Tag Archives: mystery

Release Day Tomorrow!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases tomorrow on Amazon kindle. The paperback will be available everywhere books are sold soon. I hope readers will enjoy the third installment in the Sharlene Gallagher mystery series.

I’m starting a new book right now, and it’s sooooo hard to get back into the rhythm of writing new pages. I forget that sometimes. I forget that I have to write and write and revise and write and try different music until the perfect combination hits and then I write a draft Fast Draft style. That draft is nowhere near publishable, but it’s a start, a skeleton of the story that will be.

Earlier this week I read a post by a NYT bestseller that said the key to writing isn’t just writing. He’s right. Becoming a writer is about studying words and word craft. But he’s also wrong. I can study the craft all day long, but if I don’t sit down and write, it won’t make a difference.

I do love craft books. Donald Maass’s books are some of my favorites. Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work is fantastic. The exercises are great for the classroom as well. The Artist’s Way is invaluable to releasing your creative spirit. I worked through The Artist’s Way with friend/colleague/former student Scotty Coppage the summer Sharlene Gallagher showed up on the page one day. The rest is history.

I’m looking forward to an amazing release week and a week of Fast Draft style writing. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll get one tomorrow! If you don’t, you can subscribe here.

 

 

Proud Day Memory

College graduationThis is the one picture I have of college graduation in 1993. DH took it. I was sick as a dog, but at the time I thought I had a little headache. Turned out a tiny bit more that that. My one and only experience with strep that I can remember, and I’d put it up there with swine flu. (If you’ve followed this blog, you know I got that experience in 2009. Ugh.)

That little girl in my arms and the man taking the photo were the two biggest reasons I have degrees today.  The little girl was my daily inspiration to go to school, do the work and get done. ❤

Family reunionThe man taking the photo was my biggest cheerleader, motivator, calm in the storm ROCK.

(This is us in May this year. 21 years after my first MSU graduation. 15 after my second.)

It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

If you’re struggling right now with school or a career path, find a rock and an inspiration. If you don’t have one, use the comments here and let me be your rock. It’s easy to not go. School is expensive. It’s HARD. It seems so pointless to take classes like Zoology and Botany and College Algebra when what you want to do is teach journalism. But that degree is as much about persistence as it is about learning the content. And if school isn’t your path, that’s okay, too. But only if you have a path, a plan, a goal to a successful life. Research shows college graduates earn more over a lifetime, but college is definitely not the only answer. Find someone who successfully does what you want to do and ask the how to get there. People are incredibly helpful, but you’ve got to ask.

If you want to know about advising student media or writing, I can answer questions. I know there are others out there willing to help.

Whatever you do, don’t choose to let life live you. YOU LIVE LIFE. If you don’t know the difference, feel free to ask. I’ll explain. 🙂

*****

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Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

 

 

So You Want to Write a Book

TWO WORDS OF ADVICE:

Start. Writing.

Okay, I lied. Two more words of advice:

Start. Reading.

If you’re not reading, you can’t write. If you’re not writing, you’re not writing. It really is that simple.

If you think you don’t have time, you’re wrong.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-11-at-6.44.50-PM-1024x768

 

 

 

 

If you want feedback on your writing, find someone to give it to you. I can, other writers can, your mom can. If you want some guidance, check out local writing groups and books like On Writing by Stephen King.

Just remember, you can want to write all day. You’ve got to DO it for it to count!

*****

legs 1600by2400smallDon’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here. (Giveaways and more!)

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

Teenagers Do

It’s easy to complain about “kids today.” That’s been the beginning of many a tirade over the centuries. I can imagine the conversation after Jesus stayed back at the temple and Mary and Joseph realized he was gone.

But here’s the deal.

Teenagers today DO. More often than not they give of their time to help others, they encourage others, they want to be more and do more and see more. They are so freaking smart! It sucks big time that they’ve been brought up in this age of standardized testing where they’ve been encouraged to do less and think less by our government, but even though they’ve been conditioned to bubble, they still THINK BIG.

They understand collaboration, and they can multi-task like nobody’s business…not as good as they think but a heck of a lot better than me.

And they do all this in a world where distractions are a constant.

CAMP 1I saw all this at the publication camps I’ve been to with my students this summer. In Dallas my yearbook editors came up with an amazing theme and worked together to bring the idea to life. They did all this while keeping up with the World Cup soccer coverage.

Camp 2Then we went to the second camp last week with newspaper, photographers and other staff and HOLY COW. They scrapped their original idea even though it meant so much more work and created a whole new concept.

I’m so excited to work with this amazing group of kids. I’m excited to see what they do next in life too.

It’s easy to gripe about kids today, but the truth is they haven’t changed. They’re as awesome as always.

*****

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legs 1600by2400smallAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 comes out July 20! I can’t wait to hear what readers think!

 

Blink and They’re 24, Living in Ohio

katie 1stWay, way back when I first started writing, about the time this photo was taken of DD, I developed a writing schedule. Back then I never wrote before 9 p.m. when DD went to bed and I’d write until whenever.

When I was student teaching, my amazing cooperating teacher Jan Adams gave me some great advice. She said NEVER take your work home with you and to remember that teaching is a job not your life.

I don’t think it’s possible to truly leave your work at school if you’re a teacher. There’s just too much to do. But it is absolutely essential to remember teaching is a job, and teachers need lives outside of the classroom. If we don’t protect our time with our families and our time for ourselves, we’ll burn out. Burned out teachers are NOT good in the classroom. They can’t be. (This is all EASY, PEASY in the summertime!)

I have to believe my writing has helped keep me from burning out. I have friends who are artists, and I see the same thing there. When they practice their art, they are better teachers. When they cook or redecorate houses or play games or travel, they are better teachers.

I feel confident this is not just a teacher issue. Any job that consumes life is bad news. Writing kept my job from consuming my life. And it helped me remember family first.

Back in those days when DD was little, scheduling time to write was easy.

katie nowNow that she’s 24 and DH and I are empty nesters and DD lives 1300 miles away….

It’s a good thing I ingrained the writing schedule into my brain. Today, I still write more from 9 p.m. until whenever than I do the rest of the day.

I write more unless I’m intentionally taking time off. Time off like last week when DD came to visit. 🙂

*****

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Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases July 20!

Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 releases in audio this month. More info soon! (I love, love, love the book in audio!!!! I can’t wait to share.)

 

 

 

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 out July 20! Sneak Peek

I can’t wait to hear what readers have to say about Sharlene Gallagher’s new adventure!

Angel Eyes

I look at the doublewide trailer then back to Peter and wonder if this could possibly be real.
“No way.”
Peter squints at me like he can’t believe I think he jokes about this kind of thing, but he doesn’t say a word. Unless it’s sage advice about my Guardian duties, Peter’s pretty tight lipped.
I thought that would change after…another story, another time. Suffice it to say Peter’s my boss, he saved my life and kept me as part of The Guardian. We’re angels. We protect innocents who have somehow gotten sucked onto a path toward death before their time. I’m not supposed to tell my charges I’m their Guardian, but that never seems to work out for me.
I’m a different kind of Guardian. I think I keep Peter on his toes, which is a very good thing.
“Here?” I stumble and nearly fall into a hole in the gravel road big enough to swallow a small car.
Peter doesn’t say anything, and my heart plummets. My last assignment nearly got me killed, but at least I got to live in a mansion. I’m dead already, courtesy of the serial killer who bludgeoned me to death. If I die in the afterlife, there are no third chances.
Peter takes my hand, one of the perks of this job, and we’re inside the trailer, in a room that looks like a million other rooms. Hello Kitty posters fight for wall space with posters of rock bands and Twilight movies. A black nail polish bottle turned over on its side sits on a plastic table near the twin bed that’s covered in a princess bedspread. A child’s colored paper is tacked to the inside of the door. The only thing out of place is a hole in the wall at the back of the room near the small closet.
All I can tell for sure is my new charge is tidy and likes vampires and maybe princesses.
“How long do I have?” I ask, and Peter understands I’m asking how long until I’m corporeal not how long until I either win and save my new charge or death wins and she dies.
“Tonight. In the morning you’ll be moving in next door with your mother.”
My heart twinges. I’m surprised the word still has power over me. I wonder what the word does to him now. After.
I’d met Peter’s mother on my last case. Scary chick with mucho crazy powers. You know those goddess statues at Caesar’s Palace? She’s like one of them. The real deal though, not a statue. And as terrifying as I found her, I think I liked her a bajillion times more than my mother…a woman who had turned her back on her daughter instead of facing the truth of her abusive husband.
I wipe away the bitterness of my human past and the worry over Peter’s sacrifice and try to focus on the case.
“I have a mother this time?” My voice sounds normal. Score one for me.
The smile on Peter’s face should have warned me. I’m still learning the truth about Peter’s tells, though, so I miss it.
Especially since he doesn’t get a chance to say more because the door shakes and a raven haired waif pushes her way inside. Once she crosses into her room, she slams her door shut, throws her book bag on the floor and flops onto the bed.
Her hair is dark as night, obviously bottle black. The ebony polish on her nails is chipped. She’s wearing ripped black leggings, a jean miniskirt, black ankle boots and a red, white and black striped long sleeved shirt. She throws her arm over her face so I can’t see what she looks like other than the fact that she’s tiny.
“Dagan.” A woman’s voice sounds at the door.
“Go away, Mom.” The girl on the bed says.
“Dagan, you can’t just stay in there.”
The girl pulls a pair of headphones from a pocket sewn across the front of her shirt and loses herself in music so loud I can hear it. It sounds more like a bunch of screaming than singing to me, but she seems to like it alright. She doesn’t answer her mother, but she does drop her arm, so I can see her.
Her skin is too pale. The kind of pale from being sick or malnourished or using the wrong color foundation. Her eyes are way too dark from eyeliner that went out of style in the early 80s. When I look beyond the black smudges marring her skin, I see her eyes are actually amazing. Crystal blue almond shaped eyes that seem to war with being too big and perfect at the same time. She’s staring at the ceiling in a way I understand. She’s here in this room, but not really. I wonder where her mind is, where she’s escaped to.
She opens a drawer in the blue plastic table beside her bed and shoves a photo aside to grab a moleskin journal. She stares at the pages blankly for awhile then starts writing furiously. For an hour she pours her heart out on the pages until the words work themselves out. I’ll need to look at that journal. That’s what I’m thinking when she stops writing. But then she takes the pen she’s using and starts stabbing the notebook then drawing dark lines through the words until nothing’s left but a sheet of angry scribbles.
When she throws the journal it hits the wall and bounces back at the same time her feet hit the floor. A few seconds later she’s out the door without a word.
“Should we follow?” I ask completely unsure. I understand pain. I understand anger. But this is something different.
When Peter doesn’t answer, I turn to see what he thinks, but, of course, I’m alone in the room. Peter’s gone.
My charge, my case, my choice.
I start to head out the door but something in the drawer catches my attention. It’s the photo that had been on top of the journal. The frame is cheap, shiny metal. The kind you get at a discount store. The photo inside shows a gap-toothed elementary-aged child with eyes that match Dagan’s. And beside the frame a newspaper clipping. The headline stops me cold. Girl Goes Missing, Foul Play Suspected.
I can’t pick up the paper without Peter. Not until I’m corporeal, but I can read it.
Gentry Miller, 7, missing from a park near her home since Christmas. No witnesses. No clues.
Crap. A missing kid. Why on earth would Peter assign me to this case? I mean, I can help Dagan with her makeover needs and I might be able to help keep her alive, but a missing sister is way out of my newbie Guardian league. We don’t get to choose our assignments though, so I need to get to work.
I start to zap to wherever it is my new charge has disappeared, but I stop when her mother walks into the room. The woman wears the lines of pain around her eyes with a pretty kind of grace. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail. She’s sporting green scrubs with chunky white tennis shoes, and she looks way too young to be the mother of my charge. She sits on Dagan’s bed, runs her hand over the bedspread and bites her lip when she sees the photo in the bedside table. I think maybe she’s going to pull it out of the drawer, but she doesn’t. Instead she closes the drawer, then shuts her eyes and says a small prayer.
Please God, keep her safe. Please, keep her safe.
And I wonder if she means Dagan or the little girl in the photo.

New Tomorrow!

Y’all want to buy this book. I promise. It debuts tomorrow, and it’s only .99. The blog tomorrow will be about Jodi and Laney. 🙂

Pretty Reckless (Deputy Laney Briggs #1)Pretty Reckless by Jodi Linton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jodi Linton debuts with deputy sheriff Laney Briggs in her mystery Pretty Reckless.
In Laney, Linton has created a heroine who isn’t afraid of being toughly feminine in a world of men.
You know Laney is something different when you read this description of who she is: I’d pieced my heart back together and salvaged what little dignity I had left by jumping back in the saddle with a man safer than a Katherine Heigl chick flick. Unfortunately for me, old wounds can be a bitch the same way straying cowboys can be heartbreakers.
Even though the book opens with a murder, it would be easy to believe Pretty Reckless would join the ranks of countless Texas mysteries with aw shucks investigators stumbling onto clues that miraculously lead to answers in the “who done it” tome. It would be easy to make that mistake because Linton has fun with her character descriptions and nails the small Texas town vernacular.
It would be easy, but it would be so wrong. Pretty Reckless is fun and funny, but it’s also dark and gritty. Think Fargo set in small town Texas and you’ve got the feel of this book.
Linton takes risks in her debut, committing some cardinal sins in the romantic suspense genre. I won’t say more about that, but I will say trust the author. She makes it work. Not only does she make it work, she makes her readers route for Laney Briggs and the multiple cowboys in her life: the best friend veteran turned drunk, the one night stand, the former love or the current mistake.
Pretty Reckless delivers across multiple genres. Linton has created a book lovers of mysteries, westerns and romantic suspense will enjoy.

I received an advanced reader copy of Pretty Reckless in exchange for an honest review of the work.

View all my reviews

Jodi Linton Guest Post

I’m so excited to have Jodi Linton here today. Jodi was my student years ago. Her writing always had so much voice. I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard she’d signed with Entangled Publishing! I can’t wait to read her Laney Briggs series starting in March.–MB

***

Cowgirl with red bootsI wanted to say, thank you Mary Beth, for having me on your blog!

I’m often asked how I came up with my series…

For the most part, the series started out with a brainstorming session with my husband. As I was in the middle of writing a manuscript (which will never see the light of day) I hit a wall and decided to trash the project until I could find my writing muse again. In the end, my husband suggested that I should write what I knew, and that was…Texas. My inner cheerleader wanted to shake her pom-poms when the name Laney Briggs popped into my head.

After that, it all sort of fell into place. I grew up in a small town, knew the language, and within days I knew who my protagonist would be.  When I was done I had myself a sassy female sheriff deputy whose sharp tongue could outwit any hunky cowboy.

I will be releasing with Ignite an Entangled Imprint in March 2014.

The Laney Briggs Series

  • PRETTY RECKLESS  debuting in March 2014
  • WATCHA GONNA DO WITH A COWBOY (A Laney Briggs Novella) July 2014
  • PRETTY SHAMELESS  October 2014
  • PRETTY CARELESS  TBA
  • PRETTY BLAMELESS TBA

 

Welcome to Pistol Rock, Texas where everyone knows the one rule of thumb, secrets only last about as long as the sporadic west Texas rain showers.

Laney Briggs has a pretty sweet job as a deputy in her sleepy hometown of Pistol Rock, Texas. Everything’s fine and dandy until her ex, Texas Ranger Gunner Wilson, decides to stick his boots in Pistol Rock’s first murder case. The troublesome cowboy’s rugged good looks and T-shirt straining muscles have always left Laney in hot water. As the body count starts to rise in her small town, Laney is forced to ask the lethal bad boy for help.

DSC_1321Jodi Linton lives and works in Texas, with her husband and two kids. Pretty Reckless is her first novel. She is currently at work on her next Laney Briggs adventure.

Visit Jodi’s Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Tumblr

What I’ve Been Doing

August 2013

August 2013

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The last week has been one HUGE writing push. I’ve finished the copy edits for Sharlene Gallagher, Book 2: An Angel Earns Her Wings, and I’ve finished a round of edits on one of my romances. I’ve started the repackaging process on my print books, and I’ve made some business decisions.

I never really looked at my writing as a business, and that was a huge mistake.

Thank goodness for industry professionals like Kristen Lamb whose WANA blog helped me see the light. No more writing under three names. My YA and Inspirationals will now be published under the name Mary Beth Lee. The romances will continue under Liz Lee. I can handle publicity for two, but three…no way.

I’m working on a business plan now thanks to The Indie Voice book, The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. If you are self-published and looking at your writing as simply craft OR you’re interested in self-publishing, get this book first. The Indie Voice authors walk you through their plan step-by-step, and the information is invaluable.

I’m working on increasing my word count thanks to the inspiration of critique partner Karen Kelley and The Artist’s Way challenger/former student/current colleague Scotty Coppage.

It’s been an interesting 18 months. Our empty house filled up, we built a house, we got a dog (and I love her so much) and our full house emptied. In the midst of that, I wrote, but I wrote into the mists with no real plan. That’s changed now. More on that later. I’ve got work to do, so I’m signing off!