National Library Week

The week of April 8-14 is National Library Week. I am blessed to live in a city with three branches of the Livermore library. They all have PCs available for public use on a first come, first served basis. Livermore’s Civic Center Library is the one closest to my house and where I spend lots of time browsing.

The library is warm and inviting, offering a readers’ room, kids’ place, teen space, meeting rooms and exhibits, and a fine cafe. No matter how filled the parking lot is, when you walk inside you have to wonder where everyone is. It’s that spacious.

The Livermore Public Library encourages the development of a lifelong interest in reading and learning by youth and adults, provides materials and services of popular interest, supports the educational needs of the community, furnishes timely, accurate information, and builds cultural awareness and enrichment. I have attended many events at the library, from musical groups, to readings by actors from Shakespeare Associates, to book signings. This is one of my favorite places to be.

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Needs a name

Murder never entered my mind when I retired, except in mysteries I read. I love books, love to collect them, love to look at them on our bookshelves.
After I met a popular Bay Area author at a book signing, she thought I had a book in me and invited me to join her critique group. How could I refuse? That was in 2000. A lot has happened since that day. I wrote my first mystery. I did extensive research that required revisiting Martha’s Vineyard (one of my favorite places where the book takes place) and trips to London and Edinburgh, Scotland. I had my share of rejects from agents and then retired that book to the far reaches of a file drawer. I’m thinking of rewriting it now that I have a better understanding of what it takes to write a mystery.
When our daughter moved to Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, my husband and I
attended many of their performances. I fell in love with the Bard and the theater, and after a behind-the-scene tour and later a sit-down with someone from the
festival, I was hooked. I decided to write
a mystery about Shakespeare in a Livermore vineyard.
In 2003, I graduated from the citizens’ police academy and became a volunteer with the Livermore Police Department. I went through their daunting clearance process: fingerprinting, drug testing, and even a polygraph test. Fortunately, I passed the tests or I would have been denied access to the station. I have many opportunities to work with the officers, and I enjoy their thought-provoking encounters and the learning experiences.
For the past six years my assignment has been in the traffic department. Every Monday, dressed in my navy and khaki uniform, I pick up a radio and keys and hop into a volunteer police car. I cover two beats (isn’t that a kick?) and head out to tag abandoned vehicles. I’m sure you’ve seen those nasty orange stickers on the windshields. While covering my beats, I’m the eyes and ears for the police department and have only had to radio Dispatch a few times for officer assistance. The LPD has been very supportive of my writing and have been generous in answering my many inquiries about police procedures.
Last year, Five Star Publishing offered me a contract for Twisted Vines, a Shakespeare in the Vineyard mystery and the first in the series. It takes place in Livermore, with a couple of scenes in an interview room inside the Livermore Police station (just talk, no murders). My publisher has specific rules when using the name of a real town or city; every “real” name used as part of a scene
where there’s action requires written permission. Consequently, when I consulted with the police chief, he contacted the City attorney and asked him to address a letter to my publisher to grant me permission to use one of their rooms in my book as long as I didn’t say anything that would portray the police department or Livermore in a negative light.
Here’s a short synopsis about Twisted Vines: Crime Analyst Caitlyn Tilson Pepper inherits a vineyard and two Shakespearean theaters in a northern Californian town (Livermore) from a mysterious aunt and becomes a target for murder. Twisted Vines unveils deceit, betrayal, and cold-blooded murder. Cait’s investigation into the life and death of her aunt, a famous Shakespearean actress, forces her down an ever-darkening road paved with familial lies, devastating secrets, and multiple murders.
As Cait learns the truth behind her inheritance, suspects and body count rise. With minimal response from the police, it is up to Cait to unravel the complex puzzle of the murders and discover who has a stake in silencing her.
The publication date for Twisted Vines is August 2012 and will be available on and at Barnes and Noble. I’ve
included the book cover and my picture in this article. I’m working on the second book in the series, tentatively called Sour
Grapes. Being an author has changed my Page 6 of 7
life. I belong to two critique groups, joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and have a website: I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and was invited to be a guest blogger at: My article, “Driven by Ambition,” was posted in April 2011 and you can find the link on their site.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle threaten traditional publishers and undermine the ecosystem on which book publishers and most authors depend, but what publishers count on most from bookstores is the browsing effect. Surveys indicate that only a third of the people who step into a bookstore and walk out with a book actually arrived with the specific desire to buy one. The display space in bookstores is a fun place to browse, offering the opportunity to discover new authors.
With the consolidation of publishers and the disappearance of independent bookstores, it’s essential to actively promote your own book. After August 15, when my book ships out to customers, I’ll be joining a book tour of Bay Area bookstores and libraries with three other authors, shamelessly promoting Twisted Vines. The schedule for the tour will be posted on my website. I look forward to seeing you at one of the events.

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Exciting news

Last week I attended the Left Coast Crime conference in Sacramento, California. Imagine my surprise when, some weeks back, I was invited to be on a panel, “Where the Palm Trees Meet the Pines,” even before TWISTED VINES is to be released in August. The panel of Northern California writers provided me an opportunity to jump start promotion for my book. Thanks to our moderator, Margaret Lucke, and the rest of the panelists, I had fun and was able to answers questions without stumbling all over my words. Everyone in my critique group attended, offering cheers and smiles and lots of encouragement.

With my new promotional postcards in hand that Penny Warner’s daughter designed for me, I was able to spread the word about TWISTED VINES. Left Coast Crime gave me the opportunity to meet other Five Star authors, make lots of contacts, and pick up writing tips from other panels. I came home with tons of books, which probably means I won’t get much of my own writing done. Next year, Left Coast Crime will be in Colorado Springs. With a little luck, I’ll be there promoting the next book in my SHAKESPEARE IN THE VINEYARD mystery series.

Shilo, my adorable dog and favorite writing companion, excitedly greeted me at the front door when I returned home from the conference. While I was away, she hid under the bed, my reading chair, and in her little velcro house and wouldn’t come out to eat or go outside. My husband, Cliff, had to call our daughter Carla to come over to help. Carla’s solution was to bring her three dogs over for an evening of doggie playtime. It worked like a charm!

Now that I’m back home and full of great ideas and inspiration from the conference, I’m ready to get rolling on my second book, SOUR GRAPES. But first I need to spend some special one-on-one time with little Shilo, who seems to be experiencing a temporary bout of writer’s block thanks to some “serious” neglect while I was in Sacramento. Cheers!

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