Friday, December 19, 2014

Catching Up with Miko Johnston

I can honestly say writing has changed my life.

Shortly before the Writers in Residence blog folded, I decided to submit a short story to Sisters in Crime LA for publication in their 2010 anthology, Murder in La-La Land. The story was rejected, which devastated me. I resolved to get published in the next anthology and I’m pleased to say that two years later, my story, “By Anonymous” was included in LAst Exit to Murder.

Meanwhile I began polishing the novel I’d written, A Petal In The Wind, the first book in my series of three historical novels. While finishing the second book, two of my characters defied my attempts to keep them apart, which forced the need for a fourth novel to complete the series. After I finished book two, I intended to self publish the series. However, my Writers in Residence friends urged me to try traditional publishing first. Both Madeline and Bonnie recommended Champlain Avenue Books, so I queried the publisher regarding my first novel, mentioning I’d finished the second book and was writing number three. I’m thrilled to announce that on July 4th, Champlain offered me a two-book contract with options on the rest of the series. A Petal In The Wind was released in November; A Petal In The Wind II will be published in 2015.

Last year my husband and I moved from Southern California to Washington (the big one) and now live on Whidbey Island. We still have our house in SoCal, which we visit several times a year. I schedule our trips to LA so I can join my Writers in Residence friends for our monthly lunch date. I’ve been fortunate to meet gifted writers in my new hometown who’ve become dear friends over the past year as well. As they say, “New friends and old, silver and gold”, which is why writing has truly changed my life.




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Read Recommendations from the WinRs!

The holidays are here, and it's always nice to get cozy with a book that takes place during the season! We have a few books we'd like to recommend to you. Be sure to check out the Christmas-themed books by our own members, which are listed at the end of the blog!

We wish you all a wonderful, safe holiday season.



Merry, Merry Ghost  by Carolyn Hart

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg


It's not a mystery, but it will leave you feeling pretty darn good about life.







Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Christmas Party by Nero Wolf

This is part of a collection of short stories set around various holidays.









The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers

She really sets the mood, and you'll learn more about bell ringing than you thought possible.






Gingerbread Cookie Murder with Joanna Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier


A collection of stories by three great authors.






Murder for Christmas Anthology


Murder, murder, and more murder, and by some of the greatest mystery writers who ever lived!









And of course we have some of the WinR's Christmas themed-books.

Bearnard's Christmas by G.B. Pool

Don't you just love Bearnard?  Gayle made him by hand!








The Santa Clause Singer by G.B. Pool

An out-of-work lounge singer ends up playing Santa Claus at the mall and makes a very sick young girl a promise that could cost him everything.








Family Matters by Jacqueline Vick


A Wilder Women mystery.








Rubies for Christmas by Jacqueline Vick

A Wilder Women short mystery.








Kitty Christmas Caper

A Frankie Chandler pet psychic short mystery.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Catching Up With Jacqueline Vick

Where to start.

It's been an incredible ride of highs and lows, and all along the WinRs were there to support me, even those who weren't yet officially part of the group.  We may not see each other face-to-face that often (on my part) but this incredible group of women are the best.

In October of 2011, the hubby took a major fall off a ladder at work and wound up with emergency brain surgery, titanium in his collarbone, and months of rehabilitation.  Through the prayers of many and the Grace of God, both of us made it through that tough time without any scars. (Well, hubby has scars, but scars are manly on men.)

I went through the same rigmarole that each and every one of you who writes goes through. Is this working? Why am I even doing this? I'm a sham! Maybe I should write romances instead, though I don't like graphic scenes. Maybe the leads can just be friends. Maybe I should renew my insurance license instead.

When I look at what I have listed on Amazon, I actually managed to produce more than I thought I had.  There have been several short stories and a few novels, including the Frankie Chandler, Pet Psychic mysteries, which seem to be popular with readers. (A Bird's Eye View of Murder, has just been released in paperback and Kindle.)

I'm hard at work on Civility Rules, a Harlow Brothers mystery, and I have a mystery involving a priest--a former exorcist--who's been condemned to work at an all-girl high school. And the third Pet Psychic mystery is written in my head. So there is a lot on my plate!

I think that as you read the Catching Up With posts, you will find that each of us has been extremely active. I'm so pleased that we're back together again with two new members, and my hope is that you'll find plenty to entertain and inform you here at Writers in Residence!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Catching Up with Bonnie Schroeder


On September 30, 2013, my life changed forever, but in a good way. That was the day I got an email from Champlain Avenue Books, telling me that they wanted to publish my novel, Mending Dreams. It's been a wild ride since. 


On the glorious day I held an honest-to-God copy of my novel, I barely had time to savor the moment before launching into my first-ever marketing campaign, which has become a never-ending process. 

The best thing about being published? Hands down, it's connecting with readers, listening to their take on the novel, answering (or trying to answer) their questions. I have been so gratified by the response to Mending Dreams. My writer friends and colleagues have really come through for me, too: they've written reviews, told their friends to buy it, and so on. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: the writing community is one of the most generous in the world, and I feel blessed to be a part of this wacky but wonderful profession. 

So, 2013 ended on a high note, and January 2014 saw the actual release of my novel. I tell you, typing my name in the Amazon search box and seeing my novel come up was one of the highlights of my life. I just stared at the computer screen for a while as reality sank in. I felt so validated. 

Things went downhill from there for a while. In February, I lost one of my best friends, my 12-year-old German shepherd, Echo, to bone cancer. It was a rough ending to her life, and my beauty endured it with more courage and grace than I did. Reeling from that loss, I faced another: my 15-year-old kitty, Elvie, succumbed to squamous cell carcinoma, and suddenly my animal family was cut in half.  

I was grateful for the distraction of my writing career as I immersed myself in marketing Mending Dreams; getting my website up and running, meeting with book club members and participating in "local author" events, approaching librarians and bookstore managers about carrying my book and letting me do a talk in their venue.  Meanwhile, I finished a solid draft of my next novel, with the help of my online critique group, and once it "cools", I'm ready to clean it up and start the dance all over again. 

And last September--almost a year to the day since that exhilarating email from Champlain Avenue Books--I found my new best friend, a little whirlwind of white fur and puppy teeth: Thunder, a Swiss shepherd who has all the makings of a great dog if I don't mess up her training completely.  She has definitely halted my writing process for the moment, but the pages are sitting in plain sight, calling my name, and any day now, while Thunder's taking a rare nap, I'll sit down at the table and dive back into the fictional world I've been building. 

Stay tuned...



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jackie Houchin Went South

In June, 2012 we sold our horse ranch in Sun Valley, packed up our four cats, and moved to South Orange County. We've never looked back or regretted our escape from LA County, not even once. (Apologies to those of you still living there.)

My hair is gray now. Such freedom! No more pale roots and horrible dye jobs. Moving to a new community was the time to do it too. 

Since we moved, I've been to Africa (Malawi) twice with short-term mission teams from our new church. I hope to go again this spring. I wrote a dozen journal posts on my website about that first trip.

Unfortunately, six months later my website was hacked beyond repair and I took it down permanently. It was a traumatic experience; a lot of publishing history gone in a flash.  I eventually realized it was time to let it go and move on.

I'm thankful for the journalism experience I got writing for newspapers in LA, and while I've posted a few articles on the Mission Viejo Patch and considered a story for the OC Register, I think I've pitched my last newspaper.

So, you ask, what are you doing in the WRITERS in Residence blog?  Because I'm still writing! 

I have two other blogs. "Here's How it Happened" is a mini-website, with a variety of articles. Check out the recipe for homemade Snickers. Yum!  "Morning Meditations" is a more serious journal blog of my early morning quiet times in the Bible and prayer.

I do proof-reading and copy-editing, which is SO appropriate for a perfectionist nit-picker like me!  I've worked on a couple mystery book manuscripts, a doctorate thesis, a "how-to" craft manual, and an African children's novel translated from Dutch.  And I still review books for Mystery Scene Magazine!  

Look for my future posts on WinR about "The Agonies of Book Reviewing: A 12-step plan" "How Lillian Jackson Braun's 'Cat Who's' Inspire Me" and "Start Writing Cereals...er...Serials!" 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Catching Up with M.M. Gornell

What have I been doing since Jacqueline Vick and I last chatted? Looking back over what I would call my “accomplishments” during this last year, I’m at a loss. I can’t even comprehend a whole year has passed. Needless to say, my yardstick is what I’ve written (and promotions, too, but not so much).



In January I was working on my novel, Rhodes – The Mojave-Stone, and here in December, I’m still working on the same book! Not that there aren’t other book ideas floating around in my mind, and I have written synopsis or intro-paragraphs for several—mainly I’ve been struggling with my current WIP. Happy to say, I finally feel it’s almost there…

I can say Counsel of Ravens garnered a couple awards which I am very thankful for, and I attended Left Coast Crime in Monterrey, and the PSWA Conference in Vegas. Hard to explain how important these type of events are, along with the supportive and re-energizing writing cohorts you catch-up with at them. On the supportive cohorts front, right now thinking particularly about Writers in Residence!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Catching Up with G.B. Pool

Words Are My Life

It’s been a few years since we at Writers in Residence have posted and we all have a story to tell. Maybe that’s why we decided to dust off the blog and tell you about what’s been happening.

As for me, my back has been acting up and that has given me a great deal of time to write. Both my Johnny Casino Casebook series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. series have two additional books to keep the original ones from getting lonely on the shelf.

I found that Johnny’s past (The first casebook is subtitled Past Imperfect) led to a bunch of new stories. Johnny really found himself in the second book (subtitled Looking for Johnny Nobody). Digging deeper into his back story revealed things even Johnny didn’t know. In book three (subtitle Just Shoot Me) Johnny is working on several cases and it turns out some are connected.

Gin Caulfield is back in the private detective business in book two, Hedge Bet. This is where she belongs. It’s in her blood. I used to work in banking, playing with stocks and bonds. Gin gets a crash course that nearly kills her. And Damning Evidence, the third in the series, takes her on a ride you won’t soon forget. It takes place up at the old Tujunga Dam... a scarier place there never was. This is where Gin is pitted against a guy who threatens not only her but a vast portion of southern California.

I even wrote a stand-alone called Eddie Buick’s Last Case that features detective writer Frank Pennell who penned the famous fictional detective, Eddie Buick, a 60’s era gumshoe. When Frank’s family is killed, he goes on a binge and nearly kills himself, but Frank is saved by a guy who looks awfully familiar. The guy who helps him is his fictional sleuth: Eddie Buick.


But that isn’t all that came off the presses. I tried my hand at a Young Adult Romantic Fantasy (YARF) that features a lovely young girl who grows into a beautiful woman who has fallen in love with someone she thinks is a ghost. What he really turns out to be is the stuff of fantasy. The title: Enchanted – The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier.

Then there is The Santa Claus Singer. An out-of-work lounge singer in Las Vegas ends up playing Santa Claus at the mall and makes a very sick young girl a promise that could cost him everything. But sometimes the best gift you can give is yourself.

And last, but not least, a story near and dear to my heart and one that features photos of many of the Christmas decorations in my home and miniature houses I built, is Bearnard’s Christmas. It’s the story of Elaine Ivy, a woman who loves animals, but sometimes she gets herself into trouble trying to defend them. Even her husband tells her she can’t save them all. At a Christmas Party she is given a stuffed Polar bear. A magical voice tells her its name is “Bearnard.” On Christmas Eve, Elaine falls asleep under the tree and wakes up at the North Pole where she meets Santa Claus, Mrs. C and a big Polar bear named Bearnard. It turns out even the animals at the North Pole need a little help, but it will take more than human kindness this time to make everything right.

I guess writers can’t help themselves. We have to write. Those words need an outlet and we at Writers in Residence keep finding a few more to share with readers. We are a diverse group, but our books can be enjoyed by all types of readers. I guess the fact we enjoy each other’s work will testify to that.

Happy reading. We’ll keep writing.