Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Celebrating Spring

We’re so pleased with our new yard! We like the house, too, but the yard is spectacular. When I looked at the house in October, and again in December for the closing, I thought it was a mess. The fact that the lot backs up to some woods, and the fact that the street is not a through street and is a good one for walking outweighed the fact that the yard would have to be gutted and redone. But wait!

First, a host of golden daffodils sprang up. A host in the front yard, another host in the back yard, and several on the side of the house. I had to leave for a month, but some were still blooming when I got back.

Next, an ugly, black, mold-ridden stunted gnarly tree (I know, too many adjectives) burst into brilliant flaming flowers.

I think the tulips may have been next. They bloomed one color at a time. First red, then yellow, then white. Eventually some pink ones appeared also.

Violets sprang up all over the yard.

Another ugly tree that I thought we’d have to take down became a splendid weeping cherry, a tree I had never heard of, but which abounds in Eastern Tennessee.

For sure, we would have to take down this horrible huge stump in the back. 

Until…bluebirds started nesting there.

As an aside, a forsythia (one of several) and a crabapple (I think) joined in the blossom fest. In the gnarly tree picture above you can see the sun room and the screened-in porch beside it. Those are our vantage points, depending on the temperature. Lovely!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Playlist for Eine Kleine Murder

Since my new series, the Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries, features a composer and keyboardist, you might think that music plays a large part in the book. And you’d be right! In fact, Cressa, like me, lives her life with background music. Like Cressa, Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is always looping in my head unless something else has taken over. In fact, many of the happenings in the book recall different pieces to her.

A fellow author, also published by Barking Rain Press, is Ricky Bush (, a blues musician and fan. He put his plaulist on his blog and inspired me to create one for my novel. I had once thought it would be cool to include a CD of the pieces with the purchase of a book. That turned out to be not feasible, however. It’s true that the copyright on most classical music has run out (or was composed before the process was invented). However, the recordings of the pieces belong to the groups who have performed them, or to the labels that produced the albums. I decided it would be much simpler to merely provide links to performances.

My publisher has put my playlist at If you page down, you’ll see the tab called Playlist. She’s taken the links I provided and gone one better--she’s also provided links to information about the composers. Very cool! 

Below is a list I put together that links the pieces with a snippet of the text in my novel that refers to the composition. I tried to use versions that don’t include advertising at the beginning, but in a few cases I thought the performance worth the hassle of sitting through the ad, or couldn’t find another suitable one.

These are the links to online performances of all the pieces mentioned in EINE KLEINE MURDER (unless I missed one--in which case, let me know!). If you’d like to get an idea of the mood suggested by them, you can just listen to a few measures. But if you have the time, they’re all worth hearing in their entirety.

(If you’d like to sample the first 4 chapters, you can sign up to do that here:

1 Chapter 1
“Moussorgsky’s ominous Night on Bald Mountain
London Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski

2 Chapter 2
“the merry strings of the beginning movement of Mozart’s, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,”
New Trinity Baroque, playing on instruments from Mozart’s time, called “period instruments”

3 Chapter 2
Debussy’s La Mer
“As I stroked through the dark lake she had grown up with, hoping to see her soon,
the ripples of Debussy’s La Mer accompanied me in my mind.”
London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev conducting

4 Chapter 3
“Chopin’s ponderous Funeral March, the stark the stark piano version.
Officially, this is a movement from Piano Sonata Op.35 No.2, played by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
Here’s a snatch of an orchestra version, performers not given.

5 Chapter 6
“Gounod’s comic Funeral March of the Marionettes, the song Alfred Hitchcock used as the theme song of his television show.”
The TV theme music starts at 45 seconds
I can’t determine who is performing this recording.

6 Chapter 8
“the sad, sweet ballad, ‘Scarborough Fair,’ set in the ancient Dorian mode, with its allusions to the medieval Black Death”
Old English ballad performed by Simon and Garfunkel

7 Chapter 10
“It was so homey at the Harmons’ home. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach was
even returning to me.”
Again, the performers are not given.

8 Chapter 13
“I could hear the frantic rhythm of Leroy Anderson’s Plink, Plank,Plunk as the knife hit the wood.”
Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boson Pops
   - amateur group, but only 1 repetition, by Musik Siesta, a young Japanese group
   nice mandolin and guitar version
Lugano's junior mandolin orchestra (Ticino, Switzerland) conducted by Nicola Bühler, arranged by Mauro Pacchin

9 Chapter 16
“Richard Strauss’ Thus Spake Zarathustra, the piece that was used for the opening of the move 2001: A Space Odyssey
The beginning gives me chills no matter how many times I hear it. You have to turn the volume up a bit at first, but not for long.
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Mariss Jansons

10 Chapter 17
“a popular melody stuck in my head. Not that popular, actually, but very catchy. And very stuck. The Chicken Dance. Now, how did that get there?”
I can’t resist posting this hilarious version, from the Lawrence Welk Show, performed on accordion, which is so appropriate. Be careful, you might end up like Cressa with this ear worm implanted.

11 Chapter 19
“The theme from Jaws kept rhythm with my wildly thumping heart.”
I’ve tried to avoid links with ads, but this one is the composer himself, John Williams, conducting the Boston Pops, and you can skip the ad fairly quickly.

12 Chapter 23
“The Song of the Volga Boatmen,” the version I had played in grade school, the one we always sang “Yo Ho Heave Ho” to, thrummed with the waves of pain in my head.
The famous Russian Army Chorus, Leonid Kharitonov as soloist. This is in Russian, with shots of the Volga River. If you click the little “cc” at the bottom right of the screen, you can get the English subtitles.

13 Chapter 43
“The ethereal part of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” the part with flutes and trills”
This link also has an ad, but another short one. The very beginning might tell you why I think cello is the most beautiful sounding instrument. The part I refer to is at 5:20. The part you’re probably familiar with is at 7:48. Hi ho, Silver! Away!
Gioachino Rossini conducting the Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra

 Music Notes Background by Vera Kratochvil

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

He Who Waits

I waited long enough for this! My Neanderthal mystery, DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, will be published by Untreed Reads this year! They will also publish my brand new short story, “A Fine Kettle of Fish”. To see a little more about this series, The People of the Wind series, see my webpage.

You know the phrase, “All Good Things Come to He Who Waits”, don’t you? Have you ever given it much thought? I don’t mean whether it’s true or not (although I like to think it is), but the wording.

Is it correct? Of course lots of neat sayings aren’t. But should this be him who gets the good things? Not he? This gal says it’s definitely him. She gives her reasons here. She’s talking about strict grammar, but she uses the word whomever, which--to me--makes her reasoning a tad suspect.

This site says it was French first, in a poem by Violet Fane, and translates the questionable word as those. Good grief!

Another source quotes the same French poet and translates the saying very loosely, using she, they, and he. You might notice that, in this case the things aren’t necessarily good. It’s just “All things come
to those who wait.”

Just to be thorough in my research, I’ll mention that a game, Assassin’s Creed, uses the phrase as “All things come to he who waits.” Another vote for he.

I do wonder why he sounds better to our ears. I think it’s because we’ve heard it that way so many times. It also may be that the saying, whose origin is lost in antiquity, was formed before grammar rules were formed.

Here are some parting shots from the world of music. Good grammar would ruin these songs.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Rolling Stones
I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyes Peas (an editor would hyphenate the group’s name, I’m sure)
Lay Down Sally, Eric Clapton
Conversate, Case (OK, that’s bad!)

All photos from

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Liebster Award

I was pleasantly shocked when LD Masterson decided to honor me with the Liebster Award! It’s nice when someone recognizes another person’s weekly (more or less) blog toil.

Here’s the link to her place, and a HUGE THANK YOU, LD!: (That was Rule number 1.)

Rule number 2, answer 11 questions from her, list 11 random facts about myself, and make up 11 questions for the ones I nominate. Whoa! That’s 33 questions, if my math is right. My math is pretty bad, but I think this one is right. This didn’t turn out to be as hard as I thought it would!

Liebster Award Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator; list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Award to 11 bloggers, who have blogs with 200 followers or less, whom you feel deserve to be noticed. Leave a comment on the blogs letting the owners know they have been chosen. (No tag backs.)

4. Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.

OK, down to business with #2, 3,and 4!

Eleven Questions from LD to me:
What is your favorite...

  1. in your house? You might think it’s my office, since I spend so much time there, but it’s really  the sunroom on the back of our new house. I can watch the bluebirds building a next in the hollow tree, cringe as the squirrel tries to get inside (I don’t think he can!), rejoice at the trees blossoming and leafing out more every day, and try to catch a glimpse of the deer my husband saw at dusk the other day.
  2. ...flavor of ice cream? Chocolate. That’s the proper flavor for most things.
  3. Christmas! I love decorating, putting out the stockings I’ve made for everyone in the family, baking. I buy gifts all year long.
  4. ...vacation spot? The mountains. I think the Rockies are my favorite, and of those, the Canadian Rockies--most beautiful mountains on this planet, I’m pretty sure. But we now live very close to the Smokies, so that may change.
  5. ...genre for reading? Mystery, in general, but I love true crime. I also like biographies of interesting people, and some literary works.
  6. ...breed of dog? Golden retriever. We had two and adored them.
  7. ...time of the day? That’s hard. Early, when the sky is starting to get light is night, but so is evening when the world is settling down. I guess I like both ends of the day.
  8. ...sports team (any sport)? My favorite to watch is ice hockey.
  9. from your childhood? Maybe THE BOXCAR CHILDREN. I only read the first one, although it went on to become a series. I sure loved that book. After that, my favorites are every horse book in the children’s section of the public library.
  10. ...sleepwear? That’s a little personal! What if I said nothing? Sometimes, if it’s very hot, that’s it. But otherwise, cotton or silk.
  11. ...year in your life so far (not counting this one)? I’ll have to say the decade when our kids were being born and growing up. I fell into bed exhausted every night and didn’t realize what a wonderful time I was having.

Eleven Random facts about myself:

  1. I was born shy. Very, very shy.
  2. When I went to college, I was miserable being shy and decided to change that. I forced myself to hello to random people and was startled when some would smile and return the greeting. I decided that people were more interested in themselves than in me anyway.
  3. I was born in Los Angeles. I stayed there for 3 months, they tell me.
  4. My hair is barely turning gray and, believe me, it should have started decades ago. My former hairdresser says it’s because I’m partly Scottish.
  5. I’m more than Scottish, though. My official list is: Scots, Irish, English, Welch, German, a little bit of American Indian, and Swedish.
  6. My mother’s father, who died when I was 4 (I don’t remember him at all) said the American Indian was on the wrong side of the blanket. I suspect we’ll never track that down.
  7. I’m almost always humming, or having tune run through my head. A lot of the time it’s just a piece of a song, a few measures that go over and over. This doesn’t bother me as much as you might imagine.
  8. One branch of my family, the Swedes, came over with my grandmother’s generation. Another branch, the grandfather who was married to that grandmother, has been here since the Revolutionary War. I was told the Virgil Hughes lied about his age to be a drummer boy and join the troops. So my illustrious ancestor was a liar, most notably. His descendants ended up in the Ozarks in Missouri.
  9. I love to garden, but haven’t had a chance to for several years. Now I have a big yard and wonder if I really DO want to do that again.
  10. I’ve been to a lot of European countries, but never to Asia, Africa, South America, or Antarctica. I’d love to remedy that--all except Antarctica.
  11. I’m having hot flashes for the 23rd year. One doctor told me I’d have them the rest of my life. I’m beginning to think he was right.

Eleven Questions for my recipients to answer:

1.   Do you like your name(s)?
2.   Are you living where you expect to stay, or will you move some day?
3.   If you have pets, what are they? If not, why not?
4.   Are you neat of sloppy? Do you have a mate who is the opposite?
5.   Are you a morning or night person? Again, are you living with the opposite?
6.   Would you rather be outside or inside?
7.   Do you ever get giddy with happiness? If so, what does it?
8.   Are you a glass half-full or half-empty, or is your cup full?
9.   What’s your favorite color? Do you wear that color or decorate with it?
10.  If you could be anyone else, now or in the past (or the future), who would that be?
11.  Who do consider the greatest writer ever?

Okay, this should be easy.  But no one-word answers. Details or explanations required.

Here are my eleven choices for the Liebster Award:

Kaye Wilkinson Barley at

I have one request of my eleven award recipients. Even if you chose not to accept this award - meaning if you'd rather not do the questions, random facts, etc. - please take the time to visit at least a few of the other blogs listed here. We're all looking for readers and you might find a blog or two you really love.

Of course, the same goes for anyone else who comes by.  Take a minute and check out a blog or two you haven't visited before. You never know who you'll find.