Friday, April 18, 2014

We Have a Jewish Lawn, But Where Are the Diamonds?

by Linda Rodriguez


People who have been reading my posts on my own blog, here at Stiletto, and on my other group blog, Writers Who Kill, know that I have had to battle disapproving neighbors and the city about my front yard, which is planted in native, drought-hardy plants for the most part. The neighbors and the city both would prefer that my husband and I have only bluegrass in my yard, and they’d like to force us to do that. Fortunately, we’ve been able to fight it for the past seven or eight years.

Now, along comes Pat Robertson, that ancient, uber-wealthy televangelist, to give us just the excuse we needed to stand up to the neighbors and the city. On March 31, Robertson said on his television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network that you never saw Jews tinkering under their cars or mowing their lawns because they were too busy polishing their diamonds. 

My husband, who’s Jewish, sent me the link to the video.  

He included a subject line in his email that read, “We Have a Jewish Lawn,” referring, of course, to the problems with the city.

I watched the video with the poor confused old man and emailed my husband back. “You’re right. We do. But where are the diamonds?”

And I’m still waiting, darn it!
REPLY TO COMMENTS (because Blogger still won't let me reply :-(

Marilyn, yes, it is sad, but no more than we can expect from Robertson anymore. It's a shame that he puts himself forth as representing Christianity, which is something very different and much better than what he shows the world. I would say he's irrelevant, but he has millions of viewers. I can't understand why people and cities all over the country are so insistent on the bluegrass yards when they require so much water and chemicals to survive. Yards like yours and mine are much more sustainable and eco-sensible (I think I just made up that word, but we needed one like that, didn't we?).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mad Men, Baby Meerkats & 1969

 by Kay Kendall

In my head these days, I’m living in 1969. I call up memories from that time period—yes, I was a sentient being back then—as I write my W.I.P. (work in progress), a historical mystery.

I call my books “historical” because, even if it’s a time period some of us can remember, that world is so long gone that it is the dead past. Sure, it has ripples into the present, but it is just plain gone.

The award-winning television series MAD MEN has helped bring this era back to fictional life. The seventh and final season of this show has begun, and the year is now 1969. The very one that I’m imagining daily in my head.

Media pundits already privileged to view the closing episodes note that 1969 brought a sour end to a decade that had begun with such bright hopes. President Kennedy’s Camelot is replaced by death at Chappaquiddick. Peace and love at Woodstock progresses to death at Altamont. Campus radicals morph into the Weather Underground . . . and even more death. The year 1969 is also when the My Lai massacre comes to light. (And Nixon becomes President. Enough said.)

Only one thing slowly gets better as the decade progresses—better opportunities for women. As luck has it, women’s liberation provides the background of my W.I.P.—murder comes to women’s lib groups in the rain-soaked cities of Vancouver and Seattle. Hence the title of my second mystery is RAINY DAY WOMEN.

Participating in the women’s movement was a salient point in my life. I remember conversations and episodes clearly from that time and can inject them into my fiction. This adds authenticity to the historical detail.

There’s just one problem. A few people don’t believe how sexist that era was. For example, one man in my writing critique group keeps protesting that males just weren’t that awful back then. He won’t believe me when I assure him that I know what I’m talking about. A twenty-something female gasped when a passage was read aloud that showed a husband ordering around his wife in a preemptory fashion. She said, “I wouldn’t have put up with s**t like that.” In that case, had she lived back then, she would have been a rare bird indeed.

Now I can give people like them—doubting Thomases and Thomasinas—an assignment. I’ll suggest they watch episodes of MAD MEN. Perhaps they will believe the television show when they don’t agree that my writing is historically accurate. (Often an outside source is handy to validate what one knows to be true. I learned that in my corporate career.)

So, where do baby meerkats enter into this—as you might wonder from the title of this post? Please bear with me as I explain. 

I’m a fairly serious person. My fiction writing and my social media posts reflect that. While I admire writers who can routinely toss off witty or humorous comments, I’m not inclined in that direction. Just look at the content of this blog!

I have noticed, however, that people who post darling photos of puppies and kittens develop a devoted following online. Therefore, lately I’ve been experimenting. I salt my Facebook pages with cute photos of baby animals, and these have garnered raves. My favorite shows a wildlife photographer who had become so much a part of some baby meerkats’ life in Botswana that they happily crawled all over him and his long telephoto lens. The money shot is of a baby meerkat standing atop the man’s head in that precious pose so beloved of all us meerkat fanciers.

My hope is that the baby animals on my Facebook pages will draw people in, and then they may stick around to read my more serious musings. That seems to be happening.

But in addition, there has been an unexpected payoff.

As I increasingly dabble in the small pleasures provided by baby meerkats, puppies, and the like, there’s been an uptick in the quality of my life. It’s great to smile more, even as I dwell mentally in that fraught year of 1969.

Here for your delight are the photos and video of baby meerkats, mentioned above. The video is especially recommended:


Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s during Hitler's rise to power--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.

Discover more about her at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Tidbits About My Ongoing Blog Tour

No one ever said doing a blog tour on your own would be easy. I've done it enough to know how much work it is.

Now that I'm in the middle of it, it should be easy, but it's not.

When I sent the requested blog posts out, I asked for a reply that they'd received the material--everyone let me know they did. But, guess what? At least three people said I never sent them anything. I quickly resent.

Even though I sent reminders out to everyone the day before the tour began, a couple have forgotten.
What I don't understand is why, when someone gets the material, they don't set everything up with the proper date and time right then? If they did, they wouldn't have to rush to do it on the day or forget about it all together.

I'm not thrilled the codes that people have to read and copy--like the ones we have on this blog--but it is a necessary evil for those who get a lot of spam. Some of them are not so bad, but when I have to write the code three times to get it right and post, I know that some people will not bother to comment when it's so difficult.

Worse are the bloggers who insist on moderating every comment before it's posted. Maybe it wouldn't be too bad if the comments were moderated often, but when you are on a tour you need to reply to questions and at least acknowledge people who leave comments which is not easy to do when the comments don't show up for hours.

I know that this discourages people from commenting. One of the moderated posts had way fewer comments that any of the rest of the blogs I've visited so far.

On the whole though, things have gone well. At this point in my tour I've had nearly 60 unique commenters. Many have commented multiple times--trying for my contest, I'm sure. (The person who comments on the most blogs has the opportunity to have a character named after him/her in my next book.)

Here are the rest of the stops on my tour for Murder in the Worst Degree:

How Rocky Bluff P.D. Became a Series

How I Get My Titles


How Romance Plays a Part in the Book


Several Romances


Social Issues

How I Do My Research
Not a Hard-Boiled Police Procedure Nor a Cozy

Ways I’ve Murdered People


Choosing Names for Characters
How My Books Have Changed

My Experience with Killers

Hoping for the remainder to go smoothly.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, April 14, 2014

Murder They Wrote

By Evelyn David

A few weeks ago the Internet – and the Southern half of Evelyn David – exploded when The Good Wife killed off Will Gardner. Interviews with the producers, as well as with Josh Charles who played Will Gardner, have made it clear that the actor wanted out of the series. The departure would have inevitably met with viewer disappointment because many loved the romantic storyline of Will and Alicia. But the decision to kill off Will is what enraged – or engaged – much of the audience. The producers claim that they didn't feel like they could simply ship Will off-stage, perhaps to prison, perhaps to that island where the producers shipped ER heartthrob George Clooney when he opted out of network television. But some viewers, the Southern half among them, think that the decision to kill Will cheated the audience who had supported the show and the relationship through thick and thin.

As the Southern half explained to me in an email: I do know I felt shocked, angry, emotionally manipulated because in the last couple of episodes it seemed the romance might not be done for good. In hindsight it seems the writers did that to ratchet up the angst of his death. I guess I’m more upset that after all these years we never got the “happy at least for now” scenes for that couple. Yes, they got “together” a few times – even a make-out scene in an elevator, but they never were “happy.” That’s the payoff for me – they never reached “happy as a couple” before it fell apart.

I happen to like happy endings in books/movies. Not realistic, but I go on the assumption that I have to deal with enough problems in real life. My fantasy life should be one where the good guys win, the one true couple ends up together. As I've said before, it's why I write and read cozy mysteries. I can't control what happens in the world, but I can control what I read/watch for enjoyment.

I accept that authors can do what they want with their characters – and conversely, readers/viewers can also choose to stop reading/watching if they're unhappy with the choice. Arthur Conan Doyle despised his creation of Sherlock Holmes and summarily killed him off in "The Final Problem." Public pressure and the lack of interest in any of his other writing, had Doyle bring his hero back to life. Frustrating for the author; but delightful for his audience.

Are there books, TV shows, or movies where you believe the writers manipulated your emotions? Did it affect whether you read/watched the writers again?

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

Leaving Lottawatah
Leaving Lottawatah by Evelyn David is the eleventh book in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series. A novella-length story, Leaving Lottawatah continues the spooky, yet funny saga of reluctant psychic Brianna Sullivan who planned to travel the country in her motor home looking for adventure, but unexpectedly ended up in a small town in Oklahoma.
Things are messy in Paradise. The happily engaged couple of Brianna Sullivan and Cooper Jackson are anything but. Angry words set Brianna and Leon, her bulldog companion, off on a road trip, but it's hard to run away from home if everyone wants to come with you. Before she can leave town, Brianna is unexpectedly joined on her travels by Sassy Jackson, her maybe ex-future mother-in-law, plus Beverly Heyman and daughter Sophia, both still grieving over a death in the family. Destination: A Psychic convention in America's most haunted hotel. But they haven't reached their destination before Brianna is confronted by two ghosts demanding help in capturing the serial killer who murdered them decades earlier. Even more worrisome, another young woman has gone missing. It's up to Brianna and her road crew to stop the serial killer from striking again. Brianna has hard questions for the spirits surrounding her, and for herself. Does she want to marry Cooper? Is it time to hit the open road again and leave Lottawatah behind? Or will the ghosts of her past continue to haunt her wherever she goes?

Trade Paperback

We're also delighted to announce that A HAUNTING IN LOTTAWATAH, the fifth book in the Brianna Sullivan series, is now available as an audiobook. Once again narrated by the fantastic Wendy Tremont King, A HAUNTING IN LOTTAWATAH proves that ghost hunting can be deadly.