Saturday, September 2, 2017

Conference Fun

Several of our members attended Killer Nashville last weekend. It's a very popular writer's conference with many terrific speakers, learning opportunities, and great networking. I have asked them to share their experience. First up is Susan Keene. And please check out the links to her books at the end.  

Killer Nashville by Susan Keene
Patti Tierney, Shirley McCann, Lois Curran and I went on a road trip. Our destination was Killer Nashville International Writers’ Convention for mystery and thriller writers. We had a little bit of a heads up before we arrived, because Patti had attended a couple of years ago.
It was a non-stop learning and networking opportunity from late Thursday evening until mid afternoon on Sunday.
Every hour you had a choice of a panel or lecture on any subject that interested you. Some of the subjects were networking, publicity and marketing, crime and detection, the business of writing and genres. I might not have gotten all of them listed, but you get my drift.
There were at least five or six to chose from each hour.
You were busy all the time and during the breaks between pods, we met some of the most interesting and talented people you could imagine.
To make things even more interesting, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation set up a crime scene in one of the rooms, all the way down to the dead body on the bed. Then you went to YouTube and watched the video interrogations of all of the suspects.
Finding the murderer was the easy part. They had over a hundred tests that could be run on the evidence and it was up to us to figure it all out. We did it together and got about two-thirds of it correct.
If I had enough room here, I would go into more detail. I do want to mention that Clay Stafford, Max Allen Collins, and Chris Graberstein were there.
I feel we each made friends and learned things you can only learn from other successful authors.
If you have a chance, look into attending Killer Nashville next year. The four of us shared expenses and had a great time. Any of us would be happy to answer any questions you might have about the conference. I urge you to attend one big event like this, you won’t regret it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

August Speaker

Make plans to attend our August meeting on the 12th, 10:00 a.m. at the Library Station on N Kansas in Springfield, MO. Our speaker will be Claudia Uptergrove a retired correctional officer. This will be a great opportunity to learn about what happens after the criminal is caught. Bring lots of questions. 

In 1969, at the age of 18, Claudia started her professional career.  She worked in retail, then moved to banking.  In the later part of 1990 she began her career with the California Dept of Corrections as an office assistant.  From there she was promoted to a medical transcriber where she transcribed for the California Board of Prison Terms.  
On January 01, 1994, Claudia attended the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in California.  Upon completing a six week academy of vigorous training, she was promoted to Correctional Officer which changed her classification to custody level. From there Claudia promoted to Correctional Sergeant at Pelican Bay State Prison in California and later promoted  to Correctional Lieutenant there.  She remained a Correctional Lieutenant until her retirement in 2008.  

Claudia worked in Correctional Facilities in California that housed both male and female inmates. Her experiences in practicing positive work ethnics set an example for her peers and subordinates who could emulate.  Her experiences have been vast and the training an asset in her life.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Time Well Spent

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Have you ever attended a write-in? It can be a great way to jump start a project, or get unstuck in your current work. It really puts the energy back into your writing life.

This last Saturday our group sponsored one instead of our regularly scheduled meeting. The above picture is an example of the set up and from a few years ago. This time met at one of the local libraries in a reserved room. People brought snacks to share and whatever writing instrument they prefer to use.  

It's not all work and no play. There is catching up to do with each other, encouraging each other, all in a caring and supportive atmosphere. 

I believe the whole idea for these gatherings started with National Novel Writing Month. They encourage regional participants to attend write-ins as a way to up work count and get to know each other. That's where I first learned about them anyway. I've attended several over the course of my writing life and always came away with renewed dedication to my craft.

It doesn't have to be a large group. I've posted on Facebook on several occasions that I would be writing at Panera or a local coffee shop and usually one or two fellow writing friends with make an appearance. 

I encourage you to give it a try whether you are in a writer's group or not. I'm sure you will benefit from the experience. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

June Speaker

One of the missions of our group is to provide our members with the opportunity to learn from knowledgeable people. Anyone from a successful writer speaking about our craft, to a retired policeman explaining the intricacies of patrolling our streets. Just in the last few months we have heard from an arson investigator, a retired sheriff, and a detective. Not only are their topics interesting and informative, we get to pick their brains with our often disturbing questions. As mystery writers, we can come up with some real doozies. This month we will be learning about the military from GEORGE DANIEL “DAN” PFAFF, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force (Retired)

Greatest Accomplishments: Loving Jesus; staying married to my beautiful wife, Sheri, for 31 years; and raising three boys to be contributing members of society.

Other Minor Accomplishments:
- Air Force Command Pilot with over 7,300 flying hours and 467 combat hours
- Military pilot in the T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, A-10 Warthog, EF-111 Spark 'Vark', and B-2 Stealth Bomber
- Long duration sorties over Afghanistan (40 hours) and Iraq (17 hours) in the B-2
- Pilot for NetJets Aviation for the last 12 years in the Citation X, Citation Encore+, and the Phenom 300
- Flight Instructor and Evaluator for both the Air Force and NetJets
- Wasted two years in a non-flying staff job for USCENTAF (Air Force Central Command) which I thoroughly hated

- Bachelor of Science, Biology, US Air Force Academy
- Exchange Cadet to US Military Academy (West Point)
- Master of Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Master of Military Operational Art/Science, Air University (but I still always lose playing Risk!)

Public Speaking:
- Personally briefed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on B-2 operations in Afghanistan
- Appeared on Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” explaining B-2 weapons’ capabilities
- Teach marriage classes with Sheri to married and engaged couples in several church settings 

Should be a great presentation. Please try and joins us. Guests are welcome.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Monthly Speaker

One of the missions of our group is to provide our members with the opportunity to learn from knowledgeable people. Anyone from a successful writer speaking about our craft, to a retired policeman explaining the intricacies of patrolling our streets. Just in the last few months we have heard from an arson investigator, a retired sheriff, and a detective. Not only are their topics interesting and informative, we get to pick their brains with our often disturbing questions. As mystery writers, we can come up with some real doozies. This month we will be learning about the criminal justice system from a defense attorney.
Guests are welcome, so if you are in the area, come on by. Our meeting is Saturday, May 13th at the Library Station on North Kansas Expwy in Springfield MO. We have a business meeting at 10:00 am and then our speaker takes over at 11:00.
And who knows, maybe you will love our group so much, you will want to become a member. See you there!
Branden Twibell

Branden Twibell was born and raised in Springfield. He attended Rountree, Jarrett Junior High, and Parkview High School.

Twibell received his undergrad degree in Marketing, and MBA from Missouri State then worked in retail for six years in Kansas City before attending law school at the University of Western Michigan at the age of 30. After getting his law degree, he spent four years with the Missouri Public Defender's Office as a criminal defense trial attorney. Now he is in private practice with his father, Bert Twibell. (a past Greene County Prosecuting Attorney) He specializes in criminal law with the law firm of Twibell Johnson.
Brandens is married to wife is Ashley Twibell (current Greene County Prosecuting Attorney) and they have a beautiful four month old daughter named Charlie.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Writing Tips

Our guest post this time around is from Sleuths' Ink President Kathy Garnsey. Some really good advice for getting your words down.
Whether you're ready for it or not, we are in the fourth month of the new year.  How much have you written?

That is the burning question isn't it? As writers we seem to find every excuse in the book from family obligations to killing ants! I personally know about the ants this year. Anyway, we are full of excuses, but excuses never wrote a book! So how do we get our seat in the chair and write? I suppose if I had that answer I would be a genius, but I do have some advice---as told to me and read by me--how else do we learn?

1. Set a time each day, even if it is only a half-hour or an hour, and DO IT. It doesn't do any good if you still don't do it. Tell everyone you know to leave you alone from four to six in the evening and write! Whatever time you decide you must put your rear in the chair and write. It isn't that hard--really.

2. Never get discouraged. If you fall short of your goals, and most of us do, do not get discouraged, simply try harder to get it done. Our families never seem to understand what a writer is, or does, so it is up to us to educate them. Or ignore them, whichever works best.

3. Get over your writer's block.  There is NO SUCH THING! Really, truly, there is no writer's block, simply a plot glitch to which we have not thought enough about. If you ever write for an editor, you can never tell them you have writer's block because they will tell you "real" writers do not get writer's block. Ask any published writer you know and I think they will tell you the same thing.

4. Stop procrastinating! Which actually brings us back to the #1 above. Yes, it is a full circle that we procrastinate around. Actually stop and listen to your own excuses and you will most likely find the same ones over and over again.

So how do you get past the "non writing" phase you may be in? The advice is really simple. You get rid of all the excuses and JUST DO IT! No, that phrase does not belong to just one shoe maker, it belongs to each and every one of us. Set a word goal for the week or the month and make yourself stick to it--no matter what! Get your laptop out while you watch TV and work on your book. Set a goal with a fellow writer and see who gets there first. 
Whatever it takes to write that book and get it done, just do it! 

Happy Writing to everyone!


Saturday, February 25, 2017


Please enjoy this guest post by Sleuths' member Rosalie Lombardo. She is not only a talented writer, but also a Certified Natural Health Professional and Enzyme Digestive Health Specialist.

Note: This was meant to run in January, but things happen. After all, beginnings aren't just for the first of the year. Spring is also known for fresh starts.

 New Beginnings

                 Each January, in many places throughout the world, people celebrate the beginning of a new year.
            Starting something new is a gift for everyone. Writers, in particular, are used to starting something new. New beginnings are not exclusively designated as an annual occurrence; they happen every month, week, day, hour and minute. They originate when the writer decides to start an endeavor.
            Writers construct innovations the instant they compose a new word, a sentence, a thought, a story. They are a special breed of people who constantly celebrate new beginnings. All beginnings are just new choices. This holds true with any undertaking. The choice to start fresh exists for everyone and it belongs exclusively to the choice maker. No one else owns that power.
            We can choose to cast aside unwanted patterns, to continue or eliminate a habit, to think positively or negatively, but what eludes most of us is the awareness that we are the only creator in our minds.
            Creation starts with one tiny step immediately after saying “I choose.” That moment is when the magic of change occurs. No matter what direction our decision takes us, the creator has to launch the first step.
            Writers like us are accustomed to making choices, taking first steps, and creating. The advantage with new beginnings emerges from our regular exercise of writing. Most writers don’t realize the blessing this process affords them.
            I see a parallel with writing and choice; if a writer can readily start a new thought for a story, he can just as easily apply new thoughts toward creating something different in his life (a new page, a new habit, a new path.)
            I believe the familiarity writers have with new beginnings can be transferred to choices made in everyday life. I choose. It is my decision. What does my spirit want to do today? The common theme is me, myself, and I.
            Once you take the first step, the results can be all you’ve ever imagined. Re-creating yourself might seem like a big order, but you start with that one first step.
            Every day we create our world through the choices we make the instant we open our eyes. What kind of world will you create when you open your eyes this New Year? As for me, I choose to create happiness and to expand that happiness by wishing you all Many Happy New Beginnings. Until next year.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Member Guest Post - Tierney James

We are pleased to highlight one of our members Tierney James, who has a new release out this week - Dark Side of Morning. Here is a little bit about her and a blurb from her book.

Destination Writing
It’s no secret. I love to travel. Maybe being a geo-teacher for National Geographic or loving cultures mixed with a healthy dose of science influenced the way I write stories. Because I have been blessed with the ability to see the world, I learned early on I needed to keep a journal in case I wanted to use the information down the road. The road that led to my current novel, Dark Side of Morning, was conceived about twenty years ago.

One of my favorite places is the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. My fascination with all things Native American led me there many times because of their remarkable collections. It was there I discovered display cases with traditional dressed Native Americans. One was a Pawnee near the outside of the blessed Pawnee earth lodge. I sat there and wondered if he could see me. Thus Dark Side of Morning took shape in my head. Every time I visited I took notes of the way the museum looked, smelled, sounded, etc. A year ago I decided it was time to write what was stomping around in my head. Research still needed to be done to bring a sense of realism to my words. But with time, energy and a great deal of coffee my characters formed.

I have many notebooks, packed full of experiences. Some are from going within an hour’s drive of my home and others are from across the world. The thing that is common with the information I collect involves more than an itinerary of events. I include the food I ate and how it tasted, smelled and how it affected me. I use my five senses to collect the world around me. One of the things I love to do is watch the news programming, especially in other countries. All those collections will make your story sound authentic and keep your reader engaged. Try a snippet of my latest book.

Dark Side of Morning

Dr. Cleopatra Sommers never came to terms with her father’s disappearance at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He had been a Native American scholar that explored avenues of unexplained spiritual paths in their cultures.  The museum had been her home and playground growing up where her father spent long hours working. She was always drawn to one display case holding a mannequin of a Pawnee Indian. There was no way she could know he watched her all those years until the night he crossed over to find her.

Detective Jacque Marquette suspected the beautiful doctor of stealing priceless artifacts from a Native American exhibit. He realized after meeting his identical twin from another time and place, Dr. Sommers might not be as crazy as he initially thought. The layers of concern for his city begin to stack up as he is caught between culture and the Pentagon. Only with the help of a Pawnee warrior from two hundred years ago, can save his city from a deadly disease brought in from a parallel universe.

Wind Dancer had loved the little girl who grew up before him for years. When he decided to cross over to prevent his enemy from finding Dr. Sommers, the bombardment of changes forced him to rely on the ways of the past to survive. Navigating the future proves to be complicated as he teams up with a grumpy detective to hunt down a common enemy. No one expected the price to be sacrificing Dr. Sommers to the Morning Star in order to avert disaster.

 You can find me at the following places:

Twitter: @TierneyJames1