of my really big family. I count that as fun. I also love movies, and hubby and I try to go once a week and we watch movies at home. Reading is another favorite of mine.

What I don’t do:

1. Spend a lot of time with social clubs. (I do belong to 3 Sisters in Crime groups—and get to meetings when I can, which isn’t often.)
2. Have luncheon dates with friends. (No, I’m not anti-social, just don’t have the time.)
3. Go to the casino to gamble. (I don’t think it’s fun.)
4. Housework. I pay a daughter to do it.—I do the laundry though.
5. Watch TV in the daytime, except for General Hospital which I nap through.
6. I don’t have long telephone conversations.

What I’d like to do more of:

1. Speaking engagements at libraries, service and social groups, writing conferences.
2. Book and craft fairs
3. More fun time with my family.

Now the answer:

1. I make lists. Just simple ones, with what I need to do that particular day. I write down things I’m afraid I might forget.
2. I put my plan of the day on Facebook—mainly because when I write it down I know I’ll do it.
3. I push myself. I like to accomplish a lot each day. I’ve always loved the feeling of accomplishment. I suppose that’s my motivation.

I hope that answers the question.

Blurb for Spirit Shapes:

Spirit Shapes Cover Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation. She does like to remind everyone that she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and follow her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

To buy directly from the publisher in all formats: http://mundania.com/book.php?title=Spirit+Shapes
Also available directly from Amazon.

Dangerous Impulses, #9 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
Raging Water, Latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

Contest:

The person who comments on the most blogs on this blog tour will have the opportunity to have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting at http://krisneri.blogspot.com/

Life Changes

April 30th, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy life changed dramatically this past year. My husband came down with aspirated pneumonia in March of 2012. Despite doctor visits and medication, his condition didn’t improve. I brought him to the hospital Saturday morning of Memorial Day. Bernie never came home. For seven months, he went back and forth from hospital to rehab facility. They linked him up to all sorts of tubes. Despite antibiotics and care, his congestion remained. He couldn’t eat and was barely able to speak. He died December 30th, in the Veterans’ Home in Stony Brook.

And now I am a widow. A widow. I repeat the term because it’s sounds alien to me. Still, it’s now one of the many tags–like mother, friend, and writer–that make up the identity of the person who is Marilyn Levinson.

I’m doing all right. I don’t mope around. I’m not feeling very sad and weepy. I’m busier than ever because now I have to run errands, do chores, and see to the many household obligations that Bernie used to take care of. I change light bulbs, I shop for groceries, I take out the garbage. I arrange for house repairs and service calls. I learn something new every week.

I’m glad I have my family, and that my good friends, including couples, still want to spend time with me. I’ve heard from so many people that friendships often change after the death of one’s spouse. It’s comforting to know one’s company is appreciated, though going out for dinner isn’t the same without Bernie.

People tell me I’m doing well, and that I’m lucky my writing keep me occupied. I am grateful to be a writer. Now that social media is a big part of any writer’s life, I can no longer separate writing novels from communicating with my fellow authors and readers via email, Facebook, Pinterest, blogging and Twitter. When I’m not working on my current novel, I’m editing or blogging or getting ready to attend a writing-related meeting. Writing is my way of life. I feel Bernie’s absence the most on weekends, when we used to take drives and meet friends for dinner. I miss our trips abroad. Busy as I am, I realize I’m in a holding pattern. I continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. Life changes are in store for me, but right now I’m not dashing out to meet them. I don’t think I’ll be joining a bereavement group, but you never know. I do want to start traveling again. And I’m about to become a grandmother in June, something I welcome with all my heart.

My Summer of No Writing

August 29th, 2012

My Summer of No Writing

I drove my husband to the hospital Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend. He’d been suffering from pneumonia for nearly two months, and his coughing sounded horrendous. Good thing I brought him in. The following day he had surgery to drain the infectious matter from his right lung and the surrounding area.
More than three more months have passed, and Bernie hasn’t returned home. He still has pneumonia. Today he started rehabilitation for the fourth time. Three times respiratory failure has sent him back to the hospital.
He contacted pneumonia when his frequent coughing caused him to aspirate food into his breathing tube. While in the ICU, he failed a swallowing test. A P.E.G. or feeding tube, was inserted to avoid further aspirating. He’s been intubated, on a ventilator, and has had a trake inserted in his throat to help him breathe. Two days ago he was given a different trake, which allows him to speak. He’s been on several antibiotics, and has been given four blood transfusions.
I visit Bernie every day with very few exceptions. My children and friends are supportive. My daughter-in-law, who’s a nurse, helps me understand the medical terms and aspects of my husband’s treatment. Along the way, I’ve learned:
• Pneumonia is an insidious condition, especially for older people and anyone whose health is compromised.
• Sometimes even massive doses of antibiotics can’t rid the body of pneumonia.
• Regardless of how good a health facility may be, every patient must have an advocate to make certain his/her needs are truly being met.
• Various medicines can and often cause problems like disorientation
• An older patient often has multiple medical issues to deal with.
• Expect setbacks.
My life has changed these past three months. I’ve taken over chores my husband had seen to: paying bills, shopping for groceries, caring for our outdoor plants, and taking out the garbage. Suddenly I’m not half a couple. My kids come to stay; my friends invite me to outings. Many people offer to help, but there is nothing they can do to help Bernie get better. Only I can deal with his nurses and various therapists, see to it he’s comfortable and getting the help he needs. But I certainly appreciate their good wishes and prayers!
These three months I’ve been too occupied and preoccupied to write. The children’s novel I’m working on remains untouched. Of course I’ve been busy with other writer-ly jobs. I went through the final edits of my romantic suspense that’s coming out in October. I continue to write the occasional guest blog. And I notify readers each time a book is available for free on Kindle.
I’m hoping Bernie will continue to grow stronger, that soon he’ll be well enough to return home. The summer is drawing to a close. As a former teacher, my new year begins after Labor Day. I’ll get back to writing next week, and finish RUFUS AND THE WITCH’S SLAVE. I’ll resume editing the few books I intend to put up on Amazon as well as work on some mystery series proposals.
Bernie’s infectious disease doctor has told me his pneumonia might be a chronic condition that will require his taking antibiotics off and on indefinitely. I think this is shorthand to expect he’ll continue to move two steps forward and the occasional step back. The future is uncertain. Our lives are in flux. All we can do is take one day at a time. The one thing I know is I’ll be writing again when Labor Day is past.

A TOUCH OF ROMANCE

May 22nd, 2012


Now that spring’s in full bloom, I’m reminded that, aside from being a mystery and children’s book author, I’m inspired to write romance from time to time. My short story, “I’m Getting Married,” is coming out this week with Untreed Reads—a tale of self-discovery and new-found love among the forty-something set that ends with a satisfying punch. When Hedy’s former lover calls to say he’s getting married and wants to see her before he ties the knot, Hedy lies and tells him she’s getting married, too.

My romantic suspense, DANGEROUS RELATIONS, will be out with Uncial Press in the fall. This is a poignant story guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. Having left an abusive marriage, Ardin Wesley plans to steer clear of all romantic entanglements. But after her promiscuous cousin is murdered, she finds herself drawn to her cousin’s widower. What complicates matters is they both want to adopt her cousin’s little girl.

Because amorous relationships are often volatile and always exciting, I include a touch of romance in all my mysteries. My sleuth, Lydia Krause in the Twin Lakes mysteries, shares a torrid mutual attraction with Sol Molina, the homicide detective, in A MURDERER AMONG US. Things get steamier in MURDER IN THE AIR, and complicated because no detective likes having his girlfriend interfering in his case.

In GIVING UP THE GHOST, Gabbie Meyerson has been through an acrimonious divorce after having helped put her ex-husband behind bars, and has no interest in starting a new relationship. She comes to Long Island to teach at a local high school, nervous because she hasn’t set foot in a classroom in years. A new job, a new home, a new life, and solving the murder of an insistent ghost is more than enough. No need to complicate matters by falling for the ghost’s best friend, the local lawman.

A touch of romance adds a dimension to any story. As they say, love is what makes the world go ‘round.