Sunday, December 26, 2010

Interview with Peggy Ehrhart

Please welcome Five Star author Peggy Ehrhart, author of Sweet Man is Gone, and her newest book, Got No Friend Anyhow.

Could you tell us about your book (title) the characters and the plot line:

Got No Friend Anyhow is my second Five Star mystery. It’s an amateur-sleuth mystery featuring blues-singer sleuth Elizabeth “Maxx” Maxwell. Like Sweet Man Is Gone, the first book in the series, it’s set against a background of Manhattan rehearsal studios and blues clubs, and it delves into the sometimes gritty, but also amusing, lives of characters who devote all their energies to making music. In Got No Friend Anyhow, Maxx’s band has been working on a CD. But when it’s nearly finished, the producer disappears and later turns up dead. To complicate matters, Maxx had been romantically involved with him. The cops believe that he was involved in pirating CDs and was killed in a mob territory battle. Maxx knew him too well to believe that he would deprive musicians of their livelihood by stealing music, and she sets about trying to clear his name. Her sleuthing leads her to the sad secret he’d been hiding.

What are your plans for a series?

I hope there will be many more Maxx Maxwell mysteries. I already have a draft of the next one.

What inspired the novel? What was the seed for the story?

The series in general was inspired by my own guitar-playing hobby. Twenty years ago my son was taking guitar lessons and it looked like so much fun that I bought an electric guitar and started taking lessons too. One thing led to another and I formed a band that played gigs in New Jersey, where I live, and in New York City. The tensions in the band eventually caused it to break up, but I got a great glimpse into the lives of struggling musicians and the kinds of pressures that can build up when people are working together to create music. I tend to look on the funny side of life though, so in my books I mostly have fun with the eccentricities of my musician characters. And I really enjoy sketching out the atmosphere of blues clubs and rehearsal studios. That world is a hidden subculture in Manhattan.

How did you write it? Over a long period, or did you have the story in your mind?

I finished Got No Friend Anyhow before Sweet Man Is Gone was published. Each of those books took about a year to write. I make detailed outlines before I start to write. The style of mystery that I’ve always liked is the tightly plotted traditional mystery, with multiple suspects, lots of red herrings, and many twists and turns. I’m not sure I could write that kind of book unless I worked out very carefully at the beginning who all the suspects will be and what kinds of clues will point to them. Once I’ve got the book outlined I can sit down and write a scene every day. But the outlining can take a few months or even more.

Tell us about your writing background. How did you start writing novels? What was your journey to publication?

I was probably destined to be a writer. I read constantly as a child, and in school whenever there was a writing project or a contest it was assumed that whatever I came up with would be the most interesting and would probably win. My secret dream was always to write fiction but I made a detour through graduate school—I have a Ph.D. in medieval literature. All through graduate school and for a few decades after that, my writing efforts were focused on scholarly projects. I enjoyed this work very much, and doing scholarly writing gave me a lot of self-discipline. I learned that it’s possible to sit down and work even if one isn’t in the mood. I read mysteries for relaxation while I was in grad school and I got to really love the form, especially classic mysteries like those of Dorothy Sayers. Right around the same time that I started playing the guitar, I wrote my first mystery. I think inside I was longing for some type of creative expression. It took awhile to write a publishable mystery and I was delighted when I sold Sweet Man Is Gone to Five Star, and also delighted that they wanted to publish Got No Friend Anyhow.

Where can readers find your books?

Got No Friend Anyhow is due out at the end of January. It will be available on Amazon and Barnes&, as well as in many libraries—since Five Star markets primarily to libraries. Sweet Man Is Gone came out in 2008 and is now out of print, but copies are still available from Amazon and Barnes& It’s also available on Kindle and Nook, from the Apple iBookstore, and in other ebook formats from The Digital Bookshop and a variety of ebook retailers.

Please visit Peggy's website for more information. Thanks, Peggy, and good luck with your release!

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Tis the Season

by Barbara Fleming
'Tis the season...of hope. Writers live on hope. It is hope that keeps us sitting at the keyboard, that nudges us to try one more agent, one more publisher, that lets us keep on writing. We dream of the best seller lists, but we settle for hoping that someone will like our work enough to publish it. "Hope is the thing with feathers," said Emily Dickinson, "that perches on the soul." Perhaps we replenish that hope each year at holiday time.

'Tis the season...of love. Writers bask in the love of friends and family as do others and yet thrive on a different kind of love, love of the language. We love words. We love to intertwine them in phrases and sentences, to search for exactly the right word, to discover new words. We love working with a language so rich with choices. Perhaps we renew that love each year in the season of love.

'Tis the season...of giving. We writers give of ourselves every time we compose a paragraph, a chapter, a book, or whatever we are writing. We invest our whole souls in our chosen work, and we offer it the reader with a full heart. Perhaps we reinforce our ways of giving each year in the season of giving.

And 'tis the season...of traditions. Like everyone else, writers have cherished rituals and traditions connected to the holidays, some of which may find their way into written work. Most of us also have traditions connected to how and what we write, and why, as well--traditions that outlast the holidays. Perhaps we rely on them to ground us at this time of the year.

Whatever your faith, whatever your traditions, this is a meaningful time of year in which to take stock, to enjoy being with those we love, and to call up the memories that the holidays evoke. Let this be a year in which more warm memories are made.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Just sent in my 'update' for Marquis Who's Who and am wondering if anyone will jog down to their local library and read it. I kept it short but did tell the world my fiction novels in several genres are now published in every format (currently) known to man! Also, I've dropped my e-book prices and all my listed items are now $2.99 or less. This includes some reading scripts too if anyone is curious to read one. Of course I'm hoping some producer will hear about them and take a look - or maybe an actor looking for a vehicle for himself... Well, I can dream, can't I? And the role of Aaron in RECYCLING HUMANITY is just right for Morgan Freeman. If anyone knows how to contact him or his agent, please 'comment' and let me know.

There are so many changes and formats in progress now, it's easier all the time to find a good read. I've just downloaded Mobipocket but don't know how to use it yet. 2011 looks like a great year for finding good books to read.

Please check here often as there may be good news soon. In addition to the cozy mystery I've just added to my Kindle list, an audio publisher is reading four (uh-huh FOur) of my manuscripts for a new audio publisher who is promising good prices on audio books too. So there will be a lot of good reading as well as a lot of good prices for us readers in 2011.

This Week magazine also had a recipe from DEAN KOONTZ Sunday! I clipped it out - it's for baked corn which his wife, Gerda makes for him. My daughter and I are waiting for his new book to come out - and when is Evanovich going to write SEVENTEEN?

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.
Break's over!

me out

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great Expectations

More affordable reading. In addition to my list of works:the cozy mysteries; romance/suspense; reading scripts; anthology; and humor column excerpts; all of them priced at $2.99 or less or Kindle, you can also get Spanish Eyes in audio from Books in Motion. More good news may be forthcoming soon. AudioLark is reading four of my manuscripts to publish at competitive prices. So look for more announcements soon.

Marquis Who's Who has just asked for (and got) an update on my work for their new 2011 library edition.

For more information go to my web page ( or leave comments and questions here.

Our local weather man is predicting a 'wet and cold winter' so it's going to be a good time for staying in with some good reading (or listening if you've just GOT to commute.)

Wherever you are, stay warm and stay safe, and have a great holiday and new year too.

Break's over!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perfect Gifts by Jacqueline Seewald

Emerson wrote:

“Gifts of one who loved me--Twas high time they came;

When he ceased to love me, Time they stopped for shame.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson had some outspoken thoughts and opinions regarding gift-giving. Emerson, nineteenth century transcendental philosopher and theologian, observed in his essay entitled “Gifts” that flowers and fruits are always appropriate gifts “because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.” Emerson went on to observe that things of necessity are also appropriate gifts as well.

Emerson stated that the only true gift is a portion of ourselves. Something we create is of more significance than anything we could possibly buy in a store: “It is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s.”

However, let’s face it, modern man is a materialistic creature, unlike Emerson. Maybe it’s too bad more of us don’t read Emerson’s essays and aren’t influenced by his advice. But if we did, commerce as we know it would be seriously impacted.

To avoid mall madness and still manage to give gifts that friends, family and fellow workers appreciate definitely takes time and planning. Internet shopping is one approach never dreamed of in Emerson’s philosophy.

Books are in my opinion perfect gifts. Even those people who are basically nonreaders enjoy a beautiful coffee table book. There are books to suit every taste. Many men appreciate useful nonfiction how-to books. Many women like cookbooks. Children enjoy picture books.
Romance and mystery novels are always in demand. (Check out the Five Star/Gale’s line. Each month, brand new mysteries and romance novels are offered.)

Of course, some readers prefer large print books since they’re so much easier on the eyes. I’m pleased to say that my historical romance TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS was just published in a large print edition by Thorndike Press.

Books are also great gifts for teenagers as well as adults and children. Teens actually do read for pleasure, not just for school assignments. My new young adult novel STACY’S SONG published by L&L Dreamspell is an uplifting coming of age/romance that ends at Christmas and would be a good gift for teenage girls ages 12 to 17 . It's published both in paperback and Kindle/e-book editions.

What would you recommend as perfect holiday presents? If books, which would you suggest?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Camels and Customs

I just finished a manuscript, another biographical historical novel set in Cyprus. The heroine goes to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) to pay tribute to the sultan. She is met at the city gates by one of the sultan’s men, who has brought a line of camels to transport the queen and her ladies to the palace. To write this scene, I had to research camels—their saddles and accoutrements as well as their personalities. I learned that camel milk is a staple in the diets of nomads. The milk is richer in fat and protein content than cow milk is. The hump, which one of my grade school teachers said was filled with water, is actually a fatty deposit, but the makeup of their internal system is such that they can go without food and water beyond the time another animal would have died. Their heavy coats reflect the heat and help to keep them cool. Camels have been used for centuries, for carrying men and supplies, for racing, and in warfare, as late as WWII.

Camels are prized possessions in some countries, and Arabian camel saddles are often adorned with brilliant colors. Saddle bags fringed with tassels are hung down each side of the camel and can be used for transporting goods and personal possessions. On some occasions the camel may be decorated with necklaces, chest bands, knee covers, a fanny pack over the hind quarters and drapes hung from their shoulders. I’ve never ridden a camel, but I was told they have a gentle sway, totally unlike a ride on a horse.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The holidays are so full, don’t you think?

Hmmm. I can just see your minds scattering a thousand different directions as they interpret that statement. Most of us instantly picture a calendar filled with notations about parties, recitals, school programs, church events, neighborhood gatherings, and all the other events that tend to fill up our Decembers. A few of us are thinking about baking and how we’re going to find time to get everything done before the family gets together or maybe even how we’re going to fit everyone around the table. Late shoppers are listing gift recipients, trying to figure out how to maximize those trips into the retail jungle.

But I was thinking more along the simple lines of emotional fullness.
Within this season are the feelings of joy and happiness and completeness as friends and families gather. And, there is the hopeful expectation in the hearts of children. But, there are layers of other emotions as we prepare for the holidays, some of them not so joyful. We find frustration, doubt, and melancholy just as often as anticipation, fulfillment, and love. Some hearts ache while others sing.

As writers, this time of year can provide so much inspiration. By just stopping and seeing what is happening, we can see all those emotions reflected in the faces and gestures and voices of those around us. One harried shopper or a couple in love or a lonely homeless person can show us emotional depth that we can later use as we develop characters and their reactions to the world around them.

But, the season can also inspire us in other ways, all of us—not just writers. It can inspire us to be more aware of the world. As we look about and actually notice the broad range of emotions that are out there during this season, it might help some of us offer a smile to an unhappy shopper or a hug to someone who is alone or volunteer to make the holidays better for those in need.

Look around you this season. Take note. Respond. Who knows, someone may smile back or offer us a hug when we need it most.

I hope all of you find joy in the season, in whatever way it presents itself.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Gifts and Greetings

This time of year is busy for most. Right now, we're about halfway through our Hanukkah celebration, and then I'll be "relaxing" while almost everyone else is still frantically taking care of decorating, shopping, cooking, standing in line at the Post Office, and trying to keep spending within limits. Holiday cheer to everyone.

I got an early 'gift' – the cover for my May, 2011 release of Where Danger Hides. Next step will be receiving the ARCs—Advance Reader Copies—which is the last chance to catch any typos before the final version goes to print. I'll be putting the Hubster to work, since he's used to scientific and technical writing, and isn't familiar with the story, so he's less likely to see what's 'supposed' to be there instead of what actually is there. Despite the many passes through the manuscript prior to the ARCs, mistakes happen. For When Danger Calls, the first time Horace Blackthorne appeared on the page he was Horace Blackstone!

And speaking of gifts – I got my new NOOKcolor. Last month, Pam Nowak blogged about digital books and researching e-readers. I promised to provide my impressions of my NOOKcolor, and I've been doing that on my own blog, so you can pop over and search that for what I'm learning. I will say, so far, it's been quite satisfactory. No single reader will work for everyone, so I'm trying to show the features of this one so you can make your own decisions. (Type NOOKcolor in the search box; that should bring the posts up)

And a gift for you – a recipe for sugar cookies that's appropriate for any holiday you celebrate. It's all in the decoration.

Sugar Cookies:
2 ½ c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. sugar
½ c. shortening
¼ c. butter or margarine (softened)
2 eggs
1 t. lemon extract

Mix together flour, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, mix sugar, shortening, butter, eggs and lemon until creamy. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until dough can be handled easily. Hint: roll out dough in small batches, keeping the rest in the fridge.

Roll ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes. (You don't want them to brown). Cool on racks. Decorate as desired.

And if you're looking to give books as gifts, as a holiday special, I've got copies of When Danger Calls at the Amazon store for only $6.50 (scroll to find seller T.L. Odell--other sellers play 'price wars' and undercut my prices by a penny or two, but I will autograph and personalize mine to your specs). If you have an e-reader, you can find it at The Kindle Store or Smashwords (where it's formatted for most readers)