Between the Lines: Uncover the mystery of writing mysteries

How do mystery-thriller-paranormal writers do what they do? Find out at two free presentations featuring members of Sisters in Crime, a national organization of women mystery writers. They’ll discuss their craft, answer questions and reveal some of their writing secrets.

“Mystery, Mayhem and Suspense” will be a panel of four writers who are members of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento-area chapter of Sisters in Crime. They’re Sherry Joyce (“The Dordogne Deception”), Cindy Sample (the “Dying for...” series), Linda Townsdin (“Focused on Murder”) and Elaine Faber (“Black Cat’s Legacy”).

The quartet will spill all from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the El Dorado County Library, 345 Fair Lane, Placerville, (530) 621-5333;

At the second event, the “Mysterious Authors” panel of five writers will be Penny Warner (“The Code Breaker’s Club”), Carole Price (“Shakespeare in the Vineyard” series), Elin Barnes (“Smoke Screen”), R.J. Machado De Quevedo (“The Deceiver”) and Robin Burcell (“The Kill Order”).

They’ll gather from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 20at the Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Blvd., (916) 264-2700,

For more information: and, or email Cindy Sample at

Prize poetry

The esteemed Academy of American Poets has chosen the winners of its 2014 American Poets Prizes.

Among them is Robert Hass, who was honored with the AAP’s Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.”

A distinguished professor in poetry at UC Berkeley, Hass was poet laureate of the U.S. from 1995-97, and holds a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards and other awards. Among his works are “The Apple Trees at Olema” (Ecco, $16, 368 pages).

For the list of winners, go to

More mysteries of note

Rhys Bowen and Terry Shames joined fellow Bay Area mystery writers Cara Black and Catriona McPherson on July 31 for a special edition of the Bee Book Club, held at the downtown Tsakopoulos Library Galleria.

More than 330 fans attended to listen to the four longtime friends discuss their writing lives in hilarious and informative fashion. Since then, Bowen has published a new title in her ongoing “Royal Spyness” series, and Shames has one coming up.

“Spyness” is set in 1930s London and stars the young Lady Georgiana, 35th in line for the British throne, a “penniless heiress” who makes her way by sleuthing. In “Queen of Hearts” (Berkley, $26, 304 pages), she travels to Hollywood to investigate a suspected jewel thief.

Shames’ “Jarrett Creek” series is set in contemporary Texas, featuring small-town police chief Samuel Craddock. In “Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek,” Craddock’s investigation of a murder turns up much more than anyone anticipated (Seventh Street Books, $16, 250 pages; on sale Oct. 7).

A capital collection

The Sacramento area has its share of writers, such as these:

• Former Sacramento County parks commissioner and World War II Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ted Robinson is 95, and has made a new career based on his memoir,

“Water In My Veins”

(CreateSpace, $22, 466 pages). “I have given speeches all over the country to thousands of groups, and I’ve been invited by my alma mater, Duke University, to be the featured speaker at its alumni weekend,” he said.

The book includes fascinating accounts of his service as the executive officer of a torpedo patrol boat in the Solomon Islands. In one dramatic narrative, Robinson recounts his role in helping rescue the marooned John F. Kennedy and his men after their PT 109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in August 1943.

Later, Robinson shared quarters with Kennedy and the two became friends. Though Kennedy confided his concerns over a pending investigation into the sinking of PT 109 to Robinson, the future president would ultimately receive a commendation for his heroic actions.

“He wasn’t a blowhard, and he never talked about his father or politics,” Robinson told Naval History magazine. “We lived such a brutal existence that we talked about home, decency and things like that.”

• The Sacramento Old City Association has an agenda: “Promote preservation (and) increase awareness of the irreplaceable historic, architectural and cultural resources of the city.” As SOCA’s president, William Burg is well-positioned to write

“Midtown Sacramento: Creative Soul of the City,”

his sixth book about Sacramento (History Press, $20, 189 pages).

You needn’t be a midtown resident to appreciate this detailed chronicle. Meet the author from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 20 at the SOCA Street Fair and Historic Home Tour, which will be headquartered at 2015 K St. Information: (916) 202-4815,

• Before becoming a trial lawyer, former Deputy Attorney General Richard Turner of Sacramento was personal counsel to Gov. Ronald Regan. In a newer incarnation, he’s the writer-photographer of

“I Can’t Always See My Path, But I Keep On Walking,”

a compilation of short prose passages and accompanying color photographs (Raconteur Press, $35, 80 pages).

• An assortment of moody men and women inhabit the Southern Gothic-centric short-story collection

“Dark South”

by William C. Stewart of Fair Oaks (iUniverse, $25, 452 pages). Its readers will find a disturbing cast of characters who move through various genres (romance, sci-fi, mystery) as they act out their motives and look for redemption.

• Regina Fagan of Sacramento also has a short-story collection,

“Leave Me On a Sunday”

(CreateSpace, $8, 136 pages). The tales weave together “mystery, murder, mayhem and love,” along with various felines who play pivotal roles.

• Guy Spitzer of Rocklin carried a story in his mind “for 35 years,” and the result is the coming-of-age novel


(FriesenPress, $26, 328 pages.) Former high school jock Tyler Spence abandons sports, forms a band and takes it on the road.

About a Bush, by a Bush

Look for a surprise package this fall. Former President George W. Bush has written an as-yet-untitled biography of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, due in November from Crown. The publishing house plans on an initial press run of 1 million copies.

“As the only father and son to each have served as president of the United States since John and John Quincy Adams, (the Bushes) occupy a unique position in history,” said Crown publisher Maya Mavjee. “The book will be heartfelt, intimate and illuminating.”

A classic

In case you missed it, an anonymous buyer plunked down $3.2 million for a near-pristine copy of Action Comics No. 1, which introduced a guy by the name of Superman. The Washington Post remarked: “(The comic book) is graded at ‘9.0,’ an almost unheard-of condition for this issue, which hit newsstands in the summer of 1938.”

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