Off-Blog…

…a lot is going on!

As a mystery writer, I’ve learned readers want a story told honestly, but they love to be surprised. Sounds ironic, right? How can you be honest yet spring something that’s unexpected? Well, a fair balance of revealing clues (including the clues that lead to solving the case) while distracting the reader with too many (or too few) suspects, subplots that don’t seem to relate but maybe tie in somehow… There are a lot of ways we mystery writers can reveal all yet catch them off guard.

And that’s sort of what’s been going on with this blog.

Sort of.

While it’s seemed really quiet, as if I’ve just vanished into some void somewhere, I’ve really been pretty busy “off-blog.” (Is that a term? Can I make it own? Can I be famous for that if not for my books?!?)

And I have some people to thank for giving my books some attention.

Sherry Fundin at fundinmental.com gave generously of her time to read and review Superstition Victim. She’s been a loyal reader of the Rollin RV Mysteries since the first (Pea Body) and I appreciate her support and all the stars she gives them!
You can read her review here.

 

Denise Fleischer interviewed me for her GottaWrite Network–interviews are always fun because they give me a chance to think about what I’ve written in ways I hadn’t before (how cool is that?). Denise had some great questions about Walt and Betty Rollin, the main characters of Superstition Victim in her interview, which you can read here.

I’d never heard of Book Reader Magazine before, but it’s a nifty spot for discovering new authors and books. Like everybody else, I’ve loading more ebooks onto my Kindle than I thought it could hold (I’ve long since stuffed the last crevice in our RV). And when I saw the chance to do an interview here, I jumped on it. What did we cover? Find out here.

What did I tell ya? Busy, busy, busy… behind the blog.

Hope you all are staying safe and clear of COVID-19!

COVID Coping!

Oh, it’s been too long since I’ve posted here. Much has been going on behind the screen of this blog — including my finishing and publishing the third Rollin RV Mystery, “Superstition Victim.”

Good thing I finished the book a few months ago. I don’t think I’d be able to focus on it these days.

COVID-19 has affected all of us. To any of you who are personally struggling with an infection or caring for or worrying about a loved one who is, my heart goes out to you. My husband and I have — so far — managed to escape it by scrubbing our hands, wiping surfaces, staying “home” (our 200-foot RV has been in the sunny southwest, so we’ve been able to spend time outside) and jumping six feet away from people who careen too close to us with their shopping carts or in the park.

Some time ago I started making beaded bracelets, and because we’re staying in a spot where I can spread out my supplies, I’ve spent hours and hours every day making bracelets…

…and making a beaded band for this watch:

Of course I’m reading a lot — though I’m trying to measure the amount of news I’m taking in.

And I’m eating well. Too well. My husband is a great cook, and he’s been spoiling us both with awesome meals, like these bacon-wrapped shrimp…

…and this meal with lobster tails, veggies, and bean soup…

…among many others!

How have you been spending your time? What have you been writing? Reading? Doing?

From our little RV to your home: stay safe!

Cheating?

One thing that happens when you’re sick for awhile is you get a chance to read. A lot.

Recently, reading a mystery novel, mostly absorbed in the story (the writer was a bit self-conscious, so I wasn’t totally able to lose myself, my suspension of disbelief only partially lifted), I was dropped completely out of it when a character, driving a rental car, wondered what time it was. Hmmm. When was the last time you rented a car that didn’t have a clock on the dashboard?

Was the author cheating a bit? Ignoring the fact that most cars these days have clocks so the character wouldn’t know how much time was passing? So we wouldn’t know?

I felt manipulated. Then I realized… I’ve cheated readers too! Sometimes it’s just too easy to conveniently shift reality a bit to make something in the plot work a little better.

I use mostly real places in my novels. In my most recent Rollin RV Mystery, the main character goes into the ladies’ room at a rest stop about seven miles inside the California border along Interstate 8. There really is a rest stop there. I’ve stopped at it.

It’s got the same wide, sandy parking area I described in the book, but the real bathrooms are more like single vault toilets than the common room with individual stalls I invented for the book.

I thought a long time about changing that scene to reflect the actual rest area, but no matter how I tried to re-envision it, the scene had to happen the way it does in the book, and the only way that was possible was to change how the bathroom was laid out.

Cheating.

[Did you catch the “cheater”image in this post? The stuffed animal pic might look like the one on the cover of “Yuma Baby,” but it’s a different toy. See how easy it is to twist things even a little?]

Free RVing Book

This year my husband and I mark our ninth year as full-time RVers. It’s been an amazing ride! And, writer that I am, I’ve been making notes for years about the experience. While a more in-depth book is still percolating, I did settle down long enough this past winter to pull together some A-to-Z thoughts about what full-timing can involve.

It’s not really a how-to book (plenty of those for folks who want to ditch their sticks and bricks house for one on wheels), and not really a travelogue or essay collection. Instead it’s an oddball collection of insights, I guess you’d say.

RVing Alphabet covers some of the normal stuff (like — how full-timers get their mail on the road) to the more unusual (why not being a xenophobe is a good thing for RVing), to the kinds of things most RVers don’t discuss except among themselves (like dealing with the Lords and Ladies of the Laundry Room).

RVing Alphabet is free via Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/736824

 

Yep, I’m still working on the Rollin RV Mysteries, but I’ve been curious about Smashwords, eager to offer something free, and this seemed the perfect combination for that.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Fundinmental Reviews!

Many thanks to Sherry Fundin for her wonderful review of Yuma Baby! I did my little happy dance to see how much she relates to Betty and Walt Rollin, and to see a comment from a reader who remembers the characters — a goal of every writer 🙂

If you’d like to see what Sherry has to say, here’s the link to her Fundinmental blog.

Don’t forget to follow her blog or subscribe to e-mail alerts so you won’t miss her reviews on all kinds of terrific books!

[Curious about Yuma Baby? Click the “About Ellen’s Books” image on the right or the “Books” link at the top of the page for more info on this and all of Ellen’s books.]

“Traveling in Mystery” Review

Many thanks to Sherry Fundin at Fundinmentals for her review of “Pea Body”:

If you are looking for an adventure, Pea Body by Ellen Behrens, is a fun and entertaining cozy mystery that shares the wonders of nature, the characters of a small, seasonal coastal town on the outerbanks of North Carolina, the danger of greed in the hands of those that will do anything to get what they want and the freedom and drawbacks of a home on wheels.

You can read her full review here.

And there’s a review of Yuma Baby in the current issue of Escapees magazine (for those of you who are Escapees members) — I’m bravely letting you know about it, not having seen Marcella Gauthier’s review yet….!

Would love to  know what you think of either book — and where you’d like to see Walt and Betty land next!

Yuma Baby is Here!

rollincovers

UPDATE! Yuma Baby is now available for your preferred e-reader — just $2.99! To make it easy (I know you can’t wait to download it :)) here are the direct links to the major e-book sites and to the print version (just $9.95 plus shipping):

Kindle

Kobo

Nook

iTunes

Print

Walt and Betty Rollin are back! They’ve decided to winter in southern Arizona, thinking they can relax in the sunshine until they get the call from Ohio telling them their third grandbaby has arrived so they can fly into the snowy north.

Of course, it’s never that easy for Walt and Betty. Read more about this newest Rollin RV Mystery on the Yuma Baby page — even download the first two chapters to try it out for free!

The news gets better!

Continue reading “Yuma Baby is Here!”

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

[No spoilers, I promise!]

Earlier this year, for the first time since publishing Pea Body, my husband and I returned to the book’s setting — the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina, home of awesome beaches, seafood, and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

backtoobx1

Not only was it great to be back alongside the Atlantic Ocean, but I was eager to revisit those special places that got mentioned in the book and — especially! — eat some key lime pie! Continue reading “Returning to the Scene of the Crime”