The Southern Festival of Books October 14 – 16

SFB_5.25.2016_OLI enjoyed this again this year. I mostly hung out at the Middle Tennessee Sisters in Crime tent, which was lots of fun as Sisters in Crime members from other states showed up too. We had Debra Goldstein from Alabama and Kathleen Delaney from Georgia. The picture below is of me featured with my book on Saturday October 15th and the next one is a pic of our local Nashville group closing the tent down on Sunday October 16th. Left to right, me, Tom Wood, Lisa Wysocky, Kay Tyler, Beth (Jaden) Terrell, and Robert (Bob) Mangeot. 14725736_1788474544775709_2604443359717360957_n[2]

Me featured 10-15On Friday October 14th, I was honored to be asked to host author Rick Reed who wrote a true crime novel about a serial killer he caught while a homicide detective and then turned to writing fiction. Here’s Rick with me getting his signature on his book after the session.20161014_144442-1 20161014_154324

Sunday the 16th, I was on an author panel too with author Kelly Oliver and Jaden (Beth) Terrell. What a wonderful event. Here we are at the Auditorium at the Nashville Library.

Panel 10-1610-16 panel

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Titles and How They Came About

Me at Wok meeting

by Marilyn Meredith

Linda and I have both written about the importance of a title and ways to choose one. This time I’m going to concentrate on the titles in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

The first book I wrote in the series, Deadly Trail, was not the first published, so when it was published it was called the prequel – or when Mundania republished it, they called it #0. And of course, there is a most significant trail in it.

Deadly Omen came next and based on an Indian legend—something you’ll see I’ve done often. For a brief moment, I thought about including Deadly in every title. Sure glad I gave up that idea.

Unequally Yoked came from the Bible, and refers to the differences in Tempe’s and her husband’s beliefs.

Intervention refers to a divine intervention.

Another legend about what an owl crossing one’s path means gave the title to Wing Beat.

It’s pretty obvious why I called the next one Calling the Dead.

There are two significant fires in Judgment Fire.

Kindred Spirits refers to Tempe’s relationship with two of the Tolowa characters in the book.

Dispel the Mist introduces the Hairy Man—and the title comes from an Indian quote.

Because a lot of the action is on Bear Creek Indians Reservation land, there are more references to the Hairy Man in the Invisible Path. The title comes from another Indian quote.

Bears invade Bear Creek and create havoc; Bears With Us seemed like an appropriate title.

Raging Water was the obvious title when torrential rain caused Bear Creek to become a raging river.

Another quote provided the perfect title, Spirit Shapes, for a tale about a haunted house and the spirits who live there.

River Spirits came about from a scene near the end of the mystery—and with much of the story being on the reservation again, the Hairy Man once again appears.

In this mystery set over on the coast, Tempe soon realizes much of what is happening is Not as it Seems.

This latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Seldom Traveled, also got its title from a quote – and it refers to several seldom traveled roads and trails in the story.

And that’s how I came up with those titles,


Seldom Traveled Front Cover

Seldom Traveled Blurb:

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

Mundania Press Buy Link: (Directly from the publisher in all different formats).

Amazon Buy Link: Amazon Link


New Contest:

Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Tomorrow you’ll find me here:

Marilyn Meredith’s Bio:

Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains. She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety
Writers of America.




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My Killer Nashville Panels Friday August 19, 2016

2016KillerNashville (2)

Click Here for My KN Panelist Badge

Here’s the group from session 5 Building on a Network of Writers, Editors, Agents at Killer Nashville 2016:

Building Network at KN Linda Sands, Tom, Bryan Robinson, Kay Kendall

Left to right. Linda Sands, me, Tom Wood, Bryan Robinson, and Kay Kendall



I moderated Panel session 7, How to Write Effective Plot Twists. Below, to the right or my picture is Tom Wood, Sharon Potts, Ray Wenck, and Kris Calvin.



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The Black Madonna by Linda Kane – Book Excerpt and Slideshow

linda and Shari

The Black Madonna is a story about a group of people from the 12th century, the Cathars who fought for religious tolerance in Occitan, France.
It’s about a woman who lost all that she loved to find the last words conveyed to Thomas by Jesus Christ and the people who will stop at nothing from preventing her from bringing the words to light.

A Short Excerpt from The Black Madonna

The book had been a gift from her grandparents, but it was likely to get her killed…

Looking up, Luci spotted the monk standing on the third-floor balcony of the Center. He seemed frightened. He turned and looked behind him as if he was listening to someone. Then he faced back toward the railing, made the sign of the cross, and pitched himself forward.

“No!” Luci screamed.

He landed, arms outstretched, on some metal spikes jutting out of the concrete slab. Luci saw that, in his hand, he was still holding the tarot card. It was the card of Justice. Luci began to hyperventilate. She tore herself away from the horrible sight and scanned the crowd, searching for Janet. She couldn’t see her anywhere. The ambulance and fire truck were arriving. Too many people, too much noise. Luci could barely breathe. She saw Janet walking out of the library. Luci grabbed a sack of the birdseed that she always carried to feed the birds on her break. Dumping the seeds out she began to breathe into the paper bag. How could the monk have known about the book, and why had he wanted it enough to die? Her skin went clammy, as she fought for breath.

The paramedics raced over to the monk and immediately pronounced him dead. Someone pointed out Luci to the second paramedic. He saw that she was in distress, raced over to her, and slipped an oxygen mask over her nose. “Breathe,” he said.

She could hear people off in the distance. Someone said, “I think she’s having a heart attack.”

“Don’t go to sleep,” the paramedic said. “Stay with me and keep breathing.

The last thing she heard before the ambulance door closed was Janet’s harsh whisper near her ear. “Don’t think you’re getting out of going to France, Luci.

***Click on the Black Madonna link below for more on the history in the book always in the background behind this modern day mystery:

The Black Madonna

A Little About Linda Kane

Amazon Buy Link

Shop at Publisher Black Opal Books






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Southern Festival of Books Reveal Party


This year Humanities of Tennessee held the reveal party for the upcoming Southern Festival of Books at Parnassus Books in Nashville on July 9th. Serenity Gerbman, Director of Literature and Language Programs announces the authors for this year’s Southern Festival of Books with more yet to be added to the list.ATT_1468112775045_20160709_182023_resized

There was a band, wine, beer, lots of food, friends, and a fun time.


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Goldstein and Terrell at Nashville’s Parnassus Books


Debra H. Goldstein, visiting from Birmingham, AL teamed up with local (Nashville) author, Jaden (Beth) Terrell, today to give quite an enjoyable presentation at Parnassus Books. They ended by signing their most recent books for local readers.
     Debra H. Goldstein was on stage for Should Have Played Poker  Parnassus Buy Link and Jaden Terrell for River of Glass. Parnassus Buy Link


Besides being an author, Debra has been a judge, which made for interesting conversation today. Goldstein’s debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a100_3013 2012 Independent Book Publisher Award and was reissued in May 2014 by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries.  She serves on national and local boards including Sisters in Crime, Alabama Writers Conclave, YWCA of Central Alabama and the Alys Stephens Center and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Forum and Zonta. Goldstein lives in Birmingham, AL, with her husband. Her website is: debrahgoldstein home

Author Jaden Terrell was surfing the Internet in search of ideas for her third crime novel when she came across this sentence: “There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history” and further researched human trafficking for her third book in her private detective series featuring PI Jared McKean. Jaden Terrell is a Shamus Award finalist. The former special education teacher is a Magnolia Award recipient for service to the Southeastern Chapter of 100_3021

Mystery Writers of America and is also the Executive Director of the Killer Nashville Thriller, Mystery, and Crime Literature Conference. She teaches writing workshops. Beth Jaden Terrell’s website is:


All in all, this was a fun time. The two authors signed books, talked to friends and we all packed our well-loved local Nashville bookstore, Parnassus Books.


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Blogposts and Me

If you’ve dropped by my blog, then hello, I’m glad you did.

My last post here, an author interview with Beth Fine, ended on May 31st leaving me with some free space for a time, so I’ve copied a recent post I published on Make Mine Mystery’s blogspot.

I’m a regular on two blogs right now, Make Mine Mystery and Novel Spaces. You can find me on MMM on the third Thursday of any month. Novel Spaces is a new gig for me. I start in July and will have a post on the 17th of every month. I have followed both these blogs for years and I’m proud to have been accepted as a regular on both.

I’ve been a guest on many other blogs: Buried Under Books (cnc books), Writers Who Kill, Killer Nashville, BK Stevens’ First Two Pages along with a number of stops on other authors’ personal blogs. The only regular monthly blog visits I’ll be making are Make Mine Mystery and Novel Spaces, which is enough right now considering I’m actively working to finish my second book while continuing to work a full-time day job. I also have other needed promotion activities.

Writing takes time like anything else you do in hopes of being successful. Here’s what I copied from my June 16, 2016 post on Make Mine Mystery:


About Book Titles

by Linda Thorne

If you follow suggestions for writing book titles, you will be discouraged from writing long titles (more than four or five words). The reasoning, keep them short so they’re easy to remember and easy to post anywhere. I talk about the exception to this, the one-word title, in the next paragraph. After you hear the lecture on size of title, the suggestions go on to include giving your title twists, humor, gusto, anything to find a way to make it memorable and provocative.

When considering short titles, one of the problems with the one-word title is the likelihood of it being duplicated by other people’s books. This is totally legal but many authors don’t want their books competing with a long list of the same title. Another problem is the difficulty of describing your book properly in a single word. Think about how much more defined a book title is when a second word is added. For example:

A couple of two-word titles in Marilyn Meredith’s Tempe Crabtree series are Raging Water and River Spirits. The words Raging and River are meaningless standing alone as would be Water or Spirits. The dual words need each other to make sense and give these titles “oomph.”

The same holds true of the debut novel by S.J. Francis, Shattered Lies. The two strong words, shattered and lies, would not mean much of anything if not coupled together. Either word as a single title would lose all its zest.

I could go on and on: Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Now, having spoken on the negatives of titles too long and one-word titles, does any of this matter in the big scheme of things if you find that perfect title? Take a look at these exceptions to the popular advice:


John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden and Good and Evil.
Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Alan Brady’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie



I had the idea of writing a book long before I actually knew I’d really write one, so I was one of those people (annoying to some) who would occasionally tell others, “I’d like to write a book and I’d call it, The Termination of Jolene Cromwell. My lead character was a career human resources manager, so terminations were part of her job. This was the book in my head back then, in the years long before I started writing. The title is so, so, and rather plain. No oomph, no action, no underlying statement.

When I did start writing the book, the termination of the character named Jolene Cromwell was no longer the story. It was something that happened in back-story, something that gave motivation to my protagonist. The story starts when a no-call-no-show employee is found shot to death. My protagonist, like me, is a career human resources manager and regardless of how any employee leaves a company, they must be terminated. Then death itself is a type of termination. As writers, we’re told to stay away from the word just, but I thought it worked well in my title because it turns out to be anything but just another termination. The addition of the word, just also eliminates duplication of other book titles. When I Google Just Another Termination, I pull up one book and that’s the one I wrote.

The title of my second book, a work in progress, is A Promotion To Die For. My character gets a promotion that requires her to move to a place where she lived close to twenty-nine years earlier. She was in danger then and her move back puts her in danger again. This title is also a play on words. The promotion is a high paying “dream” job that could easily be referred to as a promotion to die for. In this case, the words could hold to their literal truth as well since someone plans to kill my lead character.

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Author Interview – Welcome Beth Fine

Beth Fine is here discussing her middle school mystery series, the Picaresque of Ímagine Purple. Beth has an interesting background. Besides this mystery series, she’s been writing most of her life. We’ll get to her more detailed biography at the end of the interview.DSC_0012_pp3 (1) (1)

I’m so fascinated by Beth’s whole concept of writing juvenile books about a young teacher becoming an amateur sleuth. She mixes education with mysteries. Unlike my murder mysteries, Beth lets real and attempted murders occur without capturing the storyline. I want to welcome you, Beth Fine, for the remainder of the month of May. Have a seat. I have a number of questions to ask.

Linda: Tell us about the genre.

Beth: Educational fiction…but shhh…don’t tell the kids. Pursuing after-school or summer reading can supply them with incidental, enriching knowledge useful in life and helpful at school. Each book’s front matter has a map of the story’s geography and a list of characters with one-line descriptions. The Appendices hold main character biographies, explanations of clichés/idioms/phrases italicized in the text, lookup suggestions, and definitions of PSAT level vocabulary also italicized in the text. But, I promise these extra features can be explored or ignored without losing the story’s thread because the series’ motto (Have Fun. Get Smarter. ™) encourages readers to choose a style that fits their own agenda.

Linda: I’ve looked at the list of all of your published books and noticed they were released fairly close to each other. How long did it take you to complete the first seven?FANFOLD - Imasodes-I-VIIPink ArticleADVERTISING - IMASODES-A2- Homeschool Mag

Beth: Living on the Atlantic in Newfoundland inspired me and made it easier to crank out ten manuscripts. Whenever back in America, I would keep seeking a publisher until finally landing two contracts in 2011. Gradually the publisher offered contracts up through IMASODE X. Each of the first two books stayed eight months in edit. Once I learned the editor’s point-of-view technique, she suggested I go to the “accelerated” approach which soon became the “Rush” method. That admittedly brought long queues if I missed a deadline.

Linda: Did you have a goal in mind when you began writing the series?

Beth: Yes, to keep my life on a roll!! Growing up in Texas, I loved kid-type adventures: riding horses, playing in the forbidden bayou, and looking at the world upside down from tree limbs. Eventually, I grasped how to have adventures by simply reading books. So, during the heat of the day, I sat in my treehouse and read Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Bobbsey Twins plus scores of biographies on our forefathers, early inventors, and great women. As a fourth grader, I wrote two novels and asked my teacher to let me read in class the one with 26 chapters. That took a month. Afterwards, the kids said they liked it because the story sounded like my life, confirming a writer’s primary premise: Write what you know!

After college, I began my own picaresque, moving around to have new adventures and living in every U.S. region except the Plains. I worked in advertising, theatre, and the marine industry. I taught fourth graders and young adults who read or wrote below 4th grade level. This broke my heart and made me wonder how I could combine my love of adventure with my desire to improve literacy. The dilemma birthed a new goal resulting in my mystery series.

Linda: There’s not enough time for you to go over each and every book. Would you pick one to discuss and tell us why you chose it?

Beth: That’s like choosing a favorite child, but my recent book Escapades in Estonia fits the bill.

Background: My daughter’s godparents are from Estonia and lived in displaced persons’ camps after WWII. Although quite young then, they still knew stories of family miseries and victories which they shared to enhance my story’s authenticity. I even appropriated scenes from the life of a relative, a Lutheran minister disallowed to lead worship or celebrate Christian holidays. He saw Russians seize the rectory and divide it into flats for bureaucrats and soldiers. In the 1960s, tired of tyranny, patriotic Estonians revived their “Singing Revolution,” to show resistance.

Storyline: Such a backdrop serves as a perfect setting for Ímagine Purple to solve a crime. Her childhood pal, Dr. Paul Kaminski, heads up an artificial heart project and is invited to Estonia to consult with the Tallinn Academy of Sciences. His medical equipment disappears, so he asks Ima to bring two more sets. When she arrives, Customs assumes the strange-looking apparatuses are bombs and instantly confiscates them. So that her trip will not be a total waste, Ima tries to find out when, why, how, and by whom the first sets got stolen. Her investigation lands her in a KGB jail.

Linda: I see that that Bethany Adams of Birmingham Christian Family Magazine (CFM) described your whole series’ concept in the article below. Since it may be difficult to read on my blog, would you tell us about the two “Summer Reading” articles you wrote for the Nashville CFM and we would could get a copy of the magazine?Beth Fine

Beth: I wrote from two perspectives: #1 encourages parents to let kids choose summer reading material (April) #2 describes a kid’s viewpoint and desire for other choices. (May) NCFM distributes to Nashville area businesses ( shops). I saw a stack at Logos Christian Bookstore. The articles can be found online:

Linda: With your educational background, I certainly understand your choosing a teacher as a protagonist, but what possessed you to include a mystery in each?

Beth: You are right to call Ima a “protagonist” because everything does not always work out in her favor. Because a detective must understand logic from premise to conclusion, solving mysteries requires constant critical thinking. Since English classes usually introduce students to inductive and deductive reasoning, I had Ima Purple invent her own approach which she calls “reductive reasoning,” reducing details to a common denominator like in “fractions.” This activity keeps the story moving. Even so, roadblocks occur to build sympathy or bewilderment, both good hooks for the reader.

Linda: That makes perfect sense. Tell us about your character, Imagine Purple. What makes her a good sleuth?

Beth: Ima as a teacher-turned-detective is great at seeing details that others miss. DSC_0130_pp (1)However, she often struggles to turn mundane details or even curious facts into ”productive leads” that develop into clues, direct her to the culprit, or box her into dead-ends. Growing up studying Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Nancy Drew, Ima devised her own silly way to eliminate useless things: find a detail, throw it against wall, let if fall, and stomp on it to see if it “squirts” out a clue. But as an adult, she needed a more concrete way. Sherlock used opium, a foolish crutch he thought gave him insights; Poirot used “every little gray cell,” a method Ima respected; Miss Marple used “disarming comments” to induce unwitting responses; and Nancy used “Drewduction” to persuade friends to join her wild schemes. Ima had long used “supposes and what ifs,” a method of analysis that gradually evolved into what she called “ponder-and-pray” over loose ends.

Linda: One last question. Are you still writing book IX and X? Will this be an endless series?

Beth: I wrote IMASODES IX and X a few years ago. However, revising and formatting manuscripts per publisher’s standards have taken more time than I suspected. Fielding assignments to revise, suggest book cover ideas, or approve layouts after proof) has put IX and X in slow-cook mode. I’ve been trying to get IMA-IX in shape since last September. And though sent in February, VIII’s book cover still needs to gel. As you well know, on top of these tasks, book marketing is mostly left to the author. Marketing gets done as my time, energy, and pocketbook allow. So since my series has sixteen books from Newfoundland to New Delhi, this plan outlines my next few years. Whew!

Linda: Thank you again for the interview and sit down and relax as you’ll be my guest here for the rest of the month.


Author Beth Fine has long been a writer of plays, music, verses, and stories. She has master’s degrees in humanities and literature, both emphasizing composition. Her undergraduate work focused on theatre, sociology, and education. She moved from Newfoundland to Tennessee in 2012. For more information, visit picaresqueofimagine series site or

Seven books in the series are in print so far, with more in the works:
IMASODE I: Last Passenger Train Across Newfoundland *
IMADODE II: Scary Ferry to Nova Scotia
IMASODE III: Mary Jane of Canton, Maine
IMASODE IV: Mayhem in Manhattan *
IMASODE V: Anti-Belle of Antebellum Atlanta
IMASODE VI: Danger Starts in Detroit
IMASODE VII: Escapades in Estonia *
IMASODE VIII: Aunt Lottie’s London (Late Spring 2016)
IMASODE IX: Sovereign’s Sunburst, an Auction in Germany (Late 2016)IMASODE X: From Piraeus to Paris to the Pyrenees (2016-17)
Buy Link:
*Available B&N-Brentwood. All others at Amazon

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