My Winter Wonderland: A Study in Contrasts

My Winter Wonderland is a bit different from that of many people: I start the winter in Arizona, and this year I am finishing it up a little too early in Illinois. Winter in Illinois has gone on forever this year and shows no signs of letting up even now. For the last five years I’ve spent three months of the winter in the Phoenix area where my children and grandchildren live. The rest of the year I spend in a small town in west central Illinois, a place that is my home. To see the contrast you only have… Continue reading

First Novels – Do you know these?

I thought it would be fun to try a new challenge for a new month. The names should all be familiar – they are current or influential mystery writers. These authors also cross genres in some instances but I have tried to keep this to authors who write a lot or mostly mysteries. Do you know what their first novel was? Again, I don’t really have a score for this but there are 14 of them and I’ll be curious how many you know or can reason out. Please post your score if you’d like.

As I was working… Continue reading

My Little Yellow Kayak


Me – kayaking

When it was suggested that we might like to write about our hobbies or pastimes, I looked out the window at the yellow tip of my kayak peeking up through the layers of snow. That little bit of yellow reminded me that, in a few short months, the snow would be gone, and I’d be donning my life jacket and baseball cap and heading for the water.

My husband and I have… Continue reading

Hobbies, Writing, and an Epiphany

The word hobby is synonymous with pastime, diversion, relaxation, sideline, interest, and fad.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (, the word hobby has its origins in the late 13th century from the word hobyn; which meant a small horse or pony.  The word hobbyhorse became synonymous with a small toy horse that was led around in circles.  In the mid 18th century, the shortened form of the word – hobby – became popular, meaning “an activity that doesn’t go anywhere”.

Which is all rather interesting, because isn’t that the point of pastimes, that they are simply ways… Continue reading

First Novels and Childbirth

Finding a publisher for a book seems like the ultimate goal for an author. In the past year, I Stork 2was doing exactly that. Then I discovered what authors must do during the months leading up to their baby’s arrival.

It’s no secret that I have a first mystery novel launching in November, 2014, from Five Star Publishing, called Three May Keep a Secret. I wrote about that in a previous post and looked back at 2013. Now it’s time to look ahead. Seriously, giving birth to a novel is… Continue reading

Symbols – What do all these birds mean?

A couple of days after Christmas, I noticed several wild turkeys had invaded from the woods behind my house. They picked at some of the remaining green grass and whatever seeds were on the ground. I wondered if they knew they were no longer the food of choice for the holidays and that it was safe to be out and about again.

The next day, I had to laugh – the pickings must have been good since they brought some friends. I had about 15 wild turkeys wandering about the deck and grassy area. I posted the picture on… Continue reading

Queen for a Day

When I was little, there was a program on TV called “Queen for a Day.”  It was a reality soap of the highest order — a competition between four women to see who could tell the biggest sob story.

The contestants and host.

The contestants and host.

The winner was seated on a “throne,” crowned, and robed in ermine.

The winner!

The winner!

She received prizes, including whatever she’d specified was her biggest need —… Continue reading

Writing Conferences – Why Attend?

Another writing conference. Another bunch of authors trying to sell their books, and another group of workshops touting the same old teachings. Right? Wrong. If that’s how you feel about writing conferences, you’re not realizing their true potential. A writing conference is all about advertising yourself, your book, and about having fun.

Self-promotion, promotion that has nothing to do with your book, is one important reason to attend a writing conference. This is the venue where you meet people whose dreams are the same as yours. It’s an opportunity to make friends and find out what other authors in… Continue reading

A Change in Direction

This year I decided not to enter the Debut Dagger contest, even though my calendar has been reminding me of the deadline for months.  The Debut Dagger is run by the Crime Writers Association, and is open to unpublished crime fiction writers from all over the world.  I’ve entered it twice – in 2006 and 2013.   I have had the January 31st deadline on my calendar since November and I was subscribed to the weekly competition emails.  Unlike previous years, the realization that the deadline was fast approaching didn’t herald a flurry of activity; there were just too many other… Continue reading