Mystery Novels


Mystery novels were easier to write than my first two books, though they were suspenseful. Book promotion has been a little easier for this one. I say that because my Egyptian novel is such a specialty, and appeals to a very unique group of people, like archaeologists, Egypt lovers, history buffs, and so forth.

At times, it’s difficult to find places to promo, but I believe all us authors feel that way.

That’s where author publicity comes in. If a reader likes an author it doesn’t matter in which genre the author writes, readers will read.

One exception is that some readers favor a certain genre or author and will read nothing else.

So go ahead. Write multi-genre, if that’s your wish.


This site is called Write Any Genre because that’s what I do. I write in several genres, as the plots entice me to give them life.

If you have a book published and would like a chance to receive some of the best publicity possible, enter it into one of the "big" contests. You can go to the site directly from my Writing Contests page where I'll be adding only the best listings for writing competitions.



River Bones



....is my first of three mystery novels in the thriller category, and takes place in my hometown area of the Sacramento River Delta in California.


River Bones, received an Honorable Mention in the Mystery/Thriller category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards competition. Though I wish it could have gone higher, as all writers wish, just making it into the top 10% of all books submitted is a real achievement. That is, River Bones beat out all romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre of books in the Commercial Fiction category. I'm happy. I'm on the right track with my writing.

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Also, River Bones was a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards competition.


See the Video Trailer for River Bones:



More about the book and activities....


I named this Victorian mansion


Talbot House


after a character in the story.

I first found the drawings of this house along with the floor plans on the Internet. I loved the layout of both the lower and upper floors and set many scenes in the rooms of that house.

Then I conjured the idea that I might be able to show the house on the book cover

I contacted the company they sells the drawings of these houses and purchased the right to use the actual house and floor plans in and around which the story takes place. Though I decided not to include the floor plans in the book, this is the old 1896 Queen Anne Victorian featured in River Bones. I so fell in love with the layout of this house, if I could build my own Victorian, it would be this one.

These plans and numerous others are available at:

Merrymeeting House


I have returned to the Sacramento River Delta several times on book promotion and author publicity tours for my first two books, after which I had wanted to write some mystery novels.

In talking to a friend I knew in high school about writing mystery novels, an idea slammed into my mind and sealed the fate of two separate plots hanging fire with no real story behind them.


One plot was about a class reunion and of a missing classmate.

The other plot was a simply mystery with a crime being solved.

No real story had yet formulated in my mind in order to flesh these out.

As I stood talking to this former high school friend, those two plots came together and jelled into one story! Thus, River Bones was born.

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Thinking ahead about author publicity for my mystery novels, I asked my friend if he would be interested in reading the manuscript when completed, and in giving some feedback. He agreed to do it. His comments:

"Gripping story taking place in the Sacramento River Delta. Edge of your seat drama. Wonderful, enjoyed it immensely. Accurate depiction of the Delta towns and surroundings as they have been for years.

"I lived here 50 years ago and live in Courtland today. This novel should be a Best Seller. Mary deal has done a magnificent job. Kudos to her and look forward to her next novel."

~ Jimmy Emerson, Class of 1959, Courtland High School, Courtland, CA


Promoting mystery novels is no different than any other author publicity. When promoting, the rule is to use everything at your disposal. Here then are more comments from two additional high school friends:

"Mary weaves both mystery and suspense with her memories of a place and time in her life long ago, but well remembered. The scenes and mention of the Delta in California are on target bringing to life the richness and beauty of the area. Bob and I again vied for time to read and enjoy the manuscript."


I talk about my mystery novels everywhere I go. From a dentist’s chair, I asked the assistant if she would like to read a manuscript from one of my mystery novels. These are her comments:

"Thank you for letting me read your book. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. They were unique and interesting, with lots of details."

~ Sylvia Morris, Kaneohe, HI


A local friend here on Kauai, who reads many genres including mystery novels, provided this:

"I just finished reading River Bones and can say without reservation that I enjoyed it immensely. Your characters are utterly believable, and as individuals, commanded love, sympathy, respect, and fear and loathing appropriately as the story progressed. The story line was well drawn and maintained my interest to the satisfying end."

~ Carla Koellmann, Spanish Teacher and bookseller, Lihue, HI


Another Delta native comments:

"River Bones is so perceptively written, a gripping mystery, about which I have to say is must reading for anyone who grew up in or has otherwise gotten hooked on The Sacramento Delta; specifically the vast expanse of farmlands crisscrossed with levees and the humanity stretching from Sacramento itself to the south as far as one's idea of the delta takes them.

"For me, aside from being an engaging, page-turner of a mystery, the book is a potent--even heartrending--nostalgic trip through the landmarks and uniqueness of this slice of all our Delta lives, regardless of precisely which "generation" we think defines us. River Bones and its dramatic prose, will prove to everyone who reads it, that that eternal Delta river keeps running through us all. What a "trippy" read it was. I'm tempted to drive up from Paso Robles just to go to Al's and cruise Locke and revisit memories captured in this novel."

~ Bill Bryan, Delta native, Paso Robles, CA

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Some great photos for you to enjoy from a couple of my book signings.

The first is from an event at Border's Books in Lihue on Kauai where the Island's premier entertainer, Larry Rivera of Coco Palms Hotel fame, joined me. It was great fun.

You can tell by the change of clothing in the last pictures that it's a different event. Those pics are from my hometown book signing.


Enjoying hearing a reader talk about this thriller.




Some of us joined Larry in a song. One person went off key!!

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Some of the loglines that I wrote pertaining to this first of my mystery novels are given below. The final synopsis or back cover blurb is also presented.

    Publishers have a way of making things more exciting. They make suggestions. They can be accepted by the author, or denied, or a happy medium can be reached.

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In writing mystery novels or any body of writing, in order to promote a story, always – that’s always – write a Logline. Keep it under 50 words. Some places allow up to 100 words.

    Write TWO loglines, to fit the varied requirements of your intended recipients when you submit for publication.

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A logline is also known in some circles as a “high impact statement” or a “pitch.”

Another is called the "elevator pitch." Think about it.

    When we're on an elevator, we might say a one-line greeting to a friend. We don't talk a lot on an elevator. It's just not the place to discuss things around people we may not know.

Be careful how you describe your mystery novels or thrillers in a one sentence elevator pitch. Make sure people don't think you're going to do them bodily harm!

    But if you can imagine speaking ONE SENTENCE that can tell that elevator friend what your book is about - one sentence to spark their interest enough to want to read your book - what would you say?

These are some loglines I’ve written for River Bones:

At 33 words:

A woman fears becoming a victim of a serial killer, a psychopathic trickster, who leaves horrific visual messages of his plans for her – like the open grave and dead cat behind her garage.

I like to give myself a challenge. Here’s a real lean one:

At 17 words:

The beauty of the lush Sacramento River Delta farmlands and orchards hides an illusive, psychopathic serial killer.

At 97 words:

A woman moves back to her hometown only to learn the area is in the grip of a serial killer, a psychopathic trickster, who leaves horrific visual messages of his plans for her - like the open grave and dead cat behind her garage. The killer gets into her Victorian and laces her juices with Rohypnol, the date rape drug, but is thwarted in his effort to get to her. After several attempts on her life, she discovers clues from previous victims’ burials and can identify the illusive madman. She volunteers as a decoy for the Sheriff’s Department.

Though it seems more like a long Logline, at 99 words, this is the shortest Synopsis for River Bones:

Sara Mason moves back to her hometown in the Sacramento River Delta in California trying to heal tormenting memories of the drowning of her family. Undaunted, she purchases a verifiably haunted ramshackle Victorian with a history all its own. Many graves of the serial killer’s victims were located over the past two decades. Now skeletal remains turn up on her property and more people go missing. The elusive psychopath makes several attempts on her life. To aid the Sheriff’s Department, Sara courageously volunteers as a decoy and comes close to dying in the same manner as the other victims.

NOTE: After final decisions were made, this is the Synopsis from the back cover of the paperback copy:


    A mystery surrounds the lush orchards and farmlands of California's Sacramento River Delta. As Sara mason returns to her hometown in order to start a new life, she learns that a serial killer is terrorizing its residents.

    Despite battling the memory of the drowning deaths of her younger sister and alcoholic parents, Sara is determined to make peace with her past. However, she soon learns that the elusive psychopath who strangles his victims, snaps their necks, and then buries each along with a dead animal, is now stalking her. Sara's attempt to rebuild her life is hindered even more by the discovery of skeletal remains both on and near her property. She must move out as the criminal investigation focuses on suspects like the gravedigger Crazy Ike, a cat-killing vagrant, a Peeping Tom, and several others who may be connected to the twenty-eight victims. After several attempts on her life, Sara discovers critical clues and bravely volunteers to be a decoy for the sheriff's department.

    Sara Mason is a woman whose destiny has brought her back home, but her decision may lead her down a path lined with danger and straight into the arms of a madman.

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More photos....

...the first from the class reunion dinner overlooking the Sacramento River.






My presentation at the Rio Vista Public Library.







My former classmates and cherished friends love mystery novels.


People seem to love mystery novels. As you can see I had a good many people attendance, but the photo below shows only a part of the 24 that attended.

You can see more photos on the Writing a Book Review page.

As I mentioned, for me, mystery novels are easy to write - so I must be sure to write them right and not take things for granted. The Howling Cliffs is now published. It is the 1st sequel to River Bones, my Sara Mason Mystery series. I have more stories in the works which will all be sequels to River Bones. Easy to write, perhaps, because of all the forensic research available today.

Check out the information and great photos from book promotion and author publicity posted for The Ka, my paranormal Egyptian fantasy.

Check out the information and photos from book promotion and author publicity for my adventure novel, The Tropics.

Mystery novels were easy to write and book promotion and author publicity is difficult and time consuming. Somewhere in there will be the rewards.


River Bones Character List

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