Holy Moly, I just updated my website!

Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!

The last update I did–prior to my rehaul of the last two days–was last year. I added a couple of new book covers and an upcoming book event. The rest of the website went untouched, gathering the cyber equivalent of cobwebs. I cut myself an enormous amount of slack (something I’m normally not very good at doing) as nothing seemed important after losing Mom early 2016, and I was in increasing and debilitating pain due to what turned out to be bone on bone hip sockets.

Well, hey, now I’ve got titanium replacements and while I’m still grieving over Mom’s death, I’m feeling more like myself again. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…or at least walk a few miles at a time with my dog and lift weights at the gym. I also finished up two books that were past deadline, got new deadlines for the next two books, and caught up on some other things that had fallen to the wayside.

One of these items (my website) required a lot of love. I haven’t written a blog post since 2015 because I didn’t want to look at all the pages that needed updating. We call that “avoidance.” So I finally dove in, page by page and I think it’s up to date. It’s at least to a point where blogging doesn’t intimidate me anymore. Which is a good thing ’cause I have a lot of cute cat and dog pics to share!

I’ll start with this one. 


Plague Nation Launch Party!!!

Plague-Nation-cover WHEN:  Tuesday, April 9th, 7:30pm PST

WHERE:  Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, California 90278

I’m going to be traveling south and celebrating the release of my second Ashley Parker novel at the amazing store Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. They know how to do book events and I am so thrilled to be having the launch event there! I hope you can make it!

Author Pat Bertram Talks About Consistency

I am very happy to welcome the talented Pat Bertram to the Den today for a stop on her whirlwind blog tour for her latest book, Daughter Am I.
  Hopefully you won’t have any trouble viewing the cover here. 🙂 

A little bit about the book:

When twenty-five-year-old Mary learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents–grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born–she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians–former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love with Tim Olson, whose grand-father shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim must stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

“A delightful treasure-hunting tale of finding one’s self in a most unlikely way.” –– Publisher’s Weekly

I’m currently in the middle of Pat’s second novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire and am enjoying the read thoroughly.  I mean, it has a deadly disease (I’m a sucker for plagues), romance and suspense.  What else do I need?  The fact that it’s a well-written page turner is also a plus, of course!  Pat doesn’t waste any time getting to the action and her narrative skills are superb.  

 A little about A Spark of Heavenly Fire just ’cause I like it so much:

In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Her new love, investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover the truth behind the red death until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.

“Bertram’s characters are heartbreaking and real. I love Kate. Absolutely love her.” –Rachael Wollet, freelance editor

Some good stuff here, yes? Yes!   

And now, please welcome Pat Bertram to Zhadi’s Den as she talks a little about the importance of consistency in writing!  If you need me, I’ll be curled up in the corner reading more of A Spark of Heavenly Fire…


“Consistency makes a good pumpkin pie — you don’t want globules of pumpkin ruining the texture of the smooth filling. And consistency makes a good story — you certainly don’t want globules of untruth ruining the texture of your readers’ belief. I admit I’m stretching for a seasonal analogy, but still, the point is that readers will forgive a writer anything except inconsistencies that make them stop and think, “I don’t believe that.”


I started reading a fictionalized version of Princess Di’s accident — according to the author, she didn’t die, but was given a new identity and is living in Texas. Let’s forget that this book is inconsistent with my reading habits. I do not read books about celebrities — this one just fell into my lap and I was desperate for something to read. Let’s forget that this story is inconsistent with what we’ve been told about the accident, because perhaps the author can somehow reconcile his reality with ours, though I will never know. The internal inconsistencies — the inconsistencies that the author himself created — made it impossible for me to finish.


Supposedly, the man who created the post-accident life for Diana also spirited away the Shah of Iran. According to the author, the Shah lived fifteen years beyond his supposed death in 1980. The operation was so secret and so successful that no one knew about it. But . . . It took only this one very high profile achievement to assure a solid client base. Word travels quickly in the very elite circles of power. Now the demand for his services is always in excess of his ability to produce.


What?????? If no one knew that the Shah survived his death, how could word travel? And if word did travel, how could such high profile clients remain “dead,” especially since most of them were hiding from those in the elite circles of power?


It’s almost impossible to keep inconsistencies from slipping into a story, which is why self-editing, though vital, cannot be the final editing process. We see consistency, because we see what we meant to say. Others only see the inconsistency. I am grateful to one of my editors for finding this particular inconsistency in Daughter Am I. The editor wrote, It’s not clear here whether or not Mary completely removed her shirt. If she did, when she stood up and ran to the bathroom, then turned around and had the conversation with Tim, she’d have been completely topless. Given their feelings for each other, and their state of undress, it seems unlikely they would have been able to have such a lengthy conversation without biology taking over sooner.


Oops. I completely missed that. Mary took off her shirt so Tim could massage her sore back, and when the massage turned heated, Mary (engaged to someone else) runs from her feelings and hides in the bathroom. Inadvertently, I had her brazenly opening the bathroom door, standing half-naked, and starting a casual conversation — not at all what my poor innocent Mary would have done. After traveling halfway across the country in the company of seven old gangsters (well, six gangsters and one aged ex-night hall dancer) she’s lost most of her naiveté, but still, she would not have flaunted her naked breasts.


Naked breasts may pale in comparison with undead princesses, but the inconsistency could have dammed the flow of the story for discerning readers. So, the moral of this tale is, if you remove your heroine’s shirt or other apparel, make sure you remember her state of undress.”


Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.  To follow the rest of Pat’s blog tour as well as read the previous tour posts, go here.

Upcoming Virtual Book-signing Events

My friend and fellow writer Steve Prosapio, is holding Bookdays on his blog, virtual interviews and book drawings with four writers, including myself.  Steve’s blog is here.  Below, in his own words, is a more comprehensive description of the events.  Please stop by his blog, both on the dates mentioned and just to check it out!  And yes, a free copy of MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon, will be up for grabs!


They say that March comes in like a lion…


But I’m hereby declaring the next thirty days, “March out and buy a book” month! In support of that, I’ll be hosting virtual “book-signing” events each Wednesday this month on my blog. In fact, I’ll no longer refer to the fourth day of the week as “Wednesday” any longer. It’s now called “Bookday.”


Okay, that last part might be a bit over the top, but the “book events” will be fun.


Without further ado, here’s who will be joining us:


March 5th – Chicago, IL

Geoffrey Edwards, author of Fire Bell in the Night, a historical novel set in antebellum South Carolina that centers on the trial of a man who helped an escaping slave.


March 12th – San Francisco, CA

Dana Fredsti, author of Murder For Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon, an almost-cozy murder mystery about an acting troupe that specializes in spoofing, not sleuthing…until bodies start stacking up. 

March 19th – Sienna, Italy

My review of Too Much Tuscan Sun by Dario Castagno, a memoir of a Chianti tour guide. I recently met Dario at a book signing. I’d corresponded with him from time to time since purchasing his book in 2005.


March 26th – New York, NY

Seymour Garte, author of Where We Stand:  A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet. This nonfiction work explores environmental topics and suggests what we can do to better care for the earth. 

Stop by for any/all of these events on my blog. Interviews with the authors will be posted and some of them have agreed to stop by the blog that day to discuss their work and answer questions from the audience (aka the No Bull Gallery). You do NOT need to be registered with Live Journal to participate. You can post anonymously (hit the “anonymous” button after clicking your comment), but please make sure to put your name on the post. Books and/or gift cards will be given away on the Friday following the visits to those who participate.


Don’t miss out on your chance to “mingle” with published authors (and win free books)!


Again, these events will be held ON MY BLOG on the posted dates. I will be “replaying” the interviews, so to speak, on my gather.com home page but if you want to win prizes, come and post to the BLOG itself. “

My First Official Appearance as a Mystery Author

San Diego Mystery Club Appearance

This was taken at the San Diego Mystery Club meeting in November.  I’m happy to say I’ve lost a full dress size since then, but quite pleased with how cleverly (and kindly) the photographer (thank you, Bill!) hid my butt with a copy of the book cover.   I’m gonna have him photoshop all future unflattering photos!   This picture was taken five minutes after arriving at the hotel restaurant where SDMC holds their monthly meetings.  We were fresh off the plane, which was delayed over an hour, and our Avis rental car.  I drove in record time from Charles Limburgh Airport to Hotel Circle South, arriving at the meeting minutes before dinner was served.  The lovely hostess took one look at my frazzled expression and handed me a glass of wine, which you see in my hand. 

Gearing up for the Great Blog Book Tour of 2008!

Dang me, this blog book tour thing is a lot of work!  I was told by the Yoda of Blogbooktour.blogspot.com (that would be Dani) that I need to put a sitemeter on my blog.  The secret of adding this sitemeter is hidden somewhere in my WordPress dashboard, possibily under ‘widgets.’   I have gone my entire life without the need for widgets (which rhymes with ‘midgets’, ‘fidgets’ and ‘gidgets’, doncha know…) and suddenly I’m forced to explore this strange new world of cyberstuff.



Upcoming Blog Tour

Yes, that’s right.  I’m actually going to DO this blog book tour I’ve been dropping hints about for the last month!  It’s going to start the Monday of the third week of January.  If I had a calendar nearbye, I’d give you the date.  but I don’t and I have felines lounging on me and can’t get up to check.   Does this make me lazy?  Perhaps.  Or does it make me a good mother?  I prefer to look at it that way.

So I’m gonna be doing interviews and guest posts at…six different blogs, hosted by six diversely talented writers and bloggers.  Still working out the logistics, but we will be having several drawing for free copies of my book, MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon.  If you win, you’ll have to bake your own chocolate chip cookies to eat while reading it, but the book itself will be free.

I will be posting a schedule with the dates and urls of the blogs I’ll be visiting and hope you’ll stop by all of them and check it out!

Reliving my childhood

Or at least parts of it.  The parts when I was shy and awkward.  I used to be a very friendly, open kid who’d make friends anywhere.  But after a few negative experiences dealing with the kind of casual cruelty that kids specialize in, I became a lot more hesitant about approaching people and spent quite a few parties hiding out in corners.  I outgrew that over time and have had relatively few awkward moments in my adulthood as far as interacting with strangers, but today at the Mystery Writers of America/Sisters in Crime holiday party at M is for Mystery Bookstore, I had about an hour of pure, agonizing shyness, straight out of grade school.  I clutched my glass of wine with one hand, Dave’s arm with the other and felt my heartrate speed up as I began to hyperventilate and wonder what the hell I was doing there.  I vanished behind a long row of bookshelves and tried to get control of my breathing and stop myself from making a hasty escape back to the car.

It got better.  A very kind woman, Susan S. (webmistress for MWA) took me under her wing and introduced me around to a few people.  The ice melted, my breathing returned to normal and I ended up having a great time.  Sold a few books, bought some and had them signed by the authors, and am really looking forward to the next SinC event.   But tonight was an object lesson to me that we may grow older, but we never really leave our childhood behind, both the good bits and the bad.