Monday, April 19, 2021

Ted Lasso’s Message

by Paula Gail Benson

 


I don’t remember what finally enticed me to watch the first season of Ted Lasso (a sitcom created for Apple TV+). The premise of an American college football coach with no soccer experience hired to manage a premiere professional British football (aka soccer) team seemed intriguing. Hearing about Jason Sudeikis’ Golden Globe winning performance in the title role piqued my curiosity. Maybe the deciding factor came from reading about how good natured, optimistic, and hopeful the program was. I had been looking for a “feel good” series to binge, and Ted Lasso, with 10 half hour episodes, seemed worthy.

 

What I discovered in watching it, much like the character of reporter Trent Crim who shadows Ted for a day learns, is that there is more to Ted than a joke. Ted may not know the sport, but he is a very capable coach, not only for the team, but for everyone he encounters.

 

The twist upon which the show develops is that Ted has been hired to fail. The new owner, Rebecca Welton, acquired the team in her divorce settlement. She knows it’s the only thing her ex-husband really cares about and she systematically plans to destroy it. She doesn’t care who she has to hurt in the process, as long as she can cause her ex pain.

 

Does Ted know or suspect he’s a pawn in a bigger scheme? That’s a good question, particularly after watching the episodes several times. There’s a lot of subtext and characters are not what they initially seem. Or, maybe they grow, under Ted’s good-natured influence.

 

Because Ted really is Pollyanna. He finds something meaningful and worthwhile in every situation he encounters, even those most devastating for himself. He’s both wide-eyed and wise at the same time.

 

He has a quiet exuberance that’s contagious. He wins people over even when they are determined to dismiss him. That’s difficult to achieve and to make convincing for jaded readers. Part of how it’s accomplished is that Ted doesn’t have a completely charmed life. He comes to Britain to give himself and his family a new start, but it doesn’t work out as he hopes it might. He has to deal with personal disappointment while trying to accomplish the impossible (reinvigorating the team) and having his boss actively plotting against him.

 

As a writer, what I found most delightful about Ted Lasso is that almost every character, no matter how briefly introduced, has a story arc. Each person grows, learns, changes, becomes more or less assertive, and happily reaches his or her place in the overall structure. Even those walk-ons have their moments. Just like what Ted tries to provide for his players.

 

One other interesting aspect is how much a “family” operation Ted Lasso seems to be. Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, who plays the assistant coach, helped develop the show. Brett Goldstein, who takes on the role of grumpy, aging team captain Roy Kent, is the chief writer and Phoebe Walsh, who appears as the assistant coach’s love interest, is also on the writing staff. Character names are drawn from show insiders (Roy’s niece is Phoebe and Keeley Jones, a character portrayed by Juno Temple, has the first name of Keeley Hazell, who has the minor part of Bex and dates Sudeikis). Higgins, the beleaguered and unwilling henchman for the new owner, is transformed by music. The actor playing the part, Jeremy Swift, is also a musician and composer. 

 

Best of all, being good and kind wins out, not in a cloying or sentimental way, but even when the opposite path would be perfectly plausible. Respect for others, despite their differences, becomes the theme. Seeing that it can be accomplished without losing self-confidence or dignity makes for a truly winning first season. I anxiously anticipate seasons two and three!

Friday, April 16, 2021

WANTED: 3 BR, 2 BATHS, LOTS OF STORY INSPIRATION

By Shari Randall 

 

When she beta-read my last book, a friend told me that I seemed more interested in describing houses and settings than I was in describing people. At first I was taken aback, but after reflection, I saw her point.

 

I adore all those tv shows about houses – buying houses, selling houses, decorating houses, rehabbing houses, even haunted houses. With my husband’s military career, we’ve bought and sold plenty of houses. I love a good house tour or decorator showcase. Even dollhouses fascinate me. When I was a little girl, my favorite toy was my Barbie Dream House. Although my kids flew the nest years ago, I still have custody of their dollhouses and, sorry kids, I don’t think you’re getting them back.

 

Why do houses intrigue me so? Perhaps a psychologist could explain. Maybe the dollhouse my dad built for me and my sisters, a replica of our own red Cape Cod home, set me on this path.

 

Perhaps homes reflect the people in them and the writer in me has stumbled upon a different form of characterization? What can I say, houses inspire me.

 

With COVID, I haven’t been able to travel to scout potential story locations and buildings as much as I’d like. Lucky for me that my corner of Connecticut is full of intriguing places, places that fire my imagination and will make great settings for my books.

 


One of my characters likes to “collect castles” and so do I. Gillette’s Castle, set on a hill called the Seventh Sister overlooking the Connecticut River, is one of my favorite places to visit. Designed by William Gillette, an actor famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, the castle’s décor, construction, and grounds reflect the eccentric brilliance of its owner. This place inspired another pocket-sized castle in the second, as-yet-untitled book in my Ice Cream Shop Mystery series.

 


Here’s a charmer that is slated to be the childhood home of the main character in Ice Cream Shop Mystery #1, The Rocky Road to Ruin

 


This mini-castle is tucked into a neighborhood a block from the ocean. Not your typical beach house, is it? I can only imagine the character who built this place. I feel a story coming on!

 

Writers: People or places – which do you find easier to describe? Readers: Are you as crazy about real estate as I am?


Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series from St. Martin's Press. The first in series, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN, won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The first in her new Ice Cream Shop Mystery series (written as Meri Allen), THE ROCKY ROAD TO RUIN, will be published on July 27, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Do Contests Matter?


Should the winner medal from the Killer Nashville Claymore Award contest go on the cover of The Body in the Beaver Pond? That was one of the many questions my cover artist and I discussed as I prepared for the release of the novel. 

Cathy Perkins wins Killer Nashville award

As Dar and I chatted, I wondered, do writing contest even matter?

Authors know how competitive the contests are, but do readers care? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Of course, there are the other reasons authors (or their publicists) enter. Little secret – we’re incredibly insecure! Think about it. We’re putting ourselves “out there” for the world to critique. We’re sharing pieces of the deepest parts of us. And we worry all the time that maybe our books are actually terrible and any previous “success” was a fluke. Maybe a contest offers a tiny bit of affirmation, that says, Yeah. This is good.

Then again, that may be more than most readers need or want to know.

While I’ve had a great time writing this novel and look forward to the release, I decided to add a layer to my usual low key launch plans. I decided to make the release about all of you.

Nearly everyone knows friends or family who’ve lost loved ones, jobs, nearly lost their home, and faced a host of other challenges this year.

The Body in the Beaver Pond touches on many of these challenges, offering a tangible (if somewhat snarky) perspective from Keri, as she struggles to adjust after loosing her marriage, home and job. (And for an extra writing challenge – the book is funny!)

Now that I have a funny main character I hope people relate to, I need a place to make all this happen. (Imaginary) Liberty Falls is drawn from a number of small towns in Washington state’s Cascade Mountains. Lingering economic inequities, the pandemic, life throwing curve balls – all this hurt many people, especially in these smaller, rural areas where social services are few and far between. As a result, I’m donating the royalties from presales (and the first few months of sales) from The Body in the Beaver Pond to HopeSource, a multi-purpose agency, which serves Kittitas County (the first county you discover when you venture over Snoqualmie Pass from Seattle.)

I’d appreciate your help in getting the word out about both the book and the donation. 

Get your presale copy and help me help our friends and neighbors - https://books2read.com/BodyintheBeaverPond

 

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She's hard at work on Peril in the Pony Ring, the sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, releasing May 2021!) which was recently presented with the Killer Nashville's Claymore Award. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Audio Books

 by Bethany Maines

On my first book, Bulletproof Mascara, the novel was also spun off into an audio book and (guilty admission) I have never listened to it. Or rather, I got ten minutes in, freaked out, turned it off and never went back.  It wasn't that it was bad. It was more that the voices in my head had become external, but they weren't actually my voices.  The process of publishing is, in many ways, about taking something deeply personal and turning it over into the public domain. And at the time, I had barely come to terms with my friends, family, and complete strangers having opinions on my characters. Having the auditory sensation of hearing them in different voices was completely disconcerting.

However, it's been a minute since then (I love how that phrase implies that it really was a short amount of time) and I'm a little more resigned to the process of sharing my fake people with the world. So I recently took a deep breath and dipped a toe back into the audio waters.  This time the process was much better.  Not only did I get to select my voice actor, but I could add my two-cents on her interpretation. I’m completely in love with this new version of my novel The Second Shot. It's been so fun to hear the book with her voice. It has also been illuminating to realize when I've written something that looks so good on the page, but turns out to be difficult to read out loud.  

The Second Shot is book one of the Deveraux Legacy series and I can’t wait for my voice actress to tackle book 2, The Cinderella Secret, and 3, The Hardest Hit (due out 10.18.21).  Currently the book is under going the Quality Assurance check with Audible and once approved it will hit the virtual store shelves.

Listen to an audio sample and learn more here: https://bethanymaines.com/the-deveraux-legacy/

Or purchase the print edition here (¢.99!): books2read.com/The-Second-Shot

A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshal Maxwell Ames the affection of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem—someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Dominique Deveraux never expected Max to reappear in her life, let alone apologize, but as Dominique investigates the mysterious attacks on her wealthy family Max quickly becomes far more than her one time college classmate. Now, Max and Dominique must dodge mercenaries and bullets as they try to make sure that they’re the only ones who get a second shot.


**

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Gay Yellen: Spotlight on Pamela Fagan Hutchins

I'm thrilled to welcome Pamela Fagan Hutchins,USA Today bestseller, repeat top 100 Kindle author, repeat top 25 Kindle bestseller, and winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion Best Mystery. She knows a thing or two about writing books that readers love, and how to market them (more about that in her bio). Today, she's sharing her writing journey, which includes over half a dozen multi-book series, a children's book, and nonfiction to boot.

My Mother is Always Right

Pamela and friend.
When I first started writing romantic mysteries, I was influenced by the reading tastes of my mother and my grandmothers. I'd call those early ones PG-13 rated, with substitutes for cursing, and closed bedroom doors, and my mom circling any offenses I missed in the draft versions.

Then I got an itch to be edgier. Like when I was the good girl in high school. Like when I did some modeling and was pigeon-holed as the "girl next door" instead of the rocker chick I wanted to be.

I wrote some R-rated books. I tossed around F-bombs and threw open bedroom doors. I put disclaimers in the descriptions. "Foul-mouthed and earthy." "Sexy and broken." And, they didn't do as well as my earlier books had. In fact, I literally got an email from a reader (who had ignored my disclaimers) that read, "Shame on you, Pamela. That language!"
Mom & Dad at the Prom

Oops.

It turned out I had established a core group of readers from my first book, and that core appreciated the safety of the worlds I created. Fine—I understood that. But where did it leave me?

I throttled back and started writing a less-edgy book. Halfway through, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 months to live. I was devastated. As a writer, I pour my feelings out on the page every day. So, I put the novel I writing down and started a new one. One for my dad, featuring him and the rest of our family as protagonists during a happy part of his life.

First, though, I explained to him that he was totally protagonist material, and I verified the type of book he would like to read and wouldn't mind starring in.
"Hopeful," he said.
"Got it." I typed notes as he spoke.
"No serial killers or pedophiles glorified on the page."
"Check."
"I want wilderness and adventure and mystery and suspense, but no protagonists who are unlikable. "Flaws, yes. but a good person."
"Got it." I smiled.

Mom & Dad in Wyoming
We continued like this. None of it was surprising. Then I wrote as if my life depended on it. Or as if his did. It became an allegory for life continuation (with love and help of family). The series—Patrick Flint— and book—SWITCHBACK—were intended to be a one-off, never published. A family-friendly action-adventure, suspense-thriller, 1970's Wyoming family drama mystery. Yeah, all of that.

It was published. With some lucky breaks, it sold, well, a lot of copies.
It didn't  hurt that I took over all my own advertising and went for broke on investing in promotion.

And what people loved about the books? The things my dad had requested. The things I'd originally done with books "for my mom."
I just published my 5th Patrick Flint novel.


And my dad just celebrated 24 months since he was given 3 months to live.

Don't you love it when your parents are right?

Pamela Fagan Hutchins resides in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming, where she runs an off-the-grid lodge with her husband on the face of the Bighorn Mountains. She has a passion for winter sports, long hikes, and trail rides with their giant horses and pack of rescue dogs. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running-start). A big fan of what she calls, smart authorpreneurship, Pamela teaches writers the ins and outs of marketing in her virtual retreats. Next up: Advertising and Promotion Success, April 27-29, 2021.

Gay Yellen is a former magazine and book editor. Besides her monthly Stiletto Gang posts, she writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series: The Body Business and The Body Next DoorBook #3 is slated for release in 2021.

Monday, April 12, 2021

I'm Married to a Planner

 

Not a wedding planner or an event planner. I’m married to a second-of-every-day planner. A month before hunting season, my husband is compiling his gear. Our bedroom turns into a sea of orange as I roll my eyes. When we’re in the car going from point A to B, my spouse will tell you precisely what time we’ll arrive.

As someone who spent a lot of time on the road before he retired, he had a lot of time to think and to play games with himself. He would call and tell me, "I’ll be home at 7:57."  Not 7:30 or 8 p.m., but to the exact minute. And, ladies and gentlemen, he usually walked in at the stated moment.

Being married to a life planner has its ups and downs. For instance, just because he’s a planner doesn’t mean I am. I like a little spontaneity in the seconds of my day. In fact, being a writer, my muse often demands it. Flexibility is the name of the game with this girl.  My poor calendar bears the brunt and the inked out scratches of my constantly changing schedule.

What brought about this blog? A phone call I had with my girlfriend today. She said she and her husband are coming to New Mexico at Christmas and suggested we might want to meet in Taos for lunch or dinner if it’s convenient. I said that sounds like so much fun, and I’d talk it over with the dear husband.

But now two hours after I told him, he's come up with the    route we will take to get from Las Cruces to Taos, and how long it would take us to get there. I’d literally forgotten about the conversation until he brought it up. "Les,” I said, “It’s March. We don’t have to plan this trip until September or October at the earliest.” He stared at me aghast. “By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail.” 

Thank you Benjamin Franklin. 

The truth is my husband keeps me on target, while ideally, I remind him to take deep breaths and smell the roses. 

Planning's a good thing, no doubt about it. But so is spontaneity. I often share traits like these in my writing. So interesting to see what makes our characters tick.

Do you have a planner in your life?

                        

Friday, April 9, 2021

Bidding Farewell to a Dear Friend by Debra H. Goldstein

Bidding Farewell to a Dear Friend by Debra H. Goldstein

This year, I said good-bye to my personal library. Our aging physical infirmities and our old house no longer matched. Our new house, which we can’t believe we built during the pandemic, is perfect for us. Although there is a guest bedroom and bath upstairs, everything we need is on the main level.

 

I have a garden room office that lets me have natural light and look at trees when the writing isn’t going well. My husband, on the other side of the house, has a man cave that features a television covering an entire wall. We meet in the middle to eat but have an unspoken rule that those two rooms are our private sanctuaries – off limits to each other.

 

When we were building this house, I knew from the floor plans that it lacked the space for me to move my entire library. My library, which was arranged alphabetically by author, contained sections for biography, mystery, general literature, children’s, young adult, theater, Judaica and other religious studies, how-to-books, law books, writing reference books, crime reference books, cookbooks, and my TBR bookshelf (which usually spread to my dresser). There were thousands of books. I identified my library as being a part of me.

 

Giving away my library was akin to giving away one of my children. I have good memories of when my daughter was 6 and had to count something for school that would be at least 100. I gave her a pad and pencil and told her to count books. When I suddenly realized she’d been quiet for too long, I found her nearing 2000. We decided she could stop counting. My memories include loaning books to people that introduced them to new authors or answered questions they posed to me. There were also special

ones that commemorated events – like the Dr. Seuss one everyone gets for graduation or books that contained the first published poems of my children.

 

Without flinching, I parted with my dining room furniture which we’d purchased as a wedding present to ourselves, bedrooms sets, dishes, pots and pans, and various other pieces of furniture, but the books remained. It was easy to offer my children any books they wanted to take and to let a dear friend raid the mystery section. The trouble came with what to do with the remainder. I vowed to take the children’s books that I might read to my grandchildren or that they might want to read in the future. I also put aside a handful of the writing and crime resource books, as well as a few books of poetry my father and I read together when I was a child. Then, I started making phone calls. A librarian friend told me about a library in an economically challenged part of Alabama that had an excess of space, but a limited collection and a lack of funds. When I called, I knew it was a match made in heaven.

 

I had movers pack the books I wasn’t keeping in boxes that could be lifted. Neatly stacked, they filled my dining room and spilled into my living room. The librarian sent her husband, who owned a flatbed truck, and her daughter to pick up the books. In the end, most were added to their collection or were put on a bookmobile. Very few were marked for the Friends of the Library sale. The empty bookcases found a home, too.

 

It’s been six months and I still feel the loss, but I’m glad that in a sense, I’m now sharing a part of who I am with others.

Bidding Farewell to a Dear Friend by Debra H. Goldstein

Bidding Farewell to a Dear Friend by Debra H. Goldstein

This year, I said good-bye to my personal library. Our aging physical infirmities and our old house no longer matched. Our new house, which we can’t believe we built during the pandemic, is perfect for us. Although there is a guest bedroom and bath upstairs, everything we need is on the main level.

 

I have a garden room office that lets me have natural light and look at trees when the writing isn’t going well. My husband, on the other side of the house, has a man cave that features a television covering an entire wall. We meet in the middle to eat but have an unspoken rule that those two rooms are our private sanctuaries – off limits to each other.

 

When we were building this house, I knew from the floor plans that it lacked the space for me to move my entire library. My library, which was arranged alphabetically by author, contained sections for biography, mystery, general literature, children’s, young adult, theater, Judaica and other religious studies, how-to-books, law books, writing reference books, crime reference books, cookbooks, and my TBR bookshelf (which usually spread to my dresser). There were thousands of books. I identified my library as being a part of me.

 

Giving away my library was akin to giving away one of my children. I had good memories of when my daughter was 6 and she had to count something for school that would be at least 100. I gave her a pad and pencil and told her to count books. When I suddenly realized she’d been quiet for too long, I found her nearing 2000. We decided she could stop counting. My memories included loaning books to people that introduced them to new authors or answered questions they posed to me. There were also special ones that commemorated events – like the Dr. Seuss one everyone gets for graduation or books that contained the first published poems of my children.

 

Without flinching, I parted with my dining room furniture which we’d purchased as a wedding present to ourselves, bedrooms sets, dishes, pots and pans, and various other pieces of furniture, but the books remained. It was easy to offer my children any books that they wanted to take and to let a dear friend raid the mystery section. The trouble came with what to do with the remainder. I vowed to take the children’s books that I might read to my grandchildren or that they might want to read in the future. I also put aside a handful of the writing and crime resource books, as well as a few books of poetry my father and I read together when I was a child. Then, I started making phone calls. A librarian friend told me about a library in an economically challenged part of Alabama that had an excess of space, but a limited collection and a lack of funds. When I called, I knew it was a match made in heaven.

 

I had movers pack the books I wasn’t keeping in boxes that could be lifted. Neatly stacked, they still filled my dining room and spilled into my living room. The librarian sent her husband, who owned a flatbed truck, and her daughter to pick up the books. In the end, most were added to their collection or were put on a bookmobile. Very few were marked for the Friends of the Library sale. The empty bookcases found a home, too.

 

It’s been six months and I still feel the loss, but I’m glad that in a sense, I’m now sharing a part of who I am with others.

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

COLOR Me Spring - Clicking Our Heels


COLOR Me Spring - Clicking Our Heels

Spring is here! We’re putting away our winter clothing and looking at things in a new light, so we thought we’d share our favorite colors and why we like them with you.

T.K. Thorne - I am attracted to intense colors. Bright yellow, like the deep yellow daffodils or black-eyed susans, has always been a favorite (in fact I wrote a children’s short story once about the color yellow that went missing), but the best is the blue of runways lights and police lights. I have to make myself look away from the latter, especially when I’m driving, because they mesmerize me.

Debra Sennefelder - I don’t have a favorite color. Though I do tend to navigate towards blue for decorating.

Kathryn Lane - I love vibrant colors, purple, red, and orange; yet when I glance around my living environment and my clothes – I find a lot of blue, in varying hues from turquoise to navy. There’s a vibrant new blue on the market, called YInMn blue, that has a chemical makeup of Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese, making it stunningly bright.

 

Dru Ann Love – Blue – I associate freedom with the color blue.

 

Saralyn Richard – Red. It’s the color of my stilettos!

 

Robin Hillyer-Miles - My favorite color is this greenish color that I can't describe, I only know it when I see it. A couple of years ago I was in the car with my mom and I pointed to a building and told her that it was my favorite color, she said that has been my favorite color since I was three years old.

 

Debra H. Goldstein – Blue. Any shade works for me as I find the color peaceful whether it is the blue of a blouse or the sea-green blue of water at the beach.

 

Lois Winston – Black-because it’s so slimming!

 

Linda Rodriguez – Red and purple – can’t choose just one.

 

Mary Lee Ashford (1/2 of Sparkle Abbey) – Turquoise blue and I think it’s probably related to my love of the ocean. I find the color so soothing and serene.

 

Anita Carter (1/2 of Sparkle Abbey) - I love purple. I also like red and blue, but purple is my favorite.

 

Shari Randall – I’m in love with the color of David Austin’s Juliet roses – a soft and warm peach/coral pink. My daughter and I had similar roses in our bridal bouquets.


Cathy Perkins - I'm not sure I have a favorite color. Different ones appeal at different times and different situations. Yellow in the winter when the Pacific NW is painted in shades of gray. The vibrant green of spring leaves. Blue sky and water. The pop of power red in accessories... 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

I Dream in Science Fiction!

By Kathryn Lane

Fiction writers take ideas from everywhere, the reason a saying says, “Be careful what you say around me – I’m a fiction writer.” To prove the point, I’ll paraphrase one of T.S. Eliot's quotes: “Good writers borrow; great writers steal.”

Dreams offer me a favorite reservoir of ideas to borrow. I dream in full technicolor, and in Spanish and English. Several short stories have come directly from stuff obtained during my REM sleep.

However, I was shocked when I had a science fiction dream, complete with language from an Orwellian future. I read sci-fi, but I’ve never attempted to write it. I do not have the grasp of physics, astrophysics, astronomy, chemistry, and artificial intelligence to write convincing sci-fi, so I limit myself to simply reading it.

Years ago, I’d read a lot of Ray Bradbury, who said, “Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science; therefore, the whole history of humankind is nothing but science fiction.”

Now back to my sci-fi dream. I was at a party, complete with fireworks, set in futuristic surroundings. An older couple left the party and drove away in a self-driving car. In the amorphous environment of dreaming, I was concerned about them so I called to make sure they were okay.

I heard an automated voice inform me through my implanted earphone that “Public driver 00Z1921 was detained by a squadron of public protectors for bypassing the self-driving controls of 00Z1921’s auto.”

“What’s the accusation,” I asked.

“Reckless speeding and endangering the disciples,” the automated voice responded. The voice further instructed me to locate 00Z1921 at the hostile crisis center.

Still dreaming, I arrived at the center and found the small self-driving car surrounded by ten hostile-looking storm trooper types.

Then I woke up! Unfortunately, the dream ended before I learned the outcome of poor old 00Z1921.

Guess I’ve been reading too many futuristic articles on the speeding up of technological advances resulting from our lockdown, and those ideas zoomed me into a future time zone!

Or maybe, as Ray Bradbury might have said, we are all living in a science fictional world.

***

Do you dream in technicolor? Do you have dreams set in a sci-fi future?


Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.

https://www.kathryn-lane.com

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynlanewriter/


The Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GZNF17G


Photo Credits:

Fireworks: "Looks like the Sky will bleed with Colors tonight. Wishing everyone a wonderful evening of fun & excitement!" by williamcho - licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Waymo self-driving car front view by Grendelkhan - licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Storm Trooper at Oxford by Sheng P. - licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kathryn’s books – designs by Bobbye Marrs

Monday, April 5, 2021

A blog tour, a sale and a cover reveal!

 by Debra Sennefelder


Happy Monday! Today I have a few things to share with you. 

I'm thrilled to share that I'm currently on a blog tour for THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. I spent last month preparing for the two-week event by writing guest posts, answering Q&As, creating social media graphics and mailing print books to reviewers. For the past few days, I've been checking in with each blog that has signed up for the tour to read and answer comments. It's fun connecting with new readers and answering any questions that pop up. For information about the tour please click here and you'll be directed to the tour's main page.

This month my novella, WHAT NOT TO WEAR TO A GRAVEYARD, is on sale for only $0.99. I had such a blast writing this book since it had so many of my most favorite elements - ridiculously high=heeled boots, Halloween and a pup named Billy. Grab your copy today for a fashionably spooky read. :)

The fifth book in my Food Blogger series has a cover! Isn't it beautiful? It's currently on pre-order and will be released on Sept 28, 2021.

A little about the book:

Food blogging is turning Hope Early into a household name. But the dead body down the block makes her a #1 suspect...
 
It seems everyone loves Hope’s blog these days, and she’s busier than ever volunteering to help other women create their own paths to success. So she’s shocked when a neighbor petitions to run Hope right out of her small Connecticut town! Set in her ways, apparently Birdie Donovan doesn’t like the chaos Hope’s sleuthing creates, the police activity and crime scenes, and it’s happening way too often lately. Eager to make amends, Hope bakes Birdie a batch of her best muffins. The delicious treats might have smoothed things over—until Hope discovers Birdie dead in her gazebo the very next day...
 
Now instead of worrying about holding on to her beloved home, Hope is trying to stay out of jail. Because suddenly she’s the lead suspect in the case. Not even her boyfriend, Police Chief Ethan Cahill, is promising he can clear her name, much less discuss the investigation with her. It’s up to Hope to get to bake new ground on the case before the lifestyle brand she’s created—and her whole life—crumbles...

 

 

I'm running a pre-order giveaway! 

Pre-order THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO between now and Sept 27th and with your receipt, you will be entered into a giveaway for a Food Blogger apron and a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Two winners (shipping to US addresses only & one winner per household) will be randomly selected.

Email your receipt to:

Preorderthecorpseinthegazebo@gmail.com

That's all my news! I'd love to know what's going on with you? What's your current read? What are you writing? What are you watching? 




 

 


Friday, April 2, 2021

The Wild City--A Poem for National Poetry Month in a pandemic

 by Linda Rodriguez

As we move beyond the one-year anniversary of our pandemic lockdown and the beginning of National Poetry Month, I'm posting a poem to remind us all that, even if we're isolated from our social circles, we have companions if we can get outside--even in large cities.


THE WILD CITY


Sprawling across the Kansas and Missouri
River confluence, network of tributaries
woven around bluffs and glaciated hills,
crow-blue in the distance but green, green
as the hearts of trees in the walking,
even today, Kansas City has still-wild parks,
large, well-treed lots, and wooded streams,
homes for foxes, wild turkey, deer, coyote,
interrupting traffic patterns with flight
paths of herons, hawks, and eagles,
a metropolis of small towns linked
by the scent of water and new growth.


Smaller rivers fill out the web
of water that holds the landscape
together, leaf veins feeding surfaces
of green—Blue River, Platte River,
Little Blue River, Little Platte River,
Marais des Cygnes River.
Creeks like Indian Creek, Brush Creek,
Line Creek, First Creek, Second Creek,
Shoal Creek, Willow Creek,
Mill Creek fan out, capillaries
for the breathing system that is the city.


Once, driving along the Little Blue,
I startled at the sudden appearance,
slow flap of huge white wings
banded with black, bright red cap
leading the way ahead of stretched-out
snake neck, legs trailing behind, a legend
rising next to me and taking flight,
whooping crane on migration,
resting and feeding a day or two
in the heart of the city.


When we humans go at last,
by bomb, virus, famine,
disaster, natural or otherwise,
the wild will reclaim Kansas City
in short order, never having completely
released its original hold
.


(Published in Cutthroat, a Journal of the Arts, 2016)

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Path to Sanity—T.K. Thorne

 


 

Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

 




The world fell apart in March 2020. I was at a writers conference in California on the opposite side of the country from home (Alabama). One day after the start of the conference, I flew home. Two people in the airport wore masks. The rest of us tried to follow the advice “don’t touch your face.”  My nose has never itched so much.

Over the year, my grandson was born  . . . without me. Another daughter had to spend months in the hospital with her dying father . . . without me. Many people suffered much worse. So far, I have not lost any family. Actually, I’m am very close to the oldest in what’s left of my family. In the past year, I have been inside exactly one public place. How bizarre.

My mind has done some kind of trick where I can now see the death numbers posted on the side of the T.V. without feeling like I can’t breathe. That’s a good thing, right?  Maybe not. I try to not to watch the tributes to individuals because then I can’t breathe again.

Where lay the path of sanity?  It was a windy one. The muse deserted me.  I could not put pen to paper except to edit and to write this blog. Fortunately, I had a lot of material to edit, but the more days that have turned into weeks and month, the drier the well of creativity seemed. I had finished my police-witch trilogy (book two, House of Stone) and the eight-year nonfiction project (Behindthe Magic Curtain: Secrets, Spies, and Unsung White Allies of Birmingham’sCivil Rights Days. I finished a rewrite of an old manuscript and had no idea where to go next. I felt aimless, adrift.  Everything had a surreal quality.

The first thing I did that gave me a little peace was plucking debris and tiny plants from the green moss on the brick walk from the driveway to the front door.  It took hours; its only purpose was to create a little temporary beauty, but doing it calmed something inside me.

Then I took up the WW, the war on wisteria, a vine that had eaten half my back yard and uprooted several trees. This took months of back-breaking work.  Wisteria sends vines out underground that pop up yards away, making nodes along the way that each grow deep roots straight down. You can pull up one section, but any piece that survives can and will repopulate. I learned to know and love a tool called a mattock. Some days I could only do a tiny amount. But the harder I worked and the more exhausted I was, the better I slept and breathed. But I don’t recommend this as a therapy. Never plant wisteria, at least not the Chinese or Japanese variety.

The Wisteria War lasted through the summer and into fall. I decided to let the back yard become a wildflower garden (except for wisteria) and planted some old seeds that had been sitting out in my garage.  We’ll see if they germinate.

One thing I really missed was my twice-weekly martial arts class. Sometime in November, I decided to learn tai chi, which is practiced solo. You have probably seen old people doing it in a park. I learned it from Youtube videos, and whenever I felt trapped or anxious, I went through the movements. I did it three or four times a day, and it focused me on the present.

Over the winter, I lost my mind and adopted two rescue horses off the track, a Thoroughbred and a Standardbred—Foxy and Nickie Jones. I bought Foxy sight unseen from a Facebook picture at a “kill pen” in Louisiana. Her next step would have been dog food (in Mexico). She is a beautiful bay, although we’ve been working on a skin infection that even affected an eyelid. It’s all getting better. Nickie Jones was an older lady who traveled with her but when she arrived in Alabama, her purchaser backed off because she was injured and malnourished. So, we took her too. Preparation for their arrival took weeks of cleaning out the old barn and working on the overgrown arena and round pen.  Focusing on preparing for them and taking care of them has occupied me and my husband for several weeks now. But I am smitten!

Then a good friend introduced me to a form of art called Zentangle. It is done on little 3x3 inch pieces of stock paper—tiny art. I played with it and decided to add colors. Because it is so small, it is not intimidating like a big canvas would be. I’ve never done any "art thing" beyond doodling, but I’ve always wanted to.  They may not be great masterpieces, but the world fades away when I am working on one.


 

But still fresh words eluded me. No stories pushing to be born.

Then a friend I never met at that writer’s conference in California (we were supposed to be on a Law Enforcement panel together) emailed me and asked if I were interested in submitting a short story to an editor in Australia who is putting together a crime anthology featuring law enforcement authors and wanted some submissions from women. I am both of those things—an author and a cop, a retired one anyway, a short, gray-haired old lady. I agreed to submit a story. The catch is I had to write it. I had to create it. I told myself—this is like the tiny art. It's a short story, not a novel. Even so, I was totally blank. But I promised, so I had to do it. One word at a time.

I was delighted and surprised that the words came. It’s about a short, gray-haired old lady who is an ex-cop, a martial artist, and a horse woman who witnesses a murder. I've sent it off. Maybe I'll do another short story or maybe I have found a character who could support something longer?  

I hope this helps you find your way through.

 



T.K. is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like this blog, go wherever her interest and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com