Friday, February 27, 2009

Ramblings of An Auspicious, Articulate Mind

Big thanks to those wonderful high-heeled divas for hosting me today!

(Clears throat.)

(Okay. Now what do I say?)

I’m Anne Carter, author of paranormal romantic mysteries. First published in 1998, working on my 6th novel… (yawn) I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now. I vacillate between personal, newsy, gossipy stuff and eloquent, factual mini-biographies of people I find interesting (see The Word From Beacon Street.) But when asked to GUEST blog, I begin to obsess over what to write about. I mean, what if I disappoint? What if their last blogger was Ray Bradbury or Kirk Douglas?

Note to the curious: around the time my last book debuted, I very excitedly approached my local Bumpty-Bump Bookstore and squashed down my shrinking violet shyness by suggesting that, perhaps, just maybe, I could please do a wee little booksigning within their hallowed walls? It went something like this:

Me: “Here’s my press kit, there’s a copy of POINT SURRENDER in there too, it’s a great story about this abandoned lighthouse in northern California, and the people who own it now, who try to figure out what happened to the last keeper, he’s dead, you see, but they need to find out why, and there’s a ghost… it’s published by Echelon Press, and, um, I’m signing next weekend at the Bumpty-Bump Bookseller in Ventura, but I have a lot of people who want to come here to buy a book from me… er, you…my book that is…”

Young Bob Bitchen, CRM for Valencia Bumpty-Bump Booksellers: “Wow, that’s really cool. Yeah, uh, thanks. We do always like to support local authors. Let me look this over and I’ll get back to you.”

Note-within-a-Note: This would have been a very good time to have my good friend and fellow Echelon Press author, Jeff Sherratt, with me. Young Bob B. would’na had a chance.

Me: “Oh, great, thanks so much…”

Me, one month later, reading local newspaper: “Nice. Says here Ray Bradbury is coming here next month. And just after that, Kirk Douglas will be signing his new book.” Grumbling, deep frown. Aloud, to husband: “And who the h*ll is Trace Adkins?” So this is why I am particularly sensitive to [still very worthy] authors like Bradbury and Douglas. (Who is Adkins again?) (End of note.)

So I went to one of those prompt generator thing websites. Surely, here I’d find something to blog about. I clicked through about 50 of them before I shook my head. “Why would anyone want to know about my happiest, or worst, high school memories?” I said aloud to my laptop, I guess, since no one else was listening. Or how about, my ten favorite words. Hmm, let’s see… Serendipity. Auspicious. Articulate. Superfluous. Space-Time-Continuum. Oh wait. That’s three. Oh! Hypotenuse. (Okay, so I was helping my daughter with math last night.) How about Chocolate? (Sure, I’ll have some!) Tenth word: YUM.

What do you want to be remembered for? Sure, I’ll bite that one. Aside from the usual of being a good mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, I want to be remembered as someone who made others feel better at some point in their lives. Not like Florence Nightingale, but just someone who brings something to the day that makes someone else smile.

I want to be remembered as someone who wasn’t afraid to try to write a whole book and get it published. A person who loved lighthouses, dolls, photography and travel. Ice cream, Mexican food, classic rock and old Hollywood movies. Warm weather over cold, the window seat on the plane, and long, very hot bubble baths.

But I digress. I still haven’t found a good topic to write about. Can I come back when I think of something?

Anne Carter is the author of paranormal romantic mystery, POINT SURRENDER, from Echelon Press, Amazon and Fictionwise. Visit Anne at

Thursday, February 26, 2009


At the Love Is Murder conference earlier this month I listened to Guest of Honor Jeffery Deaver talk about his dislike of writing the wrap-up chapter of his books. You know the chapter – the one that finishes everything off; fills in any gaps; and lets the hero or heroine, if not ride off into the sunset, at least saddle their horses.

I've been thinking about endings a lot lately. One of my favorite television shows, Battlestar Galactica, is ending. In an unusual move for Hollywood, the producers/writers have been given time to craft a real ending to the show that's lasted four seasons. After tomorrow night's episode, there will only be three episodes left to tell the tale.

Last week's episode was disappointing to me. One of the supporting cast was lying (maybe dying) in a hospital bed. Besides the normal hand-wringing and emotional angst displayed by his ex-wife and comrades in arms, the dramatic scene was used to relay a great deal of backstory. Without going into a lot of explanation for you poor souls who've missed one of the best television series ever, here are the basics.

Caprica (an earth-like planet inhabited by humans) was destroyed by the Cylons. Cylons are an artificial lifeform created by humans to serve humans. The Cylons rebelled and fought a war with the humans, lost, and were banished to space for decades. The first episode of the show begins with the Cylons returning with a bang and killing off all the humans except for a small number of refugees who escaped the nuclear explosions. Among the refugees were; humans aboard a ragtag band of spaceships; retiring, Captain William Adama and his crew of Galactica - a aging combat ship that was being decommissioned and turned into a museum; and Laura Roslin, a midlevel official from the Department of Education. Ms. Roslin, a former school teacher, was on Galactica the day of the attack. She'd been sent to Galactica to give a speech at the museum dedication. She was also trying to deal with the news that she had advanced breast cancer. After the attack, a quick headcount of the government was conducted and guess what? Laura Roslin was next in line for the Presidency. For the next four seasons the survivors have been on the run from the Cylons, who've been determined to wipe out the last of the human race. Oh, and one more thing - the Cylons, except for the Centurions (a soldier subspecies called affectionately Toasters), have evolved into creatures that look, talk, and act like humans. So you can't tell most Cylons from humans and a good number of them have infiltrated the fleet for more than a lifetime – kind of "sleeper" Cylons. But the humans eventually figure out that although Cylons look like humans, there are only a limited number of models. Once you can identify the models, you know the Cylons on sight. That is except for the Final Five Cylons that no one, including the other Cylons, can identify.

So back to my writing related point – you probably thought I didn't have one – the guy in the hospital bed has recently discovered that he's one of the Final Five Cylon models. Poor guy always thought he was human. As a result of his combat injury many suppressed memories are coming back; important memories about the Final Five and the history of the Cylon race. In between medical procedures and during brief periods of lucidity, he related these memories to the ones around his bedside and to the viewing audience. This moment was where I found myself losing interest in the episode. If the deathbed dialogue had been in a manuscript for a novel, my editor would have red-penned most of it with the note, "too much telling and not enough showing." It was as if the writers decided to make up a huge, elaborate backstory at the last minute and dump it on the audience in exposition form. In my book, pun intended, that's cheating. It might be easier for the writers and save oodles of time, but it invariably disappoints the viewers/readers. Just as my description of 80 some odd episodes of Battlestar Galactica were condensed to a paragraph or two above, telling instead of showing should always be the last resort. (i.e. You should watch the show! Rent or buy the dvds.)

When you write or read the last chapter of a book, do you want a full recap? Should one be necessary if the rest of the book is well-written? I absolutely know that very little "new" information should be revealed in the last chapter. As with the Battlestar Galactica episode, too much new information at the end of the story makes the reader feel cheated. Why pay attention to all the details throughout the story, if at the end, none of it gave you an opportunity to figure out the mystery for yourself?

So to recap – yes, I'm smiling here but note that I'm not going to give you any new information - your final chapter should be one that ties up the loose strings, makes sense of the clues, and gives the reader a view to the future lives of the characters. Build the backstory into middle of the book – don't "tell" it in the reveal at the end. In fact try to "tell" very little of it at all. "Show" it!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More on Stuff

In no way, shape, or form could I be considered a neat freak. I’d like to think I am, but when dust bunnies come rolling out from behind my bedroom door as I walk by, I’d say that aspiring to be one is not a realistic goal. However, in following up with Evelyn’s Monday post about “stuff,” I have some definite opinions. And they do not gibe with the rest of my family’s take on the subject.

I’m a “dumper” married to—and the mother of—“hoarders.”

I’ve been accused of possessing no sentiment, but my defense is simple: If it wasn’t for me and my big, black plastic garbage bags making a sweep of the house every now and again (usually when no one is home), we’d be overrun by stuff. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

They’re wise to me, though. They have taken to sifting through the garbage bags when I’m not around and retrieving stuff they know they cannot live without. For example, the book of stickers that my daughter got for her fifth birthday (she’s now fifteen). Or, the forty pairs of ice skates—in various sizes—that my husband’s colleague at work gave him because he was throwing out his own stuff. Or one of those goofy “family information” posters that tell you fake information about your family based on your surname. News flash: They all have the same information on them. We also have vhs versions of every Disney movie, every plastic super hero ever made, bills and checks from before we had children, and a hodgepodge of furniture from various points in our lives.

I fear that if I don’t take serious action soon, we may be overtaken by our stuff.

My husband’s answer is “we need more storage.” My answer is “we need to throw more stuff out.” Tell me, how do a hoarder and a dumper meet halfway? Do any of you have the answers out there? (And I’m looking at you, Marilyn, because you’ve been married the longest.) I’m wondering, if like Evelyn, we decided to downsize if that would encourage the disposal of all of the things I don’t think we need, yet everyone else considers essential? Is moving the only way to get rid of your stuff?

I took it upon myself to get rid of a bunch of 45s—remember those? Small records with a weird cut out in the middle?—a few years back. I thought the coast was clear and that nobody would miss them until my husband decided to buy a turntable. He searched for his 45s and finally asked me if I had seen them. Busted. I had to admit that I had thrown them out.

But I’ve found that I’ve become the scapegoat for all missing objects. Can’t find your homework? Mom must have recycled it. Missing a shoe? We bet Mommy threw it out! Looking for that crucial bit of paper that had all of our 2008 tax information on it? Well, there’s a big black plastic bag in the closet…look in there. We bet she tossed it with the rest of the garbage.

I have to admit that after the 45s affair, I’m less inclined to throw people’s stuff out without asking their permission first. But I’ve found that asking permission to throw something out is met with hurled invective and recriminations. So, I’m putting you, our faithful Stiletto Gang readers, on notice: if for some reason I don’t post next week, send someone to my house and up to my office. You may just find me under a mountain of stuff.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Academy Awards

I'm a big movie fan and have been since I was a kid. Big influence was my dad who worked at Paramount as the head plumber. He had some interesting anecdotes about movie stars and how movies were made. In fact, he was the one who figured out how to part the Red Sea in Exodus. Much harder back in the days before computers, he did it with glass, piping and hydraulics. He also spoiled a lot of movies by telling us secrets about how they were made: toy trains instead of real ones, painted scenery in the basement instead of really outdoors, a big tank on the back lot for ocean scenes.

We went to the movies every Friday night and always listened to the Oscars on radio and after they were on TV, of course TV. While I was a kid, dad always told us which of the stars were nice and which weren't complete with anecdotes.

The best thing about this year's awards was Hugh Jackman. Who knew the man could sing and dance? The production itself was grand. But, I must admit, I haven't seen hardly any of the movies. Nowadays the movies that seem to win are about horrible people with angst and unhappy endings. I did enjoy Benjamin Buttons because it was a fairy tale. I saw Changeling too, and it was okay. I loved the L.A. scenes. I was once a phone operator, but the scenes in the movie were before my time, though we had to dress up and wear nylons, no one roller skated. I did ride on the streetcar to get to work though.

The movies I liked best didn't win anything. Australia was great--like an old time epic film, like Gone With the Wind but with a happy ending. Mama Mia was great fun, saw it with my two grown daughters who danced and sang in the aisles.

It's time Hollywood made more happy movies to raise our spirits during this difficult economic time.

I have a new interview here:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Too Much Stuff

With a tip of the hat to the brilliant, much-missed comedian, George Carlin, lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “stuff.” We’re planning to down-size and move to a smaller house, and my biggest fear is what to do with all this stuff.

Fans well remember Carlin’s famous riff:
That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.

I’m going to skip any of the sentimental attachments that develop when you’ve lived in a house for 20 years. The memories come with you, I keep telling myself.

But OY, the stuff. Consider:

I have my stuff in several boxes marked memorabilia, and includes every drawing made by son number one because after all, he was first born. A few scribbles from son number two, because kids drawings were still a novelty. Apparently son number three and daughter never picked up a pencil because there is nada from them. Plus all their report cards, mother’s day cards, letters from my parents and sister, and probably my high school yearbook, although I haven’t seen it since the last move. There are also cartons of photographs which include duplicates because the drugstore gave you two prints of each photo when they printed them out for you. (Note the archaic concepts in that one sentence: that you didn’t have the photos on a digital memory card, that there was someplace called a drugstore, and that someone other than yourself was printing them out). See, getting rid of stuff means getting rid of the old ways of thinking too.

There are separate boxes of my husband’s memorabilia, although he’s not quite the sniveling ball of sentiment that I am.

There is memorabilia accumulated by each of the kid. For example, I have playbills from the sixth grade production of My Fair Lady. Keep in mind that I sat through all six performances, plus two dress rehearsals, of this musical. Son number one had exactly one line (which I can still repeat): “Mr. Doolittle to see you, sir.” How many copies of that playbill does he need? Also in these boxes are complete collections of all soccer, baseball, hockey, baseketball, “you didn’t win, but you still get a tiny trophy because everyone’s a winner in our town,” fake brass awards times four.

But let’s move beyond my stuff, hubby’s stuff, kids stuff. When parents downsize their homes, you inherit their stuff. When my mother-in-law moved from her home of 40 years to an apartment, she couldn’t bear to donate her late husband’s fishing equipment. There probably isn’t a charity dedicated to underprivileged fly fishermen. On the other hand, these ancient rods and reels have now taken on mythic proportions in my not so-sentimental husband’s memories, so we could move to a studio apartment and in one corner would be three fishing rods and a tackle box. This from the man who hasn’t gone fishing in 10 years – and didn’t use his Dad’s stuff then.

And sadly, when your parents die, and you have to break up their homes, you make snap decisions on their “stuff,” that you then have to live with. For example, consumed by grief when our mother died, my sister took Mom’s pink hairnet. Three months later, with a little clearer perspective, she asked me what the heck she should do with it. It certainly wasn’t the essence of our mother, but it now seemed tacky to discard it. As my sister pointed out, “now that I’ve taken it, I’ve got it,” followed by a heavy sigh.

I admire those who can pare down their belongings to two sets of clean underwear and a change of shirts. I understand their world view that they can more clearly see what’s important and what’s not without stuff weighing them down. I can’t pare it down that much for a weekend trip, let alone a move. I know the concept of dumping all this “stuff” might be liberating, but it’s also exhausting.

What are you doing with your stuff?

Evelyn David

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Village Mystery

Valley of the Lost, the second in the Constable Molly Smith series by Vicki Delany, has just been released by Poisoned Pen Press. For a sneak peek visit Vicki's web page at, to read the first chapter and watch the exciting book trailer.

“The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” Sherlock Holmes, Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

Since the time of Conan-Doyle and Agatha Christie the village setting has been a staple of a certain type of mystery novel. A novel that is as much about the personal and family life of the protagonists as their jobs, that is more about human relationships and love and loss than international terrorism or guns-for-hire, thrives in the small town environment.

And, as Sherlock Holmes pointed out, countryside does not always mean peaceful. After writing two standalone novels I wanted to begin a series. There was never much doubt in my mind as to where the series would be set – it needed to be someplace I wanted to spend a lot of time in, even if only metaphysically speaking. In real life, the town of Nelson (pop 9,000) is nestled in the mountains of the British Columbia Interior. Using Nelson as a guide, I created the town of Trafalgar.

Like its inspiration, Trafalgar is surrounded by mountains, and very isolated. It is eight hours drive to Vancouver or to Calgary, and the nearest city is in another country – Spokane, Washington. It is a place of long-time residents, who were born and raised in the valleys and mountainsides. It is also a place of transients and newcomers, attracted by the beauty, the isolation, the artistic community, and the area’s reputation for independence. Neo-hippies - dreadlocks, girls with long colorful skirts, boys with wild beards - mix with the comfortably-early-retired, owners of big houses and expensive hiking equipment; with artists, who’ve moved there to paint or write; and with the spiritual, attracted by the ‘ley lines’ or ‘vibes’. All of these people come together in the village setting where they create a vibrant and active citizenship, full of strong opinions. And the potential for conflict, which is the key to any crime novel.

A reader in Arizona told me that Trafalgar reminded her a great deal of Sedona. It’s hard to imagine two places that look more different, but the sense of both places is the same – the supposedly mystic qualities attracting a variety of people, the conflict between the traditionalists, fighting to keep the town as it is, and new money, wanting more and more development, pushing up the cost of housing, sometimes beyond what locals can afford.

In practical terms, the small town setting allowed me to give the main protagonist of the series, a young, keen, probationary constable by the name of Molly Smith, a role in criminal investigation. In a big city she would be directing traffic, but a small town force does with what they have. In Valley of the Lost, Smith’s mother and Sergeant Winters’ wife become involved in the conflict in a way that is perfectly believable in a small, close town, but would be ridiculous coincidence in a big city. Being local, knowing everyone, is a key to Constable Smith’s character. In the first book in the series, In the Shadow of the Glacier, she thinks: It was hard, sometimes, to be a cop in a town where a substantial number of the residents had seen you performing as Number Two Wise Man in the Grade Three Christmas pageant.

Vicki Delany

Thursday, February 19, 2009


During 2007, 814,967 missing person records were entered into the National Crime Information Center's Database.

In 2009, a mysterious gathering of authors present MISSING.

Proceeds from all sales of this book to benefit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
(Missing, Echelon Press LLC, 2009)

A little over a year ago Karen Syed of Echelon Press LLC asked if the collective Evelyn David would consider writing a short story for an anthology – the proceeds to benefit the search for missing children. Of course we agreed. This month Missing debuted at the Love Is Murder conference in Chicago.

17 mystery writers contributed to the book, edited by Amy Alessio, and published by Echelon Press LLC.

The role call of short stories and their authors include:

Missing Andy by Amy Alessio
Gemini by Barbara Annino
Dream Works by Regan Black
Harry's Fall from Grace by Luisa Buehler
Coffee by Rebecca Cantrell
Cleaning up at the Franks by Gayle Carline
Mis-adventures of Guy by Norm Cowie
Riley Come Home by Evelyn David
Signature Required by Susan Gibberman
A Call from Rockford by Robert Goldsborough
An Art Fair in Chicago by Margot Justes
Floaters by J.A. Konrath and Henry Perez
The Cotton Candy Man by Susan Muira
The Right Choice by Tom Schreck
Dog Gone Dog by Michele Scott
Knight Child by J.R. Turner
Caroline Rhodes and the Case of the Fugitive Farmer by Mary Welk

From Riley Come Home by Evelyn David –

"You're too big to get on my lap!"

Mac Sullivan, retired D.C. police detective and newly-minted private eye, pushed the 125-pound female away from him. "It's just thunder."

Big brown eyes gave him an accusing stare. He was getting used to disappointing the women in his life, but he wouldn't put up with any whining from his partner.

"It's just thunder! Go take a nap. Rachel is going to be here any minute and I've still got to finish up the paperwork on the Steele case."

Thunder boomed again, causing Whiskey, his Irish wolfhound, to make another try for his lap, this time settling for a spot on his feet under his desk.

"Oh, for …Will you get out from under there?"

He tried to move his feet without much success. "I told you Rachel was going to be here any minute. We're going out to dinner and I don't want you getting drool all over my slacks."

"Excuse me. Have we come at a bad time?" A woman and man stood in his office doorway. The woman did the speaking. "We're sorry to interrupt …." She looked pointedly at his desk, "But it's a matter of life and death."

Please consider purchasing this book for your personal library. In addition to supporting an excellent charity, it's an opportunity to get to know unfamiliar writers and find new favorites.

If you'd like an autographed copy from Evelyn David, contact us by email.

Title: Missing
Author: Anthology
ISBN: 978-1-59080-611-1
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 344
Price: $16.99 US, $22.99 CA
Echelon Press Direct 410-878-7113
Ingram Book Company
Partners Book Dist. 800-336-3137
Follett Corp. 800-435-6170

Evelyn David

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Raise Your Hand if You're Not a Cheater

Today we have the delightful showing of Alex Rodriguez’s inaugural apology tour…starting at Spring Training! I was watching the news last night and they announced that regular programming would be cancelled (that means you, “All My Children”) to show Rodriguez’s press conference. If I were an “All My Children” fan—which I was, years ago when I had a lot of free time on my hands (in college)—I would be supremely annoyed. After all, I think it is generally accepted that most people would rather watch Erica Kane marry another man than watch A-Roid malign a writer. Am I right or am I right?

I am fascinated by this whole steroid culture, mostly because I just finished a round of steroids myself to combat the dreaded g-i disturbance. I can tell you that steroids (at least the ones I was on—which are legal in all fifty states) a) make you very irritable, b) make you want to gnaw off your own arm, and c) make you very irritable. (When Roger Clemens claimed before Congress that he had never knowingly taken steroids, my mind returned to the time when he threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza. In my opinion, that was a textbook example of “roid rage.”) My curve ball is wicked, but I also have a fat face and a pot belly from all of the eating I was doing. So the tradeoffs, as far as I’m concerned, do not outweigh the benefits. I suspect that the steroids most professional athletes take have different restorative powers, but I’m wondering what they do with all of the unpleasant side effects like those mentioned above. And, do they, like me, enjoy cleaning their house in fits of energized activity as much as I do? I suspect not. If so, they wouldn’t have time to play ball. After all, there are ceiling fan blades to remove and soak.

I, for one, am interested by what Mr. A-Roid has to say. After all, this is the man who employed the “shoot the messenger” approach by accusing the woman who wrote the story in the first place—Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated—of being a “stalker,” a charge that he said he could prove, but then failed to when pressed. He may employ the old tried and true “but I didn’t know what I was taking” or “I thought it was an herbal supplement” which, to my mind, is as lame as excuse as any. If you made your living from using your body like a professional athlete does, wouldn’t you take the time to find out what you were ingesting or shooting up?

Our local paper had several articles in it today and one in particular that detailed the number of teammates who were going to attend the press conference in a show of support. Now I’m not saying that there doesn’t come a time when you “forgive and forget” but think about how you would feel about a co-worker whose cheating and off-site antics cast long shadows of negativity on your workplace? Would you be so quick to stand up for that person, particularly if you were a clean-living, hard-working employee? Or should I give into my suspicious nature and believe that all of these guys are on steroids and have to back each other up because their time is coming soon? I hope not.

I’m not a Yankee fan, but I’m not a Yankee hater either. I’m sure that the team I root for has its share of users; only time will tell. But I do have a fervent wish that my children were growing up in a time where they could admire their sports heroes, not be suspicious or disappointed by them on a regular basis. I will admit that it used to be exciting when a lot of these guys who we now know used steroids came to the plate. It’s exciting to see home runs be hit, and records be broken. It’s exciting to see athletes run faster, jump farther, and throw harder. But not when they’ve had help.

I’ll let you know what Mr. Rodriguez has to say. It better be worth missing Erica Kane and her hijinks.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Does Everything Happen At Once?

Just when it seems all is going well, the bottom falls out!

Our gas heater wouldn't run--of course we've had the coldest weather this year. Gas man was called, he got it going but he and hubby thought it needed new pilot igniter. Couldn't get one until the next day--but hubby did get it fixed.

Granddaughter came over to bake Valentine cake and our bottom oven burned out. Fortunately in the wonderful stove we purchased in 1981, there is a second oven, though it doesn't work quite as well as the bottom one. Cakes got baked though came out a bit lopsided. Hubby found what needs to be replaced, had one, but will have to pull the stove from the wall to fix it.

We had a delightful Valentine Dinner at church Saturday night, great food, fun conversation--everyone told how they'd met, some revealing and surprising stories--all good. Everyone invited to a member's 92nd birthday party after church on Sunday.

Right after service was over, my married granddaughter who had taken kids out for children's church popped in exclaiming, "I need help. The boy's bathroom toilet overflowed and water is everywhere!" Everyone in the Sunday best responded--mops used, water extractor pastor had, etc. Of course this particular bathroom just had a new tile floor put in and the water also soaked the carpet in the hall and seeped into the library.

Hubby and I went to Coffee Etc. for lunch--love the owners, put up poster for my upcoming book launch and ordered cookies for same. Good food, fun conversations with everyone who was there.

Came home, turned on faucet, no water. We are on a well. Always problematic if someone leaves water running. Found out a grandson had stopped by while we were out and washed his hands with outside hose that is on the well and left it running--emptied the well. Problem discovered, faucet turned off. Takes two hours for well to recharge and fill.

Needless to say hubby isn't happy. He'd planned to spend the afternoon reading Sunday paper and watching TV.

But as my mom used to say, when you have troubles you can always find someone worse off than you are.


Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Not Hard to Read These Clues

Split lip, bloody nose, bite marks, facial bruising and swelling.

I confess I couldn’t name a single song by mega-stars Rihanna and Chris Brown, but sadly do recognize the signs of domestic abuse.

Chris Brown is 19; Rihanna just 20. He's just been arrested for allegedly beating the c**p out of her.

Teen domestic abuse is a growing, but unfortunately under-reported crime. Consider:

* One in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship
* Forty percent of teenage girls between 14 and 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend
* Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence--nearly 20 per 1000 women.

Dating violence crosses all racial, social, economic, and educational lines. As Rihanna can attest, being professionally successful, even at a young age, doesn’t protect you. While domestic abuse is never acceptable, we face a special challenge in making sure that young women understand that abuse, physical and emotional, is never part of a loving relationship. We need to educate them to recognize and reject men who misuse or manipulate them.

Why are teens especially at risk for dating violence? According to the Alabama Coalition against Dating Violence (, it is because adolescents often are inexperienced with dating relationships, are pressured by peers to act violently, want independence from parents, and have "romantic" views of love. Young men may believe that masculinity means aggressiveness. Young girls may think violence is normal because they see many of their friends are being abused.

What is especially sad, but again unsurprising about the domestic violence incident between two teen idols, is that Chris Brown has talked openly about how his childhood was marred by the violence of his stepfather. In an interview with GIANT magazine, he confessed that his stepfather “used to hit my mom … He made me terrified all the time, I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, ‘I’m just gonna go crazy on him one day,’ I hate him to this day.”

I make no excuses for the abuser – except to say how very sad that he has yet to escape the vicious cycle of violence that he loathes. Research confirms that victims of childhood abuse often become abusers themselves. It’s hard to change early-learned patterns of behavior. But not impossible.

I don’t know what will happen to Chris Brown. He’s hired a big Hollywood lawyer and I suspect that a plea bargain is in the works. The legal case against him is the least of his problems. Will he seize this opportunity to change – or simply hope that the next time the cops aren’t called? Will Rihanna forgive and reconcile – or perhaps forgive but move on, determined to find a man worthy of her?

If you or someone you know, old or young, is the victim of dating violence, step up and speak out. Go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline,, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help.

Evelyn David

Friday, February 13, 2009

Growing Up in Cambridge

Kaye Barley is an avid mystery reader and Dorothy L poster, who lives in the beautiful North Carolina mountains with her handsome husband, Donald, and their faithful companion, Harley Doodle Barley - the cutest Corgi on God's green earth. Kaye is also a blogger and you can find her, along with friends, at Meanderings and Muses. The Stiletto Gang can take part of the credit for this new venture of Kaye's, since her very first blog was right here on July 25th of last year. She had so much fun, she hasn't stopped blogging since.

What fun being back here and I thank the gracious women of The Stiletto Gang for having me!

When I was first here last July, I was still a bit wobbly about having kicked my cigarette habit. Well, I want you all to know that its been 9 months and I still have not had a cigarette. Ta DA! I do believe I'm there, don't you? Although, I must say - it would be awfully easy to pick up a pack of Virginia Slims today and enjoy the heck out of one more cigarette. But - there's no such thing as that "one more cigarette," so we'll just pass on all that. So - do I miss it? Yes and No. I miss that total feeling of relaxation I would have when I'd get home from work, settle down with a book, a fresh cup of coffee and a cigarette. I will always miss that. But then on the other hand - while working and the mood for a cigarette would hit, it didn't matter if it was 3 below zero, with the wind whipping around at hurricane force. If I wanted a cigarette, by golly, I was gonna have that cigarette. Bundled up in mountain winter weather gear and an unattractive toboggan hat perched on my head, gloves so heavy it was hard to even hold a cigarette, out into the snowy elements I'd tromp to enjoy that cigarette. Do I miss that?!! Pfft. I'd say not.

Also, while I was here I talked a little bit about growing up in the town of Cambridge, MD. Growing up in Cambridge was one of the loveliest things in my life. As it happens, I was feeling a bit homesick for Cambridge when I was here and writing about it helped. So, while my first visit to The Stiletto Gang was fun, as it turns out, because it was part of a whole lot of little things that were happening around that same time, it put me on the pathway to becoming a blogger. Something I had not a whit of understanding about at the time. Now, I recognize it as a fun, creative outlet for me, and a nice place for folks to hang out. So, thanks to The Stiletto Gang, I've stumbled into something that has become an important facet of my life - as is the town of Cambridge, MD.

There are a million Cambridge stories and here's just one.

Laws, I hope my dad forgives me for telling this one!

When I was growing up there were a couple of "stag" bars in Cambridge. Did y'all have those? No women. I don't know if they specifically ever said "No Women," or if women just wouldn't be caught dead in them. There was one on Race Street not far from our apartment called the D-D Bar. It was owned by a friend of Dad's named Monk Bradley, and it was a wonderful little place. I loved it - it was one of those grown-up "Not Allowed" places I would sneak into; along with the other Race Steet kids. And then be surprised when my mom showed up at the door to get me 'cause someone had called her. The D-D Bar was long and narrow and dark. There were maybe 4 booths in the front, a real long bar with a brass foot rail. There were also pinball tables, a shuffleboard table and a dart board.

If Monk needed him on Saturdays, Daddy thought it was a great (and fun!) way to make some extra money.

We had a local radio station in Cambridge, and on Saturdays, Ed Brigham would make a phone call to give away a free prize to someone if they could answer the question of the day.

On this particular Saturday, Mother and I were home, and the radio was on, of course. We heard Mr. Brigham announce that the question of the day phone call was about to be made. And we, of course, were hoping our phone would ring. Well, it didn't, but we did hear a very familiar voice over the radio say "D-D Bar, Al speaking."

How fun - my dad!!!!

Mr. Brigham said "Hey Al, this is Ed Brigham, how ya' doin'?" After a few minutes of small talk exchanging some "how's the family" kinda stuff, Mr. Brigham told Dad he would win two free tickets to the Arcade Movie Theater if he could answer the question of the day.

You could hear all the local Cambridge bar flies talking and hollering in the background, pinball machines ping pinging and all that bar noise. So Dad yelled for everyone to quiet down 'cause Ed Brigham had a question.

The question was "How long is a decade?"


Well, Mother and I laughed and she said she guessed she & Dad would be going downstairs to see a free movie soon. We lived in a wonderful old apartment over the Arcade Movie Theater.

Then we heard dad over the radio yelling to the guys in the bar "Ed wants to know how long is a DUCK EGG!!"

A duck egg.

Mother and I just about fell in the floor screaming we were laughing so hard.

You could hear all these men saying stuff like, "a Duck Egg? Hell, I don't know, Jim Bob - what do you think?" Answers like "2 inches, 3 inches - oh hell no, an inch and a half," and things like "Who the hell cares??" were all loud and clear over the radio. This went on for awhile and finally dad was laughing and said something like "Well, Ed, we think maybe an inch and a half."

Ed Brigham was hysterical and said "Al. Hazel is going to kill you. NOT a Duck Egg! A DECADE!!!!!!!!"

Dead silence on Dad's end. Then he started laughing really hard and started telling the guys in the bar that he'd made a mistake and what the question really was and you could hear those men laughing and laughing to beat the band.

For years anytime we went out to eat, especially in Ray Dayton's restaurant on Race Street, someone would holler "Hey Al! How long's a Duck Egg?!"

Kaye Barley

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Dark Comedy

It's Tuesday night and I'm starting to feel the pressure of not having a blog written for Thursday. Thursdays are my responsibility! The Northern Half of Evelyn David has Mondays.

I got back from the Love Is Murder conference on Monday afternoon – it's a long drive from Chicago to Oklahoma. I'm still a little punchy from staring at a highway for 13 hours. But the conference was wonderful and I enjoyed my time there. Picked up a few advance copies of Murder Takes the Cake. My co-author and I are using 90% of them to send out to reviewers. The official publication date is May, so even my mom is having to wait for a copy.

I had originally scheduled Tuesday off from my day job – you know, the job that pays the bills and allows me to write in the evenings and weekends? But since I'd been out of the office for a full week, lots of little annoying things were piling up. I'd received a half dozen calls from co-workers on Monday during my drive back. Nothing really critical, but all considered urgent by the callers. I decided that my week would be much smoother if I went to the office on Tuesday and got started weeding out my in-box.

I work for the Oklahoma Department of Mines running the Coal Mining division. We issue mining permits, enforce environmental regulations, and ensure that mined areas are reclaimed. With my biology degree in hand, I started as an inspector over twenty years ago. I think, as with most people, some days I love my job – others not so much. Today was one of those "not so much" days. A dear friend and co-worker is very ill. Except for a couple of scattered days, he's been in one hospital or another since January 1. No one seems to know what's wrong with him – all tests are negative but he's experiencing severe lower back and abdominal pain. I've been picking up some of his supervisory duties while he's been out, but we all miss him terribly.

The other major thing I'm dealing with concerns an upcoming office move. We have to vacate our current office by June 30 and, as of today, we haven't nailed down new office space. Just in case the general public is unaware, there is almost nothing in the world harder and more unnecessarily complicated than moving an Oklahoma state agency office from one location to another. The only thing harder is closing an office. I spent at least three hours today discussing with a contractor, my immediate supervisor, my office manager, and the agency director the technical space requirements for state office building bathrooms, whether or not the square footage in bathrooms count towards our allowed office space, and how many bathrooms we were entitled to have. It was suggested … not by me … that we have one unisex bathroom in the new building and use the extra square footage for another private office. I don't know how other people feel about unisex bathrooms in offices – but I'll vote no every time. In fact I might have shouted to my direct supervisor over the telephone (a male whose office is in a large office building some 150 miles away from my small field office, a building that has multiple sets of male and female bathrooms on all floors) something like, "I'd give up every private office in the space before I'd give up having separate male and female bathrooms." There was this stunned silence on the other end of the line after my outburst – I don't think it ever crossed his mind that a unisex bathroom would be a problem.

Oh well … maybe Murder Takes the Cake will be a hit and I can give up my glamorous day job. My co-author suggested that I should try for a humorous blog this week, but I just don't have it in me to be funny right now. Can you tell?

I'm in my living room writing this blog, surrounded by unpacked suitcases, tornado alerts blaring on the television (it's a little early in Oklahoma for tornado season – but hey, it's been one of those days), and I need to clean the leftovers out of my refrigerator. I also need to buy a fresh copy of Turbo Tax and do my taxes this weekend. Yea! Something to look forward to!

Funny – I need to think of something funny. I saw Rachel Getting Married on pay-per-view at the hotel in Chicago. It was billed as a dark comedy. That was half right. It was dark – very, very dark. I didn't laugh even once, so I don't count it as a comedy. Do you remember the movie Ordinary People? Rachel Getting Married was as much a comedy as that movie was!

So let's see – I've covered travel, illness, tornados, taxes, unisex bathrooms, government bureaucracy, and bad movies.

I definitely need to find my way out of this week and get back to something cheerful – writing murder mysteries!

Evelyn David

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Social Networking

My MySpace page never amounted to anything. I thought I’d be really cool and put a Beyoncé song on there so people would know how hip I was, but after a few days, I noticed an alert on my site that said: “Song removed by artist.” How did Beyoncé know that I had her song on there? I never could quite figure that out and I was terrified that I had broken some copyright law much less angered Beyoncé. So, I stayed off of MySpace and vowed never to join the social networking world again.

Until a friend turned me on to Facebook. This, to me, seems like a very user-friendly, very safe place to social network. Hey—even my Mom’s on there! I have reconnected with about a third of my high-school graduating class (hi, girls!), a bunch of people I used to work with (remember those crazy annual business plans? Good times…), my old neighbors (remember that time when…you don’t…well, ok). It’s a great way to advertise when your latest book comes out and a good way to stay in touch with people far and near.

There are just a few problems with the social networking idea, though: getting “friend” requests from people you don’t know, and never hearing back from people to whom you yourself have sent a “friend” request. Awkward on both accounts. I’m assuming that those people who send you friend requests—and whom you’ve never met—have found you on one of your other friend’s lists and thinks that because you have one common friend, the two of you will have stuff in common. And that you’ll be interested in reading their status updates. Or, that they are trying to amass as many friends as possible so that they have a robust list. I’m not sure. I only “friend” people I knew or know now, which is why I don’t understand when they don’t “friend” me back. Maybe they just don’t like? Hard to tell.

One thing’s for sure: this is the most like a high school student I’ve felt in about thirty years. That’s one problem. (Or two, technically, I suppose.) The second is that I’m a little obsessed with Facebook. I now have another time-wasting site to visit, going back to last week’s theme of procrastination. I have plenty of work to keep me busy and technically, I should be a little further along on book 5. But I find the status updates from friends scintillating and worthy of my time. Tell me, though: do I really need to check it so obsessively every day to find out who had a pastrami on rye for lunch? Or who has decided to leave work early? Or who is on their second gin and tonic (and it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon)? Probably not. I was living a full life before Facebook not knowing these little tidbits. Now I’m loathe to miss even one update.

The latest craze on Facebook is to post twenty-five things about yourself. These lists take many forms and have many different kinds of entries from the banal (“I don’t like onions”) to the poignant (“I wish I were a better friend to x or x”). I’ve been “tagged”—asked to contribute my own list of twenty-five things—but I feel like if I need to share that many things about myself, I’ll get my husband liquored up and make him listen to me drone on about the things I don’t think he knows about me. (And trust me—he knows everything there is to know, hence, the liquored up part.)

Thanks to fellow Stiletto Gang member Susan McBride, I no longer check my Amazon number, read reviews of my books online, or Google myself. Should we add Facebook to the list? Should I limit myself to one viewing in the morning and/or one at night? Or should I go off completely?

I have a friend who just took the drastic step of going through her friend list and “un-friending” anyone with whom she was just not a true friend. This meant the guy who used to work in marketing at our old company, or the hair dresser she had when she lived across the country, and a few other people who my friend reflected on, coming to the conclusion that they just weren’t very nice to her when they lived/worked/or went to school together. I thought this was truly radical but not a step I’m willing to take right now.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will wait with baited breath to read whether or not you got your car’s oil changed, or got that promotion, or read the latest book in the “Twilight” series. I, in the interest of a reciprocal friendship, will let you know how I did on Weight Watchers this week, or what my favorite “King of Queens” episode is.

That’s what (virtual) friends are for, right?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Preparing for a Virtual Blog Tour and Freezing

Because I'm going to have a blog tour in March for No Sanctuary, I've been answering interviews and writing articles. Did some yesterday and finished the rest that I'd been given today.

Meanwhile our gas heater quit working on Sunday--that's the main heater for the house. Fortunately for me, there's another heater, down the hall and near my office, so if I close the door into the living room, it keeps the office fairly decent.

Sunday night, went to bed early to keep warm--did some editing and watched TV.

Hate to complain since the rest of you have snow and ice and all that cold stuff. It was 38 when I got up this morning and it's been raining all day. Had some thunder and it got dark as night at 3 p.m.

The guy from the Gas Co. arrived a bit ago right in the middle of the biggest downpour. He fixed the heater--yeah, already warmer. And it's stopped raining, at least for awhile.

We need rain desperately--they tell us it's our(California's) third year of drought. Hope all the rain we've been having lately (along with the snow in the mountains) will take care of the problem.

My new publisher has put an old romance of mine, Lingering Spirit, on the Kindle, wish I had one to take a look at it. I know some of my mysteries are already there.

Yes, I do love electronic gadgets, it just takes me awhile to figure out how to use them. When all else fails, I ask my 18 year old granddaughter and she always seems to know the answer.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Eight is More than Enough

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets last week isn’t the first mother to try and make a buck from her kids. It's appalling but she's already hired a PR firm to field her offers.

Remember the Dionne Quintuplets? Born in 1934, the Canadian government took the girls from their parents and put them on display, as if they were freaks like the two-headed cow in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Millions of tourists visited Quintland, the theme-park like environment where the Dionne girls lived. Visitors watched from behind mesh screens as the children played twice a day. Quintland was Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction of the era. From infancy until age nine, these children were not allowed to have friends, attend village school, or have contact with their parents or siblings. When they were finally returned to their parents, virtual strangers to them, the Quints continued to be the family money-makers.

I don’t see much difference between the Dionne quintuplets childhood, and a host of reality shows on The Learning Channel which feature families with many kids. In all cases, for the sake of entertainment of the public and in exchange for big bucks for the parents, we have stripped young children of their privacy. In one wildly popular show, nothing of the kids' lives is off-limits – bathing, toileting, tantrums, doctors visits – yep, all caught on tape for eternity. The parents even installed industrial lighting in their home to make filming easier. The adults discuss their offspring on camera as if they were gossiping about strangers. For those who would argue that the children are soooooo cute – since when did we decide that it was okay to use young kids’ real lives to entertain us?

One in six Americans is affected by infertility. Medical treatment gives hope to women who otherwise would not be able to get pregnant. But responsible doctors deliberately limit the number of embryos transferred at any one time. Conscientious medical professionals carefully monitor the number of eggs released when using Clomid (or similar fertility drug) and cancel procedures when there are too many follicles that might result in a pregnancy of higher-order multiples. Good fertility clinics do psychological screening before treatment so a woman who already has six children under the age of seven, one of whom is a special-needs child, would probably not be accepted for treatment.

Children are a blessing. As parents we must treasure and care for each one. As the viewing public, we must put an end to this Hollywood-ization of large families. If their own parents won’t protect the children on these reality shows, it’s up to us to vote with our TV remotes.

Evelyn David

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Love Is Murder - Saturday Events

My second day at Love Is Murder is almost over. Only thing left is the "mother of all" booksignings and the awards banquet. The booksigning starts in 30 minutes and then the banquet follows.

I attended three panels today – Humor in Mysteries, Screenwriting, and a question and answer session with some police detectives. Listening to cops talk about their cases is always very interesting. They had the audience hanging on their every word. Several had been involved in serial killer cases and they talked fairly freely about the crimes and how they were solved.

The screenwriting panel featured a gentleman, James Strauss, who has written for both feature movies and television. Currently he's writing for House and trying to switch careers. He wants to write novels. It was fun listening to him talk about the Hollywood scene and some of the actors/directors/producers he's known. He handed out a "treatment" he'd done for a new tv series so we'd have an example of how to write one. Apparently "treatments" are what you use to "pitch" a screenplay. He was very clear that we shouldn't use the word "pitch," instead call it a "presentation." He also said if we were serious about writing screenplays, we should buy "Final Draft" – a software program that is the industry standard.

My afternoon panel on Collaborative Writing went well. The audience was very small, but those who attended had lots of questions. Susan Smily and Honora Finkelstein authors of the Ariel Quigley mystery series sat next to me. I met them for the first time two years ago at Love Is Murder and we've crossed paths many times. It was fun to catch up on all the news.

After my panel there was a "tea" in one of the larger banquet halls. While I was there, I met Deb Baker, author of the Gretchen Birch mystery series and the Gertie Johnson mystery series.

The best thing about conferences is meeting people and authors you've chatted with on-line!

Got to get ready for the signing.

More later.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Love is Murder - Friday Events

My first day at the Love is Murder conference is winding down. Murder Takes the Cake and Missing showed up in the conference bookstore about noon. Believe me I was lurking in the hallway, waiting to catch a glimpse as soon as the bookseller put them on the table.

As I was counting the toes and fingers of my newborns (Just kidding but not much. Writing a book is like giving birth), Karen Syed of Echelon Press (my publisher) walked up and asked how I liked the cover. I told her the truth, I love the cover. Echelon does great covers. Whiskey is front and center again.

I had brought posters of all three books (Murder Off the Books, Murder Takes the Cake, and Missing). I put those out on a table with bookmarks. There were multiple panels on Friday afternoon, but I only had time to attend one, what with all the hallway lurking and carting promo materials from my room to the conference area. (Note to self – wear the running shoes tomorrow no matter what they look like with your suit.)

The panel I sat in on today was Power Marketing. Morgan Mandel moderated it. She did a wonderful job covering a large number of topics. Rosemary Harris, Joanna Campbell Slan, and Jennie Spallone were featured. Lots of info on blogging, making posters, and promo items was relayed.

There was a big signing event for Missing just before the dinner sponsored by Echelon authors. At least 10 or 11 of the 17 authors who contributed to the anthology were at one long table to sign copies for people who had purchased the book today. Proceeds from Missing are being donated to the National Center for Missing and Abused Children.

After dinner Centuries and Sleuths bookseller Auggie Aleksey read an essay on Sherlock Holmes.

One of my favorite authors – Jeffery Deaver was in the audience. He, along with Steve Berry and Sharan Newman, are the conference's featured authors. Recently I read his latest, The Bodies Left Behind. Great book!

Tomorrow, I want to attend a panel at 9:00 am - The Doctor Is In – an emergency room doctor is going to offer some help with medical problems that come up in mysteries. The program mentioned "slides." Can't wait!

There's a screenwriting panel at 10:00 am. I'd like to make that one too.

At 2:30 pm I'm on a panel concerning Collaborative Writing. I plan to explain how "Evelyn David" writes and why we're able to make it work!

I've had a full day. Would love to end it with a viewing of the latest Battlestar Galactica but alas (writers can say "alas") the hotel doesn't get the Sci-Fi channel. Someone please email me at and tell me what happens in tonight's episode!

I'll be coming home with a few advace copies of Murder Takes the Cake. If you want one, contact us at the email address above. First come, first served. The scheduled publish date is May 2009.


Cover Girl!

by Susan McBride

It all started a few months back when I got an email from out of the blue. "We'd like to put you on the cover of St. Louis Woman Magazine," it said, and the note was signed "Lynn Deane, associate publisher."

Maybe it's my mystery background that makes me suspicious, but I initially wondered if it was a hoax. Before I even told my husband about the message, I did some online sleuthing, double-checking Lynn's email with the staff listing on the magazine's web site. Yep, it seemed kosher. She'd given me her cell number and asked that I call with an answer soon. I figured that would tell the tale, too. If someone picked up, saying, "Bertie's Dry Cleaners," then I'd know it was a joke.

So I dialed and held my breath until the ringing stopped and a woman said, "Hello," and identified herself as Lynn. Apparently, she was on vacation in Florida, and I felt like I was in La-La Land. Giddy that this was for real, I breathlessly told her, "Yes, yes, yes, I'd love to be a St. Louis Woman Magazine cover girl!" I mean, who in her right mind would turn down such an offer? We talked for several minutes though I can hardly remember a word I said. My head was still in the clouds. Though I do recall learning that the producer of "Great Day St. Louis" (a local morning show on which I'd appeared in September) had suggested me as a potential cover girl. Wow. It's nice to know that all those manners my mom tried to teach me might have impressed someone (see "Excuse My Manners," if you don't know what I'm talking about).

Not long after, I was contacted by the managing editor of Indianapolis Woman and St. Louis Woman (the same company publishes both). She wanted to drive in from Indy to interview me at home. We set a time and date, and she showed up an hour early with her notebook in hand, ready to go (turns out, she was on Indy-time, not St. Louis time!). Five hours later, Ed had come home from work, and Rebecca was just getting ready to leave. I don't know about y'all, but five hours of yakking had me worried about all the things I might've said that could get me in trouble.

Next, I heard from the art director who suggested doing the photo shoot at my house instead of the studio. I wasn't sure how that would work, but was game. Not having to get out in the cold to drive anywhere--especially hauling several changes of clothes and all my books to use as props--sounded perfect! That way, Ed could drop in during the afternoon and be included in a shot. In fact, he showed up just after stylist to the stars, Darin Slyman, had finished with my hair and makeup. (Darin had some great stories about celebs he'd worked with--I told him he should write a book!) My mom even popped in to watch the goings-on. At one point, the living room was practically emptied of furniture and was filled instead with lights. Photographer Steve Truesdell and art director Michelle Thompson encouraged me to be expressive (which accounts for my very goofy look on the cover!). When I asked Michelle, "Why can't I just smile and look pretty," she responded, "too normal." Okey-dokey.

Three changes of clothes and four hours later, I was pooped, and the crew packed up and took off. I think my face hurt from smiling and "being expressive." Whew. I don't know how those chicks on "America's Top Model" do it. But I must confess that I had a ball.

As of this moment, I haven't seen the actual magazine though I have peeked at some of the photos and the article on the web site. I'll be handing out the issue from the St. Louis Woman Magazine booth at the Women's Heart Health Fair in the Nordstrom courtyard of West County Center today and Saturday for an hour a pop. Can't wait to hold a real-live copy in my hands!

P.S. Just heard from the managing editor who gave me this link to view the article on the Indianapolis Woman Magazine site. The St. Louis Woman cover story is only slightly different with a little less info about my early years in Indy. Nice!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Road to Love Is Murder - Part III

I'm writing this blog on Sunday morning. Thursday morning when this blog posts, I'll be halfway to Chicago and the Love Is Murder conference. (I hope.) I'll be updating this blog entry Thursday night after I arrive at the hotel. Be sure to check back through the weekend for the latest highlights and low-lights of my trip!

Wish me luck. I can't wait to get my hands on copies of Murder Takes the Cake and Missing. They both debut at the conference.

If you want autographed copies of either, just send us an email at

Copies of Murder Takes the Cake are very limited until May, so first come, first served!

****Update! 3:00 PM Central

I'm here!!! Chicago is cold but this is the first time I've been here that the skies have been clear.

Saw Rosemary Harris as I was checking into the hotel. She's hosting a hospitality room at the conference and promoting her new book - The Big Dirt Nap.

My first order of business is to find a late lunch somewhere and then find where the book room is located. My publisher, Karen Syed of Echelon Press, is reported to be in the building somewhere. Can't wait to find her and get my hands on Murder Takes the Cake and Missing.

More later.

Evelyn David

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Blackberry or Not...

I had an appointment in the New York City yesterday that would require me to spend several hours in a waiting room, followed by several more hours in another waiting room. The night before, faced with this prospect (and the one and half hours that I’d be spending on the train into and out of New York City) and thinking about other “wasted” times spent sitting around, I started to wonder: is it time to get a Blackberry?

As you all know, I work from home. Technically, although I do work for other people on a freelance basis, I work for myself. Should time spent sitting in a waiting room be productive, or should this be the time I catch up on my reading, make new friends (people in waiting rooms tend to want to talk to other people in the waiting room), or just meditate? I haven’t decided. But the pull toward the personal data assistant or whatever PDA stands for, is getting greater, and I turn to you, oh venerated Stiletto Gang readers for advice.

My sister, who works for a company who offers these devices and calling plans, said, “They’re great. But you are married to them then.” Another friend couldn’t live without hers. Would I become a slave to the PDA or forget I even had it? Do I really need to check my email every few minutes throughout the day, regardless of where I am? I’m undecided.

I returned from New York City yesterday to more than forty emails. Those of you in the corporate world are probably laughing, thinking to yourselves, “Forty? That’s bush league, sister. Try coming back to two hundred!” But in my world, forty is a lot. Especially since all of them include information that is necessary and meaningful. You in corporate America get at least twenty responses that say “I’ll be there” to the email that circulated about some meeting taking place Friday morning at ten. Those, my friends, do not count in your overall total. Would it have been better for me to sit in the waiting room and respond to at least twenty of those emails? Or does it not matter? Should my clients have to wait until I return or should I be available to them twenty four/seven? I leave these weighty questions in your hands.

I know that the Southern half of Evelyn David has a Blackberry, so I’m hoping she weighs in with the plusses and minuses of PDA ownership. I do know that I will have to invest in the device that has the largest key pad because even though I do not possess overly-large hands, I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to write messages with any kind of ease unless the keys on the keypad approach the size of those on my laptop. I know the keys are larger than those of my cell phone, but exactly how large do they need to be? All I know is that it took me ten minutes to text my daughter these two words, “not sure,” in response to her message to me, “What time will you be home?” I do not have that kind of time, people. And if you need an immediate answer from me on an important issue, do not—I repeat, do not—text me. It will be hours before I’m able to type a comprehensible reply.

I await your wise counsel. To Blackberry or not—that is the question.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And the Promo Begins

Sometimes I wonder why I do all this. All what? you ask.

Submerging myself in an imaginary world, writing about it, going back over to eliminate inconsistencies, because if I don't find them, someone will. Checking the galley proofs for mistakes and no matter how careful I am, gremlins seem to be at work and sneak them in. And once it's actually available, then the promoting.

Of course this all takes lots of time that you can't be doing normal things like hanging out with the family (though I try to involve them as much as possible--just ask my hubby), doing housework, cooking, visiting with friends.

I don't actually have a book in hand, but they are on the way, and I know it's being advertised on Amazon--though when I looked the cover wasn't up yet.

I've still got to plan and advertise my launch party, put together some promo materials, do some posting here and there, but I do have quite a few speaking engagements set up already. I'll be attending four conferences, only flying to one, the others are close enough to drive. As you've heard from Evelyn, conferences are fun. I've met lots of wonderful people at conferences, Evelyn and Susan for example.

More things to do, so onward I go.

aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, February 2, 2009

Corporate Crooks and Idiots

John Thain is an idiot. Forget the fact that on his watch, Merrill Lynch lost $15 billion in three months. I don’t need an MBA from Harvard to know that he didn’t have a firm grasp of that bronco. No, I’d think he was an idiot even if he’d manage to save the company from ruin because really, in what universe, does anyone pay $35,114 for a toilet? Frankly, just how much time was he planning to spend sitting on the throne? And I’m guessing that even two-ply Charmin doesn’t make the cut for toilet paper in Thain’s powder room.

Okay, okay, it wasn't really a toilet. His commode on legs is really an antique chest of drawers that was originally designed to hold a chamber pot, but is now considered decorative. Think I could put my old American Standard toilet in the living room and call it art?

How tone deaf, crass, and craven do you have to be to justify spending $1.2 million dollars to re-do your office – even in the best economy? Did it make him work more efficiently? Did it make him turn around a failing company? Um, that would be a “no.” In an interview, he stumbled and stammered his justification about how he just didn’t like the décor of the previous tenant. I assume it offended his delicate sensibilities.

But to give him his due, Thain decided to spread the wealth around – to a chosen few. Right before the merger with Bank of America, but after he’d accepted Federal bailout money, he distributed $4 billion in bonuses to his top echelon. Nevermind that in the same breath, he issued pink slips to the minions at the bottom.

I know that John Thain isn’t the devil incarnate, although tell that to those who have lost their jobs and pensions. But he does represent a culture of entitlement found all too often in the boardrooms of our nation’s failing companies. That “me first” behavior that we insist is unacceptable from preschoolers has somehow become tolerable if you’ve got a seven figure income. These guys have lost touch with the reality facing most of us. So Mr. Thain agreed to pay back the $1.2 million in decorating fees. Big deal, big fat deal. If he had no idea that $87,000 for a rug and $18,000 for a desk are ridiculous expenditures, then this guy shouldn’t be treasurer of the PTA, let alone CEO of a company.

Word of advice to all companies taking Federal bailout money: spend money as if it were coming out of your poor grandmother’s pocketbook…because it is. And if Grandma won’t yell at you for being a wastrel – I sure will.

Evelyn David