Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Writing on a Snowy Day

1 17 2018 

Robins at the frozen birdbath 1/15/18

OK, I know I don’t live in the real north, where I have lived for many years, and I know I don’t have to commute anymore, which I also did for many years. But even then I loved snow. I love it even more now.

I have a reverse case of SADD. I get all depressed with the hot, sunshiny days approach. I don’t like heat and I don’t like to be in the sun. I like winter! It energizes me.

Today is a great day. Gentle snow is falling silently straight down. The poem I’ve known since I was a child popped into my head today.

The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow.
And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll hide in the barn
To keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

So I am contently concentrating on my writing today. Content except for my chapped lips. That’s a hazard of being a writer. How so, you say?

Here’s the thing. One of my characters has a habit of chewing her lower lip when she thinks or is upset. So, as I’m writing her, I’m doing that, too. I stopped last night to try to figure out the horse/cart situation here. Were my lips chapped and so I gave them to her? Or did they get chapped because she started it? I have no way of knowing. But I do know I will have to get her some lip balm. (I took a picture of my chapped lips, but it’s too gross to post here.)

Yes, this is firmly in the Writers Are Strange Department.

I hope you are warm and cozy today and don’t have to struggle with weather. If you DO have to, I hope you are victorious and come home safe.

Second robin picture from morguefile

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Beginnings

1 9 2018 

It’s a new year, obviously. For me, this year is new in several significant ways.

First of all, I found a new way to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays. I needed a break from the usual way, which was with my husband and family. At my husband’s memorial service in October, our oldest son suggested I come with them to Spain for the holidays. Okay, he didn’t exactly suggest—he told me I was going to do that. I agreed it would be a good idea! It would have been dismal sitting at home by myself, missing the things we’ve been doing together for so many years: putting lights on the house, decorating the tree, doing the cards and Christmas letter, eating cookies and other traditional foods.

So I made a break. The other two kids were with the other sides of their families, and I went with our oldest, my daughter-in-law, granddaughter and her boyfriend, and a couple of our son and DIL’s friends to Spain, where their other daughter and her husband have been living for a few years now. Since I was tied down taking care of Hubby, I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit her there.

It was quite a break! The foods were all unfamiliar, I didn’t put up any lights or even a tree (only a wreath on the door before I left), and I didn’t mail out the Christmas letter until a couple of days ago. I was sick while there, but even so had a wonderful time and the trip was a total distraction. I didn’t have a chance to miss Hubby nearly as much as I would have if I had stayed home.

I don’t think Christmas in Spain will become my new tradition, but it gave me a break and I’ll have all year to figure out what to do next year.

This year marks another new beginning. My new series with Lyrical Press! I’m nearly done with the first novel in the series and am trying to turn it in by the end of this month. It needs some beefing up and polishing, which I started in on today. My hope is that my Fat Cat fans will follow me to this new set of characters and will like these Vintage Sweets books and characters as well as they liked Chase and Quincy and the gang in Dinkeytown.

The other obvious new beginning is my life as a widow. That will take the most work and will be the hardest. I’ve gotten tremendous support from friends, family, even strangers and those I know only here, online. I belong to one Grief Share group and am exploring another one in a couple of weeks. I’ve started back to the Pilates class I used to go to last year, and will resume walking as soon as weather permits (freezing rain today!). I’ve gotten out of shape caring for Hubby and need to recover my stamina and strength.

So, onward into 2018 I go. My motto this year: YOU CAN DO IT!

1st and 3rd pix from Morguefile. The second one is mine from Spain.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


My travels have taken a long detour since my last post, which was in August. That was the month my eclipse anthology, DAY OF THE DARK, came out. Also the actual eclipse, which happened in my own back yard. All our kids came here to see it, which was a wonderful thing, considering what happened next.

I’d been looking for a place for my husband to stay for quite a few months. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4 years ago and Parkinson’s 3 years ago. It was especially cruel for him to have diseases that attacked both his brain and his body. However, he handled everything with incredible bravery and grace. His attitude was, it is what it is and we’ll deal with it. He was never angry. I was angry enough for both of us. Through everything he struggled to do everything he possibly could and never gave up on anything.

By July or so, his care had gotten to be too much for me, even with home health aides a few hours a day. The middle of August, he moved into a nice, small, residential facility. They took very good care of him there, but he continued to decline, more rapidly than before. After only a month in the home, he passed away, on September 21st, a day that will be etched in my mind forever.

I had a September deadline for my next novel, the first in the Vintage Sweets series. I contacted my agent in July or so and told her I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet that deadline. In fact, I stopped being able to write at all in August. August, September, and October, I was consumed by his dying and then by the aftermath.

I know many other women, and men, too, have gone through losing a long-time spouse. We were married for 50 years in June. I draw hope from the strength of the people I know who have been through this, and bless every single one of them who have contacted and supported me. I hope to pass this on in the future, as they have done.

My husband’s niece sent me this anonymous poem that spoke to me, almost out loud. I’ve posted it here in case it can give anyone else comfort and some measure of making sense of everything.

Also, I have been able, this month, to start writing again and hope to finish my first draft by the end of the year. It’ll be tight, but I’m working hard, so I may not post every week here. But I’ll get back to my blog eventually on a regular basis.

One or the other must leave,
One or the other must stay.
One or the other must grieve,
That is forever the way.
That is the vow that was sworn,
Faithful 'til death do us part.
Braving what had to be borne,
Hiding the ache in the heart.
One, howsoever adored,
First must be summoned away.
That is the will of the Lord
One or the other must stay.    ~Anonymous

photos from photobucket

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


No? Would you like a couple pair of them? Comment here to win them! But wait, there’s more!

If you win the glasses, you will also win a copy of DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse, from Wildside Press. This is a stellar (well, solar and lunar anyway) volume of 24 short stories, ranging from light to dark and falling across several genres as the shadow of the moon falls across the country. Something for everyone, just like the eclipse will hit everyone on the continental United States.

Some of you will experience the total solar eclipse, some of you only 90%, but that’s worth a trip outside, too, if it’s not raining where you live.

The date I’ll pick a winner is August 5th, midnight Eastern Time. I want to be able to mail the loot out to get there in time for the event! The date of the eclipse is August 21st. I HOPE we have clear skies for it, and hope you do, too!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Almost ready for launch on Friday! It’s set up for a long run, 9 to 9 Eastern time, but we’ll love it if you pop in even for a few minutes to chat.

What am I talking about? Vicki Turner Goodwin (w.a. Sojourner McConnell, children’s author) offered to hold a live launch for DAY OF THE DARK on the Mystery Thriller Week facebook site. There are 24 authors included in the short story anthology. We won’t all be there, but many of us will.

The stories are all inspired by the August 21st total solar eclipse. Most of them deal with that specific eclipse, but some include partials, some lunar. The stories are as varied as they can be considering each contains a kernel of mystery. They trace the path of totality from Oregon to the South Carolina coast, with other locales, time periods, and even another continent inserted. Likewise, they vary in genre and tone—something for everyone.

Please check out the launch site and click if you’ll be able to attend.

We’ve been getting some good publicity on blogs. Writers WhoKill carried part one of an interview with all the authors last week. 

One of our authors, Debra Goldstein, posted on The StilettoGang the 14th, and on the 17th on her own blog and another, KB Inglee, posted on her blog the 18th.

photo from morguefile

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Charity and Fiction

Recently, I’ve been part of several projects that give the proceeds to charity. In some cases, the connections are obvious. That’s the case with MURDER ON WHEELS, written by the Austin Mystery Writers, giving half the proceeds to Meals on Wheels in the Austin area. (We’re proud that, two years after publication, we’re still able to buy a few meals for them.)

If/when I get it written, I’m contributing to an upcoming anthology that will give ALL the royalties away. (More about that later.) Honestly, with short story anthologies, we’re not talking about a huge sum—it’s money I won’t miss and that the organizations can use.

I’m proud to say that the donations that will come from DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse will be all over the map—somewhat like the stories themselves. Here’s a smattering of where our dollars will go.

*Earth and Sky
*Petconnect Rescue in Maryland; this wonderful organization "enlightens" the public on the benefits of adoption through shelters and rescue organizations and provides renewal and a new life to animals.
*Natural Resources Defense Council
*Science Center in Finland
*, shining light on inner city schools in the Bronx
*Friends of Goldendale Observatory
*Friends of the Earth
*Morehead Planetarium
*Texas Museum of Science and Technology
* for STEM education for future astronomers and scientists in Detroit
and personal friends in need.

I’m thrilled that the authors in DAY OF THE DARK are so filled with the spirit of light and life in their generosity. This project has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in my writing career. I hope those who read the book will enjoy it as much as I have so far.

What connections does your fiction have with charity?

PS. You can pre-order this at Wildside Press.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Getting the Word out on the Eclipse

I notice lots of publicity, more and more, as the date of the total solar eclipse approaches. Not to be left out, here are some promotional/publicity activities we’re planning for our anthology, DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse, coming this month from Wildside Press to celebrate the August 21st total solar eclipse in the US.

Some of our dates are indefinite, but I wanted to get these out there.

Look for our ad in Kings River Life with a preorder link!

I was interviewed for Criminal Element by Katherine Tomlinson. The interview will appear soon.

An interview of all 24 of us, short ones, will appear on Writers Who Kill. Questions from E. B. Davis.

B. K. Stevens is featuring a few of the authors on her wonderful First Two Pages blog in July, so check in there a few times on Tuesdays.

A number of the authors are approaching local observatories to see if they’re interested in a partnership.

I need to mention my previous blog posts with tidbits about each story:
MORE ECLIPSE GLIMPSES (I didn’t notice I’d already used this one)
THIRD ELCIPSE GLIMPSE (really the 4th, that duplicate title confused me)
MORE ECLIPSE GLIMPSES (at least it’s a different title)
MY LAST ECLIPSE TEASERS (try typing the words “eclipse” and “glimpse” this many times!)

And last, but definitely not least, Vickie Turner Goodwin is giving us a live launch on Mystery Thriller Week.

One of the story authors, Laura Oles, put together a press release that I’ll share here, too, soon.

(I’m so pumped that we’ll have totality in my own town!