If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our July author interviews: Ellen Byerrum (7/5), Day of the Dark anthology authors (7/12 and 7/19), and Nancy Cole Silverman (7/26).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in July: 7/1--Fran Stewart, and 7/8--Nancy Cole Silverman. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 7/15--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/22--Kait Carson, and 7/29--E. B. Davis.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Friday, July 21, 2017




How To Fly Through the Airport  by Warren Bull

Getting to my recent cruise in the Baltic Sea my wife and I breezed through the US airport. In Holland we squeezed into a mob of people and then trudged along a serpentine path with long line of travelers waiting to go through immigration. Back in the United States we went back into a line. Fortunately the US Customs agents were great. It reminded me about the programs designed for travelers who want to get through airports in the United States without having to perform a partial striptease and wait anxiously, like a character in a Hitchcock film, while the departure time gets closer and closer as the seconds slip away.

Global Entry: It’s the most expensive program, at $100 for five years, but it comes with the best benefits, i.e. you can avoid the long lines at passport control and customs when entering the United States. You can also use TSA PreCheck, Nexus, and Sentri (all explained below). The process of applying for Global Entry, which is administered by US Customs and Border Protection, also tends to be faster than the other programs.

Who’s eligible: US citizens and permanent residents, and citizens of Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, and Mexico. But only Americans can get the PreCheck benefits.


TSA PreCheck: TSA stands for the Transportation Security Administration, the people who screen you and your carry-on baggage. PreCheck gives you access to a special TSA security line in most US airports on flights operated by most US airlines. (check the link given below for details.) That line is generally shorter, faster, and you don’t have to remove your shoes or take anything out of your bag. Be prepared to put your call phone in the carry on luggage that gets scanned. It costs $85 for five years, slightly less than Global Entry but without the other benefits. Applying for PreCheck also tends to take longer.
Who’s eligible: US citizens and permanent residents.


Nexus: If you want to save money and aren’t in a rush give this option serious consideration. It costs just $50 for five years and comes with all the same benefits as Global Entry and PreCheck. On the down side, the application process tends to take several months and can only be completed in a few cities near the US-Canada border. Nexus is designed to expedite crossing onto either side, with special lanes for cars and special kiosks at passport control in both US and Canadian airports while Global Entry only works when you cross into the United States.
Who’s eligible: US and Canadian citizens and permanent residents.


Sentri: This program expedites crossing from Mexico into the US. It’s similar to Nexus, including the Global Entry, PreCheck, and Nexus benefits, but costs more (roughly $122.25 for five years).
Who’s eligible: US citizens and permanent residents.


For Global Entry you apply on the Global Online Enrollment System. If you haven’t created a GOES account before—and you probably haven’t—then that’s the first thing to do. Once you have an account, log in. The process will take about one hour unless you type as badly as I do.  You can apply for several of the programs listed above. Make sure to select “Global Entry” when filling out your application. The form is lengthy and should take you about a half hour to complete. Most of the questions are straightforward, if you have your passport and driver’s license on hand and a decent memory. The trickiest part requires you to detail your employment and residency history for the past five years.

After completing the questions you will be asked for credit card or bank account information to pay $100. There is no refund if you’re rejected. But the fee covers you for five years, if you are approved. Some credit cards, generally those designed for frequent fliers and corporate travelers, will refund your Global Entry or PreCheck fee.

Speaking of rejection, the government says it will reject anyone who has been convicted of a crime, has violated customs or immigration regulations, or is under investigation by law enforcement. You will also be rejected if you provide false information on your application, so spend some time getting that right. Of course, customs and border control agents also have discretion to reject anyone they declare isn’t a “low risk.”

The time it take for your application to be reviewed can generally be measured in days and not weeks. You will receive an email when your application is reviewed and have to log back into GOES to read the message. If everything went well, it will say that you have been conditionally approved, pending an in-person interview.

Then you schedule an interview at one of available offices. The website give you the locations possible.

Wait times vary widely by location. Some locations will accept walk-ins from people who were conditionally approved online. To save yourself a needless trip, try searching online for people’s experience with that specific enrollment center.

The interview is easy. You may be asked a few basic questions about how you travel, your employment status, etc. But you wouldn’t have gotten this far in the process if you weren’t already destined for a rubber stamp.

At the end of the interview, if you’re approved, the officer is required to take your fingerprints. You cannot enroll without completing this step.

At the end of the interview point, enjoy the benefits of PreCheck. While waiting for the invention of the transporter or the magical creation of floo powder, one of these options should help you avoid long lines.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

IT'S NO FUN BEING SICK


A little over five weeks ago my California daughter, Mary, a nurse called me and panicked when she heard me answer the phone. I was rambling saying things that didn’t make sense and was giggling, too. She hung up and called my daughter who lives close to me and told her to take me to the hospital immediately. Well, I had a temperature well over 103 degrees, and they insisted on admitting me immediately even though I didn’t want to be admitted. It turned out I had pneumonia. It was the only time I’ve been in a hospital except when I delivered my four babies.
Mary at work at Kaiser Hospital in CA.

Mary immediately took a flight home and my three children were there much of the time when they could be as well as two of my granddaughters.  My two sisters who live close came to visit, too. They were worried sick because I was either sleeping or mumbling things that didn’t make sense. My primary doctor, Doctor Pipes, checked on me every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. and I had a Chinese woman Doctor Quinn, who was good at trying to figure out problems. I had pneumonia. She were trying to figure out why. Lyme disease and everything else was ruled out. I was poked and stabbed and wore a little plastic tube with a needle sticking into my arm the whole time. I had fluid taken from my spine which had both of my legs hurting for several weeks. A large lamp post type thing with a window at the top was posted just beyond the foot of my bed to keep an eye on my so I didn’t try to get out of my bed. They are expensive and they only had one so apparently they thought I needed to be watched carefully. Much of my stay I’ve forgotten. I don’t even remember some of the people who came. I know the nurses and aides were very nice, and I know the meals and coffee I ordered didn’t taste good so I ate almost nothing. My daughter and sometimes a physical therapist took me for walks down the hall and once he asked me if I could go up a flight of steps which I could do.

Mary brought me home a week later and I was so glad to get into normal clothes instead of a hospital gown, but I was very tired and settled into my nesting chair with a cup of water and books and newspapers to read or doze. Meanwhile, Mary went on a cleaning frenzy. She cleaned all my kitchen cupboards and washed the floors and ran the sweeper and dusted down cobwebs that my nearsighted eyes don’t always see. She cleaned the whole upstairs, and she fixed meals for me which I could barely eat because I had no appetite. I still don’t have much of one but gradually it’s returning. She bought me bottles of strawberry Ensure which I do like, but have limited myself to only one a day.
We went for a walk in the woods. I rested a lot.

Every morning and evening I followed her to the barn to help (minimal help) with the barn chores. She hauled the water buckets to the barn for the ponies and chickens.  My son mowed my lawn at least the sections he could mow that he could get his large riding mower into. She mowed the sections using my mower where he couldn’t get. My sisters came to visit, my son and my local daughter and a granddaughter and friends came to visit, too. Mary flew back to California two weeks after arriving. She had a job to return to. Several days before I suggested I drive to the Mall to a pet store to make sure I could still drive, and I proved to her I could. So on the day she had to leave we headed for the Cleveland Airport at 5:00 a.m. with her driving there and me driving home with no problems. 

The day she left I had to go to the hospital for a chest X-ray. It showed my lungs were clean. Mary and I had visited Dr. Pipe the week before when he gave me the paperwork for the X-ray. He said I was a complete mystery.

Last week I delivered Mobile Meals for the first time in over a month. My California daughter and my son were not happy about that. My local daughter, Susan, came over and carried three buckets of water to the barn so I wouldn’t have to do that to water the ponies or chickens. My writer friend brought me a Chinese meal of Chicken cashew from a Chinese restaurant next to the doctor she goes to. It was one of few things that tasted okay, but I could only eat about two
tablespoons of it so I have enough for a week.

So why am I complaining when I have so many people caring for me? It’s because I lack any energy. Everything I do except sitting in my nesting chair reading and drinking water tires me out. I have minimal appetite and have already lost weight the last time I was weighed a few weeks ago at the doctor’s office. I guess I want to be able to take walks in the woods and do other things like mow the sections of the lawn that didn’t get mowed. I want to get out there and weed and plant all the plants I bought before I got sick. I’m tired of being tired even though I am getting a lot of reading done.

It’s been a four or five days since I wrote this and gradually my appetite and energy is coming back. My sister said I should eat lots of small meals to get my energy back and that seems to have helped. I am so grateful for all the help I got, the Get Well cards and phone calls I’ve gotten since I’ve been sick. I feel totally loved by many now.

Have you ever been seriously ill?



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day of The Dark Authors Part 2 By E. B. Davis

We are visiting a second week with Kaye George's Day of The Dark authors. The questions I posted to the authors in the first half of the anthology can be found here. This week I have posted questions to the authors in the last half of the anthology. 

When I contemplated the subject of the eclipse, my thoughts turned to SciFi, but the authors wrote in various genres--traditional/cozy/historical mystery, psychological thriller, romance, fantasy, and SciFi/horror. I hope you'll pick up a copy of Day of The Dark. It's highly entertaining and will provide the perfect short stories for summer reading fun.

Please welcome the authors to WWK.        E. B. Davis
______________________________________________

“Awaiting the Hour” by Joseph S. Walker

Loved your foreshadowing. Do you love to write stories in which you can “turn-the-tables” on the bad guy?

Thanks for the kind words!  I had a lot of fun writing this story.  I like writing stories where the tension builds until a final confrontation that takes what I hope is an unexpected turn.  The bad guy in this story is a desperate man, but he doesn’t realize that the hostage he’s taken is just as desperate, for entirely different reasons.  In a way a story like this is like the eclipse—the elements are all there, and it’s just a matter of lining them up right to see what is revealed.  Ultimately, doesn’t reality turn the tables on all of us?

“A Golden Eclipse” by Debra H. Goldstein

Did your MC, Agent Lana, learn from this con artist what tipped her hand? Is every event, man-made or natural, an opportunity for the con?

Yup – throughout time, con men, gamblers, and hustlers all have used different versions of “There’s a sucker born every minute” and “There’s a mark born every minute, and one to trim ‘em and one to knock ‘em.” A Golden Eclipse illustrates how in every situation, there is an opportunity to go after a little piece of the action, but the best know how to read others and when to put aside greed and fold. In this case, Agent Lana will never know what aspect of her naiveté tipped her hand, but it won’t matter. She’ll never be an innocent again.

“Picture Perfect” by LD Masterson

Will Sam get ousted from the photography club? In the long-run, Joe isn’t a loser is he?

Everyone loves Sam. And what's not to love? He's friendly, always ready to lend a hand, and just naturally good at whatever he does.  He's everybody's buddy. Isn't he? On the other hand, Joe seems like a total jerk, but he’s really just an average…er, Joe who lets his obsession with a hobby, and a rival, take over his life.  The truth and the future for each of them will be revealed through the lens of a camera.

“The Darkest Hour” by Kaye George

You betrayed your wonderful MC. Will you rewrite it using insulin instead?  What made you think of creating the eclipse anthology?

Oh no, no rewrites at this point! You really think she’s wonderful? She has her good points, but her intentions are not exactly pure.

Deciding to go off on a tangent and do my own anthology was a moment of temporary insanity. I’ve always been interested in stars, meteors, and things that happen in the sky. The upcoming eclipse captured my attention and, I guess, my brain. I’ve been astounded at the reaction, though. There are a LOT of people who are very interested in this eclipse, a lot more than I thought there would be. I had no trouble getting submissions or a publisher. I thought I might not get enough stories to make a whole book and also thought I might have to self-publish. I’ll admit, this has been a fun project from the very beginning.

“Baby Killer” by Margaret S. Hamilton

Traumatic events skew even the sharpest minds. Did finding the documents help Florence or not? Are these characters from your novel?

The documents and photo hidden in the fireplace cache reassure Florence that she did indeed have a son, who lived, but was taken from her and adopted by another family. The solar eclipse sparked her memories not only of childbirth, but the pregnant woman who disappeared into the woods and was never found. Florence hid the victim's necklace in the fireplace cache.

The story takes place in Jericho, a small Ohio college town that is the setting for my Kings River Life stories and my debut novel, Curtains for the Corpse. Mandy will probably appear in a future book in the series in her remodeled Craftsman bungalow.

“Flying Girl” by Toni Goodyear

Who is Flying Girl? Were you ever lost in the woods?

Who is Flying Girl?: She's a symbol of the need to go high, to reach for the
sky, the stars, to believe, to have hope and courage. Though she's a
children's book character in this story, it's a character that speaks to the
magical, mystical heart of all children.

Were you ever lost in the woods?: As a bit of anomaly -- someone who loves
hiking and camping but has trouble finding West even at sunset -- I've spent
my fair share of time, shall we say, respecting the woods! I've been
followed by a bear more than once. Um, really? Er, well, you don't always
see them, you know...

“To the Moon and Back” by Kristin Kisska
https://thehomeschoolscientist.com/total-eclipse-sun-2017/ 

Does everyone have phantoms? Does adversity make or break you?

I believe everyone has phantoms, though they may present themselves in different ways: regrets, grief, guilt, fear, denial, or even remorse. That said I suspect whether or not the phantom breaks a person depends on the magnitude and severity of the problem.

My short story, “To the Moon and Back,” was inspired by a sweet ten-year-old girl from our community who lost her battle to cancer less than six months after being diagnosed.  At the time, she was the same age and grade as my youngest child. Following her tragic journey and watching this beautiful child wither away broke my heart.  As an author, I’m always questioning, “What if…”  In this case, I asked myself, what if this had been my son? How would I have coped had he died? The answer wasn’t easy or pretty. But writing this story has helped me empathize with parents of these health-compromised little angels.

“Rays of Hope” by Harriette Sackler


Was it wise or hurtful that Julie wasn’t told the truth at a younger age? What were the rays of hope for Julie?

What a terrible decision it would be to share information with a young child that could result in trauma and possibly have lifelong repercussions.  For that reason I do think that Julie's grandparents made the best decision they could by waiting until Julie was a teenager to disclose the truth about her parents' absence from her life.  Although Julie, needless to say was shocked and traumatized, she was probably better able to understand

Julie's Ray of Hope was an ability to put closure on the circumstances that took her parents away from her.  Loving childhood memories of her father and his relationship with his wife allowed Julie to maintain her conviction of his innocence.


“Women’s Work” by KB Inglee


Were articles published on women’s rights as early as 1875? Writing articles about women’s rights or putting them into action, gaining respect—were both necessary or was one better than the other?

Fredrick Douglas published a moving article on the rights of women in support of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. In 1872 Susan B. Anthony was arrested for trying to vote. Writing and action are inseparable and neither would work without the other.

“Open House” by Bridges DelPonte

Was your MC Catholic? Ukrainian curse, guilt, or both?

My main character Keefe’s faith is intentionally left open-ended.  Yet the Roman Catholic faith retains a strong influence in the Boston area--so burying a St. Joseph statue to quickly sell your home is a well-known practice.  I’ll let the reader decide the true cause of Keefe’s misery.  I have always greatly admired Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, so Keefe’s guilt over his stealing at open houses is definitely connected to his misfortunes.  Yet I don’t underestimate the power of Ukrainian curses and cursed religious objects to wreak havoc on ordinary lives.  

“Relatively Annoying” by John Clark

Why didn’t your MC report the problem immediately? Your story seems fantastic, and yet would you agree that the reality is: The ignorant cause problems and aren’t held accountable for their crimes?

As it was, he had difficulty being taken seriously until the game warden saw the photos of the desiccated animal carcasses. Given that, would anyone in authority have been concerned until the mutation happened? Up to that point, the issue was his loss of imported insects and his frustration with his cousin acting in a way that messed up his experiment. As for the ignorant causing problems and not being held accountable for their crimes, I give you one heck of a lot of elected officials who act in exactly this manner.

“Ascension into Darkness” by Christine Hammar

What plant did the women use? Is champagne the perfect accompaniment for murder?

The plant used was Hemerocallis fulva Daylily. Although they smell nice and quickly give an uninhabited house a fresh and lovely odor, they may be poisonous. The word "lily" seems to cover an astonishingly wide variety of plants, most of which are indeed poisonous.

Researching Daylilies I found that the Hemerocallis species are toxic to animals (cats, dogs & horses) and ingestion may be fatal. Humans do eat the flowers and the potato-like tubers found in the roots, but one should be certain to consult a professional to positively identify the plant before using it for nutrition.

I took literary liberties and made the Daylily poisonous from flowers to the potato-like tubers, because the word Lily raises a red flag in my mind. I would never, ever use any parts of any lilies in cooking. I'm sticking to potatoes and safe greens. If I wanted to murder someone, I'd use Lily of the Valley.

Champagne is the perfect accompaniment for anything and everything! Nibbles & snacks, luxurious baths, chocolate, hors d'oeuvres, picnics, murder and of course meatballs.
(The Evening Standard April 2016: Balls and bubbles: A Champagne and meatball restaurant is coming to London. http://searcys1847.co.uk/menus/ )

https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/best-places-to-view

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Highlights Foundation Summer Retreat

by Paula Gail Benson
My welcome!



Summer is the time to learn and explore in new venues. Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the few days I spent in the Yale Summer Writing program with Lori Rader-Day as my instructor. I was so enthusiastic about that experience that one of my local writing critique partners became a member of Lori’s class this year.

I had been thinking seriously of returning myself, when I came across information about the Highlights Foundation and the forty or so programs it offered each year. In particular, I noticed Writing the Middle Grade Mystery being taught by Mara Rockliff and Sheila Turnage. Mara writes chapter books as Lewis B. Montgomery, a pseudonym adopted from three favorite children’s authors (think Narnia, Charlotte’s Web, and Anne Shirley). The third book in her Milo and Jazz mystery series, The Case of the Poisoned Pig, was nominated for an Agatha award. Sheila Turnage’s protagonist is rising sixth grader Miss Moses “Mo” LoBeau, of Tupelo Landing, N.C., who was found following a flood, raised by the Colonel and Miss Lana, continues to search for and write letters (launched in bottles) to her unknown “Upstream Mother,” and, in the first book, Three Times Lucky, winner of the Newbery Honor, creates the Desperado Detective agency to solve a murder. After reading the books by these wonderful authors, I decided I couldn’t resist the lure of the Highlights experience.

Highlights? Could there be a connection with the magazine Highlights for Children so often found in doctors’ offices? (The place where fellow blog mate Carla Damron had her first publication!)

Yes indeed. The Highlights Foundation is one of the successful associated businesses in a publishing empire that includes not only the original monthly magazine (targeted for 6 to 12 years olds), but also High Five (for ages 2 to 6), Hello (for infants), and Boyds Mills Press, a trade children’s book publisher. They all began from the efforts of founders Garry and Caroline Myers and continue today as a family controlled business with the editorial offices in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and the marketing division in Columbus, Ohio. (For more information about the company, see my post from yesterday at The Stiletto Gang.)

Myers' Home
The Myers family homeplace, located in rural Boyds Mills, just outside Honesdale, in the mountains and close to the border of New York state, has been dedicated as a writers’ retreat and learning center. Programs are available for authors, teachers, librarians, illustrators, and anyone interested in children’s literature. The setting offers participants the ability to relax and completely immerse themselves in the subject they’ve chosen to study. Space also is available for those not taking a workshop, who just want a special place to concentrate on their writing.

Cabins
Just as the magazine’s focus is on what’s best for children, the Highlights Foundation has developed a retreat to nurture and encourage writers. During the time you spend there, your every need is provided, so you can devote yourself to your writing. For people arriving at the airport, a cadre of drivers is dispatched to give transportation to and from the retreat (all included in the workshop cost). On the way in, I had the most delightful retired rural mail carrier and, for the return trip, I shared the ride with a classmate.

My Desk and Rocking Chair
Bedroom
The accommodations may be a private cabin or a room in the lodge. All feature comfortable beds, rocking chairs, and a writing desk. A computer and printer were available where I stayed in the lodge. I have to admit enjoying my proximity to a refrigerator that remained stocked with water, soft drinks, and adult beverages (wine and beer) as well as a bowl of chocolates that was frequently refilled. Our class also took place in the lodge, in a spacious, airy room with long tables arranged in a horseshoe to facilitate communications.

Breakfast, lunch, appetizers, and dinner were served in the barn. The meals were lovingly prepared and featured local produce. Each night, our chef described the meal, noting that all preferences (solicited from participants in advance) had been taken into consideration. The evening we had meat loaf, it came in four options: regular, vegetarian, gluten free, and garlic and onion free. It was delicious. One lunch had kale soup. We learned that a member of the catering staff lived on the farm that supplied eggs and poultry. Before coming to prepare and serve our food, she had packed 1,200 eggs. The excellent cheeses came from a local creamery.
Kale Soup for Lunch!

Classroom in the Lodge
The Barn
Our class was limited to twelve people. We were at all different places in our writing journeys. One member had been an Edgar nominee, several had numerous publications, and some were just getting started. The days were structured with morning classes, afternoon time for critiques or writing, and evening speakers. We received copies of books from each person who spoke.

I came to the experience with an idea and ten pages. I left with extensive notes for revising my manuscript and an improved understanding of the children’s and YA markets. I am so incredibly grateful for the excellent instructors and caring classmates, all of whom I now value as friends.

Even if you write for adult markets, I encourage you to look at what the Highlights Foundation offers. I felt my time there very much enriched my writing skills, and I hope to return.
The Refilled Chocolate Bowl!

Have you had a summer (or other season) writing experience that has been particularly meaningful?