Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Dancing Boy by Michael Matson

What inspired The Dancing Boy?

The book grew out of the scattering of multiple seeds. I wanted to write a mystery in which locations played a significant part. To me this meant British Columbia, Canada, and Western Washington, specifically the islands of the San Juans, areas where I’ve spent a great deal of time and for which I have an enduring fondness.

In addition, I wanted to base the mystery on a social issue that would resonate with the mystery-reading public. Human trafficking is a huge world-wide problem, involving the horrifying exploitation of women, children and males forced into slave-like situations. I decided to use that as the device to propel the story. But which segment of the trafficking would I use?  That was decided by the decade-long war in Afghanistan and that country’s abominable practice of using young males for sex.

One aspect of this practice dates back to ancient Greece and perhaps even before that.  Pre-pubescent boys were trained as dancers to entertain men and were valued as sexual objects. Although the practice has been reported on and condemned by western countries, it still continues as a cultural anomaly in Afghanistan.

A final inspiration grew from a conversation I once had with an old-time Washington resident about the whiskey smuggling that took place between Canada and the US during the prohibition years.  As I said, multiple seeds.


Michael Matson was born in Helena, Montana, and was immediately issued a 10-gallon Stetson and a pair of snakeskin boots. After formative years spent in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, California, Hawaii and Japan, Michael earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Following a brief military stint in Oklahoma, where he first encountered red, sticky mud, heavy rain and tarantulas, he returned to Seattle and worked as an advertising agency copywriter, creative director and video producer.
In 2007 he (regretfully) left Seattle for Mexico to have time to write and has since published The Diamond Tree, a fairytale for all ages;  Bareback Rider, an inspirational adventure for children; and Takeshi’s Choice, a mystery novel.  His short story “Gato” was selected for inclusion in Short Story America’s 2014 anthology.  His second mystery novel:  The Dancing Boy, was released by Dark Oak Mysteries, a division of Oak Tree Press in April  2014 and is available at

He lives with his wife María Guadalupe (Tai), in Morelia, the colonial capital city of Michoacán, where, despite all the bad publicity given the area by U.S. news media, he has never seen a narcotraficante. His website is:

Monday, August 25, 2014

How a Biography Became a Novel by Carolyn Niethammer

Every author knows the thrill of ripping open a box that holds copies of your new book. Holding your first book is akin to experiencing your first kiss. Recently the mail carrier brought such a box to me – it was my tenth book, but The Piano Player was my first novel. It was also the first of my books in which I had a major say on the cover.
This book did not start out as a novel. Thirty years ago, my husband was a young journalism professor at the University of Arizona and one of his classes was The Tombstone Epitaph. The owner of that venerable paper, founded in 1880, had given it to the journalism department to use as a lab paper. The students would drive down from Tucson and do some reporting, then put it together back on campus. The professor not only guided them, he was also the paperboy. So every other week I’d go with my husband to Tombstone to deliver the paper, and I would wander around while he tended to business. During those wandering afternoons, I ran across the historic character, Nellie Cashman and was intrigued. I found a short article about Nellie in an historical journal and I followed up on that. Soon I was hooked.

Nellie was an Irish immigrant who had bounced around several mining areas, including those in Canada, before she ended up running restaurants and boarding houses first in Tucson, then Tombstone. Nellie was very active in the new mining camp, helping to raise money for the Catholic Church and the miners’ league. Articles appeared about her in both the Epitaph and the Tombstone Nugget.
Nellie left Tombstone when it ground to a halt when the mines filled with water in 1886. She wandered around the West, starting and closing businesses, until she joined the gold rush to the Klondike in Alaska in 1898. Her journey and her businesses in Dawson City are well documented. After a few years, Dawson became too citified for her and she moved even further north to the Brooks Range. I took a trip to Alaska and Yukon Territory to follow up on research.         

But I could not account for the twelve years between when she left Tombstone and started into the Klondike. The Sisters of St. Ann, with whom she had been close and who nursed her at the end, had materials in their library, but they would not allow me access.
At that point, I decided to novelize my story. Since Nellie was a bit of a goodie-goodie, I added a character totally different. Well-born Mary Rose faces family reverses and goes to Tombstone to be an actress. She ends up playing the piano at the Bird Cage Theatre and must learn a completely new lifestyle as Frisco Rosie. She boards at Nellie Cashman’s Russ House, and although the two women are very different, they are both living outside the norms for women of the day and end up becoming unlikely friends. Over many rewrites, the story became Rosie’s tale, although Nellie was usually close by. Together they deal with a lover who turns out to be a murderer, imprisonment in a Mexican jail, near death falling into the icy Yukon River, and disappointment when their quest for gold is dashed.
The book was sold in 1983, but while I was doing the suggested tightening, the acquiring editor was fired, everybody remaining at the publishing company hated the book and they declined to publish it. Every few years I would haul out the manuscript, tinker, update it to a new computer system, then go write another of my nonfiction books. By the new millennium, the book was much better, publishing was changing, and small independent publishers were filling niches abandoned by the New York houses. Through colleagues in Women Writing the West, I learned about Oak Tree Press. It seemed to be perfect for The Piano Player. It was, and a year later, in late June that box of books finally arrived with the postman.

 (Subsequently the librarian hoarding the materials at the Sisters of St. Ann died, and Don Chaput, an academic historian, got access to the information and published an excellent biography of Nellie.)

Bio: Carolyn Niethammer grew up in the historic town of Prescott, Arizona, and now lives in Tucson. She is the author of nine nonfiction books on southwest subjects – popular ethnobotanies of western plants, biographies, a book on Native American women and a travel book on southeastern Arizona. Find her work at www.cniethammer.comThe Piano Player is available at

See other award-winning works at

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Today is My Birthday! One of Many!

I planned to ignore my birthday as much as possible--but since I didn't have a new post for my blog, thought I'd do a bit of reminiscing about my prior birthdays.

When I was a kid, mom did a great job of planning birthday parties, even with a theme of some sort. Since my childhood was a loooooong time ago, the themes were nothing like they are today, but she did a fantastic job.

When I was five, she planned a fairy birthday party, and I was the queen. I wore the long dress I'd worn for my auntie's wedding and had a crown and scepter. I know the little girl guests all got crowns too. Because I had boy cousins, we had another celebration at a nearby park that they were invited to.

Another I remember was when I was a bit older, with a Mexican theme, and we celebrated on our patio--which was later turned into a room. I suspect that might have been when I was 9 or 10.

One teen party, with many best friends from school, we traveled to Chinatown on the streetcar.

I'm not good with surprises and when I turned 60, hubby and my sis planned a surprise at her house. I argued against going there because I had planned to do something else. My writer friends attended and it turned out to be a great party.

Last year when I turned 80 we traveled to Camarillo and had a fun low-key weekend celebration with all three of our girls, Dana, Lisa, and Lori. We cruised Ventura harbor, had some fantastic meals out and at Lori's, just a really fun time. I loved it.

Notice it's a chocolate cake.

Daughter-in-law made me a chocolate cake yesterday and it was perfect.

Many wished me Happy Birthday on Facebook--makes one feel special. Also it's fun to see all those I share this birthday with, among them, good friend, Lorna Collins, and the great mystery writer, Gary Phillips.

So another one down--and before I leave, I must say I've had a most blessed life.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Astral Gift, Revisited

The Astral Gift is the first mystery I wrote and was published. 

It has had an interesting publishing history. The first time it was published, different cover, it came out in mass market paperback from a company that turned out to be crooked. (I've had lots of experience with publishers who weren't on the up-and-up. This one printed 50 books which I managed to sell right away--and that was the end. The publisher disappeared.

Next came an e-publisher, near the beginning of the e-pub era. We had some problems and I got my rights back. Oak Tree Press picked it up, but it has just been sitting there so I decided it was time to tell people about it again.

The idea developed because I met a young woman who had suffered childhood sexual abuse--from there I imagined what ways she might have escaped mentally from the abuse--and ideas tumbled in. 

Astral projection plays a big part in the story--and no, I've never experienced such a phenomena, nor do I want to, and you'll see why if your read the book. However, for those who said I described it like I had experienced it, I did a lot of research via books. (This was written before you could find anything on the Internet.) What I have done that is in the book is worked in a day care center much like the one Elaine works in and lived in a beach town. 

Yes, there is a murder in the book and a romance. 

When this book first came out I was truly proud of it. I'd like others to read and enjoy it.

Blurb: A victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Elaine Brinsfield can't bear the thought of being touched by a man. The coping mechanism of astral projection she used as a child returns unbidden, accompanied by the threatening appearance of ghostly evil spectral beings. The gift-or curse-of astral projection enables Elaine to solve a vicious murder, but skeptical cops make her the number one suspect.


The touch of supernatural adds a new dimension to this mystery. If you have ever experienced that "almost asleep" period where your body jerks and you wake up, this is what some people claim is the prelude to "out of body" travel. A subject that Art Bell could spend three hours on! Even the murder takes a back seat to Elaine's OBE as the finely crafted description puts you right alongside the main character during her journeys. If you like a little goosebump served with your mystery, this is the book for you. --Sandra Tooley

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And It All Hit At Once

Truly, it's not as bad as it sounds, but it seems the old saying, "When it rains, it pours" is all too true.

I've been working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and it's been coming along great. Words, plot ideas, characters just tumbling out. 

The edits for River Spirits, my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery arrived yesterday. Something like that I need to work on in the morning when my brain is fresh--but I also had a paid project that I needed to finish. That had to come first.

This a.m. hubby had to be at the surgical center in town by 8:15. Because he was going for eye surgery, I had to take him. I brought along my iPad. If I was going to be sitting, I planned to get some work done--and I did. I figured out what topics to write about on my blog tour for River Spirits and actually wrote four of them.

Because all I'd eaten was a piece of toast, didn't seem fair to eat much since hubby couldn't eat or drink, as three plus hours went by, I began to get really hungry. 

Finally, the came and got me to go in the recovery room. The surgery was a success. Hubby dressed and we were sent over to the surgeon's office to get more instructions. Of course I was the driver--and I'm starving. Once that was over we headed for Denny's. Something about hubby only eating soup made it seem like the logical spot and it was close.

He ate a huge bowl of soup, I had a cup of soup and we shared a big chicken salad sandwich. On the way home we picked up some prescriptions for him.

Arrived home and Great-grandson, Julius was there with his Grandpa--my son. Julius is three, talks up a storm and had many questions to ask. Seemed fascinated by the wrinkles in my upper arm. Why did they look like that? Because I'm old. The answer satisfied him, but the questions continued.

Daughter-in-law, cooked dinner, God bless her.

We ate, son fed the animals, and I'm done. No, I'm not done with what needs to be done, I'm just done for the day. Too pooped to do any intelligent work.

Just to add a fun picture, here I am with the latest addition to our family, Priscilla Rose, and when the photo was taken she was 2 days old.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Give Me Some Suggestions for Promo of Next Tempe Book

Since my next Tempe Crabtree mystery is off to the publisher for editing, it's time I got serious about the promotion.

I've always done some sort of launch party--but my last one wasn't as great as I'd hoped for. Of course I had a few loyal folks who turned up, served some delicious snacks, but I'd like to do something different for my next one. 

Because this one revisits the Hairy Man--what do you think about having homemade Hairy Man cookies? Maybe the Gingerbread variety? If you came to such a party, what would you like to hear about?

Another thing I've always done in the past is a Blog Tour. I'm wondering whether or not to do another one.
I do enjoy doing them and I have had an upturn of sales during and after--but it is really a lot of work. And if I do decide to do one, should I give a prize to the person who comments on the most blogs? In the past, I've given the winner the opportunity to be a character in the next book. Should I do that again?

Giving a way a previous book in the series on the GoodReads site seems to be really popular. I'll probably do that too.

What other things have you heard of that would be good promotion for River Spirits?

I'd love to hear from you.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Free Books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series

The first three books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series were published in mass-market paperback, long before the days of print-on-demand. Sadly my publisher died, and I received all the books. In an effort to downsize, I'm giving away copies of these books--I only ask that you send me $3 for postage for one and $6 for two or three.

It's easy enough to do, you can either send me a check to Marilyn Meredith PO Box 526, Springville CA 93265 with which book(s) you want with your name and mailing address, or you can use PayPal:

Book Review: Deadly Omen by Marilyn Meredith
The Madera Tribune
By Lee McKay

A teenage woman is murdered minutes before she is to be crowned Princess of the Pow Wow. The autopsy reveals that she was pregnant.

In this Native American setting, Tempe Crabtree, the resident deputy of a small community in the southern Sierras, moves full speed toward finding out who killed the girl, until her sergeant and two detectives from the Dennison sub-station order her out of the investigation.

She becomes the unauthorized sleuth. In the tradition of Miss Marple and Agatha Christie, she returns to the case because she knows the detectives in charge are asking the wrong questions and that the real killer is about to go free.

The story is alive with characters such as wannabe Yanduchi stage mother dressed in moccasins and buckskin, two hormonal young Indian warriors with hidden agendas and a cranky old codger carrying a 45-caliber handgun in the pocket of his coveralls.

Like the intriguing pattern in an Indian basket, suspense is cleverly woven through clearly written scenarios of Native American regalia and traditions into a story that holds the readers attention until the end.

While Deputy Tempe, who is part Yanducchi, is solving crime, she is also learning about her heritage. Newly married to the pastor of the local church, she struggles to find enough time for him and her 18-year-old son.

The author, who lives with her husband in a foothill community much like the small community of Bear Creek, has written 13 novels and makes appearances at many book events. Her website is http//

After reading Deadly Omen, should you want to re-visit Bear Creek, you can do so in other Tempe Crabtree stories.

Tempe Crabtree’s twin roles of deputy sheriff and wife collide in INTERVENTION, the third book of the mystery series featuring the Native American luw officer. Part Yanduchi and just beginning to learn of her Native American heritage, Tempe knows that her spiritual involvement in that culture may cause disruptions in her marriage.  Her relatively new husband, Hatch, the minister of a local community church, talks her into going to a mountain lodge for the weekend so that they can spend time alone--away from her law-keeping duties and her tribal shaman.

Hutch, who loves his wife--but certainly doesn't understand her job--plans a romantic get-away for the two of them.  He didn't plan on a gaggle of disgruntled, disaffected movie people who all wanted something--and would kill to get it.  He also didn't plan on a howling blizzard, downed power and telephone lines and a corpse that disappeared into the white.

In his zeal to protect his wife, Hutch manages to interfere and intervene in Tempe's sleuthing, plays the "macho" man, and generally gets her dander up. He almost gets her killed.  When the ordeal finally ends and the physical facts of the case sort themselves out, Tempe finds herself confronted by a metaphysical mystery, one which compels her to search further for her own spiritual beliefs.

I don't suppose I need to tell you that I love the Tempe Crabtree books.  The characters are so real, so mixed up, so flawed, and so wonderful, that I find myself wanting so much for Tempe.  I would truly like to introduce her to the world, so if you haven't discovered Marilyn Meredith as an author, you might be cheating yourself out of some great reads.  Yes, she's that good.  The quality doesn't fade as this series progresses, it only grows stronger.”

--Patricia Lucas White for Crescent Blues Book Views.

Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series
By Marilyn Meredith
Unlike the rest of California, the fictional town of Bear Creek doesn’'t consider marijuana a safe drug. Deputy Tempe Crabtree, the Native American heroine of Marilyn Meredith’’s award-winning mystery series, may be consigned to patrol by her dismissive male counterparts, but she knows the law as well as she knows her pastor husband, Hutch. Or does she?
It seems that while some pot growers insist on stonewalling Tempe, citizens of the small community where she lives and enforces the law insist that Hutch is yet another man of the cloth gone bad. Could gentle, loving Hutch, who disapproves Of Tempe’s association with Native American shamanism, expose himself to schoolchildren? Tempe doesn’t think so, but her son Blair, a hotheaded firefighter, does. More to the point, even her boss suspects Hutch. Where’’s a peace pipe or a rain dance when you need one?
What else could go wrong? One of the marijuana farmers turns up dead, and to top it all off, she’’s actually the missing granddaughter of Tempe’'s friend Joe Seaberry, a retired cop. Did Seventeen Seaberry’s hotheaded, pothead husband kill her, or does Joe know more than he’’s telling? Tempe ponders the unthinkable once again, and though she wants to believe Joe, the case against him is nearly nil, unlike the case against Hutch.
Fortunately, Tempe’’s multiple roles, as Yanduchi-born woman, wife, mother, and deputy, give her multiple insights and eyes as powerful as the owl that foretells death among her people. And as her male chauvinist superiors cavalierly suggest, she has a woman’'s touch when it comes to dealing with wounded spirits. Also, at the end of the day, she has a strong marriage, held together by faith and true love.
Tempe and Hutch create a realistic portrait of an interfaith marriage held together by the values of love, commitment, trust, and sacrifice. Author Marilyn Meredith continues to be a strong voice for the Christian faith as well as for women in fiction, particularly female law enforcement officers rain-dancing as fast as they can to break the glass ceiling. Just say yes to Tempe Crabtree.
MyShelf.Com/Kristin Johnson

If you prefer reading e-books, you can get copies from

And you  can also find a copy of Unequally Yoked, both paper and e book there.